Before jamaica lane, p.7
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       Before Jamaica Lane, p.7
 

         Part #3 of On Dublin Street series by Samantha Young
Page 7

  ‘I think I might be a geek. ’

  She laughed. ‘Then you be a geek. Just be whatever makes you happy, Soda Pop, and I’ll be happy too. ’

  God, I missed her.

  ‘Dee was supposed to be visiting some family down south, but she’s canceled so she can come to the wedding. ’ My dad’s answer to Elodie’s question brought me firmly back to the present.

  ‘Oh, that’s nice. ’ Elodie smiled. ‘I really need to have her back over for drinks. And I think I might have another job for her. A woman at work is looking to have a mural painted in her conservatory. She’s converting it into her grandchildren’s playroom. ’

  ‘I’ll tell her. ’

  ‘Are you bringing a date, Liv?’ Clark asked me casually, honestly just making conversation.

  For some reason, though, the question pricked me. I was in a weird place about my long-suffering singledom. Still, that wasn’t Clark’s fault. Pasting on a bright smile, I shook my head. ‘Nate and I decided to forgo the hassle of dates and just go together. ’

  I saw Jo smirk at her chicken.

  ‘Don’t,’ I warned her under my breath.

  She glanced up at me, all innocent and doe-eyed. ‘I didn’t say a thing. ’

  ‘Your smirk said it for you. ’

  ‘I just think it’s nice how close you and Nate have grown. ’

  Sighing heavily, I looked to Cam for help and hoped he wasn’t in the mood to tease me too. ‘Cam, please tell her. ’

  Cam slid his fiancée a regretful smile. ‘Baby, they’re just friends. Let it go. It’s not going to happen. Not in a million years. Never. Ever. ’

  Ouch. That was emphatic.

  ‘Nate is hot. ’ Hannah suddenly spoke up, and when I looked at her I found Ellie’s pretty sister frowning at me. ‘Why don’t you go out with him? I mean, he’s really, really, really hot. I’d go there. ’

  ‘Please tell me she did not just say that,’ Adam pleaded with the table, looking green.

  ‘She has a name. ’ Hannah raised an imperious eyebrow at him.

  Joss seemed to be trying not to choke on her food. ‘Oh, she said it all right. ’

  ‘My ears are bleeding. ’ Braden looked at Joss for help. ‘They feel like they’re bleeding. Are they bleeding?’

  Hannah rolled her eyes. ‘I’m sixteen, almost seventeen, I have boobs, a whole bunch of hormones, and I find guys attractive. Deal with it. ’

  ‘Well, there goes my appetite. ’ Clark shoved his plate away, looking so despondent that I felt sorry for him.

  Seeing his expression, and most probably understanding it better than anyone else at the table, my dad pointed an admonishing finger at Hannah. ‘That was cruel, Hannah Nichols. ’

  Rather than be cowed by Dad, Hannah made her face split into a gorgeous, cheeky, remorseless grin that made a low chuckle spill from Dad’s lips.

  ‘Well,’ Elodie said with a sigh, ‘since Hannah has successfully ruined the appetites of her male relatives, that means more dessert for us girls. We’re having sticky toffee pudding and ice cream. ’

  ‘Och … well … you know, I’m feeling much better all of a sudden. ’ Adam gestured to Braden, whose cheeks had warmed at the mention of dessert. ‘I could go for some pudding. ’

  Braden nodded solemnly. ‘Funnily enough, me too. ’

  Determined to stock up on good food before I returned to my diet-food-laden fridge back at the flat, I wasn’t sure I wanted to share pudding with the boys. No, I wasn’t sure about that at all. I looked over at Hannah and asked evilly, ‘What was that about boobs and hormones?’

  5

  The Proclaimers were sing-shouting at me that they’d walk five hundred miles and then five hundred more just to be the man that would fall down at my door. Frankly, I was touched.

  ‘See?’ I gesticulated wildly. ‘That right there are two men who know what it’s all about!’

  Nate caught my hips as I stumbled slightly against the table. His handsome face was kind of a blur, but I could make out his smile. ‘And what’s it all about?’

  I rested my hands on his shoulders and bowed my head toward him. ‘Love, Nate. That’s what it’s all about. That’s what everything’s all about. ’ I shrugged sadly, and yes, very drunkenly. ‘Which means I got a whole bunch of nothing. ’

  ‘Uh-oh. Happy drunk turning maudlin drunk. I think it’s time we get you home, babe. ’ He stood up, pressing me back.

  ‘What about your girl back at the bar?’ I swayed into him and he wrapped his arms around me, holding me steady.

  After kissing my nose, Nate leaned away and gave me a squeeze. ‘I can get laid anytime, sweetheart. Right now I’m making sure you get home okay. ’

  ‘How d’ya do it, Nate?’ I asked on a sigh, the reception a blur of color and noise around me.

  ‘Do what?’

  ‘Get laid all the time?’

  ‘What do you mean?’

  ‘You just –’ I gestured to the bar but instead whacked him on the chin. ‘Oops, sorry. You just get numbers. I don’t know how to speak to a man, let alone get numbers. Or get laid. La-a-a-aid. ’

  ‘Who’s getting laid?’

  I spun around and almost caught Joss in the face with my flailing arm, but she swung back in time. ‘Good reflexes, beautiful!’ I grinned loopily at her.

  Joss laughed, shimmering in shapes and swirls in front of me. ‘Nate, I think it’s time you got my bridesmaid home, yeah?’

  ‘I’m on it. ’

  ‘It was such a beautiful wedding, Joss!’ I threw my arms around her and hugged her tight. ‘But I didn’t get laid!’

