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Sex and the Single Moms

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“Madam Mayor?”

Regina snapped her head up from her paperwork ready to growl at her assistant, Jason, but bit her tongue when she saw Emma behind him. The other woman carried the diaper bag on one shoulder, Vivian sleeping with her fist against her mouth on the other. She was also swinging an actual basket from Granny’s -- Regina could see the diner’s logo imprinted on the side.

“I told you I would get that,” she said without preamble, striding quickly to the threshold. Jason had enough sense to get out of the way, saying nothing more and returning to his desk. She took the lunch basket gingerly from Emma’s arm, set it on the table next to her basket of apples, then liberated the diaper bag, and finally gestured Emma to sit with Vivian on the sofa.

Before she sat, Emma grasped Regina’s shoulder, leaned forward and, surrounding Regina in baby powder scent, kissed her cheek. “Yeah, so, I got to the task first. It happens. Vivian was very cooperative, and I swear Granny is worse than Snow about cooing over this kid.”

Regina lifted the basket lid to examine the contents. She lifted out a bottle of wine. “What’s this?”

“Wine?” Emma said. “You don’t like it?”

“You can’t drink it. What about Vivian?”

Emma opened the diaper bag showing two bottles. “Kid’s already got a meal. I’m not going to unbutton in the middle of the park.”

Regina frowned. “Still…” She bit her lip before a rather inappropriate, “I’d like to unbutton you,” passed her lips. Emma indeed looked wonderful, green eyes sparking with pleasure, body moving with almost the familiar swagger, clearly feeling physically good.

Emma's smile widened. “It’s really okay. I checked with Whale… one glass won’t hurt me or Vivian. It’ll be out of my system in two to three hours tops since I’m eating. I brought bottles for Vivian’s next two feedings, just to be sure.”

Replacing the wine in the basket -- Regina wondered how does one select a wine to go with grilled cheese? Finally she said, “One glass.”

Emma raised the three middle fingers of her left hand tucked together straight up. “I promise. So, are you ready to go?”

Regina looked around the office, particularly back to the desk where a stack of papers rested needing her signature. She’d been working her way through the permits all morning, since the zoning meeting had left them in her ‘actionables’.

“A few hours delay on those permits won’t be dangerous,” Emma said. “I’m really hungry.”

Emma’s words made Regina’s decision easily. She collected Vivian while Emma stood, and studied the baby for all the possible changes in the few hours since she had seen her last. Nuzzling into the baby-powdered skin, Regina inhaled, closing her eyes as a wave of peace and calm washed over her.

Slight pressure on her hip made her look up, finding Emma’s gaze just beyond Vivian’s head. “Hi,” Emma said softly, leaning in.

“Hi,” Regina responded, accepting the kiss on the lips. It was brief, but a tender caress, and Emma’s breath was minty fresh.

Regina closed her eyes and sank into the sensation of their bodies moving together, Vivian squirming against one shoulder while Emma was hugging her other side.

She and Emma spooned now when they slept, Regina most often taking the role of the big spoon, but this was the first time Emma had been so demonstrative in public. It was, she realized, also one of the few times Emma had come out of the apartment since giving birth for something other than a doctor’s appointment or visiting with her mother and brother.

Emma’s breath whispered against her ear. “I’m sorry if I said something wrong this morning.”

“You didn’t,” Regina sighed. “I did. I’m sorry.” She pulled back to look into Emma’s eyes. Just then Vivian kicked her legs and arms, and headbutted Regina’s jaw. Tears sprang to her eyes and she heard and felt her own teeth clack together. Regina’s hand shot to her chin. Emma took a step back, pulling Vivian to her outside hip, and examined Regina’s jaw tentatively. Still Regina winced.

“Viv-- Geez, Regina, you okay?” Emma’s hand joined hers on her jawline, fingers brushing the spot which was already growing hot. Regina hissed at the contact. “Sorry. Viv’s got a hard head. It’s already bruising.”

“I’ll be fine.” Regina rubbed the back of Vivian’s head as Emma turned the girl around in her arms. Regina then collected the diaper bag and the lunch basket and followed Emma out of the office, telling Jason she would be back by two.

