She got back to the hotel before her dad did, and when he finally arrived it was to her laying on her stomach in bed reading. She looked up when the door clicked, and smiled in greeting. John crossed the room to her and smoothed her hair from her forehead, letting his hand rest against her head for a moment.
“Good day?” he asked, sinking onto his own bed with a relieved sigh. Cosima paused, the girl from earlier flitting through her mind again. “Cos?”
“Yeah,” Cosima said, nodding. “Yeah. My feet hurt and I'm starving, can we go eat?”
“Dinner is in an hour,” John said, swinging his legs up onto the bed and turning the TV on. Cosima groaned, but went back to her book, her stomach grumbling in protest of being denied food.
Cosima finished her tour of the science museum the next day, leaving before lunch too meet her father at one of the restaurants by the Louvre. She had hoped, foolishly, to meet Delphine again. Paris was a huge city, the chances of her running into the same girl in the same place were slim to none. It still didn't stop her from feeling disappointed. The restaurant they chose was crowded and hot. Being around so many people made Cosima uncomfortable, especially when the French sense of personal space was a lot smaller than her own, even having grown up in San Fran. The gallery itself, when they finally managed to get inside, was fascinating, even though it was packed full with irritating, loud tourists. Cosima stuck close to her dad, glowering at anyone who got too close to her. It was more his cup of tea than hers, anyway, not that Cosima couldn't appreciate fine art.
They spent a day walking around the city. Cosima felt just as touristy as the people at the Louvre had been, stopping every so often to take a picture on her phone to upload to Facebook later. By the end of the day her feet felt like they were about to fall off and her shoulders had tinged pink from being exposed to the sun for so long, but she felt satisfied, her curiosity fed, at least for the moment. Still, when the week ended, she was happy to be able to leave, anticipating spending the rest of the summer reading on the beach.
The best part of the house that John had rented out for them was the large room Cosima had all to herself with a view of the beach. It was almost like being back home, but still felt enough like France that the sense of being on vacation hung in the back of her mind. Cosima packed her clothes away in the dresser when they arrived, and set up the wifi before her dad could get his hands on it and mess it up trying to get it working. Cosima wandered the area around the house while he went to buy them food, and found herself walking along the beach, soft sand sifting between her toes.
She couldn't have thought of a better way to spend her summer if she tried. Even advanced biology classes wouldn't have been able to beat laying on the beach with the sun warming her skin and a library worth of books at her fingertips. Even the rain couldn't damper her mood, when it swept across the region, clearing the summer humidity and bringing mornings thick with the fresh scent of it. Occasionally, the girl from the museum passed over Cosima's mind when she caught a glimpse of blonde hair on the street or at the beach. While she spent a good deal of time with John, most of it she spent on her own, walking or reading or sleeping, being the lazy teenager she'd spent years perfecting. When John started spending more of his nights out for dinner, Cosima didn't question, but she was curious. Her dad was being coy, something Cosima wasn't accustomed to seeing.
“Where have you been going out to?” she asked on one of the nights where they were both home, watching some drama on TV. Cosima understood some of what was being said, having absorbed a fair amount of language by simply being in the country, but most of it still went over her head, and it served for nothing more than background noise while she browsed the web.
“Interesting that you should ask me that now, Cosima,” John said. “Very interesting.” Cosima looked up from her laptop, fixing her father with a hard stare.
“Dad, what are you not telling me?” she asked. John rubbed the back of his head, ruffling his fingers through hair that he kept saying needed trimmed, but that he hadn't gotten done.
“I might have... met someone.” Cosima paused, processing.
“Met someone,” she repeated, her voice flat. “Met someone as in like... met someone? Like, met met someone?”
“Okay, stop that. Yes, I met a woman. Her name is Marie, and we're having dinner with her and her daughter tomorrow night.”
“Right,” Cosima said, turning back to her computer. “Right. Marie. Dinner. Okay.” John sighed.
“Cosima...” he started.
“No,” Cosima said, before he could get any further. “Dad, it's fine.” She paused, the silence between them tight with an awkward tension until Cosima spoke again. “So, where did you meet her?”
“In the market,” John replied. “A few weeks ago.”
“Why didn't you say something then?” Cosima asked. She curled her legs up under herself, balancing her laptop on the arm of the sofa to relieve her thighs from the heat it was producing.
“I didn't want to upset you,” John said gently.
“It's not like you're getting married,” Cosima said. “It was almost eight years ago, Dad.”
“I know,” John sighed. “I know.”
“So stop freaking out about it. Okay?”
Cosima picked out her nicest dress. John had kept tight-lipped about Marie and her daughter, revealing nothing more than the fact that her and Cosima were the same age. Cosima suspected that he just didn't know anything more about her, rather than was keeping information from her. She wanted to make a good impression. She had a feeling that she was more nervous about the dinner than her father was. He kept badgering her to hurry up while she was getting ready, knocking on the door and shouting at her from the living room. She rolled her eyes each time, telling him she'd be ready in a few minutes. Finished with her make-up, she slipped her glasses back on and gave herself a once over in the mirror. She needed new glasses, something other than the thing, round frames she had, but otherwise she thought she looked pretty decent. John was sitting on the sofa when she left her room, almost as tall as him in her heels.
