“Mom, are you okay?”
Regina blinked and looked at Henry as he sat down beside her on the park bench.
“Of course, dear. Don’t you want to go through the trail again with the others?”
“I was, but then I called your name to let you know we were going and you didn’t react.”
Regina smiled at that and reached out to brush Henry’s hair away from his forehead. “I’m sorry. I must’ve been caught up in my thoughts.”
“Are you thinking about Emma?”
Regina’s hand immediately froze and she took a quiet breath. “Why do you ask?”
“I guess because she left so quickly. I thought she’d stick around for a bit.”
“Would you have liked her to stay?”
Henry moved his head to the side, a thoughtful look on his face before he nodded. “Yeah, I guess.”
Regina’s chest constricted in a painful little reminder that this was solely her fault. Hadn’t she stopped that night, none of this would’ve have happened and Henry wouldn’t be missing a woman who wasn’t supposed to be in his life in the first place. Regina remembered the look on Emma’s face, the way her vibrant eyes had dimmed right before she’d walked away. It unnerved her more than she cared to admit. But at least she was gone. Wasn’t that what she’d wanted all along?
Regina looked up when someone came to stand beside her. Kathryn smiled at them and crooked her finger toward Henry.
“I think this year I’ll make an exception and go through the Haunted Trail, but only if someone really brave and strong accompanies me.”
Henry immediately jumped up and puffed out his little chest.
“I’ll come with you,” he declared and Kathryn smiled broadly.
She wrapped an arm around Henry’s shoulder and looked at Regina with a small glint in her eye.
“The two of us will be busy for a while, just so you know, or if you have to be somewhere.”
Regina’s brow furrowed and she nodded.
“See you in a bit mom.”
“Have fun dear, and make sure Kathryn doesn’t get too scared.”
“Okay,” Henry called as he walked toward the entrance of the Haunted Trail, a suddenly unhappy looking Kathryn following right behind him.
Regina smiled. It was a sacrifice on the part of her friend, she knew how easily Kathryn got scared by anything remotely creepy. But what was she trying to accomplish? If she suspected anything, what did Kathryn expect her to do? Regina shook her head. She couldn’t go after Emma like some lovesick fool, it would be ridiculous.
She dragged her tongue across her lower lip and got up from the park bench, rubbing her hands together to ward off the nightly chill. She started walking in the direction of her car and stared at the black Benz for several minutes before she got in. She wasn’t going to do anything stupid, she just wanted to make sure that Emma kept her word and actually left town for good this time.
She drove through the deserted streets and parked in front of the Bed and Breakfast, staring up at the dark façade of the building through her windshield. Not a single window was illuminated and her eyes fell on the empty parking spaces by the side of the road.
Something akin to dread suddenly rushed through her veins. She didn’t have Emma’s number. She had no idea where she lived or worked. If the woman decided to disappear, there was a good chance that she would never see her again. It had been hard enough to get the adoption information and not even her shamelessly expensive lawyer had been able to find out what Emma had done after she’d given her son up for adoption.
Regina got out of the car and briskly walked over to the entrance of the Bed and Breakfast. She was about to pull the door open when it came toward her, missing her face by mere inches. Granny looked at her with wide eyes.
“Madame Mayor, sorry I didn’t see you there.”
A set of keys was dangling from her hand and Regina seized her up with a quick glance.
“No harm done. I’m here to speak with Miss Swan, if you could tell me her room number I’ll be on my way.”
“You’re too late, Emma left over half an hour ago, said she was heading out of town,” Granny answered with a small shrug.
Regina’s stomach dropped and all blood rushed from her face in one fell swoop. It was like in the parking lot when she’d first seen Emma again after months of trying to forget her and failing.
“Very well, good night then,” Regina said between clenched teeth and walked back to her car.
That yellow deathtrap could hardly be fast enough to get away from her Benz, but half an hour was one hell of a head start considering the road out of Storybrooke eventually parted going either east or west. She had no idea which direction Emma would take, but maybe she could get there before the blonde did. It was her town after all, she knew every shortcut.
She pulled out of the parking lot and sped through Storybrooke, her headlights cutting through the darkness. Halfway out of town, rain began to drizzle against her windshield until the drops beat a steady rhythm against her car. She closed her hands tightly around the steering wheel, hoping the rain would slow Emma down just as much as it did her.
Regina had no explanation for what she was doing. Her head was telling her to just let Emma go. It would make her life so much easier, she wouldn’t ever have to see her again and Henry would be hers. He was hers.
The threat she’d initially felt had caused her to react with anger and frustration, but after the Haunted Trail, Henry’s happy face and glowing eyes and Emma’s hand in her own, something had changed.
Maybe she shouldn’t have had any of that meatloaf Mary-Margaret Blanchard had made for the fair. It had tasted funny. She wouldn’t put it past the schoolteacher to slip her roofies. Or unintentionally season her cooking with weed. At least that would explain her completely irrational behavior.
