Emma swallowed something. That car hadn’t been left unattended for very long.
She could still feel her heart thump in her chest. Yes, the message was tacky, but definitely creepy nevertheless. And was it supposed to be taken literally? A chill ran down her spine as she considered it.
Could her stalker had been hiding somewhere in the parking lot? Could he had been watching her the whole time while she was waiting for Regina? The thought of that made her downright nauseous. That was horrible to think about. The blonde rubbed her arms as she felt goosebumps appear on her skin. This was escalating. This wasn’t just someone snooping around in her room and nicking a few random items. This was vandalism.
Emma felt very uncomfortable. The other stuff, someone having been in her room, the car following her and the hang up calls were all things she could chalk up to be annoying. Mildly creepy. But now it wasn’t just mildly creepy anymore. It was frightening. She was beginning to feel like some sort of hunted animal. Like someone was actually out to get her.
Emma tapped her screen and made the frightening picture disappear. She supposed she had to go back to Dragon Publishing and take a look at the car. She quickly texted Billy to not touch the car nor attempt to tow it back to Steveston. This wasn’t a case for the mechanic. This was a case for the police. She would have to call Graham. And Malena. Since this had happened on Dragon Publishing’s parking lot, Malena had to be informed of this as well. They would have to look at the security footage from today. Emma so hoped that whoever it was had been careless. She needed to know who this faceless person was. Could it really be Leopold White? Or someone else? Emma was paranoid enough to briefly wonder whether she had upset anyone in Steveston. But she just as quickly nixed that idea. Impossible. Everyone was so sweet. And she chose to believe that if anyone DID hold a grudge against her, they would have been mature enough to come forward and inform her of this.
No, this had to be connected to Mary Margaret and David somehow. It couldn’t possibly be anything or anyone else. Those were the only two people in the world Emma could suspect for being behind this.
The question was why? What was the point in all this? Didn’t they think that she would figure out it was them? Was this some sort of psychological attempt to scare her and come crying back to mommy and daddy? Had Mary Margaret finally gone completely “mother Gothel”-crazy on her?
Yes, maybe that was it. Maybe Mary Margaret really WAS hoping that this would make Emma come back to Forest Hill?
Emma shook her head. That was ridiculous. And scary as hell.
A soft touch to her hand brought Emma back to reality. The blonde’s head snapped up, and she saw Regina looking at her. The brunette looked concerned as she pushed a post-it note towards Emma.
Emma quickly picked the note up and read it: ‘is everything okay?’. The blonde ran a finger through her hair. “No, not really. That was my mechanic calling. My car’s been vandalized.”
Regina frowned deeply at that.
“I can’t believe it,” Emma said and shook her head. “I didn’t leave it unattended for that long. And it wasn’t even standing abandoned somewhere. It was left on Dragon Publishing’s parking lot, for crying
out loud! I have to call Sheriff Graham. And Malena.” Emma sighed again and shook her head. “Is there any chance I coax you into giving me a ride back to Dragon Publishing? I have to get to the bottom of this.”
Regina nodded immediately and emptied her cup of coffee. Then she reached within her purse and found her car keys.
“Thank you,” Emma said and quickly emptying her own coffee cup. “I really appreciate that.”
Regina nodded, smiled a little and then rose from her seat.
Emma did the same, and together they walked out of Eugenia’s Inn and towards Regina’s black Mercedes. Regina climbed onto the driver’s seat, and Emma wiggled into the passenger’s seat. She wanted to curse a little bit. Her stalker was ruining everything. Including her dating life. She was supposed to sit in the restaurant, enjoying a cup of coffee and basking in Regina’s glorious company right now. Not ask her to drive back to Dragon Publishing because some stupid fucking idiot couldn’t keep his hands to himself! God. Emma couldn’t quite believe that someone had actually keyed her car and slashed all four tires. That was something she read about in those thrillers she loved so much or watched in one of those scary movies she was actually too much of a chicken to watch. This was not something that was supposed to happen in real life.
