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To Hear Her Voice In The Silence

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Emma put the letter down and wept. Ugly and messily and without hesitation. She cried and cried as her heart shattered into a million pieces for Regina. Emma didn’t want to believe that this had happened to her. She felt sick and she couldn’t stop shaking. She was freezing and her heart was hammering away in her chest.

She was going to be sick.

Emma rushed into the bathroom where she emptied the content of her stomach repeatedly. Her fingers trembled as she grabbed the sink. She didn’t want to believe this. She wanted to wake up and discover that it had been a bad dream. She didn’t want this to be real. Emma shook her head as though she could physically shake the memories out of her head. No. This couldn’t have happened to
Regina. It was too horrible. It was too gruesome!

After having taken keep gulps of water straight from the tap, Emma left the bathroom and went back into the bedroom. The letter was still laying unfolded on her bed, and Emma had no choice but to accept reality. And reality was that this really had happened. To Regina. She had gone through this nightmare. Emma’s heart started to beat rapidly in her chest. God, that miserable son of a bitch could have killed her! He almost had! Regina had been in a medically induced coma for a week because of what he had done to her!

Emma sat down heavily on the bed. She was panting slightly as though she was exhausted, and she buried her face in her hands as snippets from Regina’s letter attacked her.

‘I don’t think I’ve ever been as surprised in my life as I was when he suddenly slapped me. It had literally come out of nowhere. I was so surprised, I was barely shocked. I couldn’t comprehend what had happened. He immediately got very upset and started crying as he apologized to me again and again. He assured me that it was an accident, and that he would never ever do it again. I can’t remember what I said to all that. I was still completely shocked. I think I just went upstairs and locked myself in the bedroom. I very distinctly remember that Henry wasn’t home that night, and that I was relieved about that. The next morning, he was still there, and he once again assured me that he would never ever do that again. He cried again and said that he didn’t know why he had done it. He loved me and he didn’t want to lose me. I was an idiot. I forgave him. I wish I could tell you why, but I can’t. Maybe I naively believed that he meant it. That he would never do it again.’

Emma’s stomach clenched. Regina hadn’t been an idiot. She had been in love, and the bastard had used that to manipulate her. The blonde’s fist clenched. It had been a while since she had last wanted to hit someone like she did right now.

‘He did. A couple of months after the first incident, he slapped me again. I don’t remember why. Honestly, I don’t think there was much of a reason...’

Emma’s jaw clenched. Of course there hadn’t been a reason. Regina shouldn’t even have tried to find a reason. The blonde’s breathing sped up.

‘....... During our... intimate moments he suddenly developed the habit of grabbing my throat. I asked him why he had started doing that, and he acted surprised and asked me if I didn’t like it. I told him that I didn’t, and then I asked him to stop it, But he didn’t. He kept doing it, and I stopped protesting. He wasn’t hurting me, and if it turned him on, I didn’t see the point in starting an argument over it. I sucked it up and endured it. I hoped that it would make him happier...’

Nausea radiated through Emma. He had enjoyed it. He had enjoyed grabbing Regina’s throat. It seemed like such a dark indicator of what was to come. A sick foreplay to what he would be doing to Regina’s throat later on.

Maybe Emma was gonna be sick again. It certainly felt like it right now. She breathed in and out through her nose as more passages from the letter mercilessly flooded her mind completely.

‘....And then he told me that I shouldn’t be working. That it wasn’t my place to work. That I should be at home with Henry and take care of him instead. Suppose something happened to him. It was an obvious threat, and it finally made me wake up. I’d had enough. I couldn’t take anymore.’

Emma felt sick all over again. He had hurt Regina. That alone was reason enough to wanting to rip him apart limb by limb, but to think that he also had threatened Henry! He had threatened a child! God, he had to be a complete psychopath!

