Emma didn’t get any more sleep that night. Instead she earned herself a massive headache as she thought and thought. The headache she had gained was worth it, though. Things were slowly beginning to make sense.
The sightings of the grey station car. That had started after she and Regina had started to hang out. And the hang up calls too. The break-in in her room where “nothing of value had been taken”, only a few random items. Maybe those items hadn’t been so random when it came to it. Maybe the intruder had deliberately chosen to take the post-it notes from Regina. Because that was what he had been looking for all along. A sign. Something that connected Regina to Emma.
The vandalism on Emma’s car. The four slashed tires and the threatening message. ‘WATCH YOUR BACK’. Emma had struggled to figure out what that was about. Until now. It had a to be a clear warning. ‘Don’t get too close to her, or else...’.
Regina dropping the glass on Malena’s floor. Regina fleeing the scene after making up an excuse. Regina unceremoniously informing Emma that she didn’t want to see her again. No. That wasn’t how she had formulated the text. It had been ‘I don’t think we should see each other anymore’. And then: ‘I just think it’s better that way’. The wheels in Emma’s head were still turning like crazy. Was that supposed to be taken literally? Was that why Regina had refused to see her again even as friends? Because the brunette knew what was going on. Yes. That had to be it. Emma was certain she had connected the dots. Someone was targeting her, yes, but she wasn’t the MAIN target. Regina was. Someone was targeting Emma to get to Regina.
Emma sat flabbergasted on her bed. The answer had literally been staring her in the face. It had been as plain as day. Let alone that text Regina had sent her before she had turned Emma’s offer about friendship down.
‘You haven’t done anything wrong, Emma. The problem isn’t you. It’s me. I thought there was room for dating in my life. I was wrong. There isn’t.’
Emma had thought that it had been a typical “it’s not you, it’s me” kinda text, but it hadn’t. It had been a rock solid clue. And it had been staring Emma in the face all this time.
“Oh my god,” Emma whispered to the darkened bedroom. “I’ve been an idiot!”
There was no other excuse for it. She had been so wrapped up, so consumed in self blame that she hadn’t considered there could be other possibilities. She had always thought that when it came to Regina, there was more than what was meeting the eye, so why the hell hadn’t she looked a bit closer?
Emma shook her head. Why hadn’t she seen this?!”
And of course her next question was whether Regina knew the identity of this person? Did she know who it was? Was she in any danger?!
Emma was freaking out. And she couldn’t believe how blind she’d been. She had been so busy feeling unworthy and thinking that this was just another rejection that she hadn’t considered or looked for any possible other explanations.
Emma’s feelings were all over the place. On the one hand she was deeply concerned about what was going on with Regina, but on the other hand she was almost inappropriately relived that she had found a reason for Regina’s behavior. This really wasn’t because Emma had said or done something wrong.
Emma rubbed a hand over her face. Her head was throbbing as she thought back to earlier tonight when she had been at Regina’s place. The stalker had to have been watching her. Otherwise he wouldn’t have called and warned Emma. The blonde’s heart thudded a bit too loudly. Where had he been lurking? And why hadn’t she noticed? Why hadn’t she been paying attention to her surroundings? Getting drunk had been a bad idea. And showing up at Regina’s house had been an even worse idea. Suppose she had just endangered Regina?
Emma’s head throbbed again as she thought about who it could be. Who was doing this to Regina? It didn’t take her long to realize that apart from confirming the Malena thing, Regina hadn’t ever talked about her past relationships. Not once. Not even who Henry’s father was. Emma absentmindedly played with a lock of her hair. Could he be the one who was doing this? The blonde frowned a bit. What was it that Henry had said when they were at the harvest festival? That Regina hadn’t known him that well. But if that was the case, why would he be stalking Regina? Had they spend a night of passion together, gone their separate ways and then the guy had become obsessed with Regina afterwards? Or was Henry the key to all this? Was the guy afraid that Emma was getting closer with his son? Was that it?
