It was a regular Saturday night, my boss gave me a lead on where to find a new bounty and I went to get him. This time the job was going to take me to a very fancy jazz club in downtown New York. It was a hole-in-the-wall place but still very nice. Only the privileged rich people in New York were allowed inside. Since I had to blend in, I wore my best black dress. It was strapless and hugged my curves very well. The dress ended almost at the floor and had a slit up to my thigh. I wore matching black stilettoes. These two items alone cost a whole week’s pay check but I had to look rich to get in. “And your name is?” The man at the front, I’m guessing what would amount to the bouncer, stopped me at the door.
“Emma Swan.” The man looked me over a moment. Taking in the dress, my clutch, and how perfectly curled my hair was.
“Enjoy your evening miss.” The man moved to the side letting me enter. Scanning the room, there was no sight of Richard. He had a five thousand dollar bounty on his head and I didn’t ask what he was wanted for. Deciding to wait it out, I made my way to the bar.
“Can I get a whiskey sour please?” The bartender gave me a slight nod as he went to prepare my drink. I was slightly disappointed when I couldn’t find Richard. Night clubs of any kind weren’t my scene so I hated going to them unless I was getting paid. I didn’t care for them. The music I liked wasn’t played and all the people just wanted to hook up for one night stands. I’ve stayed out of the dating world for some time now because I didn’t want to get hurt but sometimes you just want a constant in your life. I think I’ve hit the age where I want a steady relationship. God I sound old. I’m only twenty-eight but I’m ready to settle down.
“Your whiskey sour ma’am.” I turned back to the bar and sipped on the drink.
“Thanks.” The man gave me another nod before moving to the next customer a few seats down.
“You’re not from around here.” I shivered at the dark purr that came from behind me.
“I’m not sure-“ As I turned, my eyes fell on a gorgeous brunette woman with dark chocolate brown eyes. She wore a fitted, three quarter inch sleeve dress. The dress ended right below her knee and had an angled neckline. The red satin cascaded down her body and seemed to take my breath away. The dark headed woman raised an eyebrow at me when I didn’t answer. “Uh…I just don’t go to clubs a lot is all?” That was not supposed to come out a question. “May I buy you a drink?”
The woman watched me a moment. “I guess that’s fine.” As she sat I got a whiff of per perfume. It was zesty with an undertone of musk. I wasn’t sure why but my body started to buzz. “I’ll have an apple martini please.” I finished my first whiskey sour. I needed to calm my body down so I could focus on the job. “So, you never answered my question.”
I looked towards the brunette as the bartender brought our drinks. “I’m from around here I just don’t go out much. Too busy with work.”
“I’m the same way. I was supposed to meet a friend here but she never showed up.” Ass. Who would ever stand up a gorgeous woman like this?
“That sucks. A night on the town for two lovely ladies sounds like fun. It’s a shame she stood you up.” We continued to talk for about an hour. There was still no sign of Richard so I decided to give up on him. There would be other bounties to get. I’d rather sit and talk with this woman anyway. The band continued to play. I chuckled when the beginning of “Lady in Red” started to play.
I’ve never seen you looking so lovely as you did tonight…
“Would you like to dance?” I held my breath as the brunette debated her answer.
“I’d love to.” I took her hand and lead her to the dance floor. Other couples danced close to one another as the rhythm of the song played.
The lady in red is dancing with me cheek to cheek. There’s nobody here, it’s just you and me, it’s where I want to be. But I hardly know this beauty by my side. I’ll never forget the way you look tonight….
My right hand was entwined with her left and my left hand rested on her hip. Her right hand rested comfortably on my shoulder. Subconsciously, her thumb would brush across my collar bone and I’d tremble under her touch. I prayed she didn’t notice. Her hands were so soft. They seemed to fit perfectly in mine. “I’ve never really danced with anyone before.” My words were soft. I didn’t want this moment to end or to shatter it with words.
