When We Were

Eighty: You Never Acted Like Someone Who Loved Me

“Have you checked to make sure that you’ve got everything?” Emilia whispered as she sat on the edge of her bed, gently running a brush through Luca’s slightly long hair. It was still early and as a result, Emilia and Luca had to be quiet, not wanting to disturb Lionel who was still curled up on his side of the bed, sleeping. Their flight in had been late in arriving the day previous and if it wasn’t for the fact that Isaac had already texted, insisting that he couldn’t wait to see Luca, Emilia would have still been curled up next to Lionel instead of preparing to head over to drop Luca off.

Luca huffed, letting out a noise as the hairbrush snagged on a knot of his hair. “Mama, ow!” he complained.

“Sorry” Emilia mumbled, gently teasing the brush through the knot “Did you check your bag?” she repeated.

Luca nodded. “Twice” he confirmed.

“And you’ve got everything?” Emilia asked.

“Everything” Luca confirmed.

Emilia gently brushed her fingers through his hair, making a mental note to tell Isaac to take Luca to get it cut. “Good” she mused “Go and grab your shoes, and then we can go” she added.

Luca nodded his head eagerly before he bustled out of the room, allowing Emilia to lean back slightly, her head resting against the mattress. She knew that there was no more putting it off, Luca wanted to see Isaac and Isaac wanted to see Luca, but Emilia was dreading the visit to her ex-boyfriend’s home, even if all of the phone calls that they had had since she’d told him about the engagement had been polite. The thought of actually seeing him was enough to have familiar knots in her stomach. It ebbed and flowed, her relationship with Isaac seemed plagued with ups and downs, and her engagement to Lionel seemed to have led to another down, something Emilia disliked. She didn’t want to hurt him, even after everything they’d been through together, she didn’t want anything she did to cause him pain, but it seemed impossible to separate. Her moving forwards and being happy with Lionel seemed to be thing which hurt Isaac the most.

Closing her eyes, she let out a little huff before she felt Lionel’s fingers move through her hair, something which made her smile gently. “We woke you” she mumbled gently.

“Luca did” Lionel confirmed sleepily “What were you doing to him?” he asked.

“Trying to detangle that mess on his head” Emilia replied “He needs it cut” she added.

“I’d like to see you try and convince him of that” Lionel replied, the smirk audible in his voice.

“I’m going to let Isaac do it” Emilia replied “He can enjoy one of Luca’s famous tantrums” she added.

Lionel gently twined his fingers through her hair, allowing a moment of quiet to pass between them before he let out a soft sigh. “I can take Luca” he announced quietly “If you don’t want to see Isaac, I can take Luca over there. I don’t mind” he added.

Emilia turned onto her stomach, looking over at him. “You want to see Isaac?” she asked incredulously.

“Well, no” Lionel replied “But I’d do it for you, if you really didn’t want to go. I’ll even promise to be nice” he added, his concerned smile brightening a little with his playful tone.

Emilia smiled back at him, but still opted to shake her head. “I should go” she mused.

“You sure?” Lionel prodded.

Emilia nodded. “We need to make sure that we’re OK” she noted “Or, as OK as we ever are. Tension doesn’t do any good for Luca” she added.

Lionel hesitated, but nodded his head understandingly. “Alright” he breathed “It’ll just be me and Maisie for breakfast, then” he added.

Emilia smiled. “You make having breakfast with your daughter sound like such a chore” she teased.

Lionel rolled his eyes. “I love spending time with her” he noted “Especially since it allows me to keep chanting the word ‘papa’ at her. I’m pretty sure it’ll be her first word” he added impishly.

“Do you do that every time I leave you two alone?” Emilia asked.

Lionel just grinned at her before Luca came back into the room. “Can we go now, mama?” he prodded.

Emilia sat up before she nodded. “Of course” she agreed before she turned to Lionel, offering him a slightly tense smile. “I’ll not be gone for long” she noted.

“I’ll see you when you get back” Lionel mused “Luca, have a great time with your papa” he added.

Luca flashed him a grin before he seized Emilia’s hand, practically pulling her out of the room.

“I’ve got so much to show you, papa!” Luca gushed as he charged through Isaac’s front door, practically tearing his backpack off of his shoulders in excitement.

Emilia stood back and watched him before she glanced up at Isaac’s face, her motherly smile growing into something more uncertain and nervous as her eyes mirrored his. Isaac held her stare for a second before he turned back, calling to Luca. “Give me and your mama a few minutes first?” he noted “We need to talk about some stuff, but afterwards, you can show me everything whilst I make you breakfast” he added.

Luca looked for a moment like he might grumble and object, but he didn’t. “OK” he replied “I’ll be in my room” he added before he darted away.

