Until The Sunshine Fades

Twenty Two

“You know that the restaurant is twenty minutes away, right?”

Isabella blinked a couple of times, her stare reflexively moving towards the doorway to make sure that Gerard hadn’t appeared in it before she let out a quiet sigh, falling back against the mattress. She knew that she should have called him to cancel. Since she had left her office for the last time earlier in the evening, she hadn’t wanted to do anything but curl up in her bed for the rest of the night, but each and every time she had found his name in her phone, she had backed out again, not quite able to find the nerve to cancel their date for the second time. She knew that he’d see through her quickly. As much as she had tried to appear as though nothing was wrong, she knew that he knew that there was something up, and she knew that his suspicions would be confirmed when he looked at her. She had been able to fake a smile when she had opened the door to him, but she knew she couldn’t do it all night.

“Izzy, our reservation is in half an hour. If you take much longer, I am going to have worn this tie for nothing” Gerard quipped, his voice bright with laughter.

Isabella smiled despite herself as she sat up, running a hand back through her hair. Checking her reflection in the mirror, she smoothed out a few more flyaway hairs before she pushed herself up to her feet. Collecting her bag, she hesitated for a moment before she slowly made her way towards the living room.

Gerard, who’d been waiting inside, grinned at her sight of her. “At last” he quipped.

“What can I say?” Isabella quipped “I like that tie” she added.

Gerard let out a laugh, his fingers fidgeting with the tie bashfully. “You look beautiful” he said after a moment.

Isabella, who’d been slipping into her shoes, glanced over at him, a slightly surprised smile on her face. “You actually said it” she quipped “I didn’t even need to prompt you” she added.

“Sometimes, I can say the right thing” Gerard said, shrugging nonchalantly.

Isabella stared at him for a long moment, her teasing smile fading away. She knew that he could say the right thing. Throughout their friendship, he had been someone she could rely on to say something that would make her feel better, and it made her feel guilty. She had hid something from him, a huge thing that had happened to her, and, in that moment, she wasn’t entirely sure why.

Gerard frowned at the change. “Was that actually the wrong thing to say?” he prodded.

Isabella shook her head. “No” she said “It’s not...It’s nothing you’ve said. I just...I don’t think I can do this” she added.

“Do what?” Gerard asked.

“Dinner” Isabella replied.

Gerard’s eyes widened but he didn’t say anything immediately. Instead, he looked down at his feet, his hand scratching at his jaw uncomfortably. “Have I pushed too far again?” he asked.

“What?” Isabella squeaked.

“We’ve seen a lot more of each other than we’re used to” Gerard clarified “I mean, we used to see each other once a week at most, and now we’re spending a lot of time together. If you need to slow down a little, that’s fine. I know I can get overexcited” he added, flashing her a sheepish smile.

Isabella shook her head. “It’s not you” she insisted.

“Izzy...”

“I lost my job” Isabella cut in.

Gerard blinked a couple of times, surprised by the interruption, before he took in what she had said, his expression flicking through a few emotions before it settled in something that was caught between sympathetic and confused. “When?” he asked.

Isabella’s stare dropped to the floor. “I...I found out a few days ago” she stumbled out.

Gerard was quiet for a few long moments before he nodded his head slowly, his eyes looking anywhere but directly at Isabella. “How are you handling it?” he asked, his voice slightly tense.

“Not fantastically” Isabella answered, a nervous laugh falling out of her mouth “I...I thought I was prepared, but it still knocked me sideways. I couldn’t get my head around it for a few days. I needed the space, Gerard, that’s why I didn’t tell you. You know how I deal with situations like that. I say the wrong things, and I didn’t want to say them to you. I didn’t want to screw anything up” she added.

Gerard shook his head, his eyes fixing onto her. “You could have asked me for space” he countered “You could have told me, and then you could have asked me to leave you to it. Instead, you let me walk in here and act like everything is still the same. You let me be oblivious, Izzy. How can you think that that is the right decision?” he pressed.

“I didn’t want to screw this up” Isabella countered “This is...It’s so new, and I didn’t want to dump this on you” she added.

“We’ve been friends for years!” Gerard yelled before he could stop himself “I don’t care that we’ve only just started to date. We've been friends for years, Izzy, and I want to be there for you when things go wrong. You know that. You’re not someone I’ve been out on a few dates with, someone I don’t know very well, you’re someone I’ve been close to for years, someone I care about. I don’t care if you say the wrong things, Izzy. I’d still have been there if you asked me to be” he insisted,

Isabella shifted her feet slightly before she lifted her head, glancing at him through her eyelashes. “What do you want me to say, Gerard?” she asked.

Gerard shrugged, wordlessly scratching the back of his head. “I don’t know” he said “I mean, part of me wants to hug you and assure you that things will be fine, but another part of me wants to walk out of here, and slam the door after me. You had to know I’d be there for you, Izzy” he added, his voice softening slightly.

“I just didn’t want to say something and hurt you” Isabella defended softly.

“Saying nothing hurt me just as much” Gerard countered.

Isabella’s expression flinched, but she didn’t say anything. She had no idea what to say to him.

“I think I will settle for the middle ground. I am going to go. I think I need some space” Gerard quipped “I’ll call you sometime, Izzy” he added before he left the room.

Isabella wanted to follow, but she stopped herself. She knew if she followed, she’d only make things worse.
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Thanks to Twisted;;Symphony for the comment :)