The Space Between Us

12: After You Met Him, There Was No One Else

“Can I get you anything?”

Amelia blinked a couple of times, moving her stare from a spot in space towards Lionel who was crouched in front of her, a gentle expression on his face. He had been quiet. She knew that he had questions. When she had opened the front door to him, the look on his face had told her everything he had overheard of her conversation with Fernando, and all the questions he wanted to ask about it, but Amelia was glad that he hadn’t just jumped in with them. It wasn’t what she needed. She didn’t want to explain what had happened, or to listen someone else insist that the man she had married was no good. She just wanted someone to sit with her and help fill the silence of her apartment that still, after months of living alone, threatened to overwhelm her.

Quirking a faint smile, Amelia shook her head.

Lionel nodded his head, slipping back into his space on the sofa.

Amelia let out a soft sigh before she shuffled closer to him, cuddling into his side. “What did you hear?” she asked.

Lionel’s arm hovered over her shoulders uncertainly for a beat before he placed it around her. “How much do you want me to have heard?” he asked.

“Ideally? Nothing” Amelia answered, huffing out a sad laugh “But we both know that you heard something, so what was it?” she asked.

“He’s selling the house” Lionel replied.

Amelia, who’d begun to trace the tattoo on his arm, nodded her head. “He offered it to me when I first left him” she said after a long moment of quiet “I kind of think that he knew how much I loved it, and that if he offered it to me, it would go some way to convincing me that he wasn’t a bad guy, but I don’t think he saw what it had become to me. I still don’t think he really sees what the things he’s done have done to me” she explained.

Lionel lifted his hand from her shoulder, using it to gently tucking her hair behind her ear. “You don’t have to talk about it” he said gently.

Amelia shook her head. “It’s OK” she said.

Lionel gently settled his hand back on her shoulder, squeezing it softly. “How often does he show up here?” he asked.

“It’s only happened a few times, but that’s probably because I haven’t lived here for very long” Amelia answered “After I...I left him, I stayed with my parents for a few months, and there was no way that they’d let him through the door, so he didn’t try. He called, and texted, and at the beginning, I answered too easily. I wanted to shout at him. I didn’t do that when I left. I just packed a bag and walked out of the door. I think that’s why I let him in tonight. I want to shout at him, and I want to cry, but I mostly want him to see what he’s done to me, and I still don’t think he does” she added.

She knew that Fernando knew the facts. He knew that he had cheated on her with Gianna, and that Gianna had appeared at their home, armed with pictures of Penelope that she had shown to Amelia, but she was almost certain that he still hadn’t quite grasped how badly he’d hurt her. He didn’t seem to understand that Gianna had turned her entire world upside down. She had thought that she had known him, that the three years that had preceded his proposal had been all she needed to know everything about the man she had been in love with, but Gianna had taken that away from her. She couldn’t look at him the same way. She couldn’t pretend that he wasn’t a man who’d lied to her without batting an eyelid, or tried to walk away from his daughter by using their marriage as an excuse, and Fernando didn’t appear to understand that.

Lionel didn’t say anything for a moment before he gently coaxed Amelia to look up at him. “Can I ask you something?” he asked.

Amelia nodded her head, already pretty certain that she knew what was coming next. “Sure” she said.

“How do you feel about him now?” Lionel asked.

Amelia's immediate reaction was to look away from him, not wanting to see the expression on his face. She knew that hearing about her feelings for Fernando, no matter how much they had changed, wasn’t going to be something that was easy for him to do. “Honestly?” she mused “I am still trying to figure that out. I loved him, Leo. I fell in love with him, and I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him, but even if I thought that someday, I could get over what he did, I am pretty convinced that I couldn’t ever trust him again. Every time he told me that he had to work late, or that he was going out with his friends or his brothers, I would be worrying, and I...I don’t want to spend the rest of my life fretting about him. I don’t want to be scared that every knock at the door is going to be another Gianna” she added.

Lionel gently coaxed Amelia back into another soft hug, pressing his lips against the crown of her head. “I’m sorry” he whispered into her hair.

Amelia closed her eyes at the contact. “Sometimes, I wish I had never met him” she admitted “I wish I had fallen for anyone but him” she added.

Lionel sighed against her head. “Once you’d seen him, you didn’t see anyone else” he murmured.

Amelia pulled away to look up at him. “I wish I had” she murmured.

Lionel’s lips twisted into a sad smile. “No, you don’t” he quipped “You were crazy about him, Lia. You’ve never looked anyone like you looked at him” he added.

Amelia’s eyes searched his face for a long moment before she leant in towards him, something which caused Lionel to duck his head, shaking it slightly. “Amelia” he murmured gently.

Amelia blinked at the sound of her full name before she sunk back, shaking her head. “I...I am sorry” she spluttered “I don’t know what that was” she added.

Lionel shrugged, his stare determinedly avoiding hers. “It was nothing” he answered “I should...I should go, though” he added.

Amelia didn’t know what to say to him, so made no attempt to stop him from leaving.

Lionel pulled his jacket around his shoulders before he stepped back towards her, wavering for a second before he leant over, pressing another gentle kiss to the crown of her head. “I’ll see you on Thursday, right?” he asked.

Amelia nodded without looking up at him. “Looking forwards to it already” she said.

Lionel wavered for a second before he walked towards the door and left, leaving Amelia with her face buried in her hands, wondering if she had just ruined their friendship again.