813. - Lucien
There are days of relative peace, and there's days of surpressed murder - the latter is few, but they still take a toll. I see Callum thrice more in the weeks leading up to the hearing of the School Board, for which we've finally gotten a date. It'll basically be trial, but instead of lawyer against lawyer, it'll be defendant against plaintiff with no one speaking for them. The entirety of Emma's workgroup has been called up as witness, but considering the power the Douglas-family holds... We don't have high hopes for anyone backing up Emma. Leopold Douglas definitely holds the power to destroy your career if he so chooses, a threatening foresight if your career hasn't even begun.
I glance at the clock, hoping no one realises that I've been doing that every thirty seconds ever since the meeting began. For the past twenty minutes we haven't really discussed anything useful, rather it's just everyone boasting either their latest break, their latest paycheck or their latest shag. I've tried my best to become entirely invisible, and seem to have succeeded.
"Boys, boys!" Callum laughs roguishly. "I don't mean to spoil your fun, but I'm about to beat you all..."
The men howl their disagreement, but Callum just keeps laughing, trying to shush them but not very hard.
"Come on then!" One of the others says in a thick London accent. "Let's hear it! Who's this mystery girl you're supposedly gonna marry?"
"And mind that you give us a real girl!" Another chimes in.
"If she even is real!" A third one shouts. They all roar with laughter, but Callum seems entirely unbothered. He just sits there, leaning back in his chair, with a cockish grin on his face.
"She is very real." He says when the uproar quiets down again. I wonder if she is, because Alexandrina didn't sound like a real name in the slightest. "Though I must say that fucking her senseless doesn't always feel real, so good as it is."
I think I might be sick. I remember Aleran being just like this. He would've fit right in, would've battled Callum for the position of alpha male even. Locker room talk like this has never been my thing, not in any of the many different circles I dabble in.
"Did you hear me, Castellon?" Callum's voice cuts through my thoughts. I blink and he comes back into focus. To my horror I realise that he's staring right at me, as well as all the other six men in the conference room. "I said I'm marrying Alexandrina Douglas. You're familiar with the family, I believe?"
My heart drops, my stomach twists itself in a thousand knots. I bite my tongue to not say anything I might regret. Callum just grins the grin of my nightmares as he elaborates. "Honestly, Lucien, I admire your devotion to Emmeline. No self-respecting lawye-... law student," I grit my teeth when he corrects with emphasis. "is stupid enough to stay with the girl who assaulted the son of the most powerful man in Scotland-law. But I suppose you take what you can get."
The edges of my vision colour red. All the other men laugh. All, except Noah. He just looks concerned. Callum isn't done. He's gotten up from his chair and is now standing right in front of me. His voice drops.
"You see, I was the first to hear what happened to poor Maximillian... It came as no surprise, of course. Emma's always been a loose cannon. Sooner or later her feeble mind would snap and do something so incredibly stupid, not even you or your father could save her." I try not to listen. I try to shut out his voice, or even to imagine how I'm slowly choking the air out of his lungs and the light out of his eyes. His voice cuts through it all. "It seems our faiths are forever intertwined, and after that little stunt Emma and your daddy pulled on me at the trial, you can be damn sure I'll do everything in my might to take her down, and then take you down with it." He straightens, and I realise that none of the men have heard what he's said; they're all staring with high expectations. Callum's lips curl into a wicked sneer that would fit a serial killer. "Did you know that Leopold initially had no plans to complain to the school? He thought it was a good lesson for poor Maximillian... Luckily, I can be quite persuasive."
It takes every last bit of my self control not to beat him to pulp as I storm out, roars of laughter rising up behind me. I stalk into Noah's office, grabbing all my paperwork and contemplate knocking a forgotten cup of coffee over on Callum's laptop still standing there. Realising it won't do me any good, I decide against it.
Just as I'm about to leave, Noah blocks the doorway.
"It's after five." I bite at him, trying to pass him, but he puts his arm on the frame to keep me from leaving.
"What the hell was that?"
"Nothing." I snarl unconvincingly. "Just let me go home, please."
He puts a hand to my chest when I try to break through his defense again, his mouth forming a harsh line. "Either you tell me, or I'm asking Callum."
I can't help the bitter laugh that escapes. "Oh, do tell me how that goes down. Jesus, Noah, you're not really that daft, right?"
There's a flash of hurt in his eyes and I immediately regret my words, but they quickly harden back up. It's in sharp contrast to the kind and compassionate young men I've come to know in the last five weeks. "I thought we were becoming friends."
I stare him down, trying to keep the last bit of grip I have on my temper, but my fingertips are slipping. "Yeah, well." I say in a low voice. "Once upon a time, Callum and I were friends, too."
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