Olivia was up late, though she shouldn’t be. She should have been in bed hours ago, but her mom was gone for the night, working late on a last-minute photo shoot for her magazine, New York Style . Normally, Olivia would stay with her Aunt Emma (she wasn’t really her aunt, but Olivia always called her that, so that’s what she was), but her Aunt Emma was also working late. Her best friend Henry had gone to Hoboken to stay with his dad for the weekend, which was why she was alone with her babysitter, Ashley, who thought Olivia had gone to sleep hours ago.
Olivia snuck out of her room, tiptoed to the kitchen, and ever so gently, pulled out a step stool. Opening a cabinet, she reached up as far as her nine-year-old frame could stretch, her fingertips reaching until she found the cookies her mom hid high in the back of the top shelf. There was a slight crinkling noise as her fingers wrapped around her prize, and she stilled, listening for the sounds of footsteps on their way to catch her in the act. She let out a breath when no one came, and as quietly as she could she closed the door and placed the stool back into its spot.
She was making her way back to her room when she heard whispered voices from the living room. Curious, she crept along the wall and crouched down, listening to the unmistakable voice of her babysitter and what sounded very much like a boy.
“When’s the kid’s mom supposed to be home?”
Olivia heard sounds of heavy breathing, and she stood slowly, peeking over the chair that blocked her view. Her eyes widened when she looked over the edge, and she ducked back down quickly, making a face. Eww, kissing is so gross, she thought, shaking her head.
Ashley’s breathy voice answered, “Another hour or so.”
More loud breathing and moans from her sitter followed. Olivia covered her mouth to keep from giggling aloud. Ashley would be in so much trouble if Olivia’s mom knew she had a boy over and was doing that . Picking up her fallen bag of cookies, Olivia began to get up from the floor when the boy’s voice said, “Where’s the kid’s dad?”
Olivia stopped, her mouth tipped down into a frown as she listened for her babysitter’s reply. Why would he ask that? Olivia wondered.
“She doesn’t have one.”
Olivia’s brows rose up and up, her frown turned into a scowl of indignation. That isn’t true, the little girl wanted to stand and insist, but she didn’t want to get caught for being up so late. Her mom had told her she had a daddy; he just wasn’t here right now.
The boy must have been just as confused by Ashley’s answer as Olivia was because he asked, “What?”
She heard Ashley sigh before she said, “Her mom did that in-vitro thing.”
“Like a donor baby?”
More silence and more sounds of kissing and then his voice was asking, “What, are she and Emma…”
“What? No!” Olivia heard Ashley hit him, and then his laugh followed. “God, Sean.”
“What, sorry, I just thought…”
“Well, it’s not what you thought. Regina and Emma are straight, and the kid has a dad she’ll never meet. End of story.” Ashley then said, in a voice Olivia had never heard her use before, “Now do you want talk about Olivia’s donor daddy, or do you want to make out?”
Olivia listened for a few more minutes, but hearing nothing other than their kissing, she grabbed the cookies and made her way back to her room, where she dropped the bag onto her bedside table. She was no longer in the mood for cookies or even the book her momma had just bought for her, Breadcrumbs . Her late-night plan to read and eat cookies was dashed. All thoughts about witches, frozen hearts, and magic were gone from her mind, leaving the little girl with nothing but sadness and doubt. Shutting off her bedside lamp, she pulled the covers up to her chin. She went to sleep that night not understanding exactly what it was she’d heard, but she promised herself that tomorrow, she’d find out exactly what Ashley had been talking about.
The following morning Olivia woke to the sound of rain on her windows and Stevie Nicks playing on the radio out in the living room. It was Sunday. A day usually reserved for her and her mother. A day when Emma slept in late, and Henry was almost always away with his dad until dinner time. Sometimes she and her momma would spend the day doing what her momma called “organizing” when Olivia knew what it really was. Cleaning. Sometimes they went out for breakfast and would “shop till they dropped” as her Aunt Emma would say when they came home with sore feet, their hands full of shopping bags. Then there were rainy days like this one, when they would stay in their pajamas all day watching movies or playing games. Olivia yawned and sat up, rubbing her eyes as she glanced out the window covered by her sheer pink curtains at the rain. Droplets of moisture were hitting the window, gathering, and running down in fast steady rivulets.
