Foto bij 082 - Emma

I totally feel like a teenager, texting back and forth with Lucien, and also being secretive about it to my family. My brother has started to get suspicious, seeing my face light up every time my phone does, but he doesn't ask questions until we're fully alone, sitting outside and smoking a cigarette.
It's freezing cold, but we're both wearing a thick sweater and mum has turned on the little electric heater my dad purchased for this exact reason - to smoke outside.
"So what's new?"
I can't tell Kenna, I can't tell mum because soon the entire town will know, I can't tell anyone at work, but I should be able to tell Charles. We don't talk much, but we do know we can always trust each other with everything. Especially after Louis died we grew closer, and we've become each other's confidants.
"I'm guessing you don't want to hear about work," I nonchalantly say, ashing in the little ash tray one of my siblings made for dad in primary school. It used to say 'I love dad', but after years of intense usage, the word 'love' has totally disappeared, which is kind of ironic.
"I've heard plenty about work, mum won't shut up about it," he doesn't say it with any ill intent, doesn't mean anything by it. Charles and I may have gone totally different ways in life, we're never jealous about the other's achievements. We're very different kinds of people. He's happy running his bar, I'm happy in my own little office.
"Well, Charlie," he shoots me an angry look hearing the nickname, but he also knows I'll never stop using it, it's younger sister privilege, "you must have noticed by now, so just get the real question out, then."
He shakes his head, probably forgot how stubborn I can be, especially around him. "Who's the man... or woman, blowing up your phone?"
"Man," I tell him first, and then continue, "he's... I'm not sure what we are, but he's someone from work."
"Again? I thought we'd learned not to date lawyers after that wanker," he pretends not to know his name, but I know full well he does because I've called him crying one of the first nights alone in my new appartment, after the break-up. At first I was afraid to tell him, knowing he'd go full older brother mode on me, but he was actually very patient and listened to me for hours on end.
"He's not like that wanker at all," I defend Lucien, "the exact opposite, actually. He's very sweet, and patient, and considerate. And we were friends before anything even happened."
"Good, because the next guy to break your heart can expect to have both of his kneecaps broken," he threatens, giving me his best tough guy look. To a lot of people, Charles could seem intimidating, with his dark hair, dark eyebrows, half shaven beard and tattoos all over his body, but I know he's a total softie. He's just got this act going not to show anyone his sensitive side. Most people don't really get to know him, I'm just lucky I did.
"How'd HR react? Do they have a file on you, now?"
This time it's my turn to send him an angry glare. "We haven't quite gotten around to telling HR yet, we're still kind of.. on the down-low... It's complicated."
"What's complicated about it? They were totally fine with you and wanker, right?" Something seems to click in his brain and the biggest grin, filled with disbelief, shows up on his face. "Unless you can't tell anyone because it wouldn't be accepted, like if he was your..."
He won't finish his sentence, just looks a me waiting, letting me finish it. "Boss."
"Emmeline Mary Middleton, you naughty minx, are you screwing your boss?"
I hit him, flat hand on the bicep, causing him to laugh. I've never been able to hurt him whatsoever.
"It's not like that, Charlie!"
"How old is he? 54? Married with children, or divorced?" He's teasing me, as older brothers do, but it does feel good to finally be able to talk about Lucien with someone. "Is that why you got the promotion? Because you blew him under...," he's about to make a joke but I can tell he's just realised it's his siter he's talking about, because he looks disgusted with himself.
"He's my age, actually. Single. And he's technically not really my boss, he's just... well, he is my boss, but he's deputy CEO. It's not as bad as it sounds, really, and I definitely did not get promoted because of it, you dick."
Charles smiles at me, patting me on the back. "It's a'ight, Em, I'm just messing with you. I'm happy for you, really," it's nice to hear him be so genuine, "I can tell how happy he makes you, just from the way you smile when you get a text. But still... tell him that if he breaks your heart, I'm not afraid to break something of his."

I'll be going back home tomorrow, which is nice, because I might be able to see Lucien again. That is, if he's not too busy. I'll have to go to therapy first, a very welcome use of time after everything that's happened, but I desperately want to just be around him again.
It has hardly been two days and I already miss him, which is so gross, but I can tell he feels the same way from the amount of texts we exchange. At least, I hope. I'm still not sure, because how can you be sure about anything? In my past relationship I also thought we felt the same way about each other, but turns out we definitely didn't.
I'm in bed again, uncomfortable from how little space I have, finally able to text Lucien back.
            You'll see me when you close your eyes, du C.
            Returning to the city tomorrow, have an appointment downtown until four. Maybe after?

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