When We Were

Eighty Seven: I Need To Hear That You Get This

“Where is my oldest grandchild?”

Emilia, who’d been staring at the clock on her parents’ mantel piece, flinched slightly at the sound of Marcella’s voice before she turned, watching as the older woman strode into the living room to place a mug of tea down ahead of her. Marcella had been surprisingly patient, between Maisie and Felix, who’d arrived with Jordi and Samia just after Lionel and Emilia had arrived, she had had her attention taken up with her two youngest grandchildren, but Emilia had known it was only a matter of time before she started to ask about Luca, something which would inevitably lead the conversation towards Isaac and to the question that Marcella, and David, had seemingly been itching to ask since they’d arrived: what had happened to Lionel’s face?

Mumbling a soft ‘thank you’, she gratefully lifted the mug into her hands, taking a long sip of it which allowed her a couple more seconds to formulate an answer. “Isaac gave me his word that they’d come” she noted “When I left him and Luca at the hospital, he promised he wouldn’t forget, but you know what his timekeeping is like. Maybe they’re just late” she added, shrugging her shoulders slightly.

Marcella nodded her head slowly, obviously not convinced. “Can you call him?” she asked “I’d like to see how Luca’s doing” she added.

Emilia’s expression flinched before she could hide it, something which made Marcella tilt her head. “Emilia” she said.

“I’ll call him, mama” Emilia insisted “Just not right now. I’ll give him another half an hour, OK?” she prodded. She didn’t want to make the phone call, she had been hoping that, like he said he would, Isaac would just show up, and she was determined to put it off as much as she could. The prospect of speaking to Isaac, who she had barely made conversation with since he had hit Lionel, was one she was dreading and wanted to avoid whilst she could.

Marcella’s stare was firm, but she yielded after a moment, nodding her head gently. “OK” she confirmed.

Emilia smiled at her gratefully. “Gracias, mama” she mumbled.

Marcella stood up, stopping to drop a kiss on the top of her daughter’s head, before she progressed out of the room, passing Jordi who was on his way in. Stepping around his mother, he flashed her a small smile, before he progressed towards the coffee table, perching on it in front of his sister. “You doing OK?” he asked gently.

Emilia, who’d been sipping on her tea, smirked around the cup. “You’ve seen Leo’s face?” she asked.

“I treated his face” Jordi pointed out “And that doesn’t answer my question” he added.

Emilia gently set the cup down, shrugging her shoulders. “Me and Leo are OK” she said softly “I mean, we were a lot closer to not being OK than I would like, but we’re good, which means I am good. I don’t really know why he puts up with everything, but I love that he does, Jordi” she fussed happily.

Jordi smiled gently. “Because he loves you, Em” he pointed out.

Emilia just offered him another shrug, smiling gently.

Jordi opened his mouth to say something more, but stopped himself at the sound of a knock on the front door, followed quickly by Luca’s excited voice. Jordi shared a look with his sister briefly before he sprung to his feet, ducking past her before she had the chance to stop him. “Jordi!” Emilia protested as she sped after him.

Jordi ignored her protests, dodging Marcella who’d opened the door and Luca who’d been making his way towards the living room, before he reached Isaac, his hand grabbing the front of his shirt before he shoved him up against the hall wall. “You just can’t take a hint, can you?” he growled.

“Jordi” Marcella called.

“Have you seen what he did to Leo’s face?” Jordi hissed, not moving his eyes away from Isaac who stood still in front of him.

Emilia stepped up beside them, gently prying Jordi’s fingers out of their grip on Isaac’s shirt. “Luca is watching” she whispered “I don’t want him to see any more of this. Please, Jordi” she added.

Jordi turned to look at her, seeing the pleading in her eyes, before he slowly slackened his grip, allowing Isaac to regain his footing. “You’re very lucky” he growled lowly, just loud enough for Isaac to hear before he walked away, guiding Luca and Marcella out of the hall and towards where the rest of the family were

Isaac just straightened out his shirt. “Em, can we talk?” he asked.

Emilia nodded stiffly, gesturing out of the front door. “Outside” she murmured.

Isaac stuffed his hands in his pockets before he stepped out of the front door. Emilia followed after him, tugging the door to behind them. “You’re late” she mumbled, wrapping her arms around herself.

