Note: I am pleased to share that, for the time being at least, I’ll be back to a normal update schedule, wooh! Wednesdays and Saturdays, starting now! 😀 In about a month and a half, I will be back to teaching again, which also likely means a return to once a week (Sorry 😦 ) but let’s enjoy twice a week while it lasts, shall we? 😉 Thanks guys! ❤
(Oh, and we’ve got one nsfw screenshot in this one, heads up!)
Emberlynn’s foot tapped impatiently against the wooden floor as she checked the time on her phone again. “They’re late.” She muttered.
“Yeah, by like two minutes!” Beside her, Xander let out a low chuckle. “They’ll be here, okay? So relax!” His lips curled into a smile as he spoke. “Though I’ve gotta admit, you’re kind of adorable when you’re freaking out like this.”
“Oh my God, shut up!” Emberlynn laughed, playfully swatting at him. “I’m not ‘freaking out’, I’m just a little nervous.” She admitted with a small shrug.
“That I’ll make you look bad?” Xander suggested teasingly. “That they’ll be like ‘Oh my God, what does Ember see in that geeky loser’?”
She rolled her eyes at his joke. “Yup. Definitely. That’s exactly what I’m afraid of… So you’d better be on your best behavior okay?”
“Hmm… Well, I’ll try… But no promises.” He smirked at her as he leaned forward to press his lips against hers.
Xander’s kiss was enough to calm Emberlynn’s nerves a little… Until the sound of a loud wolf-whistle filled the air. She jumped backward in alarm at the sound and whipped her head toward the entrance to the arcade.
Sure enough, there were Zelda and Jace walking toward them, their lips stretched into wide grins as they approached. “Whoops, sorry! Don’t let us interrupt!”
Emberlynn rolled her eyes at Jace. “You ass!” She glanced briefly in Xander’s direction, realizing that she and Jace had been speaking to each other in German. “Xander, this is Jace and Zelda.” She explained kindly in English.
“I had a feeling.” He replied, turning to address her friends. “It’s great to finally meet you guys!”
“Oh, wow… Uh, hi!” Zelda’s voice seemed to be shaking slightly with nerves. “It’s great to meet you too!”
Emberlynn eyed her friend in confusion. She hadn’t seen her cousin act like this since a few summers ago, when they met one of Galaxy Quest’s voice actors at GeekCon.
Before Emberlynn could ask her friend about her strange behavior, Zelda was speaking once more. “I know this is super awkward, so I wanna get it out of the way now…”
Oh my God Z, seriously? Emberlynn knew exactly where this was going, and she wasn’t sure whether she wanted to laugh, or curl up into a hole and die as the next words passed her cousin’s lips.
“But I’m a really huge fan of your music, and I seriously LOVE your channel. It’s one of my favorites. I’ve been following it for years!”
Xander’s face lit up at her words, though Emberlynn did not miss the hint of embarrassment in his voice as he replied. “Oh, thanks! That’s really nice to hear.”
Zelda seemed to hesitate, glancing almost guiltily between Jace and Emberlynn before setting her gaze back on Xander once more. “Hopefully this isn’t SUPER weird or awkward, but, um… Could I maybe get a picture with you?”
“Z, what the hell?!” Emberlynn cried before Xander had a chance to reply. And just like that, ‘curl up in a hole and die’ came out on top. “Can I talk to you for a minute?” She asked her cousin through clenched teeth.
Zelda followed her guiltily into the corner, leaving Xander and Jace to some awkward small-talk.
“I know, I know, I know… Sorry!” Zelda cried as soon as they were out of earshot. “I tried to keep my cool, but I just saw him standing there and I kinda…” She shrugged helplessly.
A soft sigh passed Emberlynn’s lips. “I know. Fangirl mode activated.”
“Exactly! Look, I really AM sorry, Ember. I’ve always done such a good job not letting myself freak out when you talk about him and stuff. Especially once you guys started dating. But seeing him in person… Woah.”
This time, Emberlynn couldn’t help but laugh. “Trust me, I know. And I’m sure he appreciates that you’re a fan, but could you maybe like, not forget the fact that he’s my boyfriend?” She asked seriously as her laughter died away. It was almost scary how easy it was to say those words. “Or that your boyfriend is standing there watching you get all googly-eyed over another guy?”
“What?! I’m not ‘googly-eyed’!” Zelda insisted.
Emberlynn stared at her with disbelief for a few moments.
“Well, maybe a little. But not like THAT! I love Jace, and I’m basically the captain of the SS Xanberlynn, so…”
“XANBERLYNN?! Pffft!” Emberlynn practically doubled over in hysterics. “Oh my God, Z… You are something else!”
“What?! Every good ship needs a name!”
With a small shake of her head, Emberlynn led the way back to the guys. “Just promise me you’ll chill, okay?” She asked softly as they drew nearer.
“I promise… But, um… Could I maybe just get ONE picture?” Zelda asked, giving her cousin the most pathetic puppydog eyes.
“Fine.” Emberlynn sighed in defeat. “One!”
Emberlynn spent the better part of their walk back to her apartment apologizing, no matter how many times Xander told her not to.
“Emberlynn, cut it out!” He told her for what had to be the tenth time as they finally took a seat together on her couch. “The selfie thing wasn’t really that big a deal, and she was fine after that. I liked hanging out with her and Jace. They’re cool.”
