651. - Lucien
Upon Luca's suggestion, I get us two of the signature cocktails. It's a vibrant blue and smells strongly of peach and cognac, something that doesn't match that colour in the slightest. It is, however, true to its promise of being one of the better cocktails I've had in a long time.
"Well?" I inquire Emma with a smile. She purses her lips, taking her sweet time with her answer.
"Close." She says eventually. "But not quite."
"Seems I have to up my game, then." I smirk, which makes her roll her eyes. We head towards one of the lounge booths, recently abandoned by a small group of people that have now disappeared behind the velvet curtains.
While we sit down with just the two of us, it's not long before we're joined by others. They come and they go, chatting us up casually like we're old friends running into each other after years. In a way, I realise, that's exactly what's happening. It's been a hot minute since I've been to a party even vaguely resembling this one, even though I used to have one at least every two weeks even since Emma and I got back together. And, despite trying to tell myself otherwise, I'm actually in my element. It's different than it used to be, because now I have Emma, but I enjoy the energy a party like this gives me. I happily chat away with anyone who comes, some familiar and others not at all, and it comes as natural to me as breathing.
Until the air gets knocked out of me by someone so familiar to me, yet also someone I didn't expect at all. Though, thinking about it, I really shouldn't be surprised.
"When Luca told me you had actually shown up, I had to come see it for myself." Arty offers a wide grin. "Especially when he said you didn't come alone. Honestly, seeing her in real life it suddenly makes a lot of sense you went on a months-long bender."
I'm too stunned to give a decent reply, but luckily Emma helps me shake out of it. "Luce... why don't you introduce us?" She asks with a charming smile. "I'm quite certain in saying that he and I have not met before."
"Right." I clear my throat. "Emma, this is Arty. Arty - Emma."
"Pleasure to meet you." Arty grins, extending a hand that Emma shakes. "And you're quite right, we haven't met. Heard all the stories, though, but they may have been a little tainted considering you two weren't exactly on speaking terms when he and I met." He beckons over a server and takes three flutes of champagne off the platter, one for each of us. "Honestly, Emma, I have no doubt you already do this, but consider yourself lucky this man is tied to you the way that he is." A wide grin spreads over his features. "If you hadn't come back in the picture, I know exactly what I would have done to him tonight. And all of it would have taken place behind those curtains. Although..." He eyes me up and down, and then glances at Emma, still grinning and tossing in a wink for good measure. "I'm not known to say no to new adventures."
"Alright, alright." I laugh, shaking my head. Emma seems quite taken aback, which I don't blame her for. "That's quite enough, Arty. No 'adventures' for us." To make sure I drive the message home, I lace my arm over Emma's shoulders again. He laughs with me, raising his hands in defeat.
"Fine, message received. But damn, had I known you would go permanently off the market I would have made more of an effort to make it last longer." He sips his champagne, shaking his head. "Did you know that Emerald actually invite-" He gets distracted by his name being called. I can't quite seem to pinpoint where it comes from, but he seems to have no trouble to. His continuous grin widens even more as he hops up, bobbing his eyebrows at us. "Sorry, my darlings, my company is wanted elsewhere. Do come find me if you change your mind, yes?" And just like that, he's gone again. I shake my head laughing to myself, while Emma is still trying to recover from the shock that was Arty and his confessions.
"I suppose that answers my question from earlier." She says meekly, glancing at me. I don't look back, afraid of her reaction to this realisation as I nod along.
"I used to be at every party. Before, but also with Liliana. It was a way to blow off steam, the one place we could do as we pleased without being judged. Everything you see happening here, I used to be a part of. And I loved it. We all did."
"Gabriel, Matthew, Me and Liliana, and her best friend Audrey. We didn't get to meet up with all of us very often, but whenever we did, those were the best nights."
Her eyes scan the crowd, as if she's going to find any of those people here. Considering Liliana and Audrey were always more models than influencers and only came to this parties as our plus-ones, I doubt it, but after running into Arty I'm not about to push my luck by saying the chances of running into them are zero.
"And Arty?" She sounds genuinely curious, not a sliver of judgement in her voice.
"We met shortly after you and I broke up. He's one of Emerald's best friends, so we saw a lot of each other. I mean, you saw the pictures and the videos. I fell right back into the scene when we broke up. Constant partying, alcohol, drugs, the lot. I was being a whore. Arty was interested." I shrug. "A one time thing, but nothing I regret."
When I finally look at Emma, she's frowning as she sips her champagne. I raise my brows at her, wondering if she's judging me. It turns out to be quite the opposite. "Do you think that if we hadn't... gotten back together, you'd still be that person? The party-animal?" Her tone lets me know that this isn't just a question. This is her wondering if she took something from me, something I clearly enjoyed.
"No. Maybe. Not to that extend, anyway." I say finally. "Matthew forced me to South-Africa when there was still no possibility of you and I ever speaking again. I calmed down a lot after that, regardless of what you and I now have. And don't be mislead..." I smile, leaning in to kiss her cheek. "I was like that because I had nothing to lose. I still go to parties like this - used to, anyway, before my hiatus, but the only thing that has changed is that I now have something that is worth so much more than that temporary fun."
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