The Space Between Us

37: I’d Take Any Excuse To Talk To You

Resting his weight against the archway that led into Amelia’s kitchen, Lionel quirked a faint smile, watching as Amelia padded around the room, putting the finishing touches to the breakfast that she had made for the two of them. She had surprised him. Sunday mornings were the one time he didn’t expect to see her. Brunch at her mother’s house had become an important part of the week for Amelia and her family, and Lionel hadn’t wanted to change it, but when he had gotten Amelia’s text, asking if he wanted to have breakfast with her that morning, he hadn’t been able to say no. He liked spending time with her too much to turn down any opportunity he was offered to do it.

Letting his head bump against the archway, he caught Amelia’s eye, something which caused her to duck her head, trying, and failing, to hide the fact that her cheeks had turned slightly pink. “I thought I told you to make yourself comfortable in the other room” she said.

“You did” Lionel conceded “But I thought I’d come and see if you needed help with anything. You’ve been out here for a while” he added.

Amelia glanced up from the fruit that she was slicing, a soft smile on her face. “I think I have it under control” she mused.

Lionel held his hands up as he stepped a little deeper into the room, slipping into one of the stools that sat next to the counter. Amelia turned back to the fruit, slicing it quietly for a few moments as Lionel watched before he cleared his throat lightly. “I was surprised to get your text” he said “I thought brunch at your mother’s on a Sunday was a permanent fixture” he added.

Amelia didn’t look up as she shrugged. “I told her that I hadn’t gotten to see you much this week” she mused “I didn’t ask if I could skip out on going over there, she suggested it. I just didn’t say no. I guess I kind of like spending time with you” she added, a slight smile tugging at the corner of her mouth as she glanced over at him.

Lionel couldn’t resist smiling back at her gently. “It wasn’t a complaint” he mused “Just a surprise. I half expect the doorbell to go any minute and your sister and Nora to appear” he added.

“They won’t” Amelia mused “They know I am with you. That’s what brunch is about. When I first moved here, I spent a lot of my weekends alone, moping over what had happened with Fernando, so my mother insisted that I go over there once a week. It was her way of making sure that I was doing alright, but I don’t need to be there for her to know that today. I think she thinks that you’re a pretty good sign” she added.

Lionel grinned to himself, watching as Amelia slid a plate into the space ahead of him. Collecting her own plate, she slipped into the seat at his side before she started to poke at her food. Comfortable silence lingered between them for a few moments, broken only by the sounds of their cutlery against their plates, until Amelia cleared her throat. “Have I mentioned that Antonio’s christening is coming up?” she asked.

“A few times” Lionel retorted “Why?” he asked.

Amelia fiddled with her fork for a moment before she sighed. “I know I asked if you were free” she mused “But...uh, I spoke to Nora last night and she pointed out that...that maybe you coming with me wasn’t the best idea. Fernando is Antonio’s godfather, so he’s going to be there, and Nora’s worried that, if you were both in the same place, then things would...would probably get out of hand. She doesn’t want anything to go wrong on Antonio’s big day” she added.

Lionel blinked a couple of times, taking a few seconds to digest what she had said, before he slowly nodded his head. “OK” he said.

“OK?” Amelia’s voice was more surprised than she wanted it to be, something which caused Lionel’s lips to quirk slightly.

“What exactly were you expecting me to say?” Lionel chirped “It’s Antonio’s day, Amelia. I’m not about to insist on going if it causes a problem that could ruin it for him, Nora or Victor. I am not that kind of guy” he added.

Amelia just stared up at him, realising that she had half been expecting him to react in the way that she knew that Fernando would have done. Fernando was charming. If she had told him that Nora had asked him not to attend, he would have found a way to talk her into it, and a small part of her had thought that Lionel would react the same way. She shouldn’t have done. There were a million differences between him and Fernando, and it had never been more obvious to her than it was in that moment. Whereas she was sure that Fernando would have tried to make it about him, Lionel’s foremost thought was about Nora and Antonio, and how he could make things easier for them.


Amelia blinked. “Huh?” she spluttered.

“I asked if you were going to be OK” Lionel said “Spending the day with Fernando” he added.

Amelia’s expression softened into a gentle smile at his concern. “I’m capable of being civil for a few hours” she mused “But, I was kind of hoping that I could call you when it’s done. Maybe we could grab a late dinner or something” she added.

Lionel moved to twine his fingers through hers, a gentle smile of his own on his lips. “You can call me whenever you want to” he quipped “I thought it was pretty obvious by now that I’d take any excuse to talk to you” he added.

Amelia gently toyed with his fingers, trying in vain to hide the pink on her cheeks.

Lionel leant forwards, pressing his lips to the top of her head. “If it gets too much” he murmured into her hair “Just call me. I will wait outside to try and avoid causing a scene, but I’ll come and get you” he added.

Amelia had to bite her tongue, desperate not to let the wave of affection she had felt for him overwhelm her and cause her to say something that she had no doubt that neither of them were quite ready for. It would have been easy to let the words go, but Amelia resisted the urge. Things were still too tentative, too cautious, and she didn’t want to push them to a point that she knew she wasn’t ready to reach.

“Thank you” Amelia murmured.

Lionel smiled into her hair before he turned back to his food, leaving Amelia staring at him, a warmth in her chest that she hadn’t felt since the early days of her relationship with Fernando.