Home > On Dublin Street (On Dublin Street #1)(13)

On Dublin Street (On Dublin Street #1)(13)
Author: Samantha Young

I drove out my frustration over my book into the treadmill, crosstrainer, bike and weights until I was a sweating, jellified mess. The workout relaxed me–enough that my brain started to work again. A character started forming in my head and she wouldn’t leave me alone. Mostly because she was a lot like me. She was alone in life, independent, driven. She’d grown up in foster care in Scotland and moved to the US on a work visa and ended up falling in love…

The character was my mom. My mom’s story had been great until it ended tragically. Everyone loves a good tragedy. Everyone would love my mom. She’d been spunky and outspoken, but really kind and compassionate. My dad had adored her from the minute he met her but it had taken him six months to break down her defenses. Their romance had been epic. I’d never thought about writing a romance before, but I couldn’t get the idea of immortalizing my parents on paper out of my head. Flashes of memories I’d buried under a steel and cold will started passing across my eyes until the gym disappeared around me: my mom standing at the kitchen sink, washing the dishes because she didn’t trust the dishwasher. My dad quietly pressing up against her back, his arms sliding around her waist and hugging her close as he whispered in her ear. Whatever he’d said had made her melt back against him, her head tilting up for his kiss. Then it flashed to my dad chasing my mom inside the house at night, the door slamming, scaring the bejesus out of me and my babysitter. My mom yelling at him for being an alpha male douchebag. My dad growling about how he wasn’t going to stand by and watch some jerk from her work blatantly flirting with her in front of him. My mom screaming that he didn’t have to punch the guy. ‘He had his hand on your ass!’ my dad had snapped back, as I watched on in bewildered amazement. Someone had had his hand on my mom’s ass in front of my dad? Idiot. ‘I was taking care of it!’ my mom argued. ‘Not fast enough! You’re not working with him anymore!’ From there the argument had escalated until my babysitter was running out of there without waiting for her payment. But I wasn’t worried by the argument. My parents had always had a passionate relationship. The argument would resolve itself. And it did. My dad apologized for losing his cool but wouldn’t budge on the whole ‘not working with him’ thing. The issue became such a big deal that my mom eventually agreed, because the jerk from her work was, well, a jerk and I assumed there was more to the story than just what had happened that night. My mom actually moved to a different accountancy firm. Marriage was all about compromise she’d said, and dad would do it for her.

The memories were so clear. I could see the gold in my mom’s hazel eyes, could smell my dad’s cologne, could feel his arms around me, my mom’s hand brushing through my hair…

My chest squeezed tight and I stumbled on the treadmill, the world around me coming back, but in a pulsing of color and noise that didn’t make sense. My blood was pounding in my ears, my heart rate had escalated so fast I struggled to breathe. Pain flared up my knee, but I was barely aware of it, or the strong hands helping me to my feet and on to solid ground.

“Focus on your breathing,” a soothing voice coached in my ear.

I followed the voice and swam through the panic, grabbing control of my breathing.

Eventually my vision cleared, the compression in my head easing, my lungs opening up. Trembling from the adrenaline spiked by the panic attack, I turned to look up at the guy who was holding onto me. His dark eyes were concerned.

“You feeling better?”

I nodded, embarrassment flooding me as I looked up to see people watching us from the machines. I gently eased from his grip. “Sorry.”

He shook his head. “Don’t be. I’m just glad I caught you before your whole body hit the treadmill. Your knee is going to have a nasty bruise on it though.” He gestured to it.

I glanced down and saw a tear in my sports leggings and the pain hit me. I winced, flexing my leg. “Great.”

“I’m Gavin.” He stuck his hand out to me and I politely took it, but lazily shook it. I was exhausted.

“Joss. Thanks, by the way.”

Gavin frowned and I noted that he was cute, if you liked that muscly, clean-cut sporty type. And he was a blonde. “You sure you’re okay? I know a panic attack when I see one.”

Flushing inwardly, I shook my head, not wanting to drag up the memories that had brought on the attack. “I’m really fine. Just been a stressful week. But um… thanks again. I’m just going to head home.”

“I’ve seen you here before.” He stopped me with a smile. “I’m a personal trainer here.”

And? “Okay.”

He smirked at my response. “I’m just saying, I’m here. If you need anything.”

“I’ll keep that in mind. Thanks again.” I gave him an embarrassed wave and took off for the locker room.

I guess the book about my mom was out.

***

I got home before Ellie and decided I needed to keep moving, terrified of bringing on another panic attack. I hadn’t had one of those in years. I started putting out plates in the kitchen trying to conjure up plans in my head for the next chapter in my fantasy novel in an attempt to pretend what happened at the gym hadn’t actually happened.

My mind was taken off of the panic attack. Just not by my novel.

That damn Braden intruded again.

I opened the cutlery drawer and found a bunch of crap in it that didn’t belong there. Next on the list: reorganize the mess Ellie had made of the kitchen. The drawer was full of odds and ends—thread, needles, a camera, glue, double sticky tape, and photographs. There was one of Braden leaning against a railing that looked out over water somewhere. It was a sunny day, and he had turned to the camera just in time, his eyes squinting against the light, his beautiful mouth curled up in an affectionate smile.

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