All This Time

14: Don’t Go Away

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

Amelia, who’d been pulling her jacket around her shoulders, lifted her head to look at her stepfather who stood in the kitchen doorway, watching her with an expression that was tinged with sympathy. She had been too quiet. She had tried not to be. With her sister and her boyfriend having joined her at her mother’s home for their monthly family dinner, she had tried her hardest to engage with them and appear as though there was nothing bothering her, but she knew that she had failed. The look on Henri’s face, one she had seen countless times since her marriage had ended, made it obvious that she had still been a little too detached.

She had tried to keep her mind off of Lionel. After her conversation with Molly, she had resolved to give him some space before she tried to talk to him again, but it hadn’t been easy. The conversation had upset her, but the way they had left things felt worse, and she couldn’t help but worry that it spelled the end of whatever had been happening between them, even if Molly had tried to assure her that Lionel simply needed time to wrap his head around what she had told him. She worried that the more he thought about it, the more he’d doubt that she meant what she had said.

“I’ve got an early start in the morning” Amelia answered “Sorry” she added.

Henri shook his head, smiling slightly. “It’s no problem” he said “Your mother made me ask” he added.

Amelia’s lips quirked upwards. “That sounds like her” she quipped.

“She’s just worried about you” Henri mused “You were a little quiet tonight. Is something wrong?” he asked.

Amelia shook her head, fixing a placating smile into place. “Molly threw a party for Stefan last night and I might have had a little too much to drink” she mused “I feel a lot better than I did this morning, but I’m still a little worse for wear” she added.

Henri stared at her for a moment, studying her expression dubiously, before he quirked a lopsided smile, something which caused Amelia to let out a muted sigh in relief. She didn’t like lying to him. Henri, like her mother and sister, had been a big part of helping to get her back on her feet after things with Fernando had ended, but she knew what he would say if she admitted what was bothering her. It was still soon. It’d only been a few months since she had left her husband, and even less time had passed since their divorce had been finalised, and it was probably a mistake to be dredging up her past with Lionel when everything was still so fresh, but Amelia didn’t want to hear it. She already knew it without anyone telling her.

“Drink some water before you go to sleep” Henri mused.

“Yes, Henri” Amelia replied, rolling her eyes playfully.

“Goodnight, Amelia” Henri chuckled.

Amelia leant up, pressing a kiss against his cheek, before she stepped back towards the door. “Say goodnight to mama and Thea for me” she said “I’ll see you soon, Henri” she added before she ducked out of the door. Pulling it closed after herself, she took in a deep breath, trying and failing to alleviate the lump in her throat, before she slowly walked back towards her car, half dreading finding herself alone in her apartment again.

~#~
Tossing the television remote down onto the mattress, Amelia reclined into her pillow, placing another spoonful of ice cream into her mouth as she stared at the screen, trying to ignore the quiet that otherwise filled the apartment. It was something she had struggled to get used to. She had always complained about how noisy Fernando could be. He was always awake before her, and had been unable to get up without disturbing her, something which had caused more than one fight between them, but now that she lived by herself, she found herself missing the noise he created. It had comforted her. She liked knowing that he was close by, and she hated the quiet of her new apartment. It was a reminder of the fact that in a matter of months she had gone from newly and happily married to divorced and alone.

Letting out a quiet sigh, Amelia stared into her bowl for a second before she leant out of bed, placing it down on the end table. Rolling onto her back, she moved to turn the television’s volume up before she heard the knock at the door, something which caused her to sigh before she swung her feet out of the bed. Stopping only to grab a sweatshirt from the hook on the back of her bedroom door, she walked towards the front door before she unlocked it and pulled it open, her eyes widening when they landed on the man who stood on the other side.

Lionel just stood there, waiting for her to say something.

Amelia opened and closed her mouth a couple of times, reaching for something to say, before she ducked her head, staring down at her feet. “I really wasn’t expecting to see you again” she murmured.

Lionel sighed as he placed his hand on the door frame. He didn’t entirely trust that Amelia wouldn’t try and slam the door in his face. “Did you really think I’d just disappear?” he asked.

“You did before” Amelia quipped, her eyes snapping up to his face briefly.

Lionel flinched, something which caused Amelia to soften slightly before she stepped out of the doorway, wordlessly inviting him inside. Lionel hesitated for a split second, afraid that she would change her mind, before he took a cautious step forwards. Shuffling across the threshold, he watched Amelia move to close the door before she turned to look at him, her expression wary. “Why are you here?” she asked quietly.

“I want to talk about last night” Lionel replied “We left things badly and I don’t like that” he added.

Amelia stared at him for a long moment before she shook her head, pushing a hand back through her hair. “I...I shouldn’t have started the conversation” she said.

“Amelia...”

“I am not ready to do this, Leo” Amelia interrupted “I’m not ready to have long and complicated conversations about my feelings for you, whatever they are. I can’t do it. I am still too tired, too caught up in everything that happened with Fernando to get into something complicated with you. You were right last night, I should have stopped it before we got too far in. I should have listened” she added, shifting her feet so that she could avoid looking over at him.

Lionel was quiet for so long that Amelia had no choice but to look over at him. “Leo?” she prodded gently.

“You were right about a lot of things” Lionel said, his eyes moving to meet hers “I was selfish” he added.

Amelia rubbed her forehead tiredly. “I just want to go to sleep” she protested softly “It’s been a long day, and I am not in the right mind to have this conversation right now. I wasn’t yesterday, either. I’m sorry for that. I’m sorry I just threw my feelings out at you. I was pissed at Molly for babying me again, and you were being so sweet with me when we were here, I got carried away, but I shouldn’t have done. I’m sorry I made this weird again” she added.

Lionel took a step closer to her, not that Amelia noticed. She was too busy staring at her feet.

“I’m so tired of still being pissed at Fernando” Amelia continued softly “I’m so tired of people treating me like saying the wrong thing will cause me to burst into tears, and I am pissed that sometimes, I do cry because of stupid things. I was on the verge of crying just before you showed up because I miss how noisy he was. I hated it at the time. The man could not get up without kicking me or knocking something onto the floor, but now that I am alone? I fucking ache to have some noise here. How stupid is that?” she squeaked.

Lionel took another step forwards, cautiously touching her side. When she didn’t flinch away, he carefully put his other hand on the other side of her waist, but didn’t draw her in. If she wanted the hug he was trying to offer her she would have to make the first move.

Amelia closed her eyes at his touch, trying to stop them from growing tearful. “I need my friend” she whispered softly “I...I know I can’t unsay things, and you can’t pretend that you didn’t hear them, but I just...I need you to be here for me. We can figure it out later, just don’t go away again. I don’t want you to go” she whimpered as she finally moved into his hug, wrapping her arms around his neck.

Lionel’s arms tightened around her waist, hugging her just as tightly as she was hugging him. “I’m not going anywhere” he whispered into her hair.