All sorts of theories were rummaging around in Emma’s head, and it didn’t take long before everything became a bit muddled, a bit hard to decipher. She couldn’t decide which theory was right and which one wasn’t.
But she did know one thing. She and Regina weren’t done. No way in hell Emma was just gonna walk away after this. Nope. She was too involved now. Far too involved. And if Regina really was in danger,
Emma wanted to help her. In any possible way. No way she was gonna go away just because Regina had told her to.
Lily had claimed that Emma was clingy, and right now Emma had never been more grateful for her “clinginess”. Because right now, being clingy was exactly what Emma needed to be. Whether Regina liked it or not. Emma wasn’t just gonna walk away from the one of the best things that had ever happened to her. She didn’t give a damn about some jerk’s warning.
‘We need to talk.’ 06:15 AM
‘I know what this is about.’ 06:17: AM
‘At least I think I do.’ 06:19 AM
‘It’s about you, isn’t it? Someone is following me to get to you.’ 06:21 AM
‘I know I’m right. I got a call from the stalker late last night. He warned me and told me to “stay away from her”. The only “her” I’ve been around lately is you.’ 06:25 AM
‘Are you in danger?’ 06:30 AM
‘Do you know who’s doing this?’ 06:33 AM
‘Regina, please. We have to discuss this. I know you’re afraid, but you can’t just pretend I don’t exist. I’m not gonna walk away from this!’ 06:36 AM
‘Damn it, Regina! Just answer me already! I’m involved in this too! I think I have a right to know what’s going on!’ 07:00 AM
‘I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it like that. I don’t have a right. Not really. But can’t you at least let me know if you’re okay?!’ 07:05 AM
‘Regina, I can see that you’ve read all my messages. Can’t you please just answer me? Please?’ 07:10 AM
‘I’m going to have to tell Sheriff Graham about how the stalker called me last night. I really hope that isn’t gonna complicate things for you.’ 07:20 AM
‘Talked to Graham. He’s gonna try and have the call traced, but I have a nasty feeling that the stalker went with the cliché solution and used a pre-paid phone or some shit.’ 07:40 AM
‘I’m bombarding you with text messages. I know. I’m starting to become a stalker myself, but we can’t just leave things like this! Please tell me that you’re okay! Is Henry okay? Is it his dad doing this?!’ 07:50 AM
‘I’m sorry. I had no right to ask you that. But please, if you know something can’t you just tell me?’ 08:02 AM
‘I have to go to work now. I really, really hope that you by some miracle will have answered me when I’m done working, but if you haven’t, I have to stop by your house. Again. And if you don’t answer the door, I have no choice but to call Sheriff Graham and ask him to break down your door. I’m sorry for putting you on the spot like this, but I’m really fucking worried about you, Regina!’ 08:10 AM
‘Please have answered when I’m done working. Please.’ 08:12 AM
Emma went to work and edited the crap out of a manuscript. Next she proofread a shorter story, and once that was done, Malena was running out of jobs to give her. It was a quiet day at Dragon Publishing, so Malena ended up giving Emma her blessing to work her collection of twisted tales. Emma worked with newfound energy. She wasn’t completely sure where that energy came from, because she was definitely hung over after last night. It had to be adrenaline that rushed around in her body after the discovery she’d made last night. The connection between Regina and the stalker. Technically, she couldn’t for sure know that she was right, she had no actual proof to back up her theory, but Emma didn’t need any actual proof. She still had that gut feeling. That gut feeling she had learned to trust along time ago. That was proof enough. Emma knew that she was right. Exactly like she had told Regina over text, she had indeed been by the sheriff station to tell Graham about the call from the stalker, and Graham had promised that he would do his utmost to trace the call. But Emma hadn’t told him about the possible link to Regina. She hadn’t wanted to share her suspicion until she had heard from Regina. Emma knew that she had pretty much been bombarding the brunette with text messages all morning, but she HAD to discuss this with Regina. Regina knew what was going on, Emma was certain of that. That had to be why she had dropped all contact with Emma. And Emma wasn’t gonna back down until she got some answers from Regina.
