"I can't ask her that," Regina said into the phone. "I can't tell her that I feel the way I do. I couldn't explain it if I tried. It's not that I don't want her to know. It's just that she can't. What would she say? What would she think about me? She'd think I was stupid. Pathetic. Worse yet, what would she do? She'd leave. I want to tell her. I do. I just can't."
The room was silent while the voice on the other end of the line spoke. Regina squeezed the phone, her finger accidentally pressing one of the buttons and making a beeping sound.
"Yeah, sorry, that was me. I hit the phone button. I'm listening."
Well, she was trying to listen. But her thoughts were too loud to allow her to focus on the conversation. Her head and her heart battled for who would speak next. Her head won.
"I can't do that. She'd never say yes. That's not what she wants."
"How do I know? Because I know her! She'd never understand. I just can't tell her. She can never know that I feel this way."
Regina's heart sank, tossing her dreams around like they were in a washing machine.
"It's not that simple. You can't just go buy a ring and get down on a knee and ask. It doesn't work like that."
Regina's voice gave way to her irritation.
"Because it just doesn't! She won't say yes!"
Suddenly, she'd gone from 'wouldn't' to 'won't.' Was she considering it?
"Because I know her," she repeated. "Emma doesn't want me like that. We've only been seeing each other for six months, and we've never even said our relationship was exclusive."
A knot began to form in her throat.
"Of course I'm exclusive! That doesn't mean she is!"
Tears began to form in her eyes.
"I don't know if she is," she explained. "I don't ask. I don't want to know."
Regina started to cry into the phone, and she squeezed the box of tissues with her left hand and crushed the top of the cardboard container. A few tears dripped down her cheeks and onto her hand.
"I'm not going to do that," she said defiantly. "I couldn't take it if she said no."
The voice on the other end of the line was encouraging.
"She will," Regina protested. "She will say no."
Regina was sitting at the kitchen table. When she heard a floorboard squeak behind her, she whipped her head around and gasped.
"Shit," she cursed into the phone. "I have to go."
As she ended the call, her heart turned solid and seemed to drop out of her chest.
"Regina," Emma breathed. "Yes. A thousand times, yes."
"Oh, God. You heard all that?" Regina gaped. "I... Wait... Yes? Yes, what?"
Her heart jumped back into her throat and her hands started to shake, dropping the phone onto the table. Emma moved closer and knelt in front of the chair, taking the woman's hands in her own and looking up into her eyes.
"Yes, Regina. I'm saying yes."
The Queen began to cry again, wrapping her arms around her lover.
"Emma," she cried. "Oh, Emma..."
"Why didn't you just ask me?" Emma frowned, cupping Regina's face in her hands and looking at her seriously. "You can tell me anything."
"I didn't think... I mean... I thought..."
"I'm not seeing anyone else," Emma promised, kissing her cheeks. "Only you. It's only ever been you."
Emma sat down in Regina's lap and Regina held her arms around her, their foreheads pressed together, as she continued to cry.
"Don't cry, honey," Emma begged, stroking her hair. "Please don't cry."
But Regina couldn't stop.
"Does this mean I get to pick out my own ring?" Emma asked playfully, brushing a lock of hair out of Regina's teary eyes.
Regina nodded and smiled.