Until The Sunshine Fades

One

“You promised me you’d be here before me” Isabella grumbled into her phone, her eyes surveying the busy bar in search of her friend.

She knew that she was on her way. Before they had hung up on their original call, Elena had insisted that she was already on the way out of her office, but still Isabella was anxious to see her, knowing that, before she did something stupider than what she had originally done, she needed to talk it through. It was what she should have done. Before she had lied to her mother, she should have called Elena, and allowed her to talk her out of it, but she hadn’t, and now she needed her friend’s help.

“I am almost through the door” Elena replied “Stop panicking. I am sure that, whatever your problem is, it can hold for another minute or two” she added.

Isabella rolled her eyes. “You’ve not heard what it is yet” she muttered.

Elena huffed out a laugh into the phone before she stepped into Isabella’s eye line, something which caused Isabella’s expression to brighten slightly. Hanging up the phone, she waved Elena over before she gently pushed a glass of lemonade across the table. Elena smiled and took a sip from the glass before she let out a soft sigh, settling a hand on her growing baby bump. “So?” she prodded.

Isabella let a gentle sigh fall out of her mouth, her fingers fiddling with the straw that poked out of the top of her own glass. “I...uh...I might have done something stupid” she murmured “I mean, it didn’t seen stupid at the time, but now it does” she added.

Elena’s forehead creased slightly. “Why is it stupider now?” she asked.

“Because I’m about two weeks away from getting caught” Isabella answered “It was only supposed to buy me some time, but I let it go on for too long, and I am pretty sure it’s going to make me look bad” she added.

“What did you do, Izzy?” Elena pressed.

Isabella felt her cheeks flush a deep shade of pink before she quirked an embarrassed smile. “I lied” she admitted “My mother kept asking if I was seeing someone. She’s been pretty relentless about asking since I broke up with Eli, and after putting up with it for nearly eight months, I lied. A couple of months ago, I told her that I’d just started to see someone” she added.

It hadn’t been the right thing to do. Her mother wasn’t being pushy, merely curious about how she was moving on after the break up of her last relationship, but it had frustrated Isabella to the point that telling a lie had been preferable to admitting that she wasn’t even close to starting a new relationship. She had tried. After taking a couple of months to get over the breakup, she had been on a couple of dates, but they hadn’t gone anywhere, and Isabella hadn’t tried again.

Elena frowned. “You lied to your mother?” she asked “Why?” she added.

“I didn’t plan to” Isabella replied “She’s not pushy, but she is a little overeager, and she just...she kept asking. I just thought if I actually said yes, then she’d back off a little. She asked a few questions about him, but when I said it was early days and that I wasn’t prepared to talk about him in case it didn’t work out, she relented” she explained.

“But?” Elena prodded. It wasn’t the biggest leap to guess that something had changed.

Isabella quirked a rueful smile around the top of her glass. “She called earlier” she murmured “She wanted to remind me that she and my father are throwing a party in a couple of weeks. And then she asked if my boyfriend was going to be coming with me and before I could tell her that we’d broken up, she was going on about how excited she was, and I...I didn’t know what to say, so I told her he’d be there, which is...”

“Izzy” Elena interrupted.

Isabella flinched embarrassedly, the blush on her cheeks growing darker. “I know, alright?” she mumbled.

Elena fell quiet for a moment, watching as Isabella fidgeted uncomfortably in her seat, before she sighed. “Have you told them anything about him?” she asked.

“I was never specific” Isabella replied “I just...I just wanted them to stop asking for a little while, Lena. I didn’t think it’d matter. I just...I kind of forgot that I’d said it” she added, her voice slightly desperate. She hadn’t planned to say it, and after a few initial questions which she had answered vaguely, her mother had stopped asking, meaning the lie had slipped from her mind.

“What are you going to do?” Elena asked.

“If I show up alone, they’re going to spend their entire party asking why, and I am going to be the centre of attention on a day that should be about them” Isabella mused “But it’s not like I can find a boyfriend in the next two weeks. If it were that easy, then I would have done it by now” she added.

Elena quirked a faintly amused smile before she shook her head. “I can ask Dani” she mused.

Isabella shook her head. “They’ve met him” she replied.

Elena nodded her head slowly, allowing a moment of quiet to pass between the two of them, before a lightbulb flicked on in her head, causing her expression to brighten in a way that Isabella frowning at her in confusion.

“What?” Isabella pressed.

“Gerard” Elena mused “You can ask him” she added.

Isabella blinked a couple of times. “Gerard?” she prodded.

“You guys have been friends for a long time” Elena noted “So, you being a little cagey about the details would make sense. You could tell them that the two of you were feeling things out tentatively, seeing if there was more to your friendship than you thought, and that’s why you didn’t say too much. You’ve got a lot of natural chemistry, too, so it wouldn’t be too difficult to sell it to your parents. Convincing him might be a little tougher, but I am sure if you explained it, he’d help. It’s just one night, right?” she added.

Isabella nodded her head, pushing her straw around her glass contemplatively.

“The worst he can say is no” Elena quipped “What’s the harm in asking?” she added.

Isabella was quiet for a few moments, thinking the question over, before she let out a soft sigh, seizing her phone from the table between them. Glancing at Elena for support, she found Gerard’s number in her contact list and dialled it, listening to the dial tone for a few moments before he picked up. “Izzy” he greeted brightly “It’s been little while. What’s up?” he pressed.

Isabella drew in a breath before she let it out slowly, trying to soothe the knot in her stomach. “I need your help with something” she mused.

“OK?” Gerard asked more than stated.

“Can I buy you dinner?” Isabella prodded “It’s not an over the phone kind of favour” she added.

Gerard snickered slightly before he spoke again. “Alright” he mused “Tonight, your place?” he added.

“Tonight is good” Isabella agreed “See you then” she added.

“See you then” Gerard agreed before he ended the call, allowing Isabella to slump into her seat, already fretting about the prospect of the night ahead of her.