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To Hear Her Voice In The Silence

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A date. An actual date with Regina.

Emma was still marveling at how those three words could make her heart thud like that. Date. With. Regina. Magic words. Magic, wonderful words!

The blonde was more soaring than walking as she crossed the street and returned to Eugenia’s Inn. The restaurant was empty. People were still out and celebrating the harvest festival. There was still a bit of fireworks left, and Emma could hear the faint popping sounds coming from it as she walked up the stairs towards her room. She pushed the door open and went inside. She knew that she had work tomorrow and the most sensible thing to do would be to get some sleep right now, but she honestly wasn’t sure she could go to sleep right now. Not when she was buzzing with excitement like this. God everything had gone so well! Emma could barely believe that it was true. She hadn’t said anything stupid or put her foot in her mouth. She hadn’t messed up. Neither with Regina nor with Henry. It seemed as though the kid genuinely liked her, and Emma marveled at that too. He had accepted her. Just like that. Seeing him and Regina together had definitely been one of the sweetest moments in Emma’s life.

The connection between mother and son and how they communicated had been such a pure thing to watch. To be perfectly honest, the fact that Regina was a mother just made her even more attractive to Emma. Regina was a “real” adult. A sophisticated woman who had her shit together. And an absolutely beautiful woman too. The coat she had been wearing tonight had made her look like something straight out of a noir movie from the forties. Emma sighed a little, and the sound was definitely yearning. She wasn’t even embarrassed over it. She was allowed to yearn a little bit after Regina. At least when she was alone in her room. The blonde went over to the dresser and found a long t-shirt and her usual pair of sweatpants. She doubted she would be able to sleep, but she would at least try and give it a shot. She quickly stripped out of her leatherjacket, dress and leggings. She shivered slightly as she traded her nudity for the sweatpants and t-shirt. It was cold tonight. Colder than it had been on her other nights here. Maybe it would even start snowing soon. That wouldn’t be so surprising. This was Canada after all.

Emma went into the bathroom to do her usual night routine, but she wasn’t all that there as she cleansed her face. It took her a second to realize that she was actually applying nail polish remover to her face and not her usual night cream. She cursed when she realized her mistake and then laughed a little to herself. Talk about being absentmindedly. Thinking about Regina was clearly dangerous. She wiped the nail polish remover away from her face, rinsed, dabbed and then carefully applied the right cream to her skin. There. That was better.

Once done in the bathroom, she padded back to the bedroom and slipped into bed. She flicked the little lamp standing on the bedside table off and then found her phone, using that as her only source of light. She felt really, really tempted to text Regina. Just to say goodnight. But Emma ignored the pressing urge. Maybe Regina wasn’t home yet. She couldn’t and shouldn’t text when she was driving. Or maybe she had made it home and was in the process of tucking Henry in. Emma didn’t want to interrupt their bedtime routine. So instead she texted Ella, and excitement was pouring from the words she sent to her friend: ‘harvest festival was a major success! I met her kid again, and I’m telling you, he’s awesome! And so is she, obviously. I finally asked her to go out with me, and she said yes! This is not a drill. She. Said. Yes!’

It seemed as though only seconds passed before a text arrived, and Emma immediately checked it: ‘oh my god, Swan! That’s awesome! When are you guys going out then?’

Emma grinned like the Cheshire cat as she texted back: ‘We’re going out next Saturday. I’m gonna take her to that Italian place I’ve told you about.’

Once again, the answer came fast. Ella was clearly not tired at all. ‘Italian, huh? And this comes from the queen of burgers. I’m impressed, Swan. You’ve really got it bad for this girl, haven’t you?’

Emma huffed slightly as she replied: ‘excuse me, she’s not a girl! She’s a woman. An actual, grown up, sophisticated woman. With a child. I’m going on a date with a woman who has a child. I feel so mature!’

She didn’t even get the chance to flip onto her back before the reply came: ‘does it intimidate you? That she has a child, I mean?’

Emma chewed on her bottom lip as she typed and texted send the text: ‘yeah, I mean. This is so new for me. I’ve never dated a woman who has a child before. But it’s more than that, Ells. She’s so... Well,
she’s everything I’m not, and I suppose I’m just surprised that she said yes to going out with me.’

