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|Fall From India Place(On Dublin Street #4)(33) by Samantha Young|
“I stood outside the school gates to make sure you were okay because after I walked you home that one time I thought you deserved someone looking out for you. You were a funny, smart, kind girl, and you looked at me in a way no one had before. Like I had something interesting to say and you wanted to hear all about it. That felt better than you can imagine. I wanted to feel that way again. I got addicted to feeling that way whenever you were around. I even started hoping for reasons for you to miss that bus home. I let something happen that I thought I shouldn’t have. I let us get close.
“I didn’t want you to love me, Hannah, because I was terrified I’d hurt you, and, yeah, I know that sounds f**ked up now since I hurt you by walking out on you, but at the time I thought I was doing you a favor.”
“A favor?” I guffawed. “I thought I was in love with you. I let myself be vulnerable with you in every way I could and you scrambled off me as if you couldn’t bear to be near me. You broke my heart.”
Marco clasped his hands into a fist, resting his chin on them. “I know,” he whispered back. “I’ve never regretted anything more in my life. It was f**ked up and stupid and if I could take that moment back I would.”
“All of it?” I found myself asking.
His eyes drifted to my lips and then back up to my eyes again. “No,” he replied, his voice thick. “Just the part where I left you.”
“If you feel that way, why didn’t you come back to me when you returned to Scotland?”
“Because I didn’t feel that way then. Nothing magically changed when Nonno died, Hannah. I still felt worthless for a very long time.”
“When did it change? Why?”
Marco’s gaze lowered and he gave a tiny shake of his head. “I don’t know. It was nothing. Everything. I grew up, I worked hard, and I began to find value in myself. Somewhere, bit by bit, day by day, I found self-worth. I found it by proving that bastard wrong.”
“I’m glad you found that,” I told him honestly. “But that still doesn’t tell me why after that you didn’t come find me.”
“Because by then years had passed, Hannah. I didn’t know what to say and I didn’t know if I could stand to have you look at me like I was nothing after it took me so long to feel about myself the way you used to look at me.”
“Until the wedding?”
“Until the wedding,” he agreed, heat entering his eyes now. “It was a shock to see you there, but seeing you again… God, I thought I knew how much I missed you until I saw you again. I know I came on strong trying to get you to talk to me, and I’m sorry if I freaked you out… but you didn’t look at me like I was worthless at the wedding. You looked pissed, but it wasn’t this f**king awful thing I’d built up in my head. With that fear gone, I just really needed the chance to apologize and I was willing to do anything I could to get that chance.”
Something inside me, something I wanted desperately to ignore, exalted at his confession. “And now that you’ve explained everything… what do you want from me?”
“Forgiveness,” he answered sincerely. The sincerity quickly dissipated under the weight of the intensity that entered his expression. That look filled the whole room until I felt stifled by it. “And a second chance to get to know you.”
With my body physically responding to him, I narrowed my eyes and fought to ignore that response. “In what way?”
“Not just as friends, if that’s what you’re thinking.”
I jerked back in my seat at his blunt reply. “You’re not even going to pretend to want to be just friends so you can try a sneak attack for more?”
Marco stared at me with serious determination. “I’m not going to hide that I want to get to know who you are now. I’m also not going to hide the fact that I think you’re still the classiest, most f**king beautiful woman I’ve ever seen, or the fact that I remember the taste of you and it still makes me hard.”
I couldn’t breathe.
“Hannah?” He frowned at my silence.
I reached for my beer and took a long swallow, trying to collect myself.
My eyes clashed with his. “What do you want me to say?”
“I want you to say ‘Marco, I forgive you and, yes, I want to get to know you again.’”
“I don’t know if I can do that,” I whispered.
For a minute I thought he wasn’t going to say anything, but suddenly he stood up. I tilted my head back, watching warily as he strode around the table to tower over me. I sucked in my breath as he leaned down, his heat hitting me, his cologne wafting over me, and I couldn’t suppress the shiver that cascaded down my spine when he pressed his warm lips to my cheek. My eyes round with surprise, I gaped at him as he straightened and said, “I’ll give you a couple of days to think about it.”
I stared woefully at the wall in front of me decorated with Cole’s tattoo art. The buzz of the tattoo needle next door played a sound track to Saturday lunch with my best friend. Cole was working at INKarnate and I’d stopped by with food so we could hang out on his lunch break.
I could feel his eyes burning into me.
Giving in to his silent question, I turned to meet his gaze.
He sipped his coffee and continued to stare at me without saying anything.
“What?” I shrugged before biting into my sandwich.
“As grateful as I am for you bringing me lunch, I am wondering if I should count on silence from you from now on?”
Swallowing my food, I rolled my eyes. “What, we can’t just sit in comfortable silence?”
“You didn’t come here to sit in comfortable silence.” Cole relaxed into his seat, putting his feet up on the part of the tattoo chair my arse wasn’t covering. “You came here to talk, so talk.”
“But that would make me the whiniest best friend on the planet.”
“I’ll take whiny over mute.”
I snorted, and turned slightly to face him. “You know exactly what I’m going to say.”
“Hmm.” He crossed his arms over his chest with a mock pensive look on his face. “Is it Marco in the drawing room with the candlestick?”
“Har-de-har-har.” I made a face at him.
Cole grinned unrepentantly.