Like You Did Before

14: Maybe That Doesn’t Mean Much Now

Folding up the little pink onesie that he’d found in his own laundry, Iker carefully set it aside, trying to ignore the little twist the pit of his stomach gave at the sight of it. He hadn’t seen Lola for a few days. After he’d seen Matilda with Arthur, the prospect of heading back to her apartment was one that had filled him with dread, and whilst it meant missing out on the little moments that he’d grown so fond of since Lola had arrived, he hadn’t quite been able to find the nerve to head back there. Matilda had texted him a few times, she’d insisted that if he didn’t want to see her, then they could figure something out, but he hadn’t replied, not quite sure what he would say to her.

He knew that simply cutting ties wasn’t an option. As hurt as he was by the kiss Matilda and Arthur had shared, she was still Lola’s mother and he knew that he couldn’t just back away from her, but he had needed to take a little time away. It’d hurt him. The sight of Matilda kissing Arthur was one he’d half been expecting to see for years, but the reality of it had hurt him more than he’d thought it would and it was something he’d needed distance from. Things were complicated between him and Matilda, they had been for almost a year, but the prospect of Matilda and Arthur getting together was something Iker didn’t know he could watch.

Reluctantly pulling his eyes away from the onesie, he folded up a few more pieces of laundry before he heard the doorbell. Letting out a quiet sigh, he set down the clothes before he shuffled into the hall and pulled the door open, his eyes softening as they landed on Lola. Blinking a couple of times, he slowly lifted his head to look at the woman who held the baby. “What are you doing here?” he asked quietly.

Naomi offered him a small sad smile. “Mattie asked me to come” she said “She thought you’d probably be missing this little one, and that you’d not want to see her, so she I asked if I would come over and drop Lola off. She said that she’d texted” she added, shifting her hold on Lola.

Iker looked over his shoulder into the house so that Naomi couldn’t see his face when he spoke. “I…I didn’t see her text” he said. He didn’t want to admit that he’d been actively trying to ignore them.

“Is it not a good time?” Naomi prodded.

Iker shook his head, turning back to her with a small, forced, smile. “It’s fine” he mused “Come in” he added.

Naomi moved to step past him, but stopped so that she could place Lola into his arms before she wandered through towards the living room.

Iker watched her go before he turned back to Lola, greeting her with a soft smile before he kissed the top of her head. “Hello, sweetheart” he whispered softly “I’ve missed you. I’m sorry I’ve not been to see you in a few days” he added.

Smoothing back her dark hair, he kissed her head gently again before he followed after Naomi, stopping in the doorway before he cleared his throat. “Tell Matilda thank you” he said quietly.

“You could tell her yourself” Naomi replied “I think she’d probably like that a lot more” she added.

Iker shook his head. “Naomi” he warned, glaring at her slightly. If there was one thing he knew about Matilda’s friend it was that she had a habit of sticking her nose in where it didn’t belong and he didn’t want to hear it.

“Don’t do that” Naomi retorted “Don’t look at me like I don’t know what I am talking about. She’s trying to keep her distance, give you all the space you need, because she’s terrified of making things any worse. Did you know that she and Arthur talked? That she told him, in no uncertain terms, that she wasn’t interested in him?” she prodded.

Iker’s lips quirked up into a slightly bitter smirk. “I find it hard to believe that when the last time I saw her, they were making out on her doorstep” he muttered.

Naomi scoffed. “It was one kiss, Iker, one that…”

“It was more than that to me” Iker cut in “It was…it was my nightmare, Naomi” he added.

Naomi’s expression softened a little.

“I appreciate that you’re here to fight her corner” Iker said “she’s lucky to have friends like you, Naomi, but that kiss…it was everything I feared from the moment I met him. He looked at her like…like I looked at her” he added, gently rubbing Lola’s back to try and soothe her soft grumbles.

Naomi nodded her head slowly, thinking over what he’d said for a moment, before she looked up at him. “He might have looked at her like that, but she…she’s never looked at anyone like she looked at you. Everyone knew about how Arthur felt, maybe on some level, Mattie did too, but it didn’t change anything. From the moment you wandered into her life, it’s been all about you” she explained softly.

Iker kept his stare on Lola. “How am I supposed to believe that?” he murmured.

“You can believe what you want” Naomi replied, shrugging her shoulders “But let me just say one more thing. Marcos and Simon, Mattie’s other exes, they didn’t like Arthur either, but Mattie always chose him. Not this time, though. She chose you. Maybe that doesn’t mean much to you now, but that…that’s pretty huge deal for Matilda” she added before she stepped towards him. Pressing a gentle kiss to Lola’s head, she mumbled a soft goodbye before she wandered towards the front door.

Iker hesitated for a second before he called after her, causing Naomi to stop before she pulled the door closed after herself. “She really turned him down?” he asked.

Naomi nodded her head. “He told her that he’d liked her since they were kids and she told him that it wasn’t like that for her” she confirmed.

“Why?” Iker stumbled out before he could stop himself.

Naomi’s lips quirked upwards into a grin. “Why do you think?” she prodded.

Iker opened and closed his mouth a couple of times before he breathed out a soft sigh.

Naomi stepped back towards him, squeezing his shoulder gently. “Just talk to her, eh?” she prodded “I can stand here and tell you all the things she told me when she called me the other day, but maybe it would be best if you heard them from her and if she was able to look at you when she said them. I know it’s messy, but I think there’s someone who’d really benefit from the two of you stopping avoiding each other and figuring it out” she added, tipping her head towards Lola.

Iker stared down at the little girl, his expression soft.

“She misses you” Naomi said quietly.

“Mattie?” Iker asked, peeking up at Naomi through his eyelashes.

“Her, too” Naomi mused “I was talking about Lola. Mattie says she doesn’t settle for her like she does for you, but I also think that Mattie misses having you there every night. Call her, Iker, or call me and tell me that you’re going to take Lola back in the morning yourself” she prodded before she span on her heel and disappeared out of the front door.

Iker kept his eyes on Lola for a moment before he leant forwards, kissing her forehead softly. “I’ll talk to your mama” he whispered gently “We’ll figure something out, sweetheart. I promise you that. Me and your mama…we’ll figure something out that works for us” he added.
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Thanks to Jayme112234 for the comment :)