She felt a little bit ridiculous now. She had just poured out all her insecurities to Ella. Emma hated flaunting her insecurities. Especially because she knew she had about a million of them. Hidden pockets of insecurities. Ever since she had been kicked out by Mary Margaret, Emma had worked very hard on “curing” those insecurities. Archie had been a great help, but to this day, Emma still had some insecurities, and even though it wasn’t often they came out to play, the blonde really hated when she was reminded of them.

Another text arrived, and Emma snapped out of her thoughts as she checked the message: ‘well, why wouldn’t she? Give yourself more credit, Swan. You’re smart. You’re funny. You look good. Maybe you guys are very different, but isn’t that sort of the point? Opposites attracts and all that.’

Emma chuckled as she replied: ‘yeah, well. Never mind me. I’m just freaking out because she said yes, and a part of me still can’t believe that tonight went so well!’

The blonde flipped onto her back and stared at the ceiling. She could feel her heart thud pleasantly in her chest. She had a date with Regina. She actually had a date with Regina. Her phone vibrated against the mattress, and Emma quickly grabbed it and checked the message: ‘Emma’s in love, Emma’s in love, Emma’s in luuuuuurve!’

The blonde laughed dryly at that as she began typing. Ella wasn’t entirely wrong about that. ‘Not gonna lie about that. She’s definitely the most incredible woman I’ve ever met. I have no idea how I’m gonna survive until next Saturday, though. It’s gonna be absolute torture.’

When Ella texted back, Emma could sense the amusement. ‘oh-uh, she better watch out! You’re completely smitten with her!’

Again, Emma didn’t deny that. ‘If being smitten was a crime, I’d be so much in jail right now. I’m telling you; her smile could end world wars!’

Ella responded with a series of laughing emojis, and Emma wasn’t even bothered by it. She was not about to downplay her feelings for Regina. She yawned a bit and stretched lazily as she absentmindedly scrolled through Instagram to see if anything new had happened. Nothing had. Or maybe it had. Emma couldn’t really focus on the picture. She was still much too focused on thinking about Regina. The blonde chuckled quietly to herself. Maybe she wouldn’t get any sleep whatsoever tonight. And maybe she didn’t even care about that. She switched from Instagram to Facebook. Emma had actually thought that her conversation with Ella had come to a natural end for the night, so she was pretty surprised when her phone suddenly vibrated in her hands. Actually so surprised she ended up dropping the phone. It landed on her face.

“Ow,” Emma muttered as she rubbed her forehead. That hurt. Her own fault, obviously. She should have known better than to lie with her phone like that. It was dangerous. Once she was done rubbing her forehead and her eyes had stopped watering because of the pain, Emma blinked and then checked the newest message from Ella: ‘is it difficult? I mean, communicating with her?’

Emma made sure to keep the phone within a safe distance of her face as she texted back: ‘not really, I mean it was a bit trickier tonight because she couldn’t write on post-its while we walked and having to find her phone every time she wanted to say something to me seemed so difficult, but everything worked out alright. She used sign language with her son, and he was really good at translating for me. But I’ve started to think about how nice it could be if she didn’t have to find her phone or write on post-its notes every time. Maybe I could learn to understand sign language. I think that would make things so much easier for her.’

Emma quickly made a reminder in her phone about swinging by the library on her way home from work tomorrow. She really wanted to look into the possibilities of learning sign language. Then her phone vibrated again, and this time Emma didn’t drop it onto her face. Instead she settled for reading the message: ‘has she told you more about why she can’t speak?’

Obviously, Emma began pondering about that very same mystery as she texted back: ‘No, she hasn’t. I know there was some sort of accident, and I know her condition is called “Vocal cord paralysis”, but that’s about it. I want to know more, but I’m not sure how much I can ask her. It’s weird, really. I feel like I really know her, but at the same time it’s like there’s still so many things I don’t know about her. And while I really want to ask her, I’m afraid to do at the same time. An accident that cost her her voice has to be pretty traumatic, right? I don’t wanna remind her of what happened and make her upset.’

