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|Fall From India Place(On Dublin Street #4)(55) by Samantha Young|
“Adam!” Dec bellowed up the stairs. “The baby’s coming!”
“I don’t recognize any of these people.” I wrapped my arm around Cole’s shoulders and leaned into him as I looked around the room.
“That’s because you’ve had five beers.”
“Yet my cognitive functions appear to be in working order, so it’s not that.”
He glanced at me, a small smile playing on his lips. “And you used the phrase ‘cognitive functions.’ Okay.” He gazed back around the room. “So I guess I don’t recognize some of these people. But most of them are from uni.”
“Hmm. Should we mingle?”
“Aye.” I felt his concerned gaze on me. “You ready for that?”
“You’re the one that’s forcing me to celebrate New Year’s, so I think you already think I am.”
“Jesus Christ, leave it to you to be smart when you’re drunk.”
“I’m not drunk. I’m buzzed.” I spotted a bottle of tequila. “But I know a way to get drunk.”
Following my gaze, Cole’s nodded. “I’ll get the salt and the lime.” He walked off toward to the kitchen, smiling and nodding hello to people.
As soon as he was gone, I instantly felt despondent. I hated that I felt despondent. This was supposed to be a happy time. Ellie had given birth to another little boy in the early morning of Boxing Day. She and Adam had named him Braden after his uncle, although we’d all already started calling him Bray. While William was fair like his mum, Bray was already dark like his dad. Only time would tell if he’d remain that way.
We were all gaga over Bray, even the kids. Now we were just waiting on Jo, who was due this week.
I tried not to let their pregnancies or the pregnancies that had come before theirs bother me. Never would I resent a family member’s or friend’s happiness. However, each new baby was a reminder that I would never have one of my own. So I took joy in being a favorite aunt.
I took no joy in the fact that missing Marco hadn’t gone away. In fact it had only gotten worse.
“Screw the salt and lime,” I whispered, and headed over to the tequila.
With Cole’s help and the help of people who were introduced to me but whose names I quickly forgot, I got drunk to the point where I was happy but I could still control which foot went in front of the other. By the time midnight approached, a cute guy around Cole’s age was chatting me up. He was flirty and kept touching my waist and bending close to hear what I had to say, and for a little while, at least on a superficial level, I could forget there was a Marco.
Across the room I saw Cole was flirting with a pretty brunette.
It looked like we’d each found ourselves someone to kiss at midnight.
The room grew still upon the countdown and we all started shouting down from ten.
“… TWO! ONE! HAPPY NEW YEAR!”
Cheers rent the air along with whistles and claps, and I turned to smile up into cute-guy-I-couldn’t-remember-his-name’s face just as his mouth descended toward mine.
The instant his lips touched my lips, I tensed.
He kissed me. It was perfectly nice.
But there was no tingling.
I felt the burn of tears in my nose and in the back of my throat and I abruptly broke the kiss. I looked up, horrified by the wet in my eyes, and apologized to his neck since I couldn’t meet his surely befuddled gaze. Hurrying away from him, I pushed through the crowds of partygoers in Cole’s flat and hurried out into the chilly stairwell. It was cold, but it felt nice against my burning skin.
“What the hell was that?” I murmured to myself, brushing my hair off my face with a trembling hand.
As if in answer, my phone rang.
That was a surprise. It was nearly impossible to get through to someone on New Year’s since the networks were so clogged with calls. Pulling my phone out of my pocket, I almost dropped it when I saw the caller ID.
It was like the no-tingle kiss had conjured him.
Feeling the breath whoosh out of me, I stared at the phone, unsure what to do.
Then, as if someone else had taken over my body, I pressed the ANSWER button and held the phone up to my ear without saying a word.
“I’m sitting here” – he started speaking, and the sound of his gravelly voice in my ear caused me to close my eyes in pain – “and for the millionth time I’m wondering what the f**k went wrong.”
Still I didn’t speak.
“I want to know what’s going on, Hannah. What’s really going on? I keep going over it and over it in my head, and no matter what my brain tells me happened that day, I refuse to believe the person that broke up with me was you. There’s something you’re not telling me. There’s got to be something you’re not telling me.” He sounded desperate, and the pain in his voice was like a fist twisting in my gut. “My head’s a f**king mess.” He sighed, his voice lowering to a rumble. “I miss you.”
Frozen, his words like a vise squeezing my lungs, I couldn’t say anything in return.
Marco waited a while.
Then he hung up.
I dropped my head, wondering why I suddenly felt like a coward. “I miss you too,” I whispered.
A week later school had resumed and it felt good to have something to bury myself in again. Morning classes had gone quickly and I’d now settled at my desk to do marking while I had a free period.
When the phone rang I didn’t think anything of it. I answered it and got Neil at Reception.
“Hannah, we’ve got a Cole Walker at Reception for you.”
Wondering what the hell he was doing there, I tried not to let my mind race with the worst possibilities. “Send him up.”
I put the phone down and quickly scrambled through my bag for my own phone. Had something happened to Jo? She was past due and maybe…
It seemed to take forever for my phone to come on and when it did I had no new messages or missed calls. I shoved it back in my bag just as Cole came through my doorway and slammed my door shut.
Slowly, nervously, I stood up.
Cole was furious and I had not a clue as to why. “What’s going on?”
The muscle in his jaw flexed while he looked me over, seeming beyond frustrated and angry. “I bumped into Suzanne half an hour ago.”
My stomach dropped.
“Marco has a family?” he asked in disbelief. “A kid? A wife?”