The Space Between Us

54: I Know What You’re Thinking

“Are you sure I can’t tempt you to come back to my place?”

Amelia, who’d been staring out of the car window, quirked a faint smile at the question before she turned to look at Lionel, taking a beat to marvel at the easy smile that brightened his features. Things felt easy between them. In the few weeks that had passed since they had been sat in a cafe, admitting the depth of their feelings for one another, some of the anxiety that had been ever-present in their relationship appeared to have dissipated, and in its wake, it had left a feeling of contentment that Amelia had doubted that she would feel for a very long time.

She hadn’t been expecting Lionel. When things with Fernando had ended, it had been hard for Amelia to picture being happy with anyone else, but slowly and surely, things had changed. The pain of what had happened with Fernando still lingered. Every now and then, she caught herself, thinking about what could have been and lingering in what had been, but she was doing better than she had thought she would be doing, something that was, in no small part, down to the man who sat at her side.

He wasn’t the only support she had had. Her family and Nora had done more for her than she could ever thank them for, but the support that Lionel had offered her was different. Whilst everyone else had been happy to throw mud at Fernando, and to apologise for not seeing what was happening before Gianna had had the chance to drop the news on Amelia, Lionel had been focussed only on making sure that Amelia felt loved, and she adored him for it. She hadn’t known quite how much she had missed him until he had reappeared and reminded her just how important a person he was in her life. He was probably the most important person in life now that he was back in it.

“Not tonight” Amelia mused “I’ve got an early meeting, and I need to finish preparing for it” she added.

“You can’t do that at my place?” Lionel prodded.

“I could” Amelia mused “But I think you underestimate how distracting you can be, and I can’t afford any distractions” she added.

Lionel’s lips quirked again into the easy smile that Amelia adored. “I suppose I had best take you home, then” he quipped as he turned onto her street.

Amelia nodded. “Just for tonight” she mused “I can come by tomorrow, if you want me to” she added.

“I’d like that” Lionel replied as he pulled the car to a stop “But, for tonight, this is goodbye” he added.

Amelia blinked up at her apartment building, surprised by how quickly they’d arrived, before she turned back to Lionel, a bashful smile on her face. “I’ll speak to you tomorrow?” she asked.

“I hope so” Lionel’s teasing was softened by the gentle smile that brightened his features.

Amelia rolled her eyes gently before she leant across the centre console, briefly brushing her lips against his. “Goodnight, Leo” she murmured.

Lionel stole another soft kiss before he leant back, offering her another soft smile. “Night, Amelia” he said.

Amelia lingered for a moment before she slipped out of the car and made her way towards the building. Ducking inside, she quietly made her way up towards her apartment only to stutter to a stop a handful of steps from her front door, her stare fixed on the figure who stood outside of it, his forehead pressed against the wood. It was a sight that she thought she had seen the last of. Since Nora’s birthday party, she hadn’t seen or heard from Fernando, and it meant that the sight of him stood outside of her home, waiting for her to return, was more than a surprise. She had been hopeful, if only faintly, that he had at last gotten the hint and decided to leave her to moving on with her life.

Pushing a hand back through her hair, she stared at Fernando for a moment before she lightly cleared her throat.

Fernando flinched at the sound before he turned around, staring down at Amelia with an expression on his face that caused all of the words that Amelia had for him to get stuck in her throat. Sniffling, he attempted a smile that broke almost immediately before he shook his head, moving to wipe his tearful eyes with the back of his hand.

Amelia didn’t move, even despite the pang in her stomach. Despite everything, there had still been a part of her that, when he had looked up at her with tears in his eyes, had wanted to wrap her arms around him and try and make him feel better.

Fernando took a moment to compose himself before he looked back up at her, another brittle smile on his face. “I know what you’re thinking” he said “I shouldn’t be here. You’re thinking that I am being selfish again, and you’re probably right, but I just...I didn’t know where else to go. I’ve spent the whole day trying to hold myself together, for my mother, for my brothers, but when I got in my car...” he trailed off with a pained shake of his head.

“What’s going on, Nando?” Amelia asked.

Fernando took in a deep breath before he looked up at her, his eyes shining with unshed tears. “My dad died” he choked out.

Amelia felt her heart break as Fernando’s head dropped again, allowing him to dissolve into the sobs that he had been trying to hold back. She didn’t know what to say. She knew how close Fernando had been to his father, how much he valued his opinion, and she didn’t quite know to say to him to offer him comfort. She had been so little when her own father had died, too young to really remember all of the feelings that she had felt, and it meant that all of the words that had crossed her mind felt inadequate. ‘Sorry’ didn’t feel like it would ever be enough to express how sad she felt for his loss.

For a moment, Amelia stood and let Fernando cry, before she gently stepped towards him, reluctantly coaxing him into a hug that Fernando didn’t hesitate to fall into, sobbing against her shoulder. “I’m sorry” he mumbled “I...I know that I shouldn’t have come. I just...I needed someone. I have spent the whole day making phone calls, and trying to make sure that my mother, Felipe and Franco are OK, and I just...” he broke off with another soft sob.

Amelia gently rubbed his back as she closed her eyes. “It’s OK” she whispered softly “Why don’t you come in?” she asked.

Fernando didn’t make any attempt to protest. He nodded against her shoulder before he let her take his hand and guide him into the apartment. Amelia’s grip on his hand was loose, hesitant, but despite the nagging voice of warning that squeaked at the back of her mind, she led him through the front door.