She bit her lip. She wanted to go tell her momma what she’d overheard the night before, wanted her to hold her and tell her what Ashley said wasn’t true so she could go back to how it was before. Unfortunately for Olivia, hearing that she did have a dad out there, but that she would never ever meet him, filled her with a sense of loss she didn’t understand. Why could she never meet him? Did he not want her? What did a donor daddy mean? All these thoughts raced through her mind, confusing her, and making her want answers.
Olivia jumped at the sound of her bedroom door opening. Her mother’s face peeked in, and when Olivia turned to greet her, she opened the door fully, a wide smile on her face.
“You’re awake, good.” Her mom made her way over and leaned down to kiss her head before combing her fingers through Olivia’s long dark hair, which had pulled into tangles as she slept. “I thought you were going to be in bed all day. I was just about to come wake you up.”
“I was just so sleepy.”
“Mm, you didn’t stay up late again, did you?”
Olivia’s eyes widened for a second, then she looked out toward the living room before her eyes settled back up on her momma’s, which were gazing back at her knowingly.
Olivia’s voice was still sleepy when she quietly admitted, “Not too late.” This was true as far as she was concerned, as she planned to be up much later than she had.
“I figured as much. Are you hungry?”
Olivia nodded through another yawn.
Her mother chuckled. “Come on, sleepy head. Let’s go make some hot cocoa and cinnamon toast, and while I catch up on some work, you can practice a bit.”
“Aw, but Momma, you never work on Sundays.”
“I know, this week has busier than usual for me, but I promise next week will be back to normal.” Her mother sat down next to her, brushed away the hair that had fallen over her face, and gently placed her forehead against Olivia’s. “Just you and me next weekend. Okay?”
Olivia blew out a breath in resignation, but gave her mom a small smile.
Regina hated working on the weekends. She didn’t usually, unless she was doing a project of her own, she wouldn’t be parked in front of her computer going over which frame of which picture she needed to choose. Saturdays were days for Olivia’s homework and cello practice, and Sundays were her days to relax with her daughter before Monday, when Olivia's homework and her job vied for their attention. What they did varied, but their time was always spent together.
The last few weeks had been different, however. She’d been given an unusually heavy workload, as a co-worker had taken some personal time to plan her wedding. Of course, she had been happy to take up the slack; being a single mother in New York City was never cheap, and as a mother of a child with a musical gift, there were certain expenses, and in a city like hers, those expenses were never reasonably priced.
Regina realized her daughter had a special talent when she was only two-years-old. The little girl had picked up a violin in a Mommy and Me playgroup, and amazed her by following along with the teacher. Olivia, just old enough to string together sentences, was able to arrange her tiny fingers and move the bow well enough to play, amidst the inevitable untutored screeching of the strings, several recognizable notes. The instructor had been impressed enough to encourage her into researching some music programs for toddlers. Now here her daughter was, almost seven years later, playing the cello like she’d been born with a bow in her hand.
That was the reason she sat at her desk on a Sunday, a day set aside for her daughter, so that Olivia could receive the very best musical education she could afford, her father’s contribution notwithstanding. She tried not to think about that though, about her parents’ contributions. It had been a point of contention between her and her mother since Olivia had been born.
Her mother had been outraged, completely aghast at her decision to have a child on her own, almost to the point where Cora had threatened to disown her. Her father had come to her apartment a week later and told her that he and her mother would accept her choice, but she knew her mother; there would be a catch. Her father had smiled at her, which confused her, but he assured there was no catch, only that she let them help raise her daughter right.
Ah, there it was. Cora’s control disguised as a warm welcome package.
At first, she refused. She made enough money on her own; she didn’t need their support or their money to raise her child the way they saw fit. However, her father had pleaded with her, told her to give Cora the illusion of control, let her think she had a say for now. He wanted to be a part of his grandchild’s life, and he’d convinced her mother that if the child were raised properly, in the best schools in New York, they could all quietly forget how the child had been brought into the world, keeping her mother’s socialite status from absolute ruin (as her mother would exclaim with great theatrics), and that would be enough.
She had given in then. She gave her father that much, but that was all. Olivia did go to the best school her father’s money could buy. Her mother had her bragging rights, and she refused to give her any more than that.