“Yes, ma’am.” She caught his smile at Vivian’s gurgling, and Emma cooing back.

Regina tamped down on the self-conscious feelings, and instead of pulling away, she pulled Emma closer and nodded curtly. Jason’s smile increased to include his eyes crinkling at the corners.

“Enjoy your afternoon. Just call if you decide not to return today,” he said.

 


 

“I asked Granny for your usual,” Emma said. “But I didn’t see a salad. She told me it was something special,” she added as she handed across to Regina a small opaque plastic container. “She actually swatted my hand when I went to peek.”

Regina chuckled because Emma did, but the introduction to the lunch had been so descriptive, her curiosity seized her tongue quickly and she lifted the corner, breaking the vacuum seal with a soft pop.

“She must have chosen this when you put in the wine,” Regina realized. She opened the container the rest of the way and showed Emma. “Marinated cheese and Spanish olives.”

Emma smiled but shook her head when Regina held it out. “You and your rabbit food.” Regina watched her roll back onto her side and prop herself up on an elbow, lifting the grilled cheese sandwich, still partially in its wrapper, to her mouth for a hearty bite. “Why would she be giving you that anyway?”

Regina shrugged but, truth was, her throat was tight. The last time she’d indulged in the treat had been picnic lunches with toddler Henry on spring days. She looked around herself. Like today. She bit her lip. “I guess it’s a springtime treat she likes to pack in picnic lunches,” she said. “And,” she added, withdrawing the wine bottle they’d discussed earlier. “It will go perfectly with this crisp white wine.”

Emma’s eyes were shining bright green when they met Regina’s. Regina withdrew two plastic wine cups in dismay. Emma took them and held them out with a shrug. “Just pour,” she said.

So Regina did.

Emma sniffed the cup’s contents and giggled as she lifted it to her lips.

“What’s amusing?”

“Oh, I was just thinking about the last time I had a drink.” Emma lowered the glass and leaned back on her elbows, looking up at Regina.

Beyond her Regina could see the lake, and the small bridge she’d walked over with Henry when he had not known who she was. When they talked of Walsh, and small towns, and more family than you knew what to do with.

“Hey, you still with me?” Emma asked.

“Hmm? Of course.”

“We were toasting my baby brother’s first birthday. You remember?”

“How could I forget?”

“Yeah,” Emma said solemnly. “Solid little moment in that crazy time.”

Regina saw Vivian wiggling on the blanket on her belly and put a gentle, quieting hand on her back, rubbing in small circles as she laid down opposite Emma on the other side of Vivian. “It’s hard to believe that was less than a year ago.”

“My own kid is only a year younger than my little brother,” Emma spoke ruefully. "Geez, our son is 14 years older than my baby brother." 

“Your parents are roughly the same age as you.”

“Way to make me feel better.”

“Just stating the facts.”

“I know.” Emma lifted up and leaned forward, kissing Regina’s cheek. The brunette turned her head and the second kiss landed on Regina’s lips. They lingered for several moments, exploring the textures of each other’s mouths before separating. Emma was smiling, and Regina studied the curve of her lips before bringing up her gaze to meet Emma’s. “Hey,” Emma said.

“Yes?”

“I talked with Whale today,” Emma said.

“I know. You said that the wine wouldn’t hurt Vivian.”

“I can’t be hurt either,” Emma added. Her fingers trailed over Regina’s with the plastic wine cup. “Here, drink up.” Emma coaxed the cup toward Regina’s lips.

Regina sipped, but pulled the wine away long before finishing when she felt Emma’s hand on hers shaking. “Why are you nervous?”

“Do you remember coming here for lunch when I was pregnant? I’d skipped a meal, and we -- you -- rescheduled our Lamaze practice. We got takeout from Granny’s and came here. Watched the sunset. You tried to coax me into a walk after we ate, but I fell asleep. Woke up with my head in your lap.”

Regina nodded. The memory was so crystal clear she almost felt the strands of Emma’s hair against her fingertips again. “I remember.”

“You were looking out over the lake. I just watched you for the longest time, almost kissed you.”

