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To Hear Her Voice In The Silence

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That anxiety Emma had been feeling when she was about to head out for the job interview? Pff, what was that even?

Her anxiety when she first met the intimidating Malena Fiammetta? Child’s play. Nothing could be compared to the level of anxiety Emma was feeling on this Tuesday morning. Even though she was starting her new job tomorrow, that wasn’t what was occupying her thoughts. No, it was the fact that Regina would be coming to Steveston today. She was going to see Regina again. The thought of that made Emma feel all kinds of anxious, and today her choice of wardrobe was even more important. Hell, Emma had even considered to go out and buy herself a new dress for the occasion, but then she had nixed the idea. Regina had seen her in sweatpants and no makeup. It seemed silly to put on a dress. After all, it was casual meetup for coffee. Nothing more. This was not a date or anything. Even though Emma desperately wanted it to be. If this had been a date, she would definitely have put on a dress and a ton of makeup.

Emma could feel a slight tremor in her right hand as she stepped into her nicest pair of jeans. The ones that fitted every part of her so nicely. Those jeans looked particularly good when worn with her top with the thin spaghetti straps. Maybe she wasn’t going all in today, but she could wear the top with spaghetti straps. That top did wonders for her chest area. To put it plainly, Emma hoped to draw attention to herself. She hoped that she would catch Regina look. Just once. One time would be all the indicator and hope Emma needed. She had been lying awake for hours last night, obsessing over Regina’s sexuality. And once she had reminded herself that that wasn’t something she should be thinking about at night, her obsessive thoughts had changed course, and she had begun thinking about Regina’s missing voice instead. She had actually ended up googling “reasons why someone can’t speak”. And then she had immediately felt like a fool. She felt as though she was snooping. Intruding. Prying in Regina’s personal business. More than anything, Emma wanted to simply ask her, but that wasn’t so easy either. She couldn’t just write ‘hey, I was wondering why you can’t talk?’ That would be wrong on so many levels. Especially before she knew that there had been some sort of accident. But what sort of accident? Exactly what had happened?

After that she had lied awake and scolded herself for being a nosey fool. Ever the curious Emma Swan. She was hopeless. Every time she sensed just the faintest hint of a mystery, she wanted to know more and, in the end, solve the mystery. Maybe she should have decided to write thrillers instead of fairy tales. That would probably have been more appropriate.

But she couldn’t help it. No amount of scolding could stop her from being curious and obsessing about the mystery surrounding the beautiful brunette that was Regina Mills.

Emma had spent a while considering what to do with her hair, and in the end, she had decided to style it a bit but let it hang loose in soft curls framing her face. She happened to know that her hair looked the nicest like that, and Emma really wanted to look nice. Look nice for Regina. Emma almost snorted. There had been a time where she had sworn that dressing up for someone was actually a terrible thing to do. You should be dressing up for yourself, not for anyone else. But right now, dressing up for Regina was exactly what Emma was doing. She wanted to somehow impress the brunette.

Once her hair was taken care of, Emma glanced at her phone. She was a bit paranoid this morning. She kept thinking that Regina was gonna text her and cancel any given moment.

But her phone remained silent. Emma hadn’t heard anything from anyone since Ella had texted her back late last night. Emma paused with the hairbrush still in her hand. This troubled her. She had been in Steveston for two weeks now, and she hadn’t heard anything from Mary Margaret for an entire week. That should have delighted her, but instead Emma found it to be alarming. Her adoptive mother wasn’t usually this quiet. Unless it was because she was searching for Emma. The blonde recognized all the signs. She had moved around a lot in Toronto, and whenever Mary Margaret was hunting for her, she went quiet and stopped texting Emma.

Emma’s heart began thudding in her chest, and this time it was for other reasons than just the prospect of seeing Regina again. The blonde put the hairbrush down as she thought back and tried to retrace her own steps. Her old apartment in Toronto had been locked when she left, but Emma knew that Mary Margaret already had forced her way into it. Emma frowned as she thought back to her hasty departure. Had she by accident left something behind that could tell Mary Margaret where she was?

No. Emma was sure that she had destroyed every last shred of evidence that could potentially lead to her new location. And- the blonde breathed a little easier- even if Mary Margaret decided to go through her trash and stumbling over some sort of clue, that clue would lead her straight Vancouver. Not Steveston. No one, except for Ella, knew that Emma was in Steveston. Emma puffed out air through her mouth. She was still safe. Her location was still a secret. Mary Margaret still had no idea where she was.

