The Space Between Us

80: We Are Nothing Like You

Absent-mindedly rubbing the spot on her finger where her wedding ring had once sat, Amelia stared into her glass of champagne, mentally counting down the seconds until she could get up and offer her excuses to Nora and Victor. She knew that she had to stick it out for a while. Despite it only being an engagement party, Nora had asked her to write a small speech, and she knew that she couldn’t leave until she had given it, but it hadn’t stopped her from looking forwards to leaving.

It wasn’t how she wanted to feel. When she had pictured being at her best friend’s engagement party, she had thought that her overriding emotion would be happiness for Nora, and for Victor, but no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t shake the feeling of dread that had been steadily growing in her since Nora had told her about Fernando and Gianna. She knew that she was going to see them. Whether she tried to avoid them or not, she knew that she was going to see them together, and she knew how it would feel. Despite everything that had changed since she had left Fernando, the idea that everything that he had told her in the immediate aftermath of Gianna’s revelations had been a lie hurt Amelia.

Catching herself tracing the line of her former wedding ring, Amelia blinked a couple of times before she pulled her hand away, focussing on fiddling with the stem of her glass instead.

“Where’s Leo?”

Amelia’s lips quirked into a sad smile, but she didn’t look up. “Paris” she replied.

Nora’s forehead furrowed as she sat down in the empty seat next to Amelia’s. “I thought he was coming tonight?” she said.

“Something came up” Amelia said with a shrug “He sends you and Victor his best, though” she added.

Nora nodded her head slowly, her forehead still creased. “Did you tell him about Gianna?” she asked.

“What was I supposed to tell him, Nora?” Amelia replied, her voice a little exasperated “My ex-husband is bringing the woman who destroyed our marriage to a party, and I am pissed at him for it? Things between me and Nando ended two years ago. I shouldn’t care about what he does any more, and I don’t want to keep bringing it to Leo. I can’t imagine listening to me go on and on about Fernando is fun for him” she added.

“You’re allowed to be upset about Fernando and Gianna” Nora pointed out “I am pissed, and it’s got very little to do with me” she added.

Amelia offered Nora another tired smile. “Being pissed isn’t going to change it” she said “He’s with her, and it means that everything he said after she showed up was a lie, and I know I shouldn’t care about it, but I do. As naive as it makes me sound, I wanted him to be telling the truth, but he wasn’t. He keeps making me look like an idiot because I just want to believe that I wasn’t stupid enough to marry a guy that did nothing but lie” she added.

Nora gently settled her hand on Amelia’s back, rubbing soothing circles against it. “You’re not stupid” she said.

Amelia rolled her eyes, trying, and failing, to hide the fact that they had grown slightly misty. “Aren’t I?” she asked.

“No, you’re not” Nora said firmly “You fell in love, Amelia. You loved Fernando, and it meant you couldn’t see the worst in him. You got it wrong, but you’re not stupid. You just loved him” she added.

Amelia blinked a couple of times, something which caused Nora to lean over, gently brushing the tears that had slipped out of her eyes off of her cheeks with a soft, lopsided smile. “You’re amazing” she cooed “Fernando’s the stupid one, letting you go. Now you’ve got Leo, and he adores you. You’re better off without Fernando” she added.

Amelia’s answering smile was small, but bright and warm. “Thanks” she said.

“Anything for you” Nora quipped “But right now, I have got guests I should be greeting. You should get out of that chair. Aside from the threat of bumping into Fernando, the party is great, and you should enjoy it” she added with a grin.

Amelia made a show of rolling her eyes, even as she nodded. “I’ll do my best” she played along.

“I’ll make sure that you do” Nora teased as she moved away.

Listening to Lionel’s voicemail message, Amelia exhaled a quiet sigh before she pulled the phone away from her ear, tucking it back into her bag. She hadn’t needed to speak to him. Aside from a couple of glimpses of Gianna and Fernando together, the night had actually been a lot more pleasant than Amelia had been expecting it to be, but she had still wanted to speak to Lionel. It had only been a couple of days, but she missed him and had hoped to catch him again, wanting to hear his voice.