Emma chewed on her bottom lip. The ever-present mystery. What happened to Regina? Which accident robbed her of her voice? What really happened?

Her phone beeped again, and Emma was actually starting to feel a bit sleepy as she checked the message: ‘maybe you won’t have to. Maybe she’ll you herself eventually.’

Emma nodded as she typed back: ‘yeah, that’s what I’m hoping for.’ she yawned loudly as she added: ‘but it’s getting late and I have to be up early tomorrow, so I think I better get some shuteye.’

Another message immediately appeared on the screen: ‘sounds like a good idea. I’m about to head to bed myself. I’m opening the diner early tomorrow. Ingrid’s order. That bitch. Sleep well, Swan.’

Emma chuckled as she typed: ‘goodnight’ and then plugged the charger into her phone. She wanted it to be fully charged for tomorrow. Then she flipped onto her side and pulled the covers over herself.

She was finally starting to feel sleepy. And that was a good thing. She had a new manuscript to edit tomorrow, and she wanted to be well rested for it. She chuckled a little. It was still a little strange, feeling so excited at the prospect of going to work. It still felt surreal to actually love her job. As did it feel surreal to know that she had a date with Regina next Saturday. A date with a beautiful woman, and a job she loved. Emma was definitely on the road to happiness. At least that was how it felt, and Emma was more than willing to believe it. After everything
she had been through in her life, this had to be the fresh start she had yearned after for so long.

Emma fell asleep with a smile on her lips.

 

*****************************

 

She woke up bleary eyed but happy. Today was a new day. Emma hopped out of bed and opened the dresser to find some clothes. She opted for a pair of jeans and a tanktop and a button down over it.

She had been relieved to find out that Malena Fiammetta didn’t give a damn about dress code when it came to her employees. The only one who had to look relatively “sharp” was Ursula because she worked at the front desk.

Emma went into the bathroom to take a quick shower. Once that was over, she gave her hair a quick brushing and then tied it back in a ponytail. That was the only hairstyle she could come up with this morning. She quickly toweled herself off and then put on her clothes. She had just buttoned the last button in the flannel shirt she had decided to wear over the tanktop, when she heard a faint scratching sound against the wooden dresser. Someone had just send her text. Emma forced herself to put on mascara and eyeliner before storming into the bedroom and checking the message. She actually had places to be today, and she hadn’t even had breakfast yet. She couldn’t allow herself to “get stuck” by her phone before any other important task had been taken care of. She also forced herself to concentrate as she carefully applied mascara to her lashes. Poking herself in the eye and going blind wasn’t on the schedule for today.

But as soon as she finished putting on eyeliner (and succeeding in making a cat eye) she didn’t want to put it off any longer. She rushed inside the bedroom and grabbed her phone. And it soon turned out that rushing had been entirely worth it. Emma grinned broadly as she read the message: ‘thank you for last night. Henry and I had a wonderful time. He hasn’t stopped talking about the Ferris wheel since. In fact he had trouble going to sleep because he was so happy and excited. And dozed up on greasy, sugary food.’

Emma’s grin widened as she texted back: ‘I had an awesome time too last night! And let’s be honest, having trouble sleeping because of excitement and an overdose of greasy food is better than having trouble sleeping because of night terrors, am I right?’

The response came quickly: ‘indeed so. Last night was delightfully free of night terrors. I believe that’s your doing, so thank you for having made his night a bit more peaceful.’

Emma flushed a bit at that as she typed: ‘no need to thank me. I’m just happy he had such a good time last night. He’s a very sweet kid.’

Regina’s response to that was a short one: ‘that we can only agree on.’

Emma chuckled a bit at that. She wanted to text more. She wanted to ask Regina what she was doing this morning, but she still hadn’t had breakfast. Meaning that she had to get a move on. Otherwise she would end up being late for work. And Malena probably wouldn’t be too happy about that. Ergo she would have to wait to text Regina. Unfortunately. Emma silently complained that as she slipped the phone into the pocket of her jeans and then left her room.

Downstairs she was greeted by a smiling Ruby who said: “The usual?”

