There Was You

38: How Can I?

Absentmindedly tapping keys on her laptop, Riley let out a quiet sigh, lifting one hand to gently pull the glasses off of her nose. It was early, after a fitful night’s sleep in the hotel room she had booked for herself, she had opted to climb out of bed just before seven in the morning, and with little else to do, she had pulled out her laptop to do some work, something which hadn’t quite gone to plan.

She had tried to focus, with her screen filled with work documents, she had spent almost an hour trying to fix her focus on them, but each time she did, it only last a few minutes before her mind drifted back to Iker, causing her stomach to give another flip. It hadn’t stopped, since she had left his place the night before, the dull ache in her stomach hadn’t disappeared, and she doubted it would for a while. The mere idea that there was a chance that things between them were over was enough to give her stomach ache.

Rubbing her eyes tiredly, she put her glasses back on before the sound of her phone beeping reached her ears, causing her to lean across the bed, picking it up from its spot on the bedside cabinet. Bumping her glasses up her nose, she glanced down at the screen before she felt her stomach turn, her eyes softening a little at the picture of her and Iker which had filled the screen. Staring at the phone for a few seconds, she debated whether or not to answer the call before she pressed the accept button, hesitantly pressing the phone against her ear. “Hola” she breathed quietly.

Iker seemed to hesitate for a second before he spoke. “I’m a little surprised that you actually answered” he breathed, a slightly awkward laugh falling out of his mouth “I...I really thought I’d just get your voicemail” he added.

Riley shifted a little in her seat, her fingers pulling at the duvet. “I can hang up if you want me to” she replied gently.

“No” Iker replied quickly “I...I don’t want that. I was just...surprised. I thought you’d probably be trying to ignore me” he added.

Riley sighed gently before she shook her head. “I’m not trying to ignore you, Iker” she murmured “I just...I needed to get out of there last night. It was...a lot” she added.

“I know it was” Iker replied.

Riley nodded her head, allowing a few long seconds of quiet to pass between them, before Iker cleared his throat. “Did you go to your parents?” he asked gently.

“No” Riley replied “I got myself a hotel room in the city. I would have gone to my parents, but then I would have had to explain what had happened, and I didn’t really want to do that. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love my parents, but last night...I didn’t really know what was happening, and I didn’t really think I could explain it to them” she explained gently.

She had thought about it, when she had made the decision to leave Iker’s home, her first thought had been to call ahead to her parents to ask for their spare bedroom, but she had quickly talked herself out of it, not quite sure how she would answer their inevitable questions. It was complicated, Riley wasn’t quite sure she really understood it, and she didn’t want to try and force her way through an explanation to her parents, not when she wasn’t entirely sure what to make of things.

Iker was quiet for a moment before he cleared his throat again. “Could we have breakfast?” he asked quietly.

Riley shook her head. “Iker...”

“I know that you want time” Iker interrupted, cutting off her inevitable objections “And I want to give it to you, but can we just talk a little more first? I know it’s a mess, Ry, but I just...I want to make a better attempt at explaining things because I think I did a pretty terrible job of it last night. If you still decide that you want time afterwards, then fine. Just give me another shot at this, Ok?” he noted gently.

Riley messed with the duvet for a moment, thinking the offer over, before she nodded to herself. “Ok” she mumbled quietly.

“Ok?” Iker asked, not quite sure that he’d heard her right.

“Ok” Riley repeated quietly “If I give you the address of the hotel, we can have breakfast in my room. Is that alright?” she asked.

“That’s great” Iker replied quickly, the relieved smile that Riley was sure he was wearing almost audible in his voice.

Riley responded, reeling off the address of her hotel, before she hung up the phone, her stomach still turning uncomfortably.

Gently pushing the door closed, Riley turned around slowly, her eyes settling on Iker who had wandered a few paces away from her, one of his hands already scratching at the back of his neck. It hadn’t taken him long, after their brief conversation on the phone, barely half an hour had elapsed before there had been a knock at her door, but a part of Riley was glad that he hadn’t hung around in showing up, even if a small part of her was dreading the conversation. She knew that it would be better to just get through it rather than sit around and wait for it to come.

Reaching a hand up, she gently pushed her hair off of her face, before she cleared her throat slightly, causing Iker to turn back towards her. “I...uh...I ordered some food” she mumbled, gesturing to the little table which sat a small distance away from her “I mean, I didn’t know if you’d actually want to eat anything, I am not quite sure I could stomach anything myself, but I thought I’d...” she trailed off as Iker let out a quiet laugh, something which caused her cheeks to flush pink.

Iker watched her for a second, trying not to smile at the soft blush on her cheeks like he always did, before he shook his head, looking down at his feet. “I’m sorry” he mumbled.

