Fall from India Place Page 34

“I had dinner with Marco a week ago.”

My friend’s eyebrows rose. “And I’m just hearing about this now?”

“Well, I’ve been taking some time, going over and over everything he said. He wants a second chance. At everything.”

“Everything as in… a relationship, not just friendship?”


“Did he explain why he left?”

“His grandfather died. He went back to the States to be with his grandmother. He has a lot of self-esteem issues because of his grandfather and he just thought… basically he thought I was too good to be in his life and that’s why he never told me he was leaving, and that’s why he never got in touch when he came back.”

“So why the change of heart now?”

I sighed. “He’s changed, Cole. He’s not the guy he was back then, and he says he misses me.”

It was Cole’s turn to sigh. “I’m just going to say to you what I said before. Everyone deserves a second chance. It’s not like what he did was so awful. He left without saying good-bye, but you weren’t together. I think you’re making this more complicated than it is.”

We bloody well had sex!

I frowned. “We were friends, and he knew I cared about him.”

“And he explained his reasons. You may not like them, but that’s the way it is sometimes. We all do stupid things. Marco is trying to make up for his mistakes. He’s been pulling out all the stops to see you. Surely that counts for something.”

Yes – I want it to count for something.

I need it to count for something.

“I just don’t want to get hurt again.”

Cole surprised me with a warm smile. “Then just try the whole friends thing first. It’s not like anyone is forcing you to offer him more than that.”


I shivered involuntarily at the rich sound of Marco’s voice in my ear. My hand tightened around my phone. “Hi.”

“I’m glad you called. I was beginning to think I’d need to go to Plan B.”

“Plan B?”

“Much like Plan A but with increased work hours.”

I smiled despite myself. “Well, no need. Your stalking days are over.”

“That sounds like good news.” He practically purred it, and my eyelashes fluttered closed before I could stop them.

Damn him!

“Just as friends!” I found myself blurting out.

“Excuse me?”

“I’m willing to try to be friends again.”

He was silent a moment.


“Friends,” he finally answered. “But with the hope of becoming more.”

The butterflies were back in my belly. “No, no, no, no, no, no, no.”

“Fine. Friends will do for now.”

“Marco —”

“You can’t take it back. We’re friends. We’re officially spending time together.”

I sighed, willing the crazy fluttering inside me to die down. “How does next weekend sound?”

He hesitated. “I can’t do next weekend, I’m sorry. How about this Tuesday, after work, for drinks? I swapped shifts with a colleague. He’s doing my Wednesday shift if I do tomorrow for him.”

“That’s good for you. You can have a drink and not have to worry about work the next day. However, a weeknight doesn’t really work for me.”

“Oh, come on, it’s not like you’re surrounded by heavy machinery. We’ll have one drink. Or are you too old to go out on a weeknight?” he teased.

I grimaced. “You’re such a child. Fine, Tuesday night. One drink.”

Walking into the bar on George Street on Tuesday evening, I almost tripped over my own feet at the expression on Marco’s face when he saw me.

He stood up from the small booth he was sitting at, his eyes moving from my face, slowly down my body and back up again. The funny thing was there was nothing much to see except for my legs ending in a pair of fur-trimmed ankle boots. I was wearing my favorite green military-style winter coat with fur-trim cuffs. It fitted my body well, but it wasn’t exactly sexy.

Marco’s gaze made me feel sexy.

Damn him.

When I reached him he surprised me by bending slightly to press a kiss to my cheek. My cheek was rosy and cold from the freezing wind outside, but as soon as his lips touched my skin a blaze of heat radiated out from the spot. I must have looked befuddled because he seemed amused and pleased with himself.

Self-consciously I shrugged out of my coat, glad I was wearing a conservative navy wool dress underneath. However, I might as well have been wearing a nightdress for how hot I felt in close quarters with him.

Sliding into the booth beside him, my whole body hyper-aware of his, I knew I had to at least be honest with myself: I had never stopped being attracted to Marco and I’d once been in love with him. Despite the complicated past between us, despite the truths I was withholding, I knew that I could never just be friends with him on the inside, even if I could pretend it on the outside.

Our arms brushed and sparks shot through me like I’d touched a live wire. I couldn’t stamp out that feeling of excitement. That feeling was utterly addictive. From the age of fourteen until the age of seventeen, I’d had that feeling inside me whenever I was around Marco.

I’d missed it.

“How are you?” I gave him a small, hopefully platonic smile.

“I’m good.” His gaze was intense on me, his eyes deliberately trying to hook mine.

For the first time ever with him, I felt shy. I glanced away quickly, searching the bar.

“Can I get you a drink?” he asked.

“Sure. I’ll have a glass of rosé, please.”

As soon as he slid out of the booth my breathing steadied.

You are being such an idiot, I berated myself. This was Marco. So what if he was hot? When I was younger, I’d still been able to carry on a conversation with him!

Pull it together, Nichols.

My eyes followed him as he strode up to the quiet bar, powerful, graceful. He wore a dark blue knit sweater with a shawl collar and a pair of dark blue jeans. He was effortlessly stylish and comfortable with himself in a way he hadn’t been when we were at school.

Momentarily sidetracked from my study of him, I picked up on the lust aimed at Marco emanating from the other end of the bar. Two women sat on barstools, speaking quietly to each other as they watched him with hungry eyes and come-hither smiles.

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