Until The Sunshine Fades

Forty Four

Placing her empty glass back onto the coffee table, Isabella pushed a hand back through her hair, unable to move her stare away from the phone which sat ahead of her. She had been staring at it for a while. After a brief call to David, telling him that she wasn’t feeling well, and a couple of texts to Marco, pleading with him to keep the fact that she was hungover to himself, she had laid it on the counter ahead of her, but she hadn’t been able to find the nerve to pick it up. With the conversation that she and Gerard had had the previous night still on repeat in her mind, part of her wasn’t sure that she wanted to pick it up.

It shouldn’t have surprised her like it had. Despite how supportive Gerard had been when she had told him that the job she had been offered a job in another city, it should have been obvious that he wouldn’t be happy about it, but the previous night was the first time he’d really let it show, and it had shocked her. He had sounded so hurt, so frustrated, and Isabella hated herself for not having pieced it together. She had pushed him, without thinking about what could be on his mind, she had prodded him into talking, and what he had said was something that had the potential to change everything between the two of them. It wasn’t something he could take back and they could easily ignore. It had to be talked about.

Burying her face in her hands, Isabella squeezed her eyes closed for a few moments before her phone vibrated, causing her to whip her head up before she deflated slightly, equally relieved and disappointed to see Elena’s name on the screen instead of Gerard’s. Sliding the phone towards her, she accepted the call and put it on speaker before she leant back in her seat, pulling her knees up towards her chest. “Hi” she greeted quietly.

“I wasn’t actually expecting an answer” Elena said.

“I can hang up if you’d prefer me to” Isabella teased half-heartedly.

“I just thought you’d be working” Elena said, the roll of her eyes audible in her voice “I was only planning on leaving a quick voicemail to tell you that me, Dani and Alfie are booked on the flight we talked about” she added.

Isabella smiled gently to herself. “That’s really great, Lena” she said “I can’t wait to see you all” she added.

“I can’t wait to see you, either” Elena cooed “I’ll let you get back to work” she added.

Isabella thought about stopping her, but she stopped herself. She knew what Elena would say and she knew it wouldn’t help her to feel any better. She had been oblivious. In her excitement, she had almost entirely ignored the impact everything had had on Gerard, and she didn’t need Elena to point it out. Since Gerard’s outburst the previous night, it had been all Isabella had been able to think about.

“I’ll see you soon, Lena” Isabella said gently.

Elena said a quick goodbye before she hung up the phone, something which caused Isabella to lean forwards, picking up her phone from its spot on the table. Unlocking it, she opened the texts that had been exchanged between her and Gerard before she typed out a new one, asking simply if he was free. Holding her thumb over the send button, she let it hover for a few moments before she forced it down, sending the text.

Exhaling a quiet sigh, she watched the message, seeing when Gerard read it before the phone vibrated in her hand, his name filling the screen. Slowly sliding her thumb across the screen, she accepted the call and pressed her phone against her ear.

“Aren’t you supposed to be at work?” Gerard’s voice was teasing, but uncertain too.

Isabella smiled despite the lump in her throat. “I might have been a little worse for wear when I woke up this morning” she said “I called David, and I’ve made sure that Marco isn’t going to tell on me” she added.

“How bad is the hangover?” Gerard asked.

“It’s not a lot of fun” Isabella replied, her hand gently rubbing at her collarbone “I didn’t get a lot of sleep, and my head is killing me, but it’s my fault. It was a stupid thing to do” she added.

“I didn’t want to say it” Gerard chirped impishly.

Isabella let out a soft laugh, but it faded quickly, leaving an uncomfortable silence in its wake. Drawing in a deep breath, Isabella let it out shakily before she shook her head, squeezing her eyes closed as she tried, and failed, to come up with something to say. “I’m sorry” she said quietly.

“Don’t be sorry” Gerard countered “Look, what I said last night...I am still trying to get used to this. I loved having you here, Izzy, and it just...I am not quite used to having you here for short periods of time and then watching you get back on a plane again. It hurts, but it’s just something that’s going to take a little getting used to. Last night was just me being frustrated” he added.

Isabella shook her head. “No, it wasn’t” she said.

“Izzy...”

“I appreciate you trying to be supportive” Isabella interrupted gently “But I don’t want you to try and play this down to try and make me feel better. Pretending isn’t going to get us anywhere” she added.

Gerard was quiet for a long moment before he exhaled a heavy sigh down the line. “OK” he murmured “I’ll talk if you answer me a question” he added.

“What do you want to know?” Isabella asked.

“Why did you get so drunk last night?” Gerard prodded.

“Because Marco said a couple of things that hit too close to home” Isabella answered “We were talking about you and he asked me if it worried me how much my family adores you, if it’s putting too much pressure on us. He said that long distance relationships are difficult, and it played on some worries I had” she added.

“Worries?” Gerard asked.

“You weren’t fine” Isabella replied as though it was the most obvious thing in the world “I never believed you were. You were holding out on me, and it worried me. It still does” she added.

Gerard fell quiet again for a moment. “You being happy is very important to me” he said “And I know that, at the very least, this job is making you that, and that makes me happy, but I...I kind of hate it, too. I like being around you, Izzy. I loved you being here, in my space, but after we had dinner with my parents, it was like I just waiting for the moment you left and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I had waited to have you here, and then when you were, I spent almost the entire time thinking about when you were leaving, and I hate that. I don’t want our time together to be just some countdown to being apart again” he explained carefully.

“What can we do?” Isabella asked quietly.

“I don’t know” Gerard replied “Right now, I think we just have to wait it out, see if it gets easier with time” he added.

“And if it doesn’t?” Isabella prodded.

Gerard blew out a shaky breath. “I honestly don’t know what we do then” he replied.

Isabella opened and closed her mouth a couple of times, but before she could say anything, the sound of someone else’s voice filtered down the line. “Is that Alex?” she pressed.

Gerard laughed sheepishly. “It might be” he quipped “Turns out we actually get along great” he added.

Isabella grinned, even despite the small drop in her stomach. “That’s great” she cooed.

“I have to go” Gerard said “I can call back later, though. I want to keep talking, Izzy” he added.

“Me, too” Isabella agreed “Speak to you later, Gerard” she added.

“You know that we’re going to try our hardest, right?” Gerard asked.

Isabella smiled sadly to herself as she nodded. She knew that they would try, she just didn’t quite know that that was going to be enough.