“Yep,” Emma confirmed. “The usual” was a cup of hot chocolate and a bear claw. Emma always needed a bit of a sugar boost to wake up properly in the morning.

“Morning,” Ruby said briskly as she handed Emma her usual bear claw. “Your cocoa will be here in a sec.”

“Sounds perfect.” Emma took a bite of the bear claw. It was perfect.

“So, did my eyes deceive me, or did I spot you with Regina and Henry last night?” Ruby asked nonchalantly.

Emma rolled her eyes a bit. She hadn’t exactly expected Ruby to be watching her. “You did.”

Ruby grinned a little. “She looked happy. Regina, I mean.”

“I think she was,” Emma replied. “I mean, I hope she was.”

Ruby snickered, and her eyes gleamed as she said: “so there’s the reason you didn’t want to go to the harvest festival with me.”

Emma choked slightly on the bite of bear claw. “Uhh...”

Ruby laughed heartedly. “Relax, Ems. I’m just joking. I’m glad you made her smile. She deserves that.”

Emma glanced at the waitress. “So you’re...”

“Positively crushed,” Ruby deadpanned, but quirked an eyebrow at the same time. “Seriously, I’m pretty sure you’ve broken my heart, Ems.”

Emma chuckled a bit. “Sorry?”

Ruby laughed. “I’m sure I’ll get over it. Especially because I’ve heard that Dorothy from the hardware store is single.”

Emma chuckled again. She was relieved that there were no hard feelings between her and Ruby. Emma didn’t want to cause trouble anywhere. She just wanted a calm, peaceful life in Steveston. And it definitely looked like she was on the road to get just that.

Emma got her cup of cocoa and she smiled at Ruby and thanked her. The waitress wasted no time in asking Emma whether she was going to see Regina. Emma gave a vague answer, but Ruby rolled her eyes. She wasn’t satisfied with that.

“Oh come on,” she said coaxingly. “We’re friends.”

“Are we?” Emma teased lightly and took a sip of her cocoa.

“Sure we are,” Ruby said firmly. “Now tell me about you and Regina. Is she coming to Steveston again anytime soon? I’ve missed hanging out with her.”

“Have you known her for a long time?” Emma asked. She felt a little ridiculous. It seemed as though she asked everyone about Regina. Except for Regina herself.

“Yeah,” Ruby said. “As I mentioned, she used to come here on holiday with Henry. He was just a teeny tiny thing the first time she brought him here.”

Emma took another sip of her cocoa, tried to be nonchalant when she asked: “when did she stop coming here on holiday, then?”

“Hmm, her visits started to become infrequent around two years ago,” Ruby said as she grabbed a cloth and started wiping the table next to Emma’s. “And then she stopped visiting all together after...”
the waitress tapped her throat knowingly.

“The accident,” Emma mumbled.

“Uh-huh,” Ruby said. “My gran cried when she heard what had happened to her.”

“What DID happen to her?” Emma blurted out before she could stop herself.

Ruby stopped with the cloth still in her hand. “I don’t know,” she said slowly. “I don’t think anyone does, to be honest. But I’ve always assumed it was some freak car accident or something like that.”

Emma took another sip of cocoa and considered it. A freak car accident? Yes, she supposed that was possible. She sat the cup down and took another bite of her bear claw. It was like the more things she heard about Regina, the more the mystery deepened. Every new information just added another piece to the puzzle. No clarity.

Emma briefly looked at the big clock on the wall. She needed to get a move on now. She didn’t want to be late. And that meant no more small talk. Not even about Regina.

Emma flashed Ruby another smile and then she drank her cocoa as fast as possible. Without burning her throat in the process. She did manage to choke slightly on the bear claw though. She coughed and cleared her throat.

Ruby chuckled. “Careful, Ems.”

“I don’t have time to be careful,” Emma joked as she ate the last of the bear claw.

 

Emma made it to Dragon Publishing and stepped into the circular room where everyone just sort of hung out and had their morning coffee before starting todays work.

“Good morning,” Ursula greeted as she spotted Emma.

“Good morning,” Emma said and flashed Ursula a smile. Sometimes Ursula could be even more intimidating than Malena herself, but today Ursula returned Emma’s smile. She was clearly in a relatively
good mood.

