Fall from India Place Page 26

Shaking my head in disbelief, I asked, “Who are you?”

“I’m not the guy I used to be.”

“Forget I asked, because I don’t care!” I yelled, instantly regretting it when one of the trainers shot me a warning look. I didn’t like the triumphant expression on Marco’s face. I was making it much too clear that he was affecting me. I sniffed haughtily and stepped off the treadmill. “I don’t want an explanation and I don’t care what gym you go to. I’m here to work out. You do as you please.”

With that stick up my butt, I wandered away from him, trying to remember if these were the shorts that made my arse look flat. I swear my butt cheeks flushed beneath the fabric at the thought of him checking me out.

I got on the cross trainer and attempted to put Marco out of my mind. That wasn’t so easy when he followed me and stepped up onto the cross trainer beside me. I did a valiant job of ignoring him… Ignoring him when he followed me like the stalker I’d accused him of being, around the gym so that we looked like we were working out together.

“If you want to do some weights I’ll spot you.” He grinned at me as I finished on the rowing machine.

I gave him a look of derision. “I’d rather have an elephant with a flatulence problem sit on my face.”

Marco choked on a burst of laughter, swallowing what I was sure had been a gust of amusement. Had he changed?


No! Not hmm. You do not give a rat’s arse if he’s changed!

“Descriptive,” he answered, mirth in his light eyes. “You still writing?”

I crossed my arms over my chest, cocking my hip in attitude. “Actually, I am still writing. What do you think of my latest story? It’s about this brooding, issue-riddled American boy who slept with this nice Scottish girl. She told him she loved him and it disgusted him so much he flew across an entire ocean to get away from her, leaving nothing behind but a broken heart and virgin blood on the sheets.”

All amusement fled from Marco’s face. He took an uncertain step toward me, lifting his hand as if he was going to touch me, comfort me.

I flinched, warding him off, all that pain and rage concealed beneath a false calm. I don’t know where I got the strength to find that calmness, but I thanked God for it. “Don’t. I don’t care if you’ve changed. I don’t care who you are now. I don’t need or want your explanations because what you did, you didn’t do it to me, you did it to that girl you left behind. And I’m not her anymore. You made certain of that. She might have needed answers and an apology, but me… I don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re just someone stalking me in my local gym.”

With that I turned around and walked away from him, hoping he didn’t see my legs trembling.

The first thing I did when I got to the locker room was to send a text to Nish, who was on her honeymoon in the Maldives. It pretty much warned her to stop giving Marco my weekly schedule and permission to the receptionist at school to let him in. Or else.

I used the f-word a lot.

Even though I had time to visit the gym the following Monday, I didn’t. I hadn’t received any more calls or surprise visits from Marco, but I wasn’t chancing the gym again. It didn’t matter, though. He’d won. He was inside my head, just where I knew he wanted to be. I kept expecting him to appear everywhere, and I hated that I was at once relieved and disappointed whenever I got through the day without seeing him. It would seem my mind knew exactly what it wanted, but my body and my heart just wouldn’t agree with it.

I tried relaxing by going to dinner with Michaela and Colin on Saturday, and visiting with my family at Sunday lunch. I must have done an okay job of at least pretending relaxation and calm because I wasn’t peppered with concerned questions. I’d even managed to convince Ellie so she’d stop being annoyed with me.

School was particularly busy because it was only a few days until Halloween and the kids were hyper. This meant I was really looking forward to my book group because it was relaxing and interesting and a total escape from my real life. It was a group of eleven of us, but usually only eight or so ever turned up on the night. We ranged from twenty-two years old (me) to fifty-eight (an outspoken dental receptionist called Ronnie). We were reading The Help and I knew the subject matter would make for some opinionated chat. It would take my mind off things for a while.

I walked into the room we used in the community center that evening feeling like tonight would be the night to put Marco and his strange behavior of the last week behind me for good.

I smiled hello to the only guy in our group, Chris. Chris was forty-five years old and a high school history teacher. He’d joined the book group as well as a chess club and bowling team in an effort to move on from his divorce. I settled down in my usual seat between Chris and Laila, a twenty-five-year-old book blogger who had a photographic memory and had read more books in her short time on the planet than all the rest of us collectively.

“Oh, Hannah, come meet our newest member!” Ronnie called.

I glanced up from pulling my copy of The Help out of my bag to look across the room at Ronnie. Disbelief crashed over me.

Marco towered over her, grinning at me.

“Oh, my God,” Laila murmured, devouring Marco with her eyes. “He’s totally my latest book boyfriend.”

I shot her a dirty look before getting slowly to my feet. I walked toward Ronnie and Marco, wondering how to handle this new situation, and also wondering how the hell to stop the tingling between my legs at the way Marco was looking at me.

I felt his eyes roam over me, lingering on my br**sts, following the curve of my hips and skimming my legs, before traveling back up again. When our eyes met, his were filled with the kind of blatant heat I would have done anything for five years ago.

“Marco.” I greeted him flatly, deciding not to hide the fact that I knew him.

Ronnie’s eyes widened. “You know Marco already?”

“Yup.” I raised an eyebrow at him in question and he gave me that grin again. That was a new grin. And it had an immediate effect on my lady parts.

Damn him.

“Well, what a coincidence.” Ronnie smiled, her eyes moving back and forth between us.

“Mmm.” I rounded my eyes in mock agreement. “Coincidence indeed.”

Marco laughed outright.

Ronnie appeared suddenly confused.

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