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"I love you" was a promise

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“Good heavens, I got a letter from Chloe!”

Jack looked up from the breakfast table. “Your former fiancée?”

Eric cocked his head playfully at Jack, who winked at him. “Yes, sweetpea, that Chloe. Not that I think of her that way. What mattered to me was that she was my friend.” He scanned the pages of the letter, then went back to read the whole thing. Jack waited patiently, reading the newspaper and drinking his coffee. Eric updated him as he came across interesting tidbits of news.

“She’s in England now,” he said.

A minute later, “Oh, she went to college there, and then law school. I always knew she was intelligent.”

After a pause, “She’s engaged! To someone she picked for herself!”

“Isn’t that nice?” Jack murmured, smiling.

“It really is,” Eric agreed, reading on. “He’s nobility, looks like. The current Queen’s first cousin, twice removed.”

“Nice,” Jack said, mildly. He turned the page in his newspaper.

“She hopes we can come to the wedding,” Eric eventually added.

Jack put his paper down. “I think you could go, but with England no longer in the EU…. I don’t think I can accompany you to a royal wedding in the U.K., darling. Parliament would have a fit.”

Eric frowned. “Wouldn’t it look odd for me to go without you, though? Since technically, she was my fiancée once?”

“Good point. You’ll need to bring someone,” Jack said, looking thoughtful. “You’ll have to bring someone perfect. Then you can go.”

“Princess Alicia?” Eric asked, hopefully.

“Our chosen heir? No, I know how much you enjoy her company, but she can’t go anymore than I can, even if she’s still just twelve years old, and Maman’s great-niece.'' Jack stared up at the ceiling, which Eric knew meant he was thinking hard and didn’t want to be interrupted.

“I know,” he said after a short silence. “Ask Papa to go along with you.”

“Bob?” Eric mused. “He is a great traveling companion. You think he’s the one I should bring when Chloe marries a British nobleman? Maybe we should ask Collins and Schmelzer’s opinion before I respond to the invitation.”

“I always approve of getting their opinion, but I think my Dad is perfect,” Jack said, smiling, “because, like you, he married into the family. Also, he’ll keep anyone from suggesting you're there to cheat on me with Chloe, and no one would ever think you and Papa had anything weird going on.”

Eric laughed. “I don’t know, sweetpea. Your Dad is pretty handsome.”

“I look just like him, though, don’t I? So I’ll take that as a compliment.”

“You should,” Eric agreed.

Six months later, he and Bob had a wonderful trip to attend Chloe’s wedding. All of Bitty’s outfits were dissected and praised on Tom & Lorenzo. As were his father-in-law’s. Eric had the time of his life, then he came home to Jack.