The Space Between Us

29: It Would Be Easy To Think That

“Are you sure that I am not keeping you away from something else?”

Lionel, who’d been scrolling through his phone, looked up at the sound of Amelia’s voice, shaking his head to answer her question. He knew that he had to leave soon, but he was prepared to leave it for as long as he could, not wanting the progress that he and Amelia had made to slip from his grasp before they had agreed on what was happening. He knew that they were somewhere close to being on the same page. Amelia’s somewhat haphazard announcement that she liked him matched with the feelings that he had for her, and his acknowledgement that she was still some way away from being in a place to start a serious relationship matched her admission that she wasn’t ready for something big, but he still wanted to try and figure out what was happening, even if it was likely to be far from straightforward. He didn’t want to give Amelia the chance to second guess what they had already said.

“I have to leave in a bit” Lionel answered “But not right away. I thought we ought to talk a little first” he added.

Amelia, who’d been twisting her hair into a plait, nodded her head slowly. “You’re probably not wrong” she quipped, a half-hearted smile tugging at her lips.

Lionel matched her smile before he offered his hand out.

Amelia hesitated for a moment before she placed her hand into his, allowing him to tug her into the seat at his side.

“So” Lionel chirped, his voice caught somewhere between shy and playful.

Amelia shook her head gently, her stare watching his thumb which moved back and forth over the back of her hand, trying to offer her some kind of reassurance. “I don’t really know what to say” she admitted after a moment of quiet.

“That makes two of us” Lionel quipped, a shy laugh falling out of his mouth.

Amelia smiled gently at the sound, her fingers gently toying with his. “I like you” she admitted “But I meant what I said about not being ready for a serious relationship right now. If...If this is going to happen, it’s going to happen really slowly. Fernando really did do a lot of damage” she added, a self-deprecating smile on her face.

Lionel squeezed her hand gently, trying to comfort her. “We don’t have to change anything” he said “We already spend a lot of time together. I just thought that it was important for us to be upfront with each other. I wasn’t before, and I did a lot of damage to our friendship because of it. It isn’t a mistake that I want to replicate. I want us to try and get onto the same page” he added.

“What page are you on?” Amelia asked.

Lionel took a moment to think over the question before he gently reached out, coaxing Amelia into looking away from their hands and up into his face. “I like you” he admitted “I’ve been trying to avoid admitting that because I am terrified that people are going to think that I am taking advantage of you, but I do” he added.

Amelia’s forehead furrowed. “Why would people think that you’re taking advantage of me?” she asked.

“I disappeared” Lionel replied “You married Fernando, and my response to that was to disappear. If they didn’t suspect that I had feelings for you before that, that would have made it pretty obvious, and now I have appeared back in your life and Fernando’s gone. I just don’t want anyone to think that the only reason I am back in your life is because Fernando isn’t” he added.

“I don’t think that” Amelia said.

“It would be easy to think it” Lionel pointed out.

“But it’s not true” Amelia countered “Is it?” she asked, her eyes searching his face cautiously. She didn’t believe that it was true, not really, but she wanted to see the look on his face when he said it. She wanted to be sure that their potential relationship wasn’t starting on a lie.

Lionel didn’t hesitate to shake his head. He didn’t want even a fleeting second of hesitation to cause Amelia to doubt what he was going to say next. “Of course it isn’t” he replied “I know how it looks, but I would’ve tried to fix things between us either way. I regretted what I did the second I did it, but I didn’t quite know how to go back, not until we bumped into each other at that restaurant. I know that things aren’t quite back to normal between us yet, but I don’t think I want them to be exactly how they were before. I know it’s going to be slow. I know that what happened between you and Fernando has taken its toll. I just...I want us to try and figure it out anyway. That’s the page I am on” he added.

Amelia nodded her head slowly, taking in everything he had said, before a tiny, shy smile started to pull at the corner of her lips. “I...I think I am on a page very similar to that” she said carefully “I mean, I am wary. I am not scared of you, but I am scared that...that I might do things that I didn’t use to do. I am going to be so cautious, and I am probably going to put a lot of things on you that aren’t really your fault. I want you to know that I know that you and Fernando aren’t the same, but there’s a chance that I will still do things that might make it seem like I don’t. If you think that you can be patient enough with me, then...”

“Then we can give it a shot?” Lionel finished for her hopefully.

Amelia tried to stop her small smile from widening, but couldn’t as she nodded her head. “We can give it a shot” she confirmed.

Lionel didn’t make an attempt to stifle his smile, something which made Amelia laugh shyly before an alarm sounded between them. Lionel sighed and slipped his phone out of his pocket, dismissing the notification on the screen before he looked back up at Amelia, his smile softening a little. “I’ll call you later?” he asked.

“I’d like that” Amelia replied.

Lionel smiled at her for a second longer, not quite sure how to say goodbye, before Amelia leant up and brushed her lips against his cheek. “Speak to you later” she chirped, gently nudging him to his feet.

Lionel just nodded, smiling to himself gently as he walked towards the front door.