178 - Emma
It's nice seeing him more relaxed, so I won't mention how I feel like he hasn't been truly sincere ever since we got here. It will continue to worry me, but will also save the both of us plenty of frustration. I should know by now that Lucien does not really like talking about his feelings, and that he'd rather implode than go to a therapist. I'm just still working on accepting that.
Mum serves dessert, which is her home made apple pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and we all dig in like we haven't just finished dinner.
"Why'd Lucien get more ice cream than we did?" Daniel complains, almost having finished the entire plate. That boy still eats like he's in puberty and needs fuel to grow.
"Because he's our guest," mum tells him.
"If I win my life's the hardest tonight, can I get another scoop too?" Beth asks, licking the spoon she's just scraped across the plate.
"You're not winning," Charles flings a piece of apple in her direction, hitting her straight in the forehead, "you never do."
Lucien leans in to me a little bit, asking under his breath so no one will hear but me, "My life's the hardest?"
"It's a dumb tradition. Everyone gets to tell why their life is currently the hardest, and the person who has the biggest sob story gets extra dessert," I grab his hand, both having finished dessert, "you don't have to take part if you don't want to."
"I'll go first," Daniel throws his hands up in the air. "My life's the hardest because I'm still saving up for my car, but it turns out to be way more expensive than I thought it'd be, so if I keep things up the way they are now, I might finally be able to afford it when I'm old and grey like Charles."
That comment earns him a napkin to the head from Charles.
"My life's the hardest because all contractors are complete and utter morons, and the refurb of the pub will take years if they go on like this," is his rebuttal.
"Well, my life's the hardest because my sons are foul-mouthed boys who seem to be raised by wolves," mum laughs, leaning back in her chair. All day she's been busy taking care of us, so this is her moment to relax.
"My life's the hardest because I want marshmallows," Phoebe chips in, causing mum to laugh again, patting her on the head.
"After the game, Phoebs."
"My life's the hardest because," Beth starts her sentence, a mischievious look on her look, "I feared for my life today when Daniel almost drove into a.."
"Hey! You weren't supposed to say!" Daniel exclaims, flinging the napkin Charles threw at him in Beth's direction, who's slow enough to let it hit her, again.
Mum's just tutting, shaking her head, but decides not to say a thing.
"Your turn, Emma," Beth is still laughing, rubbing her forehead in pain from the object just launched at her.
"I'll pass today," I squeeze Lucien's hand softly under the table.
"You can't just pass, that's not the rules," Daniel pretends to hand me a list of rules, which is just another napkin.
"Fine. My life's the hardest because I have a great family, a nice job, and an amazing boyfriend, and I have nothing to complain about currently," I lean my head on Lucien's shoulder gently, careful not to hurt him, "that's my entry for today."
Daniel and Beth both make gagging noises, causing mum to shoot them a motherly glare.
"Shouldn't Lucien get a turn?" Beth says, looking at us.
"He doesn't need one," Daniel jokes, "we already know his life's the hardest because he has to deal with Emma every day."
It causes a ripple of laughter at the table, even mum can't hold back a laugh, pretending she doesn't think it's funny.
"I'll take that extra scoop of ice cream, then," Lucien casually says, causing me to poke his side, careful not to hit a bruise but making sure it still stings.
"Looks like someone isn't going to get laid any time soon," Charles manages to let out in between almost pissing himself laughing.
"Ew, Charlie, gross," Beth has gotten her revenge, because in between hysterical laughter, she's dipped a napkin in left over, melted ice cream and has launched it at Charles' head, leaving vanilla liquid in his hair. "We don't want to think about that."
"Why do you think Charlie looks this tired all the time?" Daniel adds to the conversation, which has turned into trying to make everyone at the table uncomfortable. "He has sleepless nights, knowing mister supermodel here is boning his sister."
"Enough," mum sighs, pointing a finger at Charles and then at Daniel. "That's quite enough, boys."
In the mean time, I've half hidden my face in Lucien's sweater, wanting nothing more than to disappear. I knew those two boys wouldn't keep it all casual all day, they would have to tease and joke, especially now that they've both had a few beers.
"Is that why Lucien looks so beat up, was the whole honour thing a lie? Are you just really into-" Daniel gets rudely interuppted by mum, who shushes him.
"If I hear one more word of that sentence, I am turning your room into a closet for your sisters and you can sleep in a tent in the yard," dad pitches in, for the first time since dinner started. You know shit's serious when dad starts talking, so Daniel shuts up immediately.
Mum disappears into the kitchen, returning with marshmallows and sticks to put them on.
Roasting marshmallows is a relaxed moment, and no one cracks jokes about Lucien and I any more.
It's gotten dark out, and Phoebe has fallen asleep on mum's lap. We've covered up a little, but it's definitely cold and I know we should head home soon. I've asked enough of Lucien's energy today, and the night has come to an end.
"We are going to go," I tell them, after exchanging looks with Lucien. I kiss mum on her head, hug Beth, Charles and Daniel. Dad gives me a soft kiss on the forehead, like he used to do when we were kids, and we say goodbye.
"It's been a pleasure, Middleton family," Lucien says, and although I don't know if he's sincere, I sure hope it's true.
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