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Stairway to Hope

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Regina was running late for work this morning feeling out of control and frustrated with herself. She was an early riser and got up every morning at six to shower and get ready. She ate breakfast like clockwork and was never late.
This morning was different from the moment she opened her eyes. She woke up half an hour late and ever since her morning was thrown off.
Regina was normally in control of everything and rarely had issues getting what she wanted. This morning she didn’t eat breakfast and skipped her morning reading routine.
The book she read was something she’d read every day for the past 10 years. It had been a book that belonged to Daniel.
Daniel was the love of Regina’s life and had tragically lost his life. A tragedy that was never discussed. Ever.
Regina never recovered from losing him and she never allowed herself to open herself to anyone else. There was no room in her heart for another and she made that clear.
Several attempts were made but she always found an excuse or a reason to shut people out and to avoid having any feelings for a man.
To her it felt like a betrayal on her part. How could she do that to him? It just wasn’t in the cards and she would never do that to her love.
Upon losing Daniel, she lost the woman she had been. She’d been sweet and open minded, and had a bright future.
She was kind and generous but after losing him, she turned hard and became introverted. It was as if her heart closed and even friendships were hard to maintain. She became isolated and alone.
You’d have to know her to see that underneath the façade she was a very sensitive woman with a big heart. To the outside you’d never guess by the way she looked at people. How she treated them.
The pain she had in her life was too great for her to allow anyone in. She was so adamant about keeping people out that it left a hole in her heart. One she had no intention of filling.
The only person she let in and allowed to know her real self was her friend, Emma. Their history was complicated to say the least. A history that took quite a long time to develop.

 

Regina rushed out and drove to her office in a hurry frustrated that her routine was thrown off. As she arrived at the office she parked in her reserved spot and rushed inside.
She ran up the stairs and when she reached the top lobby she saw two men sitting outside waiting. Regina put in the key to her office and one of her heels slipped off causing her to stumble into the door.
“Dammit.” Her briefcase fell to the floor and she reached down to put her shoe back as she felt a presence next to her.
“Let me get that for you.” She didn’t look up only took the briefcase from the person who picked it up.
She took it with no response and walked into her office and tried to get settled at her desk. As she sat down and tried to adjust her heels she looked up for the first time and saw the two men.
The first was a familiar face, Sydney, he worked for the town hall and was in charge of helping employment within the town. He also ran the local newspaper, so they had constant communication.
“Sydney. What brings you here?” Her tone was uninterested and full of attitude. He sighed knowing that she was in a mood. One that he knew would be hard to deal with.
“I’d like to introduce you to Robin Locksley. He just moved here from New York, he’ll be working as the school counselor. He’s a social worker. Robin this is Regina Mills, our mayor.”
Regina sat there and glanced up at this man that was new to her town. He extended his hand, “Pleasure to meet you.”
Regina looked at his hand with disgust and glanced at Sydney. He nodded his head as if to say take his hand.
She rolled her eyes and placed her hand in his and shook it firmly but very quick. “I’m sure.”
Robin had a strange feeling about this woman sitting in front of him. There was a way about her that had his skin crawling. He was a little afraid of her but held an odd attraction.
Sydney spoke, “Well I’ll leave you two to work out your business. I’ll be organizing a small welcome party in his honor tonight. Meet at Granny’s 8pm.”
Regina almost scoffed, “What business?” Sydney sighed, “Regina.” She squinted her eyes and gave him a dirty look. “I mean, Ms. Mills, I sent you the folder yesterday. You’re to set up his employment papers and get the deed to his new house.”
He looked at her desk and then around to see the folder still sitting on the small end table. “Here. It’s all here. I’ll leave you to it.”
With that he let out a relieved sigh and left her office, grateful not to have gotten yelled at.
Robin witnessed the interaction between the two and wondered what kind of Mayor she was. He thought they’d be social and get along with everyone. She was different.
He noticed the way Sydney acted toward her and wondered why he feared her. The panic-stricken face and his body language stiff. His curiosity was peaked.
Regina sighed, “Have a seat.” She opened the folder and pulled out the papers from the pocket glancing at them. Her hand raised to her temple and tried to rub the headache that started to form.
Robin just sat back with one leg crossed over his knee and peered out of his lashed at her. She was hard to read but something about her intrigued him. He watched her work and sign the forms that needed to be signed.
“I just need you to sign these. I’ll get them over to the appropriate office.” After speaking she dropped the folder in front of him without making any eye contact.
He smirked at the expression on her face, annoyance. “You haven’t got a pen, do you?” Her hand instinctively pointed at a small cup full of them right next to him. He noticed a small gold ring on her left finger.
His mind went to Married.
He pulled out a pen and signed where he needed to. He put the forms in the folder and handed them back to her.
Regina was lost in something else as he placed the folder right on top of whatever she was looking at. It forced her to glance up at him with a glare on her face.
“Thank you for your time, Regina, was it?” She crossed her arms and looked up at him, “It’s Ms. Mills.”
He stood and smirked down at her, “I guess we’ll be seeing each other. Do I get the keys to my house?”
Regina tried not to let him get to her but there was a tug in her chest that she wasn’t happy about. She stood up and walked around her desk to a filing cabinet in the corner of the room.
As she stifled through the keys in the drawer with labels on them he took his time to look her over.
She wore a black pencil skirt that hugged her body in the right places and a dark purple shirt that tucked into it. Her legs were toned and her heels allowed for her muscles to flex in the right way.
Her hair was short and styled, no hair out of place. She was put together and there was no room for messiness.
Her office showed the same organized and put together appearance. Everything had a place and it seemed like there was an element of control.
As he stood there watching her face change from frustration to satisfaction and then turning to him with no expression, he saw something in her. Conflict.
Regina took a step towards him and held out the key. He took the key and smiled, “Thank you.”
She crossed her arms and watched him walk out of her office with a smug look on his face. She rolled her eyes and went back to work. A tug in her chest and a slightly tight feeling in her gut had her feeling uneasy.
It was a feeling she hadn’t felt in some time. A feeling she wasn’t going to give into. She pushed those feelings away and focused on her work.

