Fall from India Place Page 28

My friend’s eyes glimmered with sympathy. “I’m sorry, sweetheart. I wish I’d known. I would never have left you alone that night.”

“I needed to be alone,” I reassured him.

“His reappearance is obviously messing with your head.”

“No, actually he is.”

Cole’s face instantly darkened. “What does that mean?”

“It means he wants a chance to explain why he left the way he left, and he’s been turning up everywhere I go in an attempt to get me to listen.” I went on to tell him about the school, the gym, and the book club encounter.

His glower cleared. Now he just looked amused. “So, listen.”

I jerked back in anger. “No. He doesn’t deserve it.”

“Hannah, you were kids. If he’s taking the time to pursue you, then he clearly feels bad and wants a second chance.”

“He’s had that chance for the last four years.”

“Maybe he didn’t know what to say.”

“Whose side are you on?”

“Yours,” he said with a laugh. “But, Christ, you’re working yourself into knots over him when all it might take to give you a little closure is a better understanding of where his head was at. He’s offering you that chance.”

I gave him a low-lidded look of displeasure. “If I wanted a voice of reason I would have asked for it.”

Cole chuckled. “I’m just saying, unless there’s more to this than you’re telling me, I think he deserves a chance to explain.” Some dark suspicion suddenly entered his gaze. “There isn’t more to this, is there?”

I shook my head with faux calm. “No… but he is the reason I made a stupid decision back then. So… there’s that.”

Understanding settled over Cole’s features and he replied kindly, “You can’t hold your own actions against him.”

Feeling guilty for lying to Cole and angry at Marco and myself for the predicament I found myself in with my family, I nodded glumly. There was no way I’d get the right advice without my friends and family having the full story, and I had no intention of rewriting the history I had given them with the truth. “Let’s stop talking about me.” I waved the subject away. “How’s you? How’s Steph?”

He made a face. “Steph and I ended it last night.”

My lips parted in surprise. “And you’re only just telling me this?”

He shrugged. “There’s not much to tell. We were out after work last night and we bumped into some of my friends from school and she started a catfight with one of the girls.”


“Her jealousy is ridiculous. She has major trust issues. It was time to end it.”

“We all have issues, Cole. Relationships aren’t easy. Sometimes you have to work at it.”

“Agreed. But I didn’t want to work at it, so what does that tell you?”

“She’s not the one for you.”

“Exactly.” He turned and opened the door. “Now that we’ve beat our relationship issues out for the day, let’s get fed.”

“You’re sure you’re okay?” I asked, following him inside.

“I’m fine,” he promised. “I’m relieved, actually. Steph’s problems were exhausting.”

Although I wanted him to be happy and that was what mattered most, I couldn’t help but feel for Steph and sympathize with her. Cole’s words depressed me and I took them far more personally than he would ever have wanted me to. But the truth was, I was like Steph. I wasn’t insanely jealous, but my own insecurities came from a lack of trust in the opposite sex. It was crazy, I knew it was. I was surrounded by good men who didn’t stray from their wives, but what Marco had done to me and the consequences of that night had cut deep. It had left ugly scar tissue I’d been able to ignore until he was suddenly back in my life. Part of the reason I never bothered trying to find anything serious was because of that feeling Marco had left behind, but also because I suspected that most men would react to me and my issues like Cole had to Steph: with ambivalence and impatience. So what was the point in trying?

“Something’s going on,” Jo mused, staring at Liv and Nate across the table. She waved her fork at them. “What’s wrong with you?”

Cam snorted beside her. “Maybe that’s their business, sweetheart.”

“Well, it would be their business if they’d managed to pretend they weren’t fighting, but things are feeling a little icy,” Ellie added.

Liv rolled her eyes. “Nate’s being a tool.”

Nate didn’t lift his gaze from his plate as he ate. “Nate’s not doing anything,” he murmured back.

Nate was definitely doing something. He was barely talking to his wife, and anytime he was forced to, he wouldn’t look at her.

“Keep the domestics at home, people,” Cole pleaded.

“It’s not a domestic.” Liv made a face. “It’s an example of man’s inescapable immaturity.”

“Oh, do tell,” Ellie leaned in eagerly.

“I was clearing things out of the house and I specifically asked him to make a pile of things he didn’t want to give to charity and a pile of stuff he did want to give to charity. It is not my fault that he got the piles mixed up.”

“I did not.” He glared at her, finally looking away from his plate. “Why the hell would I give away every single one of my favorite T-shirts? Did you not think when you were looking through them that it was a bit strange they were all in there?”

She sniffed before responding. “I didn’t look through them. I just assumed you gave me the right pile and I put them in the charity bag and gave them to the lady who comes to collect the stuff.”

“Some of that shit was irreplaceable.”

Lily gave this cute little girlie gasp and Nate closed his eyes, wincing.

Liv scowled at him.

With a sigh, he turned in his seat to look over at Lily, who was sitting with Ellie at the kids’ table. “That’s a bad word, honey. Don’t use it. Daddy shouldn’t have and he’s sorry.”

Lily gave him this cute, serious nod of agreement. My God, was it possible to die from her adorableness?

Nate turned back to Liv. “Happy? Can we not discuss this in front of the kids?”

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