Isaac had taken a seat on the doorstep, so he looked up at her before he nodded. “I’m sorry we are” he noted.

Emilia sat down next to him, allowing a slightly uncomfortable quiet to settle over them.

Isaac shifted in his seat, turning to look at her. “I’m never going to like that he is in your life” he said gently “Petty or not, selfish or not, I am never going to like it, Emmy” he added.

Emilia pulled her knees up towards her chest, shaking her head. “I am not asking you to like it, Isaac” she said “If you want to waste all of your time hating him, that’s fine, but you do not get to try and shove him out of my life just because you don’t like him being in it. I like him being in my life, I love it, even, and you’re just going to have to learn to handle it. I thought you would have gotten the picture after two years, but Leo’s not just some fling for me, Isaac. He’s...the guy I want to marry” she added as softly as she could, still, as ever, trying to soften the blow.

Isaac’s expression screwed up into a grimace. “Why?” he asked.

“He just is” Emilia replied with a little shrug. She wasn’t quite sure she had the ability to put why it was into words “There’s just...there’s something about him, about us that feels...that feels like it’s the right thing” she explained.

Isaac just stared at her for a second before he looked away with a sigh. “I just keep screwing this up” he mumbled “I keep meaning to show you that...that I am some kind of option and I just keep sticking my foot, or this time, my fist into it. I think I could make you happy, Emmy, that’s all I want to show you” he explained.

Emilia thought over his words before she sighed, shaking her head. “You might have been able to do that once upon a time, Isaac” she mused carefully “But I need you to know that that isn’t going to happen now. Even if Leo wasn’t in the picture, which he obviously is, I wouldn’t be interested in reconciling with you. Whatever we had between us is gone, Isaac, and I need you to hear me when I say that. This isn’t just a case of Leo being in the way, it’s a case of me realizing that I have put you on some kind of pedestal for too long and acknowledging that I need to stop. Once upon a time, I wanted you to love me, Isaac, I really, really did, but that’s a long time gone now. Not just because of Leo, but because what we had, if it was ever anything, was not good for me” she explained carefully.

The last thing she wanted to do was hurt him, but she knew that she had to be clear. Lionel wasn’t the only obstacle holding off their reconciliation, Emilia’s feelings for Isaac were nowhere near what they had been and she wanted to be painfully clear about it. She wanted him to know that, even if Lionel wasn’t around anymore, she wasn’t just going to fall back into his arms. She didn’t want that anymore.

Isaac quirked a sad smile. “I wish I had loved you the way you deserved to be loved then” he breathed “Then maybe...maybe we’d not be here” he added.

“But you didn’t, and we are here” Emilia replied “I need to hear that you get this, Isaac” she added.

Isaac nodded slowly. “You don’t love me” he noted “And you’re not going to love me, even if your boyfriend disappears” he added.

Emilia nodded in confirmation.

“I’m just Luca’s papa to you” Isaac noted.

“A man I thought I loved a long time ago” Emilia clarified “But not the man I love now” she added.

Isaac nodded.


Both Emilia and Isaac turned around at the sound of Lionel’s voice, looking up to find him stood in the doorway. Isaac cringed, not able to avoid the bruise which he had caused. “Is that what I did to you?” he asked.

Lionel reflexively touched the bruise. “It’s not that bad” he noted.

“Still” Isaac breathed “I am sorry. I let my temper get the better of me. It’s not like me” he added.

Lionel nodded his head, accepting the apology without saying anything.

Isaac looked between Emilia and Lionel before he shoved himself back up to his feet. “I should get out of here” he noted “I’ll pick Luca up from your place tonight, or in the morning if it works better for you. I don’t really want to come back here and risk Jordi’s wrath again” he added, trying, and failing, to keep the tone of his voice breezy.

Emilia smiled sadly as she stood up too. “Tomorrow” she mused.

Isaac nodded his head stiffly. “Tomorrow it is” he noted “Tell Luca for me?” he asked.

“Of course” Lionel agreed, settling his arm around Emilia’s waist, a subtle reminder to Isaac that she was his girlfriend.

Isaac caught it with a sad smile and a nod. “I’ll see you then, then” he mused as he sloped down the path, stopping only to look back just as Lionel leant over, pressing a kiss against Emilia’s face as she smiled gently for him, something she would never do for Isaac again.