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To Hear Her Voice In The Silence

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Emma’s jaw clenched. Was this another of Mary Margaret’s attempts of control, stealing the messages from Regina? Had she found the messages and become enraged that Emma seemingly had gotten closer to someone?

Yeah, that could very well be it. Emma could still vividly remember what had happened when she had started dating Lily. Mary Margaret had been calling the blonde nonstop, spewing out lies about Lily and how “homosexuality was a sin”.

She could very well still be working from the same pattern. Emma’s hands balled into fists. Nicking her library card was one thing but stealing the messages from Regina was another thing. Those messages were important to Emma.

The question was, what was she supposed to do now? Did she call Graham? No, that seemed ridiculous. She couldn’t call him to report that she had her library card and a stack of post-it messages stolen.

That was ridiculous.

Emma rose from her kneeling position on the floor. The floorboards creaked a bit as she walked over to the window and lifted the blinds to look out. The only one she could see was Leroy, walking up and down the street. With his axe. That almost amused Emma for a second, but then more pressing matters overtook her thoughts. Emma was beginning to wonder what the hell Mary Margaret’s endgame was. What was she trying to accomplish? Emma couldn’t for the life of her figure that out. The break in, stealing her library card and the messages from Regina, what was the point with all that? To taunt Emma? To let her know that she never would escape Mary Margaret’s clutches no matter where she went?

Emma frowned. She supposed that could be it. But if that was the case, Mary Margaret had completely escalated. This made her completely unpredictable, and Emma realized that from now she wouldn’t be able to tell what Mary Margaret’s next move, and the blonde felt seriously creeped out by it. Maybe that was Mary Margaret’s endgame. To make her afraid. To taunt. “Look what I can do, I broke into your room, and there’s not a single thing you can do about it”

Emma released the blinds, and they fluttered back against the window with a slight “critch-critch”-sound. If that really was the case, Emma determined to not let her adoptive mother win. She refused to be afraid of Mary Margaret.

Emma walked back to her bed and sat down. She felt very, very tempted to A: call Mary Margaret and order her to leave her the hell alone, or B: call David and screech at him and ask him if he knew what his dear sweet wife was up to. If he didn’t, Emma was MORE than willing to fill him in.

Emma pursed her lips as she considered this new development. And then she marveled a little bit at herself. Throughout the week, she’d had the hunch that something had been removed from her room, and now it turned out that she was right. Damn, her hunches were pretty good.

The blonde sighed a little. First, she came home from her dinner date with Regina to find the door to her room open, and now this. Mary Margaret was definitely aiming for destroying Emma’s happiness.

The blonde sighed again as she flopped back on the bed. Seriously, she’d just had the most amazing night ever. The concert had been wonderful, and that kiss...

Emma frowned ever so slightly. Yes, the kiss had been amazing, and yet... she tugged a loose strand of hair behind her ear as she considered it. In the heat of the moment, Emma had been a bit too distracted to fully notice it, but now when her head was a bit clearer, she found herself thinking about that look in Regina’s eyes. Regina had returned the kiss, Emma was sure about that, but afterwards... that look in her eyes. That slightly panicked look that had been barely there, and yet still very much present. The way Emma’s question seemingly had made her snap out of it and “come back” so to speak.

Emma pursed her lips slightly. If she had misread the signs, Regina would have returned the kiss, would she? They had ended the night on good terms, hadn’t they?

Yes, they had. Emma was certain of that.

But still, it couldn’t hurt to check in, could it? Emma reached out and grabbed her phone from the nightstand. Then she quickly typed and sent: ‘hey, I just wanted to say thank you again. I had a really good time tonight.’

She waited for a few minutes. Regina was always quick to text back, but tonight Emma’s phone remained silent. The blonde didn’t take that as a bad sign, though. She simply took as a sign that Regina probably was tired after the concert and had gone to bed.

Perhaps Emma should do the same. Discovering that her library card and the notes from Regina had been stolen, had put a damper on her urge to write, and it was actually getting a bit late. Going to bed would probably be the wisest thing to do. And plus, tomorrow was Sunday. Emma would have all the time in the world to write tomorrow. Yes. Going to bed now was a sensible thing to do. But before she could do that, there was just a few things she needed to do. The blonde rose from the bed and went over to the door. She pressed the doorknob down and then tugged. The door didn’t budge and inch.

