Before jamaica lane, p.3
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       Before Jamaica Lane, p.3

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

  ‘Yeah, but Nate’s got this down to an art. It’s like a sixth sense or something. As soon as he feels even a slight change in their attitude toward him, he’s out of there. ’

  ‘I can’t wait for someone to knock him on his arse,’ Ellie joined in, smiling wickedly in Nate’s direction.

  ‘Me neither. ’ Jo flicked a pointed glance up at me before looking away, and I pretended I was too stupid to understand her meaning.

  I changed the subject quickly. ‘Did you guys see Cam’s new tattoo? Cole designed it,’ I told them proudly.

  Cole Walker was the best kid ever. Jo had done an amazing job raising him and the best thing that had ever happened to the both of them, other than each other, was Cameron MacCabe. He and Cole were incredibly similar – both artists, both cool nerds – and Cam had commissioned Cole to design a new tattoo for him.

  It was awesome.

  A stylized ‘C’ and ‘J’ were hidden in the jagged vines and sharpened curlicues of Cole’s tribal design.

  ‘Ooh, let’s see,’ Ellie begged with a grin.

  Cam shook his head. ‘It’s on my ribs. ’

  ‘Oh, come on, it’s not like we’re going to pass out at the sight of your abs,’ Joss teased.

  ‘They’re good abs. ’ Jo patted Cam’s stomach proudly.

  Braden took a sip of his whisky. ‘Personally, I don’t want to see his abs. They might … provoke my envy. ’

  Adam nodded in deadpan agreement. ‘Mine too. ’

  ‘Fuck off,’ Cam muttered, his lips curled up in amusement.

  ‘Oh, if he’s going to be such a spoilsport …,’ I grumbled, digging through my handbag. Feeling the paper between my fingers, I tugged and pulled it out, unfolding it to hold up the signed drawing of Cole’s design. ‘Here, this is the tat. ’

  As the others looked at it, Jo smiled up at me. ‘You’re keeping that?’

  ‘Sure, and I got Cole to sign it too. ’

  She laughed. ‘You’re only going to make his crush on you worse. ’

  I shrugged, not caring. ‘He deserves to know how awesome he is. ’

  ‘No arguments there. ’

  We smiled at each other as the others complimented Cole’s talent.

  Nate soon returned to the group, and the brunette returned to her friends but kept her eyes on Nate.

  ‘Are you not …’ I asked curiously, pointedly looking in the woman’s direction.

  ‘Oh, aye. ’ He grinned boyishly. ‘But I told her it was my mate’s birthday and I wanted to hang out with him for a while. ’

  True to his word, Nate stayed with us until closing. We were all getting ready to leave when his breath whispered across my ear. ‘I’m off. ’

  I turned around to stare at him, spying the curvy brunette in my peripheral vision. ‘Okay. Have fun. ’

  He winked at me and then kissed my cheek. ‘Always do. ’

  After saying good-bye to the group, Nate took the girl’s hand and departed the bar. Jealousy needled at me as I stared at the empty doorway. My friend was the master of seduction. If he wanted to get laid, he could.

  Unfortunately, for some of us it wasn’t nearly so easy.



  Dad and I came to the decision to stay in Edinburgh not just because of the empty black hole Mom’s death had left for us in Arizona – although that sure was a big part of it – but because I’d lost my job, my way, and my enthusiasm for pretty much everything. Mom had been diagnosed with cancer when I was sixteen. She fought it, but it came back three years later. When I was twenty and a junior at the University of Arizona, I took a few months out from studying to go home and be with her.

  She passed away two days after my twenty-first birthday.

  It took a lot of persuading from my dad to get me to go back to college, but I did, graduating with a master’s in Information and Library Science a few years late. I got a job back in Phoenix at our neighborhood public library, but three months before Cam got in touch with us our small library was closed due to lack of funding and I was out of a job.

  It was really crappy timing, since I was just beginning to get back on my feet after losing Mom. The trip to Edinburgh couldn’t have come at a better time.

  ‘Uh, excuse me. ’

  I blinked out of my daze and leaned across the counter of the library help desk, giving the exasperated girl in front of me a patient smile.

  The library was split into two divisions – User Services and Library and Collections. I worked in User Services, on a staff of about forty-five people. Out of those forty-five people at least nine of us had a degree in library science. Only two were librarians – my manager, Angus, and my supervisor, Jill.

  Ellie’s stepdad, a professor of classical history at the University of Edinburgh, had given me a reference at the main campus library that helped me get an interview. Unfortunately, there were only so many librarian jobs to go around; I did get a job, but as a library assistant. I didn’t feel too bad about that. I was just happy to have a job in my profession.

  Normally I spent either the morning or the afternoon at the help desk in the forum of the library or in the reserve section, and the other half of the day in the office doing administrative work. I preferred being front of house and interacting with the students. I’d been there only eight months, but already I was familiar with a number of students, and had a great rapport with them and my colleagues.

  ‘How can I help?’ I asked loudly over the chatter of noise in the forum.

  Beyond the security gates at the main entrance of the library was an area around the staircase that students had taken to using as a hangout. At the far end of the hall was the help desk, where they could manually check out their books, and beyond us was the reserve section, where they could check out material for either three hours or one week, depending on the proviso put down by the course head. The fines we made them pay if the reserve material was overdue were heavy, to say the least. We’re talking two pence a minute, which is roughly three cents a minute. Doesn’t sound like much, but if a student didn’t return the material for a week, or two, or a month … Yeah … you see where I’m going with this. My least favorite part of the job was telling students what their fines amounted to in the reserve section.