But even so, Emma would be extra alert and on the lookout for anything unusual. She knew exactly what silence from Mary Margaret meant.

The blonde clenched her jaw. Well, good luck finding me then. During her two weeks here, she had made a friend in Sheriff Graham. Emma had a feeling that she could easily come to him if she felt icky about something.

But for right now, Emma was done thinking about Mary Margaret. That insane lady didn’t deserve her thoughts or worry. Now was the time to think about Regina Mills and her upcoming visit to Steveston.

Emma glanced at herself in the mirror one more time. She looked rather sharp today. Put together in a way she so rarely was. Emma hoped that this sort of wardrobe would be acceptable at Dragon Publishing. She couldn’t imagine herself parade around in a skirt or a dress every day. Emma smiled a little. She still couldn’t quite believe that she actually had a job she was starting on tomorrow. Malena had actually given her a chance. Emma didn’t care if her new job involved being an assistant who fetched coffee or something. She finally had a foot inside the publishing business. And as Malena had said, everyone had to start somewhere. This was Emma’s opportunity to work her way up in the publishing business. She was so grateful to Malena, but she was also very curious. The way she had spoken about Regina. The warmth her smooth, professional voice had gained when she mentioned the brunette. She had mentioned that Regina was a dear friend of hers, and now Emma was wondering exactly how dear? She had already figured out that Malena was a bit different, a bit eccentric, but seriously, was it customary to speak that warmly of one’s friends? Emma wasn’t completely sure. Well, sure enough she loved Ella and thought she was a great friend and all, but that was different. Malena had damn nearly been fawning over Regina. Or so it had seemed.

Well, I suppose that’s one more thing to add to the pile of mysteries. Find out more about Regina and Malena’s close, close friendship.

Emma decided that she had spent enough time wondering. And she had spent enough time in her room. Now was the time to head downstairs in the restaurant and wait for Regina. Emma kind of hoped that Ruby wouldn’t be there. Normally, Emma wasn’t one for burying her head in the sand, and one of these days she would take the bull by the horn and talk to Ruby before the situation could get any worse.

But not today, Emma decided as she walked downstairs. She didn’t want to create an awkward mood in the restaurant when that was where she and Regina were gonna spend time together. She would have to endure Ruby’s not to subtle stares. And who knew, maybe Ruby would see Emma with Regina and put two and two together. Emma hoped so. Maybe she wasn’t afraid of addressing things that needed addressing, but she also didn’t want to cause any trouble in the town she had just moved to. She didn’t want any trouble with the inn’s owner’s granddaughter. Emma lived here. This could be tricky.

But there was no Ruby when Emma came downstairs in the restaurant. Only Eugenia who smiled at Emma and asked if she had slept well.

“Yes, thank you. I slept perfectly,” Emma said and smiled.

“Mattress still comfortable?” Eugenia asked and raised an eyebrow as though she didn’t quite dare to believe it.

“It’s very comfortable,” Emma assured.

“Oh. Good. That’s a relief. Maybe I won’t have to change the mattresses right now then. Now, what can I get for you, miss Swan? A cup of hot chocolate? An early lunch perhaps?”

“No thank you,” Emma said. “I’m actually waiting for someone.”

“Oh, I see,” Eugenia said. “Well, why don’t you try some of these mozzarella sticks while you wait? I’ve just made them. They’re still warm.”

“Thanks, Eugenia,” Emma smiled. She liked Eugenia. She wasn’t nosy. Nor did she ask a million different questions.

Eugenia returned the smile as she placed a plate full of mozzarella sticks in front of Emma. Emma took a bite. They were really delicious. Nice and crispy.

“What’s the verdict?” Eugenia asked. “Can I sell these to customers or not?”

“Mmph, definitely,” Emma said and swallowed a mouthful of mozzarella sticks.

“Excellent,” Eugenia said. “If you ever get tired of working in the publishing business, you can become my new test eater.”

Emma laughed. “I’ll definitely consider that if I ever want something else to do.”

Eugenia snickered lightly at that, and then she disappeared into the kitchen. Emma heard her pant lightly and mumble something about the dough being too heavy to move around.

Emma glanced at the big clock hanging on the wall. 10:45. Maybe she had come down here a little too early, but then again rather that than having Regina waiting for her. Emma took another bite of the
freshly made mozzarella sticks. These were really good. Easily as good as Eugenia’s grilled cheese sandwiches and her burgers. Eugenia was an amazing cook. Emma once again reminded herself to get
signed up in the local gym center. Eating this kind of food had to have consequences.