With a soft sigh, she put the final touches on her last print and sent them off in an email to her editor. Glancing at the time, she smiled to herself. It was only ten past two; they still had plenty of time together. Shutting down her computer, Regina pushed in her chair and set off to the kitchen where she called Olivia in to help her make caramel popcorn and then the two of them cuddled together on the couch and watched Alice in Wonderland.
Olivia’s eyes glanced away from the page of her book for what must have been the twentieth time in so many minutes. She’d been reading for the last half an hour, while her mother started dinner, anxiously waiting for Henry to return. Most Sunday’s his dad dropped him off in the afternoon, but Emma had gone to get him this time, and it was taking forever!
Finally, the sound of keys had her sitting bolt upright.
The door to the loft opened to reveal a haggard-looking Emma and a smiling Henry back from a weekend at his father’s.
“Hey Aunt Regina, hey Olivia,” eleven-year-old Henry called out, as he and Emma walked into the apartment.
“Henry!” Olivia bounded off the couch, her book falling to the floor with a thunk, left forgotten behind her as she ran up to meet him on the way to his room.
Regina had just sat down, about to take a drink of her tea, but lowered the cup and watched her daughter bolt across the apartment in amusement. Raising an eyebrow, she asked, “Olivia Harper, what has gotten into you today?”
“I’m just excited to show Henry…” The little girl’s lips pressed together, and her brows rose as she waited. A moment passed, and Olivia let out a small laugh, and blurted, “Just… something.”
“What?” Henry asked.
With a jerk of her head, Olivia replied, “It’s in my room.”
Henry shrugged but followed. “Okay.”
Olivia began to dart off towards her room with Henry trailing behind her.
“Olivia,” she called before her daughter could get too far away.
“Are you forgetting something?” She lowered her eyes to the fallen book on the floor, and Olivia sighed dramatically, then sprinted across the room and picked up her book before she took off running back down the hall.
Emma dodged Olivia, and with a chuckle and a toss of her head in the direction of the kids, she asked, “What’s all that about?”
She narrowed her eyes, suspicious of anything that made Olivia jumpy, and today that’s what she’d been. She shrugged her shoulders and replied, “I have no idea.”
Emma sat down heavily into Olivia’s vacant seat, letting out a long exhale.
She chuckled. “Tired?”
Emma’s booted feet lifted on the coffee table and she sank further into the cushions until she noticed her pointed look, and with a sigh, removed each foot.
“Exhausted,” she began with a groan as she leaned forward to remove her boots. “I was out half the night last night, and then Neal called and asked me to pick up Henry today.”
Regina let the book she had been reading fall to her lap. “Why couldn’t he just drop him off?”
“He’s got to go up to Newark for a job. I took pity on the man.”
“You’re a better ex-wife than I would be. My pity doesn’t extend to New Jersey.”
Emma chuckled, and teased, “Maybe that’s why you’re still single?”
“Ha!” She looked at Emma in mild disbelief. “Because I refuse to cross the Hudson?”
“Because your standards are too high.”
Regina rolled her eyes at that. If you called not wanting to date every man who had tried to hit on you high standards, well, that was just fine with her. She was a mother first, and as far as she was concerned she didn’t need a man. She’d watched Emma’s marriage disintegrate, followed by a string of dating disasters. Not that she minded her roommate having a life; she just wasn’t interested in it herself. Picking up her book from her lap, she returned, “That’s rich coming from the recently divorced.”
“Just calling it like I see it.” Emma closed her eyes, and tilted her head back into the cushions of the couch. “What do you want to do for dinner?”
She turned the page of the book, and replied, “I’ve got a roast already in.”
“You know, one of these days I’m going to cook,” Emma told her.
She looked at her with one eyebrow raised. “Don’t threaten me, Miss Swan.”
Emma barked a laugh and tossed a pillow blindly in Regina’s direction. She caught it easily and used it to prop her book in her lap. The day Emma cooked something other than reheated takeaway was the day she took her and the kids out for pizza.
After nearly frog marching her friend down the hall and into her room, Olivia glanced over Henry’s shoulder one more time to make sure no one could overhear them.
Henry eyed her with mild interest. “What do you have to show me?”
Olivia lowered her voice to nearly a whisper as if her voice would carry down the hall and out into the living room. “Nothing.”
“Okaaay,” Henry said, waiting with a furrowed brow until Olivia took a deep breath and moved closer to him.
Swallowing, Olivia went on, “I need your help. I heard Ashley talking to her boyfriend last night and she told him that I don't have a dad.”
