You Loved Me Once

32: Those Three Words

Resting against her pillow, Alba let out a small sigh, her blue eyes peeking at the alarm clock which sat on the end table, its luminous green numbers confiding that it was barely past 3 in the morning. She knew that it shouldn’t have bothered her, in retrospect, the reaction of her father had actually been better than she was anticipating, but still it got to her, something which had kept her up for most of the night. She had been expecting nothing less, David’s words had been venomous and angry, but they rung in her ears, echoing over and over again and preventing any chance she had of falling asleep.

Offering the clock another look, she kicked the comforter away from her before she pushed herself to her feet, padding quietly into the living room where Lionel sat, his tablet rested against his legs. “Leo?” she posed.

“Alba” Lionel mused “What are you doing up?” he posed, his head tilted a little.

“I could ask you the same thing” Alba countered “I would have thought you’d been safely asleep by now” she added.

“I was” Lionel mused “But I woke up a little while ago for something to eat and I’ve been up since. What are you doing out here?” he posed as he sat up a little, making room for her at his side.

“I couldn’t sleep” Alba muttered “I’ve tried, but every time I close my eyes, all I hear is my papa calling me naïve and I am awake again. Do you mind the company?” she posed.

Lionel smiled. “You’re my girlfriend, Alba” he pointed out as he lifted his blankets up, making room for her beneath them “Of course I don’t mind” he added.

Alba offered him a small smile in return before she sat down next to him, cuddling up to his side as he arranged the blankets around them. “You know, telling your parents about this could have gone a lot worse” he mused as he brushed his hand up her side, encouraging her to lean against him a little more “Half of me expected him to be on the first flight over just to punch me in the face” he noted.

Alba nodded. “I know it could have been worse” she mused “But still it gets me. This is my call and I guess a small part me hoped that me being happy would be enough” she mused.

“It might still be” Lionel offered softly “Them accepting this was never going to be instant, Alba, you know that. What I did to you was horrid and your parents have every single right to still be pissed about it, but the longer this goes on, the more they’re just going to have to face facts and accept that me and you…it’s a good thing” he mused with a warm reassuring smile.

He wasn’t naïve, it was going to take a lot for David and Annabella to forgive him, but he wanted Alba to relax. He had been anticipating that her parents’ welcome would be less than warm and wasn’t fazed by it, something he wanted to instil within her. They were good, even if it didn’t feel like it, and he wanted Alba to know it. He wanted her to know that they were alright.

Alba smiled. “You’ve thought this through” she mused, her head resting on his shoulder.

“It’s hard not to” Lionel mused “I want this to work, Alba, and I will do whatever it takes to ensure it, even if it does mean handling your papa and his insults, I want to do it” he enthused.

Alba smiled at his words, her blue eyes blinking tiredly.

“You should go back to bed” Lionel mused gently “You look like you’re going to fall asleep” he added, kissing the top of her head gently.

Alba nodded sleepily. “You should come too” she babbled out.

Lionel frowned. “Alba” he warned.

“I don’t want to do that, Leo” Alba countered, not missing the slightly anxious expression that had appeared on his face “But I would like you to come back in there and sleep there. You can’t be too comfortable out here” she reasoned.

“I’m perfectly alright” Lionel mused as he gently helped her back to her feet “I’ve been sleeping out here for days, Alba” he pointed out.

Alba rolled her eyes. “I am trying to ask you to come in there and sleep by my side, Leo” she pointed out “Is that not something you want?” she added, offering him a look. She knew what he was doing, he was trying to ensure that she was sure before he followed after her, and whilst she was appreciative of the gesture, she merely wanted him to give in. She wanted to curl up at his side and fall asleep.

Lionel smiled. “You know that that is something I want” he noted “But I merely wanted to check that you’re sure, Alba. The last time you found me in your bed you were less than impressed” he quipped.

“Let’s not talk about that” Alba mused as she offered her hand out to him “You coming?” she posed.

Lionel grinned to himself and placed his hand in hers, allowing her to pull him gingerly to his feet. “Do you think you can walk back to my room?” she posed.

“It’s about 5 steps, I think I can handle it” he enthused.

Alba rolled her eyes. “Don’t make me change my mind” she quipped.

“You won’t do that” Lionel grinned boyishly “Someone likes my hugs too much” he teased.

Alba tried to keep the smile off of her face, but failed, something which made Lionel smile triumphantly as she carefully helped him into her room, allowing him to settle on the end of the bed. “I know today was tough on you” Lionel mused as he watched her duck into the hall, flicking the light off.

“It wasn’t exactly easy on you” Alba countered.

“I knew what was coming” Lionel noted “But it clearly hurt you, the things your papa said, and I am grateful that you tried to stick up for us. A small part of me worried that you wouldn’t” he mused gently.

Alba tilted her head. “Why wouldn’t I stick up for us?” she posed.

“I know what I want, Alba” Lionel noted, his fingers pulling at the wrapping on his knee “But sometimes, I worry you’re not so sure and I guess today was proof that you are” he explained gently.

Alba shook her head and stepped towards him, kissing his forehead gently. “You’re what I want” she murmured before she pulled back, moving to climb into her side of the bed.

Lionel watched after her before he followed, his arm wrapping around her waist as he settled beneath the duvet. “I know you’re not going to say it to me, Alba” he murmured “But I love you” he added before he kissed her shoulder, settling into a comfortable position before he drifted off, his soft snores filling the quiet room.

Alba listened to his soft and even breathing for a second before she closed her eyes, the three words on the tip of her tongue but not willing to fall off.
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Thanks to FootieJo and Jayme112234 for the comments :)