Until The Sunshine Fades

Fifty

Pulling her knees up towards her chest, Isabella watched the screen of her laptop wordlessly, waiting for the blow that seeing Gerard’s infectious grin was sure to cause. She had put it off as long as she could. A couple of quick texts, insisting that she wasn’t out of bed or showered, had bought her some time, but Gerard had been persistent, excited to see her face for the first time in a couple of days. They had both missed calls. Isabella had had a deadline that she had been trying to make, and Gerard had had his own things that he hadn't been able to get out of, and it meant that that call that morning was supposed to be their chance to catch up, something Isabella was going to bring to a shuddering halt.

He would see it. As soon as he took a good look at her face, he would see the dark circles under her still tear red eyes and he would guess that there was something wrong, and it was the moment that Isabella was dreading most, the moment he’d give her the chance to get the words that were burning her throat out. She would force them out, she had to, but she was dreading seeing the warmth in his face fading. She was dreading seeing the pain she had caused reflected in the face she loved seeing the most.

Tilting her head, she thumbed away a few a loose tear that had worked its way out of her eye before she saw the screen of her laptop change, causing her to quickly drop her hand as Gerard’s grinning face appeared. “At last” he chirped.

Isabella smiled briefly. “Sorry” she replied “You know what I am like first thing in the morning” she added.

“Grumpy” Gerard quipped with an impish grin.

The laugh that Isabella let out in response was too high and too sad, and she saw it in Gerard’s face. His forehead furrowed and a small frown began pulling at his lips. “How bad was yesterday?” he asked.

Isabella shrugged, trying to hide her face slightly. “It was just a bad day” she replied “I missed my deadline, and David was pissed, and then Lena called to tell me that she can’t get out here when we planned, which really hurt. I mean, I get it. Alfie’s not well, and he’s the top priority, but it just...it hurt” she added.

Gerard nodded his head. “I get that” he quipped.

Isabella shifted in her seat, trying to subtly wipe at her eyes, before she let out a shaky breath. “I need to tell you something” she said.

The concern on Gerard’s face deepened when he heard the shake in her voice. Isabella couldn’t have kept her voice steady even if she tried. “Is something wrong?” he asked.

Isabella wiped at her nose, determined to avoid looking directly at the camera. “I...I did something stupid” she spluttered “Marco was here last night and we...there was a moment” she added.

Gerard blinked a couple of times, backing away from his camera. “A moment?” he asked.

It everything Isabella had to nod. He knew what she meant. Even without the specific words, he knew what she was talking about, and as much as Isabella wanted to deny it, she couldn’t. She couldn’t lie and pretend nothing had happened, the guilt of it would have been too much, but it didn’t mean that saying it was easier. “We...We kissed” she whispered.

For a long moment, nothing happened. Isabella couldn’t bring herself to look at the camera, and Gerard didn’t say a word. He didn’t make a sound until, at last, he let out a low, bitter laugh. “Is that what happens when I miss one phone call?” he asked.

“Gerard...”

“Don’t do it” Gerard interrupted “Don’t say ‘it wasn’t like that’. You called him. You couldn’t get a hold of me, so you called him, and everything that happened after that wasn’t just some coincidence. You needed someone to comfort you, I wasn’t available, so you got him” he added.

Isabella snapped her mouth closed, her eyes still fixed on her feet.

“What is this?” Gerard’s voice was low, but Isabella could still hear the slight wobble in it, not matter how hard he was trying to hide it “What do you want me to say right now? I get it? You’re lonely, and Marco could be there when I couldn’t be, so I understand how this could have happened?” he added.

“No” Isabella whispered.

Gerard paused for a moment, his hand rubbing at his jaw frustratedly, before he glanced at the camera. “I can’t do this” he said “I can’t...I can’t listen to excuses or whatever else right now” he added.

“Gerard...”

“No” Gerard snapped.

Isabella flinched, her eyes dropping back to the floor.

“You had a bad day” Gerard’s voice softened a little, but it was still sharp, still hurt “You were sad, and alone, but that...You’re there because you chose to be there. You chose a job over everything you had here, everything we could have had here. You made a decision, and everything that’s come after that, everything that has been hard, it’s all come from that. You could have stayed, Izzy” he added.

“You told me to go” Isabella whispered.

Gerard quirked a bittersweet smile. “I kind of hoped you’d still choose not to” he said.

Isabella sniffled. “I’m sorry” she said.

Gerard shook his head, but he didn’t say another word. He just offered her another bittersweet smile before he ended the call.

Isabella blinked, caught off guard by the abrupt end to the conversation, before she let her head fall into her hands. She had been expecting the searing pain in her chest, and the painful burning in her eyes as more tears fought their way out, but despite preparing it, the pain hadn’t been lessened. Gerard’s entire face had changed. It had taken only a few words, but it had been enough to wipe away all trace of the warmth and affection he had started the call with, and it had been enough to convince Isabella that she had only made mistakes when it had come to him. He was her favourite person, he had been for a very long time, and she had let him get hurt, something which only made the ache in her chest worse. It was what she had been scared of from the moment that they’d almost kissed in the back garden of her parents’ house.