Fall from India Place Page 27

“So, Marco… I didn’t know you liked to read.” I puckered my brow in fake confusion.

“Yeah.” He nodded innocently. “I’m a big reader.”

“Or a big liar,” I muttered under my breath.

“Sorry, Hannah?” Ronnie leaned in to hear me better.

I ignored her as politely as I could, my saccharine smile directed at Marco. “It’s nice to welcome you aboard. How did you find out about us?”

He chuckled. “Anisha. Apparently, she doesn’t do well with threats. Know anything about that?”

Nish. Of course. I should have known better – threat tactics would make her do the opposite of what I wanted her to do. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I lied. “And I’m going to kill her.”

Ronnie sighed. “I’m very confused right now.”

I sighed too. “Let’s just start, shall we?”

We took our seats and Marco sat next to Ronnie in the chair directly opposite me in the circle. All eyes were on him as Ronnie introduced him, and not just because he was new to the group, but because he stood out in so many ways. One, he was gorgeous; two, he was American; and three, he just had that special something about him that drew people to him.

I’d have thrown my book at him if it wouldn’t have gotten me kicked out of the group. I even seriously contemplated it for a moment and by the silent laughter parting Marco’s lips he knew exactly what I was thinking about doing.

I glared at him and looked away.

“Have you read The Help, Marco?” Ronnie asked him, clearly enamored with him.

“Nope, can’t say I have.”

“Oh, that’s okay. Just follow along with our discussion.”

“Sure thing.”

Sure thing. I made a childish face in mockery and his snort brought my gaze swinging back to collide with his. He was laughing at me. He found me amusing.

He was enjoying himself!

I attempted to join the discussion, attempted to say all the intelligent things I had to say about the book, but with his blue-green eyes boring into me the whole time, my brain wasn’t cooperating.

Thirty minutes later, Chris was shooting me concerned looks and Ronnie was preening because she’d brought up most of the talking points this week. She turned to Marco. “Is there anything you might like to add, now that you’ve heard a little something about the book?”

I froze, my eyes glued to him despite myself. My heart sped up in anticipation.

Marco didn’t disappoint. He looked straight at me and replied, “I think it sounds like a book about determination, about pursuing what’s right, what feels right, despite the odds stacked against you or the possible fallout. It sounds like my kind of book.”

I was frozen in that moment, looking at him as he looked back at me with all the determination he had mentioned. My palms began to sweat, I couldn’t hear over the rushing of blood in my ears, and I wondered where the hell I was supposed to go from there.

He was telling me he wasn’t going to give up.

I think I believed him.

Clearing my throat, I abruptly stood up and stuffed the book in my bag. Without a word, I hurried out of there, ignoring Ronnie’s concerned call of my name as the others murmured their bafflement.


“When I’m with you it feels like everything’s going to be okay. I can’t explain it.”

I couldn’t get Marco’s voice out of my head, those words he’d said to me so long ago. They had meant so much to me then because I knew that he wasn’t the kind of guy who expressed his emotions well, and that day he’d let himself be vulnerable with me.

Despite everything that had happened, despite him leaving me and breaking my heart, I couldn’t stop those words from haunting me.

Standing alone on the small patio at the back of the house where I grew up, I stared at the ground and I fought with myself, calling myself foolish for dwelling on the sweet when it was the bitter that had done so much damage. But in a way, I guess, the bitter wouldn’t affect me so much if the sweet hadn’t been so damn sweet.


I glanced up at the now open French doors that led into my parents’ dining room to see Cole gazing at me in concern. The noise from the front of the house filtered toward me now that the door was open. Although Joss, Braden, Beth, and Luke weren’t with us because they had tickets to a children’s musical, the house was still crowded and loud. Liv and Nate had made it this time, along with Lily and January. Ellie and Adam were there too with William, and Jo, Cam, Cole, Dec, and Penny had joined us.

I smiled at Cole. Ever since Lily started calling me Nanna, Cole used it playfully. “What’s up?”

He stepped outside, closing the door.

I frowned at the thin T-shirt he wore. Although it exposed his artwork, it also exposed him to the spiky November cold. “Go back inside and put on a jacket.”

One corner of his mouth pulled up into an amused smirk. “I’m fine, Mum.”

“You’ll catch a cold.”

“I’m fine,” he insisted. “You? I’m thinking not so much.”

It was getting harder and harder to pretend with my friends and family that I wasn’t in a mood. I’d spent the last week completely discombobulated, living inside my own head. I didn’t know how I felt about Marco’s persistence and because no one else knew the whole story I didn’t even have anyone to turn to. And in the end that was my own fault.

“Hannah, seriously.” Cole’s smile slipped, a deep frown line appearing between his brows. “You’ve been quiet all week and you’re out here by yourself, looking like you have the weight of the entire world on your shoulders. I’m worried. Tell me what’s going on.”

I sighed, not wanting to piss him off with an obvious lie. “Do you remember Marco from the wedding?”

He nodded and waited for me to continue.

“I used to be in love with him.”

Cole’s eyebrows rose at that little bomb of information. “How did I not know this?”

“You and I weren’t as close back then. Jo, Ellie, Joss, and Liv know about him. We met when I was fourteen and by the time I was seventeen I was mad about him. He’s older, so we were just friends. Sometimes I tutored him. But I always wanted more. We kissed when I was seventeen” – I diluted the information – “and just when I thought maybe he felt the same way about me, he went back to America. The wedding reception was the first time I’ve seen him since then and… he told me he’s been back in Edinburgh for four years.”

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