The Space Between Us

69: Almost Makes Me Believe You

Stopping just short of the doorway of Amelia’s bedroom, Lionel quirked a faint smile, listening to the sound of Amelia’s voice as she spoke quietly to herself, trying to reassure herself that the night ahead of them wasn’t going to be anywhere near as bad as she thought it would be. He knew just how nervous she was. Despite her best efforts to hide it, he could see the fear in her eyes whenever he mentioned his parents or their impending meeting in passing, but she hadn’t once tried to back out of it, something Lionel had been half expecting her to do.

It was something she had done before. On a few occasions, Amelia had gotten ahead of herself, and tried to backtrack when she had fully thought through the ramifications of what she had done, but it hadn’t happened that time. Despite how anxious she was, she seemed set to sit down next to him in his dining room and meet his parents.

“They’re not out to get you” Amelia murmured “They’re just people, who want to meet someone who is important to their son” she added.

Lionel’s smile grew a little as he stepped into the room, clearing his throat lightly. “I think you just stole my line” he quipped.

Amelia let out a soft squeak before she turned around, her cheeks glowing pink. “How long have you been here?” she asked.

“Only a minute or so” Lionel mused “I did text to say that I was on my way over” he added.

Amelia’s stare moved over to her phone which was settled on her nightstand before she looked back at him, shaking her head with a soft, slightly rueful laugh. “It’s on silent” she mused “My mother and Nora have called a couple of times today, to make sure that I am not too nervous about tonight, and I wanted to be able to ignore it, if they did it again” she added.

“Was it that bad?” Lionel quipped as he sat down on the end of the bed.

“You’ve met them” Amelia retorted “They mean well, but...well, let’s just say if I wasn’t nervous before, I would be after talking to them” she added, letting out another nervous laugh.

Lionel’s warm smile slipped off of his face, being replaced by a small frown. Reaching a hand out, he gently twisted his fingers through Amelia’s before he tugged her to stand ahead of him, looking up at her in concern. “Do you want me to cancel?” he asked “If you’re not ready for this, then that’s OK. I don’t want to put you in a situation that’s going to make you uncomfortable, but what you said, when I came in, that’s true. I know it seems like it’s a big deal, but it’s really not. They’re not here to assess you, Amelia. They just want to get to know the woman I don’t stop talking about” he added.

He knew the anxiety she was feeling. The first time he had gone to brunch at her mother’s house, he had barely been able to speak through his nerves at first, but when it had become apparent that all anyone had wanted was to spend time with someone who was important to Amelia, he had relaxed and enjoyed himself, something he wanted to instil into Amelia. No one was out to get her, no one was there to judge her. His parents just wanted to meet the woman that he hadn’t shut up about for months.

Amelia kept her stare on their hands for a moment, watching the movement of his thumb over the back of her hand, before she cautiously looked up at his face. “You’re sure that they’re not going to try and convince you that you could do better?” she quipped, the faintest hint of a smile quirking up one corner of her mouth.

“They couldn’t, even if they tried” Lionel’s reply was somewhere between teasing and sincere.

Amelia’s tiny smile grew, brightening her whole face. “I like how confident you seem about that” she mused “Almost makes me believe you” she added.

Lionel turned her hand over in his, pressing a gentle kiss against her palm. “Trust me” he quipped “There’s very little anyone could say to get me away from you” he added.

Amelia ducked her head, smiling shyly at her feet for a moment, before she ducked forwards, pressing her lips to his briefly. “I need a couple more minutes” she murmured “Then we can go and get this over with” she added.

Lionel pressed another kiss against her palm, smiling gently against her skin. “It’ll be fine” he said.

Amelia smiled at him again, the nerves still visible in her eyes despite the grin, before she stepped away from him, moving to finish getting ready.

“Can I pour you another glass, Amelia?”

Amelia, who’d been happily conversing with Lionel’s mother, jumped at the sound of his before she turned around, just about stifling the urge she had to roll her eyes at the sight of the grin that lit up his face. He looked so proud of himself. He had told her that it would be fine, that his parents would warm to her easily, and despite a slightly haphazard introduction that had betrayed her nerves, he had been right. Celia and Jorge had been patient with her, curious about her and warm to talk to, and it had been enough to blow away any worries that she had had when she had stepped across the threshold. They were lovely, and she was glad that she hadn’t backed out of meeting them.

Celia looked between the two of them, shaking her head amusedly. “Why do you look so pleased with yourself?” she asked.

Lionel’s smirk widened a fraction as he nonchalantly shrugged. “Can’t I just be happy that my favourite people are all in one place?” he retorted.

Amelia rolled her eyes then, laughing. “He’s being smug” she quipped “I was pretty nervous about tonight, and he kept insisting that it would be fine, which it obviously has been. This is his way of boasting” she added.

Lionel flashed her another quick smirk before his father ducked back into the living room, a ringing phone clutched in his hand. “Leo?” he prodded, showing the phone off to Lionel.

Lionel’s smile dimmed a little, seeing the name that was written across the screen, before he nodded his head. “I’ll be right through” he said “Are you two going to be OK for a few minutes?” he asked, turning back to look between his mother and Amelia.

Amelia’s answering smile was soft and more confident than it had been in days. “I think we’ll cope without you for a few minutes” she mused.

“Of course we will” Celia chimed “I’ve got so many cute stories I can tell Amelia about you, Leo” she added.

Lionel feigned a glare in his mother’s direction before he stepped towards Amelia, pressing a soft kiss against her cheek. “I’ll be right back” he murmured as he kissed her cheek again.

Amelia nodded and watched him out of the room with a soft smile on her face, not anticipating for one moment that everything was about to change.