‘....He went completely ballistic. He screamed at me and threatened me with all kinds of things. Then he hit me again. This time he used his fist, and I ended up hitting my head on the wall. I nearly passed out and he took advantage of that and grabbed my throat. He squeezed. I couldn’t breathe properly, but I somehow managed to hit him in the face. I was wearing the ring he gave me, and it cut his cheek. He let go of me and grabbed his cheek instead. I ran. I don’t know why I ran upstairs instead of outside. I didn’t think clearly. I locked myself in the bedroom where my phone was. I called the police and screamed that he was going to kill me. That was about all I managed to say before he busted the door open and came inside the bedroom. He hit me again. I was on the brink of passing out, and he easily overpowered me. He forced me down on the floor-‘

Emma’s stomach churned and she shook her head violently. No! No! she didn’t want to think about it. She didn’t want this to be real! She didn’t want this to have happened to Regina! The blonde sobbed again and scrubbed at her eyes. She felt so selfish for wanting to forget what she had read. Regina had to live with this every single day for the rest of her life. Emma sniffled noisily, and her stomach churned again as she thought about what could have happened if the police hadn’t shown up when they did. No, not what could have happened, what would have happened. He would have killed her. He would have murdered her and left Henry without a mother and Zelena without a sister... Emma reached inside her bedside drawer and grabbed a tissue. She was suffocating. She needed to blow her nose.

‘......I woke up in the hospital. I had four broken ribs, two black eyes, and my left cheekbone was broken. I was very confused and didn’t quite understand what was happening. One of the nurses told me what had happened a week earlier. They had kept me in a medically induced coma to lessen the pressure on my brain. I was sore and tired, but I remembered everything that had happened to me. Things were very difficult. After I became conscious, I panicked every time one of the doctors had to examine me. I wouldn’t let them touch me. They had to sedate me.’

Emma’s chest clenched. The way Regina had flinched ever so slightly when Emma had put her hand on her arm. The look of panic in her eyes after Emma had kissed her... Emma felt terrible. She had trampled all over Regina’s boundaries, and Regina had most likely been too petrified to tell her. Emma’s kiss had probably felt like another assault. Another violation of her boundaries. Emma used the tissue to wipe her eyes. It felt as though she would never stop crying again.

‘....A policeman would come and take my statement. I opened my mouth to tell them everything, and I couldn’t talk. Not a word came out of my mouth and I panicked all over again. I had to be sedated again.’

Emma could easily understand that. To imagine what Regina must have felt when she opened her mouth and tried to speak her mind and then no words came out. Emma wasn’t sure whether her heart could shatter any further.

‘...I don’t know exactly when, perhaps it was a couple of days later when they told me that the strangulation had damaged my vocal cords severely. But they were convinced that it was temporarily. That my voice would come back.’

And it hadn’t. Emma sniffled again.

‘.....And it was impossible for me not to think about what he had said right before he started choking me. That he would ensure that I stayed silent forever. I assume that he meant that he was going to kill me, but in a twisted way, he got what he wanted. He took my voice from me.’

Emma took another deep breath. Regina had been too sick to testify against him, but Emma was glad that Regina’s injuries had been more than enough proof against him. Life in prison without the possibility of parole. He was never gonna see the light of day again. He could never ever get anywhere near Regina again. Emma rubbed her temples. It wasn’t enough. Regina was as much in prison as he was. She had been depressed. So depressed she had considered to end things herself. Emma felt nauseated once more. Regina had considered suicide. She had been in a psychiatric ward. She had panicked every time someone had touched her. Even her own son. She had had to learn that it was okay to hug her son. Emma’s vision turned red. Suddenly, the idea of sprinting outside, jumping into her car and driving straight to the prison where that bastard was and hitting him until his miserable little head squished like a pumpkin, didn’t seem that far out...

She shook her head, tried to collect her thoughts and focus on what Regina had written in her letter. She had been transferred to a hospital in Toronto to undergo an operation. An operation that hadn’t worked. And now she was waiting for a second surgery. One that could potentially give her back the ability to speak.

She had been on her way home from the hospital in Toronto when Emma had met her on the train. She had been on her way to her new life in Vancouver with Zelena and Henry.
Henry. He didn’t know. That was why Regina had said that there had been an accident. That was why everyone thought she had been involved in an accident. To protect Henry. To make sure he didn’t find out the truth. Emma could easily understand why Regina had gone along with Zelena’s panic lie. Henry was far, far too young to be told the truth. Regina was right, it would devastate him. He was just a little boy. A little boy who loved his mother and just wanted to protect her...

