Foto bij 169. - Lucien

The first day after the announcement, a grand total of fifteen people come by my office to enquire about my relationship with Emma. Some of them are just horn dogs who want to know what it's like sleeping with an employee, which I swiftly shut down by telling them I will make a notice of this at HR and three strikes will get them a mandatory, day-long unpaid seminar on sexual harassment. I also look into reporting Bethany, but I keep forgetting, because after being away for ten days I have a horrifying backlog - plus all the other people that want to know about the relationship. Most of them are just worried about unfair treatment and while it's obvious that several of them disapprove, none of them actually says that out loud.
In the following days the questions die down, as do most oggling looks. There's still plenty of them, some of them bitter, but less. Also, after two days, I finally check back in on my socials after some pushing from Winoc. I can hardly announce this and disappear again. Online the feedback is overwhelmingly positive. There's always people who disapprove, people who call me disgusting because of course it got out she works for me, but I quickly filter them out. Over the years I've aquired a tolerance from them, because it's so easy to yell hateful things from behind a screen.
Emma and I don't stay the night together, both enjoying the time alone, but we text and call regularly. I send her screenshots of all the positive comments, telling her that they love her. I'm not sure if Emma has checked her socials again, but if she has she doesn't share it. The weekend looms nearer and I find myself nervous to meet the Middletons. Every now and then I'm reminded of how differently we grew up and I'm pretty sure that's going to become very apparant again when we go over there this weekend. Not to mention that the family sounds close, which I can't say I'm familiar with. What if they don't like me, despite Emma insisting that they will? What if they think I'm just another rich and shallow white guy?
I try to put it out of my mind, but I'm not having much success. On Friday night, when I'm visiting Matthew at Gabriel's appartment, he picks up on it immediately. After some prodding I admit to him what's bothering me. For a moment he says nothing, but then he sighs and pauses our game.
"You can't be worried you're not normal enough." He says, putting down his controler. "If her family is anything like Emma, they're not going to make a point of it. And it's not like you don't know your way around a regular household."
"I know." I push a hand through my hair, already regretting my honesty. "But I don't know my way around a regular family. Beside the fact of growing up richer than life, I don't think my family quite fits the name of 'normal'."
"No, it doesn't." He says with brutal honesty, because Matthew doesn't do sugarcoating. "But you're the one making that a problem, not them."
I don't have an answer to that, so I unpause the game and try to keep playing, but after a minute Matthew pauses it again.
"I know I've said this before and that you don't want to hear it," He starts and already I feel my eyes rolling. "But this is exactly the kind of thing that you would work thr-"
"I'm not getting into therapy, Matthew." I cut him short, my voice sharp. He lifts his hands up in defense.
"I'm just saying! I don't get why you're so opposed to it, after seeing what it did for me."
"May I remind you that I also saw how it fucked you up even worse?" I shake my head. This is the second time in a few days someone's telling me to go to therapy and it's pissing me off. I'm not broken. I don't need fixing. "Really don't need someone dragging up all that's happened to me only to tell me it traumatised me. I've come to that conclusion to myself and didn't have to pay five hundred bucks for it."
Matthew turns so he can give me a look. A million messages go hidden in that look, but I choose to ignore them all. Then he heaves a sigh and unpauses the game again. Not long after Gabriel comes home after having gone out with other friends. He doesn't notice anything awry between me and Matthew and soon there isn't anything to notice. The tension is gone, the conversation forgotten, and we continue like the three musketeers that we are. They help me complete and send the invitations for my party, that takes place two weeks after my actual birthday because we're cramped for time. They love my theme though and we set up another shopping trip - in London this time, and we're planning on inviting the girls as well.
"Neither Kenna nor Emma is going to allow you to buy their dress." Brie notes. "I doubt they're even going to let you take them to London."
"So we don't tell them." I shrug, actually liking the idea of a little surprise trip. "They don't have a choice. It's my birthday and I like treating others."
We make plans of when and Gabriel promises he'll text Tom to set things up with Kenna. I'll work it out with Emma, maybe say that I have to go for some kind of event and I want her to come with. I leave the apartment around ten thirty, because Matthew is obviously exhausted. I bid them farewell and on my way to the car I text Emma on a whim, because now that I'm outside I feel lonely and picturing her in the outfit to fit my theme made me feel all kinds of things.
      You know, you could always come over tonight and it'll be easier to coordinate tomorrow. I'm too proud to admit that I just really miss you sleeping in my bed, so that's definitely not it.

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