Foto bij 609. - Lucien

"No, I said right!"
"You said right, but you showed me left!"
"Did not! You're just doing it wrong!"
"How can I do it right when you don't teach me right?"
"Are you seriously doubting my teaching skills? May I remind you what I do for a living?"
"Well, apparently you're a lot better at law than you are at these hand clapping games."
"You're just a sore loser. Come on, we'll try again. It goes both - left - right - left - knee slap - right - left and then repeat."
"You are changing it again!" I'm already laughing before we've even started our umpteenth attempt at the childhood game Emma is trying to teach me. Sure enough I mess up before we've even made it to the 'repeat' section of it all, and Emma gives up by dramatically throwing her hands up in the air.
"You have the worst hand-eye-coordination!"
We're in the middle of a mostly deserted beach. Emma's wearing my sweater, because with the clear skies the temperatures drop a lot quicker, but we didn't feel like going back to the penthouse yet. Somehow, in a way that I don't remember, we landed on the fact that I never played those hand clapping games she's trying to teach me now. As it turns out I had good reason not to participate in them, because I suck at them. We've been at it for fifteen minutes at least, the sky around us darkening by the minute.
"How dare you!" I laugh. "I'm a pianist, I have excellent hand-eye-coordination!"
"Well, you're not showing it off in any kind of way." Emma shakes her head, chuckling still. "You're lucky you're pretty."
"Oh, because these games are such a vital part in life." I raise a brow at her, and she laughs. A real laugh in which she throws her head back and her eyes crinkle at the side, and the sound of which carries over the sound and over the waves, for all of the world to hear. It was already my favourite sound in the entire world but now, after not hearing it for so long, it has elevated itself even more. It fuels me like oxygen, makes my skin tingle, my heart swell thrice its size with love for her. She catches me looking, and she blushes, just like earlier on the night when I caught her. Immediately she blushes, even though it's barely visible in the disappearing light. But I know she does from the way she bites her bottom lip and her chin dips ever so slightly, but her eyes stay locked on mine. "What?"
"Nothing," I reply, just like she did before. "I'm just... happy."
Her expression softens to a smile and somehow my heart grows yet another size. "So am I."
I want to kiss her. We haven't yet, not since we were about to see the echo of our child, and I'm scared to make that first move. That kiss is surrounded by eggshells so thin I worry they might break if I breathe a little too loudly. That doesn't mean I don't want to. I miss the feeling of her lips against mine, the taste of them, the way she melts against me when I tip her chin up so I can reach her better. I ache for it.
But I have to wait for her. It's just that the wait gets a little harder each time I look at her.

All the light has gone from the sky when we finally go back to the penthouse, both now damp and cold from the sand. It's a new moon, and the stars are drowned out by the light that comes from the city. I find myself missing them, and from there I am reminded of Emma's birthday two years back, when we spent a night out on the boat and spend half the night stargazing and the other half enjoying each other. Like everything else, that seems like a different life.
As we walk back, I'm telling Emma more stories of my holidays here. I don't remember much of the city itself, because back then I didn't really care for it. I didn't understand why my parents wanted to visit old buildings and go inside every church. I'd rather sit on the steps with an ice cream pop they bought me from one of those street vendors.
"There's one thing I vividly remember though," I smile. "There was this candy shop. I could not for the life of me tell you where it is, but it had all kinds of traditional sweets from all over the world. All handmade by the owner, and sold for dirt cheap. Aleran and I would go there at least three times a week to buy as much as our pockets could carry."
"That sounds like children's paradise." Emma comments with a laugh. She's holding my hand tightly in hers, and they're swaying between us as we walk.
"Children's paradise and parent's nightmare." I agree, just as we reach the hotel. As I step into the elevator, I suddenly notice how tired I am. My watch tells us it's just past ten, but I could go straight to bed. Emma's yawn betrays that she feels the same way.
"A shower and then sleep." She concludes as the elevator doors roll open. "That sounds like Emma's paradise right now."
We don't shower together. We're not quite there yet, if we'll ever be there again. So I go first, an unwritten rule in this relationship - it means that she can take all the time she wants, without me pestering her to get out. I can hear the water going when I stand in front of the mirror to brush my teeth and do my regular routine. I'm still there when the water stops and Emma comes out, wrapped in a towel. She looks at me through the mirror, and for the third time that night the same question gets uttered. "What?"
She says nothing, just looks at me with a mysterious smile before she walks up to me. I follow her every move, noticing the tension in my body. Is there something wrong? Does she need me to go away?
She comes to stand next to me, and with the delicate touch of her fingertips she turns my face towards her before she stands on her toes and presses her lips to mine. It's soft and careful and calculating, but a kiss nonetheless. I freeze in place.
"Thank you." She whispers, her face still so very close to mine.
"For what?"
"For everything. I don't tell you enough. Thank you."

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