Emma drummed her fingers lightly against the table. She could feel her heart thud in her chest once more. But this time it had nothing to do with Mary Margaret. No, now Emma was just good old fashioned nervous. She was going to see Regina again. Finally. After two weeks. And right now that seemed like the scariest shit in the world. 10:49. Emma briefly considered whether she should text
Regina and ask if she was on her way, but she quickly decided not to. Regina couldn’t text when she was driving, and Emma didn’t want to come across as pathetically eager. She would just have to be patient. Damn it. Patience was not one of Emma’s strongest suits. Maybe she had inherited that from Mary Margaret. Emma chuckled darkly at that. 10:50. Only ten more minutes. Maybe I should just grab these mozzarella sticks and then come back downstairs when it’s 10:55 or something like that. I don’t want to seem pathetic sitting here waiting all on my own. That had been one of Emma’s go-to methods for years. Showing up right before she was supposed to be there. That had been one of Emma’s go-to methods for years. It always worked particularly well if Emma had a hunch that she had been stood up by her date.

Woah wait a second, Swan! This is NOT a date. It’s two friends meeting up for coffee. You better remember that. Emma liked clean lines. No half-assed agreements or anything getting lost in translation. If this had been a date, Emma would have made sure Regina knew. She would have asked straight out “would you like to go out on a date with me?”. No nonsense. No misunderstandings. Emma had had far too many of those in her live. Often her life could be quite chaotic, and Emma had always gone out of her way to ensure that her love life wasn’t. Well, at least until Lily had walked out on her. Emma clenched her fist slightly. It still angered her to think about Lily, but not as much as it used to. It was more of an “oh well. That bitch”-kind of anger now. Not an “I can’t believe she left me”-kind of anger.

Emma was starting to feel more indifference than anger towards Lily. That probably had something to do with her developing feelings for Regina. Emma shook her head a little in pure disbelief. It was crazy, really. Developing feelings for someone she had only known for two weeks and been with in person for three days. Emma had always made a point of really getting to know the woman she liked. Really finding out everything there was to know about her, and here she was, developing feelings for a woman she literally knew next to nothing about. She knew Regina was a former professor in English literature. She knew that Regina was original from Montreal but had moved to Toronto at some point. She knew that Regina now lived in Vancouver, and she knew that Regina had a son. That was all. Not a lot to go on really.

And then of course there was that mystery. That mysterious accident that had cost Regina her voice. Really, that was what Emma wanted to know the most. Last night, her imagination had ran amok and she had kept imagining that Regina had been involved in all sorts of dramatic things. A plane crash. An accident at sea. A hunting accident. It was by then Emma had snorted and told herself to go sleep. A hunting accident. Really, Swan? Maybe some of her teachers had actually been right. Maybe Emma did have an overactive imagination like they had claimed. Last night, Emma certainly had been willing to believe them. She had actually felt pretty dumb. A hunting accident. That was ridiculous. Emma doubted Regina was the hunting type.

A slight sound caught Emma’s attention. The blonde looked up and nearly yelped in surprise. Regina was standing right next to her.

“Huh,” Emma said and swallowed as she tried to re-start her heart which was pounding in shock, but also for a completely different reason. Regina looked beautiful. Her dark hair was smooth and shiny,
just brushing the top of her shoulders. She was wearing this black leather pencil skirt and a black turtleneck sweater. Even though her outfit was simple, it was elegant at the same time, and Emma silently wondered whether anyone had ever worn a pencil skirt and a turtleneck sweater that well before. And obviously, the brunette’s makeup was on point as well. Emma was first drawn to the way thick, black lashes framed Regina’s dark eyes perfectly, the way a soft, coffee brown eyeshadow with black eyeliner brought out Regina’s eyes. Perfect smoky eyes. And then she was drawn to the burgundy lipstick she had chosen today. Those perfect, slightly plump lips. Emma felt like an incredible weak person.

Regina raised a perfectly sculpted eyebrow, and Emma quickly forced herself to snap out of it.

“Hi,” the blonde said and tried not to sound too breathless. She flashed Regina a little smile.

Regina returned the smile and her gaze landed on the empty chair across the table.

“Sit down,” Emma said quickly.