Emma was so fucking worried. Could she have lead the stalker straight to Regina last night? What if the stalker had attacked Regina? Was Emma really a gigantic fool for not having called the police right away? Emma wasn’t sure what to think or do. And she wasn’t completely sure how she managed to keep writing and writing when her thoughts were all over the place. Maybe it would have been better if she had stayed home today. Malena had already raised her eyebrows once and asked if Emma was feeling quite alright today. Emma had been blushing like a fool when she admitted that she was a bit hungover.
Malena had just shrugged, said “oh” and then admitted to be hungover herself.
That had made Emma feel all sorts of impressed because Malena looked as perfect, polish and put together as always. No dark circles underneath her eyes or anything. Emma had felt tempted to ask her how the hell she was doing that. It wasn’t fair. Emma herself looked exactly as hungover as she felt, with dark circles underneath her eyes and a beanie to cover the hair she hadn’t really bothered to brush this morning. And she had chosen to skip breakfast. She had felt far too nauseous to actually eat anything. It seemed as though the hangovers were getting worse, the older she got. Maybe she would stop drinking entirely now. She was getting too old for this shit. She wasn’t a teenager anymore. It was about time she started to act her age. Mary Margaret would have been very proud. Emma almost snorted at that.
Emma had so hoped. She had really been desperately clinging to the hope that Regina would have messaged her back by the time she was done with her work and could check her phone again.
But Regina hadn’t. Nothing. Not a peep.
Emma felt her belly pinching with both anxiety and disappointment. And she knew that the pinching wouldn’t go away until she followed through with her plan and stop by Regina’s place. Again.
And so Emma marched over to her car. Borrowed car. She was following Graham’s orders and had changed vehicle. Today Ruby had been kind enough to borrow Emma her car, and Emma had also sort of tugged her blonde hair away under the beanie. She was disguised. Kinda. Well, at least her car wouldn’t be noticed immediately. That was a good thing.
Emma climbed inside the red jeep and wrestled the seatbelt on. Then she turned the key in the engine. The car roared like t-rex on the hunt, and Emma yelped a little. She was not used to this car. She was definitely not used to this car. It was too fast compared to her Bug. And it was too big. Emma had been a bundle of nerves on the way here. She had constantly been afraid to accidentally get too close to the other cars.
Emma squinted in sheer concentration as she maneuvered the car out of the parking lot, and then she yelped again. That was Malena’s car right behind her. Shit. Emma had almost managed to hit it on her way out. And it didn’t exactly make the situation better that Malena was sitting behind the wheel and frowning at Emma.
“Sorry,” Emma yelled even though Malena had no chance of hearing her. “I’m really sorry about that!”
Malena glared at her, so maybe she had heard her after all.
Emma made sure to be a lot more careful as she steered the car away from the building. This had to be her anxiety coming out to play. She was nervous about going to Regina’s place. She was afraid that Regina wouldn’t open the door. And she was afraid that she would find the place deserted. And most of all, she was afraid that she actually would have to call Sheriff Graham and ask him to break down the door. What if Regina had been harmed? Or kidnapped? Or something that was even worse...
Emma took a deep breath and reminded herself to stay calm. Her imagination was running wild. She had to try to focus on driving. She wasn’t interested in leaving a trail of destruction in her wake. All she wanted was to get to Regina safely. And get reassurance that Regina was safe too. She had to be. Emma’s heart sped up. Please, whatever higher powers out there... Let Regina be safe! Let her be alright!
A car honked behind her, and Emma realized that the traffic light was green....