“You seem to have a natural talent then.” Normally it would be awkward to gaze into a stranger’s eyes but with her it wasn’t. I could feel myself getting lost in her brown satin eyes.
I have never had such a feeling. Such a feeling of complete and utter love, as I do tonight…
What was happening to me? I don’t even know this woman’s name but I’m being drawn to her.
I will never forget the way you look tonight. The lady in re, my lady in red. My lady in red, my lady in red, I love you.
The music came to a close and we soon stopped swaying side to side. “It’s getting late. I need to go.” The brunette’s words broke my heart. I didn’t want her to leave.
“It is getting late. And we both have work tomorrow.” I let go of her hand and she took a step back. “I’ve had a good time tonight, my lady in red.”
There was a twitch at the corner of her mouth. “I have as well.” We walked in silence to the street and I hailed down a taxi for her. “Would you like to share a taxi?”
“That would be nice.” She told the cabbie where her apartment was. No surprise that it was in one of the most expensive parts of town. The cab came to a stop in front of her building. Before she closed the door she gave me one last look. “Goodnight.”
“Goodnight.” Something broke inside me as she closed the cab door.
The next morning I woke up and saw my dress hanging on my door. Images from last night came flooding back to me. “Damn.” I got up, made coffee, and called my best friend to come over. I needed to talk and she was really the only friend I had. Luckily it was her day off and I didn’t have any leads. “Hey Ruby, how are you?”
“I’m good. So what’s up? Something’s wrong I can tell.” Ruby went straight for the coffee. She was also a caffeine addict but not as bad as I was.
“I kinda met someone.” Ruby’s head whipped around but before she could say anything I continued. “We talked for a while last night when I was supposed to be looking for a bounty. He never showed so I continued talking to this woman. We danced and I don’t know….something odd happened when she closed the door to the taxi. I don’t even know her name but I feel drawn to her.”
“So you didn’t sleep with her?” I glared at the brunette. “Well, you’ve been out of that stage for a while now so….”
“I don’t think she’s the kind for a one night stand anyway. She’s classy and elegant. And apparently has a kick ass job.” I continued to tell Ruby about last night. She was slightly shocked when I told her we danced.
“So, what are you going to do? It’ll be hard tracking her down since you know nothing concrete about her. Besides that she’s rich, apparently gorgeous, and likes to paint.”
My heart sank as I sat on the couch. Ruby joined me after finishing off the coffee pot. “I don’t know. I want to find her but I don’t know how. If she ever got a bounty on her head I’d be able to find her that way.” I chuckled at the thought. “But it’s odd. I’ve never been attracted to a woman before.”
Ruby shrugged. “It happens. We don’t control who we are attracted to. It just happens. Maybe she works near where she lives? Could you go there and ask around?”
“And become her stalker?” I paused. “I guess that could work. But you’re coming with me.”
There was a little café’ near the brunette’s apartment. Ruby and I decided to get a bite to eat as we tried to figure out how to find the brunette from last night. “So she likes to paint. Could she be a painter by profession or maybe something else?”
“I don’t know. I just know she likes to paint and go to art museums. She likes to ride horses but hasn’t since she moved to New York ten years ago.”
“What did the two of you talk about last night? You don’t know much about this woman.” Ruby took a bite of her sandwich as she watched me.
My head sunk to the table. “She sells her paintings but she said nothing about her job. If I knew what her paintings looked like then I could look her up. Or even if I saw her face somewhere that may help figure out who she is.” This was hopeless. I wasn’t going to find her in this big city. “Maybe I should just give up now. I mean, I know nothing about her and why waste my time looking if I don’t even know how she feels or whatever. For all I know, she’s forgotten me by now.”
Weeks passed and the lady in red never left my mind. I kept an eye out for her every day. I eventually caught Richard in that same club but she was nowhere to be seen. I listened to the song we danced to over and over. It was the only way I could sleep at night. As I sat drinking my morning coffee, I overheard a couple talking about a new art gala that was happening. The art gallery was introducing a new artist named Regina Mills. I had time to kill while I was on that side of town so I decided to go.
