The Space Between Us

56: Since When Have You Cared About That?

Slowly letting a curl of Amelia’s dark hair to slip through his fingers, Fernando exhaled a contented sigh, watching as Amelia tucked herself further into his embrace without waking up. He knew just how close it was to being over. When Amelia woke up, and realised whose body she was cuddled up against, he knew just how quickly she would spring away from him, but he couldn’t bring himself to pull away like he knew he should.

He needed her. It was a selfish thing. He had lost all right to ask Amelia for her support and comfort the moment he had fallen into bed with Gianna, but it didn’t stop him from needing her. All he had wanted from the moment that his mother had told him what had happened was Amelia, and now that he had her, he was reluctant to let her go. He felt better with her around. The searing pain that had filled his chest at his mother’s announcement had dulled slightly when she had found him in the hall, and he didn’t want to let go, scared that if he did, the pain would overwhelm him again.

Gently brushing his fingers back through her hair, he watched her sleep for a moment before his stare started to wander around the room, eventually settling on the shelf above the sofa and the picture of Amelia and Lionel that resided there. He had found himself staring at it during the night. Whilst Amelia had managed to sleep through, his sleep had been more fitful, and when he had woken up, he had found himself looking up at the photo and thinking. He hated a lot of things about it, but the thing that he hated the most was how happy Amelia looked.

It was genuine happiness, happiness that he had seen countless times in her eyes when they had been together, and the idea that it was being caused by someone else was one that he was having a hard time processing. He did want her to be happy, but the idea that he wouldn’t be the one causing it was tough to swallow.

Closing his eyes, he sighed to himself before the sound of knocking filled the air, something which caused him to glance down at Amelia instinctively. Seeing that she was still asleep, he gently edged himself out of her embrace before he padded down the hall and towards the front door. Pulling it open, it took a beat for him to realise who was stood on the other side of it before he quickly stepped out into the hall and pulled the door closed after himself.

Lionel took a pace backwards, his forehead creased in confusion.

Fernando shook his head. “It’s not what you think” he said.

Lionel didn’t say anything, still staring at Fernando in confusion.

Fernando stared at him, waiting for him to respond, before he shook his head, scratching the back of it slightly. It would have been easy to pretend that his being there was something that it wasn’t. He was at his ex-wife’s home, before eight in the morning. He knew exactly how it looked, and how easy it would be to lean into it, but he was determined to stop himself, the image from the photograph in Amelia’s living room stuck on his mind. He had already ruined so much of her happiness, and as tempted as he was, he couldn’t do it again.

“It’s my fault” Fernando said “I showed up without warning, but it’s really not what you’re thinking it is. I had...I had some tough family stuff to deal with, and I needed someone to talk to, and I turned to Amelia. I shouldn’t have done, but I did. It was just talking, and I fell asleep here. That’s all” he insisted.

Lionel didn’t respond for a beat before he slowly nodded his head. “She let you in?” he asked.

“I was a mess” Fernando replied “My father died” he added.

The expression on Lionel’s face softened. “I’m sorry” he said.

Fernando offered him the best smile he could muster in thanks. “I shouldn’t have come here” he said after a moment of quiet “It was selfish, but you know how Amelia is. She’s a good person” he added.

Lionel nodded thoughtfully, his expression still slightly doubtful.

Fernando watched him, waiting for his reply, before he cleared his throat, drawing Lionel’s stare up to his again. “She is the best person I know” he said gently “She’s sweet, and kind, and warm, and that’s why she let me in. It’s got nothing to do with me. I was a mess last night, and Amelia chose to help me, because that’s just who she is. I can’t stress enough that it was just talking” he added.

“You’re you” Lionel mused “How could it have nothing to do with you?” he asked.


“She loved you, Fernando” Lionel interrupted.

“Loved” Fernando repeated “As in, once did and now doesn’t. I fucked everything up. You know that I did. You know how she feels about me now, and I know how she feels about you. I need you to believe me when I tell you that this isn’t what it looks like” he added.

“Why?” Lionel asked.

“Because she is happy” Fernando replied as though it was the most obvious thing in the world.

“Since when did you care about that?” Lionel’s answer wasn’t sharp, or angry, but it caused Fernando to flinch regardless.

He knew that he was right. Since Amelia had left him, nothing that Fernando had done had suggested that he cared about her being happy, but he wanted to try and fix it. The picture on the shelf in the living room had stuck with him. For the first time in over a year, since she had stormed out of their shared home and not looked back, she looked like herself. She looked happy, and Fernando knew that he had to try and preserve that. It was the least that he owed her after everything he’d put her through.

“I want her to be happy” Fernando said “It’s just been hard for me to accept that her being happy probably isn’t going to have anything to do with me any more. I know how hard I have made things for her. I know how selfish I have been, but last night I...There’s a picture in her living room of the two of you, and I just...I’ve not seen her smile like that since Gianna. She’s happy, and I can’t...I don’t want to ruin that for her, not again. It was talking, and we fell asleep. That’s it” he added.

Lionel had a million things that he wanted to say. He wanted to say that a simple apology wasn’t enough to undo all of the damage that Fernando had done. He wanted to tell him that a minor realisation about how selfish he had been wasn’t going to be enough to convince him that he was finally starting to let Amelia go, but he never got the chance to say any of it, not when the front door opened and Amelia looked up at him, an expression that he couldn’t quite place on her face.