Emma noted that her heart was still thumping in her chest, and that really irritated her too. She wasn’t supposed to be afraid. Being afraid meant that the stalker had the upper hand, and Emma really didn’t want him to have the upper hand! Whatever his endgame was, she wasn’t planning on letting him win! Emma had never been one for giving in, and certainly not to this psychological terror.
She felt Regina side eye her, and Emma quickly flashed the beautiful brunette a smile. “I’m really sorry I’ve ruined our date.”
Regina shook her head firmly.
“I have,” Emma insisted. “We were supposed to eat pie and drink coffee and have a good time. Not drive back and forward. I’m sorry.”
Regina shook her head once more.
Emma cringed. “And I’m also really sorry for blabbering like this when you have absolutely no chance of communicating back to me. I’m panicking a little. I always ramble when I’m panicking. Sorry about that.”
Regina shook her head for the third time, and Emma didn’t attempt to say anything else to her. Instead the blonde fished her phone out of her pocket and called Sheriff Graham. He promised he would be there ASAP. Next she called Malena and informed her of what had happened. She was livid and cursed loudly and threatened to fire her entire security staff, and once she was done spitting fire, she too promised that she would be there right away. Emma thanked her and then ended the call.
The blonde leaned back in her seat again, but this time she was so far from relaxed. Because of this she was forced to think about things she really, really didn’t want to think about. She had to consider whether she could potentially be in any real danger. ‘Watch your back’. That was a pretty obvious threat, but what Emma wasn’t sure of, was whether she should take it serious or not. And there was this silly, dumb part of her that actually hoping that this was completely random. Some lunatic passing the parking lot, seeing an opportunity and grasping it.
Emma scoffed quietly. That was dumb. Of course this wasn’t a random incident. Of course this was all connected. But for what reason? What the hell was she supposed to think of all this? That Mary Margaret had finally snapped and wanted to kill her? That she and David had hired someone to kill her? Or harm her because she had refused to be an “obedient” daughter? Could they actually do that?
Emma wasn’t sure anymore. She wasn’t sure of anything.
The blonde blinked in surprise and looked down. Regina had just put her hand lightly over Emma’s in a silent, comforting manner. Admittedly, Emma saw an opportunity and took it. Quite literally. She put her hand over Regina’s for a moment, and then turned her head and smiled at the brunette.
Regina returned the smile without ever taking her eyes off the road.
“This was not how I had imagined to spend our date,” Emma said plainly as she reluctantly removed her hand from Regina’s warm, warm hand.
Regina offered a light shrug in return.
“I’ll do better next time,” Emma said, trying her best to add a touch of humor to the situation. “Next time we won’t be interrupted by a crazy vandal.”
Regina shook her head in a sort of amused way.
Emma silently cursed this entire damned situation. All she had wanted was to find a fresh start in Steveston, and for a while it had certainly seemed like she was on the road to just that. New friends, a new and wonderful woman in her life, but now...
Her stalker was trying to ruin everything.
By the time they arrived at Dragon Publishing, Graham and a couple of his officers were already there. They were inspecting and taking pictures of the yellow bug, and it looked like one of the officers were dusting for fingerprints.
Emma damn nearly cried when she exited the car and saw the condition of her beloved Bug. All four tires were indeed flat, and the yellow painting had obviously been severely damaged. The threatening message was almost attacking Emma’s eyes. ‘WATCH YOUR BACK’. So cliché, yet so effective.
“Oh my god,” Emma muttered and shook her head.
“Yes, whoever it is, is certainly escalating,” Graham nodded. “And obviously wore gloves for this.”
“Right. Of course he did,” Emma muttered.
“We’re just waiting for Malena Fiammetta to show up so we can go through the security footage. And find out where the hell the security staff were,” Graham said tightly and then glanced over Emma’s
shoulder. “Hello, Regina.”
Emma looked back and saw Regina give a quick nod and a brief smile. The brunette mainly stayed in the background while Graham and Emma continued to talk. Emma too was wondering where the hell security had been when her car was vandalized. Malena had a whole staff of security. Emma was puzzled that this could even have happened. It shouldn’t have happened.