“Sorry?” Riley pressed.

Iker nodded. “This is not how I envisaged this weekend going” he noted “I thought we’d come over, have a nice dinner with my parents last night, and have a nice quiet day to ourselves before the flight back tonight, and instead it’’s this mess and for that I am sorry. I really thought that this would go a lot better than it has” he explained.

Riley shrugged, folding her arms over her chest to stop her hands from fidgeting.

Iker sighed a little at her lack of response, but didn’t say anything, allowing a few beats of silence to pass between them before Riley shook her head, smiling ironically down at her feet. “You know what sucks the most about this?” she asked quietly.

Iker shook his head. “What?” he asked.

“That you’re the person I’d want to talk to about this” Riley replied “If this was a problem I was having with another guy, you’d be the first person I’d turn to for advice, but I can’t ask you what to do because it’s you” she added, shaking her head ruefully.

Iker tilted his head. “You’d not choose to ask Marisol?” he asked.

Riley didn’t hesitate in shaking her head. “I love Marisol” she mused “But she’s not very good at things like this. Her advice would be to just put it behind me and stick with you because she wants me to hurry up and get married so that we can both start having babies” she added, rolling her eyes playfully.

Iker quirked a tentative smile. “Is that the worst advice?” he asked hopefully.

Riley looked up at him, her eyes softening a little. “How can I know that it is me that you’re actually in love with, Iker?” she asked.

Iker’s expression flinched at her question.

“I want to believe it” Riley continued “I really, really do, but how can I? You loved her enough to propose to her, Iker, and she ended your relationship, not you. How do I know that I am not just some rebound that you chose because I was like her?” she asked.

Iker shook his head. “You can’t know” he replied quietly.

Riley sniffed a little, trying to be subtle about wiping her eyes.

Iker felt his stomach drop as her eyes grew tearful. “Riley...”

“What do you want me to say, Iker?” Riley interrupted.

Iker opened and closed his mouth a couple of times, momentarily stuck for something to say, before he stepped towards her, gently taking a hold of one of her hands. “You can’t know” he repeated quietly “You just have to trust me and trust that I know what I am feeling” he added.

Riley’s tearful eyes met his. “How can I?” she asked quietly.

Iker squeezed her hand softly, his other hand gently brushing a loose tear off of her face. “You just do” he murmured as he rested his forehead against hers “I know it’s scary. I mean, I was almost certain when you insisted that you were over Ben, you were just saying that because it is what I wanted to hear, but I trusted you and that you knew your mind better than I did, and look where it got us. I didn’t know that you were over him for certain, Riley, but you said you were and I went with it, and now you’ve got to just trust me when I say this: I am with you because of you” he insisted softly.

Riley made a little noise in her throat, something which made Iker smile softly, his thumb tracing the line of her cheekbone. “I love you” he mumbled softly “You, Riley. The woman who’s always cold, who has far too much milk in her tea. The woman who takes up too much of the bed, who snores more than I thought she would. The woman who was too practical to be a painter, and hid on the balcony during her best friend’s engagement party because she didn’t want to bring the mood down and then went to coffee with a random friend of Nuno’s. I love you” he repeated, punctuating his sentences with little kisses which he dropped onto the top of her head.

Riley kept her eyes on his face, watching his expression brighten the more he spoke, before she dropped her stare to her feet. “I’m scared” she admitted quietly.

Iker nodded, squeezing her hand. “I know the feeling” he mumbled.

Riley nodded her head slowly. “You just did?” she murmured uncertainly “You just trusted that I knew what I was doing?” she asked.

Iker nodded, a half-smile on his face.

“And you don’t regret that?” Riley asked.

Iker shook his head.

“You don’t think that there’s a chance that this could fall flat on its face?” Riley prodded.

Iker shrugged. “All relationships can do that” he replied.

Riley nodded slowly, something which caused Iker to lean forwards, pressing a soft kiss against the top of her head. “It’s a lot” he murmured “And if you need a little more time to process it, that’s Ok. I just...I wanted to make a better attempt at saying what I ought to have said last night. You want some time to think this over?” he mumbled into her hair.

Riley hesitated before she slowly nodded her head. “Is that Ok?” she asked softly as she pulled back to look at him.

Iker’s expression faltered slightly, but he quickly fixed it, offering her a faint smile that didn’t even come close to reaching his eyes. “Of course” he noted “Take all the time you need” he added.

Riley smiled sadly before she gently pushed herself up onto her toes, brushing a soft kiss over his lips. “Gracias” she murmured quietly.
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Thanks to FootieJo, Twisted;;Symphony and mslou1 for the comments :)