Emily sat bolt upright in bed. She’d been suffering all night from annoyingly obvious Lucky-inspired dreams. They were long, with multiple settings and one clear cut message: “He can’t be relied on”. It was not these dreams that had been the cause of her sudden, unceremonious jolt into the waking world. She cast a weary eye to her clock radio. In the haze of the night before she had neglected to shut off the alarm in honor of the weekend. It was now blasting away beside her. She slammed her hand down on the snooze button, silencing the announcer, who had been enthusiastically reporting the weather.
Emily fell back on the bed, feeling exhausted. It was only six hours since she’d burrowed under the covers and she wasn’t feeling any better. She cursed her subconscious for not supplying her with escapist dreams about large fields, sunshine and butterflies.
Her mind groggily retraced the events of the previous evening. They were so surreal, she felt like they had been part of her dreams -- the more confusing part by far. She began to reevaluate her revelation of the night before -- that her heart was definitely pulling for Lucky. The problem was her brain couldn’t be more opposed, and it simply wouldn’t let her ignore it. War of the Organs, she thought to herself. She wondered which she wanted to win.
Emily curled up under the bed clothes, and closed her eyes hugging the pillow to her chest. She had no plans for today, now that she had finally caught up in her classes. She had talked to Sarah about perhaps going to see a movie, but the plans had never been finalized. She didn’t feel much like seeing her newfound friend today, anyway. She was still annoyed at her for being so blindly loyal to Nikolas. She told herself she was being stupid. Sarah was Nikolas’s girlfriend. Of course she was on his side. Emily actually didn’t think Nikolas had been particularly out of line either. She understood Laura was an issue-filled topic for him, and that he wasn’t fond of hearing the various conspiracy theories about what horrors his uncle was up to. It made complete sense to her that Nikolas had decided to attack Lucky’s weaknesses in return. She even conceded that the physical blow had been an accident -- though she doubted he was loosing much sleep over it. He’d probably wanted to smack Lucky a few times in the past. The big difference between her reaction to the fight and Sarah’s was that she saw Lucky’s point of view as well. Sarah claimed to be a friend of Lucky’s but it seemed to be clear to Emily that her affection was conditional on his never expressing any hostility towards his brother, and that was an incredibly tall order.
She wondered how Lucky was doing. The swelling had probably gone down. In fact, he was probably still asleep. That idea annoyed her slightly. She continually felt like he was considerably less tortured about their rift than she was -- though last night had been an eye opener. She thought back to all the things he’d said about hating to lie to her. That not-altogether-unpleasant queasy feeling returned to her stomach. “No!” her brain commanded. “Don’t be a sucker! He’ll just hurt you again.”
Emily felt a momentary panic seize her. She felt sure that if Lucky ignored her, or vanished from her life, that it would hurt more than ever. The stakes were higher. She was falling in love with him.
Emily’s eyes flew open. “Yes,” her heart told her. “I knew I’d catch you in a unguarded moment, eventually. Did you think this was like Nikolas? No. That was just a crush. This is the real thing.”
Emily sat up again, and covered her mouth with her hand. She was going to be sick this time, for sure. She grabbed a stale glass of water off the nightstand and downed it. Her brain spoke up, calmly and rationally. It was soothing. “You are too young to possibly have real romantic feelings for this boy. Nikolas felt real, but that went away. This will go away, too.” She sighed with relief. “Not so fast!” the heart shot back. “You know Lucky much better than you know Nikolas. He’s been a great friend to you. He’s had a really rough year and he made some mistakes. So did you. You’ve seen his dark side, and you still care about him.” Good point, Emily thought. “And furthermore,” her heart continued. “He’s understood some of the crazy, self-destructive things you’ve done. Why can’t you understand his errors in judgment?” That was very true. Emily’s stomach knotted itself.