Regina sat down and then she thrusted one hand inside her purse. Roamed around for a moment before she found what she was looking for.

Emma couldn’t help but smile when she saw what it was Regina had found in her purse. It was a small stack of post-it notes. Regina returned Emma’s smile, and then she slid an already written message
across the table for Emma to see. What was written on the post-it note made Emma smile again. ‘As you can see, I came prepared.’

“Yeah, I can see that,” Emma smiled. “Which was very clever. I think I lost my stack of post-its.”

Regina tilted her head slightly at that.

“It’s so typical me,” Emma continued and shook her head a little. “I constantly misplace things and throw them out by mistake.” Except for your messages. I’ve kept every single one of them. Not that she was ever planning on admitting that to Regina or anything.

Regina’s smile grew a bit more teasing at that, and Emma thought to herself that it was amazing, really. The things you could express with a smile.

“So, are you ready for some coffee?” Emma asked.

Regina nodded, scribbled on a post-it note and then slid the note across the table. ‘Yes, that sounds great. I didn’t have any coffee this morning.’

“We should order then,” Emma said briskly as she looked around in the restaurant. Eugenia wasn’t there. She was probably still in the kitchen. As opposed to walking up to the counter and pressing the little bell, Emma settled for calling: “hey, Eugenia?”

“Yes?” came the response from the kitchen. “I’ll be right there, miss Swan.”

“Just Emma,” called back and suppressed the urge to both laugh and roll her eyes. Why was it that everyone insisted on calling her miss Swan? It made her feel as though she was someone fancy. But she supposed it was nice too in a way. Here in Steveston she was miss Swan. Not miss Blanchard-Nolan. She was simply Emma Swan. The freshest start ever.

There was a bit of scuffling, the sound of water running, hands being washed most likely, and then Eugenia emerged from the kitchen. Emma could see that she was ready to ask the familiar “what can I do for you”-question, but then the grey-haired woman spotted Regina, and her face lit up in a smile. “Regina,” she said. “I didn’t know you were coming today.” She sounded every bit like a scolding grandmother when she said it.

Regina just smiled and shrugged.

“Now, what can I do for you two?” Eugenia asked, still smiling warmly at Regina.

“We’d like some coffee,” Emma said and then glanced at Regina. “Right?”

Regina nodded in affirmative.

“Two coffees please,” Emma said and glanced at Regina again. “I’ve forgotten if you use milk or sugar?”

Regina just looked at Eugenia.

“No milk, two sugars,” Eugenia said and put her hand lightly on Regina’s shoulder. “I’ve known how she likes her coffee for years. Isn’t that right, Regina?”

Regina nodded and flashed the elderly woman a little smile. A slightly more different one from the one she had flashed Emma a moment ago. Even though the difference was barely there, Emma quickly picked up on it, and she raised an eyebrow. But now Eugenia was looking at her

“Both milk and sugar for me,” Emma said. “Three sugars and lots of milk.”

“So cappuccino?” Eugenia quipped.

“Almost,” Emma said with a snicker.

Eugenia chuckled and her gaze lingered on the stack of post-it notes for a moment. “I’ll find that for you. Won’t be a moment.”

Emma thanked her and Regina smiled. Eugenia had been right in her statement. It didn’t take much more than a moment before the elderly woman returned with two cups of coffee. “One for you, and one
for you,” she said as she placed the cup of coffee in front of Regina. “You just let me know if you need anything else.” It was said with so much warmth, and she patted Regina’s shoulder lightly before she turned around and disappeared back into the kitchen. The door slammed behind her, and the next second Emma heard music coming from the kitchen. Eugenia clearly liked music when she worked.

Regina looked at the closed door Eugenia had just disappeared through and frowned a bit.

“What?” Emma asked and took a sip of her coffee. She wanted to know what had caused the brunette to frown like that.

Regina shrugged, but when Emma asked “what” a second time, the brunette grabbed a new post-it note, scribbled and then slid it across the table for Emma to read. Which Emma immediately did: ‘it’s probably nothing. I’m just being paranoid.’

“Try me,” Emma said. “I’m the mistress of paranoia.”

That elicited a smile and a headshake from Regina, and then she scribbled underneath the first message. Emma took a sip of her coffee and then read the new message: ‘Did it seem to you like she felt sorry for me?’

Now Emma was the one to frown as she considered the question. The warmth in Eugenia’s voice. The way she had looked at Regina. Her smile that oozed with tenderness. The hand on Regina’s shoulder. The way the grey-haired woman had looked at the stack of post-its for just a moment too long.