Emma’s bottom lip trembled. There had been no one to protect Regina that night. She had been alone. In many ways, she was still alone. She had called herself “damaged”, but Emma wasn’t sure she agreed with that description. It made it sound like Regina was some piece of machinery that didn’t work anymore, and that wasn’t how Emma saw it. Regina was traumatized. Battered, and rightfully so.

But she was not broken. She wasn’t some toy that bastard had broken.

Emma took another deep breath. Maybe she shouldn’t be thinking so much about Regina’s choice of words right now. Maybe she should be thinking about the fact that
Regina had revealed the identity of the man who was following Emma.

Liam. The brother of Regina’s ex-fiancé. The brother who was clearly as insane as Regina’s ex-fiancé had been. Emma felt enraged all over again. To imagine that he had actually claimed that Regina had been lying. That he had dared standing up in court and shouting profanity. Fucking bastard!

At least he wasn’t allowed to come anywhere near Regina or Henry or Zelena. They were safe.

But he could get to Emma. Or could he? Regina had been to see Graham. And Graham and his officers were looking for Liam. Emma prayed that they would be able to find him.

Emma looked at the letter. The last three lines assaulted her eyes:

‘I’m not gonna pretend that I’m not feeling anything for you, because I do. But you deserve better than this. You deserve someone that isn’t broken, and with everything that’s going on with Liam, I think it would be better if you stay away from me.

Stay away from her. Regina wanted Emma to stay away from her. The blonde shook her head. There was no way in hell she would be able to do that. Not even when Regina’s ex-fiancé’s brother was lurking about. Emma couldn’t just walk away from this. She understood that Regina was trying to keep her safe, but it wasn’t just that. Regina seemed to think that Emma could “do better”. That she deserved “someone that isn’t broken”. That word again. Broken. Emma stared at the letter once more. She wasn’t gonna walk away from this. Regina wanted the blonde to give up on her, but there was no way Emma was gonna do that. Not in a million years. She wanted to be in Regina’s life. She wanted Regina to know that she was there. She wasn’t alone. Emma wanted to help her. In any way she could.

She cared so deeply for Regina. More than she had ever cared for anyone before, and the idea that Regina felt like Emma deserved someone better was heartbreaking. The blonde wiped her eyes again.

Fresh tears had spilled onto her cheeks. She wanted to text Regina. No, better still she wanted to run outside, jump into her car and then drive straight to Regina’s place. She wanted to see Regina, to tell her how much it broke her heart to know that Regina had been through this nightmare. She wanted to tell Regina that she wouldn’t be able to stay away from her even though Regina had asked her to.

And last but not least, she wanted to apologize again and again for having touched Regina. For having kissed her without even bothering to ask about the look of panic in Regina’s eyes.

Emma suddenly blamed herself. She should have considered; she should have asked... But she hadn’t Because she hadn’t wanted to pry. Emma swallowed something. All this time she had thought of Regina as a mystery, but she hadn’t in her wildest imagination expected the mystery to be this dark. She felt sick again. Was she gonna throw up again?

The blonde pulled the robe tighter around herself. She wasn’t completely aware why she was wearing a bathrobe. She could barely remember what she had been doing before Ruby had knocked on the door and given her the letter.

Emma wondered who had given Ruby the letter. Had Regina been here? Or had she asked someone else to deliver it for her? Perhaps her sister.

A lightening zigzagged across the sky, and then there was a loud thunderclap. The sound made Emma jump. The letter ended up on the floor. Emma didn’t want to move it. She didn’t want to touch it anymore. It felt like every word written there could cut her if she touched the letter.

But on the other hand, she couldn’t just leave it on the floor. Her fingers trembled slightly as she reached down and grabbed the letter. And they kept trembling as she stuffed the letter back into the envelope. Next she locked the letter away in the top drawer of her dresser. It felt childish. As though not being able to see the letter could change anything. It couldn’t. The letter was still there. And everything written in it had happened. To Regina. It wasn’t just one of the thrillers Emma had enjoyed reading. This was real life. And it was gruesome. Emma could think of no other word to describe it.