I felt out of place the second I walked into the gallery. I didn’t realize it was a black tie event. I stuck out since I was the only person not in a dress or a suit. Brushing off the strange looks, I made my way to the wing where the new artist was being introduced. As I walked into the small room I stopped. There she was; my lady in red. Her back was towards me but I knew it was her.
There were paintings about everything; landscape, cities, and people of all kinds. When my eyes fell on the last one there was a tug at my heart. It was of two women, one in red and one in black, dancing together. From how she painted you couldn’t tell it was us but I knew it was. I was terrified but excited at the same time. “Regina.” The name was choked because of the lump in my throat.
She turned and her eyes grew when she saw me. “It’s you.” I smiled sheepishly as I made my way towards her.
“Hi.” Both of us were silent. Not sure what to say. “You’re paintings are amazing.”
“Thank you.” Disbelief kept us speechless. “So I’m guessing this is your normal attire?” I looked reasonable I thought. I wore my normal pair of dark wash jeans, a black long sleeved shirt, and my red leather jacket.
“Yeah. I didn’t know this was a black tie event. Sorry about that.” I could feel my cheeks start to burn slightly. Regina looked amazing once again. She wore a black pantsuit with a dark purple, silk dress shirt under the blazer. “I’m Emma by the way.” Trembling slightly, I held out my hand for her. She shook it and gave me a soft smile. “It’s nice to call you something other than my lady in red.”
Regina chuckled softly. The other people in the room paid us no attention. “It’s a pleasure to finally know your name Emma.” I loved hearing Regina say my name. It was only once but I knew I had to hear it again.
“Uhm….do you have anything planned for tonight?” Regina’s brow rose. “Now that I’ve….” That would make me sound like a stalker. “I was wanting to know if you wanted to go out tonight.”
Regina studied me. With each passing second I was getting more nervous. “I get done here about seven. Though instead of going out, why don’t you just come to my place? I made a lasagna last night and there’s plenty left over. I don’t want it to go to waste.”
“That sounds great. So be there by seven?”
Seven came quickly and I found myself outside Regina’s apartment building. I made sure to wear a dress shirt instead of the black long sleeved one. I didn’t want to mess up my wardrobe again. “Are you Emma?” A man called for me from behind the large desk.
“Yes. I’m here to see Regina Mills.” I made my way to the desk and grew more nervous. What this woman does to me is crazy. I’ve never been this way before; about anyone.
“She told me she would be expecting you. Let me tell her you’re here.” The man picked up the phone and hit a few buttons. “Yes Miss. Mills, your guest has arrived. Shall I send her up? You’re welcome.” He scribbled something on a piece of paper and gave it to me. “Go to the fifteenth floor and you’ll see her apartment at the end of the hallway.
“Thank you.” I made my way to the elevator and punched the button for the correct floor. When the doors opened, I was met by Regina. “Hey.”
“Hello there. Please follow me.” I did as she asked. Regina hadn’t changed but was no longer wearing her blazer. “I see you dressed slightly accordingly.”
I chuckled nervously. Regina’s voice was teasing more than condescending. “Yeah I tried. I don’t own a pair of dress pants so dark wash jeans was the best I could do.”
“No worries. It’s nice to see something different for a change.” We walked into her apartment and it looked like one from a magazine. Everything was well decorated and neat. She showed me around the two bedroom two bath apartment and ended the in the living room. There were large windows overseeing the city.
“Your apartment is amazing.” Pictures lined the walls. They were of her and a younger boy with shaggy brown hair. “Is that your son?”
“Yes. His name is Henry. He’s spending the night at a friend’s tonight.” She looked too young to have a son. “He’s ten.” Way too young to have a son.
“Oh.” It was all I could think to say. “So he’s in the fifth grade?”
“Yes. I adopted him when he was three weeks old. It was a closed adoption so the birthparents don’t want contact. I love him with all of my heart. He’s my little prince.” To hear her talk about her son was heartwarming. “The lasagna is warm would you like to eat?”