“I don’t know. Maybe,” Emma said truthfully, because she wasn’t interested in lying to Regina.

Regina nodded and then found a new post-it note. She scribbled for a moment and then gave Emma the note. ‘Sometimes it can be hard to figure out whether people are just being nice or if they feel sorry for me.’

“I can understand that,” Emma nodded. She really, really could.

Regina shrugged and then scribbled quickly underneath the message. Emma was quick to bow her head over the message: ‘I think that’s one of the reasons why I find it so easy to be around you. You didn’t know me before. You only know this version of me.’

Emma felt warm. Regina found it easy to be around her. If that’s not a compliment, I don’t know what it. She looked up again just in time to see Regina find another post-it in the stack, scribble and then slide it over to Emma. ‘But enough about me... How are you? Do you like Steveston so far? Have you made any new friends? You’re starting at Dragon Publishing tomorrow, right? How do you feel about that?’

Emma chuckled. Normally she wasn’t one to like to be bombarded with questions, but this was different. “I really like it here,” the blonde said. “It’s a beautiful little town. I’ve taken so many pictures of the harbor already, and I’m planning on trying The Rabbit Hole’s drinks this weekend. Or the next.”

Regina smiled, scribbled underneath: ‘just be careful with the Poison Apple drink. That’s a nasty one. Gives quite the headache.’

Emma chuckled. “I’ll bear that in mind when I order. As for friends... I’ve talked some with Isabelle Gold, and she seems really sweet. And Sheriff Graham too.”

Regina nodded eagerly, and Emma took that as confirmation. “So yeah, my first two weeks here has been really great,” the blonde continued and then lowered her voice ever so slightly: “but I think someone might be slightly.... interested in me.”

Regina raised an eyebrow and scribbled underneath: ‘care to elaborate on that?’

“Sure,” Emma said and took another sip of her coffee. She continued to speak quietly as she said: “Ruby. I think she might be getting a thing about me.”

Regina’s lips formed a silent “oh”.

“Yeah,” Emma said and carefully studied Regina’s face. There. I’ve made the first towards telling her that I date women. Move made.

But Regina’s face didn’t reveal anything as she grabbed a new post-it and scribbled. Soon Emma was presented with a new response: ‘well, Ruby is a very nice girl.’

“Yeah she is,” Emma immediately agreed. “But I don’t think she’s... my type.” That was actually ridiculous, because under normal circumstances Ruby was exactly Emma’s type. Long-legged. Brunette. Perky and outgoing. Everything Emma appreciated.

“I suppose I ought to have a little chat with her before it gets out of hand,” Emma continued and once again studied Regina’s face. “I don’t wanna give her false hope or anything.”

Regina nodded slowly and then scribbled and underneath the other message. Emma tilted her head slightly so she could read: ‘that’s probably a good idea. But knowing Ruby, everything will be fine. She takes everything quite lightly.’

“Good,” Emma said. “I’m glad this won’t break her heart or anything.”

Regina offered a smile and a headshake as though she was assuring Emma that Ruby’s heart would be just fine. Then she found a new post-it and began scribbling a new message. A longer message.

Emma managed to take five sips of her coffee before the message was slid across the table. ‘Are you looking forward to start working at Dragon Publishing tomorrow?’

“Yeah, definitely,” Emma said and tried to quell her disappointment over that they seemingly were done talking about dating now. “Malena seems very nice if a bit...”

Regina quickly scribbled underneath and Emma chuckled when she read. ‘eccentric? Intimidating?’

“Fond of dragons,” Emma landed on. “I’ve never seen so many dragon statues and figures before.”

Regina smiled and her dark eyes gleamed with amusement as she scribbled, and the next second Emma chuckled as she read: ‘if she could transform into a dragon herself, she would.’

“Yeah, I’m sure she would,” Emma nodded. “Seriously, I’ve never seen so many dragons in one room.”

Regina shook her head in amusement as she lifted her cup of coffee and took a sip.

“I also saw the one you gave her,” Emma continued. “It was very nice.”

Regina shrugged lightly at that and took another sip of her coffee.

“She talked about you,” Emma said, silently wondering if she was moving towards private territory.

Regina raised an eyebrow, tore off a new post-it note, scribbled quickly and then gave Emma the note. ‘What did she say?’

