The Space Between Us

75: If I Gave You An Out, Would You Take It?

Wrapping her fingers around the lukewarm mug that sat on the table in front of her, Amelia exhaled a quiet sigh, her stare wandering around the quiet kitchen. She knew that it wouldn’t stay that way for long. With her and Lionel having a flight arranged for the middle of the morning, she knew that it was only a matter of time before a cacophony for alarms went off upstairs, but she was glad for a few moments of quiet. She knew that, once people were awake, there was very little that was going to stop the tears that already threatened from falling.

It had really hit her. When she had woken up almost an hour previous in her mother’s spare bedroom, and realised what day it was, the reality of it had hit her in the chest, and she hadn’t quite been able to shake it, no matter how many times she reminded herself that it was what she wanted. The idea that the day had actually arrived, that by that time the next morning, she was going to be in Paris and that there would be no going back, had, for the first time, overwhelmed her. She had been nervous before. Everything was about to change for her, and the idea had always scared her a little, but it felt different now that the day had actually arrived. For the first time, she had felt doubt that she could actually go through with it.

Lifting the mug to her lips, she took a sip from it, only to grimace at how cold the drink had gotten. Standing up, she moved to pour it down the sink before she made a move towards the kettle, only for her steps to falter when she caught sight of Lionel in the doorway. Blinking a couple of times, she offered him a faint smile before she moved to the kettle, flicking its switch. “You were asleep when I got up” she said.

Lionel offered her a tired smile as he shuffled into the room, plopping down into the seat she had vacated. “I heard you go” he said “I figured I’d give you a little time, see if you came back. I didn’t want to crowd you” he added.

“Thanks” Amelia said “It’s going to be pretty rough once the alarms start to go off” she added.

Lionel nodded his head wordlessly, knowing that she was right. Once Amelia’s parents woke up, and Nora and Alexa arrived, there was no avoiding the goodbyes, and he knew that Amelia was dreading them, even if she had tried her hardest to pretend that she wasn’t. The closer that they had gotten to the date of their departure, the more it had appeared to weigh on her shoulders.

“Thanks for staying here last night, too” Amelia said as she turned to make her drink “You didn’t have to do that” she added.

“Your mother would never have forgiven me if I had said no” Lionel’s quip was teasing, but his voice stayed soft.

Amelia smiled sadly down at her mug. “She’s acting like she’s never going to see me again” she mused “Like I am not going to be back in a few weeks for Nora’s engagement party, or in a few months when Alexa’s baby comes” she added, the laugh she had tried to force out faltering a little.

Lionel, who’d been watching her from his seat, stood up then and moved towards her, his hand gently settling on her shoulder. Without hesitation, Amelia turned into him, allowing him to wrap her in a soft hug. They stayed like that for a while, silent except for the occasion sniff that Amelia made, still desperately trying to hold back her tears, before Lionel drew back, his dark eyes mirroring hers. “Are you sure that this is what you want to do?” he asked.

Amelia shook her head. “Leo” she protested softly.

“This is your home” Lionel said “And I know what you’ve said before, but if you’re having second thoughts...”

“Lionel” Amelia protested again.

“I don’t want you to have regrets, Amelia” Lionel said “I want you to come with me, you know I do, but this is...this is your home. I just...If I offered you an out, if I told you that you could stay here, and that we’d figure it out, would you take it?” he asked.

Amelia blinked owlishly. “An out?” she asked.

Lionel’s answering nod was firm, but his eyes didn’t meet hers. He knew what she would see if they did. She would see his desperation for her to say no, for her to tell him that she wanted to go with him and that that she didn’t have any doubts, and for a moment, he didn’t want her to see it. He wanted her to make a decision without being swayed by him.

“I just want you to be happy” Lionel said “And if that means staying then...” he trailed off when Amelia pressed her lips to his. It was a soft kiss, one that was a little shy, and a little uncertain, but Lionel fell into it easily,

Amelia pulled away slightly, a lopsided smile on her face. “I want to be where you are” she said softly “And just because today is going to be really hard, doesn’t mean my mind has changed about that. It’s going to suck. My mother is going to cry, Alexa and Nora will probably cry too, and everyone will talk about us like we’re never going to be here again, and that’s going to be really tough, but it hasn’t changed my mind. I want to go” she added.

Lionel’s eyes searched her face before he leant forwards, pressing a kiss against her forehead.

Amelia’s eyes closed at the contact, her hand gently cupping his jaw, before she heard the sound of an alarm from somewhere else in the house, something which caused her to exhale a slightly shaky sigh. “I guess it’s time” she mumbled.

Lionel kissed her forehead again. “We’ll be back before you know it” he said softly “Today’s just going to be hard” he added.

Amelia smiled at him sadly, accepting the soft kiss he moved to give her, before she moved to greet her mother and Albert who’d stepped into the room. Lionel watched her, his stomach twisting at the sadness on her face. He knew how determined she was, and he was thrilled by the idea that she wanted to go with him, but he couldn’t shake the idea of her regretting it. There was so much that could go wrong, and he couldn’t shake the thought that something would, and that his relationship with Amelia wouldn’t survive.