The Space Between Us

60: They’re Scared Of Scaring Me

Pulling the zip around on his suitcase, Lionel spared a look out of the corner of his eye towards the bathroom door, a heavy sigh escaping him when he realised that it was still closed. He hadn’t been surprised. Almost as soon as he and Amelia had crossed the threshold into his home, leaving Alexa and Asier in the taxi that they had shared, the tension that they had both been trying to ignore had descended onto them, and it meant that there hadn’t been a part of him that had been surprised when Amelia had scuttled up the stairs.

She could feel it, too. She knew that there was an elephant in the room, one that they had both been more than happy to avoid addressing, but Alexa’s comment, as throwaway as it had been, had brought it into focus, and now that it was there, there was no more pretending that it wasn’t. It was too big a question to leave alone. They weren’t in a rush, and no one was going to suggest that they start to be in one, but it was starting to feel serious, and long term, and they needed to know what they both thought their future looked like. They needed to know if they were even close to being on the same page, something Lionel had cause to doubt.

Diverting his stare back towards his bag, he hoisted it off of the bed and settled it on the floor before he heard the bathroom door open, causing him to glance over at it again.

Amelia met his stare for a moment before she looked away, busying herself with putting her things back into her overnight bag.

Lionel watched her for a second before he turned back to his own things, allowing the room to fall silent. It stayed that way for a while, both of them lost in their own thoughts, but eventually, the silence got the better of Lionel. With another heavy sigh, he set down the jacket he had been folding into another suitcase and glanced across the bed at Amelia. “Can we just talk?” he asked.

“About what?” Amelia replied.

Lionel’s lips kicked upwards into a tired smile. He should have been prepared for that response. “About what Alexa said at dinner” he mused “And no, I don’t mean her pregnancy” he added knowingly. Amelia was good, too good, at trying to steer the conversation about from topics she found uncomfortable, and he didn’t want to give her the chance to.

Amelia slowly nodded her head. “The other thing” she murmured.

“Yeah, the other thing” Lionel mused “I saw the look on your face when Alexa said it. I...I think we might need to talk about that” he added.

Amelia seemed to hesitate for a second, clearly debating whether or not to deny what he had seen, before she sunk down onto the side of the bed. “I’m sorry that she said it” she murmured “She gets ahead of herself when she’s excited” she added.

Lionel slowly moved around the bed, moving into the space next to her.. “It’s alright” he mused “I think I can give her a pass. It’s not every day that you find out that you’re having a baby” he added.

Amelia flashed him a small smile before they lapsed into silence again. Shaking her head, Amelia fiddled with the tie on her pyjama shorts, a soft sigh falling out of her mouth. “It caught me by surprise” she admitted “Before, when I was with...him, Alexa and Nora and my mother used to tease me all of the time, but it stopped when things went wrong, and with you, they haven’t done it. They’re scared of scaring me” she added.

Lionel moved to take her hand, gently twisting their fingers together.

Amelia smiled down at their hands sadly. “You want to ask me if I have thought about it, don’t you?” she asked, breaking the silence that had settled over the two of them.

“I like us” Lionel said carefully “And I have no intention of changing it. I just...this feels big to me, like something that could last for a really long time, and I just think that...that maybe we need to have an idea of what a long time is going to look like” he explained.

He could hear the worry in her voice, and he wanted to reassure her that he wasn’t asking for things to change. He didn’t want them to. Things between them were good, and he was happy. He just wanted to know what she saw ahead of them, and whether or not it matched up to what he saw.

Amelia nodded her head slowly, mulling his words over, before she closed her eyes. “I don’t think that I can see myself getting married again” she admitted.

Lionel didn’t say anything, something which eventually coaxed Amelia into opening her eyes again, allowing her to study the look on his face. He was trying to hard to keep it steady, to not let the disappointment show, but Amelia could still see it, and it felt like a blow to her stomach. It wasn’t down to him. She loved him, and she trusted him with everything that she had, but what had happened between her and Fernando had left her almost certain that she didn’t want to get married again. She had given everything she had to Fernando, believed in everything he had told her, and it had all fallen apart so quickly. She didn’t know that she would ever be ready to trust a relationship quite like she had trusted what she had with Fernando.

“Leo?” Amelia prodded softly “Can I just...Can I try and explain?” she asked.

Lionel nodded his head dazedly.

“It’s not you” Amelia said, desperate not to let the silence settle again “I know that that sounds like a cop out, but it really isn’t. I just...I don’t think I can ever put that much faith into anything again. I love you, and I trust you, but I just...I don’t think that that’s on the cards for me, not after the first time. I am sorry” she added.

Lionel’s head snapped up, shaking slightly. “You don’t have to be sorry” he said.

“Don’t I?” Amelia countered softly.

“No” Lionel insisted “It’s how you feel. You don’t have to apologise for it. I understand it. Fernando did a lot of damage” he added.

Amelia nodded her head slowly, allowing the room to fall quiet again. She kept waiting for Lionel to say something, for him to reassure her as he had done countless times since he had stumbled back into her life, but it never came. Instead, they sat side by side in silence until Lionel stood up and mumbled something about getting ready for bed before he disappeared into the bathroom and pulled the door closed after himself.

Amelia stared at the closed door before she climbed into the bed, sinking against her pillow with a heavy sigh. She wanted to believe that it would be OK, that Lionel had meant it when he said that he understood, but she couldn’t shake the feeling that things between them were about to change in a substantial way.