Fall from India Place Page 21

“Don’t you dare.” He stood up abruptly.

“Or what?” I taunted him. “Are you going to throw me out? Just like you’re throwing me out of your life?”

“You don’t belong here!” he yelled, taking me aback.

I flinched but stood my ground. “If you’re here, I’m here!”

Marco seemed stumped by that.

He hung his head, staring at the floor.

“I miss talking to you,” I whispered sadly.

His eyes flicked to me and he couldn’t hide the remorse and tenderness in them. I almost closed mine in relief.

“How have you been?” he asked gruffly.

I shrugged. “Fine, I guess. School is good. I got an unconditional offer from Edinburgh University.”

Marco smiled a little. “That’s awesome. I’m proud of you.”

I smiled back, feeling warmth course through me at his praise. I took another step toward him. “How’s work?”

“It’s fine. I still work shifts at the restaurant.”

I’d told him months ago how surprised I was to discover he was working for his uncle. I asked him why he’d hid it from me. He said it was a shit situation and not worth talking about.

“You’ve haven’t broken away from them?”

He shook his head. “They adopted me so I could live in the UK. I owe them for getting me out of a bad situation in Chicago. I owe my aunt. She’s been good to me.”

“But you’re not living there anymore?”

He looked up at me, his expression solemn. “I worry what I might end up doing if I stayed there. I had to leave.”

“Marco,” I breathed, aching for him and wishing I could just wrap my arms around him.

“I don’t want your sympathy. I never have,” he snapped.

“Oh, get over yourself, you big baby. I’m allowed to be upset for you. It comes with the territory of caring about you.”

He grunted. “Just say it how you feel it, Hannah.”

As our eyes clashed the air felt suddenly electric between us. “Are you sure you mean that?”

He knew where I was leading. He shook his head. “Don’t.”

“Why?” I asked softly, trying to fight my frustration and failing. “You know I care about you, and you know… you know I want to be with you. You can’t keep avoiding that.” I sucked in a breath. “Why did you react the way you did to seeing me with Scott? Why did you say what you said to me in Douglas Gardens all those months ago? In fact, why have you looked out for me all these years if you didn’t feel the same way back?”

He squeezed his eyes shut tight, pinching the bridge of his nose. With a groan, he hung his head.

I almost laughed. “That’s not an answer.”

“Hannah” – he sighed, still not meeting my eyes – “I looked out for you because you’re a good girl and I didn’t want scum like Jenks touching you. I said what I said in the gardens that night because I meant it. Because you’re important to me. You’re my friend and I don’t have a lot of those. As for Scott…” He shook his head. “Fuck knows.”

I moved toward him, my pulse throbbing in my neck. “I think you know.”

His eyes blazed. “It’s not what you think.”

I closed the distance between us, my body brushing his as I tilted my head back to look into his face. He didn’t step back. I took that as a good sign. “It’s exactly what I think.”

The muscle in his jaw ticked and something powerful and perhaps dangerous emanated from him. “You need to leave.”


“Hannah, leave now.”

“Marco —”

“Hannah, leave!” he growled, his body heat burning me.

I flinched, rejection and anger molten within me. “You are such a coward!”

“You are such a pain in my ass!” he yelled back.

“Fine! I’ll go out there and be a pain in someone else’s arse!” My breathing felt out of control. I felt out of control. “I don’t need this. There are guys out there who actually want to kiss and touch me.” I swung around on that grand, arrogant statement, intent on storming out of the room.

Instead Marco’s viselike grip tightened around my upper arm and I was suddenly hauled back, my body crashing flush against his. I didn’t even have a second to compute what was happening before his hard mouth was on mine.

I melted instantly into his kiss, relieved and lustful, my hands relaxing on his strong chest, my body leaning into his while my lips parted to let him devour me. The kiss was rough, desperate, and turned me on in a way I’d had no idea a kiss could. I loved the rich taste of him, the erotic feel of his tongue against mine, and the fact that I wasn’t just feeling his mouth on mine; I was feeling his strength all around me. His arms were steel bands holding me tight, his hands clenched the fabric at the back of my dress. I slid my hands up around his neck as his kiss slowed but deepened, and I thrilled at the feel of my br**sts pressing against his muscled chest. I could smell him, taste him, feel his hot skin. He was everywhere, everything. It was sensational.

I didn’t know how long we stood there kissing. It felt like forever. My mouth was swollen, and my body was screaming for more. In a bid for more I ran my hands down his chest, around his waist and then under his shirt, groaning into his mouth at the sensation of his smooth, hot skin beneath my touch.

Abruptly, I was pushed away.

Panting, Marco stared back at me as if he’d never seen me before. Shock seemed to immobilize him for a second and I was too busy trembling with unfulfilled lust to string a sentence together.

I watched as he stumbled back against his bed and sank onto the mattress. He hung his head again while he tried to catch his breath.

Knowing that he was berating himself for some stupid reason I had yet to work out, it occurred to me that if I didn’t escalate things between us now I wouldn’t get this moment back with him. So I took small steps toward him.

I stopped, my legs almost touching his knees. My hand reached for him before I could stop myself and I stroked my fingers over his close-cropped dark hair. He lowered his hands at my touch, tilting his head back to look up at me. There was a warning in his eyes, his expression taut with restraint and perhaps a little anger.

I ignored his warning. “I’ll make you a promise,” I said. “I’ll keep being your friend and I’ll never mention this again… if you can look me in the eyes after what just happened and tell me you don’t want me.”

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