“But,” spoke up the brain, “your mistakes didn’t hurt him. They only hurt you.” That’s stupid, Emily thought. I turned to drugs instead of dealing with my problems. When he did come back to town I was much more interested in getting high with Matt than making amends with him. Besides, hurting myself hurt everyone who cared about me, including Lucky! “Right on, Sister!” the heart cried triumphantly. “Besides, boys are trained to hide their feelings. His coming to see you after everything that happened spoke volumes. A snow cone is worth a thousand words.”
“That’s ridiculous!” the brain shot back. “He was feeling guilty! It was a pity visit. He forgot all about you when Sarah came to town!” The heart thumped wildly. “You’re jealous! That only proves my point.” “I am not!” the brain insisted. “Are so!” the heart sang. “No. I just want to be respected,” “Then write a book!” the heart continued unabated. “He does respect you. And he was being wonderful and attentive and sweet to you, and you pushed him away because you were falling in love with him. You didn’t want to face the fact that he might not love you back! Even when he kissed you, you weren’t sure of how he was feeling. You still don’t know if he wanted to kiss you, or just get even with his brother!”
Emily’s head swam. She twisted out of the bed and stumbled dizzily to the bathroom, leaning over the sink and retching.
“Now see what you did?” the brain said quietly when her sickness subsided. “You’ve upset us terribly. And you proved my point. Lucky does not behave rationally where his brother is concerned. He could very well have kissed us to get even with at Nikolas. That doesn’t mean he loves us back.”
“You said back!” the heart said feebly.
“Oh, shut up!” Emily muttered.
* * * *
Lucky woke up to his father blasting B.B. King through the house speakers.
“Lucky!” he hollered up the stairs. “Eight A.M! Time to call your Mother!”
Lucky groaned and did some quick math in his head. It was only two o’clock in Switzerland. He had at least another two hours to call, and still have it only be afternoon. His father, evidently, wanted him to prove he’d been serious about calling. He rolled out of bed, immediately catching his reflection in the mirror. His hair was plastered to his head, the product of having gone to bed while it was still wet from the rain. His lip was slightly less hideous than it had been when he’d got home. He still looked like he’d been to hell and back. He was momentarily glad his Mother wasn’t here to see this.
“Lucky!” his Dad screamed again.
“I’m coming!” He yelled back. The smell of burnt toast wafted up the stairs. “Don’t cook anything!”
Lucky was dressed and downstairs in record time. His Aunt Bobbie was sitting on the couch in her bathrobe, looking decidedly unimpressed.
“Why did you let him in the kitchen?” Lucky asked, grumpily. Bobbie widened her eyes at him.
“What happened to your face!”
Lucky could feel this was going to be an continuing topic of conversation for the next few days.
“I ran afoul of a Cassadine,” he said, aping his speech after the books Murty was having him read.
“Nikolas did that to you?”
“Where’s my cousin?” he asked, by way of changing the subject. It was too early to talk to his aunt about Nikolas. “Is he sleeping through this?”
“I wouldn’t put it past him! Lucas spent last night at the Brownstone with his father.”
Lucky nodded. The smell of burnt toast was getting worse. It had occurred to him shortly after Bobbie and Lucas moved in, that his aunt had unwittingly sentenced him to a lifetime of being unable to use his real name. His Dad was Luke, his cousin was Lucas, and he was stuck with this increasingly ironic nickname, at least in family matters, for the rest of his life.
“Hey, Dad!” Lucky called out. “Do you wanna get out of there before you burn the place down?”
On cue, the smoke alarm in the living room went off. Luke shot out of the kitchen, broom in hand, followed by an even more impressive cloud of smoke. After years of cigar smoking, Lucky decided his father simply was incapable of seeing smoke, which explained a lot about his approach to cooking. Luke took the broom handle, and viscously stabbed at the smoke detector until it was silenced.
Lucky looked back at the kitchen.
“Why didn’t the one in the kitchen go off?”
“I killed that sucker months ago,” Luke said, grinning widely. “Ready to call Mom?”
Lucky surveyed the chaos that was his life.
“So, is the idea that if we’re in the middle of a crisis every time we call her, Mom will come home sooner?”