 

.~.

Robin walked out of the office and headed to the house that would be his. It was only a quick ten-minute walk from the Mayor’s office.
He didn’t have a car yet and wasn’t sure he’d need one in this small town. He looked around the town as he walked down to the address on the key label.
His moving truck was parked outside and he walked up to the door and walked inside. The house needed some cleaning but it was in good condition. It was a two bedroom which would be big enough for himself and his son, Roland.
Robin’s wife had died a few years back from Cancer and it was just the two of them. Roland was four now and was used to it just being his father.
Robin spent the afternoon cleaning up and putting in the furniture and such for the house to be ready. His friend John was hanging out in town with Roland. He was lucky to have a friend help him move.
It was nearly 7 when he finally finished setting up and heard a car pull up next to his house. When he noticed who was driving a jerk in his gut had him standing there not able to move.
Regina got out of her car and glanced over to see Robin standing in the garage. She rolled her eyes. The house next door had been empty forever and now she’d have to deal with neighbors.
He waved trying to be polite but she just met his gaze and then walked up her walkway and into her house.
He sighed and closed the garage and headed in for a much-needed shower. When he was finally ready he put on a nice pair of jeans and a button up shirt.
When he walked out to head to the diner he noticed Regina’s car was gone. A twinge of nervousness hit him when he made his way to Granny’s.
He walked about fifteen minutes until he reached the diner. It was brightly lit and welcoming but he hesitated to walk inside.
When he walked in everyone was standing around and he noticed John and Roland sitting in the corner. Roland was eating a sandwich and there was a cup of milk in front of him.
He smiled at his son and then Sydney walked up to him. “You ready to meet everyone?” Robin looked around. “I guess.”
Sydney put his fingers to his lips and whistled loudly to get attention. The music turned off and all eyes turned to them.
“Good evening. I just wanted to introduce a new member of our town. This is Robin and he’ll be the new school counselor.”
Everyone clapped and Robin looked over to see Regina standing next to a blonde woman. Her clothes had changed from the morning he saw her. Her blouse was different and she wasn’t wearing a blazer.
Roland ran up to his dad and jumped in his arms, “Ah this is Roland. Robin’s son.” Roland waved and smiled with huge dimples on his cheeks.
Regina looked at the interaction between Robin and Roland and her heart felt a little warm. Emma looked over to see the expression on her face.
Before she could get used to it, her face changed and she put her glass to her lips and drank away the weird feeling.
Robin began to walk around and introduce himself to others but kept an eye on Regina and the blonde. They were talking and Regina smiled a few times.
He made his way around the room until he reached the two women. “Ms. Mills.” Regina looked up and met his gaze. “Hi. I’m Emma. Welcome to Storybrook.” Robin shook her hand and smiled. “Thanks.”
Emma smiled and started to ask him questions, “So this is your son?” Roland smiled at her. “Yes.” She smiled, “How old are you?”
Roland replied, “I’m four.” Emma smiled, “What about your mom?” Robin’s face fell and he looked incredibly sad for a moment.
Roland said, “It’s just me and my dad.” Emma felt guilty, “I’m sorry.” Robin shook his head lightly and smiled small, “It’s quite alright. We lost her a few years ago. Cancer.”
Emma sighed, “I’m so sorry. I can’t imagine losing someone like that.” Regina couldn’t handle the awkwardness so she slipped away and left them to talk.
Robin noticed the look on her face and the change in her body language. “Is she alright?” Emma looked over to see she’d left.
Her head dropped and she cursed under her breath. “Um…” He could tell she was a little uncomfortable but she finally spoke after seeing Regina walk outside.
“Yeah. She just knows about loss, I guess.” He wondered what that meant but just nodded. “So Emma, what do you do?” Emma laughed, “I’m one of the sheriffs actually.”
He smiled, “Cool. Well I’ll make sure to come to you if I need anything.”
They stood and talked for some time and Robin noticed that Regina was nowhere to be seen. He looked around to see if he could spot her with no luck.
He met all sorts of people, most he didn’t remember their names. Mary Margaret walked up to him and said, “Hey Robin. It’s nice to see you again. Are you ready for your first day?”
He smiled, “Hey Marg. Yeah, I’m ready.”
They hugged and Emma wondered how they knew each other. “Marg?” Mary Margaret laughed, “It’s a nickname that he gave me. I like it.”
Emma laughed, “Alright. I’ll be sure to tell Regina. I’m sure she’ll get a kick out of that.”
Mary Margaret rolled her eyes, “I’m sure.” Robin asked, “Is there something I should know?”
Mary Margaret looked solemn, “Regina and I have a complicated history. She hates me.” Her voice trailed off with a chuckle.
Robin wondered, “How can anyone hate you? You’re so sweet.” She bit her lip, “Like I said, it’s complicated.”
Robin, let it go and continued to have a good time. Not long after he decided to take Roland home. John carried him the fifteen minutes to the house and they settled in for the night.
Robin walked outside and sat on the steps enjoying the night air. It had been a really long day and he was pretty exhausted.
He had a lot on his mind but was interrupted when he noticed Regina walking to her car. He didn’t say anything but observed her taking something out of the trunk.
She wore a silk long sleeve button up pajama set and wore slippers on her feet. She wore no make-up and her hair was pulled back from her face.
She pulled out a small metal box and closed the trunk. She was startled when she looked up to see him peering at her.
Without hesitation, she turned and ran back into her house embarrassed that he saw her in that state.
Robin smiled to himself at her expression, she was beautiful and he wondered what kind of person she was.
His heart was hurting and his mind wondered to his wife. He missed her and it had been years since they’d been together.
Maybe it was the new town and the new environment but he was hopeful that this place would be a way to start over. A new place for him and his son to find a new home.

