When You Close Your Eyes

57: The Best It Has Been For a While

Straightening out the tiny dress he had dressed Isla in, Lionel quirked a small smile, his dark eyes trained on the little girl who peeked up at him, her blue eyes big and wide. It had been a while, after he and Isabelle had headed out for a night to themselves, a little over a week had passed, but with the team due to hold a barbeque that afternoon, Lionel found himself a little excited. He knew that it was only a small step, introducing Isla to his teammates was only a little step forwards, but still he couldn’t help but be slightly excited. He couldn’t wait to show off his and Isabelle’s little girl.

Tickling Isla’s stomach a little, he moved to collect a pair of a socks from the edge of the change table before he tugged them onto her feet, offering her another bright smile before he lifted her up, moving to press a soft kiss against the top of her head.

“She looks adorable”

Lionel, who’d been cooing softly to Isla, startled a little at the sound of Isabelle’s voice before he lifted his head, offering her a small smile. “She is adorable” he quipped “I mean, she is half you after all” he added, offering her a boyish smile.

Things had been good between the two of them, sine Isla had arrived, things had been as good as they had been for a while, and Lionel had to admit that he was pleased that they were handling things so well, even if a small part of him was still a little worried that they’d stumble, he liked that things between the two of them still felt settled and familiar.

Isabelle, who’d moved to collect an over-shirt from the side, blushed a little at his compliment before she stepped towards him, pressing a soft kiss against his cheek before she gently smoothed out Isla’s coppery hair, causing the little girl to peek up at her, a bright grin on her face. It wasn’t the first one, a few days previous, Isla had smiled for the first time, but neither Isabelle nor Lionel could tire of it. Isla’s little smile was adorable.

Isabelle admired the smile for a second before she shook her head. “She looks more like you than me” she mused softly.

“She’s got my darker hair” Lionel agreed softly “But I think she’ll grow to look more like you, something I wouldn’t mind” he added gently.

Isabelle rolled her eyes. “I doubt you’ll be saying that when she brings home her first boyfriend” she teased, gently moving to lift Isla out of his arms.

Lionel grimaced playfully at the thought before the sound of his phone buzzing reached them, causing him to move to collect it from its spot on the end table. Briefly perusing the message, he typed a quick reply before he flicked his attention back towards Isabelle.

“You’re sure about going, aren’t you?” he posed gently. He knew that she was nervous, even if she trying to hide it, he knew that she was a little apprehensive, and he wanted to offer her the opportunity to duck out, even if he was excited about showing Isla off, he didn’t want to make Isabelle uncomfortable in the process.

Isabelle offered him a soft look before she nodded her head. “I’m sure” she confirmed softly “I mean, I love looking after her, but I need to get out of the house every now and again and this is a good opportunity. You want us to come with you?” she posed, offering him an impish smile.

Lionel rolled his eyes before he stepped a little closer to her, dropping a gentle kiss on Isla’s head before he carefully cupped Isabelle’s cheek, tilting her head slightly so that he could press a soft kiss against her lips. Isabelle smiled softly at the kiss before she gently pulled away, moving to knot her fingers with his before she led him out of the room. Lionel followed in her steps happily before he quirked a soft smile, a more than slightly impressed by how things were between them.

“Look at her”

Lionel, who was quietly straightening out the little dress that Isla wore, startled a little at the sound of Shakira’s voice before he lifted his head, offering the singer a soft smile.

It had been a good afternoon, after he and Isabelle had introduced Isla to their friends, they’d been allowed to relax for a while, and Lionel had to admit that he was pleased to see Isabelle so calm and content. He knew that she had been itching to spend some time with her friends for a little while and he was pleased that he had provided her with the opportunity.

“She’s beautiful, Leo” Shakira enthused softly, gently moving to take the seat at his side.

Lionel quirked a proud smile. “She is” he confirmed softly “She looks like Isa” he added, his fingers gently smoothing out Isla’s fine hair.

Shakira watched the movement of his fingers before she shook her head. “She’s a lovely mix of the two of you” she mused gently “I mean, she’s got the starts of your darker hair, but I can see her inheriting Isabelle’s blue eyes and she’s already got her nose” she added warmly.

Lionel offered the singer another gentle smile before Isla let out a soft sound, something which made Lionel duck his head, gently pressing a soft kiss to the top of her head. Isla squirmed a little at the feel of the kiss before her little face lit up with a soft smile, something which made Lionel’s soft smile widen gently.

Shakira watched the two of them for a brief second before she lifted her head, peeking towards Isabelle who was sat a little away from them, chatting happily with Andres and his wife with a grin on her face. Smiling, she gently nudged Lionel’s ribs, something which caused him to pull himself away from babbling happily to Isla. “Huh?” he posed.

“I just wanted to ask how things are going” Shakira murmured softly. She knew that she wasn’t the first, when she had called Isabelle a few weeks previous, the other woman had pointed out that both her mother and sister had asked how she and Lionel were coping, but still Shakira wanted to make sure that things were as good as they looked. The last thing she, or anyone else, wanted was to watch the two of them fall apart now that Isla had arrived.

Lionel lifted his eyebrow, something which made Shakira shake her head. “I know you must be sick of it” the blonde woman noted “I mean, Belle told me that her parents and her sister have checked in more than once more, and I’d for you to think I am being nosey, but it wasn’t too long ago that you were spending a night in my guest room and I guess…”

“Shakira, it’s fine” Lionel interrupted, an amused smile on his lips.

Shakira blinked, slightly caught off guard by his interruption, before she tilted her head. “You sure?” she posed.

Lionel nodded. “You’re right” he mused “Since Isla was born, every time Isa or I have picked up the phone, people ask how we are, and whilst it does irk me, I know that people just want the best for us both, and for Isla too. You’re right, it wasn’t too long ago that I spent the night away from Isa, but we figured things out and now…now things are better than they’ve been in a while. We’re happy, Shakira, and whilst I don’t know if it will last forever, I know that for right now, I’d not change it. We’re good, better than good even, and I am hopeful that maybe it will last for a while” he enthused, his voice bright and warm.

Shakira listened to him, not missing the bright smile he wore, before she shook her head, a proud smile on her face. “I’m glad you are” she enthused kindly “I know how much you love her and, I for one, can’t wait to watch the two of you make it up the aisle” she added teasingly.

Lionel shook his head, quipping something about taking things one thing at a time, before he quirked a bright grin. He was more than a little proud of how far they’d come in a little under a year.
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Thanks to Jayme112234 and FootieJo for the comments :)