When You Close Your Eyes

71: You Found Your Moment

“Remind me, why do we have to do this again?”

Isabelle, who’d been finishing dressing Isla, rolled her eyes a little at the sound of Lionel’s question before she turned around, looking towards where he stood, leaning against the frame of the nursery door. It had been a while, after they’d celebrated their fifth anniversary, a few weeks had passed, and with Isabelle’s birthday having arrived, the couple were due to head to Grace and Samuel’s for dinner, something which had Lionel slightly on edge.

He knew that it couldn’t be avoided, like every year since they’d started to date, Isabelle’s birthday meant spending the evening with her mother and father, but a part of him wanted to duck out, even if he knew that Isabelle was looking forwards to celebrating her birthday with her family, part of him wanted to avoid it. Things were still awkward, after Francesca had found out about their decision to elope, things between them and the older woman had been more than a little tense, and Lionel wanted to avoid the potential for a fight, not wanting to spoil Isabelle’s day.

“It’s my birthday” Isabelle mused, her fingers gently smoothing out the dress Isla wore “And I want to spend some time with them. They’re my parents, Leo, and I’ve not seen them in a while, something I want to put right” she added, the tone of her voice soft and shy.

Lionel noted the tone of her voice before he peeked towards her, his expression soft and kind. “I know that” he mused softly “But I just worry. Your madre, she didn’t exactly us eloping that well, and the last thing I want is for her to cause a problem tonight. It’s your birthday and I’d like you to enjoy tonight, not spending it fighting with her” he added, his arms gently wrapping around her waist.

Isabelle spared a soft look down towards his arms before she rested back against him, her eyes closing for a couple of seconds. “You’re sweet for worrying” she murmured softly “But I want to do this. I’ve spent every one of my birthdays with my family and I don’t want this one to be any different, even if things between me and my mama are a little awkward. I want to go” she added, peeking up at him over her shoulder. She knew that he was a little nervous, from the moment that she had told him that her parents intended to visit, he’d appeared a little apprehensive, and whilst she found his concern sweet, she wanted to encourage him to relax a little, even if things between them and her mother were likely to be a little tense, she didn’t want him to worry.

Lionel admired the soft expression on her features for a moment before he ducked down, pressing a gentle kiss against the top of her head. “You’re sure?” he posed quietly.

“I’m sure” Isabelle confirmed softly “But, if things do get too bad, we can leave” she added gently.

Lionel offered her a slightly dubious look, wordlessly asking if she was certain, before he nodded his head. “Alright” he mused softly.

Isabelle flashed him another smile before she ducked forwards, sneaking a quick kiss before she moved to lift Isla into her arms, padding out of the room.

Lionel watched after her for a couple of seconds before he shook his head, a small sigh falling out of his mouth in an attempt to soothe the knot which twitched in the pit of his stomach. He knew that he couldn’t change Isabelle’s mind, if he knew one thing about her, it was that she had the potential to be awfully stubborn when she wanted to be, but still he was slightly apprehensive about the idea of spending the evening with her parents, even if it was her birthday, the last thing he wanted was for her to be upset.

Sparing a small look towards the door which stood ahead of her, Isabelle spared a soft sigh, her stomach twitching nervously at the thought of spending the evening with her mother and father. She knew that it was likely to be tense, with her mother still irked at her and Lionel for eloping, there was no way that it couldn’t be, but still she wanted to go through with it, even if it did have the potential to be awkward. She wanted to spend her birthday with the people which meant the most to her.

Offering the door another look, she swallowed a little before she lifted her hand, tapping it against the door. Waiting patiently, she stepped back towards Lionel and knotted their fingers together before the door swung open, revealing Francesca who offered them a small smile. “Belle” she greeted softly “Happy birthday, princesa” she added gently.

Isabelle offered her a nervous smile in return before she stepped forwards, allowing her mother to wrap her in a soft hug. “It’s good to see you, Belle” she breathed softly “It’s been too long” she added warmly.

Isabelle held onto her for a couple of seconds before she ducked back, offering her mother a soft look. “It has been a while, mama” she mused softly “How are you?” she added.

“I am very good” Francesca noted softly “But we can talk about that later. Right now, the three of you ought to come inside. Your sister, she’s been cooking all day, and I doubt she would be very pleased with me if I kept her waiting. You know how she is” she added, a warm grin on her face.

