Until The Sunshine Fades

Twenty

Letting out a quiet groan, Isabella tossed onto her side, her eyes glaring at the phone which sat on the nightstand, buzzing loudly in the otherwise quiet bedroom. It was a welcome day off. Since she had received the news that her job was at risk, Isabella had woken up each morning with a lump in her throat, dreading heading to work, but she had been hopeful that that day would be an opportunity to relax, something she doubted she had done since she had asked for Gerard’s help at her parents’ anniversary party.

Things had come at her quickly. The lie that she had told her parents had caused her and Gerard to confront something that hadn’t been on her radar until their moment in her parents’ garden, and the changing nature of their relationship, twinned with other uncertainties threatened to overwhelm her, something which meant that she was looking forwards to her day off. She was looking forwards to having the opportunity to decompress.

Blinking wearily, she stared at the phone for a few long moments before it vibrated again, causing Isabella to huff. Shoving herself up, she leant back against her headboard before she reached out, snatching the phone into her grasp. Stifling a yawn into her hand, she blinked at the screen a couple of times before she focussed on the words, her forehead creasing. It was only a short message, but in her half asleep state, she couldn’t quite wrap her head around what it was telling her.

Staring at the phone, she rubbed her eyes sleepily before it vibrated in her hand, the screen filling with Gerard’s picture. Sliding back down towards her pillow, she pressed the phone against her ear, another soft yawn falling out of her mouth. “You better be bothering me for a good reason” she mumbled “It’s my day off” she added.

Gerard let out a soft laugh. “I know it is” he mused “And I am sorry for waking you” he added.

“You were beaten to it” Isabella said “I got a couple of texts from Lucas, but I am not awake enough to process them yet” she added through another yawn.

Gerard hummed, a sound which had Isabella picturing a small amused smile on his face. “Did you call for an actual reason?” she asked.

“I did” Gerard confirmed “I wondered if you had plans for tonight. I was thinking we could get together if you don’t” he added.

Isabella bit the corner of her lip, trying, and failing, to stifle the wide smile that itched to spread across her face. It was still new. It had only been a couple of weeks since they’d been stood awkwardly in her kitchen, admitting that there was something more than friendship between them, but whilst it was still early days, Isabella could feel herself relaxing. She was still worried. Their friendship meant a lot to her, and it was still at risk of being ruined if something went wrong between them, but slowly her anxiety was easing.

“Are you asking me on a date, Gerard?” Isabella quipped playfully.

Gerard exhaled a soft laugh. “We can call it that if you want to” he quipped “I was thinking dinner, somewhere fancy” he added.

Isabella felt her phone vibrate in her hand again, but didn’t pull it away from her ear. “How fancy?” she asked.

“I’m going to be wearing a tie” Gerard replied.

Isabella laughed. “Just a tie?” she asked.

“That depends on how the night goes” Gerard countered flirtatiously.

Isabella scoffed despite the flush of pink that was splattered across her cheeks. They hadn’t crossed that line yet, and Isabella remained anxious about crossing it. It wasn’t something they could take back, and she didn’t want to do it until she was absolutely sure that the moment was right. “It’s not going to go that well” she countered.

“I know” Gerard said softly “I was just kidding, Izzy” he added.

Isabella let out a soft sigh. “Sorry” she murmured “I walked into it that time” she added.

Gerard made a noise, acknowledging her apology, before he spoke again. “Are we on for tonight, then?” he asked.

Isabella hesitated for a second before she nodded her head, smiling gently to herself. “I think I can probably fit you into my hectic schedule of napping and catching up on the series I’ve been watching” she mused “Are you going to pick me up or should I just meet you there?” she asked.

“That depends” Gerard mused “Are you actually going to be ready on time?” he asked.

“You’ve known me for a while now” Isabella said “What do you think?” she asked impishly.

Gerard laughed. “I’ll pick you up anyway” he said “Can you be ready for sometime around seven thirty?” he asked.

“I can promise to try to be” Isabella bargained “Is that good enough for you?” she added.

“I guess so” Gerard said in a tone that Isabella knew meant he was rolling his eyes “Enjoy your day off, Izzy, and I will see you tonight” he added.

“I’ll see you then” Isabella said “Bye, Gerard” she added.

Gerard signed off with a soft goodbye before the call ended, allowing Isabella to tug it away from her ear. Turning onto her back, she stretched out slightly before she felt her phone vibrate in her hand again, causing her to let out a quiet sigh before she lifted it up into her eye-line again. Furrowing her forehead, she took in the number of texts that she had missed from Lucas before she focussed on the most recent one, something which caused her stomach to drop. Reading and re-reading the words, she sat up against the headboard before she dialled Lucas’s number, anxiously listening to the dial tone until he answered. “What do your texts mean?” she rushed out before he had a chance to say a word.

Lucas sighed heavily. “I’m so sorry, Izzy” he said “I tried to call, but your line was engaged” he added.

“Lucas” Isabella pressed “What’s going on?” she added, her voice urgent.

Lucas was quiet for a moment before he let out another shaky sigh. “They’re shutting down” he answered “They’re not making cuts, they’re shutting everything down. The last issue will be the one at the end of the week” he added.

Isabella wasn’t listening. Her grip on her phone had faltered, letting it slip onto the mattress with a dull thud whilst her eyes tearfully stared at the wall opposite her. Letting Lucas’s words repeat themselves in her head, she blinked a couple of times before she said a quiet thank you to him and ended the call, letting the silence creep back into the room as the tears slipped down her cheeks.