445. - Lucien
I don't usually take calls when in meetings, because it's highly unprofessional, but when Gabriel still doesn't stop calling after me swiping him away four times, Eailyn gestures for me to pick up.
"Brie, I can't really talk right now." I say, closing the office door behind me. "Someone better be dying."
"Close, but not quite." He sounds tense. "You got access to Instagram?"
"Yes, but if this is just another rumour regarding me and Emma, surely it can -"
"Luce, just shut up, okay? The reason I'm doing it this way is because you wouldn't believe me if I told you and I have some suspicion Emma hasn't called you yet, so go to this account." He gives me a username, of which I pull up the account without much trouble. It's the official account for Glasgow University, where Emma works.
"What the.." I tap the last posted picture. All my blood turns to ice. Simply seeing his face awakens something in me, but it's worse seeing his fake smile next to Emma's. He's got an arm around her shoulders, as well as those from pressumably another professor, and the caption reads The faculty of law was lucky enough to get a guest lecture from Callum Pritchard today! Self-made and highly succesful, he gave the students some insights to the marvelous world that is criminal law. It's tagged both him and Emma.
"I already went by her apartment to see if she needed support." Brie's distorted voice says when I stay quiet for too long. "But she wasn't home yet. Has she contacted you at all?"
"No, I haven't heard from her since lunch." I mutter. There's a tight feeling in my chest. I can't believe I'm not there. I can't believe I'm literally countries away when Emma needs me. "I've got to go."
"Let me know if I have to go by there again."
After hanging up on Gabriel, I try calling Emma. At first it rings, but she doesn't pick up. The second time it goes straight to voicemail. I know that she sometimes turns her phone off during work meetings, but it's nearing six-thirty. If she had a meeting this late, she would have told me. I try calling a third time, but again it just goes to voicemail. Despite my worry overflowing, I have my own meeting to get back to, especially if she's not going to pick up. Before rejoining Eailyn in her office, I send a text.
Saw the picture. I'm sorry you had to go through that. Call me when you can, I love you.
I've got a mouth full of teriyaki noodles when my voice finally rings. I jump up so quickly I nearly knock over both mine and Eschieve's drinks; my sister yelps, clutching her take-out box to her chest.
"Allez, c'est quoi le rush?" She exclaims. I grab my phone that was charging at the edge of the room, the caller ID on the display confirming what the ringtone already told me. I take a quick peak at the time - a few minutes past ten.
"Em," I breathe when I pick up. "Em, are you okay?"
"I didn't know, Lucien!" She sobs into the phone, and my heart shatters into a thousand pieces. "I didn't know he was going to give a guest lecture and then afterwards he told everyone we used to work together! He sat in on all my classes and at the end of the day William suggested we'd all go out for dinner. They didn't even leave room for me to say no!" It's all said in a single breath, followed by a hitching exhale that is filled with utter panic, and then more sobbing. I sink down to the floor. Eschieve, who I briefly filled in on what happened, watches me from across the room with worried eyes.
"Sshh, Em, it's okay." I say, even though we both know it's not. It sounds like she's trying to cover up her sobs, but the sound is still loud enough to tear through my soul. The fact that I'm not there with her, to hold her and help her makes me feel sick. "Where are you now?"
"Ho-home." She hiccups. "I just got home."
"Okay. Okay, that's good. Do you think you can make yourself some tea?" I don't know what I'm doing. Panic coursing through my veins, my thoughts a mess. My hands are shaking, which seems stupid because Emma is the one having had a traumatising day. She tells me that yes, she can make some tea, but when I hear the clattering up cups and doors, I worry that she might spill the hot water on herself and she seems to realise that too.
"I hate that he does this to me!" She cries. Her voice is so full of despair and I can't do anything about it. "It's been over a year! I shouldn't.... Not like this!"
I imagine her sitting in the middle of the kitchen, having pretty much collapsed where she's standing. Alone. I'm lost. I don't know how to help. "It's okay, Em." I say again, because I can't think of anything else. "He's made your life miserable. He keeps popping up and tears open old wounds. I can't imagine he's been kind to you today either, because he's...Well, he's Callum and Callum is a dick."
"He kept making all these condecending comments, how some people are just not cut out to be lawyers." She sounds a little more calm now, but her breathing still hitches and her voice is rasp from the tears. "And how he hated that some people abuse their relationships to higher ups to get promoted. Every single insult he could make without explicitly mentioning me, he made." The last bit of that sentence nearly gets lost in another sob, and I let my head fall back against the wall.
"I'm sorry." I whisper. "I'm sorry you had to go through that. I'm sorry that you came home to an empty house. Gabriel offered to come around if you need him..." Truth is, I don't really want Brie to come around. I should be there, not him. But I'm not, and I don't even know when I will be. "I'm sorry I'm not there."
Her sobs feel like daggers cutting through me. She tries to hold them back, to quiet them, I can easily picture her hand clutched to her mouth and her eyes squeezed shut, but they keep breaking through. "I miss you." She says after a while. It sounds so broken that I fear I might start crying myself.
"I... I miss you too." I reply, and my voice breaks.
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