“What crisis?” Luke mocked injury as he opened the front door to air the place out a bit. Lucky flopped down on the couch next to his aunt, and gave her a look of complete despair.
“I’ll go see if I can salvage something for breakfast,” Bobbie said, standing up. Lucky lay down on the now-vacated couch, and groaned again.
“What’s your problem?” his Dad asked, voice jolly.
“Besides smoke inhalation?” Lucky sat up again. “What’s with the wake-up call?”
“Nothing wrong with getting an early start to the day. Besides, your Mom will be thrilled to hear from you.”
Lucky eyed his father suspiciously. He was far too chipper. He couldn’t smell any coffee, but it might have been obscured over the smell of the charred bread. On the other hand, he wouldn’t put it past his father to simply eat the grounds straight out of the can, if her was desperate enough for caffeine.
“Ok,” he said finally. “I’m ready.” He slid off the couch and stumbled over to the stereo, hitting the off button. B.B.’s guitar was immediately silenced. “Just so I can actually hear her.”
“Philistine!” Luke muttered, and began pumping the door in and out, producing a little more wind, which alternately pulled the smoke out of the house, and then pushed it back in. Lucky reached for the receiver.
He had barely touched it when the phone rang. He looked at his father questioningly, then answered it.
“Lucky!” A feminine voice screeched in his ear.
Lucky dropped into the chair beside the phone, immediately exhausted. He’d forgotten all about Lizzie. She was probably incredibly annoyed at him for abandoning her at the dance.
“Liz,” he sighed. “Look, I can’t talk right now.”
“I just wanted to see how you were,” Lizzie plowed ahead.
“Didn’t you talk to your sister?”
“She told me Nikolas nailed you in the parking lot.”
Lucky winced. He really hoped this was going to stay contained. He had no idea whether or not Lizzie was the type to spread it around school.
“He didn’t exactly nail me,” Lucky said, switching the receiver to his other ear. His lip throbbed in protest as he thoughtlessly pressed the phone against it. “Look, can I call you back?” he asked, his teeth gritted against the pain.
“Well, I’m about to leave for work.” Lizzie said, obviously disappointed.
“Fine,” Lucky told her, quickly. “I’ll stop by later. See ya.”
Lucky hung up before she had really said goodbye. He didn’t want to think too much about last night, especially if he was hoping to have a reasonable conversation with his mother. He looked over at his Dad, who was still standing by the open door.
“What’s the number again?”
* * * *
By nine o’clock, Emily had decided she was going to loose her mind if she didn’t leave her room, and go join the rest of the family for breakfast. She wasn’t even in a good enough mood to find the humor in that statement. She finished brushing her hair, and started out into the hall. She immediately heard her grandfather’s voice, shouting nasty things about Stephan Cassadine. Ned piped up soon after, saying he saw no reason for the family to dine with all the stateside Cassadines. Emily sighed -- she could have predicted this. She walked slowly down the stairs, listening to Lila patiently explaining that family was important to Alexis, Alexis was important to Ned, and therefore, they should all sit down together, civilly, at least once. Emily couldn’t help but be touched by Lila’s optimism. She thought about her Grandmother’s advice again. She respected this woman so much and she had been told to disregard the power of the brain. In which case, she should go see Lucky right now and take her chances. It was clear to her now exactly what her heart wanted where he was concerned. She just wasn’t sure it was listening to all the facts. But Lila had proven herself an expert in human behavior many times.
“She married Edward!” The brain murmured. That’s not fair! Emily protested. I love my Grandfather. “Doesn’t matter. Do you want to marry someone like that just because your ‘heart’ told you to?” Who’s talking about marriage? Emily shot back. And Lucky is nothing like Grandfather. She took a deep breath and entered the living room. The moment she was through the door, her beleaguered father leapt to his feet, threw his arms open and cried “Emily!”
Emily smiled wryly, knowing full well that Alan’s enthusiasm was more a product of having a distraction than being thrilled to see her. Either way, he hugged her warmly, and asked her how she was feeling this morning. Monica shot him a warning look, which he ignored.
