Author: Pink Rabbit Productions
Fandom: Guiding Light
Date: 3 July, 2009
Rating: Personally, I'd call it an R, but some might consider it NC-17 at some point.
Disclaimer: The characters and situations belong to other folks far wealthier, more important (or at least with better lawyers), and hopefully more charitable and kinder than I. They include, but are not necessarily limited to CBS, Proctor and Gamble, and Telenext. The actual arrangement of words, however, remains my own as do any original characters. Meanwhile, there is likely to be all female romantic and sexual activity ahead, so if this is likely to get you, me, or anybody else arrested should you take a gander, please move along. Also, if you find that sort of thing offensive, you really probably shouldn't hang around anyplace I'm posting. Just sayin'....
Archiving: The Pink Rabbit Consortium
Spoilers: Some early scenes definitely, plus anything through the spa trip is fair game.
Timeline: Unlike some folks, I don't have an exact scene where this one takes off. However, it's definitely set after the spa trip, but before Rafe's release from the halfway house.
Earlier Parts: | Part 1 (Prologue) | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 |
by Pink Rabbit Productions
Just because she was a kid didn't mean that Emma didn't notice stuff. She did. She didn't always understand why things were happening, but she noticed that they were happening.
Like the fact that Natalia had never wanted to marry Uncle Frank. It had seemed so painfully obvious that it mystified Emma as to why her other mommy had agreed to something that so obviously made her sad. It didn't take a genius to know that Natalia wanted Emma and her mommy at the farmhouse, not Frank. Even a kid like Emma could see it.
But Uncle Frank hadn't noticed how much she was hurting or that she didn't want to marry him. Or maybe he just didn't want to notice it because Uncle Frank did want all those things that Natalia didn't. Which struck Emma as not terribly loving at all. After all, if you truly loved someone, weren't you supposed to put their needs ahead of your own? But now Uncle Frank was all angry and bitter and blamed Emma's mommy because Natalia didn't want to live with him. It seemed to Emma that if he really loved Natalia, he should have wanted her to do what made her happiest.
Which was living with Emma and her mommy and being a family.
And spending time together, like today, with breakfast and now the park.
Not to mention Natalia's horrible Frisbee throwing, Emma added mentally as she tipped her head back to watch a blue, plastic disk sail at least ten feet over her head.
Oh well, you can't have everything. Natalia's a great mommy in plenty of other ways.
"Sorry, Em," Natalia called out through an embarrassed laugh.
"Yeah, she just doesn't know her own strength," her mommy added. Apparently finding the whole thing utterly hilarious because she couldn't take her eyes off of Natalia as she kept laughing happily. Or maybe the laughter was just because she was so happy to be spending the day all together. She knew her mommy had missed living with Natalia and spending time together.
"Don't worry about it," Emma called back as she spun and trotted in the direction the Frisbee had flown. "I'll get it." She glanced back over her shoulder and noted that her mommy had used the break in the game to wander over to her mommy and they were talking and grinning at each other like total BFFs. Natalia had never looked at Frank like that.
The Frisbee had sailed well past her and into a thick stand of trees that bordered the open area.
Overhead, thick, summer, storm clouds had gathered, blocking out the sun and turning the day grey enough that it should have been dreary.
No such luck as far as Emma was concerned. The brightest, sunniest day in history couldn't be better than this one, because this day held out the hope that her family would get back together soon.
Eyes on the ground as she hunted for a flash of blue, she bounded past the first few trees and into the deepening shadows.
She hurried several more feet, then frowned when she still didn't see anything. It was darker now that she was so deep into the thick copse of trees, but not that dark. The plastic disk was a dark shade of blue, rather than red or yellow, so maybe a little harder to see, but it wasn't something that should have blended in too much. She did a slow pivot, wondering if maybe she'd gone by it, peering back the way she'd come as she realized she'd gone far enough that trees obscured her view.
There was no straight path for the toy. It couldn't have gotten this far. And she was outside of her mother's line of sight. She started back the way she'd come only to come up short as a man's voice questioned.
"Looking for this?" His voice was soft and low, that sort of tone adults used when they were trying to convince a kid they were friendly and harmless.
Emma spun, eyes going to the man standing a few feet away, a bright splash of blue plastic held up in his left hand. He thrust it forward for her to take and smiled.
Emma recognized that kind of smile. Fake.
Uneasy, she backed up a step, then another when she saw something unfriendly flash in his eyes, though his smile never wavered.
He reached into his breast pocket and retrieved something, then held it out for her to see. A gold badge like the one her Uncle Frank always wore. "See this? It means I'm a policeman...and surely your mommy and teachers have told you can always trust a policeman."
