The Space Between Us

13: You Won’t Mean To Do It

“So, I think that we’ve got pretty much everything ready to go. Have you bought me a present yet?”

Amelia, who’d been absent-mindedly pushing her straw around her glass of lemonade, startled slightly when Nora, who was sat across from her, nudged her shin with her foot, drawing her stare away from the glass. “Huh?” she spluttered.

She hadn’t been listening. She had tried to. When Nora had called her at work and asked if they could get lunch together, it had been easy to hear that she was excited about something, but as hard as Amelia had tried to focus on what her friend was talking about, she couldn’t stop her mind from drifting back to what had happened the night before. She wanted to believe that Lionel had meant it when he had said that it was nothing. She wanted to believe that it was just another thing that could go unsaid between the two of them, but the way that Lionel had said it, and the way that he had hurried out of the door afterwards, meant that she couldn’t be certain that things wouldn’t change between them again, and it scared her. She didn’t quite know that she was ready to let him disappear on her again.

Nora’s teasing smile faded a little when she looked up from her plate to see Amelia’s slightly distant expression. “I was talking about my baby shower” she clarified “You know, the one I am having on Saturday?” she added.

Amelia quirked a faint smile, still pushing her straw around her glass. “I still can’t believe that you didn’t let me plan it” she quipped.

“You’d have done it wrong” Nora played along.

The laugh that Amelia let out in reply was tinged with sadness. She knew what the real reason was. She knew that Nora was worried that helping to plan her baby shower was something that Amelia wasn’t ready for, and whilst a large part of Amelia was sure that she was right, it still stung that there was a part of her that couldn’t be happy about something so good that was happening to someone that she loved.

Nora reached across the table, her hand gently squeezing Amelia’s. “You’re going to be there, right?” she asked “I mean, you don’t have to stay for too long, but I’d really love for you to be there” she added.

“Of course I will be there” Amelia replied as though it was the most obvious thing in the world.

Nora squeezed her hand again before she drew her hand back across the table, finishing off the last of the dessert that was on the plate in front of her.

Amelia watched her quietly, still toying with the straw in her drink, before she exhaled a quiet sigh. “Nora?” she said “Can I tell you something without you saying that you told me so?” she asked.

Nora’s lips quirked slightly, like she wanted to make a joke, but it never came. Instead, she just nodded her head. “What’s up?” she asked.

“I think I tried to kiss Leo” Amelia admitted.

“You think?” Nora chirped.

Amelia let out a reluctant laugh, shaking her head slightly. “I tried to kiss him” she corrected “We were on a call last night, and Nando showed up. Leo overheard some stuff, and he came over to comfort me. I don’t know why, but I said something dumb about wishing I had fallen for someone other than Fernando, and I just...I leant in, and he ducked away from me, and then he practically ran out of the front door, but insisted he would still see me on Thursday, and now I have no idea where we stand” she added, glancing up at Nora cautiously.

She had warned her that it was a bad idea. When Amelia had first broached the idea of spending time with Lionel again, Nora had been quick to caution her against it, wary that there were too many ways for them both to get hurt, and Amelia didn’t want to see the disappointment in her face that things had fallen apart so quickly. She loved Nora, but she wasn’t quite ready for the inevitable ‘I told you so’.

Nora was quiet for a moment before she shook her head. “Have you two talked about you yet?” she asked.

Amelia wordlessly shook her head.

“Then, I think you need to” Nora said “I know that you’re excited to have him back in your life, but I don’t think you can just keep skirting around all of the elephants in the room. You can’t tell him that you wish you’d fallen for someone else, Lia. It’s not fair to him, not when you know how he felt about you. He can’t be what he was before, and you both need to understand that” she explained carefully.

She knew how happy Amelia was to have Lionel back in her life. In the few weeks that had passed since they had started their weekly get-together, Amelia had appeared brighter than she had done in a long time, and Nora was almost certain that that had something to do with Lionel, but she knew that she had to explain that, whilst they were both glad to be together again, everything had changed the moment that Lionel had left Amelia’s wedding and not come back. He had had feelings for her, feelings so big that the prospect of sitting and watching as Amelia married Fernando was almost physically painful for him, and whether he still had those feelings or not, it meant that their entire friendship had to be different.

Amelia shook her head. “What am I supposed to say to him?” she asked.

“Just be honest with him” Nora replied “He had feelings for you, you didn’t have the same feelings for him, and you can be friends, but it can’t be what it was before and pretending that it can be is only going to make things worse. You’ll hurt him, Lia. You won’t mean to do it, but you will, because if you let him get too close, you might start thinking that you feel things you don’t and that’s not fair to him. You can’t just sweep everything under the rug and go back to being friends” she added.

Amelia was quiet for a moment before she nodded her head, exhaling a soft sigh. “You’re right” she said.

Nora reached over and squeezed her hand again, offering her a gentle encouraging smile. “You’ll be OK” she mused.

“I hope so” Amelia replied, an uncertain smile on her face.