Guys, it’s only four days until Samantha Young’s next book in the On Dublin Street series!
Because even four days seems like far too long to wait, Entice are delighted to reveal that we have not one but TWO exclusive deleted scenes from Fall From India Place to reveal!
Read on for the first, and check back on Monday, 2nd of June for number two . . .
I pressed save on Marco’s English discursive writing piece and slid the laptop over to him. “I’ve made some notes. Once you go over them, you’re good to go.”
“Thanks,” he muttered, scrolling down the screen to see what I’d typed into the comment boxes.
We were sitting in Stockbridge Library instead of the school library, because last time we did that we could barely get anything done. This was due to the whispering going on around us as people wondered what we were doing together. Word had long ago reached enquiring ears —a.k.a my friends and his—that we hung out sometimes, and people were curious as to what was going on with us.
Unfortunately, the answer wasn’t as exciting as I’d like.
After I’d kissed Marco he’d avoided me for a month. But kissing him and being rejected had actually been somewhat liberating. Okay, it hurt like hell and I felt humiliated, but after a while I began to realize that the world hadn’t ended. I’d done something for me, something brave, and I’d made it out okay. It had changed my perspective. I spoke up in class now, and I stood up for myself and for my friends against petty name-calling. I entered my short story into the junior writing competition my English teachers had urged me toward, and I joined the debate team.
That’s sort of why Marco started speaking to me again. I, of course, missed the bus after my first meeting with the team and when I walked outside, there he was.
He never said a word to me about the kiss. He just pretended like it had never happened. I didn’t feel great about that but I was happy he was at least talking to me again. A few weeks after that I discovered his English tutor had up and quit on him because of her own workload. She had been helping Marco with Higher English.
Although I was a few years younger, I was ahead of the curve in English so I talked through his requirements with my English teacher and I’d offered to help him.
Thankfully, he’d taken me up on the offer and we met up once a week to work on it and anything else I thought I might be able to help him out with. I wasn’t surprised to discover that Marco’s problems with English were mostly a lack of confidence. Reading over his discursive piece only highlighted to me how much smarter he was than he realized.
“Now we need to work on your personal essay.”
Marco shut the laptop, covering his yawn with his fist. He blinked sleepily at me. “I’m trying. I’m pretty beat.”
I knew his Design and Tech teacher had helped get him an apprenticeship with a local independent tradesman in carpentry and joinery. It was a requirement that Marco had employment with someone in the trade in order to get onto the course at Edinburgh College for carpentry and joinery. Technically, he didn’t need Higher English or Higher Maths, but I felt like it was a challenge he’d put upon himself to prove that he could do it.
And he could do it. If he would organize his workload a little better. He’d gotten permission to leave school to work on his apprenticeship during his free periods and he worked all day Saturday with his new boss. He worked full time during the holidays, too. I knew he was tired. But I also knew that when it came to his personal essay, he was procrastinating.
Marco wasn’t really into oversharing.
“Have you picked a subject at least?” I asked quietly, unable to stop my eyes as they roamed his face, studying every little thing about it. I squashed the butterflies, as always, and waited.
He looked up from the desk, those amazing eyes of his staring right into mine. “Not really.”
“What about your grandparents or your life back in Chicago?”
“Hannah,” he smiled sadly, “Nonno pretty much hates me and I was bad news in Chicago. I hung around guys that were getting into really ugly stuff. That’s why my grandparents sent me away. That’s not really something I want publicized on an academic paper.”
Intrigued by this new information, I leaned forward. “Why do you think your granddad hates you?”
My mum’s dad had died before I was born but my dad’s father was still alive and he always showered me with love the few times a year I got to see him. I couldn’t understand a grandparent hating his grandchild.
Marco leaned back in his chair, his jaw taut as he stared at the desk. “I’m half African-American. My Italian grandfather can’t stand the fact that his precious daughter slept with a black guy.”
My lips parted in shock. “He’s racist?”
Marco shrugged. “My dad could have been Japanese, Jewish or Mexican and it would have pissed Nonno off. What mattered was that my dad wasn’t Italian and my parents weren’t married when my mother got pregnant. Nonno is really old-fashioned and a total traditionalist.”
You could call it whatever you wanted. There was no excuse for mistreating a child ever, and for the excuse for it to be based on simple genetics? I was furious for Marco. “Was he awful to you?”
Marco shrugged again but this time he met my gaze when he said, “My mom pretty much disowned my dad and my grandparents wouldn’t let him near me. He gave up, took off before I was even one. My mom stuck around for a few years but she couldn’t take being a mom. She was only seventeen when she had me. And she couldn’t take the fact that her dad, who’d once idolized her, couldn’t stand the sight of her and the massive disappointment she represented. So she took off too. Left me with them.”
My stomach felt heavy. “How bad was it?”
He looked me straight in the eye and I knew by his expression he wasn’t going to tell me. By not telling me my imagination worked on overtime and I felt nothing but fury at his grandfather and a need to protect Marco. “Nonna’s great. She tried to make up for… everything else. And most of my Italian side of the family are great. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to live with them.”
“So you got in trouble and they sent you here to your uncle?”
He nodded, a scowl forming on his handsome face. “My mom’s big brother. My Aunt Gabby is Scottish-Italian but her family is originally from Chicago. She came for a visit years ago and my Uncle Gio fell for her. They came up with the idea for the restaurant, her parents had capital, he moved here with her and D’Alessandro’s was born.”
“Is he okay with you?”
Marco’s upper lip curled. “He’s had his head filled by Nonno so make what you will out of that.”
“Marco,” I reached for his hand before I could stop myself, sliding my fingers through his. I waited as he stared at our hands clasped together.
I felt his fingers tighten for a second before he gently pulled his hand away. He cleared his throat. “I haven’t told anyone else that. I’d appreciate it if you don’t repeat it.”
“I won’t,” I promised.
There was a moment of charged silence between us.
Marco inhaled, as if trying to catch a breath in the suddenly thick air. “My personal essay?”
I shook my head. “You don’t need to make it too personal. Why don’t you write about working with your wood?”
He grinned suddenly and it took me a second to understand why. I blushed, realizing my inadvertent innuendo.
“No.” I pushed him playfully and he chuckled. “I mean write about one of your projects in woodwork. Write about why you do it, what it gives you.”
He stopped laughing. “Okay. I’ll give it a try.”
“Okay.” Still blushing I quickly stood up to escape my embarrassment. “I’ll just put this book back.”
I grabbed the book up off the desk and hurried down the aisle to where we found it. It wasn’t until I was there I remembered we’d gotten it off the top shelf, a shelf even I couldn’t reach without a stool. Marco had retrieved it.
And then he was there. The heat of his chest against my back. “Let me,” his voice rumbled in my ear and I tried to stop the shiver that chased down my spine and failed.
He took the book out of my hands and reached up above me, going on tip-toe so his chest brushed my back. As he slid the book back in place I turned around, thrilled by his proximity. Marco’s eyes dropped to my face and I flushed again at the sudden intensity in his expression. His arm lowered but instead of dropping it to his side he gently tucked my short hair behind my ear, his fingers brushing my skin as he did so.
I felt the heat and surge of attraction between us. I wanted to throw my arms around his neck and kiss him again, but I was frozen by the fear that if I did, this time he would stop talking to me for good.
“Thanks for your help,” he said gruffly, dropping his hand to his side and stepping back.
“Anytime,” I whispered, but he was already walking away.