Fall from India Place Page 54

“Ah.” Adam sighed contentedly, sitting on Ellie’s other side. “Now it feels like Christmas.”

Ellie giggled into her glass of water.

Mum glared at us both as she set down the last bowl of food and slipped into her seat at the head of the table across from Dad. “Both of you zip it and eat.”

“She’s the one that started it earlier on,” Dec huffed, sitting down next to Braden. “She’s been on my back since she got here. I don’t understand why she stayed the night when she has her own place. And it’s not my fault she’s in a shitty mood because she got dumped.”

I sucked in my breath and everyone with the exception of Braden and Dec tensed. Braden’s reaction was to smack Dec lightly across the back of the head. “One, don’t swear in front of the kids. Two, she didn’t get dumped, she did the dumping. And three, you’re eighteen. Grow up and stop being a pain in the a-r-s-e to your sister. Apologize.”

I was too busy avidly staring at my empty plate to see Dec’s reaction to that. I was attempting to regain control of my breathing after my brother’s words had winded me.

All day I’d been doing my best to forget.

The last few weeks had not been easy, to say the least. I’d had to explain to everyone that Marco and I had broken up, but of course I couldn’t explain why. I didn’t get into it, and I tried my best to appear as unaffected as possible. However, no matter what I said they were all convinced that I was the devastated party in the breakup.

“I’m not devastated,” I’d lied to them on more than one occasion. “We were barely together two months.”

Yet the truth was I missed him so much I was in pain. All the time.

I was completely at war with myself.

In the mornings I would wake up alone but I would feel the press of his warm body against mine like a phantom in the room. I’d remember Marco was out of my life and that warmth would disappear and I was left alone in my flat. My flat that had once been home and now just felt empty and cold.

Like its owner.

When missing him became too much, I’d reach for the phone, and just as I was about to dial his number, I’d remember. How much it hurt. Why it hurt. And why we were no longer together.

Of course it made things easier that Marco didn’t call or come around. I’d packed up the things he’d left at my place and had Nish return them to him. She did it for him. Not for me. Nish and I weren’t really speaking to each other, which made for a very wintry atmosphere in the staff room. I discovered she’d known all along that Marco had a son. He’d asked her to stay quiet on the subject until he had the chance to tell me. Nish was equally pissed off with me for reacting to the news the way I had. She was under the impression I was a selfish, coldhearted bitch.

Nish and Marco could think what they liked, as long as I had space to lick my old wounds and try to make sense of everything.

Being around family helped. I’d stayed with my parents on Christmas Eve and I intended to stay with them right through until the day after Boxing Day. Although Liv, Nate, Jo, Cam, and Cole were celebrating Christmas with their own families, my parents’ house still felt full, it still felt warm, and it felt safe.

I was doing my best to hide my heartbreak so I wouldn’t spoil the mood, and I’d been doing a pretty decent job of it until my little brother decided to be a little shit.


I looked up at Dec and saw the remorse in his expression.

“Sorry,” he muttered guiltily.

“Don’t even worry about it,” I replied quietly, and then flashed everyone my best faux smile. “I’m starving. Let’s eat the crap out of this turkey.”

Thankfully the atmosphere at the table lightened and we were able to enjoy a great Christmas dinner together.

Earlier that morning Mum, Dad, Dec, and I had opened our presents, but Ellie, Adam, Braden, Joss, and the kids had yet to open theirs from us, and we hadn’t opened ours from them. After dinner, I hurried upstairs to my old room, where I had a Santa’s sack with all their presents in it. I was just going through it to make sure everything was there when my phone rang in my pocket.

Thinking it was probably Jo or Cole, I answered it without even looking at the screen.

“Merry Christmas.” Suzanne’s greeting surprised me. “I thought I better call since it seems you’ve lost my number.”

Just like that, all my pretense at happy Christmas spirit fled out the nearby window and instantly frosted over in the December air. “I didn’t lose your number,” I told her flatly. “I just don’t want to talk to you.”

She gave me a loud, dramatic huff. “Because I sent that picture? That was for your own good. I was being a friend.”

I shook my head at her bullshit, catching my look of incredulity in the mirror in front of me. “No. You were being a bitch because you don’t know how to be anything else. You didn’t send that photo because you were looking out for me, you sent that photo because you were pissed off and wanted me to be pissed off too. You’re spoiled and you’re spiteful. Not to mention inconsiderate. I should have broken off our friendship ages ago, as soon as I realized that you aren’t capable of thinking about anyone but yourself. Don’t bother calling me again. Ever.” I hung up before she could respond and instantly deleted her number.

The fact that I felt relieved more than anything else told me I was doing the right thing.

“What was that about?”

I spun around. “Adam?”

He stepped into the room, scrutinizing me. “Well?” He gave a nod toward my phone.

I slipped it into my pocket. “It was nothing.”

Adam scowled at my reply. “Did Marco cheat on you?”

“What?” I stared at him in surprise. “Why on earth would you think that? No. He didn’t cheat on me. I told you, I just didn’t want to be with him anymore.”

“Well, none of us believe that.”

I heaved a beleaguered sigh, wishing my family didn’t pay such bloody close attention. “Look, if he’d done something awful to me, I’d tell you in a heartbeat so you could go and kick his arse. But he didn’t. I promise.”

It was Adam’s turn to sigh. “Sometimes I don’t know what to do with you, Hannah. Els is worried.”

I opened my mouth to reassure him, but there was a commotion downstairs —

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