Foto bij 775. - Lucien

There are no words in my tongue, not even sounds in my throat. I turn around once more, as if that's going to make it make sense. Immediately my head is filled with ideas; where the desk could go, some cabinets, what other art I could hang on the walls... Maybe we could even fit a piano. Not a grand one, just a simple upright one. Maybe we could even knock down the back wall and make it out of glass entirely, or at least double doors that would give entry to that little garden.
My gaze falls back on Emma, who's still waiting for a response and looking rather anxious about it. "This is nuts." I whisper, unable to up the volume. "Emma, this is nuts."
Her face falls. "Do you not..."
"No!" I cut in quickly, realising my mistake. "No, that's not - Jesus, Em, no, it's perfect!" A laugh escapes me, because what else can you do when someone gifts you a space like this? "But that doesn't take away that it's absolutely nuts."
A smile lights up her face. "Our entire life is nuts. It's only fitting."
"Can't argue that." I chuckle, pulling her into a tight hug. "It's amazing, Em. Thank you."
"You're welcome." She says against my chest. "Come on, I'll show you the front."
"There's more?"
"Of course!" She laughs. "This room barely fits your ego, I couldn't do that to you."
"Oh, you were so close to being the perfect girlfriend." I whine. She just laughs it off and takes my hand, leading me through a narrow hallway to another door. When we enter, the room is full of still-morning sunlight. Dust particles float through the air and lay focus on how dirty the window is. A faded outline of old stickers is still visible, but because it's mirrored I can't manage to read it. A store front.
"I don't know what you'd use it for." Emma admits. "And frankly, I don't care. This entire space is yours to do with as you please. If you want it to be for the both of us, that's fine. If you'd rather keep it for yourself, that's fine too. You're the boss."
I still can't quite believe it. Slowly I roam the space, as if its white walls and dusty corners are about to reveal their secrets to me. The glass front looks out on a street that I recognise as not far from Princess Street, meaning we're in the middle of the city centre. It causes my soaring heart to falter, and I turn to Emma with a frown.
"This must've cost a fortune."
"It didn't." She immediately couters. "Told you - family friend who wanted to get rid of it. I got a good deal on it. I still had plenty of money left over from the case against Callum. It was a no-brainer."
"But that was your money." I argue, despite knowing that I'm not going to win this. "For you to spend on you."
"You're right, it was my money." She walks up to me and takes my hands in hers, gently swinging them from side to side. "And that means it was my decision what I was going to spend it on. And I wanted to spend it on you." At my frown, she flicks me between the eyebrows. "I know it's hard for you to accept gifts. For fuck's sake, you struggle with letting me buy you a coffee. But this was my money that I wanted to spend on the love of my life."
There is no point in arguing, so I don't. Instead, I just lean down to give her a slow and careful kiss. "Merci, mon amour. Je t'aime." I say softly, my forehead resting against hers.
"I love you, too." is her reply, and my heart soars again. In just over forty-eight hours, I will have asked her. If there was any hesitation from my side, it is now gone. Emma is the love of my life, and I want nothing more than to marry her.

We have lunch in the storefront - ready made sandwiches from a store on the corner, with cans of coke on the side. Emma cleverly decided not to fight me when I was set on paying for it, despite it being ridiculously cheap. It's not long before the logistics of the party come up.
"Mattie and Brie are picking up Eschieve from the airport at three, and they'll come straight to us. Beth will be at ours at four, so she can help me cook dinner. You -" She says sternly when I'm ready to protest. "will be on the couch with your new book and some good wine. We are taking care of you today, not the other way around."
I raise my hands in defeat, chuckling. "Alright, alright. Noted." She looks smug about the easy win, and I roll my eyes with a smile.
"What time are we supposed to be ready?"
"Matthias said he'll send a car at..." I check the text he sent me this morning, just to be sure. "eight-thirty. We'll have about an hour at the venue to do last checks and whatnot before guests come pouring in. There's rooms reservered for us, so we don't have to worry about getting home."
I pop open my soda can, running over the logistics in my head once more. Most of it I don't even have to worry about - Stella and Matthias don't get paid a ridiculous hourly fee for nothing -, but I find that I have a hard time letting it go. The whole idea of the party kind of puts me on edge. Emma, of course, catches on, and asks the question simply by cocking her head sideways and looking concerned. There is no use in lying.
"I'm just a little... nervous." I admit, realising only how true that is now that I've said it out loud. "It's the first big public thing I've done in over a year and expectations are sky high."
"And you're going to meet them." Emma promises me gently. "All you need to do is look gorgeous in that outfit you scored, and be your own charismatic self. And if worse comes to worst... just whisper in my ear that you're real thirsty for a strawberry margharita -" I snort, because she knows damn well that I loathe margharita's. "- and I'll find us a nice secluded corner where I can take all your worries away."

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