Fall from India Place Page 46

It thrilled me even more when he absconded with me down onto Princes Street to the German market. It was there every December for Christmas, along with the small fairground and the ice rink. We ate iced pastries, drank coffee, and held hands as we shuffled through the crowds. As we were walking through the gardens, the light fading, the Christmas lights twinkling all around, I smiled down at the ice rink in the distance.

“That looks fun.”

Marco pulled me tighter into his side. “That looks cold.”

“I used to ice-skate in the gardens every Christmas when I was younger. I don’t know why I stopped.”

“Because it’s cold.”

“It’s worth it.” I grinned up into his face. “We should do it.”

“There’s no way I’m putting my feet on ice.”

“You won’t. You’ll put skates on ice.”

“There’s no way I’m putting my feet in rented skates.”

I stopped, probably annoying everyone who had to walk around us to continue down the pathway. “Please,” I pleaded.

He stared at me, completely unmoved.

Realizing this was one occasion where being adorable wouldn’t work for me, I changed it up. Instead, I raised an eyebrow at him. “You’re afraid to skate.”

“Reverse psychology? Really?”

I huffed, laughing half in amusement and half in annoyance as I pushed against his chest. “Come on. I want to skate with you. We’ll be like a perfect, romantic Christmas card. Except not vomit-inducing.”

Fifteen minutes later…

“Hannah, I don’t think you should do that,” Marco warned, crossing his arms over his chest as I showed off.

For someone who was as big as he was and who hadn’t skated much, Marco had great balance. He hadn’t fallen on his arse once, although he’d stuck to the outer edges of the rink in hopes that I’d let him disembark soon.

I was surprised by how easily skating came back to me, how quickly my body remembered how to balance on the skates. I glided around the rink a couple of times, passing a slow-moving Marco.

I wanted to show him the spin I used to be able to do, but people kept getting in my way.

“It’s fine,” I promised him, smiling.

I was having a ball.

Seeing a gap in the stream of skaters I pushed back on the skates in order to give myself space to move forward into the spin. To my shock, however, I felt myself hit something solid.

An “oof” sounded and then the solid weight collapsed behind me, taking my balance with it. I stumbled around, letting out a yelp, as I swung my arms to balance myself. When I turned, righted, my eyes bugged out in horror.

Unfortunately, the something solid I’d hit was a girl who’d then crashed into a boy, who’d crashed into a couple, who’d crashed into another young woman.

As chaos reigned and limbs splayed I could only watch in mortification at the ice rink devastation I’d created as other skaters skidded to a stop to watch them all hit the ice like dominoes.

Groans and curse words lit the air as the crashers all sat up. My eyes jumped from one to the next to make sure there were no major injuries.

A warm hand wrapped around mine and I found myself jerked back against Marco. “They’re fine,” he said through clenched teeth and yanked on my arm. “Let’s get you out of here. Now.”

Realizing that was probably a good idea, considering the murderous looks aimed my way, I shot an apologetic glance at the casualties, who were regaining their footing quickly, and I ungracefully slipped and skidded as I hurried after Marco off the rink.

With quick efficiency Marco got our skates off, our shoes back on, grabbed my hand, and started hauling me back up toward Princes Street.

We were only halfway up the hill when he suddenly let go of my hand and looked down at me, appearing ready to explode. And then he did.

His laughter was loud and infectious, and he couldn’t seem to catch his breath.

My surprise soon melted into shared hilarity and I collapsed against his side, giggling like a madwoman.

“Oh, man.” Marco finally calmed, wrapping his arm around my shoulders. “I didn’t realize you were such a klutz, babe.”

“I’m not! I just… don’t have the best spatial awareness. Obviously.”

His body shook with laughter again. “That’s the f**king understatement of the year. Jesus, that was like a skit. You couldn’t have rehearsed it better.”

“Should I prepare myself for a constant stream of teasing for the next few hours?”

“More like years of it. Any time we see a pair of ice skates…”

I harrumphed. “No one got hurt.”

He snorted and I could tell he was trying not to lose it again.

I punched him playfully. “You keep up the teasing, you’re not getting your Christmas present.” I’d bought him a Blu-ray player since he’d said he didn’t have one and I knew how much he loved movies.

Marco looked down at me, pulling me in closer to his side. “You’ll still get yours.”

My eyes lit up. “You got me a present?”

“Of course.”

“I like presents.”

His gaze turned deeply affectionate. “Duly noted.”

Warmth pulsed through me at the expression on his face. I held on tighter to him. “I kind of like you. You know that, right?”

His answer was to stop us in the middle of the crowds again and kiss me like there was no one else around.

After a lengthy, heated embrace, I pulled back to grin up at him. “You’re really cool.”

He grinned back. “Good thing one of us is.”

I narrowed my eyes. “You have two hours to get the skating incident out of your system, and then no more.”

“I object. Two hours isn’t long enough.”

“It’s plenty long enough.”

“The length of teasing should be in proportion to the magnitude of the incident. Babe, you just took out five people simultaneously on an ice rink. I’d say that’s at least the first five years of our lives together. One year per person.”

I wanted to argue with the math, but I knew if our roles were reversed I’d be taking the absolute piss out of him for it for years to come. “Fine,” I grumbled. “Five years.”

He hugged me to his side and started leading me up the hill again. “You do realize you just committed yourself to me for at least five years.”

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