Before I Fall

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VI

“Do you think we’re born to carry on the legacy our parents have built?” Ambra was sitting in a worn-out office chair with her legs resting on Luca’s desk as he worked on his laptop. The bookstore was closed today, but Ambra had taken a chance and knocked on the wooden door anyways. She didn’t know what had come over her but she’d grown comfortable around him; more so than she imagined. She had been pleasantly surprised when Luca’s head popped around the corner of the doorway to his office. He hadn’t expected anyone to visit and was wearing grey sweatpants and a tight-fitting black tee.

His nose that held his glasses with gold embellishments scrunched up in distaste. “Of course not, why do you think that?”

“Just wondering,” Ambra replied distractedly as she snapped an elastic band repeatedly on her wrist. The truth was she wanted to get Luca’s take on the decisions she’d made in her life. She didn’t know why, but she trusted him enough to give her an honest opinion.

“Do you think it’s selfish if I put myself first after spending a lifetime listening to my parents?”

Luca sat back in his chair and crossed his arms over his chest. His eyes looked over Ambra in curiosity and worry. Ambra noticed the silence and turned to look at him.

“Well?”

“Did something happen after you went home last night?” Luca asked without blinking. Ever since Ambra had entered his shop in the early hours of the morning she’d been asking him vague questions. She wouldn’t wait for an answer and would move onto the next one. It had started worrying Luca and now he’d decided to ask the question that had been on his mind all day.

Ambra looked up seemingly startled by his straightforward questioning. She let out a nervous laugh, “of course not. Actually, what do you think abo—”

“Ambra."

Ambra stopped mid-sentence as Luca’s stern voice cut through the air.

“What happened after you left last night?”

She stared into his eyes as he raised his eyebrow at her. Daring her to say anything different to what he’d just asked. She looked down as tears slowly welled up in her eyes. Her white lacy long-sleeved top hid the painful reminder of last night. A bruise the size of a handprint covered her upper arm with five nail marks imprinted into her skin. In her worry, Ambra hadn’t felt her mother’s nails digging into her skin nor had she felt the door handle digging into her side when her mother had pushed her in her rage. Ambra bruised easily, but she hadn’t realized a fucking door handle would bruise her to the point where it hurt to touch it.

Luca’s eyes widened as Ambra began to take her arm out of her shirt to show Luca what had happened. Her shirt bunched up around her neck with her left arm still in its sleeve as she showed Luca the ugly purple and blue mark.

“M-my parents got really mad at me for being out past curfew which is usually 8pm. They said I should be in uni instead of living a life where I’m doing nothing other than going to a bookstore. My mum is going to get me a job at the diner so I can learn how to work amongst scum as she called it. They’re both lawyers and they wanted me to go to university and become one too, but I didn’t want to. They don’t usually get this angry, but they lost it yesterday...” Ambra broke off from her explanation as she looked at Luca.

He looked helpless; almost as if he’d start crying. Sorrow coating his features. Luca couldn’t help but recall his childhood as Ambra explained what had happened. Sure, Ambra hadn’t been sexually abused and he hadn’t gone against his parent’s wishes of his becoming a lawyer, but he didn’t want Ambra going through what he’d gone through. Not in the slightest bit. He didn’t want anyone touching her in a way that didn’t show love.

“Come here baby,” he opened his arms and waited for her to climb onto his lap.

She looked at his outstretched arms that were covered in ink before plopping herself into his lap and wrapping her arms around his neck. They embraced each other for what felt like hours but was a mere couple of minutes.

“You won’t have to worry about that anymore, okay? I’ll make sure of it, love. You won’t go through anything close to what I—” Luca stopped himself before he said anything more. He wasn’t ready to tell her everything about himself. He trusted her and it scared him. The small nymph in his arms was making his heart do things he hadn’t ever felt before. He chose instead, to subtly smell her vanilla-scented hair and enjoy the warmth and comfort her hug brought him.

Ambra giggled as she wiped the stray tears that had fallen. “And how will you, make sure that I’m safe? You can’t live with me Luca, I have to do this on my own.”