Regina’s voice had been stolen from her in the most horrible way imaginable.

Utterly exhausted, Emma laid down on the bed. She doubted that she would be able to sleep tonight, but she needed to lie down. She felt terribly dizzy and nauseous. Maybe she would end up puking again. Or maybe weep some more. Emma felt like she would never stop crying. Her eyes had started to prickle again in that telltale manner, and before Emma knew of it, she was crying again. Not loudly this time. Just quietly weeping into her pillow, and in many ways, this was so much worse than the first round of tears. Every part of her body hurt, and her heart was breaking for Regina. Shattering into a million little pieces that couldn’t possibly be put back together. She kept imagining what Regina had gone through. How scared she must have been.......

Now Emma was full on bawling into her pillow, and her body shook. She curled into herself into a tight ball on the bed, rocking back and forward. She hadn’t done that since she was a frightened little girl living under Mary Margaret’s roof and rules.

Regina had been hurt.

Regina had almost died.

Regina was afraid to be touched.

Emma felt like she was choking.

That miserable excuse for a human being had tried to kill Regina. Sadness and rage mixed and left Emma dizzy and gasping on the bed. It felt like she was about to have a panic attack. She hadn’t had a panic attack in years, and somehow, she felt angry at herself for being on the brink of having one now. She wasn’t the one who had been in danger. She wasn’t the one who had endured all that.

Regina had just been looking for love. She had just been searching for her happy ending like so many else. And instead she had met a monster.

Emma ended up crying herself to sleep that night........

 

 

The next morning wasn’t any better. Emma’s throat felt completely raw when she drifted back into the world of consciousness. Her eyes were puffy, and she had a distinct feeling that her nose was bright red.

She sat up in bed and scrubbed at her eyes. Sniffled. At first, she thought that she hadn’t slept for very long, because the sky was completely dark, but then she remembered what she had heard in the radio last night. The weather was supposed to be terrible. And it was. The wind was still howling, and the rain was hammering against the window. Emma couldn’t go to work today. Going outside would be dangerous.

The blonde fumbled to find her phone and quickly discovered that Malena had sent her a text twenty minutes ago. A text in which she “warned” Emma not to come to work today. She wouldn’t be going either. The weather was simply too dangerous. Emma quickly texted back and informed her boss that she had every intention of staying home today.

She forced herself out of bed and more or less stumbled into the bathroom where she unceremoniously unplugged the tub. All the water fizzled down the drain. That was exactly how Emma felt today. Like water swirling down the drain. She was exhausted to the bone.

She washed her face. Bathed her poor, red eyes and then dabbed her red nose. She didn’t look too good. She had dark circles underneath her eyes. Her blonde hair seemed limp. Her green eyes were lifeless. She felt so utterly drained.

Emma couldn’t function today. Plain and simple. So she ended up doing something she hadn’t done while she was here. She ordered room service. Or, she sent Ruby a text and told her that she would like to have the breakfast brought up to her room as opposed to eat downstairs in the restaurant like she always did. Emma didn’t want to see anyone today. She didn’t have the physical nor mental strength to go downstairs and act normal. She couldn’t. Not when her heart was laying shattered and throbbing somewhere in her chest.

Emma didn’t even bother to get dressed that morning. Instead she took a quick shower and then redressed in the sweatpants and long t-shirt she had been sleeping in. She hastily pulled her hair back in a messy bun and then left the bathroom. Her timing couldn’t have been better. Ruby knocked on the door just as Emma emerged from the bathroom.

Emma went over and unlocked the door. Forced herself to smile at the waitress standing outside, balancing a breakfast tray in her hands.

“Morning,” Ruby said. “Great weather, huh?”

“Mmm, very,” Emma said and relieved Ruby of the tray. “Thanks.”

“It’s scrambled eggs and bacon. And a bear claw. And cocoa with cinnamon.”

“You’re the best,” Emma said, mustering a smile.

“I know I am,” Ruby said, joking for a second, but then she became quite serious again. “Is everything okay?”

