Until The Sunshine Fades

Forty

Placing the bottle of perfume she had just used back into her bag, Isabella took a pace back from the mirror, her fingers pushing her hair off of her face agitatedly. She knew that it was fine. She had spent nearly twenty minutes brushing it and curling it to perfection, and she knew that it looked good, but she couldn’t stop herself from getting annoyed. She was nervous, and the one piece of hair that kept moving out of place and falling across her face wasn’t helping.

Closing her eyes, she took in a couple of deep breaths before she heard movement behind her, causing her to blink them open again, her face falling into an exasperated smile when she spotted Gerard’s reflection in the mirror. “How are you so effortlessly handsome?” she asked.

Gerard stopped adjusting his jacket to flash her a playful wink. “Some of us are just lucky” he chirped.

Isabella glared at him via the mirror, something which caused Gerard to chuckle slightly before he ambled into the bathroom, his hands comfortably settling on her waist. “You look wonderful” he said softly, dipping forwards to press a kiss against the back of her neck.

Isabella couldn’t stop herself from smiling at the contact, her cheeks flushing a gentle shade of pink. “Good enough to take home to your mother?” she teased nervously.

Gerard’s lips quirked upwards as he lifted his head. He wasn’t surprised by the nervousness in her voice. “That’s a trick question” he quipped “We’re not going home. We’re going to some restaurant that my mother picked out” he added impishly.

“Gerard” Isabella complained.

“What?” Gerard chirped innocently “You’re the one who wanted to meet them” he added.

Isabella let out a soft sigh, nodding her head slightly.

Gerard let out a quiet sigh before he tilted his head, pressing a gentle kiss against the underside of her jaw. He knew that he couldn’t make her less nervous. She had been apprehensive about taking him home to meet her own parents, and he imagined that the prospect of meeting his had made the nerves worse, but he wanted to assure her that it was going to be fine, even if he did doubt that she’d believe it until she saw it. As long as his parents could see that he was happy, then everything would go smoothly. “I can cancel” he murmured softly, moving to place a kiss just below her ear.

“Just tell me it’ll be OK” Isabella said.

“Will you believe me?” Gerard asked, his voice half amused.

Isabella quirked a rueful smile. “Probably not” she answered “But still, I don’t think hearing it could hurt” she added.

Gerard pressed a kiss to the top of her head. “They’re going to love you” he said “I do” he added.

Isabella turned around, pushing up onto her toes so that she could steal a quick kiss before she stepped around him, moving to collect her shoes from where they sat at the foot of Gerard’s bed.

~#~
Slipping back into the seat that he had vacated, Gerard quirked a small smile, his ears catching sound of Isabella’ and his mother’s laughter. He hadn’t doubted that they would get along. His mother want him to be happy, and Isabella was someone who made him happy, but still he was pleased by how well the night had gone. Isabella had relaxed. A few warm smiles from his parents, and a couple of ice-breaking jokes from him had been all it had taken to put her at ease, and Gerard couldn’t quiet get his head around how much he liked seeing it. It felt like it’d been forever since they had both been in the same place, both feeling completely comfortable with one another. They still talked a lot. Almost every night, he called her or she called him, but things just felt different in a way that Gerard couldn’t specify.

Shaking his head slightly, Gerard tried to push away the negative thoughts before he quirked another soft smile, his knee bumping against Isabella’s lightly. “What did I miss?” he asked.

Isabella shook her head. “Not a lot” she mused.

“We were just talking about you” Montserrat quipped.

Gerard let out a laugh that was caught somewhere betweens surprised and nervous. “Hopefully good things” he said.

Isabella flashed him a teasing smile, shrugging her shoulders innocently.

Gerard shook his head, unable to stop himself from smiling back at her.

“So, how long are you in town for, Isabella?” Joan asked, breaking the comfortable silence that had briefly settled over the table.

The warm smiles that both Isabella and Gerard had been wearing dimmed slightly as they both turned to look away from one another. “I’ve already been in town for a couple of days” she said “And I’ve got a couple more days before I need to get back. My flight is on Sunday, I think?” she prodded.

“Saturday” Gerard corrected quietly.

Isabella let out a bashful laugh. “I’m glad you remember” she quipped “I would have shown up to the airport a day late” she added.

“You are late for everything. Why would your flight back home be different?” Gerard’s voice was too bright, too teasing for Isabella to be oblivious to the fact that it was forced.

“How do you like Madrid, Isabella?” Montserrat asked, trying to keep the conversation moving.

Isabella, who’d been watching Gerard, shook her head, turning her attention back to the older woman. “It’s different” she replied “But I kind of like it. There’s a guy I work with who moved there a few months before I did, and he’s been showing me around a little, trying to help me settle, so I am starting to feel a little better about it. It’s not home, but it’s not so bad” she added, a soft smile on her face.

Gerard’s forehead creased, but he didn’t say anything. Instead, he leant forwards and picked up his glass, sipping on his drink as he listened to the conversation flow around him. He knew about Marco. The night that he had offered to help Isabella, she had been excited and had told him about it immediately, and it hadn’t bothered him, but the idea that he was helping her to get used to Madrid kind of did. He wanted her to be happy. First and foremost, he wanted Isabella to be content where she was, doing the job he knew she liked, but it didn’t mean that there wasn’t a tiny. selfish part of him that had been hoping that she’d eventually decide that it just wasn’t where she wanted to be.

What they had was currently working. They talked a lot, and in the first few weeks that Isabella had been away, he had visited her and she had visited him, and it felt OK, but he worried that it wasn’t sustainable. It wasn’t always going to be like it was, there were going to be stretches where they didn’t talk, didn’t see one another, and he didn’t know what they’d do when it happened.