  Her body shook with laughter as she gently released herself from my death grip. ‘Well, that doesn’t seem right at all. The men at my wedding must be blind. ’

  ‘Och,’ I said, imitating Dad, ‘you’re just saying that!’ I pushed at her playfully but obviously harder than I meant to because she stumbled back, chuckling at me.

  ‘Nate, get some water in her first before you put her to bed. ’

  His warm body pressed against my back. ‘I’ll take care of her, don’t worry. ’

  ‘Dude’ – I twisted my neck to look up into his face – ‘you need to teach me to get laid first. ’

  Nine hours earlier

  A guitarist and violinist played an instrumental version of Paul Weller’s ‘You Do Something to Me’ as I walked down the aisle. I flashed a reassuring smile at Braden, who looked tall and handsome in his kilt. He, Adam, Clark, and Declan wore what was called a Prince Charlie gray jacket and matching three-button waistcoat. Their champagne silk ties were intricately knotted against their dark gray shirts, and because the Carmichaels were associated with the Stewart Clan, they were wearing a subdued Stewart Grey tartan. They looked fantastic.

  Braden smiled back at me, not a nervous tremor in sight. Grinning at Adam, who stood as Braden’s best man, I took my place on the other side of the altar beside Hannah, Jo, Rhian, and Ellie.

  The music seemed to swell as Joss made it to the halfway mark of the aisle, holding tight to Clark – who’d been honored to give her away – as her eyes locked on Braden. She was stunning, and when I moved my gaze from her to her soon-to-be-husband I almost expired on the spot at the look in his eyes.

  Wow.

  Was there ever a man more in love than Braden Carmichael?

  He gazed at Joss in her ivory-and-white dress as though she was the only thing in this world that could or would ever matter. I sucked in a breath, feeling my nose sting with stupid, girly emotion.

  I shot a look at Ellie, who had tears falling down her cheeks, and that made me feel a lot less of a goofball. Smiling at her, I watched her sniffle, her cheeks turning rosy.

  Rhian, Joss’s university friend, who was a bit of a straight-talker and, honestly, a ballbuster, surprised me by taking Ellie’s hand and giving her a reassuring squeeze.

  All of us wore champagne silk floor
-length dresses. The dress was sleeveless with wide straps and a sweetheart neckline that draped with the fabric, and it nipped in at the waist, then fell in a straight waterfall to the floor without hugging the body too much. It was a classy design, and we all wore it well, including Hannah, who looked very grown-up, standing three inches taller than me even though we were both wearing kitten heels.

  Joss’s dress was simple elegance. It was strapless, with a heart-shaped neckline, and the upper half of the bodice was ivory with crystal beading and lace. The finest white silk chiffon pulled across the bodice in a tight drape, fitted to Joss’s tiny waist. From her hips the layers of chiffon, shot through with silver, fell to the floor, floating around her – not too puffy, not too straight. Just right. She wore her hair in an almost Grecian-style updo of soft curls and French braids.

  When Joss reached Braden, her smile was tremulous and vulnerable in a way I’d never seen before. She pressed a kiss to Clark’s cheek and murmured something to him as he slipped her hand into Braden’s.

  Braden nodded at Clark and then his focus was back on his bride, his large hand engulfing hers as he pulled her into his side, oblivious to their audience.

  He whispered something to her and she whispered back. Whatever she said made him chuckle and lean down to press a kiss to her lips. For a few seconds he just stood there murmuring secret words against her mouth.

  The minister had to clear his throat to get their attention so he could start the ceremony, and the guests tittered in their wooden pews.

  The music drew to a stop and the ceremony proceeded. I couldn’t take my eyes off Joss and Braden, and I’d be surprised if anyone else could either. Of course, it was their wedding and most people would be focused on the bride and groom, but there was something about how they were together that took you to someplace else.

  It was epic what they had.

  Everyone should have what they had.

  ‘Have you recovered from the speeches?’ I asked Joss as she came over to our table. The speeches were over and dinner was done. Adam had cracked us all up with his best man’s speech, keeping it funny and real and not sentimental. Clark was just as down-to-earth when he gave a speech on Joss’s dad’s behalf, but it was sentimental, and very kind and compassionate, and when Joss ducked her head to fight back tears and Braden squeezed the back of her neck in reassurance, I don’t think I was the only woman blotting her eyes.

  Finally Braden stood up and gave his speech and, well, if every woman in the room didn’t end up a little bit in love with him, then my name wasn’t Olivia Holloway.

  Joss looked radiant, and laid-back. ‘Almost,’ she said in answer to my question about the speeches. ‘I have a feeling that Braden’s speech is a get-out-of-jail-free card for at least the first year of our marriage. ’

  ‘It was a good speech. ’

  ‘Tell me about it. ’ She smirked, her gaze turning introspective in a way that made me suspect she was thinking naughty thoughts about her husband.

  ‘So how does it feel?’ Jo asked, her eyes lighting up as she unconsciously rubbed her engagement ring. ‘To call someone husband?’

  ‘Weird,’ Joss answered abruptly.

  Nate snorted and Cam laughed. ‘Is that it?’

  She shrugged. ‘It’s the first word that comes to mind. ’

  I laughed too now. ‘Not “great,” not “wonderful,” not “right”? Just “weird. ” ’

  ‘ “Weird” definitely wins out. ’

  ‘Marriage to me is weird already. Good to know. ’ Braden came to a stop behind his wife, a sardonic tilt to the corners of his mouth.

  ‘Well, I wouldn’t want normal,’ Joss replied.

  I gave a sharp nod of my head. ‘Agreed. Normal’s boring. ’

 
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