133. - Lucien
Emma is looking exceptionally pale when she returns. I'm still standing in the hallway, catching her gaze as the door falls close behind her, an envelope in her hand. A hand that's starting to shake as she comes down from her adrenaline rush. I'm not sure what happened outside that door, but since it involved Jacques du Castellon it can't have been good.
So I do what I do best: I shove down my own emotions, the very ones that have been haunting me since this nightmare started nearly twenty-four hours ago, and take her in my arms. Her hands clutch the back of my shirt like her life depends on it while I rock us gently and eventually I lean down to pick her up. After putting her on the couch I take both her hands in mine, crouched down in the floor myself because I'm not sure if I'll be able to drag myself away again if I sit next to her. "You haven't slept since last night and haven't eaten since breakfast." I say with a raspy voice. "Which one do you want?"
Her eyes are locked with mine, a storm of emotions swirling behind them. "I… I don't think I can sleep." She whispers. I nod and get up, leaning in to press a kiss to her forehead. "I'll make dinner."
"There's a pack of mac and cheese in the cupboard."
"Disgusting. It's perfect."
Neither of us finishes our plate, too worn down to feel very hungry. Emma is laying down on the couch, with her head in my lap and a Rupaul's Drag Race running on the telly. I'm playing with her hair, brushing my fingers through it, making lose braids, anything my mind can think of, because it's usually the perfect trick to get her to sleep. It still is, because it's not long before her breathing evens out. I keep making and unmaking the braids, though, to keep myself occupied. The last twenty-four hours have been intense, throwing more curveballs our way than I would have liked to deal with in a year. I found out that Emma has a dead brother, named Louis, and clearly it's a painful memory, because she didn't tell me. Just like I didn't tell her about my brother, much less my mum. I know that my father never intended for Emma to hear, because he switched to French, but she still did, because she's just so damn smart and speaks French. I'm anxious to find out what happened in the hallway, but I suppose I'm going to find out sooner or later. It seems like we were both willing to give up our lives for the other. I still am and no doubt so is she, but I doubt it's a healthy solution. I don't care.
At some point I must fall asleep, too, because a different show is running when I open my eyes. Emma is still on my lap, though she rolls on her back the moment she feels me stir. "I didn't want to wake you." She whispers. I look down on her, gently brushing curls out of her face. Am I really willing to give up everything for Emma? Am I being dramatic? I'm not sure. I'm no longer sure about a lot of things.
"Penny for your thoughts?" I ask. She hesitates, but we've made an unspoken promise to always be honest when that question was asked, and I'm happy that she actually holds to it.
"Your family." She says quietly. "Your father. How… 'you' make a lot more sense to me now."
I chuckle softly, though there's little joy to be found in it. "A lot of secrets unintentionally came out, didn't they?"
"You don't have to tell me anything." She promises, and I know she means it. But she deserves to know something in this whole mess of uncertainty. So I tell her what hurts the less.
"We used to be a family of five." I look down on her, but my eyes are unfocused. "My parents, my older brother Aleran, me and Eschieve. Now there's just three of us and you've met both of them." I pause. Emma says nothing. "Her name was Madeleine."
Even in my blurry vision, I can see the ghost of a smile on Emma's lips. "Like the pastry."
The chuckle is more real now and I feel a surge of love for the woman in my lap, because I know exactly what she's doing and I'm thankful for it. "Yeah. They used to be her favourite."
Morning comes and my father's assistant texts me to let us know we're not welcome at the office for the entire week. Neither of us is in any shape to work, so that's great.
"We'll have to get groceries at some point." Emma mutters, staring into the fridge. "There's breakfast for today, but that's about it."
I rub my eyes, inhaling the coffee Emma put in front of me. "I'll ask Gabriel. Tell him that if he does our errands for the week, all is forgiven."
She turns to me with a frown. "You don't actually blame him, do you?"
"Of course not." I shake my head. "But he's not having any of it. Besides, I don't want to risk going out and getting flocked by paparazzi."
"Do you really think it'll be that bad?" I watch her as she goes to make an omelette for both of us with whatever the fridge is hiding.
"Could be. They were everywhere when Liliana and I announced our relationship for the first time, and that wasn't a scandal like this one, nor did I go offline like this either."
She's quiet for a while, her back facing me, and then she turns around with a nod. "Let's just be careful then and ask Gabriel."
Another text from my father's assistant, giving us a date for our next appointment. Because that's what fathers and sons do, make appointments to talk. It's not until Thursday night, meaning we'd have to say cooped up until then at the very least.
"Let's go away somewhere." I say before I can change my mind. Emma gives me a questioning look, because we just agreed we won't even go out for groceries. "Out of the country, I mean. Somewhere where we'll at least be able to get on the streets. You can ask Kenna to come along if you want to, I'll ask Brie or Matthew. But Jacques isn't talking to us for another four days and I'm already going insane staying inside." My heart is racing, though I'm not sure why. "Just tell me if you don't want to, that's completely fine. But… we could."
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