The Space Between Us

82: How Does That Happen?

Staring at her phone as it vibrated against the duvet, Amelia let out a heavy sigh, knowing that, sooner or later, she would have to pick it up. She had managed to by herself a little time. After watching Lionel’s initial call ring out, she had sent him a text, telling him that she would call him once the party was over, but she knew that that excuse wouldn’t hold for much longer. He knew that she planned on leaving early. She had told him that she wouldn’t be staying late, not wanting to be around Fernando for longer than necessary, and she knew that his calling her meant that he knew she was home. He had waited for her call, and when it hadn’t come, he had tried to call her again.

Watching his name flash across the screen again, she pushed a hand back through her hair before she finally moved to pick the phone up. Accepting the call, she pressed the phone against her ear, her stomach twisting painfully when Lionel’s laugh filled her ears. “You survived, then” he chirped impishly.

“Just about” Amelia tried to play along, even as she pressed a palm to her chest, hoping it would do something to dull the ache.

“You had me worried for a minute” Lionel continued, huffing out another laugh.

Amelia closed her eyes at the sound of his laugh, relishing it for a long moment, before she sighed. “I need to talk to you about something” she admitted “Something happened at the party” she added.

The line was silent for a beat before Lionel spoke again, his voice lacking his previous humour. “Fernando?” he asked.

“Fernando” Amelia confirmed “He...uh, he showed up with Gianna” she added.

Lionel’s next laugh was slightly sharp, but Amelia knew that his anger wasn’t directed at her. He was hurt that Fernando had, once again, hurt her. “Gianna?” he asked “As in the woman he cheated on you with?” he added.

“That would be her” Amelia said, trying, and failing, to keep her voice light.

Lionel was quiet for another beat before he sighed. “Are you OK?” he asked.

Amelia felt the lump in her throat tighten, making it impossible for her to answer immediately, before forced herself to nod. “ wasn’t a complete surprise” she said “Nora had warned me. It is actually why I called you before the party. I needed to hear you tell me that it was going to be alright, but then you told me that you weren’t going to make it, and I...” she trailed off, shaking her head to herself.

It was an excuse, his not being at the party, and it wasn’t one that Amelia wanted to use. She didn’t want to make any excuses. She knew how it felt to be on the other end of them, to watch the person she loved try and convince her that all of the things that he’d done weren’t entirely his fault, and it wasn’t an experience that she wanted to put Lionel through. What had happened between her and Fernando had happened, and she was going to own up to it, regardless of what it meant.

“I’m sorry I wasn’t there” Lionel said.

Amelia squeezed her eyes closed again, fighting against the tears that had started to sting her eyes. “Fernando and I kissed” she whispered.

Everything seemed to still, leaving Amelia’s whispered words hanging in the air.

Amelia’s hand tightened around the phone, dreading the sound of its dial tone.

It was a long time before Lionel made another sound. It was a soft sound, one that was full of hurt, but it wasn’t surprised, almost like he had been expecting her to say something like that for a long time. “At Nora’s party?” he asked “The same one he brought the woman he cheated on you with to?” he added.

“Leo” Amelia protested softly.

“How do those two things happen on the same day?” Lionel kept speaking like Amelia hadn’t made a sound “How do you watch him walk into a party, a party he knew that you were going to be at, with the woman who destroyed your marriage, and end the night kissing him? How on earth does that happen, Amelia?” he pressed, his voice growing more and more upset.

Amelia didn’t answer. She knew nothing that she had to say could dampen the hurt he was feeling.

“Aren’t you going to say anything?” Lionel pressed.

“It was a mistake” Amelia said.

“Was it?” Lionel asked.

“Of course it was” Amelia replied “You know how I feel about Fernando” she added.

“Do I?” Lionel pressed “Because I know that you used to love him. You used to love him more than anything, and anyone, else. I know that the only reason you’re not together now is Gianna and Penelope. If they weren’t in the picture, then we both know where you’d be. Even with them in the picture, you and Fernando still ended up kissing” he added.

“Leo” Amelia protested.

“Why did you tell me, Lia?” Lionel asked “I could have lived the rest of my life without knowing that this had happened” he added.

“I am not going to lie to you” Amelia retorted “I am not going to be like him. I love you, and I know what it is like to have someone else tell you something about the person you love that changes the way you see them. I am not going to be put in that position. I am telling you because it happened, because it was a mistake, and I need to own up to it” she added.

“Or because you knew what telling me would do” Lionel countered.

“You think I want to hurt you?” Amelia’s voice shook as she spoke “You think I want to lose you?” she added.

Lionel’s silence spoke volumes.

“I love you” Amelia protested “I love you so freaking much. I am just trying to protect you. You’ve met Fernando. You know that he would use this against me. I am just trying to be honest with you. It happened, and I am so sorry that it did, but I am not trying to engineer a way out of our relationship. I don’t want out. I want to be with you. I moved to France for you!” she added.

Lionel stayed quiet for another moment before he sighed. “I need some time to think” he murmured.


“Please?” Lionel interrupted gently.

Amelia sniffed. “OK” she whispered.

Lionel made a sound, like he wanted to say something more, but the words never came. Instead, he silently ended the call, leaving Amelia staring at the phone in her hands, wondering when, or if, she would hear his voice again.