716 - Emma
The next morning, I get myself out of bed. It's one of the hardest things to do these days, with mornings still being dark and sun going down way before it should, winds cold and days feeling longer than ever before.
Lucien is still dead asleep beside me, a skill he seems to have gotten better at ever since the whole Piper ordeal, and even when I stub my leg on the edge of the bed trying to leave the room without turning a single light on, he continues dreaming.
Turning on the lights in our tree cheers me up ever so slightly, the feeling of Christmas slowly feeling more and more real. The days seem to creep by, especially now little of it is spent with Lucien, but I'm counting them down until my holidays start.
Frank, startled and jumping out of his hiding spot behind the tree, starts screaming for food, and so another new ritual seems to have started.
I leave Lucien a note, letting him know what time I'll be home and what I was thinking for dinner, before heading out.
The roads are snowy, though much of it has turned to sludge by now, and many of the radio stations have taken it upon themselves to play cheerful Christmas music to remind everyone that happiness is soon to come in these last few dark, depressing days of darkness and cold.
Without Lucien at university with me, days feel weird. It's almost surreal to realise that before this year, I used to go to campus without him every day. He's become such a part of my normal life that I miss him when he's not here, even if he's just a student in one of my lectures.
The massive fake tree in the building is decorated with Christmas wishes of staff, faculty and students, and it's an impressive sight as always. It's almost as if every year, they go more all out than the one before.
"Any plans for Christmas, Emmeline?" One of my colleagues, Marcus, asks as we're in line for coffee. He's an older gentleman, about to retire, and a massive fan of small talk, which is rare for a lawyer.
"I'll be spending time with my family, mostly," I smile, "my boyfriend and I will probably go see my parents and all of my siblings, and we were thinking about going to France for a bit, too. It's where he's from, and it might be nice to see snowy Paris."
"Oh, it's absolutely gorgeous," he beams, "the wife and I went there around Christmas, years ago, before the kids were even born. Very romantic, beautiful."
"What about you? Family gatherings, or are you going somewhere sunny?"
He chuckles. "Oh, no far away trips for us. Just three days of family time. Our oldest has just had her third child, and our sixth grandchild. Remind me, you didn't have any of your own yet, did you?"
I shake my head, reaching for my steaming cup of coffee. "None. We're happy that way, for now, too. No grandchildren for my parents yet, to their sheer disappointment."
He smiles at me, pushing his glasses a little further onto his nose. "Well, you'll never know. Christmas is a terribly romantic time... Who knows what might happen in snowy Scotland?"
I had almost forgotten about the impending doom I was yet to face, would have almost missed it, if it didn't nearly slap me in the face when I walked into the lecture hall for my last lecture.
There she is, in all her glory, in a different spot than usual but still very much in my lecture. It's weird seeing her all alone and not accompannied by Lucien, which makes me have to do a double take before the realisation seeps back in.
Piper. The nerve she has even showing up here makes my blood boil, but I play it casual. I have to be the bigger person here, not let anyone know that currently, I'm very close to ripping her head right off of her perfectly shaped body.
It's hard to stay professional, which causes me to wrap the lecture up twenty minutes early, my head pounding with what I'd want to tell her, what horrible things I'd yell at her if only she'd listen.
That wish might come true, because whilst most students slowly leave the room, relieved by the sudden end of class, I can almost feel her gaze on me.
Way quicker than I usually would, I stuff my things into my bag, ready to leave.
"Emma!" Her voice has a hint of desperation to it, hurting me in a way that isn't sadness. She doesn't get to be desperate, she doesn't get to yell out my name, she doesn't get to think she can still talk to me.
My head shoots in her direction. "If whatever you want to tell me starts like that and not with my working title, I don't want to hear it."
"I just...," there's sadness in her eyes when I look at them for just a split second. Those eyes she laid on my boyfriend, ready to ruin our relationship, for what? A fully paid tuition? She wasn't even in love with him.
That would've made me less mad. You can't fight your feelings, you can fight a deal with someone who's the embodiement of the devil. "I'm really sorry."
"That doesn't mean a thing to me. Now if you'll excuse me..."
"Emma, please... I know I did something terrible, and that I hurt you and Lucien so bad. I'm so sorry about that, I just...."
"Listen, Piper, I don't care how sorry you are. What you did, no matter how desperate you were or whatever your reasoning was, I will never forgive you, and neither will Lucien."
"I know that, but I still wanted you to know. If it makes you feel any better, I told Callum... Mister Prittchard, whatever his name is, that I wasn't in anymore, and he wasn't too happy with me..."
I let out a laugh. "Am I supposed to feel bad for you? You knew what you were getting yourself into. Play with fire, get your hands burnt. Make a deal with an abusive, lying, cheating scumbag? It's what you had coming. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go home to my boyfriend."
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