All This Time

18: I Can Help With That

Gently pushing a spoon around the mug of tea in front of her, Amelia gently rubbed her forehead, hoping that it would go some way to easing the headache that had steadily been building since she had first seen Fernando in the foyer of his lawyer’s office. It wasn’t uncommon. Amelia had always been prone to stress headaches, and there was little she found more stressful than being in the same room as her ex-husband, but whilst she had been expecting the inevitable awkwardness that she now associated with Fernando, what had happened in the car had caught her off guard. She had known that the car ride wouldn’t be silent. Even despite Fernando’s promise that they didn’t have to talk, Amelia knew him well enough to know that he was incapable of stewing in silence for too long, but the fight had surprised her, as had how true her admission about falling out of love with him had felt.

She hadn’t meant to say it. As much as Fernando had hurt her, Amelia had always promised herself that she wouldn’t do anything to deliberately hurt him, but she hadn’t been able to stop the words from coming out of her mouth. She knew that her feelings for him had changed. When Gianna had showed her a picture of Fernando cradling their newborn daughter, Amelia's entire world had shifted, and she knew that her feelings for Fernando were changed completely, but she hadn’t realised that she had fallen out of love with him until she had said it out loud. She had thought it was just something to say, something that would stop the conversation that they were having in its tracks, but it’d felt right and that had overwhelmed her. She had been in love with Fernando for years, and to not be in love with him any more felt strange.

“Is that still hot or do you need a new one?”

Amelia stopped stirring her drink, glancing up at Lionel who’d stopped next to her chair. Letting out a sheepish laugh, she gently pushed the mug across the table, watching as Lionel sunk down into the chair opposite her. “I didn’t really want this one” she murmured “I just felt bad about sitting here and not ordering anything” she added.

Lionel flashed her a small smile, but didn’t say anything.

Amelia shifted slightly in her seat, uncomfortable in the silence, before she shook her head. “I...I would have called Molly” she stumbled out “But I didn’t want to make her come all this way. I know my mother’s out of town, and I didn’t want to call my little sister, so I...I called you. I hope that that is OK” she added.

“Always” Lionel answered.

Amelia offered him a grateful smile that was just a little bashful before she ducked her head, messing with the collar of her dress. Closing her eyes, she took in a couple of deep breaths before she looked at Lionel through her eyelashes. “Aren’t you going to ask?” she asked.

“Do you want me to?” Lionel asked.

Amelia shrugged half-heartedly. “I don’t know” she said.

“You’re nowhere near your apartment” Lionel noted after a few seconds of quiet.

Amelia let out a sad laugh, her hand moving to rub her forehead again. “Fernando offered to give me a ride home” she mused “I...I don’t really know why I thought it was a good idea to go with him. I mean, recently, we’ve not had the best track record of spending time together and not getting into fights, but it seemed like a better alternative to the bus, so I went with him. He promised that he wouldn’t try and push me into conversation, but, as I am sure that you’ve guessed, it didn’t go so well” she added.

Lionel leant forwards, gently taking the hand that was worriedly rubbing her forehead into his hand. “What happened, Amelia?” he asked.

Amelia messed with his fingers for a moment, thinking on the question, before she sighed gently. “He told me that he was still in love with me” she said slowly “He’s said it a few times since I moved out of the house. He’s left messages saying it when he gets drunk. He used to say it when we were dealing with our lawyers. It used to get to me. How could he stand there and insist that he was in love with me when he did what he did?” she asked.

Lionel shrugged, squeezing her hand gently.

“We had a fight” Amelia murmured “I yelled at him, he yelled at me. He told me that he was still in love with me, and I told him that I had fallen out of love with him” she added.

“You have?” Lionel asked cautiously.

Amelia exhaled a slightly shaky sigh as she nodded her head slowly. “I...I didn’t know how I felt about him” she murmured “For the last year, figuring out how I felt about him has been nearly impossible, but when I said it...it made sense. I have spent a lot of time being something with him. I’ve been angry with him, embarrassed by him, hurt by him, but for a while, I thought that that would pass. But when he said that he loved me, it didn’t...it didn’t feel right like it used to” she added.

Lionel stared at her for a moment, trying to think of something to say, but he was saved from having to come up with anything when Amelia flashed him a small, almost apologetic smile. It was awkward. She was sat there, talking about her feelings for another man with a man who she knew had had feelings for her in the past, and she wanted him to know that she didn’t expect him to come up with a response. She just wanted someone to sit and listen to her. “It’s OK” she mused “I really only called you for a ride home. I had Fernando pull over and I am not quite sure how to get home from here on the bus” she added.

Lionel’s lips quirked upwards slightly, but Amelia could see the relief on his face underneath the teasing expression. “I can help with that” he quipped as he stood up.

Amelia smiled back at him before she stood up. Wrapping her coat around her shoulders, she lifted her bag from its place on the floor before she took a pace towards Lionel, placing a gentle kiss on his cheek. “Thank you” she murmured, offering him a shy smile.

Lionel’s answering grin was just a bashful as he shrugged his shoulders. “You said you needed help” he quipped “What was I supposed to do?” he added.

Amelia just offered him another smile, already feeling lighter than she had when she had stepped out of Fernando’s car.
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Thanks to Twisted;;Symphony for the comments :)