Isabelle admired the smile that her mother wore for a moment before she nodded her head, a small smile tugging at the corner of her mouth. “I do know how she is” she quipped.

Francesca offered her another warm look before the sound of Isla’s soft snuffles reached them, causing the older woman to lift her head, her eyes settling on Lionel who stood behind Isabelle, Isla rested happily on his face. “Lionel” she breathed softly “It’s nice to see you” she added.

Lionel, who’d been trying to settle Isla, startled a little at the sound of the older woman’s voice before he lifted his head, offering her a slightly sheepish look. “It’s nice to see you too, Mrs Pereira” he quipped.

Francesca shook her head. “It’s Francesca to you, Lionel” she corrected “I’ve told you numerous times that it is Francesca. Now, we really should get inside. Grace will kill me if I ruin dinner” she added before she quirked a small reassuring smile, moving to step into the house. She could see that they were nervous, from the moment she had pulled the door open, both Isabelle and Lionel had looked more than a little uncertain, and she wanted to offer them a little reassurance, even if she was still a little hurt by the idea that they’d opted to elope, she wanted them to know that she didn’t intend to cause an issue.

“So” Francesca mused as she sat down beside her daughter, settling a glass of water on the coffee table ahead of her “How are you and Lionel adapting to the idea of being married?” she posed. It had been a pleasant evening, even despite the slight awkwardness that existed, the dinner that Grace had arranged had gone off without a hitch, and with things starting to wind down a little, Francesca had opted to take a second alone with Isabelle, wanting to clear the air between the two of them.

Isabelle, who’d been trying to settle Isla, startled a little at the sound of her mother’s voice before she shook her head. “I don’t want to fight, mama” she noted softly “It’s my birthday and the last thing I want is to remember this night because of a fight we had. If you’re trying to cause a problem…”

“I’m not” Francesca interrupted softly.

Isabelle tilted her head. “You’re not?” she posed.

Francesca shook her head. “I’m not” she confirmed softly “I just…I thought we could talk” she added, her expression softening a little.

Isabelle paused for a second before she nodded her head, wordlessly encouraging her mother to keep talking.

“I wanted to apologize to you” Francesca noted softly “When I found out about you and Lionel eloping…I didn’t handle it well and I wanted to apologize for the way I reacted” she added.

Isabelle mulled her words over for a moment before she shook her head. “Mama…”

“I was hurt” Francesca interjected softly “The idea that you and Lionel had eloped…it hurt me, Belle, but I should have reacted better. You two, you’ve always done things in your own way, and this is no different. You found your moment and I’m happy for you, even if I would have loved to have been there when you two said your vows. I’m happy that you’re happy” she added, her hands gently moving to squeeze Isabelle’s.

Isabelle blinked a couple of times, slightly caught off guard by the interruption, before she shook her head. “I am sorry that we hurt you, mama” she noted softly.

Francesca shook her head. “It’s fine” she noted softly “But I have to ask. You two, it’s going alright, isn’t it?” she added, her expression soft.

Isabelle’s cheeks warmed a little before she nodded her head, a soft smile pulling at the corner of her mouth. “It’s good, mama” she noted softly “Really good” she added, her fingers sheepishly playing with the hem of the dress she wore.

Francesca admired the blush on her daughter’s cheeks before she shook her head. “I’m glad” she enthused softly “I mean, I know I wasn’t his number one fan when you first introduced him, but I think he’s good for you, both of you” she added, her eyes briefly peeking towards Isla who had quietly fallen asleep beside her mother.

Isabelle followed the line of her stare before she shook her head. “We’re planning on having another wedding” she noted, breaking the quiet that had settled over the two of them “And I was thinking, if you wanted to, I’d love your help planning. I am useless when it comes to things like that and I figured, seeing as you work in event planning…”

“I would love to help out, Belle” Francesca interjected with a smile, cutting of Isabelle’s babbling.

“You would?” Isabelle posed.

“Of course I would” Francesc confirmed “I’d love nothing more than to help plan my little girl’s big day” she added, offering her a wide smile.

Isabelle returned her smile brightly before she moved to wrap her mother in a soft hug. She knew that it would take a little work, even despite her mother’s apology, she knew that it would take a little while to get things back on track, but she was confident that they’d figure things out. The last thing she wanted was for there to be a problem between her and her mother.
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Thanks to Jayme112234 for the comment :)