Fall from India Place Page 3

Michaela and I laughed. It was true that Michaela accompanied us on our nights out only to keep in touch with us. She was happily engaged to Colin, a Scottish student she fell in love with in first year of university. She’d decided not to return to her hometown of Shropshire, England, in favor of attending Moray House teacher training in Edinburgh with me. Like me, she was working toward qualifying as an English teacher.

My two friends couldn’t have been more different. Suzanne was loud, flirtatious, and an assertive drama queen. Michaela was the quietest of the three of us. She was sweet and loyal, and she cared a great deal about her new students. If I wanted a good time and a distraction, I sought out Suzanne, but if I just wanted someone to talk to, I picked up the phone and called Michaela.

“How are the kids?” Michaela asked me, and I knew she was referring to family and not school.

“Really good.”

“And more to come.” She grinned.

“Ugh, I don’t know how they do it.” Suzanne shuddered. “You’d think they’d have learned their lesson with the one.”

“Well, it’s Jo’s first one, actually.” Not that that would change Suzanne’s opinion that children were unpleasant little creatures she wanted nothing to do with.

Johanna MacCabe was probably my closest girlfriend, despite our seven-year age difference. When Braden met his wife, Joss, she brought into our little family her good friend Jo Walker, and Jo soon met the love of her life, Cameron MacCabe. The two of them had been married for two years and Jo was pregnant with their first child.

She wasn’t the only one who was pregnant. My sister, Ellie, and her husband, Adam, were expecting their second child. They already had an adorable two-year-old son called William and were hoping to give me a niece this time around.

“She’s nuts.” Suzanne made a face. “But look at who I’m talking to. Teachers. Who on earth in their right mind would decide to become a teacher? Oh” – her eyes widened at something over my shoulder – “he’s yummy.”

Michaela and I shared a knowing look and I turned to stare as inconspicuously as possible at whoever had caught Suzanne’s eye.

“And she’s off!” Michaela giggled, pulling my gaze away from the tall guy with the bulging biceps who was exactly Suzanne’s type, to watch her cross the bar with an exaggerated swing to her slim hips. “I don’t know how she can do this every other weekend. A different guy.”

Suzanne was way into the double digits when it came to the number of men she’d slept with. But I wasn’t there to judge. She could do what she pleased as long as she was safe about it. I, on the other hand, didn’t do the whole sleeping-around thing. Honestly, I didn’t do the whole sex thing. The last and only time it happened, I’d gotten burned. So I had no intention of falling into bed with a guy until I was absolutely positive there was a connection between us that we both felt.

At that moment I was content with my life as it was. I was too busy for anything more than a bar flirtation and I was completely okay with that. I was young. I had time. Suzanne seemed to be on a mission to try out every single freaking frog she could get her hands on until she finally found that elusive prince.

Suzanne strode back to our table with the guy and his two friends in tow. They sat down and introduced themselves. Unfortunately, the guy she was interested in, Seb, quickly turned his attention from her to me. Thankfully one of his friends seemed more than into Suzanne.

Seb was really nice. He asked me a lot of questions about myself and I reciprocated. We laughed and chatted about everyday nonsense, and the guys bought us another round of drinks.

After a few hours had passed, our new friends started talking about hitting a club. Michaela didn’t look too sure, and I wasn’t about to leave her behind, so Suzanne and I went to freshen up in the ladies’ toilets while Michaela mulled it over.

We were standing at the sinks, reapplying blusher and lipstick, when Suzanne mused, “So… Seb is delicious. Does he warrant a break from the longest dry spell in history or are you going to pull the Hannah Tease on this one as well?”

I grunted. “The Hannah Tease?”

She gave me a look that said, Like you don’t know. “The Hannah Tease. The gorgeous Hannah Nichols always snags the hottest of the hot, flirts her arse off with him for a few hours, but leaves him to go home with blue balls and no phone number.”

“I’m not teasing anyone,” I objected. “If I’m not interested I don’t put it out there that I am. It’s harmless light banter. That’s it.”

This time the look she gave me was one that she’d begun to give me on a regular basis. It was an impatient expression that said she didn’t understand me. Not one bit. “What the hell is wrong with you? And when are you going to get over the past and finally get under someone new?”

I shook my head, pretending I didn’t know what she was talking about. “Have you ever considered I might be happy? Isn’t that the whole point to all this? To be happy? And I am. I love my job, I love my family, and I love my friends. I have a good life, Suzanne.”

She snorted this time. “Yeah, keep telling yourself that.”

I felt my blood heat in indignation. “What is your problem tonight? Is it because of Seb? Because you’re welcome to him.”

This time Suzanne turned on me with narrowed eyes. “Oh, I could have him if I wanted to, don’t worry.”

“Then what’s the attitude about?”

“Ugh, don’t talk to me like I’m one of your kids. You know, you’ve gotten really boring lately.”

I laughed incredulously at the turn our conversation had taken. Suzanne wasn’t the most tactful person, and she had a tendency to snap impatiently at people, but tonight she was turning her reserve of nastiness on me, which she’d never done before. “In my defense, you are acting like a child.”

“Eh, whatever.” She threw her hands up in despair, like the consummate drama queen she was. “Let’s just see if Michaela wants to go clubbing…” I felt sure she was going to say something else, but in the end she just pinched her lips together and stormed out of the toilets.

I was leaving the toilets when I got a text from Lucy, a friend from teacher training, asking if I fancied joining her for a drink. She was around the corner at a pub on the Royal Mile with a few friends and knew I was out tonight. I texted her back, then casually made my way over to my friends.

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