Until The Sunshine Fades

Fifty Three

“Are you hungry?”

Isabella, who’d been quietly staring out of her parents’ kitchen window, startled when Francesca spoke, quickly whirling around to find the older woman stood in the doorway, her face full of the sympathy that had appeared as soon as she had opened the front door the night before. Isabella hadn’t had to say anything. When she had knocked on her parents’ door, the tears that had started in Gerard’s living room had still be in full flow, and Francesca hadn’t asked any questions. She had just pulled her daughter into a hug that Isabella hadn’t known she needed until she was in it.

Quirking a small smile, Isabella shook her head, her eyes returning to the window. “I still feel a little nauseous” she said.

“Something small, then” Francesca said, moving around the room to collect a loaf of bread “You need something” she added.

Isabella spared her a glance out of the corner of her eye, briefly contemplating telling her that she was alright, but she stopped herself. Francesca was trying to help. In her own, motherly way, she was trying to make sure that Isabella was alright, and whilst a slice of toast wasn’t likely to dull the ache in her chest, Isabella knew that her mother was only trying to make her feel better. “OK” she agreed.

Francesca nodded her head and slipped a piece of bread into the toaster before she crossed to the counter, pulling out a stool. “Come sit” she said softly “I’ll make tea. Are you still having it with too much sugar?” she asked.

Isabella’s lips quirked as she sat down. “Three sugars” she confirmed.

Francesca made a face, earning a quiet laugh from Isabella, before she padded towards the kettle, pouring two mugs of tea. Lifting them into her hands, she placed one in front of Isabella before she returned for the toast, placing the plate in front of her daughter too. Sitting on the vacant stool next to Isabella, she waited patiently for the younger woman to start eating before she wrapped her hands around her mug, her fingers drumming against the ceramic. “Are you ready to talk?” she asked.

Isabella’s first reaction was to shake her head, but the firm look that Francesca sent her stopped her, letting her know that she wasn’t going to leave that room without explaining to her mother what had happened. Placing the leftover toast back onto the plate, Isabella pushed it away from herself before she ducked her head, letting out a shaky sigh. “I messed up” she admitted quietly.

“With Gerard?” Francesca asked.

Isabella nodded tightly, trying her hardest not to let her eyes grow tearful. “It’s...been difficult” she admitted “The distance has been harder than I thought it would be” she added.

Francesca reached out, gently gathering Isabella’s hands into hers and squeezing comfortingly.

Isabella squeezed her eyes closed. “I kissed someone else” she admitted quietly “I...I’d had a rough day, and I couldn’t get through to Gerard. I have this friend, Marco, and I just needed someone to be there. It was just a moment that got a little away from me” she explained.

Francesca let out a soft sigh, something which caused Isabella to shrink back slightly. She could hear the disappointment in the sound and she hated it. “Just a kiss?” Francesca asked.

Isabella nodded. “It was barely that” she said.

Francesca’s eyes narrowed slightly. “It doesn’t make it OK, Isabella” she said.

Isabella’s eyes widened a little but she was quick to nod her head. “I know” she spluttered.

“I’m not trying to make you feel worse” Francesca said softly “You know that I am your biggest cheerleader, I always have been, but I don’t know what you expect me to say, baby. You did something wrong, and now you’re left with the consequences of it. You hurt him, Isabella” she added.

Isabella drew in a shaky breath before she looked up at her mother, something which made Francesca sigh before she pushed out of her seat, wrapping her daughter in a tight hug. “Is it over?” she murmured into her daughter’s hair.

Isabella nodded against her chest. “He said it was last night” she whispered “I don’t think he’s changing his mind” she added.

Francesca’s arms tightened around Isabella.

“I’m sorry” Isabella whispered “I know how much you liked him, papa too. Oh god, Alex and Unai are going to kill me too. They were so close” she added, groaning quietly.

Francesca pulled out of the hug slightly, her thumbs wiping away the tears that were spilling over Isabella’s cheeks.

“I let you down, too” Isabella said “I’m so sorry, mama” she added.

Francesca shook her head, leaning over to tenderly kiss her daughter’s forehead. “We just want you to be happy” she said “We thought you were that with Gerard” she added.

Isabella shook her head. “I was until I fucking ruined it” she spat “It’s...It’s what I do, mama. I ruin good things. I am so good at it” she added.

“That’s not true” Francesca protested softly.

“Isn’t it?” Isabella pressed “I mean, I had a good thing with Eli. OK, he wasn’t the most interesting guy, but he was good and we were good, right up until he started to get serious and I panicked. I ruined that. And now Gerard. We were fine as friends. Everything was safe, and good, and then I fucking ruined that by lying to you about moving on from Eli. I should have just admitted that I made my boyfriend up, I could have lived with Unai and Alex laughing about it forever more, but I didn’t and now...now he’s not going to be around any more, and I don’t know how to handle that. What am I supposed to do, mama?” she added, her voice growing heavier as more tears spilled down her face.

Francesca opened and closed her mouth a couple of times, stunned by the revelation that Isabella had lied to her, but whatever questions she had about it died on her tongue as she watched her daughter lean over and bury her face in her hands, crying. Taking a composing breath, she gathered Isabella into another hug, squeezing her tightly as her shoulders shook. “You need to figure out what you need to be happy” she whispered “I don’t know what it is, and I don’t know how you’re going to achieve it, but you need to find it and go for it, Isabella” she added.

Isabella blinked a couple of times, surprised that her mother hadn’t chosen to follow up on the revelation that she had lied, before she nodded her head slowly, sinking a little further into her mother’s comforting hug.