All This Time

17: That’s All It Is

“Is that everything?” Amelia asked, trying her hardest to keep her focus on the man in front of her and not on the one who hovered behind her. She had expected him to be there. When she had arranged to meet with Fernando’s lawyer, she had fully expected to find her ex-husband in the office with her, and it meant that bumping into him in the foyer hadn’t been enough to throw her off balance like it usually did. She had expected the charming grin he’d thrown her way, the subtle way that his hand grazed the small of her back as he held the door open, and she had prepared to face them, determined not to let him get at her like he usually did. She wanted to sign the papers and leave without finding herself drawn into another argument with him.

“It is” Albert confirmed, sliding the signed papers back across the desk “The sale should go through in the next few weeks and then you’ll receive the payment after that. Thank you for coming in so quickly, Ms Perotti” he added.

Amelia smiled politely, pointedly ignoring the soft sigh that Fernando let out behind her. “Can I go now?” she asked.

“I just need to duck out and make copies of these” Albert quipped “I’ll only be a few minutes” he added before he ducked out of the room.

Amelia watched him out of the door before she reached into her handbag, collecting her phone from inside. Leaning back in her seat, she replied to a few texts before the phone was pulled from her grasp, something which caused her to turn, glaring up at Fernando as he slipped the phone back into her bag. “Why did you do that?” she asked.

“I want to talk to you” Fernando quipped “I’m sure your texts can wait for a few more minutes” he added.

“I really don’t want to fight with you, Fernando” Amelia protested quietly “I just wanted to sign the papers and get out of here” she added, busying herself with the buttons on her coat to keep herself from looking up at him.

Fernando watched her for a moment, hoping that she would turn back to him, before he let out another soft sigh. “I’m sorry I let Albert tell you about me selling the house” he said “I...I was going to call, but you don’t answer my calls, and if you did, I was worried that you’d get upset. I still remember how excited you were when we first viewed the house, and I thought...I couldn’t handle hearing disappointment in your voice again” he added.

Amelia kept her stare on her coat. “Why are you selling?” she asked quietly.

Fernando blinked a couple of times, surprised that Amelia had said anything, before he shrugged, scratching his jaw sheepishly. “A few reasons” he answered “I mean, I don’t really need that much space when it’s just me, even when Gianna lets Penelope stay over with me, it’s still too big and quiet. I want to be closer to Penelope, too. But the biggest reasons is probably because it’s our place” he added.

Amelia let out a shaky breath, but was saved from having to come up with a reply when Albert stepped back into the room. Pushing herself up to her feet, she took the paperwork that the lawyer held out to her before she shook his hand and left the room. Almost jogging down the corridor, she moved towards the foyer, only to be pulled to a stop by a gently hand on her elbow. Closing her eyes, she hesitated for a split second before she turned around, finding Fernando staring down at her, a sad smile on his face. “You don’t have to run away” he teased softly.

“I just have to get home” Amelia murmured “I’ve got plans” she added.

Fernando nodded his head slowly. “Do you need a lift?” he asked “I know you hate the parking around here. You yelled it at me at one of our first divorce meetings” he added, letting out a pained laugh.

Amelia grimaced, something which made Fernando squeeze her arm gently. “I deserved it” he quipped “And we don’t have to talk in the car. I can just get you home sooner than the bus can. That’s all it is” he added.

He knew that she was hesitant. She didn’t like being around him, not any more, and the way that she had run out of the office had made it clear that she was uncomfortable, but he didn’t want their time together to end so quickly. Amelia may not have liked being around him, but seeing her that morning had been the best part of Fernando’s week. It was as it had always been since the divorce. Amelia didn’t talk to him, she barely looked at him, but being in the same place as she was was enough for Fernando. He had got to see hints of her smile, even if it was directed at Albert or at her phone, and it was sight he’d missed. He missed everything about her.

Amelia hesitated for a second before she slowly, hesitantly, nodded her head. “Alright” she confirmed.

Fernando’s entire face lit up, something that made Amelia's stomach drop, but before she had a chance to change her mind, Fernando guided her out towards his car. Silently slipping into the passenger seat, she placed her handbag down onto the floor before she slipped her phone out, pointedly focussing on it as Fernando drove out of the car park. They were quiet for a long time. After about five minutes, Fernando moved to turn on the radio, and the music filled the air for another ten minutes until Fernando quirked a lopsided smile. “What are your big plans?” he asked.

Amelia, who’d been staring out of the window, pressed her forehead against it, exhaling a soft sigh before she turned to look over at him. “I’m grabbing dinner with Leo” she murmured.

Fernando’s grip tightened on the steering wheel. “Oh?” he asked.

Amelia nodded her head, her expression soft. “Yeah” she confirmed “It’s something we’ve been doing a lot recently” she added.

“Like dates?” Fernando pressed.

“No” Amelia replied “They’re not dates, Nando” she added.

“Friends” Fernando mused “Nothing more?” he asked.

Amelia wanted to shake her head, to say that they were nothing more, but she couldn’t. Friends wasn’t quiet enough to describe her relationship with Lionel, and she knew that Fernando would see the lie on her face. He knew her too well.

Fernando scoffed, something which made Amelia shake her head, turning back towards the window. “What happened to not talking?” she muttered.

“I didn’t realise you were dating again” Fernando muttered.

“I’m not dating!” Amelia yelled “And even if I was, what the hell would it have to do with you? Our marriage is over” she added.

“That doesn’t mean I fell out of love with you, Amelia!” Fernando yelled back.

Amelia drew in a deep breath before she turned back to him, her expression soft and almost apologetic. “I fell out of love with you” she said.

Fernando shook his head in disbelief, but he didn’t say anything. He couldn’t say anything.

Amelia swallowed before she quietly asked him to pull over, something Fernando obliged with, pulling over to the side of the road and allowing Amelia to climb out of the car. They weren’t near her home, but she needed to be out of the car and away from him. Without a word, she pushed the door closed and watched Fernando drive away before she looked down at her phone, dialling Lionel’s number. Pressing the phone to her ear, she listened to the dial tone before Lionel’s voice greeted her. “I...I need you to come and pick me up” she muttered “Things with Fernando went wrong again” she added.