101. - Lucien
I know my answer takes too long, because Emma's brow creases in worry. I quickly hold up a hand, shaking my head. "I want to." I promise. "Just thinking over the logistics. When's the wedding?"
"February 21st, a little over a month from now."
Every bit of common sense is yelling at me not to do this, but it's not like I listen to common sense very often when I'm around Emma. I lean over the table to kiss her. "I'll have to check my availability with Selene, but if there's no important meetings that can't be rescheduled... I'll be there."
In the weeks following Emma and I perfect the act of being just friends. After our little squable over the open relationship thing we are back in sync with each other and maybe even more so. At work we keep a perfect balance of being friendly and professional to each other, not seeing each other more than necessary. But with the Enigma case, we get to work together more than before; it's slow progress, but it's spent in good company.
She even tags along to small scale parties, where we play off the scheme that Gabriel, who would make friends with a cup of coffee, ran into her at some bar and made friends with her. Of course, Gabriel being my best friend it was inevitable for me and Emma to meet, which brought us where we are now. It's at one of those parties that it starts. It's just a casual comment that I don't think too much of until much later.
You and Emma would make a cute couple.
Maybe it's just confirmation bias, but suddenly I start noticing it elsewhere. With Emma coming to the parties it's unavoidable that she pops up in the odd Instragram story and Gabriel posts a picture of our little group of four; himself, Kenna, Emma and I. The reponse is subtle, but always the same: people are shipping me and Emma. Over the years I've gotten used to all the thirsty people in my comments, but this is of a whole different caliber.
"Em, look at this." I beckon her over when she comes out of my kitchen with a glass of wine. She falls down next to me and I show her my phone, scrolling through the comments.
"Wow..." Emma laughs, wide eyed. "This is nuts! How are people like this?"
"I know, right? This has always been so bizarre to me..." I double check a comment to see if it actually says 'there aren't enough chili-emojis in the world to explain how much I want this to happen'. It does. "When I was dating Liliana people would constantly say how jealous they were of her being able to fuck me." I shake my head in disbelief, even so long after the fact. "People lose their minds online."
Emma wrinkles her nose, locking my phone before snuggling close to me. "I know you live half your life online and whatnot... But can we agree that even if we start telling other people, we're keeping it off your socials for a while longer?"
I chuckle, putting an arm around her shoulders to pull her close to me. "That seems reasonable. I've never been the type to flaunt my relationships online, anyway."
"Really? All I've been hearing these past few weeks is how you want to show me off." Emma smirks, sipping her wine with a knowing look. I raise a brow at her.
"Aren't you a little miss smug?" I pull her onto my lap, plucking the glass from her hands and leaning forward to put it on the table; with one arm tightly around her waist I make sure she doesn't fall off in the awkward position. She kisses me before my back is settles back against the couch. "I want to show you off to all the people I care about." I mutter against her lips, tasting the wine on her lips still. "I want all of them to know you're mine and that I am yours."
"Such a charmer." Emma grins, her lips traveling a path over my jawline when my phone rings. Many other calls I would have ignored, but this distinct tone gets my attention. Emma straightens up, looking at me a little worried, because she knows that I only pick up the phone on moments like this when it's urgent.
"Who is it?"
She shifts off my lap, allowing me to get up as I pick up the phone. She looks as worried as I feel, though I'm not entirely sure why.
"Eschieve? Est-ce que ça va?"
"Il ne peut pas faire ça, Lucien! Il ne peut pas me faire ça!" She cries into the phone, obviously in tears. "Il ruine ma vie!"
I throw a quick glance at Emma, hoping it's as apologetic as I want it to be before I disappear into my bedroom. "Qui est?"
"Père, bien sûr!" The desperation in her voice breaks my heart. "He's making me go to boarding school in Canada!" Her sudden change to English tells me that one of the maids probably came a little too close for comfort and the idea of her being safe at home calms me down a little. "I'm nearly eightteen, Lucien! He can't actually do this! I'm getting out of this place now."
"Take a deep breath, Eschieve." I try. "Tell me what has happened that made it come to this point. And for the love of God, stay put. You're at the best place right now."
"I..." She trails off, not finishing the sentence. My heart rate shoots right back up.
"Eschieve?" There's another few beats of silence and I check my phone if we are still connected. We are. When I put it back to my ear, I hear her small voice that makes it sound like she is ten again.
"I'm at Edinburgh airport."
My stomach plummets to the floor. Of course she is. She didn't switch to English because of the maids, but because everyone around her was speaking it. "Keep yourself warm. I'm coming to pick you up."
I hang up, heading straight to my closet to get dressed properly. When I return to the living room, Emma is patiently waiting for me on the couch, reading a magazine. "I didn't know you had a sister."
"The Du Castellon family dynamic is not exactly my favourite topic." I push a hand through my hair, trying to calm myself down. "If you stick around you'll get to meet her tonight, though?"
She tips her head to the side in question.
"She ran away from home, apparently. To me. I'm going to pick her up."
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