Home > On Dublin Street (On Dublin Street #1)(10)

On Dublin Street (On Dublin Street #1)(10)
Author: Samantha Young

“Oh come on, sweetheart, it’s my birthday, just one kiss.”

My hand clamped down around the guy’s and I bit my nails into his skin. “Let go of her, ass**le, before I tear the flesh from your hand and nail it to your balls.”

He hissed in pain and jerked back from me, consequently letting go of Jo. “American bitch.” He groaned, cradling the hand that was now covered in deep crescent-shaped marks. “I’m complaining to management.”

Why did my nationality always come into play in a negative situation? And what? Were we in some 80’s brat pack movie? I snorted at him, unimpressed.

Brian, our huge security guy appeared behind him. He did not look amused. “Problem, Joss?”

“Yeah. Can you please remove this guy and his friends from the bar?”

He didn’t even ask why. There had only been a few occasions where we’d had people tossed out, so Brian trusted my assessment of the situation. “Come on fellas, move it,” he growled and like the cowards they were, pale-faced and drunk off their asses, the three of them lumbered out of the bar with Brian behind them.

Feeling Jo tremble beside me, I placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. “You okay?”

“Aye.” She gave me a weak smile. “Bad night all around. Steven dumped me earlier.”

I winced knowing how much that had to hurt Jo and her little brother. They lived together in a small apartment on Leith Walk where they took turns taking care of their mom who had ME– Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. To make the rent, Jo – who was gorgeous – used her looks to get herself ‘sugar daddies’ to help take care of them financially. No matter how much people told her she was smart enough to do something more with her life, she was just full of insecurities. The only confidence she did have was in her good looks and their ability to snag a guy to take care of her and her family. But looking after her mom always trumped them and sooner or later they all eventually dumped her. “I’m sorry, Jo. You know if you need help with rent or anything, all you’ve got to do is ask.”

I’d offered more times that I could count. She always said no.

“Nah.” She shook her head and pressed a soft kiss to my cheek. “I’ll find someone new. I always do.”

She wandered away with a slump to her shoulders and I found myself worrying about her when I really didn’t want to. Jo was one of the misunderstood. She could grate on your nerves with her materialism, but humble you with her loyalty to her family. She might love pretty shoes but they took a backburner when it came to making sure her kid brother and mom were okay. Unfortunately, that loyalty also meant she’d trample over anyone who got in her way, and be trampled over by anyone willing to use her situation against her. “I’m going on my break. I’ll send Craig out.”

I nodded, even though she couldn’t see me, wondering who her next victim would be. Or was that whose victim she would next become?

“It’s quiet tonight.” Craig ambled towards me two minutes later with a can of soda in hand. Tall, dark-haired and good-looking, Craig probably pulled in just as many tips as Jo and I did. He was a perennial flirt. And he was good at it.

“It’s summer,” I mused, casting an eye around the quiet club before turning my back to lean on the bar. “It’ll pick up weekdays again when August comes around.” I didn’t have to explain I meant it would pick up because of the Edinburgh Festival. In August, the entire city was taken over by the famous festival. Tourists descended on the city, stealing all the best tables in all the best restaurants and there was always so many of them they made walking five steps into a five minute journey.

Tips were great though.

Craig groaned and leaned closer to me. “I’m bored.” He flicked his eyes over my body with lazy perusal. “Want to shag me in the men’s toilets?”

He asked me this every shift.

I always said no, and then told him to ‘shag’ Jo instead. His reply: ‘Been there, done that’. I was a friendly challenge and I think he honestly had deluded himself into thinking he’d one day conquer me.

“Well? Do you?” A familiar soft voice asked from behind me.

I whirled around, blinking in surprise to find Ellie on the other side of the bar. Behind her was a guy I didn’t recognize and… Braden.

Blanching instantly, still mortified from yesterday, I barely noted the carefully blank expression in his eyes as he watched Craig.

Wrenching my own gaze from him, I smiled weakly at Ellie. “Um… what are you doing here?”

Ellie and I had, had dinner together the night before. I’d told her Braden had stopped by, but I hadn’t told her about the whole naked thing. She’d told me about her class, and I could understand why she’d make such a great tutor. Her passion for art history was infectious and I found myself listening to her with genuine interest.

All and all, it had been a pleasant first dinner. Ellie had asked me a couple of personal questions that I had managed to deflect back onto her. I now knew that she was a big sister to half-siblings, Hannah (fourteen) and Declan (ten). Her mom, Elodie Nichols, lived in the Stockbridge area of Edinburgh with her husband Clark. Elodie was a part-time manager at the Sheraton Grand Hotel, and Clark, a professor of classical history at the university. It was clear from the way she talked that Ellie adored them all and I got the impression that Braden spent more time with this family than his own mother.

At lunch today, Ellie and I had taken a break from our own work and met in the sitting room for food and a little bit of television. We’d sniggered our way through an episode of classic British comedy ‘Are you Being Served?’ and had bonded in comfortable silence. I’d felt as though I were gaining surprisingly fast but steady ground with my new roommate.

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