The Space Between Us

46: Better Than You Think

Draping his jacket over the back of Amelia’s sofa, Lionel spared a brief amused glance towards her partially closed bedroom door, listening to the sound of her voice as she talked to Nora on the phone. It had almost been inevitable. With Nora being as close to Felicity and Alexa as she was to Amelia, the news that Amelia had taken Lionel to brunch with her family was bound to reach Nora eventually, and he knew from the playfully exasperated tone in Amelia’s voice that Nora was teasing her about it, something he knew that Amelia loved and loathed in equal measure.

She loved that her friends and family liked him. She liked that they hadn’t hesitated to welcome him with open arms, and hadn’t turned their noses up at the fact that they had yet to put a clear label on what they were to one another, but he knew that, whilst she didn’t mind playing along with their teasing, she was still wary about having too much pressure put on them. She wanted to take things slowly. She was still hurting over what had happened between her and Fernando, and as a result, Amelia wanted to keep him at a distance, but he knew that it didn’t mean that she didn’t want to be with him. She just wanted to take some time to get her bearings, something she was worried that the people around her wouldn’t understand.

No one knew how badly Fernando had hurt her. They knew that he had done it, and how he had done it, but no one aside from Amelia knew how deeply the pain ran, and he knew that Amelia worried that it would make people impatient. She worried about a lot of things. About people thinking that she was moving on too quickly, about people thinking that she was moving too slowly. She worried about people thinking that she still had feelings for her ex-husband, and doubting whether she’d ever had them for Lionel. She had so many worries, so much anxiety, and Lionel knew that the only thing he could do was be there for her whilst she tried to figure everything out. He wanted her to know that, no matter what, he was on her side.

Shaking his head at the sound of Amelia’s scoffed laugh, he leant forwards and picked up the television remote, flicking it on to a random channel that he sat and watched until Amelia slumped into the seat next to him, huffing out a playful sigh. “Remind me to call my mother later and thank her for telling Nora” she grumbled.

“How do you know that it was Felicity?” Lionel asked.

“Nora told me that my mother sent her a picture” Amelia replied “I didn’t even notice her taking a picture” she added.

“She was flitting around with her phone” Lionel quipped “I thought she was trying to get pictures of Charlie” he added.

“She probably was” Amelia mused “But happened to catch us doing something ‘couple-like’ and couldn’t resist snapping the photo. Nora said it was adorable, but that was pretty much all I could get out of her” she added, rolling her eyes despite the soft smile on her face.

Lionel marvelled at the soft smile on her face before he caught himself staring, something which caused him to duck his head, shaking it slightly to himself. “Nora wasn’t too bad, was she?” he asked, breaking the momentary silence that had settled over them.

Amelia blinked herself out of her thoughts, turning to look up at him with a soft smile on her face. “She was fine” she said “I knew that people would make a big deal about you coming with me. I was prepared for it” she added.

Lionel gently pushed a curl of her hair off of her forehead. “For what it is worth, I had a great time” he quipped “I forgot how well I got along with Asier and Albert. Your mother and sister were nice, too” he added.

Amelia nodded as she took a hold of his hand, gently messing with his fingers. “I’m glad that you had a good time” she mused.

Lionel waited for her to say something more, but it didn’t come. Instead, she sat quietly at his side, her thumb tracing a line back and forth over the back of his hand as she stared off into space. For a moment, he didn’t say anything, he just squeezed her hand gently and turned his attention back to the television until he felt Amelia’s stare move back towards him. Turning back to look at her, he offered her a small, reassuring smile. “You OK?” he asked.

Amelia’s eyes searched his face before she slowly nodded her head. “Just trying to figure something out” she said.

“Can I help?” Lionel chirped.

Amelia shook her head. “I want to say something” she mused “I just don’t really know how to” she added.

“You could always try just saying it” Lionel mused.

Amelia fell quiet again, mulling his words over for a moment, before she slowly nodded her head. “I want to talk about us” she said carefully “I’ve...I’ve been thinking about us a lot lately” she added.

“Should I be worried?” Lionel prodded, a nervous smile on his face.

Amelia shook her head quickly, her expression slightly panicked. “No” she spluttered “At least, I don’t think so. I mean, you might be. It’s not a breakup speech” she insisted.

Lionel’s smile grew surer, warmer. “That’s good to know” he said.

“I care about you” Amelia said “I’m still scared about a lot of things, and I don’t think that that’s going anywhere for a while, but I know that I care about you a lot, and that I want things between us to be...I’d like us to get more...” she trailed off, shaking her head in frustration about not quite being able to find the right words.

Lionel watched her patiently, waiting for her to look back up at him. When she did, she offered him a slightly flustered smile. “I think I am ready be your girlfriend, if that’s what you want” she said “I mean, I would understand if it wasn’t. I know that I am still a little all over the place, but...” she trailed off when Lionel leant forwards, gently pressing his lips to her forehead.

Exhaling a shaky sigh, she leant into him, allowing him to gently cup the back of her head before he pressed his forehead to hers, a soft smile brightening his features. “I don’t think that you’re all over the place” he said softly “I think you’re doing better than you think you are, and I would love to be your boyfriend” he added, pressing another soft kiss to her forehead.

Amelia pulled back to meet his eyes, her own a little wide in surprise, but Lionel only smiled at her, a wordless reassurance that he knew what he was saying, and that he meant it. It took a second. Amelia blinked owlishly a few times, but eventually, the softest of happiest smiles brightened her features, one that only disappeared when she pressed her lips against his.