Emma soon reached the familiar white house, and in a flashback, she saw herself stumble up the pathway and then knock on Regina’s door, crying and begging for an explanation. Emma cringed a bit.
She hadn’t acted very maturely yesterday. But if it hadn’t been for her drunken decision about coming here, she still wouldn’t have had a clue what was going on.
Emma parked Ruby’s red jeep and then carefully climbed out of it. Like yesterday, she walked up the pathway, onto Regina’s porch and then knocked once.
Exactly like yesterday, there was no answer, but Emma quickly spotted Regina’s Mercedes in the driveway. She was clearly home. And clearly avoiding Emma too.
Emma knocked softly on the door once more, and this time she could definitely hear movements from inside. The blonde perked up at that. Maybe Regina wasn’t avoiding her after all. Maybe the brunette had decided that talking to Emma was the best solution. Emma hoped so. Regina couldn’t keep pretending that Emma didn’t exist, and especially not when Emma could see that she had read every single message the blonde had sent to her this morning. They had to talk about this, Emma had to know what was going on, they couldn’t just-
The door was opened, but instead of Regina, Emma came face to face with the mini version of her. Henry.
“Hi,” the boy said and flashed her a smile.
“H-hi,” Emma stuttered. She’d had a whole speech prepared for when Regina opened the door. She hadn’t expected Henry to be the one to greet her.
“Are you here to see mom?” the young boy asked and cocked his head.
“Oh, uhm.... Yeah.” Emma said. Because she was. But not like this. Not with Henry present. She didn’t know how much he knew about what was going on.
“Cool,” Henry said and stepped away. “Come in.”
Emma stepped inside the hallway. The rather nice hallway.
“Mom hasn’t mentioned that you were stopping by today,” Henry said as he let Emma into a large kitchen with white surfaces and expensive looking appliances.
“Oh,” Emma said. Simply because she didn’t know what else to say right now.
Henry asked her to sit down by the enormous kitchen table and then opened the fridge. “Do you want something to drink? We’ve got regular milk and soymilk and almond milk. There’s also a bit of coconut milk left. Or you can have some Coca-Cola. Or Pepsi. No wait, that’s empty. I don’t know why auntie Z keeps stuffing empty bottles into the fridge. It always makes mom angry when she does that. We’ve got juice too! Do you want some juice? There’s apple juice, pineapple, juice, tomato juice, grapefruit juice, lime juice. Oh, and there’s also orange juice, but that’s mom’s favorite, she always drinks that in the morning when her throat hurts, so I don’t think we should take that. But do you want juice?”
“Uhh...” Emma said flabbergasted and stared at Henry. The kid was clearly much more talkative when he was at home.
“Juice?” he asked sweetly.
“Just... Just apple juice,” Emma said halfheartedly.
“That’s my favorite,” Henry grinned as he stood on his tippy toes to be tall enough to reach the cupboard above the oven. He fumbled for a few seconds and then found two glasses. The boy smiled at
Emma as he poured first her a solid glass of apple juice, and then poured himself one. He elegantly balanced both glasses in his hands as he walked over to the table and handed the glass to Emma. “Here you go.”
“Thanks, kid.” Emma said and offered a slight smile. Then she took a sip of the apple juice. It was really good. Not to bitter and not too sweet.
“Do you like it?” Henry asked after having taken a solid gulp himself.
“Yeah, it’s really good.”
“Cool. Are you still writing your fairytales?”
“I’m almost done,” Emma said truthfully.
“Really? That’s awesome! Can I read them then? Like you promised me when we were at the harvest festival?”
“Yeah, sure. You can read them,” Emma said distractedly and then asked the question she really wanted an answer to: “Henry where’s your mom? Isn’t she here right now?” sure enough, the Mercedes was
in the driveway, but that didn’t mean that Regina hadn’t gone somewhere on foot.
“She’s upstairs taking a nap. She likes to do that when her throat hurts,” Henry said and frowned a bit as he took a sip of his apple juice. Then he looked at Emma. “Do you want me to go and wake her up so you can talk to her?”
