Post by Emma “Emmz” Squalor on Aug 8, 2007 14:30:19 GMT -5
Jerome frowned, remembering how he had nearly made the same mistake Carmelita had just made shortly after he and Esmé had entered the restaurant. He wouldn’t be surprised if she asked him to spend the night in one of the rooms of the penthouse apartment tonight.
Nero sensed the guilt which lingered in Carmelita’s downcast eyes as she pretended to eat her food, and he felt rather ashamed for arguing with Esmé in the first place. He remembered what Carmelita had told him about what she and Esmé had been through during their time with Olaf and the terrible fire that had ended it all.
“That’s quite alright, Mrs. Squalor,” Nero replied, and started on his food. From beside him Jerome looked as though he was unconsciously twirling more spaghetti around his fork than he could fit into his mouth at once.
Esmé took a long time over her food, cutting it into little pieces and eating it slowly. No one said anything else for the rest of the course.
Carnelita was feeling painfully guilty now. She planned to take Esmé aside at some point and apologise, but was waiting for an opportunity. Jerome coughed politely and this was the first thing to break the silence since Nero's knife and fork scraped together.
'Esmé,' Carmelita turned to her adoptive mother sadly. 'I apologise. I should never have brought it up.'
The speed at which Esmé's reply came and her choice of words signified things were not alright. Carmelita knew she would cry tonight, like she used to before she started improving. When they lived together it was common to hear soft sighs and sobs from Esmé's room. Carmelita never got used to the sound.
Post by Emma “Emmz” Squalor on Aug 8, 2007 15:21:07 GMT -5
[Hope this isn’t getting TOO angsty.]
Carmelita looked from Nero to Jerome. “Would you excuse us for a few minutes?” Carmelita asked, drawing her arm around Esmé’s back and leading her in the direction of the ladies’ room. If Esmé was going to cry, then Carmelita would put forth her best efforts to soften what would otherwise be a difficult night for both of them.
When they were in the bathroom, she leaned against the door before turning to Esmé so that no one could come in and bother them. “I’m sorry about what I said back there,” Carmelita told her. “It was inconsiderate and inexcusable.” When Esmé didn’t answer, Carmelita shifted her eyes around the uncommonly clean bathroom apprehensively. “Please, Esmé, tell me what I can do to make this up to you.”
“I told you before not to worry about it,” she replied in the same flat tone Carmelita remembered from her childhood. “Now let’s get back to dinner before Jerome starts to worry and comes in here.”
Post by Emma “Emmz” Squalor on Aug 8, 2007 16:38:34 GMT -5
[Not a problem. *hug*]
"Esmé," Carmelita persisted, "y-- you know how Jerome gets in situations like these. He'll make a huge fuss and things will be ten times worse than they would be when it's just you and me. I know you still mourn Olaf. You say you're over him but everyone knows you're not. It's obvious enough by the look on you're face." She crouched down and peered up into her adoptive mother's face, noticing the tears present in her sky-blue eyes almost immediately. "Esmé, please. TALK to me."
"You're right," came Esmé's voice at last. "I do mourn Olaf still. I've tried for years to get passed the way he betrayed us and done my best to pretend everything is alright, but I... I don't know how much longer I can keep it up. Jerome worries constantly and is always dropping by the penthouse unannounced just to check on me."
'Only because he cares so much for you,' Carmelita said, touching Esmé's arm delicately as if she was afraid of what reaction she might get. 'Still.' she added. Jerome still cared for her even after all the dreadful things she'd done years ago.
'I know,' Esmé said quietly. 'But I wish he wouldn't. I don't like people just appearing out of nowhere in the penthouse. He still has a key. I can't bear to ask him to give it back, not after all his good intentions.'
Post by Emma “Emmz” Squalor on Aug 9, 2007 8:13:34 GMT -5
Carmelita nodded. "I'm sure he'd understand," she said. "Just tell him the truth." She smiled comfortingly, hoping that would be enough to lift Esmé's spirits, even if it was just a little bit.
