All This Time

09: Shopping For One

“Is it OK if I ask you to explain what happened to me?”

Amelia, who’d been idly tracing the pattern of the tattoo on Lionel’s arm, exhaled a quiet sigh before she glanced up at him, studying the soft expression he was watching her with. He hadn’t said anything for a while, neither of them had, but Amelia knew that it was only a matter of time before he asked her to clarify what exactly had happened between her and Fernando. He hadn’t had a chance to digest what she had told him. Almost as soon as she had gotten the words out of her mouth, she had fallen into his arms in tears, and it meant that he hadn’t had the chance to get his head around it. He had been too busy trying to stop her crying to fully understand the events that had led to her crying in the first place.

“What do you want to know?” Amelia asked, tucking herself back into his side.

Lionel gently traced circles against her hip. He wanted her to know that he was still there, to feel comforted as she spoke. “You said the other woman just showed up” he said “She just appeared, out of the blue?” he asked.

Amelia drew in a slightly shaky breath before she nodded, squeezing her eyes closed to avoid more tears falling out of them. “Gianna knew that Fernando had married me” she admitted quietly “He’d told her that the reason their affair was over was because he planned to propose to me, and she didn’t try and stop him. He was still around for Penelope, his daughter, and that’s all that Gianna really cared about, but after we got married, he started to see less and less of Penelope. He used me as an excuse” she added.

Lionel’s arm tightened around her waist. “You don’t have to say more” he said softly.

Amelia shook her head, wordlessly insisting that she could keep going. Taking in another deep breath, she let it out slowly before she started to talk again. “Gianna just wanted Fernando to take responsibility for their daughter” she said “So she came to the house. She thought I knew. She thought she was going to confront me about deliberately taking my husband away from his daughter. I don’t think she realised I didn’t know until it was too late. She put a picture of Fernando gazing down at Penelope in my hands and I just...I couldn’t breathe” she added, lifting a hand to wipe at her eyes.

Lionel moved to brush her hand away, using his thumb to brush the tears away instead.

Amelia leant into his touch, allowing the room to fall silent for a few moments before she eventually sat up, untangling herself from their embrace. “I’m hungry” she announced “Are you?” she prodded.

Lionel’s forehead furrowed, slightly perturbed by the sudden change of subject, before he slowly nodded his head. “I could eat” he confirmed.

Amelia smiled at him. She was relieved that he hadn’t tried to steer the conversation back to what they had been talking about. She knew that they had a lot to talk about. If they were going to get close to one another again, then they would have to discuss Fernando, as well as what Lionel had told her on her wedding day, but it wasn’t something Amelia was prepared to tackle in one sitting. It hurt to talk about. It hurt to admit that she had missed what Fernando was doing, that there was a part of her that felt bad for Gianna, and she wanted to take her time when it came to talking it over. Talking about Fernando was hard, but she was already sure that talking about her wedding day and what Lionel had admitted to her was going to be even harder.

“I’m going to get changed” Amelia said “Feel free to look in the fridge and see if there’s anything we can make” she added.

Lionel tilted his head. “Is it that sparse?” he asked.

“I should have gone shopping after work” Amelia replied “But after seeing Nando, all I wanted was to get back here. There ought to be something, though. I am still not quite used to shopping for one” she added, flashing him a small embarrassed smile.

Lionel’s expression softened, but before he had the chance to say anything, Amelia padded out of the room, closing her bedroom door behind herself.

Lionel stared at the closed door for a beat before he pushed himself towards the kitchen. He knew that he had to let Amelia do things on her own terms.

~#~
“You didn’t have to do it yourself” Amelia quipped as she took the plate out of Lionel’s hand, offering him a soft smile.

Lionel shrugged, settling his own plate down on the other side of the table. “I was trying to help” he said.

“Thank you” Amelia mused.

Lionel flashed her a shy smile before he picked up his fork. Prodding at his food, he sneaked a few glances over at Amelia before he cleared his throat, something which made Amelia look up at him, her eyes wide and curious. “Is there something wrong?” she asked.

Lionel shook his head, his stare moving back towards his plate. “Can I ask you another question?” he asked.

Amelia hesitated for a second before she slowly nodded her head. “Sure” she said.

“Do you still love him?” Lionel asked.

Amelia, who’d been twirling a strand of pasta around her fork, stilled for a moment before she lifted her shoulders and let them drop. “I don’t know” she admitted “I haven’t forgotten the last three years. I haven’t forgotten falling in love with him, or all of the good moments we had together, but they’re not...it feels different in light of what he’s done. For a while I thought we’d figure it out, but I am pretty sure now that we won’t. I can’t imagine trusting him again. How could I?” she asked.

Lionel didn’t make any attempt to answer her. He couldn’t. It wasn’t simple. Fernando had hurt Amelia badly, but he had also been the person that she had loved most in the world, and Lionel couldn’t simplify the feelings that Amelia had for him by insisting that there was no way she could trust him again. He knew how it would sound.

Amelia looked up at him, studying the carefully blank expression he wore, before she shook her head, diverting her stare back to the plate of food in front of her. “Can we talk about something else?” she asked “Anything else. Please?” she pressed.

Lionel tried his best to offer her a smile as he nodded, agreeing to change the subject. He knew that if they didn’t, they would arrive at the subject that they had both avoided almost completely and he knew that they weren’t ready to talk about what he had admitted on the day she had married another man.
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Thanks to Twisted;;Symphony for the comment :)