“I’m fine, “ Emily said simply. If it were not for her knowledge of her parents bet, she would have felt pressure to explain her appearance last night. Instead, she let her eyes fall on the breakfast tray. “Oh! Is that mango?” she asked, and crossed to the other side of the room, where Edward was keeping a close eye on the spread. She picked up a plate, and began to serve herself some of the fruit, the only thing she could imagine eating this morning. Edward sniffed.
“Have some sausage,” he commanded. Emily felt the color drain from her face at the thought.
“This is fine, Grandfather.”
“A growing girl needs a balanced breakfast.”
Emily poured herself a glass of orange juice. She picked up a couple of cubes of cheese off the fruit tray.
“There. Now I have protein, fiber and vitamins. That’s a perfectly acceptable breakfast.”
“Acceptable!” Edward exploded. “There’s no bread, no meat! And where are you finding fiber?”
“In the fruit,” Emily explained calmly.
“She’s right, Edward,” Monica piped up. “that’s a very healthy breakfast.”
Edward grunted. Emily carried her plate to the couch, and sat down next to her mother, popping an apple slice into her mouth.
“And furthermore!” Edward cried, returning to his earlier topic, as if the big breakfast debate had never occurred, “Has anyone bothered to inform cook of this fiasco?”
Alan and Monica exchanged a look.
“That will be taken care of shortly,” Lila told him.
Edward turned to Emily.
“Do you know of this plan of your Grandmother’s?” he sputtered. Emily nodded, thankful her mouth was full so she didn’t have to respond verbally. “What are we going to serve these vampires?”
“Steak Tar Tar?” Emily ventured, without giving the remark much thought. Everyone turned and stared at her. “Sorry,” she said sheepishly. Ned broke up in the corner. Even Edward cracked a smile, before continuing his tirade.
“Do you realize that Stephan Cassadine and I have just butted heads yet again on the hospital board.”
“Of course we realize that father. In case you’ve forgotten we’re on the board as well,” Alan muttered.
“Well, I think it’s outrageous of you to expect me to sit down in my own home with that man.”
“Emily,” Monica spoke up. “Nikolas is coming as well. You should enjoy that. Didn’t you see him last night?” This time it was Alan who looked disapproving. Emily studied her plate, fending off the image of Nikolas’s fist colliding with Lucky’s face.
“Yeah. I went with him and Sarah.”
“Well, I hope he gave you a ride home, the time you got in last night!” Edward grumbled. Emily chose not to respond, much to her parent’s dismay. She looked over at Lila, who gave her a secretive smile. Em wondered if her Grandmother knew who it was she had been talking about last night. Lila could be counted on to keep her hand on the pulse of the family, and she wouldn’t put it past her to have figured out what was causing her so much grief.
Emily let the conversation spin off without her. Grandfather was now railing on about Quartermaine history with the Cassadines, while Monica and Alan countered that regardless of past unpleasantness, they both worked with Stephan and Alexis daily, and didn’t see any immediate threat to having a simple diner with them. Emily considered the fact that, as she held the closest bond to the Spencers, she was being put in the most uncomfortable position. She felt immediately annoyed at herself. She liked Nikolas, and she wasn’t going to waste her time worrying about Lucky’s dislike of her friend. She felt that familiar fog of confusion descend on her again. This was ridiculous. She stood up suddenly. Everyone stopped debating and stared at her again.
“It’s just one night, for Pete’s sake!” She muttered. “It’s not going to kill anyone.” She looked up at her family, who were, with the exception of Lila, gaping at her. “I’m going to walk Raoul,” she said quietly, and left the room.