After a few moments where Emma and the Sheriff had talked back and forward, a red, rather expensive looking car driving in a rather hazardous tempo swung in on the parking lot. The tires screeched dangerously, and the door was more or less slammed open. A stiletto heel appeared on the ground. Malena had arrived. And she did NOT look one bit pleased. Her heels clacked against the ground as she more or less stomped towards them. For the first time, Emma understood why someone would refer to Malena as “the Dragon”.
“What the hell is going on?!” the older blonde hissed.
“That’s what we’re here to find out,” Graham said patiently.
“Well, I’m certainly as curious as you are,” Malena said sardonically and folded her arms across her chest. “I’ve just spoken to the head of security, and he swore he wasn’t aware that there was an
unwelcome guest here.” the older blonde scoffed. “He is so fired! As are the rest of them.”
Despite the serious situation, Emma almost chuckled at that.
“Would it be possible to take a look at your security footage from this afternoon?” Graham said.
“Certainly,” Malena said tightly. “Follow me.”
And so they did. They left the officers by the car where they were still searching for clues. Emma doubted they would find any, though.
They ended up in Malena’s office where Malena switched the screen on so they could see the security footage, and then Malena reached inside one of her cabinets and found a bottle of scotch. She offered Graham a glass, but he quickly pointed out that he didn’t drink when he was on duty, so Malena settled for pouring a glass of scotch for Emma, one for herself and one for Regina.
Regina raised an eyebrow slightly at that, but Malena just scoffed and thrusted the glass into her hand. “It’s five o’clock somewhere. Have a drink with us, kitt-“
Regina raised an eyebrow again.
“Regina,” Malena amended. “Have a drink with us, Regina.”
Once again, Emma was distracted from the severity of the situation, and she caught herself wondering what the end of that sentence would have been. Kitten?
But she was quick to turn her attention back to the screen in front of her. The black and white security footage from today filled the screen. Emma took a sip of her scotch as she watched the security staff walk back and forward in the parking lot. Regular patrols, exactly like Malena had said.
She watched as time passed, and people started to walk out on the parking lot, heading towards their cars. Emma saw herself walk out of the building and climb into the car. She saw her obvious annoyance when the car refused to start, and then she saw herself exit the car and look under the hood where she would find no obvious answers to the problem. Then she saw how she found her phone in her bag and texted. Emma knew that she was texting Regina at the time to apologize for the delay. The blonde took another sip of her scotch as she saw herself beginning to walk away from the car.
Her past self didn’t get very far before she stopped and fished her phone out of her bag once more. Emma knew that it was because Regina had texted her then, and the blonde cringed a little as she was confronted with the ridiculous, stupid grin on her face as she read the text message. Her obvious excitement when answering the text was absolutely cringeworthy. She took another sip of her scotch.
She saw herself walk back and forward on the parking lot, rubbing her arms and obviously freezing her ass off, calling Billy and asking him to take a look at the Bug. Then she saw Regina’s black Mercedes pull in and Regina got out of the car. Emma saw how Regina had been fixing her scarf slightly, and immediately wondered why she hadn’t noticed that when it happened. Then they saw Malena come into the camera’s view, approach them, greet Regina, plant two kisses on her cheeks and then disappearing inside her own car and driving home from work.
After a moment or so, Emma saw herself and Regina greet. Regina fished the post-it out of her pocket, she touched Emma’s arm lightly, and then they walked over to Regina’s Mercedes, climbed inside and drove away from Dragon Publishing.
“Here we go,” Graham said, breaking the silence for the first time. “It can’t be long before our guy arrives.”
And he was right. After a couple of minutes waiting in silence, they saw a man coming out on the parking lot. He had his back to the camera, but was dressed in Dragon Publishing’s official security clothes, and he was walking around on the parking lot exactly like he was patrolling the area.
“But that’s just a member of the security staff,” Emma pointed out and took another sip of her scotch. The alcohol burned her throat, but she didn’t care. Right now, she really needed a bit of alcohol to take the edge of things.
