Until The Sunshine Fades

Thirty Eight

“How far away do you think you are?” Isabella asked as she paced the length of her bedroom, her phone pressed against her ear. She was excited. After a couple of weeks of video calls and texts, she was only a handful of minutes away from having Gerard in the same room as her, and she couldn’t wait. It wasn’t going to be for long. Gerard only had a couple of days away from training, and with travelling and a couple of other things he couldn’t avoid, it meant that he only had one night to spend in her apartment, but it was enough for Isabella. After not having been around him for a while, she was more than happy to take whatever time she could get.

“I don’t know” Gerard’s voice was warm and amused “I mean, I’ve only been here once before. It’s not like I memorised the route” he added.

“You could ask the driver” Isabella pointed out.

“I could do” Gerard agreed “Or you could just be patient. I’m at most ten minutes away. I think you’ll survive that long without me” he added impishly.

Isabella rolled her eyes, but couldn’t stop herself from smiling as she perched at the foot of the bed. “I can’t wait to see you” she cooed softly.

“I know the feeling” Gerard mused “I’m just sorry it’s only one night” he added.

“One night is still better than nothing” Isabella said reassuringly “Besides, I’ve got a week off in the near future and I plan on spending most of it at your place” she added.

Gerard scoffed out a laugh. “What was the plan?” he teased “Were you just going to show up with a bag and nowhere else to go?” he added.

“Would you turn me away?” Isabella chirped teasingly.

“You know the answer to that” Gerard replied.

Isabella smiled to herself before she heard a knock at the front door. Shaking her head amusedly, she pushed herself back up to her feet before she padded towards the door, pulling it open to Gerard who stood on the other side, an impish grin spread across his face. “So, maybe I might have known how close I was” he quipped.

Isabella placed her phone down onto the table beside the front door before she took a couple of steps towards him, partially closing the gap that Gerard’s own movement closed fully. His arms wrapped around her waist, hers wrapped around his shoulders, and for a moment they just stood there, happily wrapped in a tight hug. “Have I mentioned that I love your aftershave?” Isabella murmured, not even attempting to create a little space between them.

Gerard didn’t break the hug either, but he did guide her backwards a couple of paces, allowing him to knock the front door shut with his foot. “Are you sniffing me?” he teased softly.

Isabella offered him a nonchalant shrug, leaning back to smile up at him.

Gerard dipped down, kissing the side of her nose gently. “I’ve missed you” he murmured.

“I’ve missed you, too” Isabella replied “But you’re here now” she added.

Gerard kissed her nose again, smiling softly against her skin. It wasn’t going to be long enough, but it was better than nothing.

Idly tracing patterns against Gerard’s stomach, Isabella quirked a sleepy smile, a soft sigh of contentment slipping out of her mouth. It had been everything she had been hoping it would be. After Gerard had arrived, she had taken him on a short tour of the places in the city that she had discovered and liked before they’d retreated back to her apartment, and Isabella couldn’t have thought of a better way to spend the day. She had been a little worried that things would be strange. They had talked on the phone a lot, but their conversations had felt slightly stilted at times, and she had been concerned that it would carry over to when they saw one another again, but it hadn’t. Being around one another felt as easy as it ever had.

“Are you OK?”

Isabella nodded, tilting her head back to look up at Gerard. “Yeah” she confirmed.

“You’re quiet” Gerard quipped.

“I’m happy” Isabella replied.

“Oh?” Gerard chirped “What’s made you so happy?” he prodded.

Isabella rolled her eyes. “You’re just fishing for compliments” she quipped “I don’t plan on indulging you” she added.

Gerard let out a laugh before they settled into comfortable silence once more. Shifting slightly, he turned onto his side before he lifted his hand, gently brushing Isabella’s hair out of her face. Isabella watched him, a soft smile playing on her lips, before she reached across, her hand cupping his cheek. “What time do you have to leave in the morning?” she asked.

“My flight back is at noon” Gerard replied “So, not too early” he added.

The smile on Isabella’s face grew a little sad, something which caused Gerard to dip forwards, lightly brushing his lips over hers. “Tell me that you’re doing OK” he whispered.

Isabella’s forehead creased. “You know I am” she replied “I tell you all the time” she added.

“I know you do” Gerard said “I just don’t necessarily think you mean it. Your mother worries, too, as do your brothers. I know you like the job, but you don’t talk about the other stuff, and I just...I want to be sure that you’re not unhappy. Is that a bad thing?” he asked, his eyes keenly studying her face.

She was good at deflecting. More often than not, when he asked how she was doing, she redirected the conversation to her job which he already knew she adored, but he wanted to know about the other stuff. He wanted to know that she wasn’t as unhappy as she sometimes looked or sounded when they spoke.

Isabella’s first instinct was to pull away, but when Gerard’s hand gently squeezed her hip, she relaxed a little, letting a soft sigh fall out of her mouth. “It’s hard” she admitted “I mean, the job part isn’t. It’s what I have always done, just in a new place with new people, but the other stuff...I don’t think I thought it’d be this hard, but I don’t want to complain about it, especially not to you. You supported me, you never once tried to make me stay, and I feel like complaining about it to you wouldn’t be fair” she explained.

Gerard’s thumb traced soft circles into the bare skin of Isabella’s hip for a moment, allowing him to mull over what she’d said, before he shook his head. “I want the complaints” he murmured “I want to know how you’re feeling, Izzy, and I want to try and help make it better. I don’t want you to pretend that things are perfect if they aren’t. You want to cry or yell? Do it when I call you” he added.

Isabella quirked a slightly sad smile. “What makes you think I want to do either?” she asked.

“I know you” Gerard replied “As hard as you like to try and make it to see what’s going on up here, I am getting good at it” he added, gently prodding her forehead.

Isabella ducked away from his touch playfully.

Gerard followed her movements, pressing his lips to hers a couple of times. “Talk to me” he prodded.

“Right now?” Isabella quipped, a slightly flirty grin on her face.

Gerard’s laugh was loud and happy. “OK, maybe not right now” he teased as he leant into her again.