Looking even more confused, he replied, “But everyone has a dad. Yours is just-”
“Not here, I know .” She sighed with a bit of her own mother’s exasperation. “That’s what Momma tells me. That she’ll tell me about him when I’m older, but Ashley told that boy that my mom had something called an in-vitro... something.”
The crease between Henry’s brows deepened even more if that were possible. “A what?”
“I tried to get on Momma’s iPad to look it up myself but it’s locked, and I can’t ask her what Ashley was talking about.”
Olivia sat down heavily on her bed, gave a half-hearted shrug. “Because I don’t know what it means, not really.” Olivia gazed up at Henry, and with hope in her voice, asked, “Do you?”
“No.” Henry shook his head, and Olivia frowned, but then a smile pulled his lips up, and his eyes grew wide, adding, “But I know a way we can find out.”
Olivia stood, her heart picking up its pace. “How?”
It was Henry’s turn to lower his voice when he told her with a bit of smugness, “My dad gave me my own tablet this weekend. My mom doesn’t know about it yet. I’m sure we can look it up online.”
“Where is it?”
“Out in my backpack.” Henry held his hands out and told her, “Stay here, I’ll go get it.”
Olivia nodded and sat back down on her bed trying with great difficulty not to get her hopes up just yet.
Regina looked up from her book to see Henry come back out into the room, sans her daughter. She raised an eyebrow but didn’t comment when the boy took his bag from beside the entry table and then walked back in the direction he came.
Emma must have noticed her preoccupation because she sat up on the couch and turned in the direction of her son. “Hey kid, what are you two up to?”
Henry paused, turned around, and sounding slightly offended replied, “Why do you always think we’re up to something?”
“Because you generally are.”
Henry sent his mother a feigned cry of disbelief, and then said, “Olivia found a Harry Potter game she thinks she can beat me at. I’m just gonna play a couple rounds with her before I start my reading assignment.”
“Okay, well, go easy on her. She hasn’t read them all backward and forwards like you have.”
“I will,” he called from over his shoulder.
Regina and Emma’s eyes met knowingly. Having grown up together, Olivia and Henry had an almost sibling connection, and that relationship developed even more so when Emma and Henry moved in three years ago. Like any brother and sister, Olivia and Henry got along extremely well, they also had their moments of disagreement. Sure, there was laughter and fun, but there were also tears and hurt feelings. Unfortunately for both children, they inherited their mother's competitive spirits, and though both children were taught win or lose they needed to be good sports, sometimes it just didn’t work out that way.
Regina just hoped it wasn’t going to be one of those times.
Olivia breathed a sigh of relief when Henry came back into the room. He pulled out his tablet, and smiled widely at Olivia. “We’re going to find your dad. What was that thing called again?”
Once Olivia told him the correct word, which she remembered while Henry was getting his tablet, he pulled up the browser and typed it in. After a moment, Henry’s eyes went wide, and then he scrunched his nose, a noise of disgust following shortly. He shook his head, and Olivia watched as he tapped on a few other links, reading over the information he found with each. Minutes passed, and then finally he turned to her. “Okay, first, so gross.”
Olivia blinked at him. “What is?”
“Well, let me ask you this: you know how babies are made, right?”
Olivia sat up straight, crossed her arms in front of her and said rather indignantly, “Yes.”
“Okay so, it’s like that, only your dad gave his part to a bank that then put it in a fridge, and then gave it to your mom.”
Olivia’s brows knitted together, and she frowned. “I was made in the fridge?”
Henry rolled his eyes. “Don’t you remember how they made the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park?”
“It’s just like that, but without the eggs. Don’t worry; it says here that lots of kids are born this way. I think I can find him.”
Her expression changed from a perplexed gaze to an uncertain wonder. “Find him?”
“Well, yeah.” Henry’s head tilted. “Don’t you want to meet him?”
Olivia thought for a moment on that. Would she like to meet her dad? The answer was such a simple one that her mind screamed instantly, yes! Olivia would love to have a dad like Henry had, but what if he didn’t want her? What would her mom say if Olivia wanted to find him? Would her mom be upset with her? Would it make her feel bad? “I do want to meet him. I’d love to have a daddy, but...”
“But what?” Henry asked.
Olivia’s voice was as small, and uncertain as she felt. “How do I ask my mom?”