Emilia watched him disappear from the hall before Isaac cleared his throat, inclining his head to invite her inside. “Coffee?” he asked.

Emilia weighed up the options for a moment before she nodded. “As long as it’s quick” she noted “Leo, Maisie and I have plans for a play date with Sam, Jordi and Felix” she added as she stepped past him.

Isaac tensed momentarily before he proceeded towards the kitchen, pouring two mugs of coffee which he placed between him and Emilia.

Emilia gingerly picked up her cup, sipping at it in silence for a few agonizingly long moments before she sighed. “I just...I wanted you to hear it from me” she announced quietly “I wasn’t trying to upset you, or rub your face in anything. I just... I thought it’d be better if I told you rather than Luca or one of my relatives. You and Jordi work at the same hospital and I didn’t want him...being Jordi about it” she explained carefully.

“You mean gloating” Isaac replied, swallowing a mouthful of his drink “Jordi would gloat about it, because you’re marrying Lionel and not me and he just loves it. He’d love anyone that wasn’t me, but his little friend...it’s just so perfect for him” he added.

Emilia tucked her hair off of her face. “It’s not like that” she protested feebly.

Isaac’s smile was sharp and bitter. “It’s exactly like that” he noted “Your family hate me, and love that you’re with someone else now, even more so that it’s Lionel. He’s the guy they always wanted for you, and I was just...I was never going to be good enough, even before I left. I was just never right for them” he added.

“You did leave, though” Emilia pointed out “And then there was the next year...”

“Don’t you know how scared I was?” Isaac interrupted, struggling to refrain from shouting. It was something that they both always tried to avoid when Luca was around, they had done since he was a baby.

“You think you were the only one?” Emilia replied.

“You didn’t have Jordi breathing down your neck” Isaac retorted “Demanding that I just...I propose and marry you before the baby was born. I know how scared you were about the baby, Em, I was that scared too, but I was scared of doing the wrong thing, of following Jordi’s advice and living out a miserable marriage with a girl I didn’t know was in love with me, of making you unhappy and making you resent me. I didn’t know what to do for the best, and I needed...I needed to be away from it, to figure it out, so I ran away and when I came back, the worries were still the same and the next year...I fucked up so badly, Emmy, I always have done when it comes to you and to Luca. And then, just as I start to think we can get it right, your boyfriend appears and you’re moving on and being happy and I hate it. I really fucking hate it, Em, not because you’re happy, but because it’s him” he explained.

Emilia just stared up at him.

“He’s Jordi’s perfect choice” Isaac continued “He’s good and sweet, and he can take care of you, Luca and Maisie like it’s nothing. He’s just so...so fucking good for you and I can’t stand it, because I can’t sit and find flaws with him and tell you why it should be me instead of him, because there is no reason why you should be, other than that I love you” he added.

Emilia blinked a couple of times before she dropped her head, wiping a few tears off of her cheek. “You never made me think that you did” she whispered “Not when I was pregnant, not when we were sleeping together for a year after that. Not for the five years of Luca’s life that past after that before I re-met Lionel. Not once did I get the impression that you loved me, Isaac, and now you’re saying it and all I can think is that it’s just some jealous thing, that you only want me because there’s someone else who really does. You never, ever acted like someone who loved me, just someone who could take advantage of the fact that, for a very, very long time, I was just so in love with you. You let me think that we were going to have a forever, Isaac and then you ripped that out from underneath me and treated me with such...such disdain. And now we’re here, and I am so in love with Lionel and I want to marry him, and you just...you just can’t let me have it. It’s like you’re only happy when I am miserable and alone” she breathed as she looked back up at him.

Isaac held her stare, his brown eyes searching her tearful blues, before he reached his hand across the counter, cupping the back of her neck and pulling her into a kiss that she didn’t have a chance to stop. Gently weaving his fingers through her hair, he kept her close, sighing at the familiarity of her lips before Emilia jerked away, staring up at him with wide blue eyes, full of shock and tears. “I’m happy when I am with you” he whispered softly.

Emilia just gaped for a few seconds.

“Papa!” Luca’s shout shattered the moment, causing Emilia to jerk away from the counter.

“Emmy” Isaac protested, following her across the room.

Emilia was almost running when Luca appeared, his features creasing with a frown. “Mama, why are you crying?” he asked urgently.

Emilia wiped her cheeks, forcing a smile. “It’s fine, baby” she mused.

Luca looked skeptical, but accepted it, turning his attention towards Isaac with a grin. “I’ve got my paintings, papa” the little boy cooed.

Emilia took advantage of the distraction that Luca had provided, darting out of the front door before she pulled it closed with a thud behind her, allowing her to rest against it for a moment, her mind spinning at a pace she couldn’t keep up with.
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Thanks to FootieJo for the comment :)