858 - Emma
Edinburgh is rainy and grey when my plane lands early monday morning, a sheer contrast from the faint sunrays that were cast over Paris when I left at the crack of dawn.
If it were up to me, I would have stayed in Paris indefinitely, avoiding all of my responsibilities in Lucien's embrace. However, it is not up to me, and though I have pretended reality could wait, I simply have to go back home.
After a quick stop at home, where the pets have been taken good care of by Beth, I know it's time to face my fears head on. With several meetings planned for the afternoon, I can not stay awake from the office, no matter how badly I want to.
My phone displays an encouraging text from Lucien as I take the elevator up, carefully hiding the fact that neither of us was ready to be seperated again with not a single clue about when we'll see each other next. Saying goodbye was hard on the both of us, especially with the tension and emotions of the past few days fresh in the backs of our minds.
The ding signalling the arrival of the elevator at the right floor is an unwelcome greeting of real life, the sliding doors opening quicker than I ever realised they could.
I keep on telling myself that no one knows what happened, and that if Ian is wise, he will know better than to bring it up to me or anyone else.
If I just keep to myself and let the storm blow over, we might both forget about it.
He passes by my office three times, each time seeming more confident to come in, yet he never does. My heart pounds out of my chest each time, trying my best to avoid eye contact, and after my last meeting there isn't a doubt in my mind about leaving early.
In the week that follows, I see Ian once. We greet each other like adults whilst both waiting for our coffees, but when he tries striking up conversation I fake a phone call from Lucien, excusing myself whilst nearly running back to my office. He doesn't try anymore afterwards, though I can feel his gaze burn on my skin whenever he walks by.
On Friday, my first day off in what feels like forever, I am determined to sleep in. Last night I drank about a bottle of red wine whilst on the phone to Lucien, watching the same movie and loudly commenting on how horrible the protagonist is.
Hearing his laughter made my heart flutter, and I wanted nothing more than to actually be watching the movie with him, cuddled up to him and hearing his voice in a different way than through the phone.
My head hurts when the ringing of the doorbell disturbs the vivid dream I have, Lucien and I in a house on the French countryside, a girl with dark curls on his arm and my stomach portruding, watching the sun go down.
I stumble my way from the bedroom to the hallway, wrapping myself in Lucien's robe.
"Kenna?" I groan when I open the door, greeted by a wide smile. "What time is it? Why are you here?"
"I already assumed you forgot," she shrugs. "It's ten thirty. I texted you an hour ago and didn't get a reply. We planned an appointment at Pan Pan at twelve for your dress, remember?"
Another groan escapes me. "That's today?"
"Today was the only day this year that Beth, your mother and I were available. I know you haven't planned out the wedding entirely, but time is ticking!"
She has now pushed her way past me into the hallway so I can close the door and stop the cold air flowing in.
"I need coffee," I sigh. "And a cigarette."
"What you need is to get dressed," Kenna laughs, pushing a small bag into my hands. "This is the nude, strapless and seamless underwear I told you about. You're going to need it to make sure the dresses look their best," she chuckles as she wanders into the kitchen. "Get dressed, I'll clean up and make you that coffee."
Though I have fantasized about this moment for years, ever since I was a little girl, it is absolutely strange to see myself in a wedding dress.
I thought I would cry immediately, but from all the tears that have flown the last week, I think I am dried up.
Mum cries, though, and as soon as she starts so do Kenna and Beth.
There are over ten dresses waiting for me, all in the same category - my wishes were simple, at least for my first wedding dress and the only one we are shopping for right now.
"It feels so strange not to have Lucien here," I mumble, after trying on and showing the third dress in a row that, once again, is beautiful, but isn't the dress.
"It's tradition, Emmeline," my mother repeats. "It would be bad luck for him to see your dress already."
"I think we've had enough bad luck already," I shrug, fidgeting with the floral lace. "We'd survive this, too."
Kenna smiles, handing Beth another tissue. I never would have thought, but my little sister has been emotional in a way I haven't seen her before. "Let's not jinx it, though. If anyone deserves to have a perfect wedding, it's you two. But don't worry, I've already sent him some pictures - not of you in any dresses, but still! So it's kind of like he's right here with us. And I've planned another appointment for brides dress shopping for when he's back, so then you two can judge us in stead of us judging you! Now, it's time for that next dress!"
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