441. - Lucien
At some point in his outburst, my brain stops processing it. Looking back I can pinpoint it to the moment he called me abusive, because I don't really remember anything afterwards. Not only my fingers, but my entire arms are tingling, my vision is blurry. I try counting to ten, but I can't even remember what comes after three. At some point I realise it's silent and that everybody is staring everybody down. Charles is focused on me, eyes speaking louder than words.
"I need a smoke." I say through gritted teeth, shoving my chair backwards. Charles lets out a cold, hard laugh.
"Sure, run from the confrontation. That's really what you're best at, huh?"
"Alright, alright!" Selene jumps up quick as a cat, catching my shoulder before I can lunge at Charles. "Some fresh air sounds like a good idea, I'll join you."
"Selene, I don't think-" Charles starts, but he's shut up by a fierce look from her.
"In this moment, I'm disagreeing with all your thoughts." She says, still holding my shoulder. "Come on, Lucien." She leads me outside to the balcony, and as we pass Emma I see how Selene brushes a hand over her arm, which I'm guessing is for reassurance. I'm not sure, since my thoughts are still jumbled.
Once outside I struggle with my lighter, causing Selene to snatch out of my hands with a 'Give me that!' before holding the flame over the end of my cigarette. I inhale deeply, letting the smoke circulate in my lungs for a good while before exhaling.
"Just spit it out, Lucien." Selene says. Her arms are crossed over her chest as she leans against the wall. "It might relieve some of the tension."
"I just can't- How dare he?! He just - argh!" I throw my hands up, cigarette dangling between my teeth. "How can such a fucking dickhead be related to Emma?! Mon dieu, je veux lui briser le visage!"
"Okay, he's still my boyfriend and I'd much prefer him in once piece." Selene raises a brow at me. "So please refrain from doing that."
"Sorry. I just..." I push the palms of my hands into my eyes. The sentence has no finish, though the unspoken sentiment hangs in the air for anyone to pick up on. After the first cigarette I immediately light a second, the rage settling at least a little. "Do you agree with him?"
"No. I get where he's coming from, to some extend, but like I told you a few months back: I never had you villainized like he has. Especially seeing you back with Emma... it's clear that you both still dearly love each other. Maybe even more so than before this whole nightmare, because you've each seen what it's like without one another." Selene pulls out one of the chairs, sitting down.
"Follow-up question: do you think he's gonna come around?" I lean against the balcony-banister, letting the cold wind whip the last of the frenzy out of me. For now.
"I don't know, Lucien. He's got a lot of hate built up against you, I can't imagine it's easy seeing your sister like he did. But he's gonna have to, because seeing you two together I'm pretty sure it's going to last a while."
"We're looking for apartments together." I blurt out, clapping my hand to my mouth. "Shit. Don't tell Emma I said that. It's kind of a secret."
Selene smiles, her head tipping to the side. "Kind of?"
"I mean, it's definitely a secret, but we're also both extremely excited and don't really want to keep it a secret."
"Aptly demonstrated by you just spilling the beans." She chuckles. "I won't tell anyone, I promise. I think it's great. Told you - you're in it for the long run. If you're still doubting things, you don't think about moving in together." She watches as I stub out the second cigarette, only to ask the question I really don't want to hear. "Ready to go back inside?"
Charles is glaring daggers at me, but I ignore it. As I sit down next to Emma I lean to kiss her cheek, she whispers to me: "Comment allez-vous?" with a hand against my cheek. I can't stand the worry in her eyes.
"Je vais bien. Juste besoin de sortir une seconde." I mutter under my breath. I think she's about to reply, but Charles cuts in.
"Why don't we switch back to English, so we can all enjoy the conversation?"
Any tranquility I found outside is undone by that single sentence. I curl and uncurl my fingers as I move away from Emma, though her hand shoots out to grab one of mine. I've got you. But for the first time, I'm not sure she does.
"What do you want to talk about then, Charles?" I ask. My voice is still strained, but now from trying to keep it calm. "Do you want to discuss all the reasons you hate me? Or maybe you'd prefer me listing all the things I've done wrong in my life? I could give you a backstory, if you want it. It's really fun, lots of talk about how my father hates me and has never thought I'm good enough." I pick up my glass of wine, studying the dark red contents. "Or maybe you want to hear about my brother, who relentlessly bullied and abused me, just because he could get away with it as the protege child. I could show you a couple of the hate groups that were made in my honour on social media. You could send me anonymous death threats, and find like-minded people in how much you despise me. They agree with you, you know. On how I'm a wanker and how I deserve every single bad thing thrown my way. You could spill the beans on how my mother's dead, give them some new ammunition that way."
"Lucien." I hear Emma say my name, but I don't think it really lands. It doesn't matter, I'm almost done anyway.
"Point is - you're not special. You're not unique in hating me. I deal with your kind every single day. Have done so for twenty-eight years; I mentioned my brother bullying me, right? The only reason you're getting to me, is because I desperately want for Emma to be happy and I know that us not getting along upsets her. I've been civil all night - except for now, maybe, but I feel that is kind of justified -and you're the one attacking me. But I hope you have fun doing it, Charles, because you're going to have to do it for years to come. I love Emma, and I'm not letting you intimidate me in giving her up."
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