This is written with great respect, love and gratitude for the talents of Robert Carlyle, Emilie de Ravin, and everyone involved in of Once Upon A Time. I do not own these characters, nor do I own the songs mentioned in this story.
A shapka is a furry Russian hat. The name Kieron means dark or black, and the name Desdemona means wretchedness or of the devil. This chapter includes 1 musical interlude via YouTube.
October 11, 2011 – 12 days until Emma’s arrival
Moon Dancer whines at the foot of the bed, as Izzy-B has restless dreams. Diva’s furry body is wrapped around Izzy-B’s head like a shapka, and the dog’s cold wet nose nudges Izzy-B’s forehead. In Izzy-B’s dream, she is enveloped in fear and anger. “Please let him find me now!”, she thinks to herself as a heavy weight presses down to suffocate her. Diva swats her large paw against Izzy-B’s head, and Izzy-B jolts up yelling, “Milah, stop it!” Diva slides backwards into the headboard, as a disoriented Izzy-B looks around her room. Trying to bring herself back to reality, she surveys the framed art prints of landscapes from different parts of the world. Izzy-B’s lungs feel tight as she tries to catch her breath. The ache in her chest gives the impression that she has been deprived of oxygen for an extended period of time. Trying to calm herself, Izzy-B plays the mp3 of the song that she downloaded the night before; Karen Matheson with Paul Brady performing “Ae Fond Kiss”. Izzy-B lies back on the pillow that Diva has vacated. Izzy-B closes her eyes, remembering Randall singing the song as they sat in his shop.
Several blocks away, Randall Gold lies in bed intently staring at a small, oddly shaped crack in the ceiling. “Did I actually tell her to wear something Velcro?”, he thinks to himself, “Am I insane?!? What has that woman done to my sense of decorum? Oh Hell!…what if Belle has second thoughts about the date after that crack? Great going Gold, you just had to be a smart ass!”
Throughout the day, Izzy-B and Randall find themselves distracted by the plans for that evening. Even though Izzy-B has planned for this date for years, she still has not decided what to wear or whether to wear her hair up or down. She also questions the protocol of a dinner date at someone’s house. Erring on the side of caution, she decides to bring dessert, one of Granny’s blueberry pies, just as she would for a dinner with friends. Randall calls Granny’s Diner to double check on the cake that he ordered the previous day for dessert; Hazelnut Cake with Roasted White Chocolate Ganache. He recalls that when Izzy-B was promoted to manager, Granny made a point of making that particular cake for her, because it is Izzy-B’s favorite.
That evening, having showered and blow dried her hair, Izzy-B stands in her blue silk robe analyzing her features. She plucks the one gray hair that arrives every day in the same spot. She wonders, “What’s that about? Nothing ever changes in this town, even that gray hair.” Looking at her silhouette, she finds she is pleased that she ate salty potato chips early in the day, giving her curves a little extra bounce. A wave of nervous nausea hits her, and she begins to talk to Moon Dancer and Diva.
“I know you’re dogs, but I feel like I’m in Schrödinger’s cat experiment. What if this is a mistake? What if I kill the fantasy by making a fool of myself? Maybe I should cancel…a fantasy is better than nothing, right?” She sits on the bed petting the dogs, and she notices her mouth is dry and her hands are shaking. “Maybe I’m coming down with something. I don’t want to make him sick.” She is lying to herself, and she knows it. She is just plain scared. She hates being scared. Getting off the bed, she goes to her closet for the seventh time in the last hour.
Izzy-B’s cell phone rings with the caller ID indicating it is Ruby.
“Hi Ruby, what’s up?”, Izzy-B asks as she flips through the clothes in her closet.
“A bunch of us are gonna watch a movie tonight. You in?”
Hesitantly, Izzy-B says, “Uh, no, I have plans.”
Izzy-B can practically hear her friend jump with excitement as Ruby says, “Plans? Who is he?”
“I didn’t say anything about a he.”
Sarcastically, Ruby responds, “She? Really, I never knew.”
With a smirk, Izzy-B says, “For all you know, I could be dating a hermaphroditic weasel.”
Ruby says, “Ah, so you admit it’s a date! And apparently with Frank Burns.”
Chuckling, Izzy-B says, “Good catch, Ruby!”
In a smug tone, Ruby says, “That’s why nobody can beat us at pop culture trivia. Now, enough stalling! Who’s your date with?”
“Ruby, I’m nervous enough, trying to figure out what to wear.” Izzy-B’s brow furrows looking at an outfit that she does not recognize. “By the way, when and why would I have bought a red pleather cat suit?”
Ruby responds, “Wasn’t that a few years ago for the Batman movie watch party? Ooo, wear that! It would be so hot!”
In a serious tone, Izzy-B says, “Not exactly the message that I want to send.”
Ruby thoughtfully ponders her friend’s emotional state, “You’re worried about the message that you’ll send? Wow, you are nervous! But you never get nervous before a date…ornery and grouchy, but never nervous. You actually like this guy. I can’t wait to see him at the diner.”
Izzy-B counters, “We’re not going to the diner. We are having a private date.”
“Hiding him won’t work. I’ll sniff him out.”, Ruby says determinedly.
With a smirk, Izzy-B replies, “Then why should I deprive you of the joy of finding out for yourself?”
Ruby whines, “Oh come on, Iz!”
“Look, Ruby, I’ve got to go. I have to finish getting ready. Bye.”
With a dejected tone, Rudy sighs, “Okay, bye.”
Izzy-B tilts her head, looking at a dress that she bought a few months previous. It still has the tags on, because she was saving it for a special occasion. Indeed, she imagined wearing it for Mr. Gold, when she first saw it in the store.
Randall Gold checks the steaming crab legs, and the rice pilaf. Running through the checklist in his mind, the cake is on a platter and covered. He straightens his tie for the third time, wipes his palms on a paper towel, looks at his hair in the mirror, trying to figure out why tonight of all nights, he has a cowlick. He is doomed…he is certain of it. He curses whatever folly possessed him to ask Belle on a date. From a distance, he sees Belle walking toward his house. She is luminescent, taking his breath away, and he thinks to himself, “Alright, Gold, if you’re going to do this. Do it right!”
Striding down the sidewalk, attempting to appear confident, Izzy-B’s red stiletto heels click against the sidewalk. The skirt of her chiffon print dress swooshes