“No!” Emma yelped. “God no. I was just...” was Regina alone with a ten year old while she was in pain? She was just about to ask Henry whether he and Regina were here alone when the question was answered for her. She heard movements coming from somewhere that had to be pretty close to the kitchen.
“That’s auntie Z,” Henry said and answered Emma’s silent question. “She came home early from work so she could be with me while mom’s resting.”
“Oh, I see,” Emma said and downed the rest of her apple juice. “Thanks for the apple juice, kid. Maybe it would be better if I just-“
“No!” Henry interrupted and looked at Emma with his big brown eyes. “Don’t leave. At least not until mom’s awake! She’ll be upset if you leave without saying hi to her.”
“You think so?” Emma said doubtfully.
“Yeah!” the boy cried with much confidence.
Emma seriously doubted that. Regina had made it quite clear that she didn’t wish to see her, but surely it was different now, right?
“When can we hang out again?” Henry asked eagerly.
Emma blinked as she pulled out of her musings. “Sorry?”
Now Emma raised an eyebrow. “What’s funny?”
“Mom always says it’s called I beg your pardon,” Henry said and giggled a bit.
“Oh,” Emma nodded. “I beg your pardon then. What did you mean?”
“When can we hang out again all three of us?” Henry clarified. “Like we did at the harvest festival. Mom couldn’t stop smiling all night long. Auntie Z said she looked stupid, but she was smiling too.”
“Oh, uhmm... I don’t know,” Emma wheedled.
Henry puffed out air. “Mom keeps saying that I can come along the next time and the next time, but she never-“
“Henry? What’s going on here? Who are you talking to?” Zelena stepped inside the kitchen. The redhead quickly glanced at Emma, the two glasses of apple juice, and her blue eyes narrowed when she deciphered the situation.
“Henry, did you answer the door again?” she asked.
“No,” Henry said innocently.
Zelena folded her arms across her chest. “So Emma just appeared in the kitchen out of nowhere?”
“Poof?” Henry said meekly.
“Very cute,” Zelena said. There was a slight twinkle in her eyes even though she still had her arms folded across her chest. “Do you remember what your mom said about opening the door for people?”
“That I’m not supposed to,” Henry muttered, the tips of his ears turning pink.
“Exactly,” Zelena said, and now she was definitely amused. “So give me one good reason why I shouldn’t whip your little butt for disobeying?”
“Because I’m your favorite nephew?”
“You’re my only nephew. Try again.”
“Because I’m really cute?” Henry said and batted his big brown eyes at his aunt.
“And...?” Zelena said mock sternly.
Henry looked confused for a second but then hastily added: “and because I’m really sorry and I promise to never do it again.”
“I’m convinced. You just saved yourself from having your butt smacked. Good job,” Zelena said. “Now be a good boy and go upstairs to check on your mom. Quietly.”
“Okayyyyyy,” Henry said dramatically as he hopped off his chair and scurried up the stairs.
As soon as they couldn’t hear his footsteps anymore, Zelena turned to Emma. “So. You’re here to see my little sister.”
“Yeah,” Emma said. “But I can understand that isn’t feeling well?”
“That’s right,” Zelena confirmed and grabbed Henry’s glass of apple juice. She took a sip.
“I’m sorry to hear that,” Emma mumbled. “And I’m sorry I let the kid let me in. I didn’t know he wasn’t allowed to-“
“And how were you supposed to?” Zelena interrupted. “It’s absolutely fine.”
“I’m sorry Regina isn’t feeling well today,” Emma said sincerely and felt like a totally asshole as she continued: “I had something pretty important to talk to her about.”
“Yes, I can imagine so,” Zelena said as she put the apple juice back into the fridge.
Emma looked at her. The way the redhead had said it made Emma pause. And she didn’t seem at all surprised by Emma’s presence here.
