Like You Did Before

44: No One Laughs At His Jokes

Redrawing the curtains, Matilda stepped away from the window, her eyes drifting down towards Lola who was asleep in her crib. She had settled in more quickly than Matilda had thought that she would. She had thought that the move into her own bedroom in their new home would unsettle the little girl or at least lead to a few fussier nights, but Lola had taken to it easily, something which made Matilda smile. She and Iker had tried everything to make sure that the room was comfortable for her. Instead of buying her all new things, they’d simply redecorated the things she’d gotten used to, and whilst Matilda didn’t know if that was what had made the transition so easy, she was glad that Lola felt settled. it’d only served to make her surer that the decision to move had been the right one.

Quirking a gentle smile, she smoothed out Lola’s hair before she leant over the side of the crib, placing a soft kiss on her forehead.


Matilda lifted her head, glancing at Naomi who stood in the doorway. “Hm?” she mused.

Naomi smiled. “You two are so cute” she mused “I hope I am not intruding” she added.

Matilda, who’d moved to collect the baby monitor, shook her head as she walked towards the door, following Naomi out into the hall “She’s been asleep for a little while” she replied “I was just making sure that she stayed that way. We’ve been here for a few days now, and she seems settled, but I like to make sure. It’s still very new. What bought you up here?” she added, tugging the bedroom door to.

Naomi shrugged. “Iker sent me up” she replied.

“Is there a problem?” Matilda prodded.

“No” Naomi replied “He, Art and Micah are all on their best behaviour. He just wanted to make sure that you were coming down at some point” she added impishly.

She knew where Iker was coming from. Despite having had all of them in the same place together before, Matilda still had a tendency to worry, and so when he’d asked if she’d go up and check on her, Naomi hadn’t hesitated. They all knew that things would be fine. Iker’s relationship with Arthur was far better than it’d ever been and it meant the dynamic of the group was better too, but, every now and again, someone had to remind Matilda of it, something Naomi was more than happy to do.

Matilda rolled her eyes. “It’s my house” she replied “You’re all stood in my kitchen, drinking my wine. Why wouldn’t I come back down?” she prodded.

“Because you’re a worrier” Naomi replied “And you’re still worried about Iker and Art” she added.

Matilda exhaled a sigh. “Mimi...”

“They’re fine” Naomi cut in gently “They’re downstairs, talking. I think I even saw Iker laugh at one of Art’s terrible jokes” she added.

Matilda groaned playfully. “No one laughs at Art’s jokes” she retorted.

“Apparently, your boyfriend does” Naomi mused “But seriously, Mattie, it’s fine. Come on and see for yourself” she added, offering her hand back towards Matilda.

Matilda hesitated for a beat before she reluctantly placed her hand in Naomi’s, allowing her to tug her down the stairs. Using her other hand, she pushed her hair back off of her face as they walked into the kitchen, capturing the attention of Arthur, Iker and Micah who were leant against the island, talking animatedly between themselves. “Look who didn’t sneak out of Lola’s bedroom window” Naomi chirped as she dropped Matilda’s hand, eagerly taking the glass of white wine that Micah held out to her.

Matilda scoffed, a shy smile tugging up the corner of her mouth. “Did no one think that I was maybe just taking my time and making sure that my daughter was asleep before I came back down?” she asked.

“I did” Iker quipped.

Arthur and Micah scoffed, sharing an impish smile. “Is that why you sent Mimi up after her?” Micah prodded.

Matilda’s stare turned towards Iker, her eyebrow lifted amusedly.

Iker spluttered, opening and closing his mouth a couple of times, something which made the rest of the room laugh before Matilda stepped towards him, placing a gentle kiss on his cheek. “It’s OK” she said quietly.

Twisting a strand of Matilda’s hair around his finger, Iker smiled, happily listening to the conversation that flowed around him. How well things had gone had surprised him. When Matilda had tested out the idea of having a small, house warming get together, his regular anxiety at the prospect of being in a room full of her friends had almost convinced him to say no, but he was pleased that he hadn’t. There was still tension. The fact that Arthur had openly admitted having strong romantic feeling for Matilda wasn’t something that had simply slipped Iker’s mind, and he doubted that it ever would, but the more time he spent with the other man, the more he realised that Matilda’s happiness mattered to him enough that he wouldn’t risk ruining her relationship, a thought that was slowly but surely coaxing Iker into relaxing around him.

“Did she ever tell you that story, Iker?”

Iker, who’d moved to kiss the back of Matilda’s shoulder, lifted his head, blinking at Naomi. “Hm?” he prodded.

“Mattie” Naomi mused “Did she ever tell you how she broke her leg?” she prodded.

“It’s embarrassing” Matilda protested.

“In a cute way” Arthur argued “We’d just started at university, and Mattie, well, she was trying to impress a guy she’d met” he chirped.

“Arthur, if you keep talking...” Matilda trailed off, offering him a glare.

Arthur simply smirked at her, his attention shifting back to Iker. “There was this hill, and someone had a plastic sheet. Someone else had a hose and a sledge and a case of beer. It was a bad idea, I told her it was, but Mimi...”

“The fun best friend” Naomi interjected, grinning over the top of her wine glass.

Arthur rolled his eyes playfully. “Mimi told her to go for it” he mused.

Iker chuckled, leaning around Matilda so that he could look at her face. “Did you at least get the guy’s number?” he prodded, tucking back the hair she’d used to try and hide her blushing cheeks.

Matilda huffed, sparing playful glares at Arthur and Naomi, before she shook her head. “I tried to” she mused “But I was in shock, and I didn’t realise that the bone was poking out. He threw up and I don’t think he ever spoke to me properly again, even though we were in a lot of classes together” she added.

Iker laughed brightly before he tightened his arms around her, cuddling her back against his chest. “He missed out” he mused “You’re pretty wonderful” he added warmly.

Micah feigned gagging, something which caused Naomi to nudge his ribs. “Shush” she mused “They’re adorable” she added.

“They are” Arthur mused, swallowing a mouthful of his drink “Iker’s a very lucky guy” he added.

Iker beamed at the compliment, but Matilda didn’t. She knew that she was the only one in the room who’d caught the wistfulness in Arthur’s voice and it made her stomach ache a little. She hated the idea that she was hurting him, even if it wasn’t on purpose. There were moments when Arthur’s happy for her facade slipped a little and revealed a man who was still watching the woman he had feelings for be happy with someone else. Feeling Iker squeeze her waist again, she spared him a soft smile over her shoulder before she turned to look at Arthur, apologizing to him with a look that he shook his head to, trying, and failing, to dismiss her concern with a smile that Matilda knew instantly he’d just put on.
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Thanks to Jayme112234 and Twisted;;Symphony for the comments :)