Fall from India Place Page 59

When my phone rang just before nine o’ clock, I had to wonder if my body had a sixth sense.

Caller ID told me it was Marco.

I could have ignored it, but we both deserved better than that.

“Hi,” I answered softly, curling up into a ball on the couch, the phone pressed tight to my ear.


I closed my eyes at the sound of his voice in my ear.

“I don’t know what to say.”

“I do and I don’t,” he replied. “I would have come over, but I didn’t know if you’d answer the door or not.”

“I don’t know if I would have either,” I answered honestly.

“Yeah.” He exhaled and it sounded a little shaky. “Hannah, I get it, but I have to see you. Can we please meet? We need to talk about all this.”

“I don’t know.”

“Baby, this can’t be it.” His voice lowered, deepened. “We need a chance to work all this out.”

His endearment reached out, its hook catching and tugging painfully on my heart. It took me a moment to gather myself and say, “I just need time.”

“And after everything you’ve been through you deserve whatever you need, but I’m afraid if I give you that time all you’re going to do is use it to keep us apart.” At my continued silence, Marco said softly, “I’ll give you time. But not a lot of it. I’ve lost you twice now, and I’m not losing you again.”

I’ve lost you twice now, and I’m not losing you again.

I’ve lost you twice now, and I’m not losing you again.

I’ve lost you —

I shook my head, trying to shake Marco’s last words to me the night before. They kept playing on repeat.

It was easier to switch the memory off while I was teaching, but I had only a half day of classes, and although I would usually use the rest of that day for marking and lesson planning, I skipped out of work to head to Cole’s place.

He looked like shit.

When he opened his front door to me, I winced, taking in his black eye, pale skin, and guilty expression. Without saying a word, I stepped over the threshold and put my arms around him, hugging him tight.

“You’re not mad?” Cole asked in surprise as he held me close.

I kissed his cheek and pulled gently out of his embrace. “For you having my back? No. For the bruise on my forehead… maybe.” I smiled, a sad smile but a smile nonetheless, so he’d know I was teasing. “I’m not mad. You acted impulsively, but your heart was in the right place.”

Cole blew out a breath between his lips. “I’ve got to say that’s a relief. I was expecting you to be so pissed off at me for letting the cat out of the bag with Marco.”

“It wasn’t fun,” I admitted. “But it was probably about time. I actually feel a lot better now that everyone knows the truth.”

“I did good then?”

“Oh, I wouldn’t take it that far. You definitely owe me coffee at least.”

He threw me a crooked grin and started walking toward his kitchen. I followed him, raising my eyebrow at the sheet of paper that had been pinned to his hallway wall. It had the words TOMATOES ARE NOT A FRUIT printed across it.

“I thought tomatoes were a fruit.”

“What?” Cole glanced back at me, saw me pointing to the homemade “poster,” and shook his head in despair. “Don’t even ask. Bigsie is on his own wee planet.”

“I don’t understand why he feels strongly enough about tomatoes to print a poster about it.”

“And pin it to our wall. There goes a percentage of our deposit.”

“Cole, you need to get a new roommate, or a new flat.”

“Rent’s cheap.” He shrugged. “Starving artist/poor student and all that.”

Right. Some of us didn’t have a wealthy brother and sister to buy us a flat. I felt a pang of guilt that I didn’t have to struggle like so many people my age.

Cole’s eyes narrowed on me as he pulled a couple of mugs out of one of the dingy cupboards in his dingy kitchen. “What’s with the guilty expression?”

“Nothing’s with it. I’m just a bit of mess right now.”

His features softened with understanding. “If you need to —”

I didn’t know what Cole was going to say and I never would because at that exact moment we both got a text message from Liv.

Jo’s gone into labor!

We both looked up from our phones, eyes widened, and I knew Cole’s was the same message because he whispered, “Fuck.”

He flew into action. In less than a minute he’d thrown on his boots and coat, grabbed his keys, grabbed my hand, and hauled me out of his flat. We got into his little rust bucket of a Fiat, which was older than Beth, and hurtled toward the hospital.

Nine hours later, Jo gave birth to Annabelle Walker MacCabe, a gorgeous seven-pound baby girl. The entire time I sat in the waiting room with my family, my mind was on Jo and Cam and their new family. When I met Annabelle, or Belle, as we were already calling her, she was all I could think about, and when I kissed an exhausted Jo good night, hugged my family, and returned home to my flat to get some rest, my mind was still on them all.

There was a whisper in the back of my thoughts, a whisper too loud to ignore, that wished Marco had been there to enjoy the moment, to be a part of my family. He’d missed Ellie giving birth to Bray and now Jo to Belle.

There was a part of me that didn’t think that felt right.

That part scared the hell out of me.


A little under a week later I was heading out of my flat. It was a Saturday, the ground icy where the snowfall of the past few days had melted with the rain and then frozen over with the newly falling temperatures. I sidestepped a large patch of ice on my porch and started to make my way down the steps.

I was excited to be spending the day with Jo, Ellie, Belle, and Bray and had a bag filled with goodies for both children and mothers.

“Hannah Nichols?”

I glanced up at the question, stopping on the last step of the front stoop to stare at the pretty brunette who stood a few feet from me on the pavement.

My eyes washed over her, wondering why she looked so familiar. “Yes?”

The young woman took a few steps forward, seeming anxious, and that’s when I remembered where I’d seen her: the photograph of Marco and his son at the German Market. The pretty brunette at his side. Leah. The mother of his son.

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