  The girl leaned in close, her cheeks flushed. ‘I’m partnered with a student who has an accessible room. Unfortunately, we can’t get into that room right now because of … students and certain activities going on in there. ’

  When she blushed harder, I instantly understood and glanced over my shoulder at Angus, who was taking a folder out of a filing cabinet. Angus, a bald, good-looking forty-something with kind eyes and a sharp sense of humor, overheard her comment, and his lips twitched with laughter as he said, ‘Your turn. ’

  I grimaced but smoothed my face into perfect serenity when I turned back to the student. ‘Of course. ’ Rounding the main desk, I caught up to the girl, whose whole body was rigid with embarrassment. God, I hoped I was walking into a little mild making out and not full-on sex. Horny little bastards. ‘I take it your friend forgot to lock her room last time she used it?’

  The accessible rooms were small private rooms on the first floor, with lockable doors. They were reserved for any of our students with a disability. Those students were permanently assigned a room for the semester; however, more times than I’d like to count, I’d been tasked with kicking students out of the rooms not only for using them when they shouldn’t have been but for utilizing them as hotel rooms.

  Having caught two students going at it in the less-than-hygienic men’s toilet, though, I was no longer surprised by anything.

  As we rounded the staircase, I had to forcibly ignore the smell of coffee floating toward me from the student café. I would so much rather have been sitting down drinking a latte than playing whatever you called the opposite of a brothel’s madam.

  ‘She must have forgot
. ’ The girl pressed her lips together. ‘But that’s not really the point. ’

  I supposed I had to give her that.

  When we reached the first floor, I flicked my long hair over my shoulders, threw them back, and marched into the main room, striding past study booths, study pods, and a bunch of giggling students who sat across from the accessible rooms. Attempting to look like I meant business, I looked back at the girl. ‘Which one?’

  She pointed to room three.

  Drawing in a breath I marched forward, gripped the handle, and thrust the door open, only just refraining from squeezing my eyes closed.

  A girl squealed as a guy growled, ‘What the …’

  I watched with my arms crossed over my chest as he quickly pulled up his zipper and she righted her dress. She slid off the desk, clinging to the guy, her eyes bright with laughter.

  ‘This is not a hotel room,’ I told them calmly. ‘And the library is not a rendezvous point. Capice?’

  ‘What are you, Al Capone?’ The boy laughed, gently pushing the girl toward me and the door.

  I sighed heavily. ‘Just have a little consideration for the general public, okay?’ My eyes quickly looked him over as I raised an unimpressed eyebrow. ‘No one wants to see that. ’

  The girl giggled while the guy laughed me off, brushing past me.

  That would make it the fifth time since I’d started working at the university that I’d thrown someone out of one of those rooms for inappropriate behavior.

  And they say a library is a boring place to work.

  I’d returned from my tour of duty at the help desk to work in the reserve section. Tidying up and keeping an eye on the help desk, I was thinking about what to cook tonight for me and Nate, since he was coming over to work at my flat, when Benjamin Livingston showed up.

  Trying to act cool, I slipped past the bookshelves and hurried behind the desk in case he required some assistance. A huge part of me hoped that he did, while the other part was terrified that he would.

  The guy was beautiful – and not like Nate’s obvious man beauty, but in this rugged, outdoorsy, I-can-chop-wood-with-my-bare-hands kind of beautiful.

  I’d helped Benjamin out a few times. Of course, I hadn’t managed to speak more than a few words to him, and they had been muttered under my breath in case they came out in the wrong order, which my words tended to do around a guy I was attracted to. From what I could tell by the resources Benjamin borrowed, he was a postgrad student in history. I usually saw him a few times a week, and lately I’d begun to really look forward to seeing him.

  At six four, Benjamin Livingston was all broad shoulders, crooked smile, and light green eyes I could swim in. The last time I’d seen him, I’d fantasized about screwing him behind the book stacks. It occurred to me after he left that I may have developed a bit of a crush on him. I was trying to work through my shyness, in hopes of having an actual conversation with him.

  I don’t know where my inadequacy with the male species originated. Because Mom was sick for a good portion of my adolescence, I didn’t have the same free time as other kids, since I tended to mother my own mom quite a lot. Plus, I was shy with boys at school. I had two dates in high school and only one of them ended in a makeout session that was memorable only for its sheer awkwardness

  College was pretty much the same until after my sophomore year. I stupidly decided to get rid of my virginity by getting tipsy and sleeping with a senior I barely knew. It was awful. It hurt, it was awkward, and once he was done he rolled off me and left. I couldn’t remember a time when I’d felt more humiliated, more empty, or more inconsequential, and I took a severe hit to my confidence. Really, I’d just been so afraid to try again after that, that I didn’t. And then in my junior year it became clear that Mom wasn’t getting better, so I left to take care of her.

  By the time I went back to college I was so conscious of my inexperience with men that it just made me morph from an outgoing woman into a preadolescent with a speech impairment. Moreover, the fact that I was so body conscious played a huge role in my lack of seduction skills too.

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