Fall from India Place Page 58

I was exhausted, but glancing around at their anxious faces I dug deep for the energy to explain everything – the past and the present. They had always been there for me, even when to them it felt like I didn’t want them to be, and for that they deserved the truth.

Once I was done, Ellie looked at me with tears in her eyes. “You’ve been carrying all this by yourself? Why, Hannah? Didn’t you trust us?”

I shook my head adamantly. “It wasn’t that. Please don’t think that.”

“You were protecting him.” Jo’s voice reached out to us from Liv’s phone on my coffee table.

Somehow she understood perfectly. “Yes.”

“Protecting him?” Joss frowned.

I shrugged helplessly, not knowing how to explain it. Somehow Jo instinctively understood, but having to explain it to someone made me feel like a lost young girl who didn’t know what she wanted. “I don’t know why. Just… I didn’t want you to think badly of him.”

“You love him,” Ellie stated simply. “That’s why.”

“I forgave the fact that he left me after we spent the night together, I forgave him for leaving the country and then not looking me up when he came back, and I did all that because, yes, I loved him. And I know that if he’d stayed, he would have been there for me through the miscarriage and my depression. I know that because the look on his face when I told him what happened to me said it all.”

“Then why —” Liv bit her lip, not finishing the question out loud, but her eyes said the rest for her.

I felt that familiar ache throbbing in my chest. “Then why leave him?”

Liv nodded.

Glancing around at their faces I knew they were trying to understand – and to a certain extent did understand – what I was feeling, but there was also sympathy for Marco in those expressions. “It hurt to find out he not only didn’t look me up when he returned but that he got some other girl pregnant and he was there for her. I know it doesn’t make sense to be mad at him for a situation he wasn’t even aware of but… I can’t help feeling betrayed anyway. I keep thinking if he hadn’t left me that night… if he hadn’t left me I might have been the girl he stuck around for. But I wasn’t. Isn’t the man you love supposed to stick around for you, to see you through the worst things that can ever happen to you?”

All three exchanged glances, looks that told me they got me because they had men who’d stuck around.

“The one time you needed him he wasn’t there.” Jo’s voice echoed quietly into the room. “But, Hannah… you know Marco’s capable of being that guy.”

I was silent because the reason I was in such a confused state was that I did know Marco was capable of being that guy. He’d been trying to be that guy for the last three months. Sensing my quandary, Ellie leaned forward. “Hannah, we have the unfortunate commonality of having loved someone who took their merry time getting over their own issues to finally be with us.” She scooted closer to me on the couch and wrapped an arm around my shoulders. I snuggled into her as she continued. “So I think you know I get you, and that what I’m going to say comes from a place of experience and the desire for my wee sister to find the happiness she deserves.”

I nodded carefully, expectantly.

“You just said it yourself, so deep down I know you know that it wasn’t Marco’s fault he wasn’t there for you. Yeah, he definitely shouldn’t have left you alone that night, but you don’t know what he would have done if his grandfather hadn’t had a heart attack. He would have stayed in Scotland, but you have no idea how things might have worked out between you. I do know that the Hannah back then didn’t take no for an answer, so I have a sneaking suspicion you would have gotten your way. But that’s not what happened, and as rubbish as it is, Marco had a reason for leaving Scotland. And as much as you don’t like his explanation for not looking you up upon his return, frankly I can’t be annoyed at a man who stayed away because he thought my smart, funny, beautiful, strong sister was too good for him. I definitely can’t be annoyed at him for pulling his head out of his issues and taking time to prove to you he wanted to be with you. He sounds like a good dad, and I’ve witnessed him with you – he treats you like you’re the most precious thing on the planet. Adam and Braden were pissed off that you broke up with him, because to them, if you had to be with someone, they were happy it was someone like Marco. He was straightforward and he seemed very protective of you. We all liked that about him, Hannah.”

“Els,” I whispered, almost pleading. I didn’t need to hear this. It just confused me more.

“But…” Ellie sighed. “Sometimes we just feel what we feel. It doesn’t matter what we know is logical, our emotions usually rule. However, I don’t think Marco isn’t ‘the one’ because he left and he wasn’t there for everything that happened.” She nodded to Liv and Joss. “I doubt these guys do either.”

Liv and Joss confirmed this by giving me small sympathetic smiles while shaking their heads.

“Hannah, if you don’t think he’s the one, then he’s not. But ask yourself… why did you lie to your family to protect him? Why did you race after Cole to stop him from attacking Marco? Why does it matter if you’re not in love with him?”

Turmoil. Total turmoil. There was no escaping it. Although Ellie’s questions had opened doors I’d been trying to keep tightly closed since breaking up with Marco, I hugged my sister hard because at least I was no longer carrying the weight of the truth on my shoulders alone. There was a simple relief in that.

The girls were gone, returned to their kids and their husbands, but I knew that they were worried about me. I tried to reassure them as they hugged me before leaving that I was okay, but they gave me these looks that showed they doubted me. I couldn’t really blame them. After all, I’d just provided them with proof that I didn’t always tell them the truth when it came to what was going on with me emotionally.

The quiet wasn’t good. I tried watching TV, reading a book, but my mind kept wandering and I was completely restless. I felt like I was preparing for something really nerve-racking – I was all jittery and my heart was racing, like I had too much adrenaline flowing through my body.

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