Good. Then she went over to the window and lifted the blinds once more to peek outside. She couldn’t see anyone. No mysterious cars driving around, and no hidden figures peering up at her room.

Good. That made Emma feel a bit calmer. She loosened her grip on the blinds and then went back to bed.

 

Sunday was a calm day.

Emma was up an hour earlier than what was required. But it was self-chosen. She wanted to be up early so she could spend the morning on writing. And that was exactly what she did. She was on a roll this particular morning, and she had blasted out 3,000 words before ten o’clock. Emma felt very accomplished when she went downstairs to the restaurant to get a bite to eat. Obviously, she ran into Ruby who wanted to know “all about” the date last night. Emma truthfully told her that the concert had been amazing, but she didn’t give away any details.

After having had breakfast, Emma returned to her room. More writing was on the schedule, but first she checked her phone. There was a message from Ella. And nothing else. No messages from Regina.

Emma pursed her lips slightly. Was that strange? Emma couldn’t determine whether it was strange. On the one hand, she had gotten the impression that Regina was an early riser, but on the other hand, it was Sunday today. Regina could be sleeping in. But then again it was nearly ten thirty now. Emma was all for sleeping in, but for some reason she couldn’t imagine Regina to be one for sleeping that long.

The blonde scratched her chin as she contemplated whether or not she should be alarmed by this. She decided to keep it cool for now. Maybe Regina and Henry were out or something like that. That could be the reason. Mother and son were spending the Sunday together. Yes, that was probably it.

Emma returned to her laptop, eager to “slay” a few more words. But ever so often, her eyes would wander towards the phone. The silent phone. Emma scoffed, shook her head. It was ridiculous to be worried. Why should she be? She and Regina had had the most amazing time out last night, and today Regina was spending the Sunday with her kid. It made perfect sense. Emma was just being paranoid.

And given the weird things that had been going on lately, maybe that wasn’t so strange. She should cut herself some more slack.

Emma continued her writing, and since there was no one in the other rooms that could be bothered by it, she switched on some music. Some classical music. Normally, she wasn’t one for listening to music while she wrote, but she found the classical tunes to be rather inspiring. And plus, they reminded her of last night, which was definitely an added bonus. God, Regina had looked so beautiful as she had sat there and cried over the music. It had been such a beautiful thing to witness. Possible even more beautiful than the music they had listened to. Emma shook her head as she reminded herself that she was actually writing right now, and while it was nice to think about Regina, she shouldn’t let herself be so distracted. She actually had a book to finish.

The blonde soldiered on and kept writing steadily. Her plan was to continue until lunch time and then go for a walk to get some fresh air and gain new inspiration.

 

Yes, Sunday was a calm, slow day.

Emma carefully followed the plan she had made for herself. She kept writing until it was lunch time. Then she went downstairs and bought her usual grilled cheese sandwich. And once she’d had lunch, she headed out on her daily walk. First, she walked to the harbor, and then she swung by that house she had been looking at for some time now. The house she hoped would be hers someday. It was still very much for sale, and Emma lingered for quite a while and wished that it would be possible for her to take a look inside the house. Just to see. Just to know whether the house was as great on the inside as it was on the outside.

She managed to walk around in Steveston for about an hour, and she was lucky enough to run into Isabelle Gold. She stopped and chatted to the brunette for a while, and then asked if she could have a new library card. Obviously, Isabelle asked what had happened to the first one, but Emma didn’t tell her the truth. Instead she settled for telling the librarian that she accidentally had lost her old library card. The disappointment was obvious on Isabelle’s face for a second, but then the brunette chuckled, shook her head and then playfully scolded Emma. And then said that yes, of course she could have a new library card. Emma profusely thanked her for that.

After having talked to Isabelle, Emma quickly doubled back to Eugenia’s Inn and fetched the stilettos she had borrowed from Elsa. It was better to return them now when she could remember it. Otherwise she would just end up forgetting it again and again.

Elsa was very much home when Emma arrived with the shoes, and she quickly ushered Emma inside for a cup of coffee. One that Emma couldn’t refuse. She ended up meeting Elsa’s sister, Anna, and her husband Kristoff. Both of them were very sweet people, and Emma had a grand old time drinking coffee with the two frost sisters and Kristoff.