“Wait,” Graham said plainly.
Emma waited. Saw another member of the security staff come out of the building. He chatted with the other guy for a few minutes, and then he disappeared into a car and drove away.
The guy in the parking lot waited for a few minutes, walked around as though he was patrolling the area, and then once the last member of security emerged from the building and drove off in his car, everything about the guy in the parking lot changed. His body language went from relaxed and friendly to threatening and intimidating. Still with his back to the camera on the building, he reached back under his security jacket and pulled a hoodie over his head.
Malena cursed loudly as they saw the man walk over to Emma’s car and then reaching inside his pocket. He pulled out a small knife and more or less began to stab the tire until it flattened completely. He did the same to the three other tires, and Emma shivered. It was frightening to watch him do that to her car. There was nothing calm and calculated about the act. It was pure anger and hatred on his part.
After having “finished” the tires, he went round the car and then used the tip of his knife to scratch the threatening message into the yellow paint. Emma shivered again as she watched the man walk away from the parking lot and out of sight.
Graham rubbed a hand over his face. “He was posing as a member of the security staff.”
Malena cursed again. “I don’t understand how it’s possible! How could I not have noticed-“
“It’s nobody’s fault,” Emma said quickly.
“I agree,” Graham said. “But the bottom line is that we still don’t know who this bastard is. Because I doubt he’s been around for the whole day. My guess is that he snuck in, stole an extra uniform and then blended in.”
“That sounds very likely,” Malena said. “I’ve recently hired new security people.”
“Why did he have to wear that damn hoodie?!” Graham said and his jaw clenched.
Emma felt her own jaw clench. Why indeed?
“I’ve already contacted local police in Forest Hill,” Graham said. “Your adoptive parents have a very solid alibi. None of them were nowhere near Vancouver when this happened.”
Emma’s heart sank. So it wasn’t David. “Could they have hired someone to do this?” the blonde asked.
“In theory, yes,” Graham said, looking very serious. “Can you think of anyone who would be willing to perform such an act for them? Someone they’re close to, like a family member or a close friend?”
Well...” Emma took a quick sip of her scotch, trying to soothe her nerves. “There is Leopold White. My adoptive mother’s uncle.”
“Leopold White,” Graham echoed as he quickly scribbled the name down in his little black book.
“Yeah, but he doesn’t...” Emma’s hope plummeted when she suddenly remembered something important.
“He doesn’t what, miss Swan?” Graham asked patiently.
“He doesn’t drive the right car,” Emma said defeatedly and took another large swig of her drink.
“The right car?” Graham echoed and raised an eyebrow.
“Yeah, I’ve been followed home from work once,” Emma admitted. “And I’ve seen the same car twice in the parking lot here.”
“Why on earth didn’t you tell me?!” Graham said.
“I thought it was a coincidence at first,” Emma replied, now regretting that she hadn’t given Graham the proper information. “The first time it happened, I thought it could just have been someone who was lost and trying to find his way back by following me or something. I managed to shake him off, so I didn’t think too much about it. And the first time I saw the car here, it was so brief. Literally. I saw the car out of the corner of my eye. I wasn’t even completely sure whether I had seen it or not, you know? And the second time I saw the car here, I also saw the guy walking around my car. I suppose he was trying to do what he did to my car today but got scared of by security. And I... I guess I didn’t tell you because nothing happened and I knew that security would be patrolling the parking lot regularly, so I guess I felt safe. I was certain he had been scared away when he saw the security come running out on the parking lot.”
“I see,” Graham nodded.
“I wish I had told you after I had seen the car in my rearview mirror the first time,” Emma said bitterly. She shouldn’t have been so determined to take care of things herself. It was okay to ask for help. And especially when you were stuck in a frightening situation like this one.
Graham didn’t comment on that. Instead he asked: “is there any chance you got a proper look of this car? Can you remember the license plate? Color, type, anything?”