“She just asked how we met, and I told her that we met during the train ride from Toronto to Vancouver, and then she asked if you were staying permanently in Vancouver, and I said yes,” Emma quickly
summarized, nearly stumbling over the words. “I hope I didn’t say something wrong to her.”

But Regina shook her head and smiled reassuringly. Then she grabbed the pencil again, and Emma felt utterly relieved when she read: ‘You didn’t. Not at all. Don’t worry.’

“She was happy to hear about you,” Emma dared saying. “She said it had been a while since she last saw you.”

Regina nodded and then wrote underneath the reassuring words. After a moment the post it note was filled with words for Emma to read: ‘it has. Quite a while, actually. I know I should reach out to her,
but it’s so difficult. I haven’t seen her since before it happened. Everything is so different now.’

Emma’s gaze snapped up to Regina’s dark eyes. It. Since it happened. “Your accident?” the blonde dared asking and made sure her voice was gentle yet not showing any pity.

Regina nodded and her fingers moved up to touch her throat. It didn’t even seem like she was thinking about it. It was an unconscious gesture.

“I understand,” Emma said and nodded slightly. She couldn’t imagine how difficult it had to be, reconnecting with someone you had known before everything changed. Before you had changed. How did you even do that? How did you pick up where you had left of? Before your entire life changed drastically.

Emma blinked. She had been so busy following her own train of thoughts she hadn’t noticed the post-it on the table. But now she snapped out of it and bowed her head slightly to read the new message: ‘Vocal cord paralysis. That’s what it’s called.’

“Vocal cord paralysis,” Emma repeated quietly.

Regina nodded a little.

Vocal cord paralysis. Emma hadn’t stumbled upon that during her google search, but now she reminded herself to google it later. She wanted to learn more about it. She wanted to learn more about Regina.

But she sensed that more talk about Regina’s missing voice wasn’t on the table right now. She didn’t want to upset the brunette, so she moved on to other topics and asked: “how is your fairytale loving son doing?”

Regina visibly perked up at that and found a blank post-it note to scribble on. And boy, did she scribble fast! Emma only managed one mouthful of coffee before Regina pushed a new message towards her: ‘He’s doing well, thank you. He’s very happy that I’m home, but he keeps talking about wanting to live a different place where it’s just the two of us. I have a feeling he wants me all to himself.’

“You guys don’t live alone?” Emma asked curiously.

Regina shook her head and then scribbled on a new post-it. The pile was thinning rapidly, and Emma leaned forward to read the new message: ‘no, we’re currently living at my sisters place.’

Her sisters place? Emma found that to be very interesting. Regina lived with her sister. Not a spouse or a boyfriend. Emma blinked when she realized that a new message had been written underneath the first one: ‘To be honest, I think he wants a bigger room, too.’

Emma chuckled. “Let me guess... he wants his room to look like a pirate’s ship?”

Regina tore another post-it note off the stack and then scribbled. Emma sipped more of her coffee now. It was lukewarm now. She had been more focused on talking than drinking her coffee. But that didn’t matter. Nothing mattered when Regina slipped her another note. Emma was quick to read it: ‘to be honest, I think he’d be happy as long as he gets a bunk bed. That’s the only thing he ever talks about when he speaks about his future room. Always a bunk bed.’

Emma snickered softly at that. “Bunk bed, huh? I think I would have loved that when I was his age.”

Regina tilted her head in curiosity, clearly encouraging Emma to tell her more.

And so Emma did. “I had this horrible, princess-y pink bedroom with flower decorations, canopy bed and ruffles and shit everywhere. It was awful. The walls were bubblegum colored, the carpet on the
floor was pink, and the curtains were these long flowy things with flower prints all over. And my bed was obviously shaped as Cinderella’s carriage.”

Regina raised an eyebrow questioningly, and Emma couldn’t actually blame her. Because to someone who didn’t know, this sounded completely idyllic. The perfect room for a little girl.

“I was forced to have that room until I was fourteen,” Emma revealed and sighed. “My adoptive mother refused to change anything about it, and she kept asking me why I never had any friends coming over. She didn’t understand that I was embarrassed over my room. Or maybe she did, but she definitely didn’t want to hear about it.”

Now Regina was frowning.

“Well, let’s just say, the princess room met its demise when I went crazy and spray painted the walls black,” Emma said with a hoarse chuckle. “My adoptive mother was furious and screamed at me. She thought that I’d had a psychotic episode or something like that. I remember that I yelled back at her that I hadn’t, I just couldn’t stand being stuck with a princess room anymore.”