“You’re not just saying that?” She asked nervously.
“I’m not.” He assured her. “They were fun! And I love that we’re apparently… What was it? ‘The SS Xanberlynn’ now?”
Emberlynn giggled, nodding.
“Plus, I dunno… It was kinda cool having somebody fangirl over me like that.” Xander added with a teasing smile. “Practice for when I’m world-famous someday.”
Emberlynn giggled in response. “Alright, I’ll stop freaking out about it.” She promised. “I don’t know what’s gotten into me lately.” Yes you do… A small voice in the back of her mind whispered.
“Me neither… I don’t know if I’ve ever seen you like this before.” Xander confessed. “But… you’re still feeling okay, right? About the whole boyfriend-girlfriend thing?” It was his turn to be nervous, it seemed. “No cold feet or anything?”
Emberlynn shook her head. “No, no, that’s not it! It’s just… a lot, you know? I’m not used to this whole relationship thing. And meeting my best friend felt like a pretty scary step, I guess.” She admitted with a slight shrug of her shoulders.
Xander nodded in understanding. “I get it… Though that pretty much already answers my next question for you…” Emberlynn did not miss the slight twinge of sadness in his voice as he spoke.
“What is it?”
“Well, I talked to my mom the other day. She’s still pretty bummed I didn’t go home for Christmas like she wanted. Said she’s sad she didn’t get to see me on my birthday too… You know, the usual mom guilt-trip stuff.”
Emberlynn nodded, knowing all too well what he was talking about.
“So she asked if she could fly out and visit next month. And I said ‘sure’. She can be a pain in the ass sometimes, but I miss her a lot.” He confessed.
“Aw, that’ll be nice!” Emberlynn replied seriously. Despite his tough act, Emberlynn knew how close Xander was with his mother. “What about your dad? Do you think he’ll come too?”
“Which one?” He asked sarcastically.
Emberlynn laughed. Sometimes she forgot that Xander was in the unique position of having three different men he regarded as father figures, including his mother’s first husband and her current one.
“Your dad-dad.” She clarified. “Jorden?”
Xander shook his head. “Nah, he and mom probably couldn’t make it through the eight hour flight without murdering each other.” He laughed softly. “And Ben and Travis are both way too busy with work to take time off, so… it’s just mom.”
“Well that’ll still be really nice! You can show her around Paris!”
“Yeah… And, um… there was something else I was kinda thinking we could do when she’s here. But only if you want to. It’s okay if you don’t.”
Emberlynn already knew exactly what he was going to suggest. It was a thought that both terrified and excited her. “Wait. You… want me to meet her?”
Xander nodded enthusiastically. “I know it might be crazy, or too fast or something. But Ember, I’ve never felt this way about anybody else before.” He reached out to hold her hand as he spoke. “And I’d really love for her to meet you.”
“Does she already know about me?” Emberlynn asked almost impulsively as she fought back the panic that had begun bubbling up in her chest. “Did you tell her we’re dating?”
“Not really. Just that there’s this girl I’ve been ‘hanging out with’… I didn’t wanna make it sound too serious until I was sure you were comfortable with it.” He explained. “But now that I know she’s coming, I figured this could be a good opportunity… If you want.”
Emberlynn’s heart was pounding in her chest. Though part of her was eager and excited for the opportunity to meet Xander’s mother, there was another part that felt nothing but a terrible sense of dread. Like meeting this woman would be some huge mistake.
“Wow…” At last she broke her silence. “Meeting your mom… that’s a pretty big step, isn’t it?”
To her surprise, Xander laughed at her reply. “Okay, that’s a ‘no’ then…”
“It’s not!” Emberlynn insisted, slightly annoyed. “It’s a ‘do I have to decide this second?’ There’s a difference.”
“I know. I’m sorry.” He replied. “That was a lot to throw at you. Just think about it, maybe? And let me know.”
“I will.” She promised. “And it’s not that I don’t WANT to meet her. It’s just…”
“I get it. Don’t worry.”
“Thank you.” Emberlynn smiled warmly at him as she spoke, grateful for his understanding. “And… if you want, you can at least tell her about me. Or, us. If you want. I don’t mind.” She promised. “But maybe leave out the weird ship name?”
“Perfect.” Xander returned her smile. “And no mention of ‘Xanberlynn’, I promise! I’ll just start a list of embarrassing stories about you, and you can help me pick which ones to tell her!”
“Oh my God, you wouldn’t dare!”
He shot her a playful grin. “We’ll see…”
They didn’t discuss the matter any further after that. In fact, they didn’t discuss much of anything. Xander’s train back to Paris left in the morning, and they had precious few hours left to enjoy each other before it was time to say goodbye.
But later that night, as she lay wrapped in Xander’s arms, Emberlynn caught herself thinking about meeting his mother, and wondering why she still felt so scared about it.
Today, he had met one of Emberlynn’s best friends in the world, and that hadn’t changed anything between them, had it? So what difference would it make if she met Lola? If anything, it would probably make things better, wouldn’t it?
And it would make him so happy… Emberlynn thought sleepily as she snuggled against his chest. And with how happy he was already making her, the least she could do was return the favor.