Until The Sunshine Fades

Forty Five

“Do we really have to go out tonight?”

Gerard, who was settled against the bed’s headboard, scrolling through something on his phone, quirked a small smile when he looked up, meeting Isabella’s playfully exasperated expression. He knew that she didn’t really want to make a fuss. With her having arrived back in Barcelona on her birthday instead of the night before like they had previously planned, she was more than content to spend the evening in, but Gerard had insisted that they go out, even if he had yet to tell her what he had up his sleeve. He knew that it would make her smile.

“You wouldn’t be so grumpy if you’d gotten a later flight” Gerard quipped “No one made you get the first one this morning” he added impishly.

Isabella padded across the room, collecting her dress from where it hung on the wardrobe door. “I was supposed to be here last night” she said “First thing this morning was the best I could do” she added, sparing a slightly anxious glance over her shoulder so that she could gauge Gerard’s reaction.

She had heard the disappointment in his voice. When she had called late the previous afternoon, explaining that she was going to miss her flight to meet a deadline, she had heard the upset that he had tried his hardest to mask, and she wanted to see if it had lingered. She wanted to ensure that she was more aware of the fact that, sometimes, Gerard struggled with the way things were between them. It had improved slightly. They were both slightly more comfortable with admitting when things weren’t quite right, and they were both more open to conversations that they found difficult, but it didn’t mean that they had settled entirely. Every now and then, one of them struck a nerve with the other and things grew tense again.

Gerard caught her stare before he shook his head, smiling slightly. “You got here in the end” he quipped.

Isabella smiled back at him briefly before she stepped into her dress, pulling it on before she felt Gerard’s presence behind her. Feeling her cheeks flush a soft shade of pink, she gathered her hair into one hand, allowing Gerard to slowly trail the zip up her back before he placed a soft kiss against the side of her neck. “What have you done that means we have to go out now?” she asked quietly.

Gerard’s lips curved into a smile against her neck. “It’s a surprise” he said.

“And I can’t convince you to abandon it?” Isabella asked, her voice only half playful.

Gerard kissed a spot just beneath her ear, still smiling. “Not this time” he said.

Isabella let out a huff, something which made Gerard laugh before he slipped his arms around her waist, squeezing her gently. “I’m glad you’re here” he whispered.

Isabella let the words hang between them for a beat before she turned in his arms, gently wrapping her arms around his shoulders so that she could hug him back. “I’m glad to be here” she murmured.

Gerard broke their embrace, his blue eyes studying her face for a moment, before he grinned again, something Isabella couldn’t resist mirroring.

“Just a few more steps” Gerard coaxed as he guided Isabella forwards, his hand covering her eyes.

Isabella followed his guidance before she felt him pull her to a stop. Quirking a nervous smile, she waited for him to gently pull his hand off of her eyes before she blinked, a soft gasp tumbling out of her mouth when the word ‘surprise’ filled the air. “Mama?” she squeaked.

Francesca beamed and rushed forwards, eagerly wrapping Isabella in a tight hug. “Happy birthday, sweetheart” she cooed.

Isabella didn’t react right away, too busy taking in the sight of all of her friends and family filling her favourite restaurant, before she slowly wrapped her arms around her mother. “Gerard?” she said low enough for just Francesca to hear.

“All him” Francesca confirmed with a little nod.

Isabella let out a slightly baffled laugh as she pulled away, but before she had a chance to turn and find Gerard, she found herself being pulled into her father’s arms, listening to him teasingly grumble about how long it’d been since she’d called. It was like that for a little while. Her brothers hugged her and wished her a happy birthday, Elena and Dani did too. She was greeted by Erin’s soft babbling, and found herself holding Alfie all before she had the chance to turn and find Gerard again.

Gerard didn’t try to pull her out. She looked happy. After the surprise had faded, and she had taken in what was around her, her face had lit up, and Gerard doubted he would tire of seeing that expression on her face. He had always liked her smile. Watching her hand Alfie back to Elena, he caught her eye, something which caused Isabella to playfully narrow her eyes before she stepped towards him, gently tugging on his shirt to pull him down into a soft kiss. “You did this” she murmured softly.

“I wouldn’t say I did it all” Gerard chirped impishly “I just made a few phone calls” he added.

Isabella rolled her eyes, unable to stop herself letting out another baffled laugh. “Why?” she asked.

Gerard offered her a bemused smile. “Because it’s your birthday?” he asked more than stated “People have parties on their birthdays, Izzy. It’s very common” he added.

Isabella offered him an unamused look that only served to make Gerard’s grin widen before he shrugged, his stare drifting slightly bashfully to the floor. “You only get a couple of days off” he replied “You spend most of them with me. I figured that this would be what you wanted. Your mother says she and your father doesn’t see you enough, your brothers would never admit it, but they think the same thing. I am not going to apologise for taking up your time, because I am selfish when it comes to that, but I figured this would kill two birds with one stone. You get to see them, that makes you and them happy, and I get to be with you too which makes me happy” he added, shrugging nonchalantly.

Isabella was quiet for so long that Gerard didn’t have a choice but to look up to try and get a read on what she was thinking. When he lifted his head, he found her staring at him, her eyes wide with awe. Letting out a slightly nervous laugh, he shook his head. “It’s just dinner, Izzy” he quipped “It’s not like I am proposing” he added.

Isabella let out a startled laugh. “Don’t say that with my mother in earshot” she quipped “She’ll have your suit measurements before the night is out” she added.

Gerard shook his head, chuckling softly. “I just meant that it’s not a big deal” he clarified “You’re looking at me like I just gave you the moon” he added.

Isabella pushed herself onto her toes, kissing him gently. “It’s wonderful” she whispered “You’re wonderful” she added.

Gerard scoffed, trying, and failing, to distract Isabella from the tender smile he wore. “You don’t have to sound so surprised” he teased.

Isabella just kissed him again before she pressed her forehead to his, wordlessly hoping he understood how much it meant to her.