I let out a breath when Lionel came in and sat down. It would have made things much more difficult to get through without him there to address... and... well to be honest, my quarrel was more with him and less with Claudia.
Who looked stunning by the way. Not that I was paying that much attention to her... I was just getting ready to apologize and everything... green was definitely her color.
"I think... I think that I'm as confused as you are Lionel. I really am. I moved back in the hopes of resurrecting our..." a quick glance at Claudia, "...friendship. Instead I come back and everytime I look at you you're giving me the death stare. Then you come out of nowhere saying that you love Claudia, and you saw, and that I was stealing her from you, while you already had a girlfriend I might add... and I guess my question for you would be... Why didn't you come and tell me? If you thought for a second that I was doing this to spite you then you were mistaken..."
I paused for a breath and a quick reaction check. Lionel was still in the room... so far so good.
"I guess I never really noticed, and I'll take the blame for that one... but I think that maybe you could have... or at least..." I needed a change of tactic.
"We were both wrong. If I can admit it that I hope you can too. I would have appreciated it if you had talked to me instead of acting smug and suspicious and I... I should have done the same thing. Instead of acting childish and blowing this out of proportion I should have gone to you and asked what the matter was. I didn't."
I looked at Claudia whose eyeborws were raised to the roof, and then I realized that I hadn't said that last "I'm sorry" alone.
Lionel had joined me.
Hooray for awkward silence.
Since I had said my two bits, and Lionel sounded like his voice box was out of commission, Claudia cleared her throat and spoke.
"I... uh... I'm not innocent either... I honestly didn't know Lionel. I really didn't. I thought maybe, but then you and Samantha started dating and... I didn't know what I wanted, much less what you wanted. So... I'm sorry too..."
Again with the awkward silence. Then Lionel, ever the practical one, rasped out,
I went out on a limb, "No offense Lionel, but I'm not giving you a make-up kiss."
Lionel's gaze darkened for a minute and I had just started to regret making the joke, when Lionel smiled and said,
"Oh. I see what you did there. It was a joke."
I nodded, maybe too vigorously, but better than not being sincere enough.
I offered Lionel a hand and he high-fived it. Then we both got the same idea and engaged in the "Secret Handshake" from when we were five.
I'd explain what we did but... it's a secret. Duh.
Following that, we had the same thought again, both our eyes flashing over to Claudia then back again. I took a deep breath, asked my heart to forgive me later, and whispered,
"She's all yours. Finders keepers after all."
He shook his head.
My heart skipped a beat.
"No can do. I... already have a girlfriend... guess you'll... have to... keep her warm for me."
It was kind of hard to understand him between the coughs, but I heard him, and raised an eyebrow at the last comment. Lionel's eyes twinkled but he gave me the, "No I didn't mean it like that" look.
I sat back and glanced at Claudia. It was her decision.
I quirked an eyebrow at her, and waited...