“We don’t have to tell her right away.”
Olivia looked up. She knew Henry was smart but they were just kids. “Then how do we find him?”
Henry chuckled. “If I know one thing from having a mom like mine is that if you know the right people and where to look, you can find anybody.”
They tiptoed out of Olivia’s room, peering back into the living room where their mothers were in a lengthy discussion, and quietly let themselves into her mother's bedroom. Once they were in, Henry directed Olivia to start looking around.
“What are we looking for?”
“Anything that might help us with our search? Your mom probably kept the records from the place she got you and your hospital records.”
In a quiet hiss, Olivia replied, “How do you know all this stuff?”
Henry shrugged. “My mom, mostly and movies.”
Olivia stepped away from the nightstand she’d been about to open. “I don’t know about this. If my mom catches us...”
Henry sighed and began to shift through some books on her momma’s bookshelf. “Look, on a search like this you’ve got to be sneaky and we’re not going to take anything, we’re just gathering intel.”
“Intelligence, you know, information. Like in your books when Sabrina and Daphne look for clues. That’s what we’re doing, looking for clues. Now, where would Aunt Regina put important papers?”
Olivia pointed across the room. “She keeps all her stuff in her desk.”
Henry nodded, walking over to the desk where he began opening drawers, shifting around papers and books. Olivia climbed up onto her mother's bed beside the desk and watched Henry with unease, shifting her focus from him to the door. Finally, pushing the bottom drawers shut, he stood and with his hands on his hips he shook his head. “Nah, this is all work stuff.”
“Henry? Olivia?” The door opened, and her mom stepped in. “What are you two doing in here?”
Henry spoke up before Olivia could, “We were just looking for Olivia’s baby book.”
Her momma fixed her gaze on her and regarded her for a moment. “It’s on the bookshelf where it’s always been. Why do you want it?”
Her voice was quiet when she answered, “I just wanted to see it.”
Her mother’s gaze softened. “Sweetie, are you alright?”
“I’m fine,” Olivia lied, and for the first time since she and Henry started this operation, felt her stomach twist. Something about what they were doing started to feel very wrong to her.
Her mother walked up to her and placed a hand on her forehead. “You’re not getting sick, are you?”
“Now that I think about it, my stomach isn’t feeling so good.”
“Okay, let’s go get you something for it.” Her mom led her from the room with her arm around her shoulder. Olivia forgot all about Henry and what he might be doing now that he was alone.
Regina spent the rest of the night cuddling with Olivia on the couch, getting her crackers and tea, and just taking the time to baby her. She didn’t get moments like this often these days. It seemed the older she got, the less and less time there was to hold her close without Olivia jumping up a moment later wanting to play. Not that Olivia was not without her moments. There were times when Regina would wake to her little girl snuggled up by her side, having left her room in the middle of the night to sneak into beside her.
And the last time had been a while ago, so she was determined to take advantage of the moment while she could.
It was nearing Olivia’s bedtime, and she had been reading to her for a good hour from her new favorite series, The Sisters Grimm. Olivia was addicted to them the moment Henry had pointed out in Barnes and Noble that they were about fairy tales and magic. Growing up with Henry and his love of books, especially those filled with all things magical, had rubbed off on her daughter.
She noticed Olivia’s eyes had begun fluttering open and closed for the last ten minutes. Finishing up the chapter, she placed the bookmark into Once Upon A Crime and set it on Olivia’s bedside table. Raising up on her elbow, she brushed the dark hair off her daughter’s brow, and giving her a kiss, whispered, “Goodnight, sweetheart.”
Getting to her feet, she clicked off the overhead light that triggered a night light beside the bed, bathing the room in a soft glow.
“Momma,” Olivia called out, sleepily.
She turned back. “Yes?”
Olivia turned onto her side to face her. “Do you believe in fairytales?”
She took the few steps she had made back to her bed and sat down beside her. “I think every story has a little magic involved. Why do you ask?”
“I sometimes wish we could be a fairytale.”
She laughed lightly. “Like queens, princesses, knights on white horses, and frogs that turn into princes?”
Olivia giggled. “Just like that, only maybe here in New York like in my book.”
“That would make things interesting for sure.” Regina shifted down on the bed a propped her head up on her elbow and asked her daughter, “Who would we be?”
“Well, you would be the queen,” Olivia told her turning on her side like her, and added, “and I’d be a princess.”
