We Took the Fall

03: Don’t Make It Hard

“How did you and Alicia meet?” Catalina murmured as she peeked down at her hands, her teeth nibbling at the skin of her lip. She felt nervous, just being around Fernando seemed to be enough to reduce her to a bundle of nerves, but she knew that she had to talk to him. If she was ever going to be happy for Alicia, she needed to learn that Fernando was with her older sister and that he loved her.

Fernando shrugged. “Mutual friends I guess” he mused gently “My friends were acutely aware that I wasn’t seeing anyone so they set me up on a blind date with your sister and we hit it off. We met about 6 months ago and after a bit of a whirlwind romance, I got down on one knee a couple of weeks ago” he explained, trying not to go into too much detail. He didn’t want to upset Catalina, especially when she still looked so surprised at his having arrived with her sister.

Catalina nodded. “Six months?” she murmured gently, her hands fiddling with themselves.

Fernando smiled gently. “It isn’t exactly like me, but you know Alicia better than I do. She doesn’t do things by halves” he mused with a little chuckle that made Catalina’s stomach flip. She had always found his slightly nervous laugh adorable.

“She has a habit of getting what she wants” Catalina murmured, the slightest hint of anger sneaking into her voice that Fernando noted, but didn’t comment on. He wanted to take things one step at a time.

“Lina, if you don’t want anything to do with the wedding, I am sure that people would understand, even if I have to explain it to Alicia, people would get it” he explained gently, his brown eyes peeking over at her “No one would expect you to be there” he added softly.

Catalina shook her head gently. “Alicia is my sister, Nando, and I am not going to miss out her on wedding, even if it is to you, I am not going to be the type of sister that is so petty. You clearly love my sister, I can see it all over your face, and there is no reason why I shouldn’t be happy for you both” she murmured gently.

“Catalina” Fernando quipped “You’re my ex” he pointed out.

“Of 8 years, Nando, not of ten minutes. It’s not like you dumped me to be with my sister, now, is it?” she posed.

Fernando shook his head. “I know that, Lina” he noted softly “But I saw your face when you saw me back in there, you did not look OK. Lina, if you don’t want to do this, you really don’t have to” he insisted gently. He knew that it was going to be hard for her, the look on her face when she had first seen him in the restaurant had spoken volumes, and he didn’t want to make it harder than necessary. He still had somewhat of a soft spot for the blonde who sat ahead of him and he didn’t want to upset her, something he would do if he insisted that she attend his wedding.

Catalina chewed her lip for a second before she peeked up at him. “I am alright” she insisted.

Fernando sighed. “Fine” he noted softly “Then you should come back inside. Alicia already feels as though you’re ruining this for her and if we spend another second out here, she’s going to come and get us” he murmured, gently pushing himself off of the bench.

Catalina sighed gently. “I just don’t want her to think bad of me, Nando” she murmured gently, causing him to stop in his tracks. “I love my sister, adore her, and I don’t want her thinking that I am trying to make this about me. Seeing you with her shocked me, you were the last person I expected her to bring home, but I am not going to kick up some sort of fuss and insist that I can’t be there. It has been 8 years, Nando, since you and I dated and I am just going to have to suck it up” she murmured.

Fernando stared ahead of himself for a second before he turned back to her, his brown eyes studying her nervous expression. “Lina, I can talk to Alicia” he murmured gently “I can explain it to her, you shouldn’t have to ‘suck it up’” he murmured.

Catalina shook her head gently. “It’s been 8 years” she murmured, a small smile on her face “I can handle it, but I just needed some time to get my head around the idea. When Alicia mentioned a fiancé, I didn’t exactly picture the…” she cut herself off, not wanting to complete the sentence that would see her admit her lingering feelings. It wasn’t fair, Fernando had moved on with his life, and she didn’t want to make it hard for him. He didn’t deserve it.

“The what?” Fernando posed, his eyebrow quirked.

Catalina shook her head. “It’s not relevant” she dismissed softly “I just wasn’t expecting you” she noted softly.

Fernando nodded his head. “I know the feeling, I wasn’t expecting Alicia to bring me to a meal with you and your parents” he mused gently.

“You didn’t know?” Catalina quipped as she moved to her feet, straightening her shirt. They had to get back inside, she knew it, and didn’t want to waste any more time. Alicia was likely to kick up a fuss anyway and she didn’t want to make it worse.

Fernando shook his head. “De Marcos is a common surname and other than ‘mama’ and ‘papa’, she never really used names. I didn’t put two and two together until I walked in and saw your parents staring back at me like deer in headlights” he mused, his lips quirking a light smile.

Catalina smiled back at him gently and moved to walk away, making her way towards the restaurant. Fernando, however, stopped her, pulling her back towards him slightly. “Catalina, if you, at any point do not feel comfortable with this, please, just tell me. I don’t want to make this any harder than necessary” he explained gently.

Catalina smiled at him gently. “Nando, you’re sweet to offer, but I am going to be fine Ok?” she posed gently.

Fernando smiled at her lightly and nodded, not believing her for a second.