Yeah, the adults around her had always told her that, but she also knew that Timmy Frazetti's older brother had bought a badge just like that off the internet for twenty dollars. Emma backed up another step.
The anger in his eyes flared even brighter while the false smile faded in an instant. "Come get your toy," he ordered, his voice and manner taking on that note of command all kids know well and more than a few will mindlessly obey if there's any chance they're dealing with a figure of authority—sometimes even if there isn't.
Shaking her head, Emma took another step away, stumbling a little as her foot hit the roots at the base of a tree.
"Emma, have you found it yet?"
The girl drew in a sharp breath as she heard her mother's voice, sounding tense and uneasy, as though she instinctively sensed the strange confrontation going on a short distance away.
The man's eyes narrowed and he glared past Emma as though he could see through the trees to the women beyond them. Seeing her chance, Emma spun and ran, darting between the trees until she burst back into the sunlight to find her mother and Natalia on the verge of going in after her.
"Hey, Em," her mother said as she closed the distance between them and slipped an arm across delicate shoulders. She ducked her head, her gaze shifting back and forth between her child and the looming trees. "You okay?" she questioned, uncertain precisely why she was suddenly on edge, but alert to any possible danger all the same.
Emma didn't know what to say. Nothing had really happened and the man in the forest had been a policeman—supposedly. Her mommy and Uncle Frank and everybody had told her she could trust policemen, except knew in her heart she couldn't trust this one. And maybe if she told her mommy about him, she'd go into the woods and want to know why he was there and what he wanted.
A shiver slid through the child as an image of her mother facing down the man she'd seen ran through her head.
"I'm fine," she lied, suddenly desperate to keep her mother away from him. "But I couldn't find the Frisbee."
"I can go look," Natalia offered.
"No," Emma said quickly. "I think I saw a skunk in there." That was one thing guaranteed to chase grownups away.
Both adults took a large step back from the edge of the trees. Olivia pulled Emma along with her.
"It's easy enough to replace," Olivia pointed out with quiet practicality. Far easier than getting skunk smell out of clothing. Hand still braced across Emma's chest and shoulders, she took another cautious step back. Plus, it wasn't just the smell, she reminded herself. It was rabies season and skunks were infamous for carrying the disease. She tightened her hold protectively on her daughter as she decided that must be what had her teeth on edge.
Then a big, fat raindrop hit her on the nose, the threat of rain offering an oddly comforting option to gracefully retreat. "Time to take this elsewhere, I think," Olivia decided as she directed a look skyward. The storm clouds were looking far more threatening than they had earlier. Catching Emma's hand in her own, she tugged her daughter back toward the car even as she felt Natalia fall into step on her other side. A quick glance over one shoulder revealed nothing following in their wake, leaving Olivia to question the crawling sense down her spine that there might be. Glancing over, she noted that Natalia had done the same thing and they shared a momentary look of understanding. Apparently paranoia was catching.
Then another raindrop splattered on her arm, drawing her attention back to the weather and away from the insidious sense of being watched.
Ruffling Emma's hair gently as they walked along, she leaned down. "What say we do something special for lunch?" she asked, sensing the child's lingering tension and wanting to ease it and return to the relaxed play of only a few minutes before.
"Chuckles?" Emma asked before her mother had a chance to suggest something more tasteful, like Towers.
Olivia winced and even Natalia had to cover a tiny flinch. Chuckles was a burger shack with food that barely qualified as mediocre. However, it also had a huge, covered play area with a sort of giant habitrail for little people, a ball bounce room, every video game known to man, and animatronic creatures on the walls that warbled off key, moved out of sync with the music, and shed deteriorating fake fur all over the food just often enough to give every adult within a ten block radius a headache.
The kids loved it. Adults, not so much, particularly since Chuckles had no liquor license.
"Sure, why not?" Olivia said with a weak grin as she tugged her daughter into a loose hug. She wondered if they'd shoot her if she snuck in her own beer.
"I can think of about a thousand reasons," Natalia leaned close enough to breathe near her ear, her tone tinged with wry humor.
Emma heard the soft exchange even though she knew she wasn't s'posed to. It was okay, though. She knew her mom and Natalia hated going to Chuckles. Every adult in town hated the place just as much as every kid loved it. And she knew with that confidence that all children have that it was because kids knew how to have fun and adults had no taste. That was just the way of the world.
As she moved to climb into the car, Emma looked back toward the trees and was relieved to see nothing and no one there, the scene so unthreatening and harmless, she could almost believe it had all been her imagination.
Then she caught a whisper of movement and a dark shadow moving through the trees and she knew that he'd been very real....