Fall from India Place Page 60

My heart suddenly took off at a gallop.

“I’m Leah McKinley. I’m Dylan’s mum.”

Eyeing her warily, I replied, “I know who you are.”

She stared at me. “You’re just like he described.”

I frowned in response. “What are you doing here?”

Her expression tightened. “I’m here because I care about Marco. And Marco’s a mess right now.”

I couldn’t ignore the guilt and pain that knowledge caused me. Since we’d last spoken on the phone, Marco had given me time. But he’d been honest when he said he’d give me time but not a lot of it. When five days passed and I didn’t contact him, he called me. Having already told him I needed space, I didn’t answer.

I didn’t answer when he called me three times after that.

I couldn’t answer, because my fear had made up my mind for me about us, and I didn’t know how to tell him.

“Look, he didn’t go into the details, but he explained that something bad happened to you years ago when he left and now he’s blaming himself.” She crossed her arms over her chest, appearing annoyed. “I knew Marco at school. Not well. But I knew him. I knew he was quiet and seemed a bit pissed off with the world. I watched him change when he became a dad. He got, I don’t know, like, sure of himself. And happy. Yet, still, I’ve never seen him as happy as he was when he was seeing you.” She squinted against the winter sun. “He told me all about you, you know. Before. When I was pregnant with Dylan we became good friends and he talked about you. I was even a wee bit jealous of the way he saw you – like you were so much better than every other girl on the planet. I told him countless times that he was good enough for anyone, that he should try to get in touch with you again, but he wouldn’t do it. That really f**ked me off – that he thought he wasn’t good enough. Now I’m even more pissed off because with you not forgiving him or giving him the time of day, it makes him think he is to blame for whatever shit went down with you. He’s back to thinking he’s not good enough. I know him. I know he would never hurt anyone deliberately, so I know whatever happened to you isn’t his fault. It would be nice if you’d let him know that, too.”

Feeling cornered, remorseful, and pissed off that I’d been made to feel guilty by someone I didn’t know, I gave her a look that told her I wouldn’t be cowed. “I’m not sure any of this is your business.”

Her face grew hard. “Marco isn’t just my son’s dad, he’s my friend. He’s a good guy and I don’t like anyone hurting him.”

“Does he know you’re here right now?”

“No.” She huffed. “And he’ll probably be really pissed off when I tell him I came to see you. But if it gives you a kick up the arse to do the right thing, then I’m okay with that.”

“You have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Maybe not. But we both know Marco is a good person. He doesn’t deserve to be feeling the way he’s feeling.” She shrugged, shot me one last searching look, and said, “You think on that.”

My visit with Bray, Belle, and their mums was somewhat poisoned by Leah’s decision to try to force my hand in the situation with Marco.

I spent most of the day worrying about him, until I came to the conclusion I needed to stop being such a coward and call him.

There was no game playing on his part. He picked up on the second ring.

“You know how to keep a guy hanging,” he answered quietly.

“I’m just calling to tell you I want you to stop blaming yourself. I don’t blame you for what happened to me.”

“Easier said than done, Hannah. There’s a reason you broke up with me when you found out about Dylan. You said yourself that at least a part of you blames me for leaving you to deal with all that shit by yourself.”

“Honestly,” I whispered, “I did. I know that it wasn’t right, though, and I’ve worked through that. I know that what happened to me wasn’t your fault. What happened to me wasn’t anyone’s fault. We were both at fault for being irresponsible and not using protection, that’s all.”

“No. That was my fault. I was the experienced one. But it was you… and in that moment I was too lost in you to think straight.”

“Was that the way it was with Leah?” I asked caustically.

“Hannah, it wasn’t like that with her. We were both shit-faced. It’s a miracle we had enough faculties about us to get undressed and have sex, if —”

“Okay, I don’t want to hear any more,” I interrupted.

He was silent for a while and then… “It’s about Leah, isn’t it?”

“No,” I answered, and then sighed. “I don’t know.”

“Hannah, I care about Leah. She’s my friend and she’s the mother of my kid. But I love you.”

“Should it be this hard, though, Marco?” I asked. “Should it hurt this much?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know what the rules are. All I know is that it means something pretty f**king important to feel this way about someone. I’d do anything for my son, Hannah. I’d do anything to protect him. To make sure he knows he’s loved. That he makes my universe turn. And I feel that way about you too. I want to protect you, I want you to know that for me there’s no one else like you. That you make my universe turn.”

My heart actually hurt in my chest.


“If it was up to how I feel when it’s just us and the world is quiet and everything seems so far away,” I told him softly, “we’d be together. I’d put it all behind me and we’d move on. But life isn’t like that. The rest of the world never goes away. Our mistakes are out there and we can’t hide from them. I don’t want to mess you around and it’s not my intention to hurt you” – my voice cracked – “but I just don’t think this is what I want anymore.”

“You don’t love me?” His voice was gruff, the way he sounded whenever he was feeling something deeply.

I hated that I was hurting him. “Marco, I’ve been in love with you since I was fourteen. And it’s hurt for eight years. I’m just not sure that’s the right kind of love.”

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