Love Me Until My Heart Stops

73: Baby Steps

“You look fine” Gerard smiled as he took Esmé’s hand, leading her away from the car mirror where she stood, adjusting the woolen hat on her head again. It had been a couple of days and after a short phone call to Roberto, Esmé had agreed to meet to him for coffee, something which made Gerard a little proud of her. He knew it wasn’t going to be easy on her, eventually, there was going to come a point where Delia became upset by the amount of time that Esmé and the others were spending with their father, but he was pleased she was making the step. He merely wanted her to give Roberto a fair shot.

Esmé sighed “I am nervous” she mumbled as they padded towards the entrance to the café, her hand wrapped around his “I don’t know a lot about this man and I am worried that what I find out, might not be great” she added gently. It worried her, what Roberto would say to her, and she couldn’t shake the apprehension she felt at the thought of seeing him. To all intents and purposes, Roberto Suarez was a stranger to her and she didn’t like the idea of forcing herself not to run away.

Gerard shook his head. “It’s just coffee, Esmé” he mused gently “You’ll be here for what, an hour at the least? You’ll ask him some questions, he’ll ask you some, and then we’ll go home. I will be sat two or three tables away and I promise, at the first sign of you getting stressed out, I will interject OK?” he noted as he allowed her to duck under his arm, stepping into the quiet café.

Esmé looked around for a second before she spotted the older man sat a little away from them, nursing a cup of coffee.

“You’re going to be fine” Gerard assured her gently as he pressed a kiss against her head.

Esmé nodded her head gently and moved towards the table, pulling out the chair which sat opposite her father. “Hola, Roberto” she noted as she quietly slipped her coat off, her dark eyes peeking at him.

Roberto lifted his head and offered her a smile. “You actually came” he mused, the awe clear in his voice “I thought you’d have second thoughts” he added, motioning to a waitress who walked over to them. “What can I get you, Esmeralda?” Roberto posed.

“Tea, please” Esmé replied gently “A splash of milk and lemon but no sugar” she added.

The waitress nodded her head and collected Roberto’s order before she skittered away, leaving the older man alone with his daughter once more. “It’s lovely to see you, Esmé” he mused gently “I know I haven’t exactly been the most patient since I first spoke to Gerard, but I am grateful for the chance to talk. I want you to know that you can ask me anything and I will be as honest with you as I can be” he enthused.

Esmé nodded her head slowly. “Where did you go when you left?” she murmured. It made her a little uncomfortable, the notion that she could learn things about him that she wouldn’t like, but she knew that she had to ask the questions nevertheless. She wanted a relationship with her father and she didn’t want there to be any more secrets between them.

Roberto nodded. “I have family in Bilbao, I stayed there for a while before I went onto France where I worked for a few years. I moved back to Barcelona about 4 years ago” he explained earnestly.

“You waited four years?” Esmé quipped, her hands gratefully taking the warm drink from the waitress.

“I had already missed out on 22 years, Esmé, and I didn’t want to disrupt your lives. Your mother had made it clear in the first few years after I left that I wasn’t welcome” he explained.

“So why now?” Esmé posed “Why now that I am 27 as opposed to when I was 23? It seems suspicious to me, Roberto” she admitted gently. It seemed a little coincidental, Roberto’s appearance in her life coincided with her and Gerard getting engaged and later married, and she couldn’t help but be a little suspicious that his return had more to do with her husband than her or her sisters.

“What are you suggesting, Esmé?” Roberto posed.

“It just seems a little oddly timed. You don’t say a word to me for 26 years and now, all of a sudden, you appear just as I get married to Gerard. Is it more to do with him?” she posed shyly, not wanting to sound accusatory.

“You think I came back here for Gerard’s money?” Roberto posed.

“I don’t know you, Roberto. My mother did not paint the most wonderful picture and I don’t want to think it, but I do on occasion. Most of me thinks you’re genuine, but a little part of me is dubious” she admitted softly.

