484 - Emma
It all still feels surreal, which is why Jacques question about my residence doesn't seem to land until I see Lucien tense up.
Jacques tries his very best not to show any emotion, just nodding in his formal manner. "We'll need that address, then," he states, not giving away any of his judgement on the matter, though we both know he has plenty of it to share.
The car ride is uncomfortable, to say the least. The walk up to the car was an event on its own, flashes going off. The press has gotten word of the verdict, and they all know they have to get the best photo to go with the scandalous article they'll no doubt write. I wonder how they'll portray me - as the powerful woman, or the vindictive ex-lover, suing for money?
Money. A lot of money, an amount that sounds insane to me. Some articles will center around that, speculating on how much I'll get, like that's why we're here in the first place.
I would have honestly paid every last penny I have to get rid of Callum, so the money is the least of my worries and will probably go towards things that aren't for me. A trip with Lucien, maybe, and possibly a car of my own.
I'll help Daniel buy a car, and pay for Beth's university, if she chooses to go after her gap year. Help Charlie pay off some loans for the Griffin, help out my parents. Take Kenna out to dinner as much as I can.
The rest of it would go into a fund for the future. For a house, or for our future children's university tuition.
In the car, there's no conversation. We're quiet, just wanting to get home.
I need to take a bath, wash the sadness and the filth off of me. Just seeing that video footage made me feel dirty again, like what Callum did ruined me.
It's another reminder that what happened to me is real. No one had ever seen him actually act like that, besides with the bar fight, but that night is blurry for most of us. Now, it's real, and everyone has seen it. Including my father in law, and more importantly, Lucien.
I've soaked in the bathtub until my skin has gotten wrinkly, the water now some kind of human broth and my hair smelling like lavender. Frank has been sitting on the edge of the tub for most of it, but I pushed him off when he started trying to drink the water.
Ever since the end of the trial, I've felt empty. I'm so happy we've finally gotten rid of Callum once and for all, but that happiness can't quite be felt yet. Now, I'm just numb. The video brought back feelings I had pushed to the back of my being, and they've all bubbled to the surface now, no way to avoid them anymore.
In one of Lucien's shirts and a pair of shorts, I make my way into the livingroom. Lucien is on the couch, invested in an episode of Dr. Phil.
"Hey," I smile weakly, still standing as Frank circles around my legs.
"Hi, love," he smiles back, patting the empty space beside him. "How was your bath?"
"It was alright," I sigh, sitting down beside him and leaning my head against his shoulder. "Do you think you'll love me forever?"
He tenses up for just a second, creating some space between us so he can look at me. "Come again?"
"You heard me," I blankly tell him, Frank now climbing up on the couch with us.
"I... yes, I do think that. I can't imagine not loving you."
"Are you okay?" There's not a sliver of judgement in his question, maybe just a little bit of worry.
"Just... processing some things, I guess."
He kisses my temple, pulling me closer to him. "I understand."
We don't talk about it anymore. There's plenty of things I want to say, but I can't get any of the words out.
For a while, we just stare at the screen, where Dr. Phil is cussing out some lady that spent thousands of dollars on someone who was obviously catfishing her.
"It's just so crazy to me," I sigh, "that you can hate someone so much. Callum... he ruined my life, or at least part of it, but without him, we wouldn't be here. If I hadn't met him, you'd still be that arrogant influencer I saw in Rome. We would have never met, and I wouldn't have even recognised you at the office. And even if we had met, we wouldn't have become friends, because that only happened when you offered me a place to stay after Callum cheated on me. Without him, though it's all kinds of fucked up, I would never get to call you mine. So I hate him, with all of my heart, but I'm also grateful. And now.. it's all over, and I couldn't be happier, but I'm also just... empty. Because it feels like now, after all this time, I have to deal with what he has done to me. I was still afraid of him, to this day, and now I won't need to be any longer."
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