Until The Sunshine Fades

Twenty Five

“Are you sure that you don’t want to push me into the hedge?”

Isabella, who had turned to push the passenger door closed, rolled her eyes at Gerard who was quick to grin back at her, his expression bright and impish. She knew what he was doing. Despite the fact that she had been the one to offer the invitation to her parents’ house to him, she knew that he knew that she was apprehensive, and she could tell that he was trying to distract her. He hadn’t stopped trying to distract her since he’d knocked on her front door.

“Why would I want to do that?” Isabella asked playfully as she walked towards him.

“It’d be quite the ice breaker” Gerard replied, offering his hand out for her to take a hold of “I mean, instead of awkward reintroductions, they’d be asking why you pushed your boyfriend over. It might lighten the mood slightly” he added.

Isabella snorted out a laugh. “I think there are probably better ways of lightening the mood” she quipped.

Gerard held up his spare hand. “I was just trying to help” he said.

“I know you are” Isabella said, smiling up at him softly “And I am grateful for it” she added.

Gerard smiled back at her gently, but before he could lean into her, the front door opened, causing him to lift his head, smiling sheepishly at Alejandro who stood on the threshold. Alejandro’s stare moved over the defender briefly before he looked at Isabella, the start of a smile pulling at the corner of his mouth. “You’re late” he quipped.

“Mama said seven” Isabella replied, looking down at her watch reflexively.

“You know that she didn’t mean seven” Alejandro teased “Your brothers are already inside. Unai bought Erin” he added.

Isabella’s face lit up. “He did?” she asked.

Alejandro nodded before he stepped out of the doorway slightly, allowing Isabella to move through it, stopping only to place a greeting kiss on her father’s cheek. Gerard followed after her before he stuck a hand out, something Alejandro didn’t hesitate to take, shaking it warmly. “It’s good to see you again” the older man mused.

“You, too” Gerard mused “I’d thank you for the invitation, but I am pretty sure that Izzy sprung it on you” he added warmly.

Alejandro shrugged. “It was half her, half Francesca” he quipped “But either way, I am pleased to see you again. I had a feeling I might” he added.

The tops of Gerard’s cheeks flushed a soft shade of pink as he quirked a sheepish smile.

Alejandro let out a soft chuckle before he fully stepped back into the house, allowing Gerard to follow him inside. Shuffling out of the defender’s way, he tilted his head towards the living room. “Isabella will have gone that way” he quipped “Unai bought Erin with him, and Isabella can’t refuse a chance to fuss” he added.

Gerard’s lips quirked upwards slightly. “She loves being an aunt” he quipped “I am pretty sure that ninety five percent of the pictures on her phone are of her and Erin. I can still remember her babbling down the phone at me when after she’d held Erin for the first time” he added.

Alejandro grinned, marvelling at the soft expression on the defender’s face, before he nudged his shoulder. “She’ll forget you’re here if you don’t get in there soon” he quipped before he made his way up the hall.

Gerard hesitated for a moment, trying to get a grip on the nerves in his stomach, before he padded through the doorway.

Francesca, who’d been cooing over her granddaughter, smiled when she caught sight of him. “I wondered what Isabella had done with you” she quipped “How could you leave your boyfriend alone with your papa, Izzy?” she quipped.

Isabella scoffed playfully before she turned, offering Gerard a slightly apologetic glance. “He’s still in one piece” she quipped.

“Just about” Gerard played along.

Isabella huffed playfully as Francesca stood up, settling Erin into her arms. “I’ll go and grab you a drink, Gerard” she mused “Any preference?” she asked.

“Water is fine” Gerard replied “Thank you” he added.

Francesca merely flashed him a small grin as she walked past him.

Gerard watched after her before he turned to Isabella, smiling when he found her talking animatedly to the toddler who was sat in her arms, babbling happily. Shaking his head to himself, he slowly lowered him down to the floor, something which caused Isabella to smile when she caught his eye. “See” she quipped “Not awkward. I didn’t need to push you into a hedge” she added.

