Fall from India Place Page 67

Marco prowled toward me. A second later I was in his arms, my whole body pressed against his. He stroked my back and murmured somewhat cockily against my mouth, “You want this to stop? Just say no.”

He started kissing me and I could feel myself melting into his embrace.

However, there was this roiling ball of confusion within me and no matter how much I loved Marco’s kisses, I knew I was only going to keep on hurting us both.

I pushed hard against him, breaking the kiss. I panted a little breathlessly from the effort it took to do so and I stared up into his confused eyes. “No.”

His fingers bit into my waist in reflex. “Han —”

“I’ve been giving you amazingly bad mixed signals.” I pushed out of his grip, creating some much-needed distance between us. “I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry. But I have to stop. It’s not fair to either of us. We have to end this.”

“Or you could just admit you’re scared shitless and give me one more chance to prove to you that you don’t have to be scared. That we can work.”

I shook my head, gesturing around me, indicating the situation we found ourselves in. “We’re nothing but drama.”

“Yeah?” he snapped. “So what? Everybody has drama. They deal with it.” He took a step toward me, trying to close the gap, but I only stepped back to widen it again. The anger in his eyes banked at the movement. “You know what? I f**ked up five years ago. Big time. And I probably won’t ever forgive myself for that. But I can’t fight if you’re not willing to fight with me. Do you know what it does to me to leave you every night? It makes me feel like that dick kid that walked out on you five years ago. And I can’t be that kid anymore.” He strode toward me, desperation in his features as he grabbed me by the shoulders. “No more games, Hannah. Please. This is it. You’re either taking that chance with me or you’re not and I’m gone for good.”

His ultimatum paralyzed me.

The fear paralyzed me.

Pain entered Marco’s eyes and he gently let go of me. Frozen, unable to stop him, I watched as he walked toward the door and unlocked it. “You better get back to Cole and I better get back to my date.”

“Marco —” My lips suddenly moved and his name came out, pleading for him to understand. “We just keep hurting each other.”

“No.” He glanced back at me over his shoulder and I flinched at the anguish in his eyes. “I hurt you and I didn’t mean to. Now you’re deliberately hurting us both.” He sighed, seeming unable to let go completely when he said, “Babe, you come to your senses, you know where I am. But I’ll only be waiting there for so long.”

The door closed behind him and I was left standing alone in a stranger’s office, wondering if I was wrong and Marco had been right all along.


“If she upchucks, Dad, you’re cleaning it up,” Liv warned Mick as he lifted a giggling Lily above his head for about the fifteenth time.

“She’s not going to upchuck.” Mick grinned, bringing Lily down into his arms. She was little anyway, but Liv’s dad was a big guy and she looked tiny and adorable clinging to him. “Soul of a pilot, this one.”

It was Sunday lunch, and this time Mick and his wife, Dee, had been able to join us, so it was a full house. It was actually hard to think, what with the children giggling and chasing one another, Bray crying, which was upsetting a usually docile Belle, and the adults trying to be heard over one another. I loved our huge makeshift family, but on a day when I needed them to take my mind off Marco, all they were able to do was make my head pound with their cheerful but disjointed noise.

In order to escape some of the cacophony, I volunteered to do the dishes and shot my arse into the kitchen. It was still noisy, but at least there was distance between me and the worst of it. There I was able to replay the scene with Marco at the restaurant over and over again, as I had been doing for days. I’d been so sure as I stood there and told him we were through that it was the right thing to do, but as soon as that door closed behind him I was seized with instant panic. The truth was, I didn’t know what was right and what was wrong. I wished there was some kind of magic wand I could wave that would give me all the answers. Likely some people would call me foolish – tell me that surely the answer is so obvious. If you love someone, you should be with them.

Was it really that simple, though, when there was so much history and hurt? Could we really work through that? Could I really let myself be vulnerable with him again when there was absolutely no way of knowing what the future held for us?

I was exhausted from going over it all over and over and over again.

I scraped the plates and had started loading them into the dishwasher when I felt another presence in the kitchen. I looked up to see who it was, and my eyes collided with Nate’s as he leaned against the doorjamb.

“You okay?” I asked, my eyebrows drawn together in concern.

“I was actually going to ask you the same thing,” he replied, walking slowly into the kitchen.

I shrugged. Really, what was the point in lying?

Nate sighed. “Thought so.” He leaned back against the kitchen counter, crossing his arms over his chest. “You know that Liv and I were just friends before anything romantic happened between us?”


“Well, when we did go down that road, we both knew what was between us was special. Except I didn’t want to admit that because I was afraid of losing her in the long run.”

“Because of what happened to Alana?” I asked, tentatively because Nate rarely talked about his ex-girlfriend. She had died when they were only eighteen and Nate had had a really difficult time moving on from her death.

“Aye. I pushed Liv away and I really hurt her, all because I was too afraid to go there with her. I almost lost her for good, Hannah. There was a moment when I thought my stubbornness had destroyed us. It was one of the scariest moments of my life. And sometimes I allow myself to think about what my life might have been like if I hadn’t won her back. It doesn’t even bear thinking about. How does someone live with that kind of regret?” I felt his hand on my shoulder. He gave it a squeeze and said kindly, “You’re a good teacher, Hannah. I just hope a lesson in regret isn’t something you’ll be able to teach well in the future.”

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