* * * *
Lucky stood on the front porch and debated whether or not it was too early to go see Lizzie. Actually, he wasn’t so anxious to see Lizzie as he was to get out of the house. His aunt Bobbie had scraped together a perfectly acceptable breakfast, but between his conversation with his mother and the thick smoke in the kitchen it was hard to work up any appetite for it. He’d begged off, claiming his jaw was bothering him too much to chew. That had proven to be a mistake, as Bobbie had, again, attempting to discover exactly how he’d provoked Nikolas to hit him. That was the problem with his Aunt Bobbie. It was never “How dare Nikolas do that!”, it was always “What did you do to get him to do that?”. Having just had the wound of his mother’s absence reopened by their conversation, he wasn’t feeling like dealing with his complete inferiority in comparison to Nikolas.
His Dad had been right, his Mom was beyond thrilled that he had called, even more so when she figured out it was early on a Saturday morning. They’d had a really relaxed, tension-free conversation. He could tell from her voice that she was confused as to why he was suddenly being so agreeable. He’d felt good for about five minutes after he’d talked to her. Then he’d slowly sunk down into the mire of doubt and suspicion that surrounded his family life right now. He had to get out of this mood. He was too tired to keep it up.
Lucky leapt off the porch and started down the road, walking quickly towards Kelly’s. He started to ponder the different possibilities for the day. Lizzie would want details of the fight, and he didn’t want to give them. She’d want to know where he went afterwards, and he didn’t want to talk about that. She’d want to know why he didn’t go to find her, and he’d have to admit he forgot. The only thing worse than going to Kelly’s now was putting it off. If he waited until school, Lizzie would be irate, and his Great Aunt wouldn’t be around to fuss over him. He found that comforting these days, though he usually hated being coddled. He guessed he could chalk that one up to his Mother’s prolonged absence as well.
He wished there was someone he could go to talk to just to get the strength to face Lizzie. Someone who didn’t need to hear the details of the night before, who would just listen, say the right thing, and then let him go. Of course, he knew exactly who fit that description: Emily.
Lucky had absolutely no clue where Emily had left things. He’d been perfectly happy to have so many distractions that morning so that he didn’t have to think about that. Now that he was out on the road, he didn’t know how to divert his attention. She seemed to be lurking just behind every thought: The one person who understood. He needed to fix things with her. There was no way he could let this distance go on. Obviously the one thing Emily didn’t understand about him was that he never wanted to hurt her. In fact, he was dedicated to making sure she didn’t get hurt again. He didn’t know how to prove that to her, but he’d have to figure it out, because she was the thing that made everything else bearable. In the span of the two weeks they’d been apart he’d managed to mess up every relationship in his life, simply by not ever being able to communicate with anyone. This, Lucky thought, is stuff you should probably say to her.
Lucky reached an intersection. One road headed along the lake, towards the Kelly’s. The other headed up into the rich section of town where the Quartermaine Mansion could be found. Without giving it too much conscious thought, Lucky turned and headed up towards his friend’s house.
* * * *
Emily listened to her shoes rap sharply on the wood panels as she walked along the boardwalk. Raoul plodded along beside her, stopping occasionally to sniff at a pole or examine a piece of trash. He was decidedly more sedate than he had been the month before, after she’d returned from Italy. She let herself daydream, just momentarily, that they would stumble across Lucky standing at Barrister’s Wharf She wondered what she would say to him if she did see him. She’d made quite the exit the night before. Maybe he’d let it slide. Lucky could be relied on to drop topics on occasion if he figured you didn’t want to talk about it.
Emily reached the wharf. It was abandoned. She let go of Raoul’s leash, and he bounded down the stairs, running towards the water. She watched him run up and down the small area of the docks, barking. Emily leaned against the railing, feeling very melancholy. It was much colder than it had been the night before, and the sky was still grey and downcast from the rainstorm. Even the leaves, once brightly colored, were now faded, and brown.
“Are you thinking of jumping?”
Emily spun around, to see the one person in the world she had the least desire to encounter.
“Hi, Lizzie,” she muttered. “Sorry to disappoint you, but no.”
Lizzie shrugged, and fished around in her purse for her cigarettes.
“Doesn’t matter to me.”
Emily wrapped Raoul’s leash around her hand, and headed down the steps, calling her dog to her. He pricked up his ears at this name, and trotted over to her obediently. Emily clipped the leash back on his collar and scratched him behind the ears. Raoul lifted his head, and licked her face. She screwed up her face, and laughed in spite of herself.
