First chapter: here
Previous chapter: here
In this chapter, Sophie and Nicolas are back home and Leslie surprises them with a homecooked dinner.
“And that was Bal Masqué by the brilliant–”
Nicolas turned off the radio, never breaking the habit of interrupting people mid-sentence. Sophie looked at him, grinning, while he briefly glanced at her. He focused back on the road and they both smiled, satisfied by the short telepathic exchange they just had. It was a very relaxing ride back home, or so it seemed.
That song kept playing in the back of his head. You lied but kept the mask on your face all along…
“It’s five o’ five.”, Nicolas said. “Nearly there.”
But Sophie didn’t reply. She was still busy flipping through pictures on her phone.
She had started with old ones as they left the hotel; Leslie, the swimming pool, the river, the afternoons spent baking, the family hikes, their paintings, her band and then Mitch, bright little Mitch. And now she was onto the last couple ones, from the night before; Nicolas, her Love, and her, under the moonlight. She sighed.
The ride remained a quiet one for the next thirty minutes. That was, up until they had their first surprise of the night.
“Nick, is that–”
“A police car.”, he interrupted her. Sophie couldn’t help a frown, although all her attention remained on the police car that was merely pulling away from their house. She held her chest, as if to keep her heart inside and squeezed her husband’s right thigh.
They quickly pulled up in the driveway. Leslie was sitting on the porch, her head cupped in her hands with her elbows resting on her knees. She didn’t wave at them. In fact, she wasn’t even looking at them.
Sophie ran to her daughter. “Are you okay, baby girl?”, she asked.
“Yeah.”, Leslie replied.
“Oh, the police! I thought something….”
“Shhh.”, said Leslie as her mom hugged her tighter than ever.
Out of Sophie’s embrace emanated warmth and love. Leslie’s, on the other side, was rather weak and dry. She returned the embrace but only mechanically. It was a physical gesture, devoid of actual emotions.
Nicolas joined in and squeezed the two women together. He left a kiss on Sophie’s head and then on Leslie’s. They remained that way for a short while. And eventually, the mandatory embrace broke up so they could meet up with Mitch inside the house.