Once Anna and Kristoff had headed out on their own walk in Steveston, Elsa immediately began asking about the date. Emma gave a few more details this time, and she also told Elsa about the kiss. But she didn’t tell Elsa about the odd look she had detected in Regina’s eyes afterwards, though.

Elsa was very happy for her and claimed that she could sense that Emma was “completely head over heels in love”. Emma laughed and didn’t ever bother denying it. Because Elsa was absolutely correct.

Emma was indeed very much completely head over heels for Regina.

Elsa asked about whether there was going to be a third date, and Emma answered that she was very optimistic that there would be. Elsa then laughed, patted her hand and told her how happy she was for her.

Emma was happy too. Despite what other weird things happening in her life, she was happy.

After having spent entirely too long at Elsa’s place, Emma returned to her room at Eugenia’s Inn. Now she really HAD to write. Her fingers were positively itching to write. But first she checked her phone and frowned a little at what she discovered. Which was absolutely nothing. There were still no messages from Regina. Oh well. Emma tried not to take that too hard as she grabbed the laptop, shuffled into bed and then placed the computer in her lap. She was certain that Regina would text her at some point during the day.

 

But that didn’t happen.

Emma kept writing steadily that Sunday, and throughout the day, she made a point of regularly checking her phone. And still there was nothing. No messages from Regina. Not even a peep.

As afternoon became early evening, Emma was starting to feel ever so slightly alarmed by it. What was going on? Why hadn’t Regina texted back? She always texted back? Was it possible that the brunette hadn’t even received her message? Could there be something wrong with Regina’s phone? Or could there be something wrong with Regina? Or with Henry? It could be Henry. Maybe he had gotten sick during the night or something. Maybe that was the reason why Regina hadn’t texted her back. She was busy taking care of her sick son. That was okay. That was more than a valid excuse to not text her back. Emma really wanted to settle for believing that that was what was going on, but still, it kept niggling in the back of her head throughout the evening as she kept writing and writing and writing. Regina kept popping up ever so often.

Emma went downstairs to have dinner. She checked her phone when she came back to her room, and still nothing. No messages. She settled down in front of her laptop and resumed her writing. Checked her phone again after about twenty minutes. No messages from Regina.

That pattern continued throughout the evening, and Emma was almost relieved when it became time to go to bed. When she was asleep, she couldn’t think about Regina and obsess about why she hadn’t texted her all day. Emma knew that there was all sorts of sensible reasons as to why Regina hadn’t texted her today, but all the alarm clocks in the blonde’s head were ringing steadily.

After having written down a few more words and started the next chapter in her fairytale collection, Emma gave up and went into the bathroom to prepare for bed. When she came back, she hoped that some sort of miracle had occurred, but when she checked her phone, it was exactly the same. No new text messages.

Emma went to bed with her mind swimming with concerned thoughts.

 

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

Next day was a Monday, and for that Emma was grateful. She was glad she was going to work. Maybe that would distract her. Maybe she would stop thinking and imagining worst case scenarios.

She was quick to shower and get dressed. She pulled her hair back into a ponytail, and then she grabbed her laptop and stuffed it into the waiting bag along with her phone. Her silent phone. Her phone that hadn’t shown any new messages from Regina for far too long now.

Emma slipped her leather jacket on and then slung the bag over her shoulder as she left the room. She carefully locked the door and then padded down the hallway towards the staircase.

Downstairs she found Ruby and Eugenia. Ruby were standing behind the counter, and Eugenia was engaged in a chat with a little, grey-haired man only known as “Doc”. Emma had actually no idea what his real name was.

“’Morning, Ems,” Ruby smiled.

“Good morning,” Emma said and returned the smile even though she felt a bit disheartened.

Ruby frowned. “What’s with the look, Ems? Not eager to go to work?”

“Oh no, ‘course I am,” Emma said quickly and then lied: “I’m just a bit sleepy, that’s all.”

“Oh,” Ruby chuckled. “Been dreaming about your lady all night, have you?”

“You’re hilarious,” Emma deadpanned.

The playfulness disappeared from Ruby’s face, and the waitress sounded more sincere when she said: “seriously, you’d say if something was wrong, right?”

“Of course,” Emma said, flashing her a reassuring smile.

Ruby was quick to return Emma’s smile, and then she wished the blonde a good day at work.