Silence fell. The birds chirped in nearby trees and the breeze made the lake’s waves inordinately loud. Regina searched Emma’s face, interpreting expressions she had come to know very well over the last eleven months.

“You asked if I was watching the ducks,” Regina picked up the story. “I pointed out they were actually swans.” Regina pointed out now to a pair of the water fowl paddling toward them on the water’s surface.

Emma lifted up on an elbow. Regina’s fingers slid into her hair and over her shoulder. “Look at that,” Emma said. “A little family.”

Two juveniles could be seen now, treading water behind the bigger swans as the group turned to follow the water’s edge.

“They were just a pair last time,” Emma said.

“How do you know it’s the same birds?” There were clusters of the white and off-white fowl all over the lake.

“Hey, it’s swans.” Emma smiled. ‘I know my relatives, ‘k?” Emma chuckled. “Honestly, I know that swans mate for, like, life and that bigger one’s markings -- see the black spot shaped like a butterfly on his left wing? -- he’s the same one.”

Regina looked more intently at the bird group and found herself willing to believe the pair from the summer had indeed become a family.

Emma picked up Vivian and pointed her toward the water. “Look, Viv. See? Swans.”

“She can’t possibly see clearly at this distance yet, Emma.” Regina was certain; she had read it in one of the new baby books she’d acquired when Henry was tiny.

Shrugging, Emma said, “Maybe not yet, but you and I can and we’re gonna show her the whole world.”

“We are?”

Rolling herself and Vivian atop Regina’s lap, Emma lifted Vivian up so the girl was staring up at Regina. “Yep,” Emma declared. “Right, Viv? You want Regina to show you everything she knows?”

Regina looked into rounded eyes and smiled. Toothless gums appeared as Vivian’s lips opened and the corners pulled wide.

“She’s smiling at you,” Emma said. “She definitely approves the idea.”

“It’s gas.”

“No, it’s not. Look. Hey, Viv?” The baby’s head wobbled as she tried to track and follow the sound of Emma’s voice to the source. Emma brought the baby down a bit until they were eye level together. Regina watched in fascination, as she seemed to do anytime she could watch Emma with her daughter. “Vivian Swan is a beautiful girl,” Emma said, somewhat sing-song. “Yes, yes, you are.”

Vivian’s eyes crossed, but she was definitely focused on Emma, and the baby gurgled a noise. Regina still wasn’t convinced it wasn’t gas. But then arms and legs wiggled, kicking Emma in the chest, making the blond grunt, though she kept smiling. A high-pitched sound burst from tiny lips. Emma encouraged more. “Yes, that’s right. Vivian is a beautiful girl.”

More limb wriggling and what Regina could readily agree were squeals of joy came forth. The toothless gums showed once more. Actual dimples -- just like Emma’s -- formed deep in each cheek.

“Can’t deny it now,” Emma said. “She smiles.”

“For how long has she done this?”

“Just a couple days.”

Regina adjusted so she supported Emma’s head and back, letting the woman lean into her. “I’m glad I was here to see it,” she said. She brushed her fingers through Vivian’s fine dark hair.

“So am I,” Emma said. She lifted her face as Regina looked down. It was awkward, but the touch of their lips was a sweet, soft kiss.

Regina moved her fingers into Emma’s hair, watching her eyes drift closed as their lips parted. “I can hold Vivian if you wish to nap.”

“Not sleepy, just content.” Emma’s dimples appeared as she smiled broadly. Regina’s heart thudded hard in her chest, feeling like it was swelling several sizes larger.

“All right.” She kept up her ministrations, however, until Emma was, indeed, asleep. With Regina rubbing small circles on her back, Vivian put her head down on her mother’s chest and fell asleep to the sound of her mother’s heartbeat under her ear.

The sun warmed Regina’s face but she only dropped her face into shadow, remaining quiet but awake, feeling protective and content.

Unaware of time passing, Regina startled and fumbled to grab her purse when her cellphone rang on the grass near Emma’s head.

The blond shifted as Regina put the phone to her ear. “What is it?” She felt Emma’s hand squeeze her calf gently. Calm, she told herself. To help with that, she soothed her free palm over Vivian’s back as the baby obliviously continued sleeping against Emma’s chest. “Jason, what can I do for you?”

