Foto bij 299. - Lucien

She doesn't hold it against me that I don't make the same claim she does. It's not even discussed, simply accepted. There's a part of me that does want to say it, that is so certain of our future that I'd etch it in stone. But there's another part that doubts everything, because nothing I've had ever lasted. There always came a point where it slipped from my fingers. I worry that by saying out loud that I want my future to be with Emma, it will be torn away from me.
The sky outside has clouded over, obscuring the stars from our view, so instead we just stay inside where we keep each other warm. It's like time is frozen, like we are living in our own little bubble where nothing and no one can touch us. Long stretches of time go by where we don't say anything, just relish in the other's company. I cover her skin with kisses, ending at the little fleur-de-lis that now hangs in the hollow of her throat, She traces over a few old scars on my chest, but never asking where they came from. They hold no glorious stories anyway, just stupidity and hospitals. When she traces the lines of my abs it makes me shiver and she laughs, trying to do that again, but I catch her wrist and make her stop by kissing her. We drink more wine and eat part of the breakfast I brought, even though it's the middle of the night. Every now and again, one of us dozes off, but never for long, and it's not long before light starts coming onto the horizon. Wrapped in all the blankets we can find we sit out on the deck again, enjoying the sunrise in silence.
If I die young, let me die now - on this peak of happiness and bliss, with the love of my life in my arms.

After the sun has gone up, we do sleep for a couple of hours. I wake up first, letting Emma sleep as I get up to the bridge. The movement of the boat must've waken her though, because it's not long before she joins me. "Good morning, chérie."
Her sleepy smile might be one of my favourites, and I gently kiss her temple.
Tomorrow, we both have to go back to work. But tomorrow is ages away.
We're both tired, so we don't talk much on the way back to my apartment. We shower seperately, because that's just how it goes this time. I wash the salt out of my tangled mess of curls, and to my horror my tan is already starting to peel when I dry myself off. Summer is closing in on us - we should plan our summer holiday. If she's even going to allow me to take her anywhere. Maybe if we make the same deal we did with France, where she buys our plane tickets and the rest is on me. Or maybe the other way around, because I'm not sure if I'm ready to fly commercial again, no matter how spoiled that makes me sound.
After my shower I land myself next to Emma on the couch with a cup of freshly brewed coffee. She's wrapped in one of the soft bathrobes I have laying around, but don't use a lot for myself. For a moment I just enjoy the moment, but with work so near in our future, I realise I can't keep this secret any longer.
"I have to tell you something."
Emma, who had been reading, glances up at me with a brow raised. "Words every girl just longs to hear."
I chuckle and shake my head. "It's not anything bad, per se. And I would have told you sooner, I swear, but with the opening of The Griffin, and then your birthday... I was worried I'd spoil it all."
Emma sets her coffee cup down on her knees. "You're not doing anything to make me less anxious, du C. Out with it."
"I wasn't worried because Winoc called." I admit. "I mean, he did, but I cut him short because I was already late. After my therapy appointment, my father kind of... jumped me."
Her expression morphs from worried about what I was going to say to worried about me, and she finally closes her book and puts it to the side, offering me her full attention. "You saw your father?"
"Yeah. He was waiting for me outside of Dr. Carlisle's office."
"How did he know you were there?"
"I don't know. Checked my agenda, maybe, or my credit card records. I'm not sure, but it must have been a lovely breach of privacy. Which he can do, because he's Jacques du Castellon." I frown, sipping the bitter drink. Emma is frowning, too.
"What did he say?"
"Well, it started with a charming speech about me being in therapy. How men don't need it, and how Du C men certainly don't need it. I mean, can't say I completely disagree with him, but I didn't tell him that. Didn't need to give him more leverage. So then we went on to me working at the firm. I left him a voicemail a few weeks ago, about wanting to work less. He was mad that I told him in a voicemail, and then madder when I snapped at him it was a voicemail because he didn't make time to pick up the phone when his own son called." I make a vague gesture with my hand. "It was a disaster all around, because that's just how it goes when we're in the same room. But in the end, surprisingly, he agreed to let me work less. I'm not sure why, but I figured it'd be a bad idea to argue it."
"Probably, yeah." By now, Emma's hand is on my shoulder, massaging it gently. Her expression is still worried.
"Anyway, we agreed on me working three days a week. I can add more if I feel like I'm behind on things, but he confided in me that he's been looking to signing a new partner who could take part of my duties." I didn't tell him that it felt like an expensive way of not continuing my contract, and I don't tell Emma either, because that might just be me being paranoid. "So... yeah. Three days a week. I might pick up an extra day at the nursing home, I'm not sure."
Emma nods solemnly, a wrinkle on her forehead like always when she's kind of lost in thought. "I still wish you would have told me sooner." She says eventually, though there's no judgement in the words.
"I know. I wanted to. Like I said... timing was just awful. I wanted you to enjoy these days to the fullest. But you're right. I'm sorry."

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