Emma settled down in one of the chairs and did what everyone else did. Waited for Malena to come into the room and lay out today’s tasks.

It didn’t take long before August came into the room with Tamara. Emma liked August. She wasn’t as sure about Tamara. She couldn’t quite figure out whether the dark haired woman was extremely shy or simply had a general dislike towards everyone.

“Morning, Swanny,” August greeted.

“Good morning, August,” Emma said and almost rolled her eyes. August had almost immediately started to call her “Swanny”. Always that.

“I’ve just heard that Victoria De Villiers is coming by in a few weeks to work on the cover for her new book!” August said.

“Seriously?” Emma said excitedly. She would definitely make sure to hang out near Malena’s office then.

“We’ve only waited forever for her next book,” August deadpanned. “You know what? We should go out and celebrate it.”

“You think so?” Emma said, quelling a chuckle. To August, life was a party, and everything should and would be celebrated. Preferably with a drink or two.

“Hell yes,” August said. “All of us. Drinks on me. Next Saturday. You in?”

“Actually, I’m not,” Emma said.

August raised an eyebrow. “Why the hell not?”

“I have a date,” Emma said truthfully.

August grinned. “With who?”

“Wouldn’t you like to know,” Emma teased.

“Anyone I know?” August continued and glanced around in the circular room. His eyes quickly landed on Merida, one of the production editors.

Emma scoffed. “No, August. I’m not going out with Merida. We’re not even allowed to date our co-workers, remember?”

“Who then? Ruby?” he asked, never losing the grin.

“Nope,” Emma said and shook her head. “We’re just friends.”

“Alright. Who is it then?”

“You’ll never find out,” Emma teased.

“Come on, Swanny! Just give me a hint!”

“No way,” Emma said. “I’m not gonna tell you, so you might as well stop-“

“Ahem!”

Everyone looked up. Malena had quietly entered the room, and she looked mildly irritated as she stood there with her arms crossed.

“If everyone is done discussing private matters, perhaps we can get started?” she drawled. She just looked at though the fact that her employees were discussing their private life after their workday had started was just mildly inconvenient to her.

Emma almost chuckled. This was one of the many reasons why she liked Malena. She never got overly angry or annoyed at her employees. It seemed as though it would take a minor disaster to agitate
her.

“Excellent,” the older blonde drawled once the room was silent. “Nice to know that I have everyone’s attention. Now Mr. Booth, are you planning on pestering miss Swan with questions throughout the day?”

“Ugh...” August flushed a little but was cheeky enough to say: “no ma’am.”

Malena narrowed her eyes at him. “Excuse me, what did you say?”

“Nothing,” August quickly proclaimed and grinned.

“I hope not. Because that would have been enough reason for me to fire you,” Malena said silkily.

August mock gulped at that.

But Malena looked ever so satisfied. “Now... I believe we have a busy day ahead of us. Miss Bow, how are things coming along for you?”

“Just fine, Malena,” Merida said in her sweet, Scottish accent.

“Excellent,” Malena said and then turned to Tamara. “And you are still working on that cover, aren’t you, Tamara?”

“Yes, Malena,” Tamara confirmed.

Malena continued to ask everyone about their progress, and she still looked mock threateningly as she looked at August. “And Mr. Booth, you have a meeting at nine, isn’t that correct?”

August quickly confirmed that.

“And are you prepared for that?” Malena asked.

“Yes, Malena.”

“Very good,” Malena said satisfied and then finally turned to Emma: “and miss Swan, you’re still in the process of editing, aren’t you?”

“I am,” Emma nodded. “But I’m counting on finishing it today.”

“Good. I have another manuscript that needs proofreading,” Malena said lightly. “Alright everyone. Let’s get started. Miss Clearwater, if you could follow me.” with that the morning “briefing” was over with, and Malena left with Ursula trailing behind her.

 

Emma was hauled up in her little “not quite permanent”-office for most of the morning. Her neck and back was suffering under it, but she was more than capable of ignoring it. She had finished editing and was now in the process of proofreading another manuscript. This time it was a dark fairytale about an “evil” forest who made people vanish. It was a very interesting story, and Emma was completely consumed by it.

