Emma Swan cleared her throat.
The reception area at the Seven Seasons performing arts studio was small. It was cut off from the rest of the building- its own separate area- with a door to the right of the desk that led to a hallway with more doors.
The desk itself was completely sealed off from the front, giving it the illusion of a large window. Emma examined the area as she reached the desk and started lightly tapping her fingers on its surface. She looked up and leaned onto an elbow. The low ceiling had soft fluorescent lights. There were chairs placed against the walls. There was a coffee table in the center of the room with pamphlets neatly stacked to one side.
Behind the desk there was a stack of papers, a container of pens, a computer, and a chair with a dark blue jacket haphazardly strewn across the top. There was also another door. She assumed it was the only way to get behind the desk, so she peeked into it as far as she could. No luck.
She checked her watch. Ugh. She’d been there 3 and a half minutes already.
This is ridiculous, she thought. Since she’d moved to Storybrooke, she’d been under more stress than she’d ever known. So she had decided to sign up for ballroom dancing classes.
Her friend Graham, whom she’d met in college, told her a position “meant for her” had recently become available.
“You know, you could put that insane intuition of yours to good use as a detective here,” he had said, “It’s a small town too, so it’s not like you’ll have much to do anyway. You’ll have job security with better pay. And you’ll get to see my gorgeous face every day.”
“If you say so, Graham-a.”
Emma rolled her eyes and smiled at the memory. Graham and his lame humor. She could live with having Storybrooke’s Sheriff as her boss.
However, small town as it was, in the past 3 weeks she’d seen more action than she had working in the bail bonds business in Boston. Then again, in almost every case she couldn’t really call it “action”. Her first week as detective was mostly filling out paperwork and becoming acquainted with her surroundings--- in the office and around the town. Since then she had investigated a leaky pipe, fixed a flat tire, rescued a cat from a tree, helped an elementary school student unbury her doll from the backyard, scolded minors for trying to get into an R-rated movie… the “usual” detective work.
But most recently there had been a series of robberies and thefts--- one of which left Mrs. Lucas, known more commonly as Granny, with a broken arm and a bloody lip. Of course, what bothered that old goat most was her failure to capture or identify the culprit. So Emma had spent the last several days going door-to-door, trying to find something, anything, that could get her a lead.
So now here she was, as Archie Hopper had advised. He had noticed her exhaustion after she had finished questioning him. “You can’t go wrong with a little exercise. Getting you blood pumping will help with the stress, and who knows? Maybe you’ll be able to think more clearly once you’re home.” He had suggested a few things; yoga, kickboxing, regular boxing, plain old jogging, and ballroom dancing, among other things.
Yoga sounded boring, and she had tried boxing before. It wasn’t for her. But ballroom dancing grabbed her attention. She didn’t know much about it to begin with, and she hadn’t experienced anything like it in her life, so why not? Not to mention she could set goals for herself. Maybe she’d even make friends. Or meet someone.
“Hey! Anyone here?” Emma said a little louder, pounding her palm impatiently on the desk.
She heard some shuffling from behind the open door. A few seconds later a woman burst through, followed by, “Please excuse- Sorry!! I mean- How can I help you?” The woman said the last phrase with an exasperated sigh. When she realized how that sounded, she winced and then gave Emma a meek smile.
Emma ignored the flub and said, “Hi, um… I’m interested in signing up for a class here?”
The woman scrambled to her chair and opened a binder. “Yes, which were you interested in?” She scanned the page of the open binder, which seemed to give her some comfort.
“Well, I’m not too familiar with this sort of thing. What’s easiest? In your opinion.”
The woman’s eyes lit up. She had completely recovered from the earlier incident. “It depends on what you’re looking for.” As the woman went on about the different types of dances, Emma finally took a good look at who she was talking to. The woman had milky white skin and incredibly short dark hair. If I cut my hair like that, I’d look like a British man. She was wearing black leggings and a loose fitting navy top. Underneath she had on a black camisole. On her deep green eyes, she wore a minimal amount of makeup, and in her ears were a pair of ruby studs. She wasn’t wearing any other jewelry, but she had what appeared to be a diamond ring on her left ring finger.
“…but anyway most classes start off at a slow enough pace for beginners. More advanced students pair up with newer students so at least one person knows what they’re doing. The instructors are well trained, but I step in to teach class when I can, so I’ll do my best to make sure no one is left behind. If anything, we also do private lessons.”
Emma nodded, but allowed the woman to continue.
“Most adults who are just starting go to the Argentine Tango class, but it’s really up to you. That’s probably the most popular choice.”
Emma considered it. Well, lots of people in a class means lots of people to observe. She could make friends while continuing her investigation. “Sure, sounds good to me.”
The woman beamed. “All right! I’ll pencil you in. Beginner classes for tango are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 6:30pm, and we have a Q&A session Thursday night at 6:00 for when you’ve been here a while.” She took a business card and wrote on the back. “Here, just in case you forget. Go ahead and drop in to any of those. First class is free. If it’s what you’re looking for, we’ll discuss payment and all that.”
Emma nodded again. “Great. Yeah, I’ll think I’ll try the beginner class.”
“All right, what’s today… Tuesday? Next class is tomorrow then. I’ll just need you to fill out this information sheet and this waiver.” The woman handed Emma two sheets of paper and a pen. People actually get injured dancing? Emma shrugged off the thought, picked up the pen, and started writing.
Not a moment later, the woman spoke, making Emma jump. “Oh my goodness! I never asked your name! So sorry about that. I’m Mary. Mary Margaret Blanch- Nolan.” She fidgeted with the ring on her finger as a smile crept up to her eyes. “Some of the regulars call me Madame Mary, but it’s more of a joke. Anyway, enough about me.” She gestured to Emma.
Emma put down the pen and extended her right hand over the desk. “Emma Swan. I just moved here about 3 weeks ago. I work with Sheriff Humbert as a detective.” Mary took her hand and shook. “Pleasure to meet you Emma. See you tomorrow!”