All This Time

04: I Need One

Settling into the back seat of the taxi, Amelia fidgeted with her hands, trying to distract herself from the knot in her stomach. She knew why she was so nervous. Despite Lionel’s insistence that they could get together and not have the conversation immediately turn to Fernando or to what had happened between them, she was doubtful, but she hadn’t called to cancel, even if a large part of her thought that it was the right thing to do. There had been something about talking to him that had felt different to talking to her friends and family that knew what had happened between her and Fernando.

Staring out of the car window, Amelia leant her forehead against it for a beat before she heard the soft buzz of her phone in her bag, something which caused her to exhale a quiet sigh. Pulling the phone out, she stared at the name on the screen before she swiped the decline button, stuffing it back into her bag. The calls had gotten less frequent. After Amelia had stormed out of the home that she and Fernando had shared, he had called hundreds of times a week, trying to coax her into talking to him, and whilst the number of calls had dwindled to one every now and then, seeing his name was still painful. She didn’t know what he wanted, but she did know better than to try and find out. She knew that if she had any chance of moving on from them, she had to keep the distance she had built between them.

Staring at the bag, she waited for a few moments, half it expecting the phone to vibrate again, but when it didn’t, she deflated into the chair, letting out a breath she didn’t know that she was holding.

“We’re here”

Amelia blinked, glancing up at the taxi driver who smiled over his shoulder at her. Forcing a polite smile, she handed over the fare and mumbled a quiet ‘thank you’ before she slid out of the car. Without hesitating, she walked into the restaurant before she stopped, surveying it for any sign of Lionel. When she spotted him, and he spotted her, the pensive expression on his face cleared, being replaced by a small, shy smile that Amelia couldn’t resist mimicking as she padded towards their table.

Lionel stood up when she got close, but he didn’t reach over for a hug or to kiss her cheek. He simply placed a hand on her arm and squeezed slightly. “Hi” he greeted gently.

“Hi” Amelia replied “Have you been here for long?” she asked, sitting down.

Lionel sat down again, shaking his head. “I only got here a few minutes ago” he said “I’ve not even ordered a drink yet” he added.

“I need one” Amelia said, hanging her coat on the back of her chair.

Lionel lifted an eyebrow. “Rough day?” he prodded.

Amelia stiffened slightly before she shrugged. “Elephants” she mumbled.

Lionel’s lips quirked in a grin that was somewhere between amused and pained. The one word she had said was enough to tell him that she didn’t want to talk about it and, as much as he wanted to, he wasn’t going to push it. “Got it” he said “I’ll find the waiter. White wine?” he asked.

Amelia offered him a slightly apologetic smile before she nodded. “Please” she confirmed.

“Did you know that Molly’s pregnant again?”

Lionel smiled around his glass, shaking his head. It had taken a while. For well over an hour, they had struggled to conquer the awkwardness that was palpable between the two of them, but slowly, and with the help of the couple of glasses of wine that they had had, they had both relaxed. It was superficial. Everything they had talked about was a safe distance away from Fernando, and from their own relationship, but it had still been good. It had still been better than Lionel had envisaged that it would be.

“She is?” Lionel asked “How old is Una now?” he added.

“She’s almost four” Amelia replied, shaking her head slightly in disbelief “And the little one is due in a couple of months. It’s another little girl, which Molly is thrilled about. Stefan, less so” she added warmly.

Lionel laughed warmly.

Amelia beamed at the sound. It was one of many things that she had missed about him. Shaking her head, she reached for her glass, but stopped short when her phone, which was sat beside her empty dessert plate, buzzed. Looking down at it, the warmth in her expression disappeared.

Lionel, who’d looked down at his plate, looked back up at her, his soft smile fading when he saw the expression on her face. “Amelia?” he prodded “Is everything OK?” he asked.

Amelia blinked a couple of times, still staring down at her phone, before she finally moved her finger across the screen, declining the call. Picking her phone up, she stuffed it back into her bag before she shook her head, making no attempt to look up at Lionel who she could feel was still staring at her. “Sorry about that” she mumbled.

“Who was it?” Lionel prodded.

Amelia closed her eyes for a moment before she finally looked up, her expression tired and sad. “It doesn’t matter” she murmured.

Lionel nodded his head slowly. He knew what the answer was, even if she wouldn’t say it. He had seen the same expression on her face when she had told him that her marriage had ended.

Amelia shifted, uncomfortable in the silence that had settled between them, before Lionel reached his hand across the table, cautiously placing it on top of hers. “Why does he still call?” he asked.

Amelia wanted to answer. She wanted to tell him about how frustrated Fernando’s phone calls made her and about how much harder keeping distance between them was when he kept trying to get in contact with her, but she didn’t. She couldn’t. She knew that the last person that wanted to hear about the mess that her marriage had become was the man who’d tried to stop it in the first place. Drawing in a deep breath, she gently slipped her hand out from underneath his. “That sounds like an elephant to me” she said quietly.

“Amelia” Lionel protested gently.

Amelia shook her head. “Please” she said “You promised” she added.

Lionel sighed, but relented with a slight tip of his head, something which caused Amelia to flash him a shaky smile. “Thank you” she murmured before she caught their waiter walking past and ordered another drink.

Lionel watched her, desperate to say something, but he didn’t. He had made her a promise, and as much as it hurt him to see her visibly upset, he knew that he had to keep it if Amelia was going to find space for him in her life again.
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Thanks to Twisted;;Symphony for the comment :)