Echoes of Scotland Street

Page 13


“Aye, Cole mentioned he met you on Scotland Street years ago. Says you can’t remember, though.” She eyed me, smirking. “Somehow I doubt that.” I shrugged again and Rae threw her head back in laughter. “Love. It.”
Before my flatmate could plague me with any more questions I wasn’t sure I was ready to answer, I said, “What about you?”
Rae put her fork down and gave it to me straight. And I mean straight. “Foster kid. Mum’s a junkie. Dad’s in jail—voluntary manslaughter. Lived in Edinburgh my whole life. Was engaged once when I was twenty. He died. I tried to commit suicide. Simon was my fiance’s best mate. He found me. He saved me, got me into the tattoo industry. Love him to bits. Five years later I met Mike at a gig. He works weird hours, but we manage. Hopefully you’ll get to meet the man behind the grunts.”
Bloody hell. That was a lot to process. The silence stretched between us as I tried to decide which part of that to acknowledge. I felt her gaze as she waited for my reaction and decided the best thing I could do was concentrate on the positive. Her life had been crap. She didn’t need me to comment on the fact that it had been.
“How long have you and Mike been together?”
Her eyes twinkled at me and I was learning that this meant Rae was pleased. “Three years.” She took another bite of dinner and asked through a mouthful, “No ex-fiancé in your past, then?”
I shook my head.
“But there was someone,” she said.
Realizing it wasn’t a question, I just kept eating. It was on the tip of my tongue to tell Rae everything. She’d laid it all out for me, so I knew she wouldn’t think I was oversharing. But today had already been an emotional day and I just couldn’t form the words.
Rae sighed. “Well, not everyone can be an open fucking book like me, I suppose. It’s only with my life, though. I’m good at keeping my fat mouth shut when it comes to other people’s shit.”
I smiled and got up to clean my empty plate. “I’ll tell you all about it one day.”
Rae got up and joined me at the sink. She took my plate out of my hand to clean it. “Fancy getting pissed?”
*   *   *
The last two days had been quite relaxing for one very big reason. I hadn’t seen Cole. Not once.
Until I decided that I did fancy having a drink with my new friend and flatmate and completely forgot that Cole was likely to be there too. And not just Cole. I discovered that his leggy friend Tamara was still in the city when we walked into the Voodoo Rooms and found her at a corner table with Cole, Simon, and Tony. I said a polite hello to them, thankful that Tony was a compelling character who required my entire focus when we met.
“Simon has been talking nonstop about you,” Tony said in his musical accent, before kissing me on each cheek. “I can see why.”
Whereas Simon was the epitome of casual earthiness, Tony was the opposite. Incredibly handsome in a very pretty way, Tony was dressed head to toe in a well-fitted three-piece suit. He was warm, cultured, and sophisticated.
“It’s lovely to finally meet you,” I said after he let me go.
“No, no.” He shook his head. “The pleasure is all mine. You make Simon’s life easier and he loves you already, so I am happy, yes.”
Rae huffed. “I don’t remember getting a reception like that when we first met.”
Tony gave her an insouciant shrug. “I didn’t like you at first. Such a bitch, darling.”
“Takes one to know one,” Rae countered.
Tony grinned. “Doesn’t it, though?”
Rae laughed and threw her arm around him, planting a kiss against his cheek. He pretended to shoo her off him, but it was clear he was only kidding and that there was a lot of affection between them.
I suddenly felt very out of place.
But that feeling didn’t last long. They wouldn’t have it that way.
Simon bought us all a round of drinks and Rae and I stole a seat and shared it. Luckily we both had a tiny arse or one of us would have been on the floor. Across the table, Cole’s attention was being commandeered by the lovely Tamara. I was fine with that. It meant avoiding his eyes was easy, and I could gab away with Simon and Tony, two opposites who somehow made a perfect right. I was falling in love with them and I imagined anyone who spent just a little time with them would feel the same way.
“So I have this woman come into my salon and she asks for my price list,” Tony said. I’d already learned from Simon that Tony owned a hair salon in Old Town. He was so successful he was just about to finalize plans to open a second salon in Stockbridge. “She turns up her nose and says, ‘Oh no, darling, I never get my hair cut in a salon that charges less than eighty pounds for a cut and blow-dry.’” He rolled his eyes. “So I say, ‘But, darling, there are so many gorgeous woman who can’t afford high-end prices. Here I offer high-end cuts at an affordable rate.’ And the old witch has the nerve to say loudly in front of all my beautiful customers, ‘And that’s why you’ll never have high-end clients.’”
“I hope you stuck it to the bitch,” Rae said.
Tony harrumphed. “I look her over very deliberately and I say, ‘In my salon, darling, you can’t put a price on class.’ I dunno what these women think . . . that I’m going to sniff after their gold-covered bottoms?” He leaned into me now. “I start with very little and it was the students and young working people that help me build my business. I’m not going to forget where I come from, you know.” He chuckled. “Although my mother tells me all the time I forget I am Italian.”
“She doesn’t know what she’s talking about.” Simon shook his head. “Half the time I can’t understand a fucking thing coming out of your mouth.”
Tony grinned wickedly at him. “It has its uses, though, yes?”
While his boyfriend threw his head back in laughter, Rae yelled, “No! No, no! No sex talk tonight.”
I raised an eyebrow. “Really?”
She frowned. “Really, what?”
“You have a problem with them discussing their sex life. You,” I emphasized. “The squealer?”
Simon, Tony, and Cole burst out laughing. I hadn’t even realized Cole was listening to our conversation. Rae fought a grin as she stared at me.