“So what exactly is our working budget?”
When there was no response, Milly glanced up from the paper she had just headlined. Tapping the end of her pen on her friend’s flashy wedding ring, she cocked a brow.
“C.C.? I’d like your undivided attention please. This is your dream wedding, remember? Not mine. It’s not my husband who wants another wedding. It’s yours.”
“Is this really necessary?”
“Is what really necessary?”
She sighed. “I really don’t think there’s any need to go this far, Milly. Maybe if we were planning this some other time, but right now, Lelouch needs me and-”
“Oh, no, no, no, don’t pull that on me. Lelouch vi Britannia is nearly 35 years old. He is more than capable of taking care of himself. Besides. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and while I don’t know how you two could ever fall more in love with each other, you two definitely need some time apart. I don’t think I’ve seen you two apart for more than three seconds since sophomore year of your undergrad.”
“We’re apart for most of the day-”
“Only because you have to. I only thank God Lelouch chose not to teach law, or else you two would be really insufferable. Now. What kind of a budget are we looking at?”
Glumly, she pushed her cup of tea away to set her elbow down on the table. Eyeing her phone that Milly had wrestled away from her – for someone expecting, she was pretty damn strong – she quietly told her how her husband had said to her that there was no budget to be had, so his pearl – his sweet pea – could have the wedding of her wildest dreams. Milly pretended to gag.
“Oh, sorry. It was just some morning sickness.”
She only glared. Since the moment she had appeared at her best friend’s townhouse, she should have known that there was something up her sleeve. But there had been such a flurry of excitement, what with seeing old friends and Milly’s steadily swelling stomach, she had had her guard down, and now look what had happened! Forbidden from seeing her husband until the wedding! And Lelouch was just going to go along with all of this? What nonsense was this all? What had this world come to?
“So have you thought about your guest list yet? Because we can’t choose the venue until we have some form of the guest list.”
“You know, for someone who was given completely free rein over her dream wedding, you haven’t given it much thought.”
C.C. only rolled her eyes. Her dream wedding? Oh, sure, there had been a couple times throughout her life, when she had caught a wedding dress out of the corner of her eye, or a pretty engagement ring, where she had briefly fantasized, but the only real thing that had been important to her was the person waiting for her at the altar, and seeing as how there was no need to fantasize about that… As horribly cheesy as it was, every wedding would have been a dream one because she’d be walking down the aisle to Lelouch vi Britannia, and though she would never admit that to Milly or her husband or even to herself at times, it was true. She loved that man to pieces, and there was nothing anyone could do about that.
“Well, not to worry, you can start now. Who from work would you like to invite?” Looking up, she clasped her hands together. “And who are you obligated to invite?”
“Well, there’s the Dean.”
“Are you sure? We could not and just tell him it got lost in the mail.”
C.C. smiled. Ah, well, for all her mischief, Milly was a true friend where it counted, and that was almost enough to forgive her for all her tricks and teasing.
. . .
“I’ll be taking those from you, thank you, so you can leave now.” Setting the suitcases down, Milly moved to close the door, when he stuck a foot in between.
“Not without saying goodbye to my wife.”
“You already said goodbye to her.”
Giving her a dirty look, the man squeezed past her before nearly colliding into the very person he was searching for. Taking hold of her shoulders, he sighed with relief.
“Oh, good. I’m glad you came out here. I don’t know how long I could have dodged Milly. Pregnant she may be, but a weakling she is not.”
Cracking a smile at his joke, she closed her eyes as he gave her a peck.
“And how have you been, my darling? It’s been four dreadful hours, and I must say, I didn’t think it would be possible, but you’ve become even more gorgeous since the last I’ve seen you.”
“Oh, go get a room, you two.”
“I didn’t know that was an option,” he quipped. “But if you insist.”
The expectant mother frowned before moving to break up the couple and usher him out, when Lelouch, using his most serious expression, asked to speak to his wife privately. Taken aback, Milly could only stand by and watch as they stepped into a nearby broom closet.
“What is it? What’s wrong?” she asked worriedly. He hadn’t slept very well the night before, tossing and turning for hours before finally giving in to his exhaustion, and it showed on his face. Reaching up, she leaned against him as his arms curled around her waist.
“Nothing’s wrong. I just missed you, is all.”
“It’s only been four hours,” she scoffed.
“I don’t care. I missed you anyway.”
They stood still for some time under the coats and the single bulb beaming down at them. Closing her eyes, she enjoyed herself. It was quite cozy for such cramped quarters, and it reminded her of days when they were sillier and often found themselves in situations like this, all sequestered in a closet; when she hadn’t yet really realized the life she would lead, and how this man made it so incredibly wonderful for her.
“I can’t believe you’re just going to let Milly do this to us,” she murmured. She felt his chest rise and fall as he sighed.
“I’ve found that sometimes, it’s just easier to let her have her way. We both know whether we fight it or not, we’d end up in this same situation. It would be better if we just used that energy for the wedding, instead of arguing against something inevitable.”
“It’s going to be months before I can go back. You know how long it takes to plan a wedding?”
“I promise you I’ll do all in my power to shorten that time. I don’t like this either.”
They looked at one another and was about to lean in for a kiss – the sort of kiss that could only be had in hidden corners and tight broom closets – when there was a sharp rapping and a muffled threat.
“You’d better not be having sex. I have dry cleaning in there.”
“We ought to, just to spite her,” he muttered. Giggling, she leaned up to kiss him.
“You’d better keep your promise.”
“Of course I will. Besides; Milly can’t stop coincidences, like me just happening to walk by your campus at what’s coincidentally your lunchtime. Right?” Tucking her hair behind her ear, he softly smiled at her. “We’ll fight this, sweet pea. Together. I promise. We’ll just do it secretly, alright?”
And with that, she was comforted and they stepped outside to apologize to their friend whose dry cleaning had been saved. At least for the time being.
Track 43: Black Sheep | Gin Wigmore