Emma thanked her and then left the restaurant. She couldn’t quite explain why she hadn’t told Ruby about the missing library card and the missing notes from Regina. Maybe because it was such a random thing for Mary Margaret to take, or maybe because Emma didn’t want to cause further concern for anyone. Eugenia had already arranged a neighborhood watch because of the break in. And besides, nothing had happened since the break in. Everything had been so calm. Emma simply couldn’t bear to tell that something had in fact been taken from her room. It wasn’t her laptop, or her money. It was a library card and a stack of post-it notes. It wasn’t a theft worth mentioning to anyone.

Emma climbed into her yellow bug and as she checked her appearance in the mirror, she felt incredibly tempted to check her cellphone, but she decided not to.

Why torture herself?

 

Today was a busy day at Dragon Publishing. The place was bustling with activity. Everyone were either passing each other in the hallway while fetching coffee or hauled up in their offices. Emma knew for a fact that she wouldn’t see August today. He was plenty busy in his own office. She didn’t see Malena either, but she ran into Merida, and the young redhead told Emma that Malena and Ursula were having a meeting. They were in the middle of planning the cover for Victoria De Villiers newest book. Emma was still very much excited about that, and she couldn’t wait to see the finished result.

Emma too had quite a busy day ahead of her. She had a manuscript she needed to finish proofreading, and once she was done with that, she had promised Tindra Bell to help out with editing another manuscript.

The blonde quickly went into her own-not-quite-office. She hoped that Malena would eventually clear the room a bit so it would be less cluttered. And maybe buy a newer desk so it would look a bit more like a proper office.

Emma found her laptop in her bag and switched it on. After a few moments she tapped in her password and then waited some more. She shivered slightly and rubbed her arms. Today was nippy, and her office seemed chillier than usually. Emma settled down in front of her laptop. She should have worn a sweater over her top. Oh well. She would just keep her leather jacket on and hope that would be enough to shield her from the cold.

She found the manuscript on her laptop and then rubbed her eyes slightly. It wasn’t that she was tired as such, but her contact lenses had bothered her so much this morning, she had ended up taking them out again. Emma reached within her bag and found her glasses. Normally she didn’t wear those, but today was a bit of an emergency. While she still had her hand in her bag, she grabbed her phone.

She knew she wasn’t supposed to be on her phone while she was at work, but there was no one around to see it. She could cheat a little. The blonde sneaked the phone out of her bag and then tapped once to make the screen light up.

No text messages. Emma instantly felt disappointed. And concerned. She wanted to reach out to Regina and ask what was going on, but at the same time it like a slightly obsessive thing to do. Intrusive, in a way. She decided that she would wait until tonight, and if she still hadn’t heard anything from Regina, she would text her again and ask if everything was okay. Emma still hoped there was a completely reasonable explanation for Regina’s absence.

The blonde frowned a bit as she turned her attention to the manuscript on her laptop. She chewed a bit on her bottom lip as well, but she refused to spend her workday worrying about Regina. She could damn well do that when she got home. And knowing herself, she probably would end up doing just that.

It actually ended up being a pretty productive morning for Emma.

She finished reading the manuscript, and for once she had found something she wasn’t overly thrilled about. Yes, the manuscript was good, but the plot needed some tightening, some brushing up. It was too overly detailed. It needed more editing; it could easily be a hundredth pages shorter. In fact Emma believed that that would make the story much, much better. There were too many unnecessary side plots and side characters that seemed to be more fillers than important for the manuscript and the story the writer was trying to tell. That was Emma’s opinion, and she was sure that Malena was gonna feel the same way about the manuscript. It needed more work. And maybe it wasn’t Dragon Publishing’s style. Emma had an inkling that it wasn’t.

Emma rose from her seat. Now she was supposed to go out and find Tindra Bell so they could work on editing that manuscript together, but before she could head out on her “quest”, she became distracted at how chilly it was in here. Emma rubbed her leather clad arms again. The jacket didn’t give her much shelter from the cold. Maybe she should go ask Malena if she could find a warmer place to sit.

Emma quickly scanned the office, and then she rolled her eyes at her own stupidity. Or maybe she should try and close the window that was cracked open. Maybe that would do wonders for the temperature in here. Emma chuckled dryly. Nice one, Swan. Talk about being distracted and not paying attention to anything. Obviously, it was good that she had been focusing so thoroughly on her work, but maybe it wouldn’t harm to pay attention to open windows. Emma really wasn’t interested in catching a cold or maybe even a pneumonia.