Lizzie watched her rival darkly. She was about twenty minutes away from being late for work, but she couldn’t pass this opportunity up. She had to find out what had happened between this girl and her intended last night. Things had finally been falling into place with her and Lucky, and then Emily had sparked some big fight between him and his brother, and it was all breaking down. It occurred to Lizzie for a second that she was getting a little out of control where Emily and Lucky were concerned, but she disregarded this notion in favor of concentrating on getting Li’l Orphan Emily out of her life.
Emily stood up and pulled on the lead. Raoul happily followed her back up the stairs. Lizzie blocked their path, plastering a wide grin on her face.
“Lizzie....” Emily said, warningly.
“Cigarette?” she held out the package to Emily. She shook her head lightly, registering no distinct expression on her face.
“I don’t smoke,” she said, her voice devoid of emotion.
“That’s not what I heard.”
Emily narrowed her eyes at Lizzie.
“What are you talking about?” Emily asked, defensively. Lizzie raised her eyebrows suggestively. Emily looked away. She was lucky she’d made it this far without Lizzie bringing up the gossip she would have had to be hanging out under a rock to have avoided. Lizzie hadn’t spoken even a syllable to her since the confrontation on the road. She had to be up to something. “Ok.” Emily sighed. “What do you want?”
“I don’t want to fight.”
Emily flopped down on the stairs.
“So does that mean I can forget about my brass knuckles?”
Lizzie furrowed her brow. Did she just make a joke?
“Have you seen him?”
“Not since last night.” Emily turned to face her. “Have you talked to him?”
“Yeah,” Lizzie said, casually. “He called me this morning.”
Emily looked down at the top of Raoul’s head. This news didn’t sit well with her, but she told herself to disregard it.
“How’d he seem?”
Lizzie suppressed a smile. Emily hadn’t spoken to him. She probably hadn’t found him last night. Everything was going fine.
“Well, I think he’s basically alright,” Lizzie leaned towards her, creating an air of confidentiality. “He can be a little testy in the morning.”
Emily looked at Lizzie like she had two heads. Lucky could be a little testy all the time.
“Did he tell you what happened?”
“Oh, yeah,” Lizzie looked at Emily seriously. “Nikolas should really find some other way to channel all that hostility.”
“Nikolas should,” Emily repeated, carefully. “Ok.”
“Yeah, he told me about what happened afterwards, too.” Lizzie said, flicking her cigarette ash onto the deck. Emily felt immediately sick. She looked up at Lizzie, unbelieving.
“Yeah.” Lizzie looked completely relaxed. She was acting, once again, like she and Emily didn’t detest each other. Emily hated this personality trait. She’d never known anyone else who did this, so she had no clue how to respond to it. She tried to imagine Lucky telling her about all the things that had happened last night. “Oh, and then she basically fell out of the sky, and man, she was not cool about that.” Emily looked at Lizzie, her eyes wide.
“I’m sorry, I have to go.” Emily leapt to her feet.
“Wait, what’s the big rush?” Lizzie stood up with her, protesting.
“Ask Lucky,” she shot over her shoulder as she ran off. “I’m sure he’ll tell you all about it.”
* * * *
Lucky hesitated outside the front door of the mansion. It was just plan strange dealing with a friend who had a butler, especially a butler like Reginald. Reginald looked like some guy who would show up at the club on a Tuesday night because he had nothing better to do. He didn’t look anything like a butler. He shook his head, trying to clear out the cobwebs Emily was inspiring these days. His mind would grab onto any topic if it would distract him from her. He took a deep breath and rang the bell. The door was opened almost immediately -- by Monica.
“Lucky! How nice to see you!” Monica gushed. Lucky assumed she hadn’t heard anything about last night from Emily, or she would no doubt have been less enthusiastic. The smile on her face faltered slightly. “Oh, dear. What happened to your face?”
