The Space Between Us

15: Isn’t That Why You Wanted Me Here?

“You know, we could just leave the gifts on the doorstep and run away”

Amelia huffed out a laugh, turning to look at Lionel who was sat in the driver’s seat, a soft smile on his face. She had surprised him with the invitation. After they had cleared the air about her attempt to kiss him, their usual Thursday night dinner had gone off without a hitch, and so when she had woken up that morning, almost certain that she didn’t want to go to Nora’s baby shower, the phone call she had made to him hadn’t been awkward. She had needed someone to remind her that it was a big day for Nora. She had needed someone to tell her that Nora didn’t care if she didn’t stay for long, she just wanted to share her happiness with her best friend, and whilst Lionel had done that, Amelia had still asked if he could come with her. She found his presence comforting, and knew that the afternoon would appear more approachable if she had him at her side.

“When did you even have time to buy a gift?” Amelia countered.

“Did you not notice how early it was when you called me?” Lionel replied “I went out this morning, and picked something up. It’s just a stuffed animal, but I figured you weren’t about to add my name to your gift” he added.

Amelia shook her head, the smile on her face dimming as her expression grew apologetic. “Was it really early?” she asked.

Lionel answered with a shrug, his impish smile still on his face. “Maybe a little too early for me” he chirped “But I’ll get over it” he added.

Amelia offered him a slightly dubious look, but the grin on Lionel’s face didn’t fade, coaxing her into smiling back at him reluctantly “I’ll try and check the time in future” she mused.

“That’s all I ask” Lionel played along.

Amelia shook her head, laughing despite herself, before the sound of her phone vibrating in the cupholder filled the car. Picking it up, she rolled her eyes at the text that Nora had sent to her before she showed it to Lionel who smiled at her. “I think that rules out just leaving the presents on the doorstep and running” he quipped.

“I promised her that I would show my face” Amelia replied, typing out a reply to Nora’s message.

“Then let’s do it” Lionel encouraged.

“You don’t mind coming with me?” Amelia asked.

“I drove you here” Lionel countered “Do you think I would have done that if I minded?” he added.

Amelia shook her head, a soft smile on her face.

Lionel reached across the centre console, squeezing Amelia’s hand gently, before he climbed out of the car. Amelia hesitated for a beat before she followed him out of the car. Taking the gift bag he held out to her, she answered his comforting smile with one that was still a little shaky before she progressed towards Nora’s front door, Lionel trailing after her.

Tugging the jumper that she had borrowed from Nora around herself a little more, Amelia drew her knees up towards her chest, letting go of the heavy sigh that had steadily been building in her chest since she and Lionel had stepped foot into Nora’s home. She had been expecting it to be difficult. She and Nora had known each other for a long time, meaning that Amelia knew almost all of Nora’s friends and family, and that afternoon was the first time she had seen a lot of them since her wedding day, but knowing that it would be hard and actually going through it had been two different things.

They didn’t say anything. It was obvious that Nora and Victor had warned people about asking where Fernando was, but it didn’t mean that Amelia couldn’t see that they were wondering it. Fernando was a close friend of Victor’s, they had been together at the bar when Amelia and Fernando had met, and his absence from his best friend’s baby shower was obvious, something that was reflected in the face of everyone that Amelia had spoke to that day. They didn’t know what had happened exactly. Amelia had pleaded with Nora and Victor not to share too many details with anyone else, but they knew that their marriage was over, and Amelia’s presence at their friend’s baby shower showed that she had been the one to get her heart broken.

Letting her forehead rest against her knees, she drew in a deep breath before she exhaled it, relishing the faint sense of relief that she felt.

“Do you want to get out of here?”

Amelia startled at the sound of Lionel’s voice before she slowly lifted her head, a lopsided smile tugging at the corner of her mouth. “How’d you find me?” she prodded.

“I saw you sneak out of the back door” Lionel replied “I thought I would give you some time alone, but it’s been nearly twenty minutes, so I figured I would come and check on you” he added.

“You didn’t have to do that” Amelia mused “You looked like you were having a good time catching up with Victor and Nora” she added.

Lionel shrugged as he moved towards the bench, sitting down next to her. “Isn’t that why you asked me to come?” he prodded.

Amelia opened and closed her mouth a couple of times before she exhaled a soft sigh, swivelling so that she could place her feet onto the floor. “It’s the first time I have seen a lot of these people since my wedding day” she admitted “I don’t know how much they know about me and Nando, but the sympathetic looks I have been getting started to get a little too much for me, so I came out here” she explained.

Lionel gently nudged her foot with his. “Do you want to leave?” he asked.

Amelia shook her head, tapping his foot with hers. “Not yet” she mused.

Lionel didn’t question her answer. He just nodded his head and tapped her foot with his again.

Amelia’s lips quirked slightly as she watched their feet. “Did I say thank you yet?” she asked “I imagine that you must have had a lot more interesting things to do this afternoon than to come to my friend’s baby shower, so it means a lot to me. Thank you” she added.

“You’re welcome” Lionel mused “Although, it does mean that you owe me one” he teased.

Amelia laughed gently. “Did you have something specific in mind?” she asked.

Lionel shook his head, nudging her foot again. “Something will come up” he chirped “But seriously, I didn’t mind coming today. If you need someone to do these things with you, you can always ask me. You know that, right?” he asked.

Amelia moved to lean her head on his shoulder, nodding it slightly.

Lionel turned and pressed a gentle kiss to the top of her head before the sound of the back door opening caught his attention. Lifting his head, he turned to look at Nora who had stopped a little way away from him and Amelia. Nora gestured to Amelia who hadn’t heard her come outside, wordlessly asking if she was alright, something which made Lionel nod.

Nora hesitated for a split second, watching their feet which playfully nudged against one another, before she quirked a faint smile to herself and hurried back inside.

When the door closed again, Amelia looked up, but she didn’t say anything. Instead, she just cuddled back into Lionel’s side, more than content in their embrace.