When We Were

Thirty Five: Is That Supposed To Be Reassuring?

“So, what have you told your friends about me?” Emilia prodded from her seat on the kitchen counter, her eyes fixed on Lionel who walked around the kitchen ahead of her, putting the final touches to the dinner he had cooked. She had been surprised by how adamant he had been adamant about cooking, even though he had suggested it before, she had assumed that it would be an easier call for the two of them to meet his friends at a nearby restaurant, but the fact that he had gone to so much effort made her smile. He was trying hard to make sure that she felt comfortable, trying hard to show her that Barcelona wasn’t as bad as she had thought it might be, and it meant a lot to her, even if her stomach was still filled with slightly nervous butterflies. The way he’d been with her since she’d touched down in the Spanish city a couple of days previous meant a lot to her.

Lionel, who’d moved to taste a mouthful of the sauce which bubbled on the stove, turned to look at her, his shoulders giving a slightly bashful shrug. “They know that you’re Jordi’s little sister” he answered “That we met at his wedding. They know I forgot about you before” he added.

Emilia’s lips quirked upwards. “So they’re not going to be surprised when I make a joke about it?” she prodded.

Lionel shook his head before he offered the spoon he held up to her, causing Emilia to lean forwards, carefully tasting what he was offering out to her. Quirking a small smile, she allowed a moment of quiet to linger between the two of them, before she shook her head. “Did you tell them about Luca?” she asked gently.

Lionel didn’t hesitate, nodding his head gently. “Of course I did” he noted “He’s a great kid” he added.

Emilia’s face softened into a warm smile. “Yeah?” she asked.

Lionel nodded his head gently. “He’s a lot like you” he noted “I mean, when you’re not all quiet because you’re nervous” he added, a knowing expression coming up onto his features.

“I’m that obvious?” Emilia quipped, her voice caught between playful and soft.

Lionel smirked as he took a step closer to her, gently tucking her hair back off of her face. “Maybe I am just getting good at reading you” he quipped.

Emilia rolled her eyes playfully, but couldn’t shake the nervous expression off of her face, something which caused Lionel to lean up, pressing a tender kiss against her cheek. “I told them that I am with a woman that I adore” he mumbled softly “And that’s not going to change. Whether they like you or not, which isn’t a question at all because I know that they will, I’m still going to adore you. You’re not getting rid of me, Em” he added, smiling gently against her skin.

He knew that she was nervous, their video calls and her initial reaction to him suggesting that she meet his friends had made it all to clear that she was apprehensive, and he wanted to try and soothe her worries slightly, even if he knew it was likely to be a futile endeavor. He wanted her to know that things between them wouldn’t change if that night didn’t go to plan, not that he thought it wouldn’t. As far as he was concerned, there was no doubt that his friends would warm to her.

Emilia let out a gentle laugh, feeling his smile against her cheek. “Is that supposed to be reassuring?” she teased “What if I am planning to get rid of you?” she joked.

Lionel scoffed playfully, but was denied the chance to reply as the sound of the doorbell chiming filled the air, causing him to pull away, casting a glance backwards over his shoulder. Emilia followed his stare, glancing out into the hall, before she slipped down to her feet, her fingers gently twining through his. Lionel gripped her hand gently before he tugged her through the house, stopping when he reached over to pull the front door open, greeting Luis and Sofia with a small smile.

“Are we early?” Luis asked.

“A little” Lionel replied “The food’s not quite ready yet, but we can have a drink first. Come on in” he added.

Luis and Sofia stepped past, allowing Lionel to push the door closed before he turned back around, still smiling gently. “Luis, Sofia” he noted “This is my girlfriend, Emilia” he added.

Emilia, who’d shrunk back slightly, quirked a shaky smile. “Emmy, please” she noted “The only person who calls me Emilia is my mother” she added.

“Emmy” Sofia repeated “It’s nice to finally meet you” she added as she stepped forwards, greeting Emilia with a soft hug.

Emilia stilled, slightly surprised by the move, but she responded quickly, hugging Sofia and Luis before Lionel guided them through towards the living room.

“So, have you got any good stories about Leo as kid, Emmy?” Luis prodded as he settled his cutlery down onto his empty plate, his gaze settling on Emilia who sat across the table from him, grinning easily. It hadn’t taken her long, the combination of her first glass of wine and Luis and Sofia being warm and lovely had quickly soothed any nervousness that she had been suffering from, and it had made for an enjoyable night, much to Lionel’s joy. Emilia had been relaxed, she’d been making jokes and joining in conversation easily, and he knew that it boded well for them. It was proof that Emilia could slip into his world just as easily as he had slipped into hers.

Emilia smirked. “I’d tell you to ask Leo” she quipped “But...”

“Really?” Lionel cut in, his voice warm and playful.

Emilia shrugged, grinning playfully. “You did forget about me, Messi” she chirped “That’s just a fact” she added.

Lionel rolled his eyes. “I remember some things” he quipped “Like the first time you tried to put on makeup and ended up looking like a clown” he added.

Emilia, who’d moved to take a sip of her wine, squeaked into the glass. “That was Jordi’s fault” she replied “He told me I looked good” she added.

“And you believed your older brother?” Luis prodded, smirking slightly as Sofia laughed.

Emilia smiled, shrugging her shoulders. “I was about 8” she quipped “I was still naïve enough to believe that Jordi was a good influence” she added.

“I think I’ve met your brother” Luis commented “He came over for a game last season, didn’t he?” he asked.

Lionel nodded. “He did” he confirmed.

“He was a nice guy” Luis quipped “Though, I imagine he’s not entirely thrilled about the two of you” he added, gesturing between Emilia and Lionel.

Emilia shook her head. “Weirdly, he’s fine with it” she mused “Although, I’ve yet to take Leo home to my mother. He’s won over Jordi, and my son, but Marcella Moretti is a different story” she added, flashing Lionel a playful grin.

“Marcella loves me” Lionel chirped “But we should definitely go over there at some point so that I can prove that to you” he added, his voice growing slightly more serious.

Emilia lifted an eyebrow. “Yeah?” she asked “And just when are you going to take me to see Celia?” she asked.

Lionel quirked a small smile. “She’s been asking the same thing, actually” he replied.

“You’ve told your mother about you?” Luis chirped “This is serious” he joked impishly.

Lionel scoffed playfully before he turned back to Emilia, his smile softening a little. “Next time I am home” he noted “I’ll come to see Marcella and David and you can come and see my parents. You and Luca, if you want” he added gently.

Emilia bit her lip, but couldn’t hide her little smile, nodding her head softly. “That sounds good to me” she mused.
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Thanks to FootieJo for the comment :)