403. - Lucien
Matthew gives me a very pointed look while Gabriel goes in to hug Emma. I give him a half-grin and shrug, trying to catch my breath. I'm still holding the cotton candy and I hold it out to my friends, narrowingly avoiding Emma trying to snatch it back.
"I asked." I say.
"Nu-uh! You never actually finished it!"
"It was heavily implied." I point out, pulling out another fuzzy piece and tipping my head back to lower it into my mouth.
"That," Matthew says cooly. "is disgusting. But do tell - why are you two fighting over candy floss?"
"Because Lucien stole it from me." Emma crosses her arms over her chest. I have to constantly remind myself that her dressing as Sandy is a complete coincidence, but I don't want it to be. I want it to be a conscious choice, based on the moment we shared on the dancefloor. When I remember suggesting the costume to Emma and her being very vague about why she didn't want that despite loving Grease, I realise that it actually might not be a coincidence. Eschieve finding Emma probably wasn't just lucky either, but carefully orchestrated between her and Beth.
When a waitresses passes us, dressed as a 1950s circus performer, I pluck two flutes of champagne off of her tray and offer one to Emma. "To make it up to you?"
She tries really hard not to, but eventually her laugh breaks through and she takes the glass. "It's a start."
"I've got all night, Middleton. I'll make it up to you eventually."
She rolls her eyes at me, smiling still, and my eyes linger on her while she focuses on Gabriel asking her a question. Matthew clears his throat in a very non-subtle way, but it does the trick of me peeling my eyes away from her.
"I haven't been inside yet, no." Emma says, which must be the answer to the question Gabriel just asked. "Beth insisted on keeping me outside for some reason."
"That's odd!" His gaze meets mine, and I realise he, too, must be in this whole scheme. Unbelievable. "But in that case, let's go check it out! There's a milkshake bar that definitely beats out the cotton candy stand."
So with the four of us we head inside; I bring up the rear with Emma in front of me, and I lean forward so my lips are right next to her ear. "Do tell - do we have any memories regarding milkshakes or do I need to go all out to make it memorable?"
Even from this angle I can see her grin, which makes my heart flutter. "I think you need to heed yourself more for revenge."
It takes us a while to actually get to the milkshake bar, because I keep getting held up by other guests. When this happened last year, I'd usually end up alone because my friends would keep understandably keep moving, but I notice that this time, Gabriel and Matthew make a point of hovering nearby and therefor also keeping Emma close to me.
"Hey man," Julian, one of my co-actors in that series I starred in, says after congratulating me. "You and Emma look so good together! I didn't know you two were dating again."
"Oh! We're..." I look over my shoulder to Emma, who's happily chatting away with Dahlia, whom we met last year through me accidentally mistaking her for Emma. "We're not." I finish, and I can feel pieces of my heart chipping away as I say it.
"You don't seem to sure of that, mate." He points out. I laugh it off, shaking my head.
"We're not dating. Just becoming friends again after the whole ordeal of last summer."
"So you won't mind I take a shot with her?" I want to punch his stupid grin off of his stupid face, but what can I do? Emma and I are not dating, no matter how desperately I want us to be. Is it fair of me to tell Julian that he can't try? Is it mean that I kind of want to tell him that he should try, because I suspect Emma is going to shoot him down anyway - or is that wishful thinking?
"Um, no." I answer eventually, because my silence is growing too long. "I mean, it's not my approval that you need anyway."
"Ah, you've seen my smile, Luce." He grins wide. "I'm irresistable."
Yeah, that's what I used to think. But I don't tell him that. Instead I just grin back at him. "Can you at least wait until we've gotten our milkshakes?"
"Don't take too long, mate." He smirks and my knuckles itch. A bloody nose would certainly fit his 50s gangster costume; people might not even notice. To prevent that from happening I quickly rejoin my group of friends, and we continue our way to the milkshake bar. Matthew catches me, letting some distance fall between us and the other two.
"Are you okay? You were looking at Julian like you were about to murder him."
"Yeah, I'm okay." I say, more out of reflex, because I'm well aware that it's a lie. "Actually - no, I'm not. He thought that Emma and I were dating and when I said we weren't, he asked if he could ask her out. And I said he's gonna need her approval most of al, but that I didn't mind."
Matthew frowns. "But you do mind." It's not even a question, and I grit my teeth.
"I couldn't very well tell him that, could I?"
"Come on, you slowpokes!" Emma calls from up ahead, and the conversation is cut short. We discuss what flavour we're going to get while we wait in line, which is to say that Emma is telling me what I should get, because she's definitely planning on stealing it.
"I'm just going to order orange." I say, shrugging.
"But I hate orange."
"Yeah, that's the whole plan, smart ass. Won't steal what you don't like." Her eyes narrow, challenging me, and I grin. "What are you going to do about it?"
"I'm calling your bluff. You wouldn't do that to me."
"Watch me, Middleton."
Emma goes first, and with her attention to the vendor Matthew, Brie and exchange a look that causes me to roll my eyes. I order last, and Emma was right calling my bluff; I order a passionfruit and lime one, knowing she likes tropical flavours. But when I work my way out of the group, Emma has little attention for me; Julian has found her.
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