Luca shook his head as he tightened his arms around Ambra’s waist. “Nope, we’ll figure this out together, I promise. God knows I don’t agree with this fucking storm your parents wanna raise, but I’ll help you keep out of harm’s way. I’ll get you home on time from now on and that’ll stop the nagging. I’ll get you that job at the diner. I’ll dro—”

Ambra interrupted Luca as she pulled back with a grin on her face. “Okay, okay I understand.” They stared at each other. Two hearts coming together unknowingly. One healing the other. Both lighting a fire in one another that couldn’t be burnt out. “Thank you, Luca. It means a lot to me.”

“You’re very welcome, love”

A chime brings both of them out of their thoughts. Ambra clears her throat and gets off Luca’s warm lap and straightens her skirt. Her face burns a bright red as she realizes she was hugging Luca with her shirt still half off.

Luca looked up from his laptop, “we need to get some cream for that, come on.” He pushed his chair back and grabbed the hoodie that had been hung on a rack on the wall behind him.

“No, no, no. It’s okay I’ll just ice it, it doesn’t need anything else, don’t worry. Besides you still have work to do,” Ambra pointed at the stack of papers on Luca’s desk and shook her head as Luca came up to her. He grabbed her hand and pulled her towards the door with a smirk on his face.

“I’d much rather spend my day with you, my work can wait. And don’t argue with me on your arm, look at the state of it Ambra. You need something on it to help it heal faster.”

Ambra intertwined their fingers and walked with Luca out the door of the bookstore. She waited for Luca to lock up and they walked to the car waiting for them across the street; a royal blue Range Rover stood waiting for them.

Luca opened the passenger door and waited for Ambra to get in. Ambra shyly looked down as she twiddled her fingers. She couldn’t climb up into the car and was hoping Luca give her a hand without teasing her about it.

“Something the matter love?” Luca furrowed his eyebrows. He looked inside the car to make sure he had nothing lying around that could’ve scared her. No guns. No drugs. No empty glass bottles. Why wasn’t she getting in? Luca knew they hadn’t known each other long, but he thought they’d at least become friends in their short time together.

Ambra tucked a piece of hair behind her ear, “I-I can’t get up,” she whispered.

Luca could have cooed at how adorable she looked. Without saying anything, he grabbed her by her hips and hoisted her onto the seat. Ambra squealed, “Luca! You could hurt yourself like that, I’m not a light person. Don’t do that again!”

“Oh, hush. You’re like a feather to me.” Luca shut the door and ran to his side before climbing in and starting the car. He chuckled as Ambra grumbled under her breath. Luca gripped her chin and turned her to face him. “Love, you weigh nothing. I promise.”

Ambra eyes glittered in adoration for the man in front of her. Maybe he really could make everything better for her. Luca’s eyes stared back with the same intensity as hers. Maybe he’d end up telling her everything. Maybe she’d fix his unfixable soul.

They both shook their heads as they cleared themselves of the thoughts running through their minds.

“Now, let’s go bestie. And after this, we can get something to eat. How does ice-cream sound?”

“Bestie?” Ambra couldn’t help the surprise in her voice. Luca’s eyes widened in horror. He hadn’t meant for that to slip out. Shit, what if he was moving too fast? They’d only just met. But he trusted her so much. What if she didn’t trust him? What if she didn’t even want to be friends let alone besties.

You fucking idiot Luca.

Ambra cut off his inner rambling spree by placing her hand on his shoulder. “Hey, we can be besties if you’d like. I’ve never had a best friend before, so you’d be super special.”

“Really? You’d be okay with that? I-I mean we only just met—” Ambra cut Luca off with her giggling.

“Of course I’d be okay with it silly! I trust you and trust me and I’m basically gonna be with you every day from now on so let’s be best friends.”

Luca stared at Ambra in silence. Her eyes shone with excitement of what was to come. They gave him hope that everything was going to be okay. And as he stared at her, Ambra couldn’t help but see he too had the eyes that shone with the light of ‘everything will be ok’.

Maybe the world could have mercy on both these souls. Maybe the world could give them a ride to remember.

And maybe the world could light up their lives in the most beautiful way it knew how...

with love.

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