Can’t Look Away

42: Do You Really Mean It?

“It’s really over?” Sasha asked gently, her foot sending little ripples through the water of the pool in front of her. It hadn’t been a complete surprise. A few weeks had passed since her birthday, and things between Nolan and Cassie had been falling apart slowly but surely, and it meant that the text message that had lit up her phone when she woke up that morning hadn’t surprised her. Cassie turned the proposal down. After thinking it over, she had decided that it was too soon, and that she wasn’t quite ready to take that step, and whilst she and Nolan had tried to move past it, it’d been obvious how much damage her ‘no’ had done.

“It is” Cassie replied quietly “I told him that I’m going to your place, and he’s given me the next couple of days to get my stuff out. Are you sure that you don’t mind me crashing there whilst you’re away?” she asked.

“Of course I don’t” Sasha said as though it was the most obvious thing in the world “Are you sure that you don’t need me to come back? I can if you want me to” she added.

Cassie’s laugh was tinged with sniffles. “Leo would never forgive me for taking you away from your first couple’s holiday” she retorted.

“He’d understand” Sasha argued “Cassie, if you need me...”

“I’ll be fine, Sasha” Cassie interrupted gently “Really. I’ll cry some, maybe take a couple of days out of work, but I will be fine. Just promise me, when you get back, that first hug is mine” she added.

Sasha smiled sadly at the request before she felt something touch the top of her head. Leaning back, she smiled up at Lionel before she answered. “Of course” she mused “And, if you need anything, I’m just a call away. I don’t care if there’s a time difference. You can wake me, and Leo, up in the middle of the night” she added, trying to mask her sympathy in teasing.

“I’m sure he’d love that” Cassie replied, the roll of her eyes almost audible in her voice.

“He’d get over it” Sasha quipped “I’ll speak to you soon, yeah?” she prodded.

Cassie agreed before she hung up, allowing Sasha to relax against Lionel who’d sat down behind her, his arms wrapped loosely around her waist. “Did I wake you?” she asked, disturbing the silence that had settled over them.

Lionel shook his head before he dipped forwards, pressing a soft kiss against the back of her neck.

Sasha sighed softly at the contact, her eyes fluttering closed. “Cassie and Nolan broke up” she revealed quietly.

Lionel’s next kiss landed just below her ear. “Is she doing OK?” he asked, his voice a sleepy mumble.

“She’s always been one for putting on a brave face” Sasha answered “Sometimes, I can’t get a read on her, but I think it’s pretty safe to assume that she’s devastated. She liked him for a long time before they actually got together, and in the space of a few months, they’ve gone from some pretty wonderful highs to it being over. It’s not going to be easy to get over” she added, leaning into him a little more as he touched a kiss to her shoulder.

“Has she got somewhere to stay?” Lionel asked “If she needs any kind of help, all you’ve got to do is ask. You know that, don’t you?” he added.

Sasha smiled at the comment before she nodded, kicking her foot in the water again. “She’s staying at my place whilst we’re out here” she mused “She just needed somewhere that wasn’t their place, and I am not using it, so it made sense” she added.

Lionel nodded, placing a tender kiss on the top of her back. Shifting slightly, he propped his chin on her shoulder, allowing a silence to stretch between them that was only disturbed by the soft splashes of Sasha’s feet in the water. For a couple of minutes, the two of them were lost in their own thoughts, both content to just enjoy each other’s company and the warm morning, before Lionel’s head shifted, allowing him to kiss her shoulder softly. “How did you get on with the woman you are renting from?” he asked quietly.

Sasha’s forehead creased. “What?” she asked.

“The woman you rent your apartment from” Lionel repeated “You got on, didn’t you?” he prodded.

“I understood the question” Sasha replied “It’s just a slightly odd one to be asking now. What has she got to do with anything?” she added, turning to look at him with a slightly bemused smile.

Instinctively, Lionel’s fingertips smoothed her messy hair behind her ear before he offered her a small, shy smile. “Promise not to say anything until I’ve gotten through it?” he prodded.

Sasha nodded her head slowly. “OK” she said.

Lionel fiddled with her hair, trying to keep it from being blown across her face by the warm breeze, before he met her eyes. “I’d like to ask you to move in with me” he said softly “I know that you’ve not had your apartment for very long, and I know that it seems strange, asking you to move in with me after months, especially since Cassie and Nolan did the same thing and they’re not together any more, but feels like the right decision for us. I think we’re both on the same page about serious this is and I think I am ready to take that next step. So, what do you think?” he asked.

Sasha blinked a few times. He had spoken quickly, meaning his words had been slightly difficult to follow, but she knew what he was asking. Searching his eyes, she took a couple of seconds to wrap her head around it before the corner of her mouth quirked upwards slightly. “Is this about you hating how small my bedroom is?” she quipped.

Lionel couldn’t resist smiling back at her. “I don’t hate it” he retorted.

Sasha’s teasing smile softened, becoming something shier and nervous. “Do you really mean it?” she asked “You’re not just asking me because Cassie’s going to need a place to crash? You’re asking me because...”

“Because I want you to live with me” Lionel finished for her “Because I think we’re ready, because I want you around all of the time. There’s a long list of reasons, Sasha, but the point is, I want us to live together. If it does have the added benefit for helping Cassie out, then that’s great, but the reason I am asking is us” he added.

Sasha stared at him for a few moments, mulling over what he’d said, before slowly, timidly, she nodded her head. “OK” she said quietly.
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Thanks to Jayme112234 for the comments :)