Gerard laughed before he spotted Erin peeking up at him, her face partially hidden against Isabella’s chest. “Hello” he greeted softly.

Erin blinked up at him before she turned, shying away into Isabella.

Isabella gently ran her fingers through the little girl’s hair, a doting smile on her face. “She’s very shy” she mused.

“It’s alright” Gerard mused “Hopefully, she’ll have a while to get used to me” he added, his stare moving from Erin to Isabella.

Isabella held his stare for a moment before she ducked her head, nodding it slightly. “Hopefully” she agreed.

Gerard’s lips quirked up a little. “Don’t sound too enthusiastic” he teased “I mean, you wouldn’t want people to think you like me. It’d be a disaster” he added.

Isabella scoffed, looking back up at him with a playful glare on her features. “You’re here, aren’t you?” she asked “I mean, that’s a pretty big statement” she added.

“Yeah?” Gerard played along “How many boyfriends have you bought home?” he asked.

“Why does that matter?” Isabella prodded.

“I’m trying to determine how big a deal this is” Gerard quipped with a smirk.

Isabella rolled her eyes, but allowed the teasing smile on her face to grow slightly shier. “You’re the third one” she mused “A guy I dated for a couple of years when I was eighteen, Eli, and then you” she added.

Gerard’s head tilted. “Really?” he asked.

Isabella nodded without hesitation, busying herself by twirling a piece of Erin’s blonde hair around her finger. “I have been out on dates with more guys, but I only bring home the ones that I...I am serious about” she explained “I mean, you’ve met my mother. If I bring a guy home, she’s going to start mentally planning our wedding and deciding what our kids are going to call her. I like to be sure that we’re getting somewhere before I put that on them” she added with a slightly rueful smile.

Gerard opened and closed his mouth a couple of times, the urge to ask her if she thought they were getting somewhere almost overwhelming him, but he caught it in time. Instead, he quirked a crooked grin. “Has she already decided what our kids are going to call her?” he joked.

Isabella’s smile was slightly relieved. She was pleased that he had chosen to make a joke instead of asking her why she had bought him home with her. “I don’t know” she quipped “But it’ll probably be something Italian. She thinks we forget that she moved to Barcelona for university, and that she lived most of her life in Florence” she added with a dramatic roll of her eyes.

Gerard just smiled at her for a moment, causing Isabella’s cheeks to flush a soft shade of pink. “What?” she asked.

“I just like you” Gerard replied with a nonchalant shrug “Is that an issue?” he asked.

Isabella wordlessly shook her head, allowing Gerard to lean towards her.

“Not in front of the baby”

Isabella let out a quiet huff before she leant back slightly, glaring up at Unai who’d stepped back into the room, a slight smirk on his face.

“You can mess around with your boyfriend some other time” Unai chirped “Preferably, some time when I don’t have to see it” he added as he stepped towards his sister, plucking Erin out of her arms.

“No one is asking you to watch” Isabella countered childishly.

“You’re in our parents’ living room” Unai retorted.

“He’s got a point” Gerard quipped through a snicker.

Isabella glared at Gerard, causing the defender to lift his hands with an innocent smile. “I was just saying” he quipped.

Isabella let out a sigh, but Gerard could see the start of a smile on her face, causing his own smile to widen a little. He doubted that he would ever tire of seeing her smile.

“Mama’s serving food up” Unai quipped “If you two can put each other down for long enough to eat” he added impishly.

Isabella rolled her eyes, but climbed to her feet, offering a hand back to Gerard. “Are you hungry?” she asked “Because you’re going to need to be. If not, we’re going to be taking pots of leftovers home with us” she added.

Gerard grinned at her. “Is that a bad thing?” he asked.

Isabella smiled back at him. “You keep talking like that, they’re not going to let you go any time soon” she quipped.

“Good” Gerard mused “Because I want to stay around for a while” he added, his teasing smile softening at the edges slightly. She hadn’t said it directly, but Isabella had hinted that she could see something serious growing between them, and he wanted her to know that he could see it too.