“I didn’t get a chance to see the license plate,” Emma admitted and started to frantically ramble like she did when she was nervous: “and I don’t know anything about the car except that it’s a grey station car, but that’s not a lot to go on, and also I don’t understand the endgame in all this, I mean stealing my library card? What the hell is that about?”
“Your library card?” Graham asked and frowned deeply. “You haven’t mentioned anything about a stolen library card before, Emma.”
“I know,” Emma admitted and rubbed a hand over her cheek. “I didn’t notice it until almost a week after the break-in in my room, and it was such a random thing to steal, so I didn’t think much of it, to be honest. I just found it annoying.”
“I see,” Graham said sternly. “Was anything else taken from your room?”
“Yeah,” Emma said and almost laughed at the absurdity as her frustration took over and she started rambling once more: “and can you please explain to me why the hell the intruder would chose that of all things when my laptop was literally right there?! Because I sure as hell don’t understand why anyone would be interested in nicking a stack of written post-it messa-“
Emma yelped at the loud, unexpected sound and turned around on the spot.
Regina had dropped her glass of scotch on the floor, and the result was broken glass scattered all over, and a smaller lake of the golden liquid pooling on the floor.
Both Regina and Malena quickly bent down to clean the mess, but when Malena attempted to help Regina, the brunette just held up a hand; clearly indicating that she didn’t need any help. She quickly picked up the shards of glass, dumped them in the trashcan and then glanced at the sea of scotch on the floor.
“Never mind that,” Malena said quickly. “I’ll get that later. Did you cut yourself?”
Regina shook her head and then found her phone in her pocket. She frantically typed for a moment and then turned the screen towards Emma.
“Oh. Okay,” Emma said, feeling a bit disappointed when she read the message: ‘I’m afraid I have to go now. I had forgotten that I have plans later.’ She supposed that made sense. Regina had already been here for a while, and Emma had invited her for coffee. Driving around and talking to the police had not been a part of the plan.
Regina nodded once, then typed on her phone once more and turned the screen towards Emma: ‘can you get home on your own?’
“Yeah,” Emma nodded. “I can probably get a ride from Graham.”
Regina nodded and slipped her phone back into her purse. Then she spun around on her heels and headed towards the door.
“Text me later?” Emma asked.
But Regina didn’t appear to have heard her. She simply disappeared out of the door. Emma heard her high heels clack against the floor as she headed down the hallway and towards the elevator. Emma found this departure to be a little strange, a little abrupt, but maybe those plans Regina had been referring to had been very important or something like that.
The blonde quickly turned her attention back to Graham.
“You mentioned that the intruder had stolen some post-its messages?” Graham said, clearly trying to get her back on track.
“Yeah, that’s right,” Emma said and tried not to be distracted by the way Regina’s tires were screeching as the brunette clearly aimed for a hasty departure.
“Was there any type of personal information written in these messages?” Graham asked. “Credit card information or something like that?”
“No, not at all,” Emma said and shook her head. “It was just random messages. Nothing personal at all. I don’t see why anyone could possibly benefit from taking those. There was nothing of importance written. At least not to the intruder. But the messages were pretty important to ME.”
Graham nodded. “And your laptop was standing on the table?”
“Yeah,” Emma said.
The sheriff shook his head. “I’m baffled,” he admitted plainly. “This doesn’t make any sense.”
“No, it does not,” Emma was quick to agree.
“But I’ll make it make sense!” Graham said firmly. “Trust me, Emma. We will get to the bottom of this no matter what. And I’ll start by arranging that there will be an officer patrolling the parking lot there along with Malena’s security staff. And furthermore, there will be police spread around Steveston. Regular patrolling. Along with the neighborhood watch. I want this guy in custody.”
“Yeah. That would be nice,” Emma muttered vaguely. For her part, she just wanted to ask the guy what the hell he was playing at.
“You mentioned that Leopold White doesn’t drive a grey station car, but he’s had ever possibility to either rent or steal that type of car,” Graham said. “When we get back to Steveston, I’ll check and see if
any grey station cars has been reported stolen recently, and I’ll check and find out if anyone has rented a grey station car in the area.”