“Are you interested in meeting with George today?”

“What does he want?”

“He says he has the retirement figures you asked for.”

“Put that on my desk. Tell him I’ll review it and contact him tomorrow.”

“Do you want to meet with the council today?”

Regina sighed.

“I can tell George you’ll email him.”

“Do that, but go ahead and call Snow. She can pick up the numbers.”

Jason asked, “Are you sure?” Emma’s eyes met Regina’s with concern.

“Hold on.” Regina covered her phone with a palm. “She needs to make this decision,” she told Emma. “It’s part of the council’s job.”

Emma nodded. “How about we do it together? Invite her over to the apartment for dinner?”

“It’s too small for all of us,” Regina said. Regina pursed her lips. “We’ll have to use the mansion.”

Emma frowned, but then nodded. “We can head over there now to get ready, I guess.”

Regina went back to the phone. “Jason, I’ll call Snow. Please clear my afternoon. I won’t be returning to the office.”

“All right.”

“Courier George’s report over to the mansion, in about an hour.”

“Got it.”

“Thank you, Jason.”

“Bye. See you tomorrow.”

“Of course.” Regina closed her phone and tucked it back into her bag. “So, I guess I’m serving up dinner and financial numbers to your mother.”

Emma rose to her knees, pressing Vivian carefully against her chest. Regina helped her up by the elbow. “We are,” she emphasized. “You want me to call her?”

“No, it’s town business. I can manage.” She was already mentally thumbing through her cupboards and refrigerator for the menu. “I think we have to stop at the grocer on the way.”

“What do you need?”

Regina realized she hadn’t cooked a meal in her own home in so long that she was out of practically anything suitable for a dinner. “Everything.”

 


 

Vivian woke up cranky just as Regina pulled the Mercedes to a stop in a parking space in front of the small organic grocer. Emma quickly unbuckled and went to the back seat to slide in next to her. “I can stay in the car,” she offered as Regina got out. “Probably best if I feed her anyway.”

“No, absolutely not. The car will be too hot too quickly and you can’t be comfortable even in the back seat.” Regina opened her side and efficiently undid the series of interconnected restraints holding the baby in the infant seat. Vivian quieted for a moment as Regina transferred her from her back in the seat, to her front against Regina’s chest. But then she wailed.

Regina winced, but gamely soothed her hand over Vivian’s back.

Emma passed out the bottle she had fished from the diaper bag. “Here.”

While Regina was attempting to situate Vivian in her arms to take the bottle, Emma hurriedly moved around the car to her side. “I can take her.”

“Nonsense. Get a cart. We’ll manage. The walking will probably calm her anyway.”

Wincing as Vivian expanded her chest and shifted the tone of her wail to an annoyingly high pitch, Emma did as Regina asked, following with a deepening furrow in her brow as Regina moved toward the store, still attempting to soothe Vivian.

A few feet from the entrance Vivian began to quiet. Regina cooed in her ear and kissed her temple, soothing one palm over her stomach. The bottle was finally tucked between hard gums. Emma heard the mashing and occasional whimpers, but Vivian finally looked and sounded content with the situation.

Emma was jealous of Regina’s easy calm. Her own days saw many bouts like this with Vivian and they seemed to last forever, until either Vivian cried herself to sleep, or Emma had tried everything and finally, hit upon the actual problem in order to solve it.

“I know you gave me your memories with Henry, but it doesn’t make it any easier for me. How do you do it?” she asked Regina as they moved right, toward the furthest aisle, planning to work their way back to the checkout register. She grabbed a basket off a stack of them near the door.

Regina seemed to find it easy to multi-task, instructing Emma on several vegetable selections and still keeping Vivian happy by playing with her fingers. Emma pulled her bottom lip between her teeth and chewed it. “Kale or romaine for the apple-pecan salad?” she asked.

“Your mother won’t eat my apples.”

“She’ll live. I love that salad,” Emma replied effusively, finally putting romaine in the basket.

Emma caught Regina biting her lip and twitched her own lips up at the right corner, full of pride that she could bring that color to the brunette’s cheeks with the show of support.

 

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