“I'm ready,” she announced.
“Finally,” John said, clicking the TV off. “We're going to be late if we don't go.”
“Relax,” Cosima said, rolling her eyes and following him out of the house. “We're leaving, it's fine.” They took a cab up into the town, but when Cosima went to walk into the restaurant, John stopped her with a hand on her arm.
“I said we'd meet them out here,” he explained, dropping his hand to straighten his coat.
“Dad, chill out,” Cosima said with a chuckle. “You've already gotten us all together for dinner. I hardly think you need to worry about impressing her at this point.”
“Right, of course,” John replied, shaking up his sleeve to check his watch. “They should be here in a few minutes.” Cosima shifted her weight to one leg, running her fingers through her hair and habitually checking her phone, bringing up a game to play until she heard her father clear his throat and felt him straighten next to her. Cosima slipped her phone into her bag and looked up, a smile of greeting twitching at her lips.
The expression froze on her face. Standing a few paces behind whom Cosima assumed was Marie was her. Delphine. The girl from the museum. She was watching their parents, tucking her hair behind her ear and stepping forward to greet John with a kiss to either cheek. She noticed Cosima a few seconds later, her eyes widening briefly in response. Cosima stared, distantly aware that she was all but gaping. She hadn't thought it was possible for someone to look so attractive, but Delphine was living proof, in a slim dress with her hair brushing against her shoulders and her head tilted curiously to the side. Her father's voice pulled her out of her daze.
“Marie, this is Cosima.” Marie pulled Cosima in with a light touch to her arm. Cosima only barely managed to return her greeting kiss. “Cosima, this is Marie, and Delphine, of course.” Delphine stepped past her mother and gently took Cosima's hand.
“Enchantée,” she said. Cosima felt herself smile, lightly gripping Delphine's fingers.
“Hi,” she said automatically.
“Shall we, ladies?” John asked, motioning to the building. Marie looped her arm around his elbow, leaving Cosima and Delphine to trail along behind them.
Their parents chatted easily in-between bites of food, but Delphine looked lost. She ate quietly, her gaze flicking back and forth from John to her mother then back again, occasionally flitting over to Cosima. When it did, Cosima glanced away, looking down at her plate or reaching for her wine to give her something to concentrate on to keep her face from burning. It was hard to do when every look Delphine gave her made her heart thud loudly. Delphine picked at her food, quiet and reserved.
“So...” Cosima started, drawing her attention. She looked up, brows raised in question. “Do you guys live around here?”
“No,” Delphine replied. “We're on holiday. We live outside Paris.”
“It's weird how that happens, isn't it?” Cosima asked, gesturing with her fork. “I mean out of all the people who live in Paris alone, and all the people and families who were at the museum that day, like, the chances of us meeting up again are astronomical. I mean, it's just a totally crazy coincidence that you guys are here at the same time we are and that our parents just happened run into each other. Like, just. Wow, you know?” Delphine was frowning lightly at her, a cute line denting the skin between her brows. Cosima cleared her throat and looked away.
“You speak very fast,” Delphine said.
“Yeah, sorry about that,” Cosima mumbled, sipping her wine to hide her embarrassment.
“It's okay,” Delphine replied, and offered a small smile as an apology. Cosima tried to ignore her sweaty palms.
The four of them met up once more after the dinner. The affair was less formal, a final brunch before the train back up to Paris. Cosima tried to keep her staring at Delphine to a minimum, looking as inconspicuous as she could muster while still snatching glances of the blonde out of the corner of her eye. She was friendly enough, but, as Cosima had discovered, her English wasn't as good as her mother's, and even though Cosima tried to slow down the rate at which she talked, she always ended up saying too much too quickly and would lose Delphine halfway through her rant, only to trail off and sit in an awkward silence until one of the adults said something to them.
The departure from France brought the inevitable dread of going back to school. Cosima didn't hate it, exactly, but senior year meant college and she was not equipped to handle the levels of stress that was going to bring on, even though she'd known for years where she wanted to go and what she wanted to major in. She put preparing for school off, distracting herself from the end of summer blues by ignoring her suitcase in favour of stretching out on her bed with her iPod hooked up to her speakers, browsing through the photos she had taken on the trip.
Most were of the beach, or of the house when the sunlight filtering through the windows was too pretty for Cosima to not try and capture. The rest were all of places around the town, and around Paris, and several amusing ones of her father sleeping in weird places or acting like an idiot. The last few towards the end of the collection were what drew Cosima's attention most. There were only a couple, Cosima too awkward to ask and not wanting to offend, but she'd managed to take two. Two pictures of Delphine. She stared at them, drumming her fingers against her chin. The chance that they had met a second time was slim enough without hoping for another.