Taking a step down the hall that she had retreated into to make the call, she paused next to a mirror to smooth out her hair before she heard someone clear their throat, causing her to look up.

Fernando, who’d stopped a few paces away from her, waited for her eyes to meet his before he dropped his head, nodding towards her bag. “I didn’t think I had seen Leo” he quipped “Still in Paris?” he asked.

Amelia just nodded, her stare drawn to her feet.

Fernando was quiet for a long moment before he scratched the back of his neck. “I take it you know that Gianna’s here?” he asked.

It took everything Amelia had not to scoff. It was such a Fernando thing to say. He hadn’t tried to speak to her before the party, he hadn’t tried to soften the blow of seeing Gianna again. He had just let her walk into the party and was trying to explain after the fact. “Nora told me she would be” she replied “And I saw you together. I forgot how beautiful she was” she added, attempting a smile.

Fernando shook his head. “I know how it looks” he said.

“It looks like you lied to me” Amelia’s voice was surprisingly level “But I have learnt in the past two or so years that that is pretty much all you did when we were together, so what’s another one? She was just a fling? You made a mistake? It really looks like that” she added sarcastically.

“I didn’t lie to you about that” Fernando countered.

“No?” Amelia chirped “Then what is she doing here, Nando?” she asked.

“Things change” Fernando said “She was exactly what I said she was then, but now...I have been seeing a lot of Penelope, and a lot of Gianna, too, and things just happened. Just like they happened for you and Leo” he added.

Amelia couldn’t stop the bitter laugh that time. “You two are nothing like me and Leo” she spat.

“Really?” Fernando’s voice was just as sharp “Because I am pretty sure that he didn’t just skip out on our wedding because he was busy. He loved you then, and then, when I was no longer in the picture, he magically reappeared and swept you off of your feet? He was just waiting for his chance” he added.

“We are nothing like you and Gianna” Amelia repeated “We never lied to anyone, we never hurt anyone” she added.

“You hurt me!” Fernando yelled “Every time you told me that he was just a friend. Maybe you didn’t sleep together until after our divorce, but there were definitely feelings there. Your affair might not have been physical, but emotionally, can you honestly say that you were one hundred percent faithful to me?” he asked.

“I loved you!” Amelia shouted back “I gave you everything I had, and just weren’t the person I wanted you to be. You lied, and you lied, and you’re still lying. You’re still trying to drag me down to your level, to make what happened my fault in some way” she added.

“Why does it even matter to you that Gianna’s here?” Fernando asked “I mean, you’re so happy with your boyfriend” he added sarcastically.

“I’m just pissed that you lied to me again” Amelia countered “Though, I shouldn’t be surprised. All you do is lie” she added.

“I am not lying!” Fernando snapped “Gianna and I have been together for a few weeks. We have a kid together, we grew close, it happens. I meant everything I said to you when you found out about her and Penny. I loved you, more than anything, and I made a mistake. No, I made a million mistakes, all of which mean that I now have to sit back and watch as you get to be happy with Leo. Do you have any idea what it is like knowing that you’re with him?” he pressed.

Amelia didn’t say anything.

“It’s killing me” Fernando answered for her.

He knew that she knew the answer, it had been written on his face from the moment that Amelia had confronted him with the announcement that she knew about Gianna, and it wasn’t a pain that showed any sign of dissipating. He wanted it to. He knew that he had blown his chances with Amelia, and he wanted to be big enough to step out of her way in order to allow her the chance to find the happiness that she deserved, but it felt impossible. Despite everything, despite Lionel and Gianna, he knew that he would trade everything for just one night where Amelia smiled at him like she had done when they’d been together

“Knowing that I took the best thing in my life for granted. Knowing that every time I went back to Gianna, I destroyed us a little bit more, until we were no longer salvageable. I have to live with knowing that you’re always going to want to be with someone else, because you could never trust me again. I hate that this is what we are now” Fernando continued.

Amelia didn’t speak, but she did lift a hand to wipe at her eyes, something Fernando took as an invitation to step closer. His movements were slow, cautious, but it still wasn’t enough time for Amelia to realise what was happening until she felt his hair in her fingertips, and his lips pressed to hers.