Emma opened her mouth to ask Zelena about it, but Zelena beat her to it: “Regina showed me the messages from you. Before she had to go and lie down.”
Now Emma felt a bit guilty. Was her text messages a part of why Regina was bedridden now? Emma couldn’t bear to find out the answer to that question, so instead she asked: “do you know what’s going on?”
“Yes,” Zelena said plainly and for the first time her eyes seemed to flicker a bit.
“And can you tell-“
“No,” Zelena interrupted. “I’m sorry, Emma, but I cannot. It’s up to Regina to decide when she’s ready to tell you everything.”
“Of course,” Emma said and fidgeted a bit with her hands. “But I’m... I’m being followed.”
“I know,” Zelena sighed. “She’s trying to keep you safe.”
“I want to help her!” Emma exclaimed.
Zelena sighed again. “I would love to tell you that the only way you can help is by staying away, but...”
“But what?” Emma asked.
“You’ve made my sister so happy...” Zelena said as she turned around and looked thoughtfully at Emma. “I’ve seen the way she smiles at her phone every time you’ve texted her. I haven’t seen her smile
like that since...”
“The accident?” Emma asked quietly.
“Yes,” Zelena said and her gaze flickered a bit again. “The accident.”
“So, what exactly are you saying?” Emma asked and raised an eyebrow.
“I’m saying that I know why my sister is doing what she does, but at the same time I would be sad to see her let go of something that has made her this happy.”
Before Emma could get the chance to answer to that, Henry came into the kitchen again. His mouth was curving downwards, and his forehead was wrinkled.
“She’s sleeping really heavily,” he said to Zelena.
“That’s alright,” Zelena assured, and now she didn’t sound one bit teasing or mock stern. “The pills she takes when her throat hurts sometimes makes her very sleepy. You know that.”
“Yeah, but...” Henry looked down at his feet. “It looks like she’s sleeping the way she did when she was at the hospital with all the tubes and machines and-“
“Hen.” Zelena gently interrupted and put her hands on the boy’s shoulder. “Honey, she’s just sleeping. She’s okay.”
“Can’t you check on her, aunt Z?” Henry asked and looked at the redheaded woman. “Please?”
“Okay,” Zelena said and ruffled his hair. “I’ll go upstairs and check on her, poppet.”
“Thanks,” Henry said. He was still frowning.
Perhaps it would be better if Emma scuttled, but she couldn’t bring herself to leave. At least not until she was sure that Regina was okay.
Henry said down next to Emma and looked at his empty glass on the table. “Did aunt Z drink my apple juice?”
“Yeah. She did,” Emma confirmed with a slight nod.
“Oh, man,” Henry said and shook his head a little.
“Your mom sleeps a lot?” Emma asked carefully.
“Sometimes,” Henry said seriously. “Sometimes she can’t really sleep at night, so she naps during the day when I’m in school. But she’s been too busy with going to the hospital lately, so she haven’t had
the time to take naps during the day. Maybe that’s why she got sick today.”
“The hospital?” Emma echoed.
But before Henry could get the chance to elaborate, Zelena stepped into the kitchen again, and Henry immediately turned his attention to her: “is she awake?”
“No, not quite yet, poppet,” Zelena said. “I think she’ll need an hour or two more. But that’s okay. We didn’t finish our video game from earlier, did we?”
Henry shook his head and then asked: “but she’s okay though, right?”
“She’s fine,” Zelena said firmly. “There’s nothing to worry about.”
Henry looked very relieved at his aunt’s words, and Emma thought to herself that this was her cue to leave. She rose from her seat. “I better...”
“You’re leaving?” Henry asked and looked a bit disappointed now.
“Yeah,” Emma said. “I think that’s better.” She turned to Zelena. “Can you tell Regina I stopped by?”
“Absolutely,” Zelena said.
“Are you gonna write on your fairytales when you get home?” Henry asked eagerly.