“Yeah,” Emma lied. “Everything is fine.”

“Okay,” Ruby said. She didn’t look entirely convinced but settled for a: “bon Appetit!”. Then she turned around and took a few steps down the hallway.

“Rubes?” Emma said as she put the breakfast tray down on the bedside table.

“Yeah?”

“That envelope you gave me last night.... Do you by any chance know who delivered it?” Emma asked.

“Yeah, it was Zelena,” Ruby said.

“Okay,” Emma said. So her suspicion had been correct. It hadn’t been Regina herself who had been here to deliver it. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome. Are you sure everything is fine?” Ruby asked and raised an eyebrow.

“Yeah,” Emma lied. “Absolutely.”

“Alright then. See ya later.”

“Yep,” Emma said.

Ruby turned around once more and went down the hallway. Emma could hear her footsteps getting fainter and fainter. The blonde closed the door and then locked it. Not that she was expecting any unwanted visitors today. Not in this fucking weather. Being out in this weather would be a suicide mission.

So maybe she should hope that Liam was out there. Maybe she should hope that he was actually stupid enough to “brave the weather”. Who knew, maybe a tree would land on his car, or maybe he would get hit in the head by a roof tile. Very tragic, but kinda his own fault. Being out in this weather and all....

Emma interrupted her own dark thoughts by shaking her head firmly and then turning her attention to the breakfast trey. She wasn’t enormously hungry, but she knew that she couldn’t go without having breakfast. That would just lead to dizzy spells and possibly even fainting. Emma had tried that before. Not very comfortable.

And so, she settled down on the edge of the bed and dug into her breakfast. Breakfast in bed. Had the situation been any different, Emma would have felt like the luckiest bastard in the world.

But she didn’t feel lucky today. She felt completely raw. Her dreams had been terrible. She had kept seeing a faceless man lunge at Regina while Emma herself had been caught in that particular dream state where you can’t move. It had been awful.

Emma took a shuddering breath. The food became tasteless in her mouth. She felt nauseated all over again....

 

After having had breakfast, Emma ended up sitting and staring at her laptop screen for almost an hour until she admitted to herself that she wouldn’t get any writing done today. She couldn’t concentrate.

The only thing she was thinking about was Regina. She was the only thing on Emma’s mind, and the blonde needed to reach out. She was in desperate need of just the slightest sign of life from Regina.

Emma debated it with herself for quite a while. Sending a text didn’t seem like it was enough. Not after that letter. What Emma really wanted to do, was to speed to Regina’s place and tell Regina how sorry she was. But she couldn’t go out in this weather. And Regina had forbidden her to come by her house. Emma knew that she would have to go against that sooner or later, but for right now she would have to settle for texting. She found her phone on the bedside table and then quickly send a text to Regina.

‘I’m not even sure what I’m supposed to write to you after having read your letter. I don’t think there are any words to describe what I’m feeling. But this isn’t about me. God, Regina, are you alright? No. Of course you’re not. I already knew that, but I don’t really know what else I can write. I suppose I just want to hear from you.’

Emma wasn’t even sure whether Regina would answer her or not, so she was pretty surprised when her phone chimed a moment later. Emma was quick to check the message:

‘Hello, Emma. This is Zelena. I’m afraid Regina isn’t doing a hundredth percent well today. She’s currently taking a nap. Don’t worry, she gave me permission to answer her texts.’

Emma’s heart sank, and she felt that pinching sensation in her belly as she texted back.

‘This is gonna sound like a right cliché, but I’m really, really sorry to hear that she isn’t doing well. And I’m really sorry that she had to relive this because of me. Will you tell her that?’

After a moment or so, the answer came, and Emma’s phone chimed in an almost inappropriate manner. Emma swallowed something as she checked that message:

‘No, I will not. Because you didn’t force her to relive anything, Emma. She chose to share her story with you.’

And just like that, Emma felt close to weeping again. And her moment of sensitivity made her type ridiculous stuff: ‘I really miss her.’ she immediately regretted it when she had sent it. This wasn’t about her. And the answer chiming on her phone was probably Zelena informing her of just that. Emma checked the message.

