Fall from India Place Page 43

“Her name is Lola!” Cole called.

Laughing, I took a photo of it on my camera phone and then strode back to the sitting room.

Cole rolled his eyes at my expression. “It’s funny for you. You don’t have to live with it. I’d seriously consider deflating her if I wasn’t worried about Bigsie’s retaliation.”

I giggled harder.

“Come on.” Cole huffed. “Where’s the sympathy? How am I supposed to explain that to a woman if I bring her back here?”

I shrugged. “You have a weird flatmate.”

“Nah, if we’re being serious here they’ll be out the door before I even get the chance to explain. Would you not be if you saw that in some guy’s bathroom?”

I sniggered. “Oh, God, yeah.”

“Fucking great,” Cole muttered into his coffee.

My phone vibrated again and I studiously ignored it, reaching for my Coke.

“Are you not going to answer that?”

I shook my head.

“Okay.” Cole eyed me carefully. “We’ve barely hung out in weeks, which is fine because you seem to be making progress with Marco. But now you’re here, after work, avoiding phone calls. What’s up with that? Is it him?”

“You don’t want to know.”

I felt Cole’s scrutiny intensify. He sighed, putting his mug down on the chipped coffee table. “You slept with him.”

My lips parted at his perceptive deduction. “Annoying.”

“So you slept with him. It was that bad you’re ignoring him… like the mature adult you are?”

“It wasn’t bad,” I muttered, feeling my cheeks blaze at just the memory of it.

“Ach, I don’t want to hear that.” Cole’s face scrunched up like he’d just popped a sour apple candy into his mouth.

“I didn’t say anything.”

He waved his hand. “Forget the details. Why are you avoiding him?”

“I’m just trying to figure things out.”

“And what is there to figure out? I thought you were giving him a second chance?”

“Am I?” My brows drew together.

Cole smiled kindly. “Hannah, you let him back in.”

I nodded, knowing that was true and that, yes, I was preparing myself to give him a second chance but… “I just have this feeling. I can’t get past it. It’s this feeling in my gut that this time I’m going to get crushed to the point I can’t get back up again.”

My friend exhaled heavily. “You want to know what I think?”


“I think that feeling in your gut… that’s just the past talking.”

I should have expected it. But I didn’t.

I’d spent the last five weeks watching him infiltrate my life, pursuing me, spending time with me. Yet somehow I still couldn’t get Marco the boy out of my head, and Marco the boy would have broodingly shrugged off my avoidance of the past day and waited for me to come to him.

To my ever-increasing confusion, relief flowed through me to see him sitting on the steps at the front entrance to my building as I returned from Cole’s. He was wearing a warm jacket, but it was freezing outside and he didn’t have a hat on or a scarf. Guilt immediately needled me.

Cole was right. Avoiding Marco today had been immature. And here he was waiting on me in this bloody Baltic weather.

Was he telling the truth? Was he really not going anywhere?

“I’m buying you a scarf.” I sighed, coming to a stop in front of him.

He lifted his head, his hands dangling between his knees, and my muscles locked at the expression on his face.

“Pissed off” didn’t even cover it.

I waited for him to say something, to yell, to question my childish behavior, but instead he stood up and turned his back on me. My mouth dropped open with more confusion, and I watched as he took the last few steps up the front stoop and waited.

Realizing that he was waiting for me to let him in, I hurried up the steps and passed him, my hands shaking a little as I unlocked the door.

I felt his intimidating presence behind me as I attempted not to rush up the stairs to my flat as if a debt collector was on my heels. He got so close to me when I was inserting the key into my lock that his chest brushed against my back.

The butterflies had returned to my stomach with a vengeance by the time I got the door unlocked. As soon as the lock clicked, Marco reached over my head, one hand shoving against the door to throw it open. I was unceremoniously shuffled inside, and sensing the anger practically pouring from him, I scooted out of his grasp and strode into the sitting room to get some distance. I began jerkily unbuttoning my coat.

“So this morning” – his f**ked-off tone made me stiffen as I slipped my coat off – “when I kissed you good-bye before I left to get ready for work, that sweet you gave me… it was bullshit?”

He was referring to the fact that I’d pulled him back for a deeper kiss, reluctant to let him go. The thing was, when he was right there in front of me, the unease I felt was harder to hold on to. By the time he was gone and I was getting ready for work, I’d let that unease win.

I turned to face him. The fact that he was shrugging out of his own jacket suggested to me he was angry but he wasn’t angry enough to leave. Why the hell did I feel so relieved again?

“I’m just confused,” I answered honestly.

“That’s your answer?” He threw his jacket on my armchair and prowled toward me. “I’ve had the worst f**king day and that’s your answer?”

Unwilling to be intimidated when I was just trying to be truthful, I refused to back up, even when he stopped so close I had to tilt my head back to look up at him. “It’s the truth,” I snapped.

“So you’re confused. That gives you the right to treat me like shit?”

The guilt was back. “No.” Without even thinking, I brushed my fingertips over his chest, a gesture of reassurance. “I’m sorry for today. It wasn’t fair. I’m just… confused.”

For a moment I wasn’t sure how he was going to react.

Then slowly the tension seemed to ease from him despite the hardness that remained in his eyes. “I don’t ever want a repeat of today. We got problems, we talk. You don’t leave me standing out in the cold like a f**king idiot.”

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