797. - Lucien
To my surprise, but mostly my great displeasure my father lets me know he expects me to join the little gettogether he's having. Apparently I made a lasting impression on Henry that I really could've done without, and since law firms are seeing a spike in social media cases, they want my opinion again. At least Jacques has the grace to tell me he doesn't expect me to be there the entire time. Eschieve is just giving me pitying looks from behind her homework, while Emma does her best to be supportive. With his response to our announcement much too fresh in my mind, it does me little good. Eventually she realises that I'm going to sulk no matter what she does, so she goes back to grading essays.
Jacques has called in our cook to prepare dinner, because of course he did, and we have to stay clear of the kitchen. Luckily, with the heaters on, the temperature on the terrace is nice enough to stay out. In another attempt to distract me, Eschieve tells me about all the ins and outs of a building she's designing for her design class. It actually does a good job of grasping my attention, as well as Emma's, but Eschieve's voice trails off when the terrace doors open.
There's three men besides my father. One I recognise as Henry, the other two I don't know. Next to me, Eschieve and Emma look as tense as I feel as they pour onto the terrace, not quite taking their seats yet, eyes instead fixed on us. Jacques gently clears his throat. "Messieurs, ce sont mes enfants, Lucien et Eschieve. Et voici Emmeline Middleton," He pauses, and I'm reminded of how he introduced her as a family friend the last time we were in this situation. My eyes narrow. "...la fiancée de mon fils."
My eyes flick to Emma's, and she catches them, looking as surprised as I feel.
Henry lets out a delighted chuckle. "C'est bon! J'ai dit la dernière fois qu'il ne devrait pas laisser partir une femme si dévouée!"
Across the table, Eschieve lets out a quiet squeak of dismay, and my hope for this night not being entirely terribly evaporates instantly. As Eschieve leans over the table to translate any gaps for Emma in hushed tones, my gaze locks with Henry's. "Si quoi que ce soit, Henry, je lui suis dévoué - pas l'inverse."
His cheeks turn a little red and behind him I can see Jacques's face tensing up. But the time that he could intimidate me is long past.
Salvation comes in the other two men laughing heartedly, slapping Henry on the back.
"Qu'attendiez-vous d'autre du fils de cet homme, Henry? Un Du Castellon dit toujours ce qu'il pense." He turns to me, extending a hand. "Nicolas, ravi de vous rencontrer."
"Vous aussi." I say stiffly, shaking his hand. As Nicolas goes around the table, the last man introduces himself to me as Gabriel but in the same breath absolutely insists to be called Gabe. I suppress a snicker, because our Gabriel would murder us if we ever called him that.
Jacques invites everyone to sit down, and I realise this is the point where I'm expected to join. I do so begrudingly and the fact that Emma and Eschieve don't immediately draws attention.
As Gabe takes a glass of red wine from the tray presented to him by Patrick, one of our employees, he raises his brows at the two women at the table who've gone back to their work. "Don't you want your woman next to you, Lucien?"
I resist the urge to physically shiver at the term 'ta femme' and shake my head. "She has important work to finish.
"What could possibly be so important? And the girl as well!"
I look at Jacques, quietly daring him to downplay. His jaw is tight as he sips his wine and answers for me. "My daughter is in her third year of architectural engineering. Miss Middleton is a professor at one of Britain's finest law schools."
All three men, except my father and I, laugh. "A professor? Of what, how to stitch up a judge's robe?" Henry chuckles, shaking his head.
"Family law." Emma cuts in sharply, turning around on her chair. My heart swells with pride. It immediatly shuts up everyone up, and Nicolas even has the decency to look impressed. I decide I like him best. He seems a few years the other's junior, so maybe he isn't filled with the same toxic ideals. "But I teach where I'm needed, because I posess all-round schooling and I'm excellent at my job."
I notice how tightly she's holding her pen, and a very slight tremble to her voice, but I'm not sure if it's from nerves or anger - or maybe a little bit of both. I smile at her, and when none of the men can come up with a decent reply because they're not used to a woman talking back to them, she turns back around and focusses back on her grading. I make a mental note to buy her the biggest bouquet of roses when we're back in Scotland, because words aren't enough to express my pride.
"And again... I'm devoted to her much more than she is to me, exactly because of things like this." I say airily. Nicolas permanently earns his badge of 'best liked' by snorting into his wine glass, while the other two men flush red and my father makes a point of not looking at me.
In true lawyer-fashion, we quickly move on from an uncomfortable situation by not mentioning it again, and instead Henry pitches how I can shed new light on all these new social media cases flooding their firms, filled with plenty of old white men and little knowledge of how to deal with the delicacies of the online world. To my surprise I find myself getting excited over it, especially when Nicolas asks great follow-up questions that allow me to offer some inside information as someone with a large social pressence and an almost law-degree. At some point I notice that the other three have mostly withdrawn from the conversation, but I don't mind. They were mostly condecending anyway, not quite realising the power social media holds, and when Patrick comes to call for dinner Nicolas gives me a thoughtful look. Then he picks a business card out of his breast pocket, and hands it to me alongside a pen. At my confused look, he smiles small. "I'm more in need of your number than you are of mine."
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