Lionel took a deep breath, and looked right at me.
I locked eyes with him, knowing what was coming. I guess the guys senses it too, because they stepped out of the room for a minute.
I pulled up a chair next to Lionel and grabbed his hand.
He looked down, obviously nervous, then finally looked me in the eye again. He took a deep breath, and I mentally prepared myself.
"Claudia, I love you."
I knew it was coming, but it still shook me a little, hearing him say it when he knew he was awake. I racked my brain for an answer.
My turn to draw a deep breath.
I saw Lionel searching my eyes as I said, "I love you too Lionel. But, not in the same way."
His happy expression dropped, and I felt my heart constrict. I needed a way to talk to him that wouldn't send him back into depression.
"I'm not quite sure how to say this." I started. "I love you like a brother. No, close than a brother. And that will never change, Lionel. You have to believe me on that. But…"
Lionel ripped his hand away from mine. "But what? Daniel? It's always about him, isn't it! You can never think of anyone else, even if they're pouring out their heart to you!" he snapped.
It hurt. I knew he was just angry, but I also knew there was a hint of truth in that statement. And that's what burned me the most.
I grabbed his hand again and forced to look into my eyes.
Then I spoke again, calm and soothing, my tears fighting to come out. I didn't want to loose him again.
"Look, I'm sorry I can't stop thinking about him. I'm sure when you were with Samantha, she's all you thought about, right?"
He shook his head. "All I thought about was you." it was a whisper of a thought, barely heard.
Another cut to my heart.
He was making this so difficult.
"Lionel, though I love you, I'm in love with Daniel. I hope you can see the difference?"
He nodded, noticeably hurt.
By now I was getting a tad frustrated with him.
"Ok, I'm sorry. I really wish I was in love with you. It would make everyone's life so much easier, but you can't help who you fall in love with. You of all people should know that."
He had turned away. He nodded, finally understanding.
But I could still see the hurt in his eyes when he turned to face me.
Yet another blow to my heart. Why did he do this to me?
But I smiled at him and leaned in to give him a big hug.
I whispered one more "I'm sorry" into his ear as Daniel and Charles slid in the door. They must have been watching through the window.