The Space Between Us

05: I’m Fine

Letting her hands slip off of the steering wheel, Amelia sunk back into the driver’s seat, squeezing her eyes closed as she tried to soothe the twisting knots of nervousness in her stomach. She didn’t quite know why she was there. After Fernando’s phone call had dissuaded her from going through with her initial plans to meet up with Lionel, Nora’s words had encouraged her to take a step back, pointing out that she had enough complications in her life as it was without trying to approach Lionel, but after a couple of days, her curiosity had gotten the better of her. She hadn’t thought of him in a long time, but since she had run into him at Alexa’s birthday dinner, he had become stuck on her mind, and she wanted to talk to him. She wanted to know what had happened to cause him to duck out of her life without so much as a word.

Drawing in a deep breath, she exhaled it slowly before she slipped the keys out of the ignition and climbed out of her car. Quickly, before she had the chance to second guess herself, she walked up to the front door and pressed the doorbell before she took half a step backwards, watching the door until it finally swung open.

Lionel’s face briefly lit up before his forehead creased, a frown clouding his features.

Amelia huffed out a nervous laugh, looking down at the keys in her hands. “I was kind of hoping you’d be a little happier to see me” she chirped.

Lionel opened his mouth to say something, but the words never came. Nora’s warning about giving Amelia space overwhelmed the urge he had to admit how glad he was to see her.

The tentative smile that had been on Amelia’s face disappeared when she shook her head. “I can go” she murmured “I just...you wanted to talk the other day, and then I backed out at the last moment, so I thought that you’d maybe still want to talk. We don’t have to, though...”

“I want to talk” Lionel interrupted “I just...” he trailed off, not quite sure how to the finish the sentence without admitting that Nora had told him about her and Fernando.

“You just what?” Amelia prodded gently.

Lionel looked up at her, hoping that something would come to mind, before he shuffled out of the doorway, wordlessly inviting Amelia inside. Amelia blinked a couple of times, but eventually moved past him, allowing him to push the front door closed after her before he followed her into the living room. Stopping in the doorway, he watched her walk around the room, smiling faintly at the familiarity of the sight, before Amelia turned back to him, the question she wanted to ask written across her face.

“I meant it when I said that I wanted to talk to you” Lionel said.

“Then why aren’t you talking to me?” Amelia countered “I know I didn’t show up the other day, but I am here now. I just want to talk to you, Leo, is that really too much to ask?” she added.

“I just don’t think it is the right time” Lionel said.

“You thought it was the right time a few days ago” Amelia argued “What’s changed?” she added.

Lionel didn’t mean to do it, but he couldn’t help himself. Without a word, his stare briefly dropped to her hand, catching sight of the faint tan line on her finger before he steered it back up to her face.

Amelia looked down at her hand before she slowly looked back up at him, realization in her eyes. “Who told you?” she whispered.

“Amelia...”

“Who told you?” Amelia interrupted, her voice sharper “Actually, don’t bother answering that. It doesn’t matter. They all treat me the same way, so it could have been any one of them. They all think that one more thing going wrong will break me” she added.

Lionel took a tentative step towards her. “They were just trying to help” he said carefully.

“I didn’t ask them to” Amelia shot back.

“Amelia...”

“I am fine!” Amelia snapped “I mean, my marriage only lasted for four months, and I found out about Fernando’s affair when the woman he cheated on me with showed up at our house with a picture of him and the baby they’d had together, but I am getting over it, and they don’t need to...to try and protect me. I’m OK” she added, her voice nowhere near convincing. It was shaking, and Lionel could see the tears on her cheeks, no matter how quickly she tried to wipe them away.

Lionel didn’t say anything. He had no idea what he could say that wouldn’t sound empty.

Amelia wiped her cheeks, glancing over at Lionel timidly. “I’m sorry” she whispered.

Lionel answered with a sad smile. He didn’t know what else to do. He had so many questions about what Fernando had done, and about how Amelia was coping with it, but he knew that it wasn’t the right time to ask. She was obviously hurting. Despite her claims to the contrary, the pain was obvious in her voice, and on her face, and he didn’t want to make it worse by asking questions that he would’ve know the answers to if he hadn’t run away from her in the first place.

“I want to talk to you” Amelia admitted after a long moment of quiet “And I know it’s probably a bad idea, and I know that I can’t use you to distract myself from Fernando, but I just...I’ve really freaking missed you, and I want to understand what went wrong so that we can maybe fix it. Can we just do that?” she asked, still wiping at her cheeks.

Lionel hesitated briefly before he nodded his head. “If that’s what you want” he said.

Amelia’s answering nod was firm. “It is” she confirmed.

Lionel took another tentative step forwards, something which caused Amelia to stare at him for a moment before she mirrored it, meeting him halfway in a hug that she didn’t hesitate to melt into. Wrapping her arms tightly around him, she let out a soft sigh as his hand gently rubbed her back. “What happened, Leo?” she whispered.

Lionel made no attempt to break the hug. His hand kept gently rubbing her back before he finally sighed, gently burying his nose in her hair. “I...I couldn’t watch you marry him” he admitted quietly.

Amelia squeezed her eyes closed but didn’t pull out of their hug. She didn’t need to see his face or ask what he meant to know what he was saying.