Until The Sunshine Fades

Seven

“Are you sure that you can’t stay for just a little longer?”

Isabella, who’d been watching as Gerard shook her father’s hand, blinked a couple of times before she turned around, her stomach clenching at the sight of the pleading expression that was on her mother’s face. She wasn’t surprised by it. Despite the toasts having been given, it was still relatively early, and she knew that her mother would make an attempt to convince her and Gerard to stay, but Isabella wasn’t going to be swayed, partially because of the guilt which had only gotten worse as the night had gone on, but mostly because she wanted to get Gerard alone. He had been subtle, but she knew that he was avoiding her, and she knew that whilst he could do it in a crowded room, it would raise too many questions if they left separately.

“I’m sure” Isabella replied “I have work early tomorrow, and Gerard’s got to get home, too. I’ll see you soon, though, mama, OK?” she pressed.

Francesca frowned a little, but nodded. “OK” she agreed “But make sure that you bring him back. We like him, Isabella” she added.

Isabella smiled bashfully, but deliberately didn’t say anything, something which made Francesca huff out a playful sigh before she wrapped her in a soft hug. Isabella returned the hug gently before she heard someone lightly clear their throat behind her, causing her to pull away, glancing up at Gerard who’d appeared beside her, his stare fixed on her mother. “I thought I’d come and say goodnight” he mused.

“It’s a shame you have to go so soon” Francesca said “But Isabella has already promised me that we can see more of you” she added.

Isabella waited for Gerard to glance at her, for him to tilt his head slightly, or lift an amused eyebrow as he smirked at her, but he didn’t. Instead, he let out a slightly bashful laugh, smiling warmly at Francesca. “I don’t know how much longer she’ll put up with me, so I won’t make any promises, but if the opportunity arises, I’d love to spend more time with you and your family. They’re lovely” he chirped.

Francesca beamed up at him before she pushed up onto her toes, kissing both of his cheeks gently. “I will see you again” she insisted “I will make sure of it. Goodnight, Gerard” she cooed.

“Goodnight, Francesca” Gerard replied warmly.

Francesca offered him one last smile before she walked away.

Gerard watched her go before he turned towards Isabella, his eyes briefly glancing at her face before he ducked his head. “The taxi’s already outside” he said “Have you said goodnight to everyone you need to?” he prodded.

“I have” Isabella confirmed, biting back a soft sigh.

She didn’t quite know what to say to him, but she knew that she didn’t like the fact that he wouldn’t meet her eyes. They had had a moment. Until Unai had interrupted, it had looked almost certain that they were going to kiss, and the moment was still hanging between them, waiting for one of them to mention it.

It wouldn’t go away until someone said something, but Isabella didn’t know what to say and, for the first time in a long time, she couldn’t get a sense of what Gerard was thinking either. He was clearly uncomfortable. He hadn’t met her eyes since it had happened, but Isabella didn’t know what to make of it. She didn’t know whether he regretted how close they’d come, or if he was upset they had been interrupted, and she didn’t want to ask, not until she had figured out how she felt about it, too.

Gerard offered her a slightly tight nod. “Then we should go” he said.

Isabella nodded before she gently slipped her hand into his.

Gerard stared down at their hands for a moment, his expression blank, before he took a step forwards, heading towards the front door. Isabella followed along with him, smiling at the relatives that said goodnight to them as they went, but as soon as they were out of the front door, and it’d closed behind them, she allowed the smile to fade.

If Gerard saw her expression change, he didn’t show it. Instead, he quickly walked towards the waiting taxi before pulled the door open, holding it open to Isabella. Without a word, Isabella climbed inside and waited for him to follow. Once he had given her address to the driver and settled back into his seat, she let out a soft sigh. “Gerard...”

“We got carried away” Gerard’s voice was even, and he was looking out of the window.

“You think that that is all it was?” Isabella asked.

Gerard nodded once, a smile pulling up one corner of his mouth. “There’d been wine, and we had spent the whole night telling everyone I met that I was your boyfriend. You made me be nice to you” he quipped.

Isabella rolled her eyes despite the sad smile on her face. “I only wanted to make the point that being nice to me wouldn’t kill you” she said “Not everything you say to me has to be some kind of joke. I like you when you say sweet things, too” she added.

Gerard’s small smile faded slightly. “We just got caught up in the moment” he said.

Isabella frowned in confusion, not sure what she had said to cause the change in his expression. “Did I say something wrong?” she prodded.

Gerard stared out of the window for a moment before he shook his head, looking back towards Isabella with a slightly exhausted smile. “Do you think it was something else?” he asked.

Isabella opened and closed her mouth a couple of times, thinking about what she wanted to say, before eventually she shook her head, offering him the best smile she could muster. “You’re probably right” she agreed.

Gerard nodded his head slowly, allowing a few moments of quiet to pass between them, before he smirked. “You’re going to break your mother’s heart when you tell her we broke up” he quipped.

Isabella scoffed out a laugh. “You really think that she was that smitten?” she asked.

“I think she’d side with me over you in our breakup” Gerard retorted boastfully.

“I think you’re probably right” Isabella quipped.

“What are you going to tell them?” Gerard asked.

“That it just didn’t work out” Isabella mused “We tried to explore the romantic side of our relationship, but it didn’t feel right, so we decided to quit before we ruined a good thing” she explained.

Gerard’s expression changed again, but Isabella still couldn’t put her finger on what she could see on his face. “We’re better off as friends” he said.

Isabella put on a smile, reaching over to squeeze his hand. “Yeah, we are” she confirmed.

Gerard looked at their hands, his expression still impossible to read, before he squeezed back, smiling back at her.
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Thanks to Jayme112234 for the comment :)