.~.

The next morning Robin woke up early and cooked breakfast for John and Roland. They sat around the table and began to talk. “So you like it here?”
Robin looked up at John, “It’s a nice town I guess. I think I need to give it time to see how I’ll like it here. I’ve met Marg and she’s cool. I’m lucky to know her and get to work with her. As for everyone else…I don’t know yet.”
John smirked at him, “Well I think the people we met last night were awesome. Granny is nice and her food rocks. I also liked David.”
Robin replied, “David?” “He’s one of the sheriffs. I think the other one is a blonde, but I don’t remember her name.”
Robin watched Roland eat his pancakes in silence, “Emma. I met her last night.” “Mmm.”
Nervousness bit through him and he didn’t know what to expect from his first day at work. John could tell there was something eating him but he wasn’t sure what it was.
“What is it?” His eyes looked up, “I’m just nervous. I hope today goes okay. I don’t want to make a bad impression.”
“Dude, I’m sure you’ll be fine. Everyone seems to like you and you’ll be able to start work no problem.”
He sighed, “I guess, you’re right. I’m gonna run up and change. Are you two going to be okay all day?”
John shrugged, “We’ll manage. I promised Roland I’d take him to the park. He’s been talking about it since yesterday.”
Roland chirped in, “I like the slide and there is a cool swing.” Robin smiled, “Alright. I’ll be right down. You finish eating.”
Robin walked upstairs and took a quick shower and dressed in a suit. It was a simple suit with black slacks and a green button up shirt. He threw on a vest and a jacket but decided to go without the tie.
He slipped on his shoes and decided to head out to work early. He only had a short walk but he didn’t want rush. As he walked downstairs he heard a whistle, “Wow man, you clean up good.”
Robin rolled his eyes, “alright, alright. I’ll see ya later.” John patted his back, “have a good day man.”
Roland ran up to him and gave him a big hug, wrapping his arms around his dad’s neck. “Love you, Dad. Hope work goes good.” “Thanks little man. Love, you too.”
As he walked out he grabbed his bag and slipped it over his shoulder and walked out of the house. He glanced up to see if she was still there and by his surprise she was standing outside talking to Emma.
He had to pass them so he walked up and said, “Good morning.” They both were surprised and jumped when they saw him walking towards them.
They both looked wide awake and dressed which shocked him. It was almost 6:30. Must be early risers.
“Hey Robin.” Regina crossed her arms and looked away from them. Emma smiled, “Ready for your first day?”
“Yeah. I guess I am.” He noticed there was tension between them and said, “Did I interrupt something?”
Regina looked annoyed, “No, I’ll talk to later.” Emma grabbed her arm to stop her from turning away, “You can’t avoid this.” Regina ripped her arm away and spat, “I know that!”
With that Regina turned and walked back into her house ignoring their chipper conversation.
“Is everything alright?” Robin was curious. Emma chuckled, “Yeah, its fine. Just a little argument.”
She smiled awkwardly and changed the subject, “Well I better get going. Have a good first day.” He nodded and began to walk towards the school.
He glanced back and saw her walk towards the house with determination in her face.

