521. - Lucien
Naturally, unpacking gets postponed; Matthew has a chilled six-pack of beer which gets opened before we even think about unloading the suitcases. With nine people between us there's quite some baggage to be dragged to the house, a task that doesn't entice any of us. Considering the farmhouse has nearly three hectares of ground, we don't expect the others back any time soon. The only thing we make sure off is to let out Frank; in a flash of black and white he sprints to hide underneath the couch.
"So where'd you fly in from, Lucien?" Tom asks as he leans against the dining table long enough to house an entire royal court. "Eschieve mentioned flying in separately from you, so I'm guessing it wasn't France."
"Ireland." I reply, rolling my shoulders. I've done four countries in the span of a week, so my entire body is stiff. "Had an opening of a new brewery in Dublin."
"I honestly don't know how you guys do it. Travelling back and forth, never sure of where you're going to end up." Tom shakes his head. "Couldn't do it."
Matthew grins as he takes a swig of his beer. "You get used to it. I'm not made to stay put for too long, and our French acquaintance even less so."
"Acquaintance?" I inquire; his grin widens, but no reply comes. With our beers half-drunk we had out into the gloomy weather to finally unload the trunks. The women have taken suitcases twice the size the men have, with the exception of Gabriel - while just as big as the lady's, it's so heavy Matthew needs my assistance to drag it up the stairs. Out of habit I leave the packed suitcases in the room, until I notice both Matthew and Tom unpacking theirs. I've gotten so used to living out of the case that I didn't even think about doing that, yet since we're staying for nine days it's more than sensible to do so. I'm halfway through when we hear loud voices bouncing off the walls downstairs, footsteps on the stairs and then a rather wet-looking Emma appears in the doorway of our room.
"Rain?" I guess redundantly, and she grins.
"Came out of nowhere. We hid out in the stables at first, but it looked like it was going to continue for a while, so we ran back to the main house."
"Mhm. Maybe we could finally have that shower together, then." I suggest with a smirk.
"Révoltant!" Beth chimes, stopping dead in her tracks and leaning back to peek into the room. "No doing the nasty in the public areas! Oh, stop looking like that - Eschieve is teaching me French to deal with you guys!"
She disappears, leaving us rather taken aback. "Why did we invite my sister again?" I ask, and Emma laughs. When she walks towards me I wrap my arms around her, her hands against my chest.
"Because they're part of the family. And I think Beth may be right."
"But there's six bathrooms! We could have one just for us!" I whine, which only makes her laugh again; she pats my chest and then reaches past me into the closet to grab dry clothes.
"We're here for over a week, Luce. I think there's plenty of time." She stands on her tiptoes, her face suddenly only an inch from mine, and her voice gets hushed. "Besides... The bathroom is the least adventurous place we could do it around here."
A second later, she's darted into the hallway, leaving me with a very definitive rush of blood southwards.
We quickly find out that while we have six bathrooms, all the hot water runs from the same pipes: there's no using two showers at once, or using the hot tab in the kitchen while someone is upstairs washing up. It means a line get formed for the wet members of our party to shower and warm up, leaving me and Matthew with grocery duty while Tom watches Emilia.
Rain is still pouring down as me and Matthew make the twenty minute drive to the nearest grocery store. It's not very impressive, only stocking the bare necessities, meaning that we might have to make a bigger excursion to a bigger store tomorrow, just like Emma and I did on San Miguel.
"I wonder if Brie is still going to love this place three days from now." I grin after check-out. "Can't very well go out at eleven pm to get some more cheese sticks here."
Matthew just chuckles, doesn't really give any reply, but he's never been very good at doing two things at once; he's already loading groceries into the shopping bags, which must take up all of his concentration.
When we get back to the house, everyone has settled into the living room. Eschieve and Beth are trying to get the fire going, snapping at anyone who dares to offer help. Brie and Emma are playing with Emilia on the floor; the child has disregarded the toys her parents brought and is instead playing with the newly-discovered tassels on one of the throw pillows. Kenna and Tom are watching them from the couch, wistful smiles on their lips. Matthew joins me in preparing dinner, which doesn't take very long at all - everyone is worn from travelling, so we're sticking to a simple pasta bolognese loaded with pre-cut veggies.
"Dinner's ready!" Matthew calls as I pour everyone a glass of wine. "Only allowed when you bring a good mood!"
That doesn't seem to be too hard a task. Clearly we're all very excited to be here, surrounded that gigantic dining table. Beth and Brie are already bickering about who gets to take home the baby goat, and the rest of the conversation goes every which way. My brain is swimming from the long day I've had, so I take my time to lean back and enjoy what's happening around me. A long time ago, I told Emma that home is wherever she is. While I stand by that, it's not entirely true. Home is where all of these people are, be it just one or more of them.
I look down when Emma grabs my thigh under the table; she stares back at me with a mischievous smile. "It seems the rain has cleared up. Want to go explore after dinner? Just the two of us?"
With a grin, I press a kiss to the tip of her nose. "You know the way to my heart so well, Miss Middleton."
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