‘I know Liam is after you, but I’m sure that Graham and his officers will get him. They’ll make the threat disappear.’

Not being completely sure of where Zelena was going with this, Emma simply texted: ‘I hope you’re right.’

The answer came quick. Zelena was a fast “texter” too, and Emma’s heart thumped a little when she read the newest message from Zelena: ‘ever since she met you, I’ve seen glimpses of the old Regina. The happy Regina. And it has given me hope for the future. Don’t give up on her, Emma.’

Now Emma was actually weeping, and she could barely see to hit the “send” button. After a moment or so she succeeded in sending her quick, but reassuring answer: ‘Never.’

There was no other answer she could give, and she hoped it would suffice. Zelena didn’t want her to give up on Regina. Emma felt a sliver of hope. Her phone chimed again, and Emma checked the message.

‘I’ll tell her you texted, but she might not be ready to reply to you today. Or tomorrow.’

Emma was quick to text back, and she only noticed the spelling error after she had sent the message.

‘I understand thaat. Will you tell her that I’m thinking about her?’

The reply from Zelena came immediately:

‘I most certainly will. Take care of yourself, Emma. Don’t take any unnecessary risks. I know you want to see her, but please think about your safety. Regina would be devastated if something happened to you.’

Emma swallowed something again, and her eyes were stinging as she typed: ‘I promise I’ll be careful.’ She sent the message and scrubbed at her eyes.

Zelena’s answer was simply ‘good’, and Emma could sense that their conversation via text had come to an end. She put her phone down on the nightstand once more.

Concern was gnawing in her belly, and it felt more like that pinching sensation. Regina was unwell. Regina. Whether her pain was physical or emotional didn’t matter. The bottom line was that Regina was unwell. Because of the letter she had written to Emma.

The blonde felt enormously guilty. Yes, Regina had chosen to write that letter, but hadn’t Emma been the one pushing for answers? Hadn’t Emma been the one bombarding her with text messages?

Emma tried to remind herself that she had done that out of concern and not to cause Regina any pain. But right now it was hard to try and remember that. All she could focus on was the fact that Regina was unwell.

Emma felt fresh tears pooling in her eyes, and she immediately felt annoyed at herself. She had no business crying when Regina was the one who was reliving a trauma.

 

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

Emma didn’t do much that day. Well, she proofread a bit more of that manuscript she hadn’t quite finished, but for the rest of it she ended up watching HBO in an attempt to distract herself. It wasn’t really working though. She kept thinking about Regina. She kept thinking about her lying alone in a darkened bedroom and crying silently. God, Emma hoped that Regina wasn’t alone. She hoped that Henry was with her. She hoped that Henry would somehow manage to make his mother smile. Emma had an inkling that Henry had a knack for that. Hopefully, he had already unleashed his skills by now.

Emma stared blankly at her laptop screen. What episode was she on? Five? Six? She had no idea. She hadn’t been paying attention. Not even re-watching season one of “Game of Thrones” was enough to keep her from thinking. Nothing would be able to distract her today.

The wind was still howling in the trees, and Emma was starting to regret having chosen a room with forest view. The noise was overwhelming. It was still raining too. It had been raining all day, and Emma was sure she’d heard something heavy falling onto the road a bit earlier. Maybe the roof tiles really were coming loose. Maybe Steveston would be nothing more than a pile of bricks when they woke up tomorrow.

If that was the case, Emma would be the first one to volunteer for the rebuilding process. But hopefully, the storm would blow over soon. It was actually quite scary. It was very intense.

Emma shifted on the bed. It was possible that she had forgotten to eat lunch today. She hadn’t had any appetite. But of course she would have dinner. She would order room service again. Maybe treat herself to a slice of that chocolate cake she hadn’t had the chance to have some of last night.

Last night. Emma sighed. It seemed impossible to imagine that Last Night had started with a nice, soothing bath and then ended with a letter that completely shattered everything. Emma felt nauseous again. Maybe she wouldn’t have that piece of chocolate after all.

