Until The Sunshine Fades

Forty Nine

Isabella stared down at the phone for long enough that it stopped vibrating in her hand before she leant forwards, practically throwing it down onto the coffee table ahead of her. The fog was lifting. The picture of Gerard’s grinning face that had filled the screen of her phone had been like a blast of cold water, and it had cleared her head, dispelling the frustrated and confused thoughts that had been churning for most of the day and leaving behind the harsh reality that she found herself in. She and Marco had kissed. It had been fleeting, a barely there touch that had been over as quickly as it had begun, but it had happened and it was going to change things. It had the potential to ruin everything.

Pulling herself to the edge of the sofa, she buried her face in her hands and let out a quiet groan.

“Izzy?” Marco’s voice was soft and apologetic.

Isabella reluctantly lifted her head out of her hands before she turned, looking at Marco over her shoulder. “I’m so sorry” she whispered “I...I never intended for...for that to happen. I don’t know what I was even thinking. I’m just so sorry, Marco” she spluttered.

Marco shook his head, attempting a sheepish smile that was easily more of a grimace. When Isabella saw it, she crumpled, turning away from him quickly so that he didn’t see the tears that had been quick to flood her eyes. “I’m sorry, too” he said quietly “I know that you and Gerard are struggling a little and I...I shouldn’t have tried to take advantage of that. I am sorry that I have probably just made things a hundred times harder than they already were” he added.

Isabella bit back a sob as she shook her head, blinking loose a few tears that dropped onto her lap, seeping into the material of her jeans. “It’s my fault” she whispered “I should have just gone to bed” she added, forcing out a rueful laugh.

Marco reached out to rub her shoulder comfortingly, but he stopped himself, his hand hovering in the air inches away from her. With a rueful sigh, he let the hand drop away just as the phone on the coffee table buzzed again, Gerard’s beaming face filling the screen. He and Isabella both stared at it, waiting for the vibrations to stop, before he stood up with a soft sigh. “I ought to go” he said.

Isabella didn’t try and look up him. “I’m sorry, Marco” she repeated quietly as she lifted her hand, hurriedly brushing tears from her cheeks.

“We both made a mistake” Marco said.

Isabella wiped at her eyes again before she hesitantly looked over at him. “Will we be OK?” she asked.

Marco answered with a small smile and a slight duck of his head. “I think so” he said “I hope so. We just got a bit carried away. It doesn’t have to ruin a good thing” he added.

Isabella let out a soft hiccup. She had heard those words before. It was what Gerard had said to her when they’d almost kissed at her parents’ anniversary party, and hearing Marco say them merely served to intensify the almost suffocating lump in her throat. She was going to have to tell Gerard what had happened. It might have been the softest of kisses, and it might have been over in the blink of an eye, but she knew that she had to admit it. She could already feel the guilt threatening to overwhelm her.

Marco took half a step back towards her, but he quickly rocked back when Isabella curled in on herself, wordlessly telling him to back off. Letting out a soft sigh, he padded towards the door, hesitating only once more before he ducked out of it, pulling it closed after him with a soft thump that reverberated in the silent apartment.

Pressing her forehead against her knees, Isabella cried quietly for a long time. When the hiccups and quiet sobs lessened, she uncurled herself and reached for the phone on the table, pressing play on the first of two voicemail messages that Gerard had left for her.

“Hey” Gerard’s voice was warm, something which made Isabella squeeze her eyes closed “I got your message. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to pick up, I was on a call. I figure that you’re probably asleep or something, but I wanted you to know that I got your message tonight. I’m sorry that your day was hard and I am sorry that I wasn’t on the end of the phone to try and make it a little better, but I’ll see you first thing in the morning to give it a shot. I miss you too, Izzy, and I love you. Speak to you soon” he added.

Isabella sniffled, the tears coming quickly again. With a shaky hand, she settled the phone back onto the coffee table again before she curled up onto her side, staring at it sorrowfully.

She knew that he would answer if she called him back. He had only called a short while previous, and would have given her a little time to respond before he decided that she wasn’t going to, but she couldn’t work up the nerve to call him. He would answer happily. He would probably make a quip about something and try and make her laugh, and the thought made her chest hurt. She knew that by the end of the call, all of the warmth he had for her, the warmth she loved, would have disappeared from his voice, probably not to be heard by her again. She had done what she feared she would. She had taken their friendship and she had ruined it, and she wasn’t quite ready to say the words aloud, or to hear him say it. She doubted she ever would be, but she was absolutely sure that it wouldn’t be that night.

Reaching out, she picked the phone up again and settled it on the sofa next to her before she replayed the message, letting it play through over and over again as she squeezed her eyes closed, crying quietly to herself.