Until The Sunshine Fades

Fourteen

Pushing a hand back through her hair, Isabella spared a brief glance towards the mirror, checking over her reflection as her laptop chimed in front of her. She had put it off for a little while. After the talk that she and Elena had had in the hospital, she had waited a couple of days to get in contact with Gerard, and with the two of them having found a window that suited them both, she was sat in front of her laptop, waiting for Gerard’s face to fill the screen.

He knew that she had been avoiding him. When she had texted him, the message she had got in reply had made a joke, teasingly asking if she had finally remembered who he was, and whilst it had made her smile, it’d also been an acknowledgement of the fact that Isabella was already allowing things between them to change. It was the thing that scared her the most. She liked how they were with one another, and she worried if they tried to move their relationship forwards, then they’d lose what she liked, but Gerard’s text, as teasing as it had been, had pointed out that already, she was letting things between them change.

Lifting her hand, she attempted to smooth out a few flyaway hairs before she looked back at the screen, startling when she found Gerard already grinning at her. “You scared me” she spluttered.

“It’s not my fault that you weren’t watching the screen” Gerard countered “I mean, who makes a video call and then is surprised when the person they’ve called answers?” he added, his voice impish and amused.

Isabella glared at him, something which caused Gerard to lift his hands, offering her an innocent smile. “Sorry” he quipped “You looked like you were a million miles away. Is everything OK?” he added.

“I’m fine” Isabella replied.

Gerard’s lips quirked, but he ducked his head, trying to hide the smirk from Isabella. “So, you haven’t been avoiding my calls then?” he quipped “I just keep catching you at a bad time” he added.

Isabella let her head fall forwards, her cheeks growing pink as she quirked a rueful smile. “If I say yes, would you believe me?” she asked.

“Not for a second” Gerard replied “But, if you want to lie, I can play along. I know all about how busy you get at work, and how you spend time with other people” he said impishly. He wanted to offer her the chance to get out of the conversation started.

Isabella laughed quietly. “I do actually have other friends” she mused.

“I know you do” Gerard said “But I also know that you’ve been avoiding me, and not because you were busy. So, do you want to talk about it?” he prodded, his expression growing slightly more serious.

He knew that she was anxious. He had seen it on her face when she had asked for some time to think, and whilst he knew that it was why she had been avoiding his phone calls, he wanted her to know that he wasn’t going to make her talk about it. He wanted to. He wanted to reassure her that things could still be the same, or to tell her that he understood why she was nervous, that he was too, but he knew that if he pushed, then Isabella would pull away and things would get worse.

Isabella shifted slightly in her seat, allowing the question to hang in the air for a moment, before she slowly nodded her head. “I’m sorry” she said.

“I know why you did it” Gerard said “And I understand it, I just...It’s a big deal for me, too, Izzy” he added.

“I know” Isabella breathed “But when we were last in the same place, you immediately started thinking about a first date, and I put on the brakes, and I guess I worried that if we spoke, I’d put the brakes on again. I don’t want it to seem like I don’t know what I want” she explained.

Gerard’s lips quirked upwards slightly, but whatever joke was prepared to make died on his tongue when Isabella offered him a warning look. Huffing out a playful sigh, he rubbed his jaw before he shook his head. “Do you know what you want?” he asked.

Isabella’s answering nod was small. “I...I talked to Lena” she stumbled out “Or rather, she badgered me into talking to her” she added.

“That works?” Gerard quipped teasingly.

Isabella offered him another warning look, causing him to smile at her playfully. “Do you want me to hang up on you?” she asked.

“I’ve got Elena’s number, I’ll just get your spare key when I get home” Gerard retorted.

Isabella let out a soft laugh before she could stop herself. “Can I finish what I am trying to say to you?” she asked.

Gerard nodded. “Of course” he mused.

“Lena made a lot of sense” Isabella noted “She pointed out how easily my family believed us when I told them we were together. I mean, when I told my papa about the ‘breakup’, he actually tried to talk me into giving it another shot, which he definitely didn’t do when I actually did break up with Eli. She also pointed out that we spend a lot of time alone together, that we’ve got inside jokes, too” she added.

“What are you trying to say, Izzy?” Gerard prodded “I mean, I love hearing about how much your family like me, but I don’t think that that is what you’re trying to say, so what is?” he asked.

Isabella rubbed at her collarbone, feeling a lump in her throat, before she looked up at the screen, her eyes searching Gerard’s face. Taking in a deep breath, she quirked a shy smile before she gently brushed her hair away from her eyes. “You are due back in a couple of days, aren’t you?” she asked.

“I am” Gerard confirmed.

“What would you say if I wanted to go on that date you asked me on before you left?” Isabella asked.

Gerard’s eyes widened slightly, more than slightly surprised by the question, before a slow, tender smile grew across his features. “Are you asking me on a date, Izzy?” he prodded.

“Technically, you asked me” Isabella countered “I’m just saying what I should have said when you asked. Yes, I would like to go out with you” she added, her usual teasing smile uncertain and shy.

Gerard marvelled at her smile for a moment before he tipped his head forwards, nodding it slightly. “I’d like that, too” he confirmed.