“Linus, tell me about her.” Sabrina was at the sink, her back to Linus while she washed the dishes from their dinner. She had made soufflé for him their first night in Paris and it now it was a tradition for her to make it on all their anniversaries, even if it was just the anniversary of their first dance when they were children.
“Hmm?” he hummed. Linus’ attention was on the smooth line of her back leading up to the pale column of her neck.
The splashing at the sink stopped, her hands stilling with her head bowed down. He watched as she took a deep breath before turning to face him. In the year and a half that they had been living in Paris, there was little that they hadn’t shared between them. Except for one thing.
“The one that had you standing on the ledge for three hours.”
Linus smiled softly at the beautiful, young woman who stood in front of him. The woman who finally pulled him off the ledge he had been standing on for years; the woman whom he loved and who loved him in return.
The click-clack of heels along with the swish of fabric caught Linus’ ear; the woman approaching seemed to be in a hurry. He looked up from the reports he was going through to see her walk through the office. She was wearing a purple dress with a black hat, gloves, and heels. When she saw Linus looking at her the grin that spread across her face made him sit up straight.
“Maybe you can help me!” She pulled off her gloves and then tossed them into the clutch she was carrying. “I’m looking for Sam Grover. He has been dodging my calls and I’m not going to stand for it any longer!”
“The head of Finance, Sam Grover?” Never had Linus felt so out of his depth. There was something about the presence of the woman before him, something he couldn’t name, but it made him sit up and pay attention.
“No other. He in?” She tried to peer behind Linus into the office behind him where Sam usually sat.
“Miss…?” Linus began.
“Ms. Roberts. Emma Roberts. And you are?”
Linus stood and held out his hand, “Linus Larrabee, at your service.”
If possible, her grin grew even larger. “Well, just my luck to run into the rising king of the castle!” She took his hand in a strong grip and pumped it a few times before drawing back. “So, tell me, where’s Sam?”
“Ms. Roberts, as much as I would like to help you and tell you where Mr. Grover is, I simply cannot. It is against company policy to give out the information of its employees without express permission.”
Emma settled herself against Linus’ desk, one hip resting on the top while she leaned towards him. “Oh sugar, I think you can bend the rules for his baby sister.”
“Sister?” Linus asked in shock.
“She’s trying to pull the wool over your eyes, Linus,” Sam said, walking into the office from the break room, cup of coffee in hand. “Emma is actually my cousin who grew up with me. She’s effectively my baby sister, though.”
Emma rolled her eyes. She was stunning. The strength of character, the sheer lack of demureness he was so used to seeing in the women in his life—except for his mother, who he privately called a ball buster—it all just made him sit up and take notice.
“Ruin all my fun, Sam! Anyway, I came into the city—and you know how much I hate coming into the city—to finally get you to answer my calls. Why have you been ignoring me, favorite cousin of mine?” She was still sitting on Linus’ desk, though her attention was on Sam.
Sam frowned into his coffee cup, “It’s called work. You know that thing I do in this office? Something I should be doing right now, in fact.”
“But I need to know if you’ll be my escort to the theatre tonight! That’s why I’ve been trying to get a hold of you for so long!” She stood up, an exasperated frown on her face.
The banter between Sam and Emma was so close to what Linus had to deal with when he was talking to David that he couldn’t help but empathize with Sam. At the same time, all Linus wanted to do was to know more about the vision in front of him. He knew that Sam couldn’t go out tonight, they were finalizing the accounts for the month and he needed to be on around to sign off on them before morning. Linus could see the refusal on the tip of Sam’s tongue and suddenly he found himself opening his mouth to speak.
“I could take you, if you would like, Ms. Roberts.”
The grin on her face lit up the room, “I would love that. And call me Emma.”
The only problem Linus could ever find was that Emma always refused to talk about what she was doing past the summer. She would just smile at Linus and change the subject to the next event or to an art exhibit she thought Linus would enjoy. This went on for the rest of the summer until August was quickly approaching and Linus was getting ready to return to school to finish his final undergraduate year. He had a plan though, and with his father’s permission brought Emma up to his office.
