Since I Last Saw You

11: You Do Know That, Don’t You?

Leaning his weight against the balcony railing, Lionel closed his eyes, feeling the slightly cool September breeze brush over his cheeks. it’d been a while since he had been inside of Ava’s apartment, after they’d gone to the awards event together, the chances for the two of them to get together had been few and far between in the previous few weeks, but with him having played a match the night before and him having convinced Ava to take an evening away from working, they’d opted to have dinner at her place that night, something Lionel knew that Ava loved, even if she did try and play it cool whenever he bought the idea up. He knew how much she liked trying out new dishes on him.

Taking in a deep breath, he relished the quiet of the balcony for a few seconds before the sound of the sliding door opening reached his ears, causing him to glance over his shoulder, smiling a little at Ava as she made her way outside, a plate balanced carefully in one hand.

Ava caught his smile before she ducked her head, trying to hide her slightly pink cheeks. “I know what you’re going to say” she quipped.

Lionel, who’d turned his stare back out over the city, smirked to himself. “Yeah?” he asked.

“You’re going to say that you need to be careful about what you eat” Ava mused “But that’s why I only bought one out. You can have a piece” she added, gently placing the plate down on the little table which sat in the corner of the balcony.

Lionel laughed amusedly as he turned back around, watching her sit down, before he made his own way over to the table, taking the empty seat opposite her. “A new recipe?” he asked, take a small piece of the cupcake and popping it into his mouth.

Ava shrugged. “Sort of” she mused “It’s the chocolate cake recipe my papa’s been using since I was a child, but I’ve tweaked it a little. My mama’s convinced me to make his birthday cake for his party next week, and whilst I want him to know it’s his recipe, I want to put my own twist on it. What do you think?” she asked.

Lionel took another piece of the cupcake, chewing on it thoughtfully for a few seconds before he quirked a grin. “It’s delicious” he announced.

Ava tilted her head, a slightly bashful grin pulling at the corner of her mouth. “You’re not just saying that, are you?” she asked.

Lionel, who’d snuck another piece of the cake, grinned at her impishly. “Would I lie to you?” he quipped, popping the bite into his mouth.

Ava just lifted an amused eyebrow before she shook her head, glancing down at the almost empty plate which sat between them. Smiling a little to herself, she allowed the quiet which had settled around the two of them to linger for a few seconds before she looked up again, letting out a little laugh as she watched Lionel place the last piece of the cake into his mouth, leaving a trace of the icing at the corner of his mouth. “You know I bought that out here for us to share, right?” she quipped, trying to fight the urge to lean across and wipe the icing away with her thumb.

“I’m not going to apologize” Lionel quipped “You’re quite the chef” he added.

Ava laughed, sheepishly twisting the necklace she wore around in her fingers. “I’m glad you think so” she mused.

Lionel watched her for a few seconds, allowing a moment of quiet to pass between them, before he cleared his throat. “You should come over to my place sometime” he noted “I mean, I have nothing on you, the television chef, but I think I could probably whip something up that’s edible at least” he babbled gently.

Ava smiled a little at the tone of his voice before she shrugged her shoulders. “I could always teach you some stuff” she noted “I mean, nothing too complicated, but enough that you could impress your friends or family” she added.

“Really?” Lionel asked.

“If you want me to” Ava replied.

“I’d love that” Lionel insisted, partially because he wanted to learn how to impress people, mostly because it meant that he and Ava would spend more time together.

Ava smiled a little at his enthusiasm before she shook her head, tracing her fingertip around the empty plate to gather up the loose crumbs before she lifted it to her mouth. “You’d owe me” she noted after a moment of thought.

Lionel quirked a crooked grin. “What do you want from me?” he asked “Football lessons?” he joked.

“Don’t need them” Ava replied “I’m already pretty amazing” she added with a playfully nonchalant shrug.

Lionel couldn’t stop himself from laughing. “I’d love to see that sometime” he noted.

Ava shrugged again, a teasing smile on her face.

“So, if you don’t want my coaching” Lionel noted “What is it that you want in return for my cooking lessons?” he asked.

“You could come to my papa’s birthday party” Ava replied.

Lionel, who’d moved to take a sip from his glass of water, spluttered, caught off guard by both her request and the nonchalant way that she had delivered it.

Ava grinned a little at the sound, something which made Lionel shake his head. “Ava...”

“We can go as friends if it makes you feel better” Ava interrupted “I mean, it’ll be easier to introduce you as my friend than my ex-boyfriend who could...probably will be my next boyfriend. I just...I don’t really want to go by myself. If you don’t want to...”

“Did I say that?” Lionel interrupted, cutting off her rambling.

Ava shook her head. “No” she mumbled.

Lionel quirked a small smirk. “You’re inviting me to meet your parents” he pointed out “You do know that, don’t you?” he asked impishly.

Ava nodded. “It’s sort of a product of inviting you to the party” she played along “I’d expect that your path would cross with at least one relative of mine at a party for my father” she added.

“You’d be OK with that?” Lionel asked.

“I’d not have invited you if I wasn’t” Ava replied.

Lionel laughed. “Do I have to wear a suit?” he asked.

“Probably not a tie” Ava quipped “But a nice shirt wouldn’t hurt” she added.

“And you’d introduce me as your friend?” Lionel prodded.

Ava hesitated at that question before she nodded. “For now” she confirmed “It’s open to change” she added, her expression softening a little.

Lionel’s teasing smirk softened into a smile at her words before he nodded his head. “OK” he confirmed.
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Thanks to FootieJo for the comment :)