.~.

Emma sighed and walked towards the house annoyed and opened the front door without knocking. It was a habit and she wasn’t good at boundaries.
“What was that? You could have at least said hello. You don’t have to be rude.” She walked across the room to the kitchen where Regina was drinking coffee and leaning against the counter.
Her eyes rolled, “I don’t care.” Emma sighed and poured herself some coffee, “You know you can’t avoid this. What are you doing to do?”
Regina avoided the answer, “I have to get to work.” Emma stepped in front of her, “Oh no you don’t. What are we doing?”
Annoyed and getting angry she sighed, “I don’t know. Can’t I think about it?” Emma shook her head, “Nope.”
“You know that I don’t like her. I really don’t want to have to do this.” Emma understood but she didn’t care. “I get it, you have a complicated history. You have to do this.”
Regina sighed and rubbed her face with her hands, “Fine. I’ll do the stupid meeting. If it’s in my office and you have to be there.”
Emma scoffed, “I can’t do that. I’m not going to hold your hand.” Regina grunted and threw her hands up. “Why?”
Emma rolled her eyes, “I’m not the mayor, and you are. All you should do is meet with her for twenty minutes to get the paper work signed and to go over the employment stuff for Robin. How hard is that?”
Regina was giving up but she didn’t want to have to meet with Mary Margaret. She hated her and had no interest in talking to her.
“Fine. Tell her to meet in my office at 4:30 and tell him to be there too. It’s after school so they can both sign and get it over with.”
Emma smiled, “See, how hard is that?” “Shut up. I can’t promise…” Emma interrupted, “If you lay hand on her or you yell at her in any way, I’ll arrest you. You know I will. I’m tired of this crap. You both need to move on and get over your stuff.”
Regina’s blood boiled, “Get over it?” Emma stopped, “I…shit. I didn’t mean it like that. I just, you know what I mean.”
Her face was angry but Emma knew when to push and when not to. “I’ll tell them to be there. Just take it easy, okay?”
Regina sighed, “Okay.”

.~.

Mary Margaret sat at her desk grading the last few papers that she hadn’t gotten to the night before. It was an early morning but she loved to come to school and get organized before class began.
She loved teaching and it made her happy to be able to teach what she loved. She drank her coffee and listened to the birds chirping and signing out her window.
As she finished grading papers she heard light tapping on her door. She turned to see Robin standing in the doorway.
“Morning. Am I too early?” She smiled, “No, not at all.”
She stood up and said, “I’ll show you to your office.” They walked down the hall and Mary Margaret gave him a short tour.
“This is the lounge where you can eat lunch and hang out if you need to. Here is your office.”
Robin looked inside to see a plain office with a few empty shelves a couple of filing cabinets and his desk. There was a pair of chairs in the corner that were comfier and a small table off to the side.
“Perfect.” Mary Margaret smiled, “I hope you’ll get settled in. I know you don’t know many people here but I’m sure you’ll fit in really fast.”
He chuckled, “I’m hoping. So far I’ve had some bad luck with my neighbor.” She was curious, “Oh, who’s that?”
He smiled awkwardly, “that would be the mayor. Not a very social person, is she?” A solemn expression crossed her face.
“Well she’s had a difficult past. Most people know her how she is. I’m one of the only people who knew her before.”
He furrowed his brows, “Before what?” She bit her lip, “I shouldn’t be telling you. I’m sorry. She’s just had a difficult past and I’m sure she just needs to warm up to you.”
With that she said, “I hope you get comfortable here. I’m always here if you need me and you can always reach out to Leroy. He’s our principle.”
He nodded, “Thanks.” Robin sat at his desk and began to organize the office he was now in charge of.
He hoped that things would start to settle in. So far everyone he talked to seemed to have a secret or a hushed relationship with the mayor. It seemed as if she had her hands in everything.
He sighed and hoped that he would fit in. So far he was feeling isolated and out of the loop. He was a little frustrated but still had hope that things would turn out alright.