Emma flashed him a smile. “Yeah, maybe I am.”
“Are you gonna come back?” He continued.
Emma wanted to say yes. Because she wanted to come back and hang out with Regina’s son again. She wanted to sit in Regina’s kitchen and have apple juice with Regina and Henry, and she wanted to make Regina as happy as Zelena had said she was, but Emma wasn’t sure that would ever be possible.
“We’ll see, kid,” Emma said and felt tempted to reach out and ruffle the boy’s hair. She offered both him and Zelena a little smile and then the blonde left the house. Without having talked to Regina.
She made it home alright. No grey station car followed her home, and nobody called and threatened her, and Emma felt relived. Apparently, changing vehicle worked. At least it had today. There was no way of making sure that the grey station car wouldn’t appear in her rearview mirror tomorrow.
Emma was sitting with her legs crossed on the bed. she had the computer in her lap, and she was actually doing exactly what she had told Henry. She was writing on her fairytales. She was so close to being finished now. She could almost smell the finish line. And that made her eager. She wanted to finish it. Finish and send the updated version to Malena. And then she could write on “A Tap on the
Shoulder” without feeling guilty. She could still hear Willa and Helena call out to her.
Emma was working steadily. Her curtains were drawn, and the rain falling outside served as the perfect background sound. She tried not to listen too much to the cars passing by her window, and she kept telling herself to not jump up from the bed and run over to the window and check who it was. Right now, her stalker wasn’t existing.
Emma hummed tunelessly to herself as she tapped away on the laptop. Pretending that her stalker didn’t exist wasn’t the only thing that was difficult to do. It was also difficult to not think about Regina.
She had been in pain. And Henry had been concerned about her. Very concerned. He had talked about “all the tubes and machines”. Emma bit her lip. Regina was clearly taking some sort of strong medication to soothe the pain in her throat. Emma’s heart was positively aching for her. And for Henry too. And a little bit for herself too. She had so wanted to talk to Regina today. To clear things up. To find out what the heck was going on, and instead she had ended up feeling more concerned than anything else.
The blonde sighed and ran her fingers through her hair. This wasn’t easy. She really hoped that the messages she had sent to Regina this morning had been one of the reasons why Regina had ended up in bed. Her intention hadn’t been to cause Regina pain. Emma felt guilty as hell.
She sighed again as she tried to push that guilt away. She tried to keep her thoughts focused on the computer screen in front of her, and it actually worked. Sort of. Her concentration was broken for a millisecond as her phone chimed. Emma picked up the phone and quickly answered the text from Ella. She was asking how “everything” was going, and Emma truthfully answered that things were a bit chaotic right now. She didn’t feel very sure about anything. Ella expressed her sympathy and once again offered to come and crash for a while. Emma thanked her but reminded her friend about “evil boss lady”. Better known as Ingrid. Emma laughed out loud as Ella used some very colorful language to describe exactly how she felt about Ingrid and her terror regime, as she called it. Emma agreed with it, though. Ingrid was every bit an ice queen in every way, and for a while, Emma and Ella had quite a bit of fun with texting back and forward about Ingrid and all the horrible things she had done to them over the years. Emma had absolutely no problem with remembering how it had been to work for Ingrid. A living nightmare. Hell on earth.
After having spent far too long time on texting, Emma finally turned her attention back to the laptop screen in front of her. She had been getting distracted. Again. Focus, Swan. You’re finishing a book, remember?
And oh, how she wrote! Emma lost all track of time as the words poured out of her. She stopped thinking about anything besides the stories she was writing. She barely noticed that the sky was darkening rapidly, nor did she notice that her room was getting darker as well. Was her fingers cramping? Possibly. Was she hungry? Yeah, maybe. Did she have to pee? Definitely. But did she actually do it? Nope.
Not a chance. She kept writing. And writing. And writing.