At least she was until August stopped by her office and asked if she wanted another cup of coffee.

“Yeah, thanks. That would be great,” Emma said and flashed him a smile.

“Late night?” he asked nonchalantly.

Emma rolled her eyes. “Yeah, but not for the reasons you think, you creeper.”

August chuckled. “What did you do then?”

“I was at the town’s harvest festival,” Emma said truthfully. “And it was really nice.”

“That sounds nice. So, who are you going out with?” August asked nonchalantly.

Emma threw a napkin at him. “Would you stop it?”

He easily evaded her attack. “Is it the same girl you text every time you’re taking a break?”

“Yes. And she’s not a girl. She’s a woman,” Emma corrected.

August laughed at that. “A woman, huh?”

“Yep,” Emma said plainly.

“And why is it that you can’t tell your near and dear friend about her?” August asked. “I want to participate in your joy!”

Emma snorted. “That’s bull. You just want to scoop up some dirt. But you won’t get that from me.”

“Okay, okay, if I promise I won’t ask for anything else, can’t I at least get her name?” August coaxed.

Emma dramatically turned her eyes towards the ceiling. “Tell me, what did I do to deserve such an annoying co-worker?”

“Come on, Em,” August said and chuckled. “Please?”

“God, you’re annoying,” Emma said flatly.

“Just her name,” August coaxed. “If you tell me her name, I won’t ask anything else.”

Emma narrowed her eyes. “Is that a promise?”

“Absolutely,” August assured.

“And I shouldn’t be worried about your obsessive interest in my dating life?”

The dark-haired man chuckled. “No, you shouldn’t. I promise”

“Better be true,” Emma warned before saying. “Her name is Regina. Okay?”

“Regina,” August echoed. “That is a very pretty name. And for a pretty woman, I’m sure?”

“You’ve just broken your promise,” Emma said flatly.

“Right. I’m sorry. I’m done,” August said. But he wasn’t completely done, though. Not before he had said “Regina” one more time and sounded very much like he was tasting the name or something.

Emma rolled her eyes. She should never have told him anything.

“Regina,” August teased and grinned at her.

“Would you stop it, you moro-“

“Nice to see we’re all hard at work here.”

Both Emma and August looked up only to find Malena standing nonchalantly in the doorway. She gave August a stare that looked positively regal.

“Are you done questioning miss Swan now?” she asked dryly.

“Yeah,” August said awkwardly.

“And aren’t you supposed to be helping out Tamara?” Malena continued.

“Yes,” August admitted.

“Then. Go. And. Do. It,” Malena slowly enunciated.

“Yes,” August said quickly. “I’ll be on my way.” and with that he dashed out of the little office.

“Hmm,” Malena mused and looked at the door the man had just disappeared out of. “Perhaps I should fire him anyway.”

Emma chuckled before she could stop herself.

“I’d recommend you don’t engage in personal conversations with him, miss Swan. He’s like a dog with a bone,” Malena drawled and reached within the cupboard above the desk and found a stack of papers. The actual reason she came in here.

“Right. Got it,” Emma said.

Malena weighed the stack of papers in her hand and then looked at Emma. “Is she doing well?”

“Is who doing well?” Emma asked slightly confused.

“Regina,” Malena said lightly. “Is she doing well?”

“Oh, uhmm.... Yeah. She’s doing fine,” Emma said.

“Good,” Malena said, still completely nonchalantly. “I would ask you to give her my regards when you see her, but I suppose that would be kind of strange, wouldn’t it?”

“Uhh....” Emma said halfheartedly, unsure on how to finish that sentence.

Malena offered a slight chuckle. “I suppose that loosing contact with one of my dearest friends has affected me more than I thought it would. Anyway, don’t tell her that I said that. I wouldn’t want her to think that I’ve gone soft. That would be a disaster.”

Emma tilted her head curiously. Malena had spoken with her usual drawl. Nothing about it indicated that Malena was still thinking about her old high school romance with Regina, but still, Emma kinda hoped that Malena would say more. Just something that would shed more light over her past relationship with Regina.