By now Regina actually looked deeply concerned.

Emma shrugged, tried to amend a bit: “my adoptive mother is... very difficult to be around. She doesn’t really understand what boundaries means. She sort of... holds on too tightly on the people she loves. Does that make any sense to you?”

Regina nodded and scribbled quickly, showing the message to Emma. ‘Yes, it does.’

Emma nodded but then realized something: “I’ve just been rambling on about myself, haven’t I? We were talking about your son. How old is he?”

Regina’s lips curled up in a smile when her son was mentioned, and soon she was scribbling eagerly. While she did that, Emma downed the rest of her coffee, and by the time she had swallowed the last mouthful, Regina slid a new message across the table for the blonde to read: ‘he just turned ten last month. He’s growing up way too fast.’

Emma chuckled and carefully saved this new information. Henry was ten years old. She glanced discreetly at Regina. What was she, thirty four? Thirty five. If Emma’s calculations were just a bit correct,
Regina had had Henry when she was in her mid-twenties. Mid-twenties. Emma considered that. Didn’t most people meet their spouse when they were in their mid-twenties? Emma had a vague memory of having read that somewhere.

“And where’s he hanging out while you’re here?” she asked casually. At his dad’s maybe?

Regina was quick to scribble underneath, and she had barely removed the pencil before Emma bowed her head to read: ‘my sister isn’t working today. She’ll pick him up from school.’

“Oh, okay,” Emma said as she carefully stored that information. Maybe she didn’t have a direct confirmation yet, but it seemed very much like Regina was a single mother.

Regina flashed another little smile and took a sip of her coffee. Emma noted that she grimaced ever so slightly as she swallowed the beverage.

But Emma was not about to stare or fuss. She had a very clear feeling that Regina wouldn’t want that. So instead the blonde looked at the table. The post-its notes were piling up rapidly. In fact the table was barely visible anymore.

“Does this bother you?” Emma bursted out.

Regina raised an eyebrow in confusion.

Emma blushed slightly as she clarified: “I saw you used sign language with your sister and your son, and I thought that it might bother you. You know, not being able to communicate like that with me?”

All trace of confusion disappeared from Regina’s face as she shook her head, grabbed a new post-it note and then began scribbling.

Emma waited and felt a little dumb for having asked Regina such a question, but before she could get the chance to blame herself further, she was presented with another note. Emma pushed a stray curl behind her ear as she leaned in slightly and read the note: ‘no, not at all. I quite enjoy this way of communicating with you. Writing my answers down is nice, and to be perfectly honest, my son is actually so much better at understanding sign language than I am at using it.’

Emma nodded and stored this information away as well. This could very well mean that Regina’s accident had happened very recently.

“Well, I definitely think that these post-its makes for a nice tablecloth,” Emma quipped.

Regina smiled, and the sight went straight to Emma’s belly. God she was beautiful when she smiled. And not smiled. Really, who was she kidding. Regina was beautiful all the time.

Emma was pulled out of her thoughts when another note was given to her. ‘Have you stopped by the garage yet?’

“I’ve swung by a few times,” Emma replied. “And I’ve actually seen a car I might buy. It’s this little yellow bug. It’s adorable. And cheap.”

Regina seemed amused again.

“What?” Emma asked, challenging the brunette a bit. “You don’t like yellow bugs?”

Regina smiled, shook her head and then wrote underneath: ‘quite the contrary. I can’t imagine a car more suitable for you.’

Emma chuckled. “I’m really glad you think so. When I lived in Toronto, I was driving this amazing bright green Volkswagen. It was amazing. A rusty old thing from the sixties, and Lily kept going on and on about how it wasn’t a proper car. Whatever the hell that means. She was sometimes very opinionated.”

Regina frowned a bit and then wrote a underneath her previous reply to Emma. ‘Well, I don’t see why she should decide which vehicle you drove.’

Emma almost chuckled. Vehicle. “Well, I suppose she kinda had a right to,” the blonde said. “She often borrowed the car when she was driving to work.”

Regina nodded in an “oh I see”-manner and then tore another post-it note off the stack to write down her next comment.

Emma was beginning to feel a bit peckerish, but she decided to wait until she had seen what Regina was writing for her. And it didn’t take long before another post-it note was pushed across the table
towards her. ‘Lily was your roommate? Couldn’t she just use her own car?’