It was a struggle for Esmé to put forth her own smile, but she managed. "You're right, Carmelita," she said. "I'll speak to him about it tonight. But not here," Esmé added, remembering all of the disasters that seemed to be plaguing the evening.
They went back to dinner after that, afraid that Jerome might start panicking. Esmé was more polite for the remainder of dinner with her adopted daughter and prospective son in law, Carmelita glancing at her every so often to check she was alright.
Carmelita was fully prepared to just leave and go to sleep, but Nero had to ruin it.
'Why don't we all come back for a drink?' he suggested, and Jerome, who had started to really enjoy the evening was ecstatic about the idea. Esmé inwardly groaned.
Post by Emma “Emmz” Squalor on Aug 9, 2007 12:46:31 GMT -5
"That's a wonderful idea!" Jerome exclaimed. He turned to Esmé. "How about it, Esmé? You haven't been out of the apartment all that much except to go to work. Why not extend the evening a bit?"
Not wanting to disappoint him, Esmé reluctantly agreed. "Let's just not make it too late," she added. "I do have to get up early in the morning."
As they left the restaurant and approached the parking lot where the couples' cars were parked, Carmelita felt her stomach tense.
Once she and Nero were in the privacy of their own car, she finally said what she had been waiting to say from the moment the words had fallen from his lips. "Do you really think that was such a good idea to invite them back to our apartment?" Carmelita asked.
Post by Emma “Emmz” Squalor on Aug 9, 2007 13:29:11 GMT -5
Nero looked somewhat hurt by this. “Well, if the rest of the world would learn to recognize my talent as the GENIUS that I am, then maybe we could afford to live in a fancy upscale apartment like your rich parents,” he said. “But until that time comes, we’re just going to have to make do.”
“Nero,” Carmelita said, “I… I didn’t mean it like that…”
When he didn’t answer her, she turned, feeling ashamed, toward the window. What an evening this had turned out to be— Carmelita had unintentionally upset two of the people she cared about most in the world. To make matters worse, the evening was only half over. She just had to hope that Jerome and Esmé would react well to their slightly cluttered, yet clean, one-bedroom apartment.
Carmelita and Nero arrived shortly before the other couple, and Carmelita spent ten minutes obsessively tidying everything up, and placing her best ornaments in places where they were easily visible. She bit her lip, and opened another bottle of wine for everyone to share.
A knock on the door came far too early, and Carmelita approached it hesitantly.
'Hi,' she said with a smile, welcoming them in and crossing her fingers. Jerome's face betrayed his feelings pretty quickly.
'I think it's cute,' Esmé smiled, ushering them all in.
Post by Emma “Emmz” Squalor on Aug 9, 2007 16:39:46 GMT -5
Carmelita smiled up at her. At least Esmé was making an effort to be nicer now. “Thank you,” Carmelita replied. “It’s small, but you’d be surprised just how comfortable it is.”
She led Esmé and Jerome into the parlor where Nero was already seated in one of the chairs located on one side of the coffee table. Carmelita took the other chair opposite her fiancée while Esmé and Jerome sat together on the sofa in front of the table. Nero had poured four glasses of wine and laid each one out on a coaster. [*remembers scene from TPP*] The last time he had forgotten, he had left a stain on the nightstand and Carmelita had nearly flown off the handle when she noticed it the next morning.
Jerome was the first to break the silence. “So, are you two planning on moving into a larger apartment after you’re married?”Even though he had meant it as an icebreaker, he couldn’t help but notice the uncomfortable look in his adopted daughter’s eyes as she shifted them across the table to Nero.
Post by Emma “Emmz” Squalor on Aug 11, 2007 13:30:02 GMT -5
Jerome lowered his eyes guiltily. “Well, if money is a problem,” he offered, hoping that what he was about to say would sound more kind than charitable, “I— that is, Esmé and I —could help you out.” He was careful not to add the part of them having plenty of money, since that was already painstakingly obvious.
“Oh, yes,” agreed Esmé, who had no problem being generous when it came to Carmelita.
Carmelita, who was still fuming from Nero’s remark concerning her “cooking hobby”, turned to her adoptive parents and smiled. “Thank you,” she replied, “but that really isn’t necessary.”