Fall from India Place Page 13

Marco shrugged again, but this time he met my gaze when he said, “My mom pretty much disowned my dad and my grandparents wouldn’t let him near me. He gave up, took off before I was even one. My mom stuck around for a few years, but she couldn’t take being a mom. She was only seventeen when she had me. And she couldn’t take the fact that her dad, who she’d once idolized, couldn’t stand the sight of her and the massive disappointment she represented. So she took off too. Left me with them.”

My stomach felt heavy. “How bad was it?”

He looked me straight in the eye and I knew by his expression he wasn’t going to tell me. By not telling me, though, he left my imagination to work overtime and I felt nothing aside from fury at his grandfather and a need to protect Marco. “Nonna’s great. She tried to make up for… everything else. And most of the Italian side of the family are great. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to live with them.”

“So you got in trouble and they sent you here to your uncle?”

He nodded, a scowl forming on his handsome face. “My mom’s big brother. My aunt Gabby is Scottish Italian, but her dad is originally from Chicago. She came for a visit years ago and my uncle Gio fell for her. They came up with the idea for the restaurant, her parents had capital, he moved here with her, and D’Alessandro’s was born.”

Silence fell between us and I suddenly felt awkward touching him. I dropped my hand and settled back against the bench. My eyes moved down the long sprawl of his legs, and I thought that if he’d wanted to, Marco could have fought back. He didn’t. Out of respect or refusal to be brought down to his uncle’s level, I didn’t know. I just knew it made me care about him even more.

“Is this why you texted me?” My voice sounded loud in the darkening gardens.

“Nah. I texted you to hang out with me. To talk.”

I laughed softly. “You? Talk?”

I felt warm all over at the sight of his grin. “I talk. I just did, didn’t I?”

“I suppose. But you’re really more of a listener.”

“Whatever.” He shook his head at me, still grinning.

Wanting to keep him smiling, I attempted some easier conversation. “Well, you said talk, so I’m going to make you talk more.”


I nodded, turning to the side and stretching my arm out along the back of the bench. Marco shifted slightly, turning his body in toward mine. “Let me see… okay. What’s your favorite song?”

“‘Dirt Off Your Shoulder’ – Jay Z.”

I burst out laughing and his smile widened. “You’re lying.”

He shrugged.

“Seriously? Favorite song?”

Marco sighed, rubbing his hand over his head. He seemed almost self-conscious as he replied, “‘Hurt’ by Nine Inch Nails.”

“I’ve never heard of it.” But I’d definitely be YouTube-ing it when I got home.

“It’s good. Real, you know.” He shifted again so he was sitting to the side, facing me. “Nonna’s neighbor died and her son inherited the house. He was a big Nine Inch Nails fan. He’d blast that music, pissing off Nonno and half the neighborhood. Nonno sent me over one afternoon when I was twelve to tell the guy to shut it off. But when I got there ‘Hurt’ was playing. I’d never really paid that much attention to lyrics until that moment. Didn’t get how they could be like a letter someone wrote to you… to let you know you weren’t alone.”

For some reason this brought tears to my eyes. I’d never wanted to protect someone the way I wanted to protect him. I thought if he saw, he would resent it. But sitting there with him, looking into his eyes as he looked into mine, I knew Marco could discern how I felt about him. And for once he didn’t walk away. Instead, his expression softened, his eyes warmed, and he asked, “What’s your favorite song?”

I beat back the wetness in my eyes and smiled. “I grew up listening to Bob Dylan. My mum’s a huge fan. Have you listened to him?”

Marco shook his head. “Not really.”

“‘Blowin’ in the Wind.’ That’s my favorite song. It’s kind of a sad song, but it doesn’t remind me of sad times. It reminds me of day trips to the Highlands with the whole family, or lazing around on a Saturday afternoon, just Mum and me. I suppose sometimes it’s the memories associated with the song rather than the song itself that makes it a favorite.”

“That sounds cool. I’m glad you have a cool family, Hannah. You deserve that.”

I frowned at the seeming insinuation behind his words. “So do you, Marco.”

When he didn’t reply, I pushed the frustration over not being able to help him with his family life aside, and asked, “Favorite movie?”

I saw his cheek lift into a smile again and I relaxed. “Training Day.”

“I haven’t seen it.”

“We’ll fix that oversight. What about you?”

“My favorite movie? Or my real favorite movie?”

He chuckled. “Both.”

“The movie I tell everyone is my favorite is Dead Poets Society. It’s a great movie, but it’s really my mum’s favorite movie.”

“And yours?”

I felt my cheeks heat a little. “Okay, you can’t tell anyone.”

He laughed. “How bad is this?”

“It’s Finding Nemo.”

Marco grinned. “It’s not that bad.”

“Out of all the movies of all time, I choose Finding Nemo. An animation,” I reminded him.

He shrugged. “I chose Training Day. It’s not what everyone else holds up as a great movie – your favorite movie is one you enjoy a lot. A movie you can watch over and over again because for whatever reason you get something out of it.”

“You’re right. You’re completely right. From now on I’m owning up to Finding Nemo.”

“Oh, I never said that,” he teased. “Keep that shit to yourself until you’re out of high school.”

“Hey!” I punched him playfully on the arm and he burst out laughing. Watching him, knowing I’d lifted his mood, made me feel like someone had wrapped us up in a warm cocoon. The connection between us had strengthened. “Next question. Favorite book?”

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