“Actually, Lily was my girlfriend,” Emma corrected. “We lived together.”

Regina nodded again.

“We were together for two years, and then she broke it off. Just like that,” Emma said before she could get the chance to stop herself. This was bordering on oversharing, but Emma couldn’t help it. There was just something about Regina that made Emma blurt out random stuff. The blonde felt her cheeks heat up. She honestly hadn’t meant to say that.

But it was too late to take it back, and then another note was pushed towards her. ‘I’m sorry to hear that, Emma.’

“Yeah, well,” Emma said and shrugged lightly. “It is what it is, right? Life. One moment you’re dating someone, and then you’re not.” Oh, Jesus Christ! You sound like a grandmother. Stop talking for fucks sake!

But Regina didn’t seem to think Emma sounded like a grandmother. The brunette nodded seriously, and then another note was slid towards Emma.

The blonde bowed her head, allowing her golden curls to hide her pink cheeks for a moment as she read the note. ‘You’re quite right about that. The world of dating can be a bit of a battlefield.’

Did that mean that Regina wasn’t dating anyone at the moment? It certainly seemed like it. Very much in fact. God, how she wanted to ask Regina! She was practically itching to ask the brunette if she was seeing anyone. The question was almost burning on Emma’s tongue, and she was just about to open her mouth and say something real stupid when she saw Regina’s dark eyes flicker towards the door, and only now Emma realized how long they had talked. Oh, shoot. I didn’t even realize. Maybe Regina had plans for the rest of the day. Emma felt a twinge of disappointment but choked it back and flashed Regina a smile instead. “This has been really nice.”

Regina nodded as she wrote another note and then gave it to Emma: ‘it has, but I’m afraid I have to be off now.’

“Of course,” Emma said and tried to act as though she wasn’t terribly disappointed that Regina had to leave. “It was nice of you to drive here to have coffee with me.”

Regina offered another slight nod and a smile as she rose from her seat.

Emma got on her feet as well and watched as Regina gathered the remaining post-its, stuffed them into her purse, and then slung the purse elegantly over her shoulder. She flashed Emma a little smile and then she headed towards the door.

“Are you coming to Steveston again? It would be really nice to have coffee with you again sometimes.” Emma exclaimed, saying things that should have been said with a bit more subtility than that.

Regina turned around, roamed in her purse, and Emma immediately felt a bit bad when she realized tha the brunette was searching for the post-its and pencil. I should obviously have asked her that when she still had the notes and pencil nearby. Duh.

But Regina seemed unbothered by Emma’s inconvenient question. She found her phone instead of the notes and pencil, and soon she was tapping away on the screen.

Emma shifted a bit. She still felt a bit bad about her timing, but then Regina turned the phone screen towards her, and Emma read the message: ‘I wouldn’t mind stopping by for coffee again, but I’m afraid I’ll be quite busy for the next few weeks.’

“Oh. Okay,” Emma said, quelling that ridiculous disappointment that was currently seeping through her body.

Then Regina was tapping away on her phone, and she was smiling a little when she turned the screen towards Emma.

And Emma was most definitely grinning when she read the message written on the phone screen: ‘but you have my number, so feel free to text me whenever you want to. I’d love to hear more about how you settle in with your new job. And whether you decide to buy the yellow bug or not.’

“Sure,” Emma said, and her cheeks were beginning to hurt slightly from smiling. “I’ll keep you updated.”

Regina returned the smile and then her gaze flickered towards the door again.

“Say hi to your smart son for me?” Emma asked almost shyly. Talking about Henry made her feel a bit awkward.

But she earned herself another beautiful smile at that, and another nod.

“Cool. I’ll just... see you around?” Emma said.

A confirmation smile. Another nod. Plump lips silently formed the word “goodbye”. Regina gave her shoulder the faintest of touches and then she turned around and headed towards the door.

This time, Emma let her go. She didn’t like seeing Regina walk away, but then again, she didn’t really have a choice. She sighed a little as she watched Regina open the door and then disappear out on the street. Regina was gonna be busy for the next few weeks. That was really a bummer.

But.... she wanted Emma to keep texting her. She wanted updates on Emma’s life.

The blonde grinned as she threw some money on the counter for Eugenia and then turned around to return to her room. Regina wanted regular updates on her life. That was something. Something that made Emma feel utterly hopeful.

 

 

 

 

To Be Continued............