397. - Lucien
I squeeze my eyes shut, desperately trying to hold on to the image of Emma and I laying on the beach in Barcelona together, but there's some ruckus going on outside that rudely steals it away from me. Laughter, one of which I don't recognise, one of which I do. Hushed voices, giggles, bare feet on the laminate floor.
I'm still trying to shut it all out when my brain finally catches up to reality, waking me up in a split second; I shoot up, pulling a muscle in the process, and I look around the room in disarray, just when I hear a thud and a squawk of pain. I'm in Emma's apartment. I slept on Emma's couch. I dreamt that we were married and that she was mine forever. I run a hand over my forehead, a throbbing headache looming just behind, when I hear a second thud and another groan of pain. I know it, recognise it, and in my adrenaline-driven jump up I nearly trip myself over before pacing myself. It is no longer my place to protect Emma, like my body so obviously wants me to, so instead I force slow steps on myself when I go to inspect what all the noise is about. I find the sisters on the floor in the hallway, keeping one another from getting up by means of arm-pulling and pillow-hitting. Neither of them seems to have noticed me yet. For a few seconds I can only stare as my brain is trying to catch up, but then it decides it can't make logic of this and just gives up.
With my arms crossed over my chest I lean against the wall, waiting for one of them to pick up on their spectator, and eventually it's Beth that does; hovering over Emma, arm raised to land what must be a painful hit with the pillow, and then her eyes travel from my feet to my chest, until they finally lock with mine. She freezes - Emma makes a thriumphantic grab for the pillow that Beth doesn't even try to hold onto, and then she lets her head fall backwards to check why that is.
"Bonne journée, ladies." I smile.
Beth scrambles to her feet and so does Emma, both looking flustered. There's a warning glance from older to younger sister, who then just rolls her eyes. "I am going for a shower. Nice to see you again, Lucien." Then, with a sly grin, she adds: "Before you ask: Emma slept absolutely wonderfully!"
But Beth is gone before Emma can grab her again, the pillow toss falling short a fair distance. I look after the girl, and then back at Emma with my brows slightly raised. "I feel like I've missed a whole thing here."
"You didn't miss anything." Her eyes dart away, so I'm pretty sure I definitely missed something, she just isn't going to tell me. "How'd you sleep?"
"I slept fine. A rough wake-up though, with you two fighting." I want to wrap my arms around her and kiss her temple, and then make coffee in the kitchen with her arms still around my waist and her head resting in the space between my shoulders. Instead, I dig my fingers into my forearms to keep myself from initiating that. "And you, too, apparently."
"There's no waking up slow when Beth is in the house." Emma says, though there is a smile tugging on her lips. "Sorry we woke you."
"Nah, it's fine."
Her smile breaks through now, and she points towards the kitchen. "Do you want co-"
She is interrupted by my ringtone for Gabriel, one of only three that currently break through my silent setting. My phone-display tells me that I've already missed two other calls and there's several texts, so I offer Emma a look that says 'sorry' before quickly heading out on the balcony and closing the door behind me.
"Hey," I say in a hushed voice.
"Hey man! I saw you called at an ungodly hour, and then I couldn't get a hold of you!" He doesn't sound too worried, but I can tell he's none too pleased either. "Where are you?"
I glance back into the living room, but Emma seems to have retreated to the kitchen. "At Emma's."
"What?!" I flinch, pulling the phone away from my ear in a reflex. "Why? How? What happened?"
"Calm down!" I hiss, wishing I had taken my cigarettes out with me, but now I no longer dare going back in the house. "Nothing happened. I walked her home and then it started raining, so she wouldn't let me walk back to your place. I told her I'd call you to pick me up -"
"Because you and I both know that I can't be here! I nearly kissed her last night, Brie. I keep dreaming about her, and I just..."
"Have finally come to the conclusion that you're still smitten and probably will be for life?"
I groan, leaning my head against the cool wall. "....Yes."
"Finally! So go on and ask her out then."
"Are you nuts?! How many times am I going to have to tell you that she-"
"doesn't love you back anymore and hates your guts, yes, I've heard it all. And like I said before: you're wrong. She wouldn't be hanging out with you if she wasn't still into you, and she certainly wouldn't insist on having you stay over. Why didn't you sneak into bed with her?"
"Because her sister was here, too."
"Aha, but you admit that you would have if the spot had been empty!" He sounds far too triumphant for my liking, but my salvation comes in the form of Beth; fresh out of the shower she waves at me from the living room entrance, clearly beckoning me over.
"I have to go." I say, knowing full well that I can't dodge this question once I see him in person. He starts protesting, but I've already clicked him away. I find them both in the kitchen, Emma stirring in her coffee and Beth making hers.
"Hey Lucien," She starts with a cheerful smile, and I immediately notice the look of alarm on Emma's face. "Emma and I wanted to try that cute new bistro for breakfast! Wanna come?"
I shouldn't. I know I shouldn't. But my stupid brain can't think of a decent excuse, and instead full on betrays me by saying: "I would love to."
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