But Malena didn’t say anything. She simply flashed Emma a smile and then told her to “get back to work, please, miss Swan. Time is money”. Then she left, and Emma was alone in the office once more.

Alone to wonder about the teeny tiny hint of sadness she had detected in Malena’s voice. Alone to wonder why Regina seemingly had broken contact with everyone she once was close to. To Emma, it seemed as though the brunette had tried to wall herself off completely. Like she had been trying to hide from the world.

Emma went back to her desk and leaned back on her chair. That mystery. That goddamn mystery. Why was it that she kept stumbling over subtle hints all the time? It was like Regina was on everyone’s lips. It was like everyone asked themselves “What happened to Regina?”, and now Emma had become one of them. Perhaps the most passionate one of them. Emma wanted to uncover everything. She wanted to know everything there was to know about Regina Mills and the secrets she held.

People walking by outside her office brought Emma back to reality. She was at work right now. She couldn’t get lost in thoughts about Regina. That would have to wait.

She turned her attention back to the manuscript on the screen, but Regina Mills kept running around in her mind. How could the woman who had seemingly broken contact with everybody be the same woman who had smiled and enjoyed the harvest festival last night? It didn’t make any sense. Regina had seemed perfectly at ease last night. Emma chewed at her bottom lip. Then she shook her head slightly. This did not categorize as “working”. She had to pull herself together. After all, time was money. Malena wouldn’t appreciate if she spend her working day daydreaming about Regina instead of actually working.

Emma once again turned her attention back to the manuscript. And while she was actually reading this time, the sight of Regina smiling at her kept popping up every so often in her head. Emma sighed quietly. Regina had bewitched her. Plain and simple. There was no other explanation for it. Thoughts about what she should wear for her date with Regina entered Emma’s mind, and she ended up thinking about new dresses until she once again realized that she definitely wasn’t working. Then she cursed, scolded herself and finally continued to proofread the manuscript once and for all. And this time she didn’t allow herself to think about anything else besides work. She would probably pay for that later, though. This was a rather creepy story.

 

 

Time went fast.

Emma continued her work at Dragon Publishing. On a good day she could be in the middle of reading one manuscript while she was simultaneously editing another. And she thrived. Because she loved her job, but also because she and Regina texted each other almost every day. Emma absolutely loved that. She loved hearing about Regina’s day, even though Regina had more than once claimed that “this wasn’t interesting to hear about”. Emma didn’t care. She found everything Regina did interesting. She would happily have texted Regina all night longs, but there were nights where Regina went to bed early. Those were the nights were Emma put her work aside and studied the books about sign language she had borrowed at the library. Isabelle had been very helpful, and she had even pointed Emma in the direction of a woman who actually taught sign language. Emma wasn’t completely sure whether she would go there, though. She didn’t need to learn sign language, she just needed to understand it. It was definitely not easy, but Emma soldiered on and kept rifling through the books. Some nights she fell asleep with the book still splayed open.

And suddenly it was the night before her date with Regina.

Emma had no idea where the time had gone, but there was little she could do about it. She went to bed early that Friday night. She didn’t continue reading through the newest manuscript Malena had provided her with. She didn’t study sign language. Nor did she spend hours on her phone after she had switched the lights off. No, she simply did her bedtime routine, switched the lights off and then curled up under the covers. No excuses, no nothings. She was determined to fall asleep and be well rested for tomorrow. God forbid she should feel tired tomorrow night. Emma’s worst nightmare was to accidentally end up yawning while she and Regina were at the restaurant. That would be fucking awful.

And for once, Emma had absolutely no problem with going to sleep early. She was actually pretty tired. It had been a bit of a long week. She had been working hard, and it seemed as though the dark fairy tale about the forest she had read, was being published. Emma was rather excited about that, and she couldn’t wait to see what kind of cover and design they came up with. Something gothic, Emma hoped. That would really fit the style. Oh well, she wasn’t in charge of that.

