Like You Did Before

18: It Doesn’t Mean You Didn’t Do The Right Thing

“Did you bring more nappies?”

Iker, who was halfway through Matilda’s front door, smirked a little before he turned around, showing off the box of nappies that was tucked underneath his arm. They had settled into a little routine. With things between the two of them feeling better, Iker’s visits to Matilda’s apartment and Matilda and Lola’s visits to his home had become easier and more relaxed, and it pleased Iker. The visits weren’t much. Iker liked being around when Lola woke up and to help Matilda when it came to settling the little girl down to sleep, but whereas before they’d been full of awkwardness and lingering silences, they’d relaxed since they’d talked, something which was a relief to both Iker and Matilda. There was still a long way to go. Whilst they’d both admitted that there was still something between the two of them, they were still a long way away from their relationship restarting, but they felt as though they were on the same page, something they probably hadn’t been throughout a lot of their relationship.

Matilda grinned, gently bouncing Lola who was crying softly in her arms. “Thank you” she mused “I was sure I’d bought more” she added.

“You are pretty good at losing things” Iker quipped as he put the box down, allowing him to gently take Lola out of Matilda’s arms “I still don’t know what you did with that t-shirt of mine. I loved that thing” he added.

Matilda quirked a little smirk, but didn’t say anything. He didn’t need to know that it was in a drawer in her dresser. “We were just getting ready for bath time” she mused as she padded back towards the living room.

Iker followed after her, talking quietly to Lola as he tried to soothe her. “Do you need me to do anything?” he asked.

“The bath is almost at the right temperature” Matilda replied “I’m just going to grab some clean pyjamas for her. You can start without me, just make sure you check the water again” she added.

Iker’s lips quirked upwards slightly, itching to point out that he’d done it before, but he stopped himself. Things were better, much better than they had been for a long time, but he still wasn’t quite sure where the boundary was. Matilda hadn’t always taken his teasing as he’d meant it and he didn’t want to wind her up “I will do” he mused.

Matilda flashed him a small smile before her phone buzzed, causing her to slip it out of her pocket. Rolling her eyes, she pressed it against her ear. “Naomi” she greeted “What can I do for you?” she prodded.

Iker’s expression deflated a little before he padded towards the bathroom. He knew that when Naomi called, she and Matilda could end up talking for hours, and it disappointed him a little. He liked the time that they spent together. With the air clearer between them, their conversations flowed better and they had fun, and the prospect of missing out on it, as silly as it was, disappointed him a little. It was their time. No one else was around to interfere or ask questions about what they were or were going to be, and, as selfish as it was, he wanted to keep it that way for a while. When it was just the three of them, him, Matilda and Lola, things felt OK.

Matilda watched him walk away, listening half-heartedly to Naomi talk about her wedding plans, before she cleared her throat softly. “Mimi” she interrupted “I’m kind of busy right now. I was just getting Lola ready for her bath. Is it Ok if I call you back?” she added.

“Of course” Naomi replied “It can wait a little while. It’s just table settings” she added.

“Why are you calling me about that?” Matilda asked “Shouldn’t you be working it out with Micah?” she prodded.

“We have figured most of it out” Naomi replied “I just wanted to ask a couple of things about where you’re going to sit. It can hold until after Lola’s asleep. Call me back then?” she prodded.

Matilda blinked a couple of times. “Art” she murmured.

Naomi made a soft sound down the phone, confirming that that was what she was asking before she said a word. “I know that things are…you know, strained between the two of you right now. Micah’s going to talk to Arthur, but I thought I should talk to you, too. We don’t want either of you to be uncomfortable, so if you need us to put some distance between you, we can do. We just need to know beforehand” she explained tentatively.

Matilda closed her eyes. She hadn’t seen or heard from Arthur after his last visit and she didn’t expect to. She hadn’t want to hurt him. Arthur had been her friend for as long as she could remember, and she had hated that their conversation had ended up hurting him, but it had been necessary. As much as she adored him, she didn’t feel the same way about him that he did about her, and she had thought it best to be upfront about it. The last thing she wanted to do was lead him on and hurt him further down the line.

“Have you heard from him?” she asked quietly.

“Micah’s got a few texts from him” Naomi replied.

“Is he OK?” Matilda asked “I want to text him, but…” she trailed off, hoping the silence filled in the blanks. She didn’t want to push him to talk to her.

“He’s hurting, Mattie” Naomi replied “But it doesn’t mean that you didn’t do the right thing. It sucks, loving someone who doesn’t love you, but you were right to be honest with him. If you’d led him on, it would have been so much worse. It’s just going to take some time” she added.

Naomi nodded her head slowly, breathing out a shaky sigh. “You’re right” she confirmed.

“We’ll talk more later” Naomi mused “Go and get that beautiful little baby of yours ready for bed, Mattie” she added.

Matilda smiled gently. “Speak to you later” she mumbled. Taking the phone away from her ear, she tucked it back into her pocket before she shuffled towards the bathroom.

Stopping in the doorway, she felt her expression brighten, her eyes settling on Iker who was leant over the edge of the bath, gently wiping shampoo away from Lola’s eyes. Biting down on her lip, she simply stood and watched them until Iker picked his head up, offering a bashful grin. “You’re doing that smile again” he quipped.

Matilda just shrugged. She didn’t need to say how smitten she was with the sight of him and Lola.

“You got Naomi off of the phone quickly” Iker continued as he turned back to Lola “Normally, you’ll spend hours talking to her” he added.

Matilda moved into the room, kneeling down next to the bath, before she shrugged. “I said I’d call her back” she replied “Her wedding’s getting pretty close and she wanted to iron out a few details, but I said I need to get this little one ready for bed. You don’t mind the company, do you?” she added.

Iker shook his head, trying, and failing, to hide his small smile.

Matilda noticed it immediately, causing her to lean over, touching a slightly hesitant kiss to his cheek. She wanted to tell him what Naomi had really wanted, but she worried about bringing Arthur up in conversation, a hesitation which had encouraged her to leave it for a moment. She had to talk to him about it. If anything was going to work between them, they both had to be more open than they had in the past, but it didn’t mean that she could do it easily. Being completely honest about her fears and feelings was something which was going to take time for her to get used to.
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Thanks to Twisted;;Symphony for the comment :)