Lucky cringed inwardly.
“Uh, run in with a tree,” he muttered. “Is Emily in?”
Monica looked over her shoulder, then stepped out onto the stoop with Lucky, silently pulling the door closed behind her.
“Lucky, did you see Emily at the dance last night?”
Lucky raised his eyebrows. The look on Monica’s face was one of great concern. He felt his stomach knot.
“She’s alright, isn’t she?” he asked, his brow knitting into an expression of grave concern.
“Oh, she’s fine!” Monica said, taking his arm. “I didn’t mean to worry you.”
Lucky sighed with relief.
“Ok, good. That’s good.”
“Is there some reason you thought she might not be?”
Lucky looked at the ground.
“No, she was fine last time I saw her,” he muttered.
“Lucky,” Monica said, with trepidation. “When she got home last night she looked like she’d been through a war! Now, she doesn’t want to talk about it, but as her Mother, I’m sure you can understand my concern.”
Lucky eyed Monica suspiciously.
“Uh, if she doesn’t want to talk about it, I don’t think--”
“I understand you don’t want to break any confidences. But I need to know if she’s in any trouble. Is she protecting anyone by not telling us what happened?”
Lucky cleared his throat.
“She’s protecting me. It was my fault she was covered in mud and stuff when she got back last night. Don’t blame her.”
Monica looked taken aback by his honesty. Certainly she wasn’t used to this kind of candor living with the Quartermaines all these years.
Lucky shifted his weight.
“She was just at the dance with her friends, she didn’t do anything wrong. It wasn’t her fault.”
“Are you sure?” Monica asked, her voice gentle, but prodding. Lucky shrugged, trying to make light of things.
“I was the one who got into trouble. She just wanted to make sure I was alright, and she ended up falling down a hill in the park coming after me. That’s all.”
Monica looked relieved.
“Thank you, Lucky. I just needed to make sure she was alright.”
“She can take care of herself,” Lucky said, slipping his hand behind his neck. “Really. I’m trying not to mess with her.”
“Well, I’m sure she’ll be happy to know you stopped by. And thank you for being so frank with me.”
“Not a problem. Ummm...” Lucky tried to think of some unrevealing message he could leave for her. “Tell her... I said thanks. Ok?”
The door flew open behind them, and Alan stood there, like Moses on Mount Sinai. Lucky took a step back. He found it generally a good idea to keep a bit of distance when dealing with the Quartermaines.
“Ah ha!” Alan cried. “I knew it! You found a loop hole.”
Monica opened her eyes widely, the picture of innocence.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she stammered. Lucky looked back and forth between the two adults, confused.
“You asked him, didn’t you?” Alan demanded. “You went on a digging mission to find out what happened last night!”
“Cook is waiting for you,” Alan said, smiling widely. “Better hurry. She’ll be even grumpier when she’s preparing lunch.”
“We agreed not to press Emily. We said nothing about making an innocent inquiry to a friend who happened to stop by.”
Lucky bit his lip, trying not to laugh, and stared at the ground.
“Come on Monica, you’ve lost and you know it.”
“Fine,” Monica said, tightly. “You win. I’ll talk to cook.”
“Thank you,” Alan gloated.
“But I’m not going to tell you what I found out!” Monica smiled at Lucky. “It was nice to see you again.” She looked at Alan triumphantly, and brushed past him, into the house. Alan opened and closed his mouth, helplessly.
“Lucky...” he said finally. Lucky backed up, holding a hand in front of him.
“It was good seeing you again, Mr. Quartermaine. Take care of yourself.”
With that, Lucky turned and strolled off the property, inwardly reflecting that his family was perpetually more balanced than those people. It was amazing Emily was still so well adjusted. In twenty years, she could be just as out of her mind. But then, he’d probably be beating up smoke detectors with a broom.
A strange feeling landed in Lucky’s stomach with a thud. Lucky shook his head violently. He didn’t understand why he was thinking dumb things like this all of the sudden. He dug his hands into his pockets and headed off to Kelly’s.