293. - Lucien
The restaurant is rather crowded, and Emma's parents are already at the table. Nancy waves us over, smiling brightly.
"Emma, sweetie! Oh, it's so good to see you!" She stands to give her daughter a kiss on each cheek. "And Lucien, too!" She kisses my cheeks, too, her hands on my shoulders. "Nous étions ravis que vous puissiez nous rejoindre!" She then adds, in such broken French that I'm sure my ancestors are rolling in their graves, but she looks extremely proud of herself. Besides, we swallow so many letters I can hardly blame her for not knowing which ones not to pronounce.
"I hear you've been practising!" I say, which is really rich, but Nancy beams and that makes it all okay in my book. "Je ne pourrais jamais dire non à un dîner avec une belle femme comme toi. Il est clair de voir d'où Emmeline le tire."
"Oh my!" She laughs, albeit a little confused, and turns to Emma, who's glaring at me. "What did he say?"
"Lucien, please stop flirting with my mother."
"I wasn't flirting! Merely being charming, which is one of your favourite things about me."
She rolls her eyes, but there's that held back smile on her lips. "He said you're beautiful, mum. And then said it was clear where I got it from."
Nancy blushes, hiding behind her glass of wine. Next to her, Reginald doesn't look too pleased. But then again he's never really looked pleased any of the times I saw him, so it might be nothing. "You really are charming, aren't you, dear?"
"Comes with the nationality." I might be overcompensating. In fact, I'm pretty sure I am. But nerves are still eating me up inside and it's easier to become this overexaggerated version of myself. When the waiter comes with the wine, I shake my head. "I'm driving."
"Charming and responisble." Nancy laughs. "Emma's stories about you don't do you justice, dear."
Under the table, I feel Emma's hand on mine, squeezing gently. You're doing fine. it says, which is a much appreciated message.
"So, Lucien." Reginald says when we've made our order. "Emma's said you took her to Paris."
It's not a question. It doesn't even imply he wants to know anything. Is it just a trait you have to have as a father, being completely impossible to talk to? "Well, Mr Middleton, Emma actually took me. It was my birthday present. All I did was show her around."
"Birthday! Oh, Lucien, if we'd known it was your birthday we would have gotten you a gift! Though it seems you had quite the celebration anyway. Beth showed us the pictures." She says, answering our confused looks. "And Charles told us all about it! Something straight out of the movies!"
"Is Paris where you're from?" Reginald asks like my party was never mentioned, and I nod.
"Born and raised. It was really good to be back, especially because I got to do it with Emma."
"So romantic! We've been to Paris once, when we were still young and adventurous. It was quite the trip, wasn't it Reggie?" Nancy nudges her husband, who grunts his agreement. I think it's agreement anyway. "Did you go and see your family?"
"No." I say, perhaps a little too quickly. "They um, were all out of the country. We live quite separate lives, it's rare to run in to one another."
"Oh, that's a damn shame! You must miss them a lot. Can't imagine what it's like, living away from your family like that."
"Hey, mum." Emma cuts in. "Didn't you go to that bee farm last week? Charlie mentioned that you might want to start beekeeping as a hobby."
"Yes! Oh, Emmie, you would have loved it!" And just like that, Paris is forgotten and Nancy launches into a dialogue about bees and everything that goes with keeping them. I shoot Emma a thankful look, and she winks at me.
"Are you sure you don't want to stay? You know I wouldn't mind."
We're at Emma's doorstep, arms wrapped around each other as we say our goodbyes.
"I'm certain. Tomorrow is about you and your friends, and I want you to enjoy it to the fullest." I smile, kissing her briefly. "I think I've taken up quite enough of your time, lately. I don't want Kenna to start showing withdrawal symptoms."
"But what about my withdrawal symptoms?" She asks, moving her arms from my waist to my neck, standing on her toes to kiss me. It's nothing brief, and I feel her melt against me. "Thank you for tonight." She says after a minute or so. "I know it wasn't the easiest thing for you..."
"You made it far easier." I promise her. "I had fun."
She smiles, and kisses me again. I fall back against the door frame, getting lost in her. Her hands tangle in my hair, my fingers brush over the straps of her dress. I pull away, reluctantly, and press my forehead to hers. "I should go."
"You could come in. Leave after midnight, make it my birthday present..." She purrs, setting my nerve endings on edge. "It's almost my birthday. You are legally not allowed to refuse me."
I chuckle, hands resting on her waist again. My thoughts are already clouded. "I'm not sure if the law works like that, Miss Middleton."
"I say it does." Back on her toes, she kisses me again; this time I feel her teeth on my bottom lip and I fear my knees might give out.
"If this is your tactic to get me to stay anyway..." I mutter. Emma grins.
"Is it working?" Her finger trails over my jaw to the collar of my shirt, down to the first button. Feeling her nail scrape over my skin is my undoing. I grab her thighs, hoisting her up; her legs wrap around me in a reflex. She yelps, laughs, and then finds my lips in a deep kiss. I barely hear the door close behind us.
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