She exhaled a quiet breath as she left the last few houses behind and took the road that would lead her past the ‘Welcome to Storybrooke’ sign into the woods surrounding the town. She was driving fast but slowed down when she saw something on the road ahead. She leaned forward across the steering wheel and narrowed her eyes.
She slowed down and passed the town sign before making a quick U-turn and stopping in the middle of the road, right beside a yellow bug. Emma emerged from beneath the hood and waved a hand in front of her face as a gray cloud of smoke rose from the steaming engine. She was completely drenched from the rain and her red leather jacket was hardly warding off the wet cold.
Regina lowered her side window and leaned across the passenger seat to look at Emma who stared back at her, still standing in front of her car.
“Need a ride?”
Emma parted her lips as if to say something but instead huffed and slammed the hood of her car down. She walked around to the door to reach inside and retrieved a familiar duffel bag before she slammed it shut and locked the car. She came to stand beside Regina’s Benz and hesitated for a moment. Regina jerked her chin to the side and Emma opened the door and got in, bringing all the cold and wet from outside with her.
“Hey,” she said quietly and Emma gave her the side eye.
Regina pulled away from the side of the road and stared straight ahead into the rainy dark night.
“Michael Tillman,” she eventually said and Emma’s head whipped around.
“Michael Tillman, he’s the local mechanic. He has a towing truck and can get your car. You can call him from the Bed and Breakfast, I’m sure Granny has his number somewhere.”
“Yeah, I’ll do that. Thanks.”
Silence filled the air between them and Regina smiled. This was just like the rainy evening all these months ago. Faint heat crept along her neck as she remembered how that particular night had ended.
She drove back into town and several people were on the sidewalks, umbrella’s shielding them from the rain on the way home from the fair. It had been an overall successful day, the city’s funds experienced a definite increase each year after the fair and that gave her the opportunity to spend money on projects that were otherwise pushed aside during the rest of the year.
Regina blinked. How could she be thinking about town business when Emma was sitting beside her? Ever since she decided to go after Emma in front of the Bed and Breakfast her thoughts were all over the place. It was disconcerting. Irrationality was usually not one of her flaws, but when it came to Emma all her virtues seemed to go flying out the window.
She stopped in front of Granny’s diner and turned off the engine before gazing at Emma who stubbornly looked ahead through the windshield.
“Granny will give you the keys to your room back, if you want them,” she said quietly and leaned back into the seat.
She should apologize. Regina knew she should, but there was barely anything more difficult than admitting to having done something wrong and the words just got stuck in her throat.
“Thanks for the ride,” Emma said and got out of the car without once glancing at Regina.
The door was slammed shut and she closed her eyes for a brief moment.
“I’m sorry I thought you were sleeping with someone else,” Regina said into the silence of her car.
She chuckled darkly and shook her head. She was never going to say those words Emma. She couldn’t.
She grabbed her purse from the backseat and rifled through its contents for her cell phone. She called Kathryn and made sure that she and Henry had safely escaped the rain. They were at Kathryn’s house, having fun with a round of board games. Kathryn sounded kind of shaky when she told Regina about their walk through the Haunted Trail and Regina smirked as she shook her head, telling Kathryn that she would pick Henry up in a couple of minutes.
She took a deep breath and started her car. At least now Emma wouldn’t be leaving town for a couple of days until her car was fixed. That gave her time to figure things out, and figuring out she had to do.
She picked Henry up and thanked Kathryn for taking care of him, promising that she would tell Kathryn everything that had transpired during their Tuesday coffee date.
Henry was pretty exhausted and went up to his room as soon as she opened the front door of the house. It didn’t matter how many times she told him to take it slow and to put his shoes by the door where they belonged, he always lost them somewhere on the way up the stairs in his haste.
She shed her jacket and took off her heels before walking into the kitchen and putting away the clean dishes from the dishwasher. Her apple turnovers had been a success, like every year, but the fact that Emma had looked almost orgasmic while eating one of them made Regina smile. If there was one thing she was good at it was baking, and intimidating people during council meetings, but the baking was more a pleasure than a necessity.
She made her way up the stairs and found Henry in bed, reading one of his comics. She quietly entered the room and sat down on the side of the bed as he put his comic down on the little bedside table.
“Did you have fun today?”
Henry nodded, but the usual spark in his eyes was missing. Regina reached out and stroked his forehead before dragging her fingers through his hair.
“But I’m kind of sad that Emma left.”
Regina bit her lip. “You really like her hmm?”
She was taken aback for a moment by Henry’s question and cocked her head to the side. She rested her hands in her lap and looked down at them before smiling at her son.
“That’s what all the grown-ups say when they like someone.”
Regina chuckled quietly and nodded.
“That might just be the truth. Alright, time to sleep, you do have school tomorrow.”
“I know. Night mom.”
Regina leaned forward and pressed a kiss to Henry’s forehead before getting up and dragging the blanket up to his shoulders. She tiptoed out of the room and closed the door with a quiet ‘click’ before walking down the hallway, shaking her head and sighing.
“That might just be the truth.”