Two steps forward, one step back. That's how it seemed to Lucien. He lay stretched out on a wicker chair on a warm spring day in the garden, the smell of green grass and fresh laundry wafting enticingly overhead. He was well aware of Jean's personal garments hanging on the line and made an effort not to notice, lest he get caught in a compromising position. Instead he covered his head with the afternoon Courier to shade him from the sun in an attempt to focus his thoughts elsewhere. His focus returned to the Fox Trot. That is what he and Jean seemed to be doing, an out of step Fox Trot. They would glide gracefully together and then stumble apart, only to start over again with the same results. Their dance was not intimate enough to be a Waltz nor racy enough to be a Tango, though he'd love to try. His thoughts drifted back to the brasserie on the clothesline. Jean in a brasserie dancing the Tango. Lucien snapped the newspaper off his face and leaped up. Whatever he was thinking was going nowhere good. He stalked back into the house and towards his surgery.
"There you are. I thought you were in the garden."
Lucien jumped. Jean seemed to be expecting something and for a brief moment Lucien panicked, afraid that she could read his thoughts.
"Yes, well I was in the garden. And now I am in here."
Lucien smiled broadly. Jean appeared concerned.
"Everything alright, Lucien? It's almost time to leave."
"The road race. Charlie is running in it?"
Lucien hit his desk with the palm of his hand.
"The race! Of course. Let's leave now so we can find a good spot."
He all but dragged Jean out of the house, happy to escape his own distracting thoughts. They drove to the race in silence. Lucien had not regained the courage to resume the conversation he started that day in the park. He became consumed by the case at hand, and then another, and it became too easy to let work become and excuse to avoid the issue. He feared that if he asked her about it, things could end in disaster. Jean could be outraged or worse, she might leave entirely. It wasn't until a few months later that Lucien realized that he lacked imagination when considering what might happen if he told Jean how he felt. He had not considered the effect of staying silent until he came home one evening to find Jean in a stunning green dress and an elegant hair style serving drinks to another man. He knew he had no right to be jealous; he had pursued other romantic interests, Jean could as well. It just never occurred to him that Jean was wanting for companionship, that she might want more in life than serving him tea in the morning, and it made him ashamed that he had expected so much when he offered her so little. Still it didn't keep the beast of jealousy from roaring in his chest. He tried his best to cast suspicion on the man. When he turned out to be right and he saw the tears well up in Jean's eyes it nearly broke his heart. After that he didn't know how to move forward or what to say. They were still close, but there was no graceful way to say to someone "Sorry your boyfriend was a murderer but I was waiting for you the whole time." And he was still waiting, but for what he didn't know. The impulse to tell her never went away. When she was mourning the death of her priest, and in some ways the last ties to her past with Christopher, it was all he could do to pull her into his arms. When he stayed up all night in his mother's studio trying to make sense of the past, Jean found him in the morning. She was like a vision of the dawn, pale and soft in the morning light, and he was so grateful he could share it with her. But still, he hesitated.
At the race, they found a spot in the shade near the finish line to cheer on the runners. Charlie won a respectable second place but Jean rushed past him.
Lucien looked at Jean greeting a tall young man with dark hair and bright green eyes so much like Jean's own. Something in his gut twisted, the same way it did when he was in the field and knew someone he was following had caught on to him. The prodigal son had returned. He knew he aught to be happy for a chance to finally meet Jean's youngest but something just wasn't right. Lucien resolved to treat him like his own anyway. Jean deserved that.
Sadly his first impression was correct, as it usually was. In the shadow of a horrible crime, Jack was accused and eventually exonerated, but the truth about Jean's youngest was not much better. He was a lout who ran around with thugs, took advantage of young women, and was likely a criminal himself. Lucien tried to do his best to help, but ended up making things worse. Jean needed a shoulder to cry on, not an analysis of the facts of the case. Lucien interrogated Jack in the house and helped the police put together a case against him. He professed his belief in Jack's innocence just to try to smooth things over but it didn't matter. Jean was furious with him.
In the midst of all the turmoil the Courier published Lucien's address and identified his house as Jack's residence. Lucien recalled Charlie walking over with the newspaper but Lucien was already rushing for the door. His heart nearly stopped in his chest and he was overcome with a sudden feeling that Jean was in danger. He would recall later that he should have been more concerned for the welfare of the assembled mob. Jean and Mattie were holding their own admirably and showed no sign of backing down. But the sight of Jean being tossed to the floor made him see red and only Charlie's intervention saved her attacker's life.
When it was all over Jack was declared an innocent man, or at least a free one. Lucien pleaded with him to stay in Ballarat. For better or for worse, he was Jean's son, and Lucien could at least try and make things right. In the end Jack left town without even saying goodbye. It did not take a soulmate or event a particularly clever man to know Jean would be devastated.
Jean had retreated to the sun room, her usual refuge from the world. Lucien watched her for a long while, gathering his thoughts. Even now she tried to remain strong and carried on, fussing over a plant instead of raging at the world. He made small talk and offered her some platitudes about home and family. Lucien did not feel like it was enough, but he needed to show her in some small way that he cared. He placed a consoling hand on her shoulder. Perhaps the events of the week had been too much for her after all. Maybe after a week of accusations and humiliation Lucien's gesture of kindness was hard to bear. Whatever it was, Jean broke down in tears. She folded herself into Lucien's arms and held him tight, sobbing into his shoulder. Lucien whispered words of comfort into her hair, rubbing his hands gently over her back.
Lucien closed his eyes and his mind was filled with her, sight, scent, and feel. It wasn't just that he had not been this close to a woman in a long time, it was that he had never been this close to her. He knew then that he needed her, that he wanted her more than he had ever wanted anything in his life. He did not care if she was his soulmate. Whatever was burning between them was too precious to ignore. He knew this was the worst possible time but rational thought was quickly abandoning him. Rational thought had not previously served him well on this matter anyhow. Jean looked up at him, tears still trailing down her cheeks, a mix of hope and fear in her eyes. Lucien wished with all his heart that he knew what she was thinking. She must feel this too, or so he hoped. Lucien cradled her face in his hands, trying to convey without words the love and tenderness he felt for her. Blood was rushing to his head and his ears were ringing. The ringing stopped and started again. It wasn't until Jean started to pull away that Lucien realized it was the phone.
"I'll get it," Jean said before turning away.
Lucien nearly screamed with frustration. He reached out and grabbed Jean's wrist firmly, stopping her in her tracks.
"Let it go. We're not done yet."
Lucien stepped closer and Jean turned to face him again. Lucien put his hands on her shoulders, rubbing gently. Suddenly he was at a loss. What could he say? What if she were frightened? He began to falter. Maybe this was all a terrible idea. She had turned to him for support and he let his imagination run wild.
His words were cut off as Jean pressed herself against him, wrapping her arms around his neck. When her lips touched his he felt a surge of white hot heat inside him. It was more than just the physical rush, it was as if her entire spirit filled him and it felt incredible. The skin on his left wrist was tingling. All of his skin was tingling. She ran her hand through his hair and it sent jolts of electricity down his spine. He did not need to see her Script. He knew. He realized he had always known, like a memory long forgotten suddenly rushing back to life.
"Do you mind," Lucien said, his voice cracking as he kissed Jean gently on the forehead. He lingered there, enjoying the feeling of his lips against her skin.
"Who are you?" Jean murmured into his chest. Overwhelmed, Jean began to sob again. Lucien pulled her close, rocking her gently.
"Shhh, it's alright. Sweet Jean, my Jean."
Somewhere in the background the phone was still ringing, ignored by both of them.