She paused “Game of Thrones”. She couldn’t concentrate, so what was the point in keeping watching it? Plus, she had a banger headache. Most likely from crying herself to sleep last night. Emma recognized this particular headache. She had cried herself to sleep many, many times when she lived in Mary Margaret’s house.

And it seemed like she would be crying herself to sleep tonight as well. She couldn’t stop thinking about Regina and how her dark eyes had flickered anxiously after Emma had kissed her. Emma’s belly curled, and she suddenly felt cold all over even though the room was warm. She might as well have been standing outside in the rain.

The blonde pulled the covers tighter around her body, hoping that it would make her feel warmer, but at the same time she knew that no amount of blankets would make her feel warmer tonight. It wasn’t gonna work on the cold feeling that seemed to come from within her. Emma rubbed her arms. God, Regina, please be alright, please be alright! Please, I can’t bear the thought of you being-

A rather piercing sound from her phone interrupted Emma’s train of frantic thoughts, and the blonde yelped in pure shock. It didn’t take her long to imagine that it was her stalker- Liam- calling her. The weather was creepy, it was nearly dark outside, this should be right up his street.

But it wasn’t Liam. It was Sheriff Graham. Emma breathed a sigh of relief as she picked up the phone and then swiped to take the call. “Hello?”

“Hello, Emma. Am I disturbing you?”

Emma looked around in the messy hotel room. “No, not at all. What’s up?”

“Well, firstly I want to apologize for not having been able to stop by the inn and check your old room,” the sheriff said. “If the weather allows it, I’ll stop by tomorrow with a couple of officers to check your room for cameras.”

Emma’s eyebrow rose. “You know about that?”

“Yes, Regina stopped by yesterday afternoon and informed me,” Graham said in the other end.

“Oh. I see. Yeah. She thinks that there might be a camera in my old room,” Emma continued and ignored the pinching feeling she got in her belly when Graham started to talk about Regina.

“And she also identified the stalker,” Graham continued seriously. “Liam Jones.”

“Yeah,” Emma said simply and tried to push back her nausea as she thought about how much Graham knew about Regina’s past by now.

“As soon as the weather gets a little better, we’ll try and locate Mr. Jones,” Graham said.

Emma’s heart sank. “But we don’t have any actual proof that it’s him.”

“Which is why I’ll ask you to record his voice if he calls you again,” Graham said. “Now that he’s called you once, I doubt he’ll be able to resist doing it again. He got a kick out of it the first time, and in his mind, the kick will be even bigger the next time.”

“Right,” Emma said. “I’ll record it if he calls me again.”

“Good. In the meantime, I’ll have to ask you to not put yourself in any danger, Emma,” Graham said very seriously. “I know that Mr. Jones only strikes when you’ve been with Regina, and-“

“I’ll stay away from her,” Emma said bitterly. “I don’t really have much of a choice.” She couldn’t keep that promise. She already knew that. She couldn’t just stay away from Regina. It was impossible.

“We’ll find him,” Graham said firmly. “And we’ll put an end to all this, Emma.”

“Yeah,” Emma said vaguely, and zoned out of the conversation. No matter how much she wanted to believe it, she knew that catching Liam wouldn’t put an end to all of this. Not really. Yes, her stalker would be gone, but it wouldn’t change anything for Regina. She still had no choice but to live with what had happened to her every single day....

“Emma?”

“Yeah. I’m here. Sorry,” Emma said quickly.

“Don’t apologize,” Graham said. “I know that this situation is discouraging, but it won’t continue. Not as long as I’m the sheriff.”

Emma chuckled and wished that his reassurance could have been enough to change everything. That his words could magically erase what had happened to Regina. At some point, Liam would be caught, and Emma would be free. But Regina wouldn’t.

Emma’s heart thudded uncomfortably in her chest as she once again thought about what Regina had written in her letter. ‘You deserve someone that isn’t broken.’

“Emma?”

“I gotta go,” Emma whispered. “Bye.” With that she ended the call and went into the bathroom to splash cold water onto her cheeks. She clutched at the sink as she tried to breathe properly. It wasn’t fair that she could be free of Liam when Regina couldn’t be free of her ex and what he had done to her.......

 

 

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