Echoes of Scotland Street

Page 11


*   *   *
I’d never been so thankful to get away from someone in my life. Sure, there were times I’d been stuck in conversation with people that bored me or offended me, and that was never fun. However, being stuck in close proximity with the ultimate daydream-worthy bad boy whose clothes you wanted to rip off despite the fact that you knew he wasn’t right for you was worse. A lot worse.
In fact, it was downright upsetting.
I berated myself the whole way back to the flat, wondering what the hell was wrong with me that after everything I’d been through I could still be attracted to the likes of Cole Walker.
Inside the flat, I kicked off my shoes in a tantrum with myself.
Rae snorted as she shrugged off her jacket. “You’ve certainly caught Walker’s eye.”
I flinched. So it was that obvious? Channeling the depths of my dislike of the bad-boy species into my expression, I lifted my gaze to Rae’s and stated firmly, “I’m not interested.”
Rae jerked back at my tone and quickly her surprise melted away. She looked . . . impressed? “I actually believe that. A woman that hasn’t fallen at Cole’s feet. Will wonders never cease?” She grinned. “I knew I liked you.”
I laughed softly, tiredly, and bade Rae good night. I was almost at my bedroom door when she called out my name. “Yeah?”
She strolled toward the door next to mine with a swagger in her slender hips. “My boyfriend, Mike, works back shift tonight—he’s a nurse. He usually comes over late and we like to fuck loudly. There are a pack of earplugs in the sideboard drawer in the hall.”
*   *   *
A few hours later I was awakened by squealing. It didn’t take me long to work out that the squealing, followed by male grunts, was Rae and her man having sex. Loudly. Just as promised.
Slightly mortified I hadn’t taken Rae at her word (and now knew way more about her than I’d ever wanted to), I quietly hurried out into the hall, snatched up the earplugs, and hurried back to bed. To my everlasting relief, the earplugs muffled the noise enough I could drift back to sleep. But I did so on the thought that I had never met anyone like Rae. I didn’t quite know yet whether that was a good or a bad thing.
*   *   *
The dog—I think it was a Welsh terrier—was tied to the lamppost on the opposite side of the street. He’d been there for the last three hours since his master had tied him there and wandered into the pub. My chest ached with how miserable he looked as the spring temperature dipped when the clouds obscured the sun.
He shivered and I cursed his master to hell for leaving him there for that length of time.
My anger had begun simmering two hours ago and showed no sign of losing heat.
“You all right?”
I jerked around at Cole’s voice. He stood on the opposite side of the reception desk, his eyebrows puckered in concern.
I gestured to the dog outside our window, visible through the street traffic. I couldn’t help the sadness in my voice as I said, “Some people shouldn’t be allowed to own a dog.”
Cole seemed confused.
“He’s been there all morning,” I explained.
The confusion melted from his expression only to be replaced by that soft look that was a hundred times worse than his smoldering one. “Gives my clients chocolate when they’re feeling faint, can handle Rae better than most people, feels sorry for strange dogs, is gorgeous but doesn’t know it, and has shit hot taste in music.” His voice lowered to an unbelievably sexy rumble. “Are you perfect, Shannon MacLeod?”
My pulse started to race. Shuttering my expression, I looked down at the file I’d been in the middle of scanning. I’d worked at INKarnate for three days and had barely made a dent in the files. “I’d really like you to stop flirting with me,” I said primly.
The sound of movement brought my head up, and my eyes widened at the sight of Cole rounding the desk. I leaned back as he deliberately crowded me in against it, his hands coming to rest on the desk at either side of me. My breathing stuttered as the air thickened. Heat danced from his body to mine, and no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t stop the tingling between my legs or the swelling in my breasts as he stared down at me with blatant sexual intention.
He lowered his head and I braced myself. Instead of kissing me, though, he murmured against my mouth, “That might be a problem for me.”
The sound of the front door opening drew Cole back from me, and I gratefully gulped in some air. I felt like a total idiot.
“Tamara,” Cole said, surprise in his voice. Catching sight of the pleased smile on his face, I whirled around to have a look at this Tamara person.
I frowned.
A tall, curvy brunette was walking across the studio toward Cole with a huge smile on her pretty face. She enveloped him in a hug, so tall in her high-heeled boots that they were the same height.
They fit perfectly together.
Something I was determined not to admit was a wave of jealousy slashed in a fiery pain across my chest.
“What are you doing here?” Cole asked as they stepped back from their embrace.
Tamara shrugged with an excited smile. “I’m here on a talent scout and was hoping you might be able to fit me in. I know it’s last minute and you’re a very busy boy.”
Fit her in? Busy boy?
My stomach dropped.
Finally, here was evidence of Cole the player. I had no right to feel disillusioned and disappointed. None. So I didn’t.
Really. I didn’t.
No, siree, not me.
I waited nosily to see if Cole did have time in his man-whore schedule for her but looked down at my work as though I didn’t care.
“Shannon, I’m free for the next hour, right?”
“Two,” I said without looking up, “if you count lunch break.”
“Is it just a small tat? Two hours enough?”
“More than.”
My hands stilled on the scanner button. They were talking tattoos . . . not a sexual hookup? I bit my lip, hating that the jealous burn in my chest was already disappearing. Glancing up at them from under my lashes, I saw Tamara watching me carefully.
Cole noticed her appraisal of me. “Tamara, this is our new receptionist and Rae’s flatmate, Shannon. Shannon, this is Tamara. She’s an A-and-R executive for Tower Records in Glasgow. We went to Edinburgh College of Art together—Tamara is a graduate of the Reid School of Music there.”