“So you think it could be Leopold White?” Emma asked.
“I think it’s a possibility, yes,” Graham nodded. “Based on what you told me after the break in, I’d still say that your adoptive parents are involved in this. One way or the other.”
“Yeah,” Emma mumbled.
“We’ll figure it out, Emma,” Graham promised. “I’m not gonna rest until I get to the bottom of this.” He turned to Malena. “I’d like a copy of the security footage, please.”
“Of course,” Malena said, quickly walking out of the room to take care of that.
Graham turned his attention back to Emma. “I’m not trying to frighten you further, Emma, but I would be really happy if you could stay over at a friend’s house tonight.”
“I’ll text Elsa and ask her,” Emma promised. “I’m sure she’ll say yes.”
“Good,” Graham said and looked back at the frozen picture of the man on the screen. Rewinding the tape, the sheriff of Steveston carefully observed the moment when the false security guard pulled his hoodie up and started to vandalize Emma’s car.
Emma watched the scene unfold as well. Her heart was thumping in her chest as she frantically tried to terminate whether it could be Leopold White hiding underneath that hood. Did Leopold walk like that? Was Leopold smart enough to steal a uniform and pose as one of the members of the security staff?
It was years since Emma last had talked to the man, and she couldn’t for the life of her remember how Leopold White walked, let alone anything about whether he was intelligent or not. But she was sort of hoping that it really would turn out to be Leopold under that hood. Simply because nothing else would make sense. Why would a complete stranger suddenly decide to slash her tires and scratch a threatening message into the yellow paint? Unless the person was an escaped lunatic, it wouldn’t make sense, and honest to god, Emma would rather live with the knowledge that it was Leopold White, than knowing that a completely deranged stranger had picked her as a random victim.
That was when Malena returned to the office with a memory stick. She handed it to Graham with the words: “here you go. It’s all on here.”
“Thank you,” Graham said and flashed her a brief smile. “Well, I don’t think there’s anymore we can do here for now. Once the officers has finished up outside, they’ll call a mechanic and have him fix the slashed tires and then bringing your car back to Steveston.”
“And you’re taking the day off tomorrow,” Malena added.
“The subject is not up for debate, miss Swan,” Malena said. “I do not want to see you here tomorrow; do you hear me? I want you to get a good night’s sleep and not think about anything tomorrow.”
“Okay,” Emma agreed, surrendering without much grace. She had a feeling that she actually would benefit from a couple of extra hours in bed tomorrow.
“I’ll drive you home,” Graham said as he rose from his seat.
“Thanks,” Emma said, jumping to her feet as well.
“I’m terribly sorry about this, miss Swan,” Malena said sincerely. “Rest assure that every last member of my security staff will be scrutinized. I wish I had-“
“It’s not your fault,” Emma quickly interrupted. “It’s nobody’s fault.” And she really meant that. She wasn’t blaming Malena for anything. The only person she was blaming was that asshat guy who had done this.
Emma and Graham left Malena’s office, and the last thing Emma saw was Malena reaching for the bottle of scotch and pouring herself a second glass of the alcohol. Emma couldn’t blame her. She hoped
that she would have the possibility to drink tonight as well. She could do with some beer. Or some shots. Or maybe even some vodka. Whatever Eugenia’s Inn had to offer.
None of them said much as they headed inside the car and began the journey back to Steveston. Graham’s forehead seemed to be permanently wrinkled as he sat behind the wheel, clearly lost in thoughts.
Emma didn’t feel the urge to say anything either. She was far too busy wondering. And worrying. She was scared now. Actually scared. And she didn’t know what to do. She didn’t want to just stop her life and sit on her hands until something happened. If she did that, if she was afraid to go outside, the stalker had won. Emma didn’t want him to win. No, what she really wanted, was to be the one who stalked, not the one BEING stalked. She wanted to turn the table on this guy, back him into a corner and then ask him what the hell he was playing at. She wanted an explanation, and a damn good one too. And if this really was Mary Margaret and David’s doing, Emma would take them to court. She didn’t give a shit whether it was a drastic thing to do or not. She wanted them to pay for what they had done to her. She wanted them to pay for making her this afraid.
