Like You Did Before

26: I Hate Feeling Like That

Allowing her eyes to flutter closed, Matilda let her head fall against the car window, trying to get a grip of the giddiness that she had felt since she’d left Naomi and Micah’s wedding reception. It had gone off without a hitch. The ceremony had been flawless and the reception had been everything that her friends had hoped it would be, but Matilda would have been lying if she said that she hadn’t been waiting for an opportunity to leave since the party had started.

She was happy for her friends, she’d been glad to spend some time with Arthur, but she was itching to get back to Lola, and to Iker who she’d heard very little from since she’d left his home the night before. He had called that morning. She’d managed to duck away from her bridesmaid’s duties for long enough to speak to him briefly, but the conversation had been stilted and brief, something that had left an unsettled feeling in the pit of her stomach for most of the day.

Feeling the car slow beneath her, she blinked her eyes open before she leant forwards, placing the fare into the hand of the driver. Saying a slightly loud goodbye, she pushed the car door open and ambled up the path towards the front door before she knocked against it. Taking a slightly wobbly step back, she watched the door until it swung open, revealing Iker who was rubbing his eyes sleepily. “Did I wake you up?” she asked.

Iker blinked a couple of times, his forehead furrowing. “Are you drunk?” he prodded.

Matilda’s face lit up with a cheeky grin, but she shook her head. “I wouldn’t say that” she answered “But you know that champagne makes me a little giddy, especially after months without drinking. There’s an awful lot of champagne at a wedding, Iker” she added.

Iker nodded his head slowly, a slightly baffled smile on his face, before he stepped out of the doorway, allowing her to step past him and into the house. “I didn’t know you were going to come by tonight” he said as he closed the door after her “It’s late. I put Lola down to sleep hours ago. I just assumed you’d spend the night at the hotel and come by in the morning” he added.

Matilda wobbled a little in her heels as she tried to walk towards the living room, something which caused Iker to shake his head before he moved to her side, wordlessly offering her a stabilizing arm. Matilda blinked a couple of times, but she eventually took a hold of it, allowing him to guide her until they reached the couch. Offering him a grateful smile, she plopped down into the seat before Iker knelt down ahead of her, gently prying her shoes off of her feet. “You did take a taxi here, didn’t you?” he asked, neatly placing her shoes by the end of the sofa.

Matilda nodded, watching him quietly.

Iker felt her stare on him, something which caused him to duck his head, a slightly bashful laugh falling out of his mouth. “Is there something wrong?” he prodded “You’re staring at me like you’ve never seen me before” he added.

“I told Art about you and me” Matilda’s statement was blunt, removing the slightly teasing smile from Iker’s face. He hadn’t quite expected that their disagreement would come up so suddenly.

Nodding his head slowly, Iker mulled the announcement over for a few moments before he glanced up at her. “Why?” he asked.

“Because you were right” Matilda answered.

“Did he ask?” Iker prodded.

Matilda shook her head. “Not directly” she replied “I think he worried that…that the kiss would have made things awkward for us in relation to Lola. He wanted to make sure that he’d not done any lasting damage. I told him that he hadn’t, but I told him about us because…because he deserved to know and because I wanted him to know. I want a lot of people to know” she added, a slightly goofy smile spreading across her features.

Iker took in her smile before he shook his head. “Mattie…”

“I adore you” Matilda cut him off “I know I am not very good at communicating that, but I do. I adore you, Iker” she added softly.

Iker smiled gently, his hand moving to take a hold of hers which fiddled with the material of her dress nervously. “I know you do” he mused “But that isn’t why I wanted you to tell Arthur about us. I know what his friendship means to you, and I know that you’re going to want to repair it, and I thought you’d have a better chance at that if you were upfront with him. I really think a lot of your problems could be solved if you were a little more transparent with what you’re thinking and feeling” he added, fixing her with a playful look.

Matilda blinked down at him, nodding her head slightly. “I thought you were being like you were before” she admitted after a moment of quiet “I thought it was a play to mark your territory and I shut down. I shouldn’t have done, because you weren’t trying to…to be awkward, or make things harder for me. You were just doing the other thing you do. You were thinking things through for me, looking out for me, and I shouldn’t have pushed you away for that. You were right, being honest with Art, it was the best thing and I am sorry that I didn’t see it yesterday. I’m sorry I panicked again” she added.

Iker’s eyes were on their interlocked hands as she spoke, but when she finished, he looked up at her face, a gentle smile on his face. “I don’t mind you panicking” he said “I mean, I’d rather you didn’t, obviously, but if you do, that’s Ok. I just need you to talk it through with me, Mattie. We’re going to keep having the same problems if you don’t. When you left yesterday, you’d gone into your head, and I felt like I had done after all of our other fights. I hate feeling like that, Mattie” he explained.

“I hate it, too” Matilda said quietly “Feeling like that, making you feel like it” she added.

“Then talk to me” Iker retorted as though it was the most obvious thing in the world “Just…just talk to me, Mattie. About anything, everything. I am not going to love you less for being anxious” he added.

Matilda’s eyes snapped up from her lap to meet Iker’s. “You love me?” she asked, her voice soft with awe.

Iker’s nod was instant, his cheeks were flushed pink. “You know that” he said “I didn’t just stop because we broke up. I love you, Mattie” he added.

Matilda blinked, trying, and failing, to get rid of the tears that had filled her eyes.

Iker’s eyes widened in concern. “Why are you crying?” he pressed.

“Champagne” Matilda replied, wiping her eyes with a bashful smile “You know what it does to me” she added.

Iker leant up, his thumb gently brushing the tears away before he left a kiss on the top of her head. “Let’s get you upstairs” he mumbled into her hair before he helped her up to her feet.

Matilda followed his movements, allowing him to guide her to her feet, before she tugged on his sleeve, stopping him from moving any further. Iker frowned and turned back towards her, but whatever he was about to say was stopped when she touched her lips to his. “I love you, too” she whispered when she pulled away.

Iker blinked before his expression brightened, making Matilda smile back at him before she placed her hand in his, allowing him to guide her from the room.