Fall from India Place Page 70

Jarrod’s mother threw a rose in. A girl I didn’t recognize stepped forward and threw another in. She was followed by Staci, and then an older woman, who hugged Jarrod’s mum tightly immediately afterward.

During this, I stepped forward, the paper in my hand biting into my skin. Gently I threw the paper into the grave. On it were words I’d borrowed from Shakespeare.

“Good night, sweet prince.

And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”

It was my way of saying good-bye, of letting him know that he mattered to me, that I’d seen him for who he really was, and that I wanted him to find peace wherever he was now.

Good night, sweet prince. And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

I stepped back into the crowd, taking a shuddering breath as the minister began to say his final words. In my sadness I was vaguely aware of the people near me shifting, but I didn’t look up.

I didn’t look up until I was startled by the warm, rough fingers sliding through mine to hold my hand tight. My breath left me as I turned to look up at Marco.

Shock, relief, disbelief, and gratitude moved through me.

His kind eyes locked with mine and he held on tighter.

Ellie’s words from months ago suddenly came to me in that moment.

Five years ago you started shutting us out, putting on this front, determined to take care of yourself without our help. You need to stop that. Not just for you but for us. We’re here if you need us, and frankly we need you to need us.

The truth hit me then that she’d been right all along. I needed them, I needed Marco, and I knew that just like my family needed me to need them, he needed me to need him. So I let him know that I did.

Thank you.

He read the silent message in my eyes and in answer brushed his lips against my forehead in comfort. I closed my eyes, rested my head on his shoulder, and listened as the minister laid Jarrod Fisher to rest.


Marco’s flat wasn’t anything like he’d described.

It was a fairly new build, a two-bedroom flat at St. Leonard’s Hill east of the university. It was small, but it was furnished in a masculine, contemporary style – it captured the idea of luxury on a budget. A large flat-screen TV hung on the wall across from the three-seater sofa in the open-plan living space. A small but modern kitchen was situated in the back of the room. There was a door in the middle of the back wall that I guessed led to the bedrooms.

Marco had told me his place was a dump. He’d told me that because if he’d taken me to his flat he would have had to hide the photographs of Dylan that hung on the walls. He would have had to hide the toy box in the corner of the room, and the action figures set up by the French window that overlooked the gardens.

But he couldn’t hide the second bedroom that I had no doubt was decorated for a little boy.

Leaving me to shrug out of my coat and take a seat on his black leather sofa, Marco marched determinedly into the kitchen and started brewing me a cup of tea. My face was frozen from the winter wind, but the chill that ran deep through the rest of my body was from having to watch a fifteen-year-old be buried on a day bright with winter sun and dark with bitter confusion.

“It’s not fair,” I murmured. “And I have to move past that. You’d go crazy, wouldn’t you? If you obsessed over the unfairness of it all?”

Marco poured hot water from the kettle into two mugs and then lifted his gaze to me. “It’s times like these it’s better to accept it and move on. But, yeah. It isn’t fair.” He moved back to me with the mugs, handed me one and then sat down close to me. His gorgeous eyes held sympathy and concern. “I’m sorry, Hannah. I know he was a good kid.”

I clutched the mug tightly in both hands, allowing the heat to seep into me. “Was it Ellie that told you about Jarrod?”

“Cole, actually.”

I raised an eyebrow. “I would have lost that bet.”

Marco settled his left hip into the back of the sofa, sliding his arm along it until his fingertips were close enough to touch my shoulder. “My question is, why didn’t you tell me?”

Perhaps it was too much to have this conversation after Jarrod’s funeral, but I knew it was time. Marco was here. He had come to me when I needed him without me even having to ask.

“I hate that it took the death of one of my kids to wake me the hell up,” I muttered angrily, not flinching from meeting his gaze even though I felt almost ashamed by my choices these last few months. Strike that. These last few years. “I thought if I could just get through this alone, then I could come to you after.”

His brows drew together. “Hannah, you broke up with me because I left you alone to deal with a miscarriage that almost cost you your life. Now you’re telling me you want me to leave you alone to deal with the shitty things that happen? I’m confused.”

“No. I thought I could and should do this alone, that it wasn’t fair to want to lean on you, but as soon as you were there I knew I needed you.” I swallowed hard and admitted, “And I’ll always need you.”

I watched as he leaned over to put his mug on the coffee table and when he faced me, his eyes were blazing. “Are you for real? Because I don’t know if I can take you turning away from me again.”

“The miscarriage… I don’t know how to explain what it did to me. The worst thing that ever happened to me before it was Ellie’s tumor. When we didn’t know if it was cancer or not, and even the time in the hospital and how scary it was to see her like that… I was thirteen and suddenly I realized we didn’t live forever. Of course I knew people died and I’d known people who’d lost family, but I’d never experienced loss for myself before. And then there was Ellie, a huge part of my life, a huge part of what made me happy, and there was a possibility that we were going to lose her. One of the worst parts of it all was seeing what it did to Mum and Dad. It was like they could barely breathe until they knew she was going to be okay.”

I felt my chest compress as the memories flooded me. “When I started to feel ill after you left all those years ago, I tried to explain it away to myself because there was this dark part of me, buried deep down, that was scared there was something really wrong with me like there had been for Ellie, and that I was going to put everyone through it all over again. That fear almost cost me my life. And yet… I didn’t learn my lesson. I put these blinders on, facing the world on my own as if that somehow makes up for the fact that underneath my bullshit I’m utterly petrified. I didn’t mean to hurt you because of that. I am…” I shook my head, knowing an apology wasn’t enough but giving one anyway. “I’m sorry. But I can promise I won’t ever do that you again. Ever.”

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