Emma changed direction; turned away from the door and walked back towards her desk. She elegantly slipped in between the desk and the wall and then stood on her tippy toes to close the window. She groaned a little under her breath as the window hook latch slipped slightly between her fingers. Why had anyone even opened the window? It was bloody cold. Emma guessed it was Malena. She was always warm no matter how cold it were. Constantly complaining that the building was like “a bloody oven!” And her complaints about being too warm could easily be compared to a dragons’ dissatisfied snarl.

Emma’s strained groan was replaced by a slight chuckle as she wrestled with the window. Stupid old window. Stupid old window that had absolutely no business being open. Not even if Malena felt warm. This was not Malena’s office. It was Emma’s. And if she wanted to close her window, she would damn well do it!

But maybe she would crack the window open before leaving the office. She didn’t want to make “the dragon” angry. The blonde chuckled slightly once more.

Finally, Emma managed to get a good hold of the hook latch, and she almost grinned triumphantly as she was pulled at the hook latch to shut the window. And as she stood on her tippy toes to close the window, she briefly looked out at the parking lot.

It was in that moment she spotted it. At first, she only saw it out of the corner of her eye, but once she picked up on what it actually was, Emma more or less hoisted herself up in the windowsill and then poked her head as far out of the window as she possibly could without accidentally falling out of the window.

There it was again. The grey station car. The same one that had been following her. Emma was certain of that, and she could feel how her heart started to hammer in her chest. Her palms slipped slightly on the windowsill. That car. That fucking same car! Emma could barely believe her eyes, even refused to believe her eyes for a moment. This couldn’t be fucking happening again.

But she couldn’t very well ignore the cold facts staring her in the face. And the fact was that the grey station car was back. Again.

And what’s more, there was also a man walking around in the parking lot. Emma was sure it was a man because the person seemed to be quite tall. But unfortunately enough, it was impossible to get a good, thorough look at the guy because he was wearing a hoodie. Emma almost laughed at the cliché. A hoodie. A fucking HOODIE! God, what was this? A bad thriller movie or something? It was certainly beginning to feel like one. This was ridiculous.

What she COULD see however, was that this stranger appeared to be walking around her car as though he was some mechanic working on the yellow bug and currently trying to figure out exactly what was wrong with the car.

One hell of a creepy mechanic, that was.

Emma had seen enough. She had most definitely seen enough. And she reached instinctively. The blonde quietly pulled her head back into the office. She was certain that he hadn’t seen her, but to make sure he didn’t hear her either, she left the window wide open as she left her office.

She speed walked down the hall and ran up the stairs instead of taking the elevators. Emma doubted that she had ever ran that fast before in her life. Her lungs were burning slightly, but she didn’t care about that. Right now, the only thing she cared about was reaching Malena’s office and inform her of what was going on. God, she hoped she would be fast enough! If she was, there was a slight chance they could actually catch the guy. Emma very much wanted to ask him what the hell he was playing at.

And soon she did reach the door to Malena’s office. She didn’t even bother to knock or announce herself in any other way. She simply pressed the doorknob down and bursted inside the office.

Had the situation been any different, Emma would have been both shocked and slightly amused at what she was seeing. Ursula Clearwater was perched on Malena’s desk, while Malena was standing in front of her. Ursula’s long, tanned legs were wrapped around Malena’s slim waist, and the dark haired woman’s skirt had ridden up. Malena’s hands had one hand behind Ursula's neck, and one hand on her upper thigh as they were making out heatedly.

Ursula was the first one to notice Emma, and the Afro-American woman yelped in pure surprise as she broke the kiss.

That caused Malena to turn around, and her crystal blue eyes gleamed dangerously as she looked at Emma and then opened her mouth.

“There’s a strange man on the parking lot, he’s walking around my car!” Emma said before Malena could get the chance to say anything.

“I beg your pardon?” Malena said, she sounded ever so slightly out of breath.

“A man. In the parking lot,” Emma said quickly. “He’s driving a grey station car, and I’ve seen the car here before, and I’ve seen it on my way home from work as well. I think I’m being followed.”

“I’ll send for security,” Malena said with ice cold professionalism. “Stay here.” she walked out of the office and Emma and Ursula were left on their own.