“Naturally. And Henry and Emma?”
“Hmm.” Olivia’s eyes shifted up in thought, and after a moment she answered, “I think Emma would be a knight because she’s always chasing bad guys. Henry could be Merlin, like in The Sword and the Stone because he has so many books just like he did.”
Regina grinned down at Olivia, and told her, “Sounds like a great story. Now, my little princess, get some sleep.”
Olivia sighed heavily, and she waited, her daughter looking like there was something else she wanted to say. Finally, she raised her blue eyes to meet hers, and asked, “Momma, in the fairytale, could I have a daddy?”
Regina blinked, and it took her several seconds to find her voice. “A daddy?”
“I don’t have one here, I thought it might be nice. You know, in the story.”
She smiled, but it was forced. “Of course, you can. That’s the great thing about fairy tales; they can be whatever you want them to be.”
“Good, because I'd really like one, even if it’s just for pretend.” Olivia reached over and wrapped her arms around her. “I love you, Momma.”
She closed her eyes, and held her daughter close. “I love you too, baby girl. Get some sleep, okay.”
“Okay,” Olivia replied.
Closing Olivia’s door, Regina flipped off the light in the hall, and made her way out into the living room. Her mind replaying the last few minutes in her head, while her heart ached from the emotional impact left on it from Olivia’s words.
Her daughter wanted a daddy.
“That was a long story,” Emma observed.
She sat down on the couch next to her roommate and ran her fingers through her hair before letting out a groan. “I think she’s getting to that age.”
Emma glanced at her and did a double take at her expression. With a brow furrowed, she asked, “What age?”
“The asking questions age. Olivia told me she wished her stories were real and then asked if it was okay if she had a daddy in them.”
Emma nodded. “Ah, well, you knew it was bound to happen eventually. I’m surprised she made it this long, to be honest. I had her pinged for asking about daddies the moment she stepped into kindergarten.”
She made a small sound of frustration. “Sure, she’s asked why she doesn’t have a dad like all the other kids, but it’s always been easy to satisfy her questions with vague answers like some kids have two mommies, and some have two daddies, and some have parents in two different places like Henry. Now she’s getting to that age where those answers don’t work anymore.”
“What are you going to tell her?”
Regina rubbed the heels of her hands across her eyes. “I don’t know. I don’t think she’s old enough to really grasp the situation yet. I mean, how do I get her to understand it, Emma? Momma wanted a baby but didn’t have a man available, so she went on down to a special bank, picked out a candidate, and then ordered a batch of baby-making juice?”
Emma snorted a laugh. “Well, not if you put it that, way, Regina. Olivia’s a smart kid. I think you might be surprised.”
“She’s still so young, though.”
“Yeah, but she’s growing up. As much as you hate to admit it, and I personally think the sooner you’re honest with her, the sooner she’ll start accepting the family she does have.”
She shifted to face the blonde. “Do you think she’s unhappy?”
Emma sighed, reached over and gripped Regina’s hand firmly. “No, not like that, but come on, Regina, she sees kids, even Henry, with their dads and all those movies with families, things she’s missing out on. Look, she loves you, she does but think about you and your dad. No offense, but you’re a spoiled daddy’s princess.”
Emma raised an eyebrow. “You are, and you know it.”
“I will not dignify that with a response.”
“Whatever, Livie is a lot like you. I mean a lot. She’s craving that male influence in her life that she hasn’t yet gotten to experience.”
She bit her lower lip in thought. Emma’s words from earlier that afternoon played through her mind. Maybe her standards were too high? Maybe if she let herself live a little bit, instead of using her daughter as an excuse to avoid a social life, Olivia could have had a father by now. “Maybe I should have made more of an effort to date over the years.”
“I don’t think that’s your answer.”
Emma looked like whatever she was about to say, Regina didn’t want to hear but barreled on anyway. “Have you ever thought of looking the guy up?”
Her eyes widened. “No, I couldn’t. He’s probably out there with his own family and that would just open a whole ugly can of worms. I mean, hell, Emma, the whole reason most people donate to a sperm bank is the anonymity.”
“I’m not saying you have to meet the guy. I’m just saying look him up, get a picture for her. You don’t have to contact him.”
She pulled at an invisible string on her jeans. “I don’t even know if I can do that.”
“I could take a peek.”