Emma yawned. She was almost dozing off, but then she remembered that she had to set her alarm for tomorrow morning. She grumbled a bit as she scrambled for her phone, sat the alarm and then unmuted it. It didn’t help much to set the alarm if the phone was on mute. Then she curled up underneath the covers again. God, she was so comfortable. So. Freaking. Comfortable. Her room was nice and warm, and tomorrow she was gonna see Regina again. Emma smiled sleepily. She couldn’t wait. She had been looking forward to this for two weeks now. Hell, she had almost been counting down.

A small, content sigh escaped the blonde as she focused on how different parts of her body gradually started to relax. Her toes. Her feet. Her calfs. Her knees. Her thighs. Her abdomen. She could hear the soft thump-thump of her heart. Her breathing was completely relaxed. In and out, in and out. Her chest rose and fell softly, and her thoughts were starting to become more and more incoherent.

Pleasantly muddled. Her arms felt heavy.

And then the sound of her phone ringing shattered all thoughts about falling asleep. Emma cracked one eye open and cringed slightly at the loud sound. This was inconvenient. But not completely unheard of, unfortunately. It wasn’t that late.

Emma sighed as she reached out and scrabbled to get a hold of the phone. She let out a massive yawn as she glided a finger across the screen and then positioned the phone over her ear. “Emma Swan,” she said sleepily and without thinking much about it.

Silence.

“Hello?” Emma said and yawned into the phone before she could stop herself.

No answer. More silence.

Emma sighed. Great. Wonderful. She didn’t even bother saying hello again. She simply ended the call and put the phone back on the nightstand. If someone had accidentally called the wrong number, they could at least have had the curtsey to say so, damn it.

Oh, well. Emma curled up under the covers once more. It didn’t take her long to find back to that relaxed feeling. She was warm. Contend. In the softest bed possible. She had a date with a beautiful woman tomorrow night. Nothing could be better. She rolled on to her other side, pulling the covers with her. Her thoughts became incoherent again. Muddled. She couldn’t quite figure out whether she was still awake or dreaming when she saw Regina’s smile for her inner eye. Saw the way the brunette had waved at her and Henry on the Ferris wheel. That had been such a good evening. It felt as though
Emma was back on the Ferris wheel. But this time both Henry AND Regina were there. Henry was sitting between them and laughing as the Ferris wheel went round and round, and Regina kept holding on to Emma’s hand because she still was a little scared of heights. But the way Emma held her hand made everything better.

Henry laughed again, and it occurred to Emma that his laughter was turning a bit strange. A bit high pitched. Was he afraid? Was he scared? If he was scared, they should probably get off the Ferris wheel soon. Maybe they could have a corndog afterwards. And Regina could have some pie. Emma knew how much she loved pie.

Henry laughed again, and his laughter kept getting higher and higher until it was more of a screech than a laugh. The sound was unbearable....

Emma’s eyes snapped open. The sound continued. After a moment’s confusion, she finally realized that it was her phone ringing. Again. Emma cursed loudly as she sat up in bed and grabbed the phone.

The screen simply said, “unknown number”. Emma quickly swiped a finger over the screen and then brought the phone up to her ear again. “Yeah?!”

No answer. Just silence in the other end. Emma wasn’t even sure she could hear anyone breathing in the other end.

“Hello?!” she snapped as she briefly glanced at the clock radio. According to that she had only been asleep for a half an hour or so.

Still no answer. Just silence. But now Emma was half-certain that she could actually hear something in the other end. Some sort of rustling and bustling.

And finally the wheels started turning in her sleepy mind. “Mary Margaret?” Emma said plainly.

No answer.

Emma was loosing patience. “Mary Margaret, I know it’s you, okay? You need to stop calling me! I’m not interested in ever hearing from you again, got it?! If you try to contact me again, I’m calling the poli-”

Click. The call was ended before she could finish the sentence, and Emma actually didn’t mind that. “Fucking bitch!” she hissed as she put the phone down on the nightstand once more. Maybe not the most mature thing to call her adoptive mother, but Emma’s patience was wearing thin. She wanted to sleep. Tomorrow was gonna be a big day. She really didn’t have time for these petty interruptions.

Emma curled up underneath the covers again. She was asleep within minutes.

 

 

 

 

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