The Space Between Us

52: There’s Something Romantic About It

Drawing her knees up to her chest, Amelia let her head rest against them, exhaling the heavy sigh that had been itching to escape her throat from the moment she had sat up in her dark bedroom, all too aware of what the date was. She had been dreading it for a while. When what ought to have been her first wedding anniversary had past a couple of months previous, she had spent the majority of the day curled up in bed, mourning for what could have been, but as hard as that had been to get through, she knew that that day was going to be worse. Everything had changed exactly a year previous, and whilst a lot of good had come it, most notably her relationship with Lionel, it had done little to dull the ache in her chest that she had woken up with.

It had been so sudden. Amelia had been sat in the living room of the home that she and Fernando shared, poring over a work document on the screen of her laptop, when the doorbell had sounded. She remembered rolling her eyes to herself, mumbling a comment about her mother who was due to join her and Fernando for dinner that evening, before she had pulled the front door open and watched as everything around her had shattered. Gianna hadn’t let her get a word in edgeways. She had been so determined to talk to Fernando’s wife, to convince her that Penelope needed her father, that she hadn’t noticed the look on Amelia’s face, not until it was too late.

All Amelia remembered after that was flashes. She remembered staring at the picture of Fernando in the room just after Penelope had been born. She remembered taking that same photo to Fernando, and watching the light drain out of his eyes. She remembered the excuses he spluttered out, the tearful apologies. But the thing she remembered the most was the moment after it was all over.

She had stood on the doorstep of the house that she and Fernando had shared, a bag of her belongings at her feet, and thought back to the morning that they had gotten married, and every other morning that she had woken up and had doubts that Fernando was what he appeared to be. She had thought about every doubt that she had ignored, every time she had sought reassurance from those around her that Fernando wasn’t too good to be true. She wondered just how she had been naïve enough not to see him for what he was.

Squeezing her eyes closed, she drew in another deep breath before she exhaled it in another heavy sigh.

“Are you hungry?”

Amelia lifted her head, finding Lionel stood in the doorway of her bedroom, scratching at his jaw sleepily. “It’s barely six in the morning” she replied.

Lionel shrugged. “I am sure that somewhere is open” he mused “Do you want the shower first?” he asked.

Amelia opened her mouth to object, but Lionel just offered her a look, something which caused her to close it, offering him a small, grateful smile instead. “You can go first” she mused “We both know I take forever” she added.

Lionel huffed out a laugh. “I wasn’t going to say it” he played along.

Amelia just smiled at him softly, something which caused Lionel to smile too before he stepped towards her, pressing a kiss to the top of her head. Amelia’s hand gripped his t-shirt, keeping him close for a few beats, before she let him step back. “Thank you” she whispered.

Lionel shook his head, wordlessly telling her that her thanks weren’t necessary. He knew what that day was to her, and he wanted to help her get through it.

“Do you want anything else?”

Amelia, who’d been idly pushing a spoon around her mug of tea, blinked out of her thoughts to glance across the table at Lionel who was watching her, his understanding expression seemingly etched onto his face. She felt bad. Since the outset of their relationship, it felt as thought everything had revolved around what had happened between her and Fernando, and not what could happen between her and Lionel, but if it bothered Lionel, he had never let it show. He let her talk to him about everything, and he just sat and listened, always trying to find something to say to make her feel even fractionally better. He was more than her boyfriend, he was her best friend, and she loved that about him. He made talking about things, even the hardest things, easier.

“You don’t want to go home?” Amelia prodded “I mean, it’s barely seven. Aren’t you tired?” she added.

“I’ll sleep later” Lionel retorted “Right now, we’re on a date” he added.

Amelia smiled despite herself. “You’re counting this as a date?” she played along.

“We’re together, just the two of us” Lionel chirped, relieved to see the smile on her face “And there’s something romantic about how quiet it is in here. Do you not think it’s a date?” he prodded.

Amelia shrugged. “I hadn’t really thought about it” she mused “I mean, we’re together all of the time these days. Am I supposed to count all of that as dates?” she asked.

Lionel just grinned at her, something which made Amelia shake her head, trying, and failing, to hide the bashful smile that had lit up her face. “For what it is worth” she mused “I would choose to spend time with you over any one else” she added.

“Over Nora?” Lionel teased “Over Charlie?” he added, feigning a gasp that made Amelia giggle.

“Maybe” Amelia played along.

“Well, that’s a pretty big deal” Lionel mused as he reached across the table, letting his fingers brush against her hand.

Amelia watched his fingers for a moment, fascinated by the pattern they traced against her palm, before she spoke quietly, so quietly that Lionel looked up at her with a small frown on his face. “What was that?” he asked.

Amelia seemed to hesitate for a moment, debating whether or not to repeat what she had said, before she looked up at him, a timid, uncertain smile on her face. “I love you” she said.