Regina eyed her for a moment before she got up, walked to the kitchen and began to make herself a cup of tea. She could have Emma look. “Could you?”
Emma followed. “I could. Nothing too in depth, but I could get you a picture and a background.”
“A picture?” Her voice hitching up half an octave made Emma’s lips twitch.
“Okay, just a background then.” Emma leaned against the doorway into the kitchen. “That way when Olivia asks about him, you’ll have some answers.”
“No, that’s not it, I…” she trailed off. She was tempted, sorely tempted. Just for her own knowledge. To have an image behind where her daughter got those bright blue eyes, or where those adorable dimples had come from, despite how much of a personal violation to the father it might be. She turned to face Emma, her hands gripping the counter top behind her. “I just don’t know if I want to know, yet.”
Emma looked at her, a look like she was disappointed she wasn’t giving her the green light to find him. “Well, think about it, and if you decided you’re up for it, let me know.”
“Alright, I’m gonna hit the hay.” The blonde stretched her arms up over her head and then out to the side, groaning a bit in what she could only guess was discomfort. “You still gonna get both the kids in the morning?”
Regina turned back to her cup of tea. “Yup, I’ve got them.”
“Thanks. I swear, if I don’t get this guy tomorrow I’m going to charge him my daily rate,” Emma told her before heading to her room.
She chuckled, and replied, “Good luck.”
A few days later, while his Aunt Regina was busy fixing dinner, he and Olivia snuck into his mother’s room intent on furthering their search, and if it came down to it, getting on his mom’s computer and looking up the source she used for people even she couldn’t find.
First, though, they decided to check around the room. His mother was known to keep things, papers mostly from his childhood, his parents’ divorce, and random stuff Henry always wondered why she saved. He told Olivia he had a feeling that maybe his mom would be the one to save stuff for her mom too.
“What do you want me to do?” Olivia asked him.
“This time I want you to be the lookout. Tell me if your mom comes this way.”
Olivia nodded eagerly. “Okay, I can do that.”
“Great.” He dropped down onto his knees and crawled under his mom’s bed. A moment later he was back, with a black box in his hand. “She keeps important stuff in here.”
Olivia watched him nervously while he shuffled through the papers. “Lawyer papers, my birth certificate… Nah, there’s nothing in here.”
Henry pushed the box back under the bed. Sighing and sitting back on his legs he looked around, Olivia eyes followed as his eyes landed on the file cabinet. Walking over to it, he pulled out the top drawer; it made a terrible squeaking sound that caused Olivia’s head to whip down the hall and then back at him with wide startled eyes.
They both froze and waited for a sign her mother had heard them, but nothing came, and he breathed a sigh of relief.
“Be careful,” Olivia warned as he began to open the drawer once again.
“I’m trying,” he whispered back, gingerly opening the drawer in small movements to minimize the sound.
Once it was open, he got a good look at all the files mostly covered in a thick layer of dust, and each marked on with a black Sharpie with names he’d never heard of. All the files in the drawer were the same, old cases his mom had saved for whatever reason. He shut the drawer slowly, and once that was done, he opened the next, which made no sound, and looked through the contents. Nothing. He knelled to open the final drawer and pulled it out, but just as he started to look through it he heard his aunt’s voice from the hall.
“Olivia, Henry, dinner’s ready.”
Ugh, great, he thought.
Quickly his eyes scanned the files, and to his surprise tucked in the back, there was a file that stood out in red Sharpie marked Olivia . Bingo! Henry excitedly reached for it, pulling it out, but in his haste the file got caught on the side of the cabinet, papers falling to the floor, and he scrambled to pick them up. His brows shot up when he saw a picture fall from in between the papers. It was a picture of a man in a suit, walking out of a building. He had short dark blonde hair, and looked, well, kind of like James Bond.
He could hear Olivia’s voice from behind him, telling him they needed to go, that her mom was going to come if they didn’t answer her, but he couldn’t move. Flipping over the picture, Henry saw that in the same red Sharpie the man’s name, Robin Locksley. Looking down around at the other papers, he saw a paper labeled New York Cryobank. Curious, he picked up the paper and there it was. What he’d been looking for. This was him!
His mom had already found him.
He scrambled to his feet and held out the picture to Olivia. “This is him. His name is Robin, he’s your dad.”
Olivia looked down at the picture with complete and total awe.