The blonde clenched her fist slightly.
Graham looked at her. “Are you alright, Emma?”
“Nope,” Emma said plainly. “I’m angry.”
“That’s very understandable, but I meant what I said,” Graham said. “I’m not resting until we catch this guy.”
Emma tried to find some reassurance in that, but she couldn’t. Not really. So to distract herself she found her phone in her pocket and texted Elsa, asking her if she could crash at her place tonight. She also texted Ella to fill her in on this new development, and just as she had sent the text to her friend, Elsa texted back and assured Emma that yes, of course she could stay the night. That wasn’t a problem at all. Emma immediately thanked her.
“Can you think of anyone else from Toronto who could have done this?” Graham asked.
Emma looked up from her phone. “No, not at all. To be honest, I didn’t have many friends back in Toronto. I mostly kept to myself.”
“What about an ex-partner then?” Graham asked. “Have you been in a relationship that ended badly?”
“No,” Emma said and slid her phone back in her pocket. “I mean yes, but not like that. She was the one who dumped me. Not the other way around.”
“And what was her name?”
“Lily. Lilith Page,” Emma said. “But it’s not her, Graham. It can’t be. She wouldn’t do something like this. She was the one who dumped ME.”
“I think it would be unwise to rule out anyone,” Graham said plainly.
Emma’s imagination immediately went into overdrive. Could Lily be the person behind this? No. No, way. Nu-uh. Not in a million years. It wouldn’t make any sense whatsoever. Lily had never been
possessive or anything. Not ever.
No. Emma refused to believe it. Lily couldn’t be the “mastermind” behind this. It had to be Leopold White, and she didn’t hesitate to tell Graham that.
“I assure you, we’ll be checking Leopold White’s alibi first thing,” Graham said sternly. “But as I said, we don’t want to rule anything out.”
Emma considered it again. Could something have gone wrong in Lily’s new relationship? Could Lily suddenly have realized that she wanted Emma back and somehow followed her to Vancouver? No. That didn’t make sense either. Lily wouldn’t never STALK her. Unless she had suddenly become psychotic overnight, and Emma found that to be more than unlikely.
The blonde leaned back in the police car. This was all so fucked up. So ridiculous. She sighed a bit, and Graham shot her a concerned look.
Emma tried to smile and reassure him that she was fine. She was not going to breaking down. At least not until after her stalker had been caught.
The rest of the day was damn hectic. Graham left her at Eugenia’s Inn and headed back to the station to call various people in Toronto, and Emma went inside the restaurant and told both Ruby and Eugenia what had happened and informed her that she wouldn’t be sleeping in her room tonight. Both of them were appalled, and Eugenia offered that Emma could borrow her crossbow. Emma laughed a bit at that and settled for a thanks, but no thanks.
“This is so creepy!” Ruby said.
Eugenia scowled at her. “Not helping.”
“Well, you’re not wrong,” Emma said. “This is hella creepy!”
“Is it your adoptive mother?” Ruby asked.
“I... I don’t know,” Emma said truthfully. Because she didn’t. Not anymore. She was so confused, it could be just about anyone.
“I’ll be doing neighborhood watch tonight!” Eugenia said firmly.
“Me, too,” Ruby said.
“And me,” Leroy added from the bar.
“Count me in,” Isabelle said, and after some nudging from his wife, Mr. Gold declared that he was “in” too.
Emma smiled. It was very touching, witnessing how they all rallied around her like this.
“Mess with one of us, and you’re messing with all of us!” Leroy barked. “Maybe his tires needs some slashing too. My axe would be good for the job!”
Isabelle glared at him. “We’re not aiming to harm him, Leroy. We’re aiming to catch him and bring him over to the police.”
Emma chuckled. “You’re all very sweet, but I honestly don’t think he would come here. Not tonight at least.”
“Well, forgive us for not taking any chances, miss Swan,” Eugenia said firmly.
