Home > Before Jamaica Lane (On Dublin Street #3)(13)

Before Jamaica Lane (On Dublin Street #3)(13)
Author: Samantha Young

‘Mick, is Dee going to the wedding with you?’ Elodie asked from the opposite end of the table. ‘Last time we spoke you said she wasn’t sure.’

I glanced at my dad, wanting to know the answer to that question too. I had to admit, even though I was a grown-ass woman of twenty-six, it was still weird seeing my dad with someone who wasn’t Mom.

About four months ago, Dad started dating Dee, an attractive artist in her late thirties. Dad had reopened his painting and decorating company in Edinburgh, M. Holloway’s, and hired Jo. He’d already built up a great reputation and had recently hired two more guys to join their team. Back when it was just him and Jo, they took a job for this wealthy young couple in Morningside who’d bought their first home. It was a fixer-upper. There they met Dee, a friend of the couple who had been commissioned to paint a fairy-tale mural in the nursery. Dad and Dee hit it off. She was the first woman he’d dated seriously since Mom died.

I was very much aware that I should be grateful to Dee. Since her appearance, Dad had less time to worry over me, which he did. A lot. When we decided to settle in Edinburgh, I made a point of getting my own apartment. We’d been in each other’s pockets for a long time, and I really needed my space – I loved my dad to pieces, but sometimes his concern made me feel like there really was something wrong with me. The addition of Dee was at once confusing and a relief. I guessed I should get to know her a little better, because all I knew at the moment was that she was nothing like Mom. My mother was a dark-haired beauty with sharp cheekbones that hinted at the Native American heritage in her blood. Her fantastic bone structure and her dark hair were the only interesting physical attributes she gave me. Somehow a merciless God had not deigned to bestow upon me my mother’s beauty. It was her beauty that caught my dad’s eye, and then it was her dry, often twisted sense of humor – which I did inherit – and then it was the calm around her. Mom could soothe any room just by being in it. She was this incredibly peaceful, relaxing person, and it emanated from her to every one around her. It was a gift.

Despite her faults – her inconsiderate choices as a young girl – Mom was unfailingly kind, compassionate, and patient, which was why she’d made a great nurse. She’d handled her illness with a grace that always brought a lump to my throat whenever I let myself remember. She was a pretty reserved person, not overly confident, but not insecure or shy. Just quiet. Innately cool. You can’t teach that kind of cool. I should know because I’m pretty sure she tried to teach it to me and it clearly didn’t stick. I had no intention of trying to browbeat my inner geek for the chance to be cool. No, thank you. Me and my inner geek were loyal to each other. We had been ever since I was eight years old and my mother told me it was okay to be whoever I chose to be.

‘Mom, Arnie Welsh keeps calling me a geek. He says it like it’s a bad thing. Is being a geek a bad thing?’

‘Of course not, Soda Pop. And don’t listen to labels. They don’t matter.’

‘What are labels?’

‘It’s an imaginary sticker people slap on you with the word they think you are written on it. It doesn’t matter who they think you are. It matters who you think you are.’

‘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?’

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