There Was You

05: Just A Friend Of Mine

“How did you convince me this was a good idea, again?” Riley grumbled as she pulled a jacket around her shoulders, her eyes glaring at Marisol and Nuno who sat on the couch, waiting for her to finish getting ready. It had been a while, after Iker had coaxed her into telling Marisol and Nuno what had happened between her and Ben, a couple of weeks had passed, and whilst Riley had started to feel slightly better, she had tended to shy away from her friends, not wanting to rake over the details of a breakup which, despite the amount of time that had passed, still felt remarkably fresh to her.

They had talked about it, after the day which had seen Iker take her home, Marisol had given Riley a couple of days before she’d arrived at her apartment armed with a bottle of wine and a delivered pizza to talk about what had happened, and with it out of the way, Riley wanted to give the subject a wide berth, not wanting to dedicate more time to thinking about Ben when it was very apparent that he had given so little thought to her.

“I told you we’d pay” Marisol retorted with a smirk “You’ve never turned down a free meal, Ry, and you’re not about to start now” she added.

Riley, who’d moved to unplug her phone from her charger, rolled her eyes a little at Marisol’s smirk before she looked down at the phone, her expression brightening a little as she spotted Iker’s name on the screen. It wasn’t the first time he’d sent her a message, after they’d exchanged numbers on the night that they’d met, there had been a few hesitant pleasantries sent back and forth between the two of them, and whilst the contents of the messages was never much, Riley had to admit that she liked receiving them, a little touched that Iker, who was still a relative stranger to her, cared enough about her to check in every now and again.

Feeling her smile grow a little, she swiped away the notification before she turned back to Marisol and Nuno, quickly stifling her smile. “We could always eat here” she pointed out.

“We could” Nuno agreed “But we all know that in the last two weeks, you’ve barely left this place for anything other than work. You need to get out of here, Ry” he added.

Riley glanced at him, briefly contemplating arguing with him, before she let out a soft sigh. “Fine” she murmured.

Marisol smiled as she pushed herself back up to her feet. “Great” she mused “We need to get moving now anyway. We’d hate to leave Iker sat alone in the restaurant for too long” she added.

“Iker?” Riley squeaked.

Marisol nodded. “You do remember him, right?” she quipped, mistaking the slight excitement in Riley’s voice for confusion “He’s a friend of Nuno’s. You met him a couple of weeks ago?” she prodded.

Riley nodded. “I remember” she mused “I’m just...He’s joining us?” she asked.

“It’s a case of killing two birds with one stone” Nuno contributed, standing up beside Marisol “He’s been pretty busy for the last couple of weeks, but he had a window tonight and we thought we could take the both of you out. I mean, if you have a problem with that we can probably still call him and cancel. Is it an issue?” he asked.

Riley shook her head. “Of course not” she replied.

Nuno offered her a dubious look, wordlessly asking if she was sure, before Marisol clapped her hands. “Come on” she encouraged “We’re not wasting the night standing around here” she added.

Nuno offered her a playful salute before he stepped towards the front door, Marisol following close behind him.

Riley hung back slightly, watching the two of them out of the door, before she slipped her phone out of her pocket, typing a quick message to Iker before she followed after them.

“We’re sorry that we’re late”

Iker, who’d been staring down at the screen of his phone, blinked a couple of times at the sound of Marisol’s voice before he lifted his head, his eyes widening ever so slightly they landed on Riley who stood just behind the blonde, a hesitant smile on her face. Meeting her eyes, he quirked a small grin of his own, before he quickly shook his head, subtly checking that neither Marisol nor Nuno had noticed the look.

He knew that it was nothing, aside from one coffee, a car ride and a few texts, he and Riley were still strangers, and he knew that the time that they had spent together was nothing more than talking, but he also knew Marisol and Nuno, and knew the assumptions that would be made if he or Riley admitted that they had spent time together, and Iker’s case, had liked the time that they had spent together.

“I’ve not been here long” Iker replied “It’s good to see you. All of you” he added, sparing another brief glance towards Riley who’d slipped into the empty seat beside him.

Riley caught his stare out of the corner of her eye before she shook her head, focusing on the water she was pouring for herself as she tried to stifle the little grin that itched to appear on her face. “You don’t mind me tagging along?” she asked quietly.

Iker shook his head. “Of course not” he quipped “You look...the last time I saw look better” he stumbled out.

Riley smirked a little to herself, amused by his stumbling. “I don’t think that that is hard” she quipped “I mean, the last time you saw me, I was a mess” she added, gently tucking her hair off of her face.

Iker opened his mouth to reply quickly, but stopped himself, instead opting to just offer her a small smile.

Riley noticed him stop himself, but didn’t comment on it, instead fixing her attention on the conversation that Marisol and Nuno were having, seemingly oblivious to both her and Iker’s presence. Lifting her glass up, she took a sip of water before she felt her phone vibrate in her pocket, something which caused her to frown a little before she reached into her pocket, pulling it out. Making sure that she kept it out of view, she pressed the home button before she tilted her head, spotting Iker’s name on the screen above the message which read ‘how are you really?’.

Blinking a couple of times, she smiled a little to herself before she typed out a quick reply, her smile growing as she heard his phone vibrate beside her. Leaning back in her seat, she watched him subtly type a reply before she looked down at her own phone, rolling her eyes at his reply which read ‘you do know Marisol, right? If she caught us actually talking, she’d start matchmaking immediately. I thought you’d want some time at least’ accompanied by a winking emoji.

Smirking, she typed her reply before she caught Marisol staring at her. “Huh?” she spluttered.

“I asked how work was going” Marisol quipped “Who are you texting?” she added.

Riley shrugged. “Just a friend of mine” she replied vaguely.

Marisol’s eyes narrowed slightly. “It’s not Ben, is it?” she pressed “Because if it is, I will take that phone off of you” she added.

Riley’s expression softened at the sound of her ex-boyfriend’s name before she shook her head, taking in a breath to compose herself.

Iker noticed the flinch in her expression before he carefully lowered a hand, bumping it against hers which sat in her lap before he took a hold of it, gently knotting their fingers together without any resistance from Riley who eagerly squeezed it.

“It’s not” Riley insisted quietly, her fingers gently messing with Iker’s in search of comfort “It’s just a friend. We’re just trying to make some plans to see one another soon. It’s really nothing to be worried about, Mari” she added.

Marisol offered her a dubious look for a moment before she shook her head, starting up another conversation. Riley joined in with it, but she didn’t let her grip on Iker’s hand slip and Iker didn’t make any attempt to take it back from her.
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Thanks to FootieJo, Jayme112234 and Twisted;;Symphony for the comments :)