Fall from India Place Page 71

He made a move toward me as if he was going to touch me. I held my hand up to stop him.

“Before you say anything, you need to know something.”

Marco grew still but gave a stiff little nod for me to continue.

I took a shuddering breath for the coming revelation. “I wish I was stronger. I wish I was Hannah before the miscarriage, but I lost a huge piece of her after it happened. Especially the part of her that went after what she wanted no matter the consequences. I want kids, I need you to know that, but if we get back together and somewhere down the road you wanted kids, I don’t know if I could actually give you that.” I couldn’t read his expression. “What I’m trying to say is that I’m frightened to try to get pregnant, and I can’t promise I’ll ever get over that.”

His hands were suddenly on me, pulling me close until our noses almost touched. “Do you love me?” he asked hoarsely, giving me a little shake.

I laughed softly at the question, the answer so obvious – to me at least. Reaching a hand up, I ran the backs of my knuckles along his cheek, feeling the possessive thrill I always felt when I was near him. Because buried under all my crap was the utter belief I had deep in my bones that this man belonged to me. “What I said before was true. I’ve been in love with you since I was fourteen.”

His grip tightened. “Then that’s all that matters to me. We’ll take the future as it comes. There’s no promise that life will ever be easy. It never has been for me. But the moments where all that shit disappeared, where it ceased to matter to me, those moments always had you in them. I know you make me laugh, I know you make me feel worth something, you make me feel needed, and I know I want you like I’ve never wanted any other woman in my life. All that makes sense.

“I’ve never been able to explain what it is about you that makes all the bad go away. I don’t need that to make sense, though. I don’t know why it is that way. All I need to know is that you do, you always have. I’m in love with you. There is no one else for me and I don’t know how I know, but I do know that there never will be. So” – he cupped my face in his hands, drawing me closer – “we’ll deal with tomorrow, tomorrow.”

After he pressed a soft kiss to my lips, he hugged me to his side and we sat there for a while as he comforted me in silence.

Finally I said softly, reflectively, “It changes you. Loss.”

I felt his arm tighten around me. “It changed you, babe. But not as much as you think.”

“Still, it’s always there. Do you think that’s okay?”

“In what way is it always there?”

I took a moment, trying to think of the best way to explain it. “When you haven’t experienced loss directly, it’s like… well, you drive the same road home you drive each night. You know it as well as anyone can. Then one night you decide for the hell of it to drive a different road home. You think nothing of it. It’s merely a change of scenery.

“But if you’re someone who has lost someone or come close to losing yourself… and if you take that different road, there’s this second after you’ve made that decision, just a second, in which you wonder, worry, if taking that road means changing your life irreparably – you don’t know the curves in the road as well, you don’t know the blind spots. In that second you imagine a crash, a collision. Just a second, until you tell yourself to stop being so morbid. Yet no matter how silly it makes you feel, every time you make a decision to take that different road, you can’t help that instant of questioning if your choice will end in loss.”

He was quiet as he processed my words, and then his lips were in my hair, his whisper a promise. “Life’s fragile, Hannah. You know that and that’s what those seconds are a product of. You’re allowed to have those seconds, just as long as they don’t mean you ever shut me out.”

Relieved that he understood, I closed my eyes and held on tighter, giving him a silent promise in return.

That night I slept next to Marco in his bed for the first time. He held me close, keeping me warm and safe through my sadness.

I was just drifting to sleep when I heard Jarrod’s voice in my head, a memory from weeks before.

“Just saying. Nice to know a big guy like that is watching your back.”

From his voice came peace.


“I’ll get your short essays back to you next week,” I promised my literacy class as they all began packing up for the evening.

“Have a nice weekend, Hannah,” Duncan said, throwing me a kind smile as he headed out the door.

The others followed his lead. They’d been somewhat subdued this week and I had a feeling they knew the reason why I hadn’t been there to teach them last Thursday.

I was packing up my own things when to my surprise Lorraine made her way over to me. Trying to mask my disbelief at her willingly approaching me, I stilled, waiting for her to say something.

She shifted a little uneasily. “I, eh… I heard aboot the wee laddie fae yer class. Sorry tae hear it.”

I blinked rapidly at the unexpected condolence. “Thank you.”

“Aye, well, ye seem like ye probably give a shit, so, I imagine it hus’nae been easy fur ye.”

I nodded in silent agreement, honestly not knowing what to say.

Lorraine shrugged, looking anywhere but at me. “Aye, well… thote ye might like to ken that I, eh… got a jobe.”

“That’s brilliant.” I grinned. “Where?”

“Fur one eh the sport bookies chains.” She flashed me a smile and I was almost knocked over by the extremely rare sight. “It’s awright money, like.”

“Lorraine, I’m so pleased for you.”

She shrugged, shuffling back from me, seeming all too uncomfortable again. “Well, just wanted tae tell ye ’cos I probably widnae huv got it if it wisnae fur this class. I’ll see ye later.” She dashed out of the room before I could say anything else.

I stared after her. Lorraine was as rough as they came and prickly as hell. She didn’t like me, or at least she didn’t understand me, but she was the first student since Jarrod’s death to make me feel like there was still a chance to make a difference at all this.

Marco’s muddy riggers were sitting on a folded-out newspaper just inside the door to my flat. I felt something pleasant shift in my chest at the sight of them, and after I shut the door behind me, I cocked my head to listen for the sound of him.

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