The Space Between Us

48: It’s Not Too Much

“Was I supposed to bring a gift or something?”

Amelia smiled to herself, glancing over at her half closed bedroom door which allowed her to look out into the living room, and at Lionel who was sat on the sofa, frowning slightly at the neatly wrapped present that she had left on the coffee table in front of him. He was nervous. The idea of going to Nora and Victor’s home, even with a promise from Nora that there was absolutely no chance that Fernando would appear, was probably going to be nerve-wracking to him for a long time, but the idea that he was doing it for the first time as Amelia’s boyfriend seemed to have made him slightly more anxious, something which amused Amelia a little.

She had insisted that it wasn’t a big deal. Despite the change in their relationship’s status, their dynamic was largely the same as it had been the first time she had taken him over there, and it meant that neither Nora nor Victor would raise an eyebrow if they did something romantic, even if it would cause Nora to flash Amelia more than one knowing smirk. They weren’t likely to make a big deal out of it.

“It is Nora’s birthday” Amelia called back as she stepped towards her wardrobe “Would you normally buy someone a gift on their birthday?” she added impishly.

Lionel spluttered out an answer about not knowing that it was Nora’s birthday, something which caused the smile on Amelia’s face to widen a little as she peeked around the door. “Check the label” she quipped, tipping her head towards the gift on the table in front of him.

Lionel offered her a slightly baffled look before he leant forwards, turning over the gift tag that was affixed to the present. It took him a second to read it, but Amelia knew when he’d gotten to the part she had been hinting at. The confusion on his face cleared, allowing a slow, soft smile to brighten his features. “From Amelia and Leo” he said.

“I can change it if you want me to” Amelia said, nervously fiddling with her watch.

Lionel didn’t hesitate to shake his head as he looked up at her, his awed smile still on his face. “I didn’t bring anything else” he quipped.

Amelia’s answering laugh was somewhere between nervous and a scoff. “So it would be too much if you’d remembered that it was Nora’s birthday?” she played along.

Lionel shook his head. “It’s not too much” he said “I like seeing my name next to yours” he added.

Amelia offered him a bashful smile. “I kind of liked putting it there” she admitted “It felt official somehow” she added.

Lionel returned her shy smile, allowing a moment of quiet to pass between them that was only broken when Amelia’s phone vibrated against the coffee table. Stepping forwards, she swept it up before she let out a laugh, shaking her head amusedly. “It’s Nora” she quipped “We should get going. She’s getting impatient” she added.

Lionel opened his mouth, preparing to ask if Amelia was sure that she wanted him to go with her, but the smile on her face when she turned to look at him stopped him. She was excited. As cautious as she insisted that they still be, she was excited by the new phase that their relationship was in, and he didn’t want to put a dampener on it. He was consciously hesitant. As much as Amelia had insisted that she was ready to give their relationship a shot, he was still worried that if he let himself relax into it fully, he would get too far ahead of himself too easily, and it meant that he was almost to prepared to pump the brakes, wanting Amelia to have as much time as possible for her feelings to catch up to his.

Closing his mouth, he picked the gift up from the table and took the hand that Amelia held out to him, a gentle smile on his face. “We should go, then” he quipped.

“Are you certain that you don’t want a piece of the cake, Leo?”

Lionel, who’d been whispering to Amelia, blinked at the sound of his name before he looked up, watching as Nora settled into the seat opposite him, offering out a place of birthday cake with a teasing smirk on her face. She couldn’t help herself. As much as Amelia had warned her not to make a big deal about the fact that she and Lionel had made things official, she couldn’t stop grinning at the two of them whenever they did something even vaguely couple-like, and she liked the bashful grin it always earned from Lionel. He looked so happy, so smitten with Amelia, and Amelia looked the same, something Nora loved seeing. It had been too long since she had seen Amelia act like she had before Fernando.

“I’m sure” Lionel answered “It looks great, though. Another one of Victor’s creations?” he added.

Victor scoffed out a laugh. “I am not a baker” he quipped “I can cook, but baking’s different, and Nora loves birthday cakes. I tried to bake her one a few years ago. It was a disaster” he added.

“It wasn’t a disaster” Nora protested.

“You told me it was inedible” Amelia quipped, smirking.

Nora scoffed. “No, I didn’t” she said.

“You did” Amelia retorted “But you told me that you’d forced some of it down anyway. It was your first birthday after you and Victor got together, and you didn’t want to hurt his feelings, so you ate some of it. You liked him enough to risk food poisoning” she added.

Nora ducked her head, trying, and failing, to hide her pink cheeks as Victor laughed, squeezing her hand gently. “Don’t worry” he quipped “I already knew that. You grimaced through the whole thing. I thought it was adorable” he added.

Lionel watched the two of them with a soft smile before he turned to look Amelia, finding her already smiling back at him softly. Leaning forwards, he brushed his lips over hers briefly, choosing to ignore the obnoxious ‘aww’ that Nora let out behind them, before the doorbell chimed. Pulling away from Amelia, he watched as Victor ducked out of the room before he turned and smiled at her again. “Having a good time?” he asked quietly.

“The best time” Amelia confirmed with a nod.

Lionel grinned at her for a second longer before the sound of raised voices reached his ears, followed by the sound of footsteps rushing up the hall. Turning away from Amelia, he felt a lump grow in his throat even before the other man strode through the doorway, his stare zeroing in immediately on him and Amelia.

Lionel caught Nora’s apologetic look, and he felt Amelia shrink away from him before he stood up. “What are you doing here, Fernando?” he asked.