All This Time

43: The Last Man I Loved

Slipping his hands off of the steering wheel, Lionel leant back into his seat, wanting a moment to go over his thoughts before he climbed out of the car and made his way towards Amelia’s front door. He had taken his time. It had been over a week since Amelia had confessed to her kiss with Fernando, and despite his initial urge to try and sweep it under the rug to preserve their budding relationship, he had kept himself away from her, wanting to be sure that he had thought over everything before they talked. He had wanted to pretend that he wasn’t bothered. When Amelia had told him that she had returned the kiss, he had tried to be nonchalant, and understanding as to how it could have happened, but it had hurt him more than he had let on, and that was something he had wanted to digest before he tried to talk to Amelia. He knew that if he had tried to talk to her before, there was a strong chance that one of them could have ended up saying something they wouldn’t be able to take back.

He had been expecting things to be up and down for a while. As much as Amelia liked to insist that she was completely over Fernando, and everything that had happened between the two of them, Lionel knew that she was still trying to come to terms with it, and that that meant that their relationship was likely to be a little all over the place at the start, but he hadn’t expected the kiss, and that had made it hurt all the more. He had wanted to believe her. Every time Amelia had insisted that she was over Fernando, and that all of the feelings she had had for him had disappeared, he had wanted to take her word for it, but the kiss had proved him right for hesitating, and awoken doubts that he had tried to stifle. Amelia had loved Fernando enough to choose him over Lionel once, and the kiss had Lionel worried that it could happen again.

Rubbing his jaw, he stared out of the windscreen for a moment before he finally undid his seatbelt and climbed out of his car. Stuffing his hands into his pockets, he walked into Amelia’s apartment building and made his way to her front door before he knocked and stepped back, waiting for it to swing open. It didn’t happen immediately, but eventually, the door slowly pulled open, revealing Amelia who was trying, and failing, to smother a yawn in her hand.

For a moment, the resolve that Lionel had built up faltered. Amelia looked tired, but it didn’t mask the way her eyes lit up at the sight of him, something which tugged at his heart. She had used to look at him like that. Before Fernando, and before everything that had transpired from her meeting her future husband, but it had been a long time since he’d noticed it, or noticed how much he missed it when he didn’t see it. Reluctantly, he looked away. “Can I come in?” he asked.

Amelia didn’t hesitate. “Of course” she said, stepping out of the doorway.

Lionel stepped inside, gently closing the door behind himself. “I’m sorry I didn’t call” he said, catching sight of her laptop on the sofa.

“It’s fine” Amelia replied “I was probably going to give in and stop soon, anyway. I’m exhausted” she added, forcing out a small awkward laugh.

Lionel’s lips quirked upwards, more out of sympathy than anything else. “I was hoping we could talk” he said “But if you need to...”

“We can talk” Amelia interrupted gently “I want to talk. I’ve got a few things I want to say. Is that OK?” she added.

Lionel nodded his head slowly, but made little movement to step away from the door, something which caused Amelia to let out a slightly nervous sigh as she sat down on the coffee table, staring down at her feet. “I want to say sorry” she murmured “I...I don’t think I actually said it the other day. I know it’s not much, but I am sorry it happened” she added.

“It really hurt” Lionel said “I...I know I didn’t show it, but it did. It was him, Amelia. Of all of the people it could have been, it was him, and that hurt. It’s always been him over me” he added.

Amelia flinched. “I know” she conceded.

“I want to believe you when you say that you’re in this with me” Lionel said “I knew what I was getting into, and I always knew that you were struggling more than you were prepared to show me, but is this what is going to happen? Fernando pops up out of nowhere, and you trip over yourself and forget us?” he added, trying, and failing, to keep his voice even.

“No” Amelia replied.

“Amelia...”

“I screwed up, OK?” Amelia interrupted “I don’t want to throw lame excuses at you, but I messed up and I am sorry for it, but this isn’t going to happen again. You’re right, OK? I am struggling. I am struggling with what Fernando did, and how pissed I still am at him for all of that, but I am trying to work through it. I am trying so hard, because the last thing I want to do is pull you into a situation that’s going to hurt you, which I know sounds stupid given what we’re talking about, but I just...i want to protect you” she insisted.

“Protect me from what?” Lionel pressed, fighting the urge to step towards her.

“From seeing what a mess I still am” Amelia shot back with a pained shake of her head “From watching me fuck this up again and again. From figuring out that, after Fernando, I have no idea how to do this. I have no idea how to handle big feelings, or how to trust that if you see me at my worst, you’re still going to come back, all because the last guy I fell in love with before I fell in love with you was a selfish idiot” she added.

Lionel’s head snapped up, his eyes landing on Amelia who was still determinedly staring down at her feet. “What was that?” he asked.

Amelia’s eyes widened, and her cheeks flushed pink, but she still didn’t look up. “You heard me” she answered.

“Amelia...”

“You don’t have to say it back” Amelia cut in softly.

Lionel opened and closed his mouth a couple of times, reeling from what she had said, before he slowly crossed the room and crouched down ahead of her, gathering her hands into his. “Don’t hide from me” he murmured softly.

Amelia’s eyes studied his face for a moment before she leant forwards, touching her forehead to his. “I don’t want him” she whispered “I mean that, but maybe...maybe I am just trying to be more over him than I am. It doesn’t mean I want him back, and it doesn’t mean that I want to be with you any less, I’m just...just trying to figure it all out, and I am probably going to keep doing things wrong, but...” she trailed off when Lionel gently pressed his lips to hers, wordlessly telling her that he’d be there for her whilst she figured everything out.