123. - Lucien
Mr du Castellon, it seems that we have a little situation on our hands. Please meet me at your earliest convenience.
I stare at the email, which was the first thing to pop up when I got back to my computer after two long meetings. The timestamp puts it at the start of the day, shortly after Emma came in, and I try to figure out what might have gone wrong in that short amount of time. I have a grand total of twenty minutes for lunch before I'm getting dragged into another meeting, but this seems to have priority. Making sure Selene knows of my whereabouts should I forget about the time I quickly make my way to Emma's office, knocking once before simply stepping inside. She's huddled behind her computer, eyes meeting mine the moment I close the door. "Hey," I say. "Sorry, a lot of meetings today. What's up?"
"Well..." Emma pushes her chair away from the desk, brows creasing in a frown. "Sasha knows."
It takes me a second to get a face with the name and still I don't entirely grasp the meaning of what she's saying. "Knows what?"
In a split second my stomach plummets to the floor, through all of the fourteen stories that are below us before burrying itself deep into the ground. Emma, no doubt seeing the horror on my face, joins up and holds her hands up to calm me down, like I'm a horse gone rampant. "I know, I know, it's bad! But she swore that she wouldn't tell anyone!"
"I should hope so." I run a hand over my beard. "How did she find out?"
"She saw one of the wedding pictures..." Emma looks away guilty. "I thought I had moved it to a different folder, but I must have missed it. When showing her all the others it popped up and she immediately recognised you."
"Well then," I rub my neck. "I suppose Sasha is getting a bonus to ensure she stays silent."
"Even without a bonus, she wouldn't tell, Lucien. She was actually excited for us!" She makes a motion like she's going to take my hands, then remembers her glass walls and lets her hands fall back to her sides. "Are you okay?"
"Of course!" I say, not entirely sure if that's the truth or not. "Besides, the deed is done. Can't really tell her that was a friendly kiss, can we?"
Her light laugh lifts my heart a little, as it always does. "No, we can't. I'm sorry, this was totally my fault."
I wave her comment away. "Don't worry about it. Someone was bound to find out at some point. I'm just glad it was one of your friends."
My watch chimes; a reminder from Selene that I'm supposed to get to the conference room between now and five minutes. Emma catches it too, sitting back behind her desk. "Can you really give her a bonus to ensure her silence?"
"That makes it sound like I'm forcing her to stay quiet about the three murders she saw me perform, but yeah. Technically I can. Why?"
"Where's my bonus?"
I laugh, hand on the door as I gesture to myself with the other. "All of this is your bonus, Miss Middleton. Money can't buy this."
The meetings drag on and on and on. Between the wedding and today I haven't slept an awful lot and it's finally catching up with me. At this last meeting I'm mostly there for show anyway; I'm seated at the far end of the table with none of the attention on me. I'm not even really hearing the presentation, just because I can't focus on it. My phone is laying on the table, the little led blinking to tell me I have a notification. Since no one's looking at me and most even have their backs turned towards me, I decide to fuck it and just check it. It's Gabriel, asking if I want to record another video with him since the last one did so well. We're keeping the drunk theme going, this time baking a cake. It sounds like a glorious activity, so obviously I say I'm down and that we'll discuss a filming date sometime soon.
No one is noticing that I'm on my phone. Feeling bold I text Emma, on her personal number.
Question: would I be a bad person for walking out of this meeting?
The reply comes within moments.
Yes. That is not how you were raised.
I was raised by wolves, so you could argue I wasn't raised at all.
Having seen you outside of work, I'm actually tempted to believe that.
Har har, hilarious. How is your day?
Long and boring. Lots of paperwork. Can't wait to go out tomorrow and meet with E.
Oh, that's right. I had completely forgotten that tomorrow we have an appointment scheduled with Enigma Beauty. In their warehouse, because apparently they want to show us how legitimate they are. It seems an awful lot like a distraction, but to show goodwill we didn't bring that up. Yet.
After a few minutes of pretending to be listening to the presentation being held, I text back.
Carpool? Work related.
Scandalous, Mr du C. What if someone sees us?
Maybe they should. Maybe we should discuss if we can start telling in the office. Selene could probably help us bring the news out slow.
I'm hesitant to send the text, but I do it anyway. While being open about our relationship doesn't mean we can be affectionate in the office it'll at least mean that we can be seen in public together. I'm done hiding around - we've been doing it for two months and it's getting tiring. Emma's respons comes quickly.
Are you sure?
We'll talk about it later. Your place or mine?
Mine. I'm making spinach lasagna and your ovens are better.
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