Fall from India Place Page 31

“Hannah, what we have to discuss is personal. What I have to tell you is personal and I don’t particularly feel comfortable with the stranger behind us in a café listening in.”

I processed that, and unfortunately had to admit that he was right. I didn’t want a stranger listening in on us either. “Fine,” I grumbled, giving him my address. “Six o’clock.”

“Does it include dinner?” he asked hopefully, a boyish cheekiness in the question that surprised me.

“We’ll see.” I hung up without saying good-bye.

I felt much too hot all over and suddenly restless as adrenaline pumped through my body. I hadn’t felt this awake in a long, long time.

School was a blur. I was so preoccupied with the thought of Marco being at my place that night that I don’t even know how I got through the lessons. Somehow I made it, and with my stomach a jumpy, jittery mess, I hurried home after work and began preparing dinner. I didn’t know what to cook because I didn’t want Marco to think I was trying to impress him, but I also didn’t want to poison him with something he was allergic to.

I’d settled on pasta and salad. Surely you couldn’t go wrong with pasta and salad.

It went against the manners of being a good hostess (which my mother had ingrained in me from the age of three) not to dress the table when I was having someone over for dinner, but I also didn’t want Marco to think this was something it wasn’t.

Who was I kidding? I didn’t even know what this was.

I changed from my work clothes into a pair of well-worn jeans and a long-sleeved thermal top. Twisting my hair up into a messy bun, I looked in the mirror and nodded, pleased with my reflection. The jeans made my arse look great, the top was form-fitting and made my boobs look good, but overall the outfit said “I’m just hanging at home and I could give a shit what you think about me.”


I spun around, marching out of my bedroom toward the kitchen, and my door buzzer sounded, drawing me to a halt.

I was going to throw up. I was going to upchuck all over my nice hardwood floors.

“Deep breaths,” I coached myself, turning back toward the door.

“Hello?” I asked upon lifting the receiver.

“It’s Marco.”

Yup, definitely going to upchuck. I pressed the entrance door key, letting him into the building.

With blood rushing in my ears, I attempted to prepare myself to see him again, and drew on my powers of indifference. Opening my door, I listened to his footsteps as he climbed the stairs to my flat.

I saw his head appear as he ascended the staircase and my stomach dropped. His eyes lifted from his feet to my face as he climbed higher, and he gave me a small smile in greeting. Damn it. Why did I have to be so attracted to him? Why did I have to have so many good memories of him?

His gaze drifted down my body and back up again, and I got the distinct feeling he wasn’t disappointed by my outfit. Not at all. Pretending I didn’t give a crap, I stepped back. “Come in.”

He moved inside, making me feel tiny, and despite his defection, safe. “Did you get taller?” I grumbled, moving away from him and the attractive cologne he was wearing.

He shut the front door behind him and shook his head. “Not that I’m aware of.”

As my eyes took him in, it occurred to me that it had nothing to do with his height. It was his muscle. I gulped at the sight of his biceps, nicely displayed in the form-fitting hooded Henley he was wearing. “This way,” I almost wheezed, abruptly turning my back at the sight of his amusement.

He followed me into the sitting room, where I’d set the dining table at the back of the room. “Nice place.” His eyes hit the piles of books that I had in nearly every corner, and he gave me that familiar half smile that made me feel things I didn’t want to feel. “You need bookshelves, though.”

Ignoring that comment, I gestured to the table. “Take a seat. I’ll get dinner.”

Marco raised an eyebrow. “You cooked after all?”

I narrowed my eyes. “Only because I’m hungry.”

“Of course.”

Pissed that I was doing a very shitty job of coming across as being unaffected by his presence, I marched out of the room and into my kitchen, where I clutched the edge of my countertop, taking in a deep breath.

You can do this. He’s just a boy. He’s just a boy. He’s just a boy. I chanted that mantra over and over in my head while I grabbed the bowls of pasta and salad.

“This looks great,” Marco said after I strode back into the sitting room to dump them on the table.

I made a harrumph sound and then grunted, “Beer?”

His lips quirked up at the corners and I could see the laughter dancing in his stunning eyes. “Sure.”

I returned with the beer, slammed it down in front of him, and then shoved myself ungracefully into my seat opposite him. I gestured to the bowls. “Eat.”

Not hiding his amusement any longer, Marco grinned as he reached for the salad bowl. “You seem agitated.”

No, do I? Outwardly, I just shrugged. “Well, I’m fine.”

His look said he didn’t believe me for a second. I took the salad bowl from him, dumping vegetables onto my plate as he scooped pasta al pomodoro onto his own. We were silent as we served ourselves and started eating.

I felt like any second I might just jump out of my skin and throw my skeleton arse out of my bay window. I kept waiting for him to start speaking, to start explaining himself, since that was the whole point of him being here in my sitting room, eating my food and affecting my girlie bits. Finally, I’d had enough of his seemingly comfortable silence. “Four years?” I snapped, glaring at him.

Marco contemplated me, appearing to memorize every inch of my face in a way that made my skin feel hot and tingly. He laid his fork down and sat back, twisting the cap off his beer with little effort. He took a sip, his eyes never leaving me. “Maybe we should start with the night at India Place.”

Unexpected pain shot across my chest at the mention of India Place. It stole my breath, that pain. Ever since I’d lost my virginity to Marco, the pain and humiliation of that night had really only ever belonged to me, because he hadn’t been around to face afterward and no one else knew about it.

Discussing it with him for the first time made it feel like it had just happened.

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