“Hear, hear,” Leroy said and raised his drink.
Emma chuckled again and then she excused herself and went upstairs to pack a few belongings she would be bringing with her over to Elsa.
Her room was exactly like it always was. Not that Emma believed that the guy had been in her room again, he couldn’t be two places at once, but nevertheless, it was hella nice to find her room empty. She was quick to stuff her sweatpants and a tanktop into the duffel bag she had used on the train. Then she found her charger and stuffed it into her bag along with her phone and a book. Emma doubted she would be interested in reading tonight, but you never knew. Maybe she would need the distraction or something like that.
The blonde sighed for the millionth time that day. This was a freaking nightmare. When was it gonna end? She doubted it could get any worse now.
Later that night, Emma found herself in Elsa’s guest bedroom. Again. And much like the last time, the blonde had trouble with falling asleep. Her thoughts were spiraling out of control, and she was afraid of what was gonna happen tomorrow. She was afraid of staying home, but she was also afraid of heading out and potentially spotting that car in her rearview mirror. And most of all, she was afraid that the stalker was going to get the upper hand on her by effectively making her afraid of going anywhere without glancing nervously over her shoulder or checking her rearview mirror frantically.
The purpose of stalking was control. Emma knew that. And she would be giving him that control if she stopped going out. That was ridiculous. She couldn’t just put her life on pause. She refused to do that. He wasn’t gonna control her. He wasn’t gonna win!
Emma rolled onto her back and muttered earnestly to the silent bedroom: “I am not afraid of you, you bastard! I don’t care who you are or what you want, you can’t control me! And you sure as hell can’t stop me from living my life. I am not gonna play your little game!”. Maybe her voice was a bit too loud. She'd had a couple of drinks with Elsa earlier.
As to prove that, Emma rolled onto her side, fumbled for a few seconds and then found her phone on the bedside table. She tapped the round button in the middle of the screen and then squinted slightly at the bright light. She knew that it was rather late, but she couldn’t resist to text Regina. She hadn’t texted the brunette all day, she had been too busy with talking to Graham, giving another statement at the station, talking to Elsa and then drink a bit. There simply hadn’t been time to text Regina. But now Emma was making up for that as she sent the text: ‘hey, I’m really sorry about today. That was not how I had planned our date at all. Would you like to try again and stop by for coffee sometimes next week? I promise there will be less police involved.’
Emma rolled on to her back again. Regina had probably gone to bed. She would answer tomorrow. Probably early. She always did that. Regina was an early riser. Emma was looking forward to waking up and finding a message from the beautiful brunette waiting for her on her phone. The blonde smiled a little as she curled up under the covers. She had no idea whether she would be able to sleep or not, but she would definitely give it a shot. And she would think about Regina before she went to sleep. Not about anything else. That was the simple rule she had just set up for herself. Regina was the only thing she was allowed to think about before bedtime. Emma chuckled quietly in the darkened bedroom. She was definitely a bit tipsy
But to her enormous surprise and delight, she suddenly heard her phone chime once. Emma was already somewhere between dream and reality, in the middle of some weird half-dream about giant, talking marshmallows, and she had to force herself back to the world of consciousness. She wanted to check the message now. There was no way she would be able to wait until tomorrow. She was willing to grasp every opportunity when it came to texting Regina. It didn’t matter how late or how early it was. Any opportunity was a welcome one. One that Emma was always looking forward to.
She was every bit excited when she grabbed her phone, and she couldn’t hold back a smile as she swiped to check the message from Regina. But the next second it felt as though the walls in Elsa’s guest bedroom was closing in around her. Emma’s heard started to thump uncomfortably in her chest as she read the message from Regina. Clearly it COULD get worse. Emma felt sick as she looked at the message one more time just to make sure she had read correctly the first time. She hoped that her sleepy state was making her mind playing tricks on her.
But it didn’t. The message Regina had just sent her couldn’t be mis-read in any way.
‘I don’t think we should see each other anymore.’
To Be Continued............