Ursula elegantly hopped off the counter and adjusted her skirt slightly. There was a smear of lipstick on her chin, Emma noted.

“You’re being followed?” Ursula asked, impressively unbothered by the fact that Emma had just walked in on her and Malena.

“Yeah,” Emma said with a nod.

“How long has that been going on?” Ursula asked and lifted an eyebrow.

“I’m not really sure,” Emma said. “Possibly for a few weeks.” Or possibly since she was kicked out at seventeen.

“Shit,” Ursula said plainly. “Let’s hope security will get the guy.”

“Yeah.” Emma was really hoping the same thing. She was positively DYING to ask the guy a number of different questions. Specifically what the hell his problem was. Emma shifted on her feet and fidgeted with her fingers. Was it possible that the guy in the hoodie could be David? Could he be acting on his wife’s behalf? Was he doing it out of vengeance because the police had been and talked to him and Mary Margaret? Was this his way of getting back at Emma for having made his precious wife upset?

Valid reasons, but for some reason the thought of it potentially being David stalking her, made Emma feel even more uncomfortable than if it had been Mary Margaret. Because she knew what she could expect from Mary Margaret. Odd phone calls. But David.... He had never been a strong factor in Emma’s childhood and youth. He had mostly just been there as a shadowy figure heeding Mary Margaret’s every order.

Could he really be the shadowy figure following her now?

It wasn’t unlikely. Emma began walking up and down the floor in Malena’s office. She was worried. She both wanted it to be David and NOT be David. She wasn’t ready to be confronted with her adoptive father. She kinda hoped that it was someone Mary Margaret and David had hired to follow her. It would be easier to be confronted with a complete stranger.

“Are you okay?” Ursula asked and raised an eyebrow.

“Yeah,” Emma nodded and then rubbed her chin awkwardly. “I’m sorry for uhm... interrupting you.”

“Oh,” Ursula said and shrugged lightly. “I guess it was only a matter of time before someone found out about it.”

That remark was enough to distract Emma for a millisecond. Clearly, this was something that had been going on for quite a while. Now it suddenly made sense that Ursula often were accompanying Malena on her book scouting’s and “meetings”. Emma briefly wondered how much work Malena and Ursula actually had done during those “meetings”.

“I suppose it’s rather ironic given how Malena is the one who has forbidden colleagues to get involved,” Ursula said dryly.

Emma chuckled involuntarily, and for a moment she was afraid that she had insulted Ursula, but the other woman just chuckled slightly and then shook her head.

Emma’s distraction didn’t last long, though, and soon she found herself walking up and down the floor once more. She was driving herself nuts, but she couldn’t help it. She couldn’t just stand still like a statue.

“Do you think she meant both of us?” Ursula asked nonchalantly.

Emma’s head snapped up. “What?”

“Do you think that she meant we both should stay here?” the other woman clarified.

“I have no idea,” Emma said truthfully.

“Hmm,” Ursula said.

Emma felt distracted for another millisecond. It actually felt kinda good, knowing that Malena and Ursula had a thing, because Emma had been worried about Malena’s obvious interest in Regina. She had been fearing that there were old flames that were still flickering, or something like that. But now it would appear that she didn’t have to worry about anything. Malena was interested in Ursula. Not Regina.

That was a bit of a relief for Emma. A huge relief anything. Emma wasn’t interested in fighting with anyone over Regina. Least of all her boss. That would have been pretty awful. No. It would have been REALLY awful.

Emma snapped out of her musings when she heard footsteps approaching the office. She looked up, and Ursula did the same.

The next second, Malena stepped into the office. The older blonde looked very disgruntled, and her voice was sharp when she said: “damn it!”

Emma’s heart plummeted. She had a vague inkling about what that ‘damn it’ had meant.

And she was right.

“Unfortunately, my staff weren’t able to catch the guy,” Malena said, and her blue eyes gleamed dangerously. “I don’t know what kind of drugs he were on, but by the time we made it out on the parking
lot, he sprinted into his car and took off. He nearly ran one of my men over, might I add.”

“Oh my god,” Emma said.

“But we did get his license plate, so I have every intention about calling the police and informing them of the incident,” Malena said seriously. “From now on, the parking lot will be patrolled by my security
staff.”

“That’s good,” Emma said.

“And furthermore, we’ve checked your car,” Malena continued. “No harm has come to it. None of the tires has been slashed.”