“Yes please. It smells delicious.” I followed Regina into her kitchen. “Oh I brought a bottle of wine.”
“Thank you. The glasses are in the cabinet beside the fridge. If you’d get two down I’ll fix our plates.” Of course I had no idea where the cork screw way and didn’t want to rummage through her drawers. “Oh.” Regina came to reach around me; placing her hand on my hip. “Here’s the cork screw.”
I froze under her touch. “Thanks.” I watched as Regina went back to serving us each a generous portion of lasagna and a few bread sticks. Bringing the wineglasses to the table, I took a seat after Regina. “This looks amazing.”
“Thank you. So how have you been the past few weeks?” Miserable. Wanting to find you. Not being able to concentrate on work because of you.
“I’ve been fine. Yourself?” I listened as Regina told me about the art gallery and how they discovered one of her paintings. “They’re excellent paintings. You capture detail very well.”
“Thank you. What has been keeping you busy the past few weeks?” Regina watched me over the rim of her wineglass.
“Work mostly. Then just doing things around the apartment that need to be done. Nothing special. Have you been back to that Jazz club?”
“No. That was a onetime thing. I enjoyed it but I don’t believe it’s something I’d do again. I like things more one on one I guess.”
“That’s understandable.” We continued to talk about her work and her son as we ate. When we finished, I cleared the table as she took the pie out of the oven.
“I do hope you like apples. Since I was having company over for dinner I decided to bake something.” I stood there in disbelief. “What can’t you do? You can cook, decorate, bake, your very stylish, and paint.” There was a small twitch at the corner of Regina’s mouth.
“There are a few things I can’t do. Try this before I cut it. Let me know if you think it’s done yet.” I walked toward Regina as she scooped some pie onto a fork. Normally I hated when someone tried to feed me but this time it didn’t bother me. The pie was flavorful, juicy, and the right amount of crisp and gooiness. “How’s it taste?”
“Fantastic.” Regina smiled as she cut us each a piece. For some reason we ended up eating it in the kitchen. “How did you learn to cook and bake like this?”
“I learned on my own really. To be honest, I learned most of it when Henry was younger.”
“You amaze me. You raised a son, learned to cook, and painted for a living.” I rinsed off the dishes and loaded them into the washer as Regina put the pie in the fridge.
“Thank you Emma.” Regina led us into the living room where we took a seat on the large, black leather couch. There was an awkward silence between us and I had to break it somehow.
“To be totally honest with you Regina.” I took in a deep breath before continuing. This was either going to flatter her or make her take a restraining order out on me. “I’ve been searching for you for the past few weeks. A few days ago I had given up because I thought I looked everywhere. I enjoyed the night at the club because I was with you. For some reason you’ve left your metaphorical mark on me and I can’t stop thinking about you.” The brunette was quiet. “And now you’re going to throw me out aren’t you?” Still no answer. “I’ll take that as a yes.” I stood and started towards the door when Regina grabbed my wrist.
“Don’t.” I stopped but didn’t look at her. “I enjoyed that night also. What you said just shocked me. I’ve never been pursued by a woman before.” Regina paused a moment and turned me to face her. “I’ve not been able to have a relationship or anything serious in ten years. The look in your eyes that night has plagued my thoughts since then. I could see the passion in them. That’s something I’ve not seen since I was eighteen.”
“So…you’ve thought about me too?” Regina smiled softly. I glanced down at her lips asking an unspoken question. I leaned in slowly and placed a gentle kiss on Regina’s soft lips. They were everything I had imagined and more. There was no hesitation on her part. She kissed back and gently pulled me closer. I laced my fingers in Regina’s long dark hair and deepened the kiss.
“Emma…” I kissed down Regina’s neck and she ran her hands over my curves. Somehow everything felt right when I was with her. I knew that I didn’t know her but I wanted to. Regina captured my lips again and walked me backwards towards her bedroom. Tonight I was going to be with my lady in red.