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|Fall From India Place(On Dublin Street #4)(38) by Samantha Young|
“As long as you don’t talk about the guys you’ve f**ked, or Cole too much, then, yeah, I can handle it.”
I narrowed my eyes. “Cole’s my best friend.”
He ducked his head, bringing us closer. “I’m your best friend,” he answered roughly. “You’ve just forgotten. My fault, I know. I can help you remember.”
Honestly, I didn’t know how to reply to that. It made me ache so much for what we had been and for what I was terrified to have again with him.
So I remained quiet. It wasn’t until we were pulling into Glasgow Queen Street that Marco broke the silence, saying casually, “Gabby wants something called a Jo Malone for Christmas. Please tell me you know what that is?”
I stared at him and his proverbial olive branch.
And then I made a decision. I laughed. “It’s a store. Did she say what she wanted from Jo Malone?”
Marco stared at me blankly.
“Okay.” I patted his shoulder as we moved to get off the train. “We’ll go with a general gift box.”
Somehow, despite the hairy moment on the train, we had a great time together that day. After shopping for a bit, we stopped for lunch at a pub. There, I impulsively offered, “You know, if we don’t get everything this weekend, I’d be happy to help you shop next weekend.”
Marco’s gaze softened at my suggestion. However, his quiet answer was a rebuff. “I can’t next weekend.”
I tried not to feel stupid for putting myself out there. I’d never have felt stupid about something like that when we were kids.
His eyebrows drew together at my silence. “It’s complicated, but, uh… I’ll explain it to you soon,” he promised. “When the time is right.”
My stomach flipped unpleasantly and I did my best to ignore the feeling. “That’s cryptic.”
“It’s just a long story. One I intend to tell, like I said, when the time is right.”
Hypocritically, I didn’t like that Marco was keeping something from me, even though I was keeping something from him. To cover that feeling of possessiveness I’d been pissed at him for only hours before, I shrugged casually. “It’s not like we’re… You don’t owe me anything.”
“Yes, I f**king do,” he said abruptly. “Whatever this is” – he gestured between us – “it’s important. And I will tell you when the time is right.”
How did I respond to that? Pulse racing, I tried for honesty again. “I don’t want you to think I’m leading you on, Marco. I’m trying to give you my friendship, but I don’t know if it’ll ever be more than that. I need you to acknowledge that you understand that.”
“I do. More than friendship or not… I’m not going anywhere.”
And just like that, the ache was back, but this time the burn of it was almost sweet. After a moment of charged silence, I ventured into small talk, asking after his aunt and uncle and the restaurant.
“Good.” He shrugged, going with the subject change. “Like I mentioned before, Gabby kind of softened Gio up a little. Somewhere along the line he decided I wasn’t a waste of space.”
Remembering that night in the gardens, the swelling bruise under his eye, I still couldn’t help but feel a deep anger in my gut toward Gio. “Does that make up for how much of a dick he was to you?”
He sensed my emotion, and his expression grew tender. “No, Hannah. But he’s not that man any longer. He was carrying around his own shit from Nonno. Their relationship wasn’t an easy one and it spilled into ours. Gio apologized for the way he treated me.” He smirked. “He was drunk when he apologized, but it still helped.”
I guessed if Marco was willing to forgive, I should be, too. “I’m glad.”
We had lunch, the air lightening between us. We joked and talked and then wandered back out into the crowds for more shopping. That night Marco finagled his way into my flat. I fell asleep watching a movie and when I stirred it was because Marco was carrying me into my bedroom. He gently eased me into bed and I fell asleep with the touch of his lips on my forehead.
The next morning I woke up to find him asleep on my couch and when I asked him why he had stayed instead of going home to his bed, he said he slept easier knowing I was safe. That morning I made him breakfast. I made him breakfast with a tiny fraction of my resolve much weaker than it had been the day before. I thought when he left that day that he wasn’t coming back, but he did; he returned with materials he’d ordered for me. I canceled Sunday lunch at my mum’s to watch Marco build bookshelves in my sitting room. My resolve weakened even more.
That following week we were both exceptionally busy with work, but Marco found time to call me every other night. As promised, I didn’t see him that weekend, as he had made other plans.
While he was gone, I realized something slightly terrifying.
I missed him.
Missed him deep-in-my-bones-missed-him.
It was a relief to see him at my door that Monday night after his disappearance. He broke his silent vow to give me as much physical space as possible by stepping into my flat and enveloping me in a hug I felt in every inch of my body. He kissed my cheek, reluctantly pulling away from me. I was glad for the thick sweater I wore because the combination of his cologne, his heat, his strong arms around me and his hard chest brushing against my soft one, all mixing in with the fact that I was giddy to see him, made my body physically react to his hug.
Attempting to shrug off my sexual attraction to him, I made dinner for us as if everything was perfectly normal.
Three times that week Marco turned up at my flat for dinner.
I asked him why we never hung out at his flat, not because it bothered me, but because I was curious. His answer was that my place was nicer. Although he’d once lived in that shithole on India Place, I couldn’t imagine him living somewhere like that now, so I presumed his flat was acceptable for hosting guests despite his denials that it wasn’t.
Still, I shrugged off my questions, my curiosity, and my doubt, intent on enjoying the present with him.
Deciding to leave the flat for once, we went out to the movies that Friday night. That clearly wasn’t enough time spent together, and Marco insisted on crashing my babysitting duties the next evening. We went to Joss and Braden’s and babysat Beth and Luke for them while they had date night. This meant Marco met Joss. He’d already met Braden while working construction on a few of Braden’s builds. To my complete and utter shock, Braden was congenial with Marco. There was no intimidating older brother in sight. He appeared relaxed with the whole idea of Marco’s presence in my life. Perhaps the macho alpha in him recognized it in Marco and respected it in some weird male psyche thing I would never understand. As for Joss, she made it clear when both Braden’s and Marco’s backs were turned that she thought he seemed great.