Roberto heaved out a sigh. “I’ll admit I made a mistake by not coming back into your life years ago. I didn’t try hard enough to fight your mother to see you when you were young, but Esmé, I have no interest in the man you married, only that he is good enough for you. I admit, the timing could be seen as suspect, but I have no intention of taking anything from you or from Gerard” he insisted softly.

Esmé nodded her head. “I am sorry for suggesting it” she noted.

“It’s fine” Roberto smiled “I can’t blame you for being a little unsure about me, but I assure you, all I want is to know you and your sisters. I want the chance to spend time with you and Gerard, and possibly my new little grandchild which I think may be due soon” he noted as he gestured to the obvious bump beneath her shirt.

Esmé blushed. “February” she mused “And it will be your first granddaughter” she confessed.

“A girl?” Roberto posed, a grin on his face.

Esmé nodded. “We found out a few weeks ago. We’re very excited” she mused.

“I bet you are. We didn’t find out the gender with the first two, but with you, I remember just how wide you madre smiled when we did. She always wanted daughters” he enthused.

Esmé nodded her head thoughtfully before she looked up at him. “Did you remarry?” she posed gently.

Roberto nodded. “Once” he admitted “She was a French girl, a dancer not unlike your madre, and it lasted about 5 years. She fell pregnant after 4 but she lost the baby. That was pretty much the end of it” he explained.

“I’m sorry” Esmé mused.

Roberto shook his head. “It was years ago” he dismissed with a shake of his head “And anyone who met her would tell you that I only ever married her because of the stunning similarities that she shared with your mother. I know I left, Esmé, but Delia Silva has always been the love of my life” he enthused.

Esmé blinked. “You still love her?” she posed.

“Undoubtedly” Roberto commented, unashamed of the feelings he still had for his ex-wife “I didn’t leave your mother because I stopped loving her or because I stopped caring for you girls. Your grandfather on your mother’s side had left money for you girls when he died, money that could only be accessed when all of you turned 18 or in the event that I left. You were too young to remember, but things weren’t good for us. Your mother was taking care of the 3 of you full time and I worked all hours I could at the factory but still we struggled so I made the decision to go, that way, your mother got the money and I knew that the three of you were well looked after” he explained gently.

“You did it for us?” Esmé squeaked, a few tears stinging her eyes.

“I wanted to do the best for you all and in the end, the best thing I could do was not be there” Roberto noted.

Esmé blinked and rested back in her seat, a couple of tears tumbling down her cheeks that caused Gerard, who sat a little away from them, to jump up from his seat. “What did you say?” he posed, his eyes glaring slightly at Roberto.

“No” Esmé protested “He’s not done a thing. It’s the hormones, Gerard” she insisted, wiping her eyes.

Gerard looked down at her a little dubiously. “Are you sure?” he posed.

“I’m sure” Esmé mused.

Gerard nodded his head. “Do you want to go?” he posed, gesturing to the empty mug at her side.

Esmé nodded. “I think so” she noted “Roberto, I would like to do this again with you” she smiled.

“Perhaps once the little one has arrived” Roberto agreed. It was progress and he didn’t want to push his luck. Baby steps were going to be taken for a while yet.

Esmé nodded as Gerard placed her coat on her shoulders “It was nice talking to you” she admitted gently.

Roberto grinned “I bet I was nowhere near as nice it was for me. I know I’ve not seen much of you, but I can safely say that you’ve grown into a lovely young woman and that Gerard is a very lucky man” he quipped.

“Don’t I know it” Gerard enthused gently as he placed Esmé’s scarf around her neck “We’ll see you, Roberto” he noted with a nod before he took his wife’s hand, leading her towards the door. Esmé followed him along behind him happily before she peeked over her shoulder, offering her father a small smile. It was still going to take work, they still had a lot of talking to do, but she felt a little better about it.
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Thanks to Jayme112234 for the comment :)