The Space Between Us

44: Are You Really Going To Say No?

Shuffling back into the quiet bedroom, Amelia stopped in the doorway, a faint smile tugging at the corner of her mouth when her gaze settled on Lionel who was still curled up against his pillow, sleeping soundly. It didn’t feel strange any more. When she had first woken up in Lionel’s bed, the urge to run away from him, and the fear of getting in over her head had almost overwhelmed her, but slowly, it had dissipated. She still had moments where she worried, and she knew that Lionel had them, too, but things seemed settled.

They spent a lot of time together. More often than not, they found themselves staying at one another’s places, and it meant that, for weeks, Amelia had woken up to the sight of Lionel laying on the pillow next to hers, something which had only grown the warmth in her chest that she felt when she looked at him. It had always been there. Before Amelia had met Fernando, she and Lionel had been close, and there had been a few occasions where she had wondered, briefly, if it was possible that there was something more between them, but the longer she spent around him, the more certain she got of those feelings. There was something between them, and whilst she and Lionel were still figuring it out, there was no doubt that it was growing more and more serious.

Shaking her head slightly, she padded towards the end table and set down her mug of tea before she clambered back into the bed. Draping the duvet over her lap, she started to scroll through her phone, only to look away from it when she felt the mattress shift. With a lopsided smile tugging at the corner of her mouth, she turned and looked over at Lionel, finding him looking back up at her, the starts of a sleepy smile on his face.

“Did I wake you?” Amelia asked quietly “I didn’t mean to” she added.

Lionel answered with a shrug as he stretched. “It’s OK” he said sleepily “I’d have to wake up soon, anyway. It’s Sunday, isn’t it?” he added.

Amelia nodded. “It is” she confirmed “And my mother’s already texted, telling me that I can’t get out of brunch” she added, showing the text to Lionel.

Lionel huffed out a soft laugh. “Would she really show up here?” he asked.

“Absolutely” Amelia mused as she moved to place her phone onto the end table “And she wouldn’t hesitate to walk into my bedroom, so to save us that embarrassment, I should probably just go to brunch” she added.

Lionel laughed again as Amelia shuffled back towards him, happily cuddling into his side. For a little while they just stayed like that, both content in the comfortable silence that had settled between them before Amelia lifted her head, propping it up on Lionel’s shoulder.

Lionel smiled up at her, his thumb smoothing out the little crease that had appeared between her eyebrows. “You OK?” he asked.

Amelia seemed to hesitate for a second, opening and closing her mouth more than once, before she moved to lay back on her pillow.

Lionel propped himself up on his elbow. “Amelia?” he asked.

Amelia reluctantly looked up at him. “I was going to ask you to come with me to brunch” she admitted “And then I thought about what I was saying, and I stopped myself. It’s too much, isn’t it?” she asked.

“It’s not the first time I have had brunch with your parents” Lionel pointed out “And last time wasn’t a complete disaster” he added, his lips quirked upwards into an impish smile that he hoped would offer Amelia a little comfort.

She did it a lot. With their relationship still lacking a clear definition, Amelia often fretted about asking him to do things with her, too wary of asking too much from him, and each time, he moved to reassure her. He knew what was happening between them, that their relationship hadn’t been defined, but he didn’t want it to stop Amelia from asking him to do things with her. Whatever they were to one another, he liked spending time with her, and didn’t want her to worry about asking him to do it.

Amelia couldn’t stop herself from smiling back at him. “You made a good impression” she mused “My mother asks after you a lot” she added.

“Really?” Lionel prodded, his voice caught between playful and curious.

“Charlie, too” Amelia confirmed with a nod.

Lionel’s smile softened a little, something which caused Amelia to lift her hand, gently tracing the line of his jaw with her fingertips. “I didn’t realise that them liking you meant that much to you” she said quietly.

“They’re your family” Lionel replied as though it was the most obvious thing in the world “Of course it matters whether they like me or not. They’re a huge part of your life, and I don’t want things to be awkward between them and me. I’ve told you, I am not here to make things harder for you” he added, dipping his head so that he could lightly kiss her fingers.

Amelia gently pushed her fingers through his hair. “Come to brunch with me” she murmured, breaking the momentary silence that had passed between them.

Lionel blinked in surprise. “Really?” he spluttered.

Amelia’s lips quirked. “Are you really going to say no after all of that?” she prodded.

“No” Lionel said “I mean, I would love to go with you. I just...I thought you’d talk yourself out of it” he added.

Amelia just shrugged, still smiling up at him gently. It was her natural instinct. Too wary of inadvertently hurting Lionel, Amelia nearly always pumped the brakes before things between them felt too relationship-like, but she didn’t want to do it then. She wanted him with her at her parents’ home. She wanted to look across the table, and see that lopsided smile he seemed to have just reserved for her. She wanted something that was more like a relationship, even if it was just for a morning.

Lionel’s eyes searched her face for a long moment before a slow smile brightened his features. “OK” he said.

“I’ll let my mother know that she needs to set an extra place, then” Amelia mused.

Lionel leant down, brushing his lips over hers, before he offered her another gentle smile. “Are you sure?” he asked.

Amelia’s answering nod wasn’t accompanied by her usual beat of hesitation. “I’m sure” she confirmed.