“Oh Linus!” Emma gasped as she looked out the tall windows, the city all lit up in the night. “The view of the city is spectacular up here!” She turned towards him, a cheeky grin gracing her lips. “I bet you can’t wait to have this office to yourself.”
He smiled at her. “I do admit to admiring the view. It’s even better with you here.”
“Charmer!” She laughed and tossed her clutch and hat onto the desk, her eyes already drawn back to the view.
Linus watched her reflection in the glass of the windows, a smile still gracing her lips. He fingered at the velvet box in his pocket before he slipped down on one knee behind her, his eyes still on her reflection.
Her eyes focused on their reflection, her smile slipping from her face. “Linus, what are you doing?” Emma turned to look at him.
“I want to ask you something, Emma.” Linus pulled his hand from his pocket, the box in hand.
Emma’s hand rose to her mouth, her eyes wide.
“Will you, Emma Roberts, do me the pleasure of being my—“ Linus began only for her to shout “No!” interrupting him.
“Oh Linus, what have you done?” she cried. Tears were escaping her eyes, making tracks down her cheeks. “Everything was so lovely this summer and now you’ve done this…”
“I’m not sure I understand.” He stood, a frown creasing his brow.
“Linus,” Emma sobbed, “I’m already engaged! I’m getting married at the end of the month in Virginia.”
There was a ringing in Linus’ ears that made it hard for him to understand what Emma was saying, his mind caught in a loop. She was already engaged. To be married. To another man. In Virginia.
“I didn’t mean for it to get this far. I thought Sam told you and you knew! We were always joking about what the biddies were saying about us…” She was pacing, tears making her mascara run, and even though she was breaking his heart, Linus couldn’t help but think she was beautiful. Everything within his heart wanted him to beg her to change her mind and choose him, love him, not the mystery man down in Virginia, but his mind was taking over and he knew he couldn’t do that to her.
“Emma,” he said, trying to get her attention, “Emma!” He caught her in his arms with her next pass and took a deep breath, steeling his nerves. “It’s okay.” He kissed her forehead and stepped back. “We’ll forget it. But maybe, you could give me some time? We can try for lunch this weekend?”
She nodded her head quickly, moving over to her clutch to pull out a handkerchief to dab at her eyes. “Linus, you really are a dear, dear friend.” Emma came back to him, a small smile at the corner of her lips. “I’ll see you on Saturday? We can get lunch at Marianne’s, on 11th?”
“Of course, I’ll see you then.” He gave an absent wave to her fast retreating form, her clutch and hat back in hand when she closed the door behind her.
Linus’ gaze was drawn back to the lit up night skyline. He felt so hot, some fresh air would do him good. Before he knew it, he was stepping onto the ledge, just standing there, feeling the wind tug at his clothing and hair. Tears were quickly dried by the wind as he stood watching the city.
He wasn’t quite sure how much time had passed before he finally wiped his face with his handkerchief and took a deep breath before stepping back inside. Linus smoothed down his clothing and closed the window behind him. His fingers idly caressed the soft velvet of the ring box before he tucked it back into his pocket and walked out of the office, the lights shutting off behind him.
Sabrina was next to him on the sofa, her feet tucked under her body, eyes intent on the ring on her own hand. Linus had given it to her not too long ago after receiving a package from New York in the post. When her eyes rose to his, the smile in his eyes was true and happy.
“I gave the ring to David. I don’t know what he did with it, but it isn’t the one he gave to Elizabeth.”
Her laugh brightened the heavy atmosphere of the room. “Oh Linus, you do like to tease me!” Sabrina leaned her head against his shoulder and he wrapped his free arm around her, gathering her closer. “Do you regret it at all?”
“Hmm? Regret what?”
“Running away to Paris with me?”
“I wasn’t running away, Sabrina. I was finally coming home.”