Emma nodded. That was good news too.

“You mentioned that you’ve been followed,” Malena said as she sat down behind her desk. “How long has this been going on?”

Emma took a deep breath and then she told Malena everything. Seeing the grey station car in her rearview mirror. Realizing it was following her, and then shaking it off. The two hang up calls, and finally the break-in in her room, and the odd theft of her library card and the post-it. And furthermore, she told Malena all about Mary Margaret and her obsessive behavior.

“I see,” Malena nodded. “Well, I’m glad you informed me of this, miss Swan. My security staff has been alerted, and they’ll keep an eye on things. I trust you’ve already contacted the police in Steveston?”

“I have,” Emma confirmed with a nod. “And they contacted the local police in Forest Hill. They had a little chat with Mary Margaret and David, but it clearly hasn’t helped.”

Malena nodded seriously.

“The guy who ran away...” Emma said. “Did you get any chance to see if he had blonde hair? Maybe his hoodie fell off or something.”

“No. I’m sorry,” Malena said. “We didn’t get the chance to get a good look at the bastard.”

“Oh,” Emma said. “Well, thank you for your help anyway. I should probably... I’m sorry for barging in like that.”

“You had a valid excuse,” Malena said and shot Ursula a quick look. “And I trust you’ll be discreet.”

“Yeah. Of course,” Emma promised.

“Good. I don’t think he’ll dare coming back here,” Malena said grimly. “We definitely made him run for it.”

“Yeah,” Emma chuckled. “Thank you, Malena.”

“You’re very welcome, miss Swan. Would you like to take the rest of the day off?”

“No, of course not,” Emma said quickly. “I’m good with resuming my work.”

“Excellent,” Malena said and flashed her a smile.

Emma returned the smile, nodded to Ursula and then left the office. As soon as the door had closed behind her, she heard Ursula say: “oops.”

Malena scoffed. “No kidding, but I’d rather have her walk in on us than coming out on the parking lot and finding her tires slashed or something like that.”

“You’re right,” Ursula said.

Emma heard Malena’s heels click slightly against the floor. “If I ever see that guy again, I’ll rip him apart.”

“Malena...” Ursula admonished.

But Malena wasn’t that easily calmed down. “I assure you, I’m quite serious, dear,” she said. “No one threatens my employees and gets away with it.”

“You need to calm down,” Ursula said, and her voice dropped an octave or two. “Come on, let me help you relax...”

“Ursula.” Malena protested.

“It’s alright,” Ursula husked. “Relax.”

That was when Emma hastily moved away from the door and jogged down the hallway. She definitely did not need to hear this.

This time she took the elevator to get back to her office, and as she waited for the elevator to arrive, she wondered. Wondered what the endgame was in all this. Would there be a confrontation? Would
David or whoever the fuck it was show up?

Emma’s imagination went into overdrive as she imagined herself being ambushed, drugged and then forced all the way back to Toronto. Was that the endgame in all of this? Making her come back to Toronto? Or was David and Mary Margaret actually planning on harming her? Use the grey station car to run her off the road?

Emma snorted quietly to herself as she stepped inside the elevator. Now her brain was definitely coming up with all sorts of crazy scenarios. And she had to stop doing that. It wouldn’t help the matter.

However horrible it sounded, she would just have to wait and see what was gonna happen.

And possibly arm herself with a bottle of hairspray every time she went out. That was the least she could do for now.

 

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

Obviously, Emma was every bit paranoid when she drove home from work, and she kept checking and checking the rearview mirror.

But no grey station car appeared in the mirror. The guy had clearly been scared off by Malena’s security staff. For now. Emma didn’t dare believing that this was the last she had seen of her mysterious stalker.

She adjusted the rearview mirror again. David? Or someone he and Mary Margaret had hired? Emma wasn’t sure. There was only one person she could think about who would be willing to do this for Mary Margaret. Her uncle. Leopold White. He and Mary Margaret had always been incredibly close, and he had once told Emma that he was willing to do “anything” for Mary Margaret.

The question was, would he be willing to do this as well?

Emma felt tempted to answer with a loud and clear “yes!”. Leopold White was creepy. He had always been creepy. The way he cared for Mary Margaret had always been completely over the top.

So, had it really been him Emma had seen walking around her car?

Possibly. The hoodie-wearing person was roughly the same height as Leopold White was. It was definitely possible that it really was him.

