Foto bij 844 - Emma

There's flowers on the dining table, a massive, colourful bouquet with roses, chrystantemums and freesias in a variety of shades of red and pink. The note was simple but effective - I miss you. And I miss him too, especially now I'm back home. The house smells like him, and knowing the scent will slowly fade over the three months he won't set foot in the house hurts.
So I make sure not to wash the sheets, and spray some of his perfume on my shirt. The pets seem to miss him, too, my attention barely enough for the both of them.
The fridge is stocked with groceries so there's no need for me to go out, especially now that my plans with Kenna were cancelled after Felix getting sick in the middle of the night, the only thing calming him down being laying in his mothers arms.
Besides the flowers, a box of expensive, French chocolate was also delivered. I had assumed it was Lucien's, but the note told me otherwise - it simply reading I'm sorry, and Eschieve's name. I tell myself I should call her, but can only do so when I feel calm enough.
The entire situation still frustrates me immensely, because with the first day of university being in less than a week, I want nothing more than spend more time with Lucien. I'm already looking for tickets to fly back to Paris next weekend, but they're insanely expensive and I would have to fly in the middle of the night on Friday because of my schedule, and back before monday morning. I let out a groan simultaniously with the doorbell ringing, Lance immediately barking loudly.
I'm not expecting anyone, and delivery services have already come by, but I still go to answer the intercom.
On the little screen, I recognise my brother's face, Selene partially in view next to him. "Em?" he asks when he hears the click of the receiver. "Is this a good time?"
"I'll buzz you up," I smile, happy to have company. It's unlike my brother to come over, especially unannounced, but I won't reject anything right now.
      They're carrying a box that looks like it came from the bakery across from The Griffin and a bottle of wine when I open the door, curious looks on both of their faces, mixed with something else I can't quite place.
"To what do I owe this pleasure?" I inquire, hugging my sister in law.
"We have some news," she smiles, but before continuing she steps back and looks at me. "Are you alright? Where's Lucien?"
"Goodness, we should sit down. I'll grab glasses for that wine, make yourself at home."
They're both impatiently waiting for me on the couch, their hands tightly holding on to each other. "You two didn't break up, did you? I know not to trust the gossip, but..." Charlie asks before I can fully sit down. "I will find him and-"
"No, we did not break up," I sigh. I should have known the online rumour mill had worked its way already, with the pictures taken of me at the airport probably at the center of it. "It turned out Eschieve had racked up quite the amount of tickets in Lucien's cars, and that's a criminal offense that bars you from leaving the country for three months," I wave away their concern when my voice trembles a little, and wipe away a few tears. "I'm fine. It sucks big time, but I can't keep on crying about it - I'm on my period, too, so it's just a bit much for me right now."
My brother uses colourful language to describe how he feels about the whole visa process whilst Selene goes to hug me again, assuring me that I can come over whenever I need if I want some company. I promise her I'll keep them to that, but the sparkle in her eye when she mentions our house makes me quickly abandon the conversation.
"So what's the news?" I ask, scanning both of their faces.
"Right, right," Selene smiles, looking at my brother before clearing her throat. "As you know, we have been... quite busy, when it comes to expanding our family. And doing it the natural way has turned out to be impossible, so we looked into other options. And one has shown up sooner than we had expected..." She squeezes my brother's hand as I can see tears welling up in her eyes. My brother kisses her cheek gently before reaching into his jacket pocket, fishing out something that looks like a polaroid picture.
"This is Alfie," he smiles, the emotion nearly beaming off of his face when he hands me the image. "He is four, and unfortunately already in a foster family that can no longer take care of him due to sickness." On the picture, a young boy with dark brown eyes and a goofy smile looks up at me. In his lap, there's a book that I vaguely recognise from my own childhood, and he's wearing pyjamas that are covered in teddy bears. "He really needs a family, sooner rather than later. Our case worker immediately thought of us, and..." he takes in a deep breath. "We will be taking him in in two weeks."
I don't realise there's tears in my eyes as well until I go to hug Charlie and leave wet marks on his shirt, then hugging Selene as she, too, cries.
"I am so happy for you two," I smile, wiping away the tears. "My goodness! How... what now?"
"It will be a foster placement at first, but considering he can not go back to his biological parents, adoption is a possibility after a year," Charlie places the picture back into his pocket. "But for now, we need to start assembling a room and making sure he has everything he could need or want... Plus, we need to tell mum and dad."
"Mum is going to absolutely be over the moon," I assure them. From what they told me about her reaction to their infertility, this news will make her just as happy as it has made me, if not happier.
Of course, this news causes the familiar burning somewhere deep down in my chest to resurface, but I try my hardest to push it away. Our time will come, even though I was supposed to be first.
"Selene, you should be the one to tell Lucien. He'd love to hear it from you," I smile, knowing full well the only reason I ask her to is so I won't ruin the happy news with my own selfishness and the feeling of pouring salt in old wounds, or newly created ones that make me fear I will have to be in their shoes, too, in the future.

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