When James rang the bell Lucy opened the door in an oversized shirt and a flannel headband keeping back her newly cut bangs, a perfect black wing applied on her left eye. She threw her arms around James’ neck and gave him a passionate kiss; they hadn’t seen each other in over a week, since the day they had walked out of James’ lawyers’ office.
James wrapped his arms around her waist and reciprocated the kiss until Lucy pulled back.
“Sorry honey, don’t want to be late!”
“Aren’t you handsome?” She said, taking in his tall figure in a black British cut suit paired with a dark maroon shirt with no tie, Oxford shoes at his feet.
“I wanted to look good for your big night,” he said with a sweet smile.
Lucy gave him a quick peck on the lips.
“Is that my shirt?” He then asked as she walked to her phone charging on the kitchen island.
“Yes, you left it behind and now it’s mine. I have a whole new wardrobe off of your clothes.”
“Oh my God, this is so cool!” She exclaimed looking up from her phone. “Apparently it’s quite a fancy thing, there is also going to be a red carpet! Well, is actually blue but still...” and she showed him the picture of the event location that a friend had sent to her.
“Oh, that’s cool! Can you believe it? Our first public appearance on a carpet and it turns out it’s yours!”
Lucy beamed, ecstatic.
“That’s because your girlfriend is the coolest!”
She swiftly moved around the island and, giving James a quick slap on the butt, she went back to the bathroom.
“I need to crack on or we’ll be late!”
James chuckled again and walked to the bar trolley pouring himself a glass of neat whiskey.
“Can I pour you a drink, love?”
Lucy’s voice came from the bathroom.
“Yes, please! I’ll have a brandy.”
“Coming right up, grandma,” he said and holding the two glasses he walked into the bathroom, placing Lucy’s on the sink counter.
He leaned against the door and watched as Lucy put on her makeup, her focus on her right eye as she drew a black line on the eyelid, her mouth slightly open.
“I love to watch you getting ready,” he said sipping on his whiskey.
Lucy halted her movement and directed her sight on him.
“It’s quite relaxing and mesmerising,” he said.
Lucy screwed back the cap of her eyeliner and looked at him again.
“Well, I can’t focus if you stand there staring at me like a stalker, go!” she said wittily.
James held his hand up in surrender and retreated to the living room, busying himself with a magazine he found on the coffee table.
“Made it with five minutes to spare,” Lucy said, appearing from the bathroom ten minutes later.
James turned around and the image of his girlfriend took his breath away. She was wearing a dark blue cocktail dress just below her knees, the skirt was pleated chiffon bouncing with her movements. The three-quarter sleeves and padded shoulders complimented her toned arms but the focus was on the deep v neck cut low to below her sternum, silver pointed block heels at her feet. Her wavy hair was loose down to her collarbone and her bangs framed her delicate features enhanced by a perfect cat eye makeup and dark purple lipstick, as she tucked her hair behind her ear the flower diamonds shone brightly.
“Wow,” was all James could say.
He walked to her and taking her hand he helped her spin on herself, showing off her beautiful dress.
“I’m glad you like it...” She beamed, smoothing her skirt.
“I’ll call an Uber,” she said then, collecting her silver purse and phone.
James cleared his throat.
“Before we go, there’s something I want to give you”.
Lucy put her phone down and looked at him curiously.
James took a square wooden box from his coat pocket.
“It’s a little congratulation gift,” he said.
“I haven’t won yet,” she pointed out.
“It doesn’t matter. You have achieved some much. It’s a well-done gift for being so strong, for making it through the storm of the past weeks too. It’s also a thank you gift for not giving up on us.”
Lucy took the box from his hands and opened it to reveal a thin white gold chain, on one side of it was a safety pin and on the other a beautiful dragonfly pendant. The body was an intricate white gold work with delicate patterns resembling lace, the head was made of a white pearl nestled in four brackets with the same intricate work. The long, thin wings were covered in translucent enamel sections which transitioned from silver near the body to pale blue on the outer part, framed in tiny diamonds alternated with emeralds of the palest green.