Emma paranoidly checked the rearview mirror again, but there was nothing. No grey station car in sight.

She didn’t feel soothed though. She instinctively knew that this wasn’t the end of it. Emma scoffed quietly. She would actually have preferred to know for sure that it was David or Mary Margaret in her room than having a hunch that it could be Leopold White. That guy gave her the creeps. He had always been giving her the creeps.

Emma rounded a corner. She would soon be home, and despite what had happened there, Emma still felt safe in her hotel room. She knew that no one would get past Eugenia and her crossbow. The blonde chuckled a little as she remembered the sight of Eugenia Wolf, patrolling the street while waving her crossbow around. Perhaps Malena should ask her to patrol the parking lot in front of Dragon Publishing. That would surely scare everyone away.

Emma glanced in the rearview mirror again. Still nothing. She was still safe. Her car was a safe place. Malena had insisted that it had been checked thoroughly before Emma climbed inside and drove home. She refused to take any chances.

In an attempt to keep things normal, Emma switched the radio on and tried her best to listen to the rock music playing. It didn’t help enormously, but still, it helped a little. Emma stepped slightly on the speeder. Today had been quite a day. She just wanted to go home and relax. Read a book. Eat some nice food. Maybe stop by Elsa’s place for a chat. Talk to her friend. Try not to think too much about what had happened today.

 

The first thing Emma saw when she walked down the hallway towards her own room, was a white envelope left right by her door. The blonde immediately felt alarmed, but nevertheless picked up the white envelope and ripped it open. Relief immediately flooded her. It wasn’t a threatening letter. It was a library card. A brand-new library card. Curtsey of Isabelle Gold. Emma had no idea how she had managed to get her a new library card so quickly, but the blonde was ever so grateful. That was really nice of Isabelle.

Emma unlocked the door to her room and stepped inside. She shrugged off her leather jacket and then methodically checked everywhere. Underneath the bed, her drawers. But this time, everything was completely normal. Nothing had been moved or re-moved. Everything was fine.

Emma unzipped her bag and found her laptop and cellphone in it. She placed both things on the table and then fumbled for a second to hook up the phone with the charger. She was absolutely terrible at remembering to charge her phone, and more than once, her phone had ran out of battery because of it. And her charger was pretty unreliable as well. The phone had to kept in a certain angle to make sure it charged like it was supposed to. Emma wrestled with that for a few moments, and she made a little “ha!”-sound when the screen lit up and indicated that the phone was charging. But when the screen lit up, Emma noticed something. She had gotten a new messages. From Regina. incredibly. The whole drama about the grey station car and the man in the parking lot had completely made her forget about Regina and the fact that she hadn’t heard anything from her since Saturday night. But now Emma had no problem with remembering how anxious she had been because of Regina’s lack of communication. Without thinking twice about it, she freed the phone from the charger again and then eagerly checked the message: ‘I had a good time as well. I’m really sorry I didn’t text you yesterday. I wasn’t feeling well.’

Emma was quick to text back: ‘that’s completely fine! I’m just glad to hear from you. I was a bit worried about you when I didn’t hear anything.’ She was allowed to text that, right?

Before she could decide whether it was too bold or not, Regina texted back, and Emma quickly checked that message as well: ‘again, I’m sorry about not texting you, and I’m sorry you were worried. You
don’t have to be, though. Everything is fine.’

Emma texted back: ‘I’m glad you’re doing okay :)’

Regina texted back. A very reassuring ‘I am’, and now that the conversation was flowing, Emma saw no reason to wait with asking: ‘would you like to meet up for coffee sometime next week?’

Regina clearly had some time on her hand, because her response came quickly, and Emma eagerly checked it: ‘coffee sounds nice. Shall we meet at Eugenia’s Inn like the last time?’

Emma quickly texted back: ‘That suits me just fine. I’m looking forward to seeing you.’ She really did. She really, really did!

It felt as though she had barely send the message before the answer came: ‘I’m looking forward to seeing you too. What are your plans for the rest of the day? How was work?’

Emma grinned broadly as she eagerly filled Regina in on her plans for the remaining day, and then told her all about what she had been doing at work. She left out a few significant details, though. There was no reason to tell Regina about the grey station car and the man in the parking lot. She didn’t want Regina to worry about her.

 

 

 

 

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