She was so consumed with writing she completely forgot time and place, and she yelped and damn nearly dropped the laptop on the floor when her cellphone chimed again. Emma growled a bit as she picked up the phone again. If that was Ella, Emma was going to murder her. Plain and simple. She had told Ella that she was writing, and her friend had promised to “leave her alone”.
It wasn’t Ella.
Emma swallowed something and her heart beat a little faster. It was Regina. Was she awake? How much time had passed? Emma glanced at the time. Two hours. Almost two and a half hour, actually. Wow.
Emma palms went completely sweaty as she stared at Regina’s name on the screen. Regina had texted her. God, what did she have to say? Was she gonna give Emma some answers, or was she angry with her?
The blonde tried to breathe normally as she checked the message: ‘Zelena told me you stopped by. You shouldn’t have done that. The stalking will only stop if we stop seeing each other.’
Emma took a deep breath. So she had been right. This was in fact about Regina. Someone was trying to hurt Regina through Emma. The blonde frowned as she replied with a question that had been burning in her mind all day: ‘Are you in danger?’
The response came quickly, and the writing was quickly forgotten as Emma checked the message: ‘no, I’m not. The only one who’s in danger is you is you keep contacting me.’
Emma’s heart started thudding once more at that, but perhaps not for the completely right reasons. Somehow, not being able to see Regina seemed worse than being stalked. She didn’t want to stop seeing Regina, damn it! Out of pure desperation, Emma changed the subject and texted: ‘Are you feeling better?’
The response came quickly: ‘Yes, a bit.’
Eagerly grasping any kind of conversation with the brunette, Emma texted back: ‘I’m sorry you weren’t feeling well earlier.’
Once again, the response came quickly: ‘it’s alright. I’m sorry if Henry made you worried. I just needed an extra nap, that was all. Sometimes Henry worries a bit too much.’
‘He’s a very sweet kid. Of course he worries about you. That’s only natural.’
Emma moved the laptop and sat it down on her nightstand, and just as she had freed herself of it, the reply from Regina came: ‘maybe it isn’t. He’s the child, and I’m the adult. It’s not his job to be that worried about me, Emma. I want him to go back to be a happy, carefree kid.’
‘It’s been like that since it happened?’ Emma texted quickly. Regina was communicating with her. Regina was finally communicating with her.
The response to that came quickly as well, and Emma immediately checked the new message: ‘by “it” you mean the accident?’
The blonde cringed and felt every bit uncomfortable as she texted back a single word: ‘Yes.’
Emma waited. She had become so used to Regina’s fast replies, so now it felt a bit strange that the brunette didn’t answer right away. The blonde immediately started to worry. Had she managed to say the completely wrong thing again? Or had Regina simply decided to cut off all communication again? Emma stared at the silent phone in her hand. Her palm felt sweaty once more. This was just texting.
The stalker couldn’t possibly know that she was texting Regina. This was safe. Texting was safe. Emma was just about to text Regina that, but then the phone chimed in her hand.
Emma immediately checked the message: ‘I haven’t been honest with you.’
Okay, now Emma felt pretty fucking confused. What did that even mean? Had Regina accidentally sent her a text that was meant for someone else? Emma frowned as she texted back: ‘What do you mean??’
Then she waited. And felt uncomfortable without fully knowing why. It didn’t actually have anything to do with the fact that Regina had just admitted that she had been dishonest. It was something else.
She couldn’t quite put her finger on it. There was that feeling again. That pinching sensation in her belly. That tight feeling in her chest. That feeling Emma long ago had learned to connect with bad news.
The blonde shivered a bit, felt cold even though the room was nicely warmed up for the night.
Her phone was still silent, and Emma threw all caution to the wind as she texted the brunette one more time: ‘Regina? What do you mean you haven’t been honest with me?’
And then her phone chimed again. Emma stared at the text message she had just received. ‘There never was an accident.’
To Be Continued............