When We Were

Seventy Eight: Don’t Be A Jerk About It

“What exactly am I supposed to say to him?” Emilia asked into the phone she held against her ear, her eyes fixed on the blank laptop screen which stared back at her, moments away from lighting up with Isaac’s name. She had asked to talk to him, after the conversation that she and Lionel had had, she’d texted him to let him know that she had something that she wanted to tell him, but still she wasn’t entirely sure of what she would say to him. The last thing she wanted to do was make it seem like she was calling to brag about the fact that she was getting married to someone that wasn’t him.

“I don’t really know” Martha replied “I mean, is there a good way to tell your ex that you’re marrying someone else?” she asked.

Emilia sighed, pushing her hair back off of her face. “I asked you that first” she mumbled.

“It’s not like I have experience” Martha noted.

“I know” Emilia replied “I just...I was hoping that maybe you had an idea of how to soften the blow a little without it sounding like I am trying to patronize him. I just...I don’t want to come off as horrible, Martha. This isn’t something I am doing to hurt him” she insisted softly.

Martha mumbled a comment about Isaac that was muffled by the phone before she sighed. “You can just be honest with him, Em” she noted “Things didn’t work out for you two, but they are working out for you and Leo and that’s the way you want it to be. You’re happy, in love, and that’s all there is to it” she added.

She wasn’t surprised by Emilia’s desire to soften the blow. For Martha, and for a lot of people that were close to Emilia, the brunette had always been too nice to the doctor when he’d done nothing but treat her badly, but she knew that it wasn’t the moment to point it out. It was a conversation that they had had a lot of times, Martha always told her that Isaac deserved to be disliked by Emilia’s family and friends, and Emilia always insisted that they were never going to get anywhere with him if she held a grudge, and that’s why things didn’t change between them.

Emilia nodded her head thoughtfully before the laptop screen lit up, causing her to almost drop the phone out of her hands. “It’s him!” she squeaked.

“Answer it then” Martha replied down the phone “Call me afterwards” she added before she hung up.

Emilia stared at the phone for second before she placed it down, leaning towards the laptop. Hesitating fractionally, she allowed her cursor to linger above the accept button before she pressed it, allowing Isaac’s face to fill the screen. “Emilia” he greeted gently “I was surprised to get your text. Is everything alright with Luca?” he prodded.

For a second, Emilia just stared at him before she nodded her head. “Luca’s fine” she mused “Great, even. He scored his first hat-trick on Sunday” she added.

“Really?” Isaac beamed.

Emilia’s smile was less bright, but she couldn’t stop it before she gently nodded. “I think Leo recorded it” she mused “I’ll get him to send it to you. The second goal’s pretty great” she cooed.

“I look forwards to seeing it” Isaac mused.

Emilia nodded her head, allowing a second of silence to pass between the two of them, before the corner of Isaac’s mouth kicked up slightly. “Em” he quipped “Please tell me that you didn’t just call me to talk about Luca’s hat-trick” he added.

Emilia swallowed before she shook her head, shyly pushing her hair back. “I...I wanted to tell you something” she noted “I mean, I wanted to be the one to tell you. I...I don’t know, I guess I didn’t want you to hear it from someone else” she babbled.

Isaac’s expression sobered a little, but the ghost of a sad smile remained on his lips. “Lionel asked” he breathed.

Emilia nodded, awkwardly lifting her hand to show him the engagement ring she wore. “A few days ago” she confirmed.

Isaac leant back slightly in his seat, a taken aback expression passing over his features.

“I just...I thought I should...I’m not trying to...” Emilia huffed to herself, annoyed that she couldn’t quite find the right words to say.

Isaac blinked a couple of times, still quiet, before he nodded his head slowly. “Thanks for telling me” he mumbled “I mean, I knew it was coming. Luca told me that Lionel had asked for his blessing a while ago, but I...I guess it’s still kind of...” he trailed off, his eyes staring distantly off to the side

Emilia nibbled on her lip, not quite sure what to say.

Isaac kept staring off for a few long seconds before he refocused on the camera. “I should say congratulations, then” he announced, his voice faltering slightly.

“Isaac” Emilia sighed.

“He’s a good one” Isaac continued as though she hadn’t spoken “Lionel. He’s good for you, for Luca too. I mean, my son never shuts up about him” he added, his tone growing slightly bitterer with each word.


“I’m really freaking happy for you, Em” Isaac snapped.

Emilia sighed. “I’m sorry, Isaac” she murmured.

“Don’t apologise to him”

Emilia jumped before she turned, looking at Lionel who stood in the doorway. “Leo...”

“Don’t apologise for moving on and being happy, Em” Lionel continued as he moved a little further into the room “He’s just trying to make you feel sorry for him, to make you feel bad about something you have no business feeling bad about” he added.

Isaac scoffed. “The man of the hour” he muttered.

“She’s just trying to soften the blow” Lionel noted as he sat down next to Emilia, gently folding her hand in his “She’s always so concerned about upsetting you, Isaac. She’s just trying to make this as palatable as she can for you. Don’t be a jerk about it” he added.

Isaac rolled his eyes.

Emilia sighed. “Isaac, please” she whispered.

Isaac’s expression softened a little as he looked at Emilia. “What do you want me to say, Em?” he replied.

“I...I don’t know” Emilia replied.

Isaac stared at her for a second before he let out a gentle sigh. “I can’t be happy for you” he murmured “I want to be, but I...I can’t be, Em” he added.

“I’m not asking you to be happy” Emilia replied “I just need to know that you know that...” she trailed off, offering him a significant look.

“I know that you’re serious about him” Isaac noted “And that I can’t change it. Don’t worry, Em, I am not about to trash your wedding” he insisted.

Emilia nodded. “That’s all I can ask of you, Isaac” she noted.

Lionel squeezed her hand gently.

Emilia smiled at the little comfort before she glanced at the clock, letting out a quiet curse as she shuffled to her feet, mumbling about needing to pick Luca up from school. Both Lionel and Isaac watched as she got up and moved away, the same look on both of their faces, before they looked at one another, a mirrored expression of faint annoyance passing over their faces before they ended the call.