Until The Sunshine Fades

Thirty Seven

“Is there any chance you feel like calling your brothers and telling them I have to miss tonight?” Gerard asked as he padded around his bedroom, his stare briefly dropping towards his phone which was sat in the middle of the bed, Isabella’s name filling the screen. He called her often. Since she had left, he had called her most days, and if they couldn’t talk on the phone, he made sure to text her, and he knew how much it meant to her, even if she did often quip that one missed call wasn’t going to hurt them. He could hear the almost relief in her voice whenever she answered the phone to him.

Isabella’s laugh filled the room. “Why would I call them to tell them that you have to cancel?” she asked.

“Two reasons” Gerard replied, sitting down on the edge of his bed “One, I don’t actually have a number for either of them. Your mother put me up to this whole thing, and I just have to trust that she’s given us all the same information. Two, it’s going to be awkward, and I don’t really want to go” he added.

“It won’t be as bad as you think” Isabella said.

Gerard leant back against the mattress, lifting the phone up from the duvet to settle it against his ear. “Is there anything I should know about them before I go?” he prodded “Anything I should avoid talking about?” he added.

“Unai doesn’t like to talk about Erin’s mother” Isabella replied “Their relationship was really messy at the end, and it’s not something he wants to relive. He’ll talk about Erin all day, though. Alex is pretty relaxed about most things, but you might want to be careful talking about your job. I don’t think you’re going to love who he supports” she added amusedly.

Gerard’s lips quirked into a crooked smile. “I’ll try not to get into it with him” he quipped “Though, I make no promises” he added.

“They’re going to really like you” Isabella insisted warmly “Most people do. You can be remarkably charming when you want to be” she added.

Gerard scoffed out a laugh. “That almost sounded like a compliment, Izzy” he quipped.

Isabella let out a quiet laugh which lingered in the air for a moment before Gerard sighed, his hand gently rubbing his jaw. “How are you today?” he asked.

Isabella seemed to hesitate before she answered. “Alright” she answered “I mean, I’ve spent most of the day working on a piece that’s due for publication at the end of the week, so I’ve been pretty much in the zone with that. I’m heading out in a little while, though. The whole team is grabbing dinner, partners included, and Mila wouldn’t let me skip” she added.

“Mila?” Gerard asked.

“She works with me” Isabella said “She and her husband live close by, so she’s taken the lead on showing me around” she added.

Gerard smiled to himself, a little relieved that she wasn’t just staying in her apartment. “You’ll have to introduce me when I come to visit” he quipped.

“How long is it before that happens?” Isabella asked, her voice softening.

Gerard felt his smile slip. It wasn’t the first time he had heard it in her voice, the little wobble that told him that things weren’t quite right, but it didn’t show any signs of stopping hurting. “It’s still a couple of weeks” he replied “The international break is coming up, and that’ll give me a few days off. I was planning on coming to see you then” he said.

“Good” Isabella breathed “I’m looking forwards to it” she added.

Gerard wanted to press her, but he wasn’t afforded the chance to. His phone vibrated in his hand, causing him to pull it away, glancing at the text that filled the screen from Francesca, informing him that Alex and Unai were already on their way to the restaurant. Biting back a sigh, he pressed the phone back to his ear. “I’ve got to go” he said.

“Me, too” Isabella replied “If I don’t go now, I will be late” she added.

“You’re always late” Gerard countered teasingly.

Isabella let out a soft laugh. “Don’t let my brothers scare you” she quipped.

“If I stop calling, you’ll know why” Gerard played along.

“Don’t stop calling” Isabella said quickly.

“I was only kidding, Izzy” Gerard said softly.

Isabella let out a quiet sigh. “I love you” she said.

“I love you, too” Gerard replied.

Isabella mumbled a quiet goodbye before she ended the call, leaving Gerard staring at the screen of his phone, a lump in his throat. Isabella wouldn’t say it. She had chosen to take a job, knowing that it meant that she’d leave Barcelona, and Gerard knew that she wouldn’t allow herself to complain about a decision that she had made, but he could hear how overwhelmed she was and it hurt. He hated the idea that she was hurting and that there was very little he could do to help.

“So, how often do you talk to Izzy?”

Gerard looked up from the menu he was studying, his stare settling on Unai. He was surprised by how long it had taken. They had gotten through a round of drinks, and some small talk before the topic of Isabella had come up. “We’ve spoken most days” he answered “We missed a couple because of some schedule clashes, but I tend to call every day, and if not, we text” he added.

“How does she seem to you?” Alex asked.

“Why?” Gerard asked.

“Our mother is worried” Alex answered “You’ve known Izzy for a long time, so you know what she can be like. She doesn’t like to admit when things are hard, and our mother is pretty sure that she’s holding back when they talk. I’ve only spoken to her once, but she seemed fine to me” he added with a little shrug.

“She seemed alright to me, too” Unai quipped “But I had Erin, so we weren’t really talking” he added.

Gerard reached for his glass, taking a sip of his drink before he replied. “I think she is OK” he said “She likes her job. She talks about it all of the time. I just think that the other stuff is a little...a little much, but I think that’s to be expected. She hasn’t been gone for long, and it was always going to take some time to adjust” he added.

Alex nodded his head. “Do you miss her?” he asked.

Gerard spluttered out a laugh. The question was absurd to him. Of course he missed her. “A lot” he confirmed.

“It’s got to be hard” Unai quipped “I mean, you’d barely been back together for five minutes, and now she’s part way across the country” he added.

“It’s not my favourite thing” Gerard admitted with a wry smile “But as I said, it’s just going to take some getting used to” he added.

“Are you planning on getting used to it?” Alex asked.

Gerard’s head tilted, something which made Unai sigh. “He’s trying to say that our sister is crazy about you” he clarified “And if you’re already bored of phone calls and whatever, then don’t drag it out. If you not up for long distance, long term...”

“I will do whatever I have to” Gerard interjected “I’ve waited a long time for Isabella, and I’ll take us, whatever it looks like. You don’t need to worry about me” he insisted.

Alex and Unai shared a look before the older brother grinned. “No wonder our mother is so smitten with you” he teased.

Gerard laughed, his cheeks flushing pink. “You think so?” he quipped.

“It’s why we’re here” Unai quipped “She’s trying to get you as tangled up in our family as she can so that Izzy’s got no choice but to marry you. You’re her dream son-in-law” he added impishly.

Gerard ducked his head, trying to hide his cheeks as they grew pinker. “She’s met me a handful of times” he quipped “I don’t think she’s thinking that far ahead” he added.

Alex and Unai both scoffed playfully, something which made Gerard laugh. Shaking his head, he picked up his drink, more than happy to listen as Alex and Unai told playful stories from their childhood, teasingly talking about Isabella who Gerard knew would have loved to have been sat with the three of them, playfully groaning at her brothers.