Until The Sunshine Fades

Eighteen

Watching Isabella rub at her temple, Gerard frowned slightly, seeing another grimace flash across her features. She had been trying to hide it. Since they’d left her office, he’d watched her reach for her temple more than once, and he’d seen her grimace more than a few times, but every time she caught him looking at her with concern on his face, she flashed him a small smile, hoping that that would be enough to dissuade him from asking. She had asked him not to. Before they’d left for lunch, she had insisted that she didn’t want to talk about what was bothering her, and as much as Gerard wanted to go along with her, he could feel his resolve fading, worried that it was the way things were changing between them that was bothering her.

Isabella’s worries weren’t just going to disappear. They had known each other for a long time, and had built a friendship that they both held close, and Gerard knew that she was anxious about spoiling it, even if he had little doubt that their friendship would only make starting a relationship easier. He knew that Isabella didn’t like taking risks.

Catching Gerard’s eyes, Isabella pasted on a small smile before she redirected her hand, reaching for her glass of water.

Gerard’s lips quirked upwards. “Your parents must have been relieved that you never wanted to be an actress” he quipped “You’d have been terrible at it” he added.

Isabella’s forehead creased, something which caused Gerard to lean across the table, his thumb gently brushing against her temple. Isabella’s expression softened under his touch before she let out a gentle sigh, ducking her head away from his hand. “I’m sorry” she mumbled “I know I asked not to talk about it” she added.

“Can I have a hint what ‘it’ is?” Gerard prodded “Because I have spent the last half an hour thinking that I’ve overstepped by coming to your office” he added, letting out a slightly bashful laugh.

“You’ve been to my office before” Isabella countered.

“I know” Gerard replied “But it wasn’t the morning after our first kiss, before” he added, trying to keep his voice light and playful.

Isabella rubbed at her collarbone, something which caused Gerard’s lips to quirk slightly. It was her nervous tell. “I was slightly worried about things being weird” she admitted “You’re right. We crossed a line last night, and I worried that we’d feel awkward about it when we got together again, but I...I don’t. I might not have shown it when you appeared in my office, but I was glad to see you. I like seeing you” she babbled, her cheeks flushing a soft shade of pink.

It had surprised her, and for a brief moment, she hadn’t quite known what to make of the fact that he had shown up at her office spontaneously, but after the surprise had faded, she had realized that she was pleased to see him. It already felt as though it’d been a long day. She had spent most of the morning worrying about the news that the company was looking to downsize, and that they were evaluating what cuts they could make to personnel, but when she had seen him, the knot of tension in her stomach had loosened slightly. As much as she still had her worries about them, it hadn’t changed the fact that when things were tough, she felt better for having him around.

Gerard lifted an eyebrow, an amused grin tugging up the corner of his mouth. “You do?” he prodded.

“You know I do” Isabella replied “And if I gave you another impression, I’m sorry. I just have some stuff on my mind” she added.

“Us stuff?” Gerard asked.

Isabella couldn’t stop a small fond smile from growing across her features at his use of the word ‘us’ before she shook her head, the tips of her fingers tracing her collarbone again. “Stuff with work” she admitted “Reader numbers are down, we’re making pretty big losses, and as a result, they’re looking at downsizing, which means a lot of jobs are at risk, mine included” she added.

Gerard blinked a couple of times, something which caused Isabella to let out a slightly shaky laugh. “See why I didn’t want to talk about it?” she quipped.

Gerard reached across the table, his hand gently wrapping around Isabella’s. “I’m glad you told me” he mused.

“You didn’t leave me much of a choice” Isabella said, attempting a playful roll of her eyes that came across half-hearted.

Gerard offered her a slightly sarcastic smile, but still tightened his grasp on her hand, squeezing it comfortingly. “You told me once that Elena gets you to talk to her by pestering you, I figured I’d give it a shot” he quipped “Besides, this seems like something you ought to talk about with your kind of boyfriend” he added.

Isabella, who’d been playing with his fingers, stilled slightly before she lifted her head, her eyes meeting his. “Did you just decide that you’re my boyfriend?” she quipped, her voice caught somewhere between teasing and nervous.

Gerard shrugged his shoulders, trying to appear nonchalant. “I said kind of” he said.

Isabella laughed before she could stop herself, something which made Gerard laugh too. “Were you just hoping I’d go along with it?” she quipped.

“It was pretty smooth” Gerard played along.

“It was awful” Isabella countered, giggling.

“But in that way you find charming” Gerard said “And we’ve kissed now, so I know that you find me at least a little bit charming. There’s no denying it any more” he added playfully.

Isabella shook her head, still smiling softly as she lowered her stare, marvelling at their intertwined hands. Letting a couple moments of quiet pass, she squeezed his hand gently before she slowly looked up at him again, finding him watching her, a soft expression on his face. “I’m scared” she admitted “Everything is going so well at the moment. I feel settled, and now that things are...are happening between us, it’s exciting as well as incredibly nerve-wracking, and this thing with my job...it scares me. I like what I have going on right now, and I worry that it’s going to fall apart” she explained quietly.

Gerard’s thumb gently skimmed over the back of her hand as his eyes searched her face. “It won’t fall apart” he said.

Isabella shot him a weary smile. “You can’t make that promise” she mused “Though, I appreciate you saying it” she added.

Gerard squeezed her hand gently. “I’ll be around for the fall out, then” he quipped “If you’ll let me be” he added.

“Well, you are kind of my boyfriend” Isabella retorted “It’s kind of what I am hoping for” she added impishly.
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Thanks to Twisted;;Symphony for the comment :)