Lucy gently touched the brooch with her fingers, taken away by the beauty of the jewel.
“It’s vintage, “offered James. “I know you love art deco.”
Lucy looked up at him from under her lashes.
“James, I’m speechless. It’s just perfect. You shouldn’t have, it’s...too much!”
James took the brooch from the box and pinned it on her dress.
“Nonsense. Nothing is too much for you.”
Lucy touched the brooch on her dress again.
“I love you,” she said as she wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him.
“So do you know exactly what is going to happen on this blue carpet?” asked James as they approach the venue on their Uber.
Lucy shook her head.
“To be honest, I have no idea. From what I’ve seen from the previous years there is some press coverage so maybe a couple of journalists from The Sun or the Telegraph, maybe the BBC. I’m not sure though so don’t quote me on this. All I was told is that we check in and then I stop for a picture with the charities representatives.”
“Alright, pretty straightforward then,” said James squeezing her hand.
As they arrived at the Langham Hotel and exited the car Lucy was taken aback by the grandiose organization of the event. A blue carpet was indeed laid on the steps taking to the main entrance and a hefty group of journalists with big cameras was ordinately buzzing behind a red cordoned path on the pavement. Near the entrance, a big carton panel with the airline and the charities’ logos stood as a photo background and two men in suits were shaking hands with the organizations’ representatives wearing respective t-shirts. Lucy scanned the crowd and when she found a familiar face she confidently walked to the red cord where Julia was standing, dressed in her uniform and holding a paper with a list of names.
“Hello, Lucy!” The woman greeted her as she recognized her.
“Hello, this is crazy! Way more than I was expecting!”
The woman laughed and nodded.
“Yes, they did things in grand style this year! But it’s good, it means the charities have never been so supported.”
“That’s amazing,” said Lucy cheerfully. “Oh, this is James Blackwood, my plus one. He should be on the list.”
Julia looked up at James and then scanned the list of names, crossing a line over James’ as she found it.
“Here he is,” she said with a smile, then directed her attention back to Lucy.
“So here’s what you need to do. When you get to the top of the stairs you stop and shake the representatives’ hands and wait for the press to take your picture. Don’t worry they won’t necessarily use it but they’re going to take one with all the participants. Then you can simply walk inside, get assigned to a table and have a drink.”
“Ok, I like that part.”
The two women said goodbye and Julia opened the cord to let her and James through; when a woman in black with a headset motioned to Lucy, she grabbed James’ hand and made her way up the hotel staircase, he squeezed her hand in support.
“You can wait here,” said the woman to James and Lucy reluctantly let go of his hand and walked the few more steps left to the photoshoot area.
Lucy did as instructed and shook the charities representatives’ hands and posed for the pictures, blinded by the flash of the cameras. Her heart beating fast.
When the photos had been taken the woman in black allowed James to the top of the stairs where he joined a very ecstatic Lucy.
“Well done,” he said smiling.
“Is that James Kent?” A voice from the crowd said and the attention shifted on him.
Suddenly the journalists started to call his name.
“James! James! Are you part of the event?”
James looked at Lucy, not sure whether to turn to the crowd or ignore it and looked at Lucy for instructions. He didn’t want to steal her thunder or put her in an uncomfortable position.
“They’re calling you. You got busted, ” she said with a giggle. “Go!” She instructed.
James stood there for a second.
“It would be great publicity for the foundations,” Lucy said eventually with kind eyes.
James turned around to face the journalists and smiled, Lucy could see the slight change in his behaviour. He confidently walked to the representatives and shook their hands, whispering something in one of the man’s ear.
The cameras went crazy and a storm of flashes illuminated the place.
“James! In what capacity are you here? Is that your girlfriend?” One journalist screamed over the noise.
James didn’t reply but simply posed for the cameras.
Lucy looked at him from afar and was charmed by his natural charisma, his face in a half smile, he put his hand casually in his trouser pocket and leaned on one leg in a perfect Hollywood pose. Then he held his hand in a greeting gesture and turned around walking back to Lucy. He placed his hand on the small of her back and led her into the hotel.