645. - Lucien
To not entirely make it a luxury overkill, I made reservations in a cosy looking restaurant somewhere along the Tiber. The sun is only just starting to disappear, bathing us in golden light that makes the whole moment seem even more magical. We are waiting for the main course, each with a glass of wine in hand. I snap a picture when Emma is looking out over the river, a soft smile curling her lips. Not to post online, just for myself. She looks up just as I put my phone away again, her brows raising.
"Needed a new background." I smile. She rolls her eyes, but her cheeks colour the same kind of pink they did earlier in the hotel room.
She studies me, her head tipping slightly to the left. I stare back at her, waiting for one of us to break in this unofficial staring contest. No one does, because she asks a question.
"How often have you been here?"
"Rome? A handful of times, maybe."
I nod. "Mostly. As a collection manager, my mother used to love coming here for the art. She used to be quite well known, actually. But I've been only twice since she passed, not including this one. Why do you ask?"
"No particular reason other than being curious." She smiles, sipping her wine. "Sometimes it seems like you've just been everywhere, have explored every inch of the Earth."
"Is that so?" I chuckle softly, shaking my head. "There are so many places that I have yet to see. Even places I have been, but didn't see because I was constantly working. There is plenty for us to discover."
That makes her smile. "Us?"
"Of course." I lean forward, resting my elbows on the edge of the table as I fold my hands to rest my chin on them. "Have we not been over this? I have absolutely no plans of spending my future without you, and full plans of seeing everything there is to see in this world. To make both of those work, I'll have to take you along."
She bites her bottom lip in the way she always does when I make her shy; her eyes flick downward for a second, and then back up to mine. I just know there's thoughts in her head that she'll never say out loud, but I'm so curious for them. "Where would you take me? And don't say anywhere -" She adds sternly. "I want specifics."
"Demanding. I like it." I smirk, which gets me a well-aimed kick against the shin.
"We - are - in - public." She hisses, but the deeper colour of her cheeks betrays she doesn't mind it all that much.
"In a country where English isn't the first language, and none of the tables around us are taken." I bounce back, having picked my wine glass back up. "Come on, Em, no one would bat an eye even if I said that tonight, I'm going to pin you down on the bed and cho-"
"Lucien!" Her cheeks are burning a bright red now, eyes wide in shock. I can only grin, raising my brows at her. Now I know what's going on inside her head, and I don't mind at all. I pull my innocent face, and cock my head to the side.
"What? Is that not what you would like me to do?"
"That is not -, I'm not -, we can't discuss this in public!"
I sit back laughing as she gets flustered, my heart skipping a beat over the whole thing. For a while, I didn't think we'd ever be able to do this again. But it seems that with coming to Rome, we were finally able to put physical distance between what happened to us in April. Her face is still red when the waiter comes us with a bottle to refill our glasses.
"Ah, sweet couple!" He says in a heavy accent. "Young love is so beautiful! Oh, but what's that?" He taps my hand with his finger, tutting and shaking his head. "No ring! Nessun anello non va bene! No good, signore!" He gestures towards Emma with dramatics. "Such beauty! You should marry her now!"
"I..." I glance at Emma, who's recovered her footing from my shameless words and is now trying to hide her laugh behind her hand. "We're very happy even without being married, thank you."
"Oh, but now she might still run! He might run!" He turns to Emma with a serious expression. "If he don't ask, you ask! Next year - next year, you come back, but now married!"
"We'll see." Emma nearly chockes on the words. The waiter finally leaves again, no reason to linger, and we need a minute or two to recover ourselves.
"If it's not babies, it's marriage." I chuckle, shaking my head. "How do we keep getting this commentary from complete strangers?"
Emma pushes a lock of hair out of her face, still smiling as well. "I suppose that's what happens when you're nearing your thirties. I know Charlie is being asked constantly, especially now that it's been a few years with Selene. But that brings a new question to your future visions..."
"Well.." She looks almost embarrassed, which peaks my interest and my worry at the same time. "Is there? A ring, a marriage?"
I purse my lip, swirling my wine. With this question, we have suddenly entered dangerous territory and I need to watch my moves. "Does there need to be?"
"I'm asking the questions here." A careful smile curls her lips. "So please answer it."
"Well, I know that we've joked about it and all, calling you Mrs du Castellon, and I'd lie if your parents didn't heavily imply it over Christmas - don't ask." I shake my head at her questioning look.
"It sounds like there's a but."
"Look, Em, don't take this the wrong way. It's not that I don't love you enough, and we've already covered me wanting to spend my entire life with you and only you. I just... always felt that marriage is so redundant. What really is there to a marriage that you and I don't have? A slip of paper, a couple of signatures, a gold band that's only there to signal to the outside world that we're no longer available." I shrug, reaching to take her hand over the table. "I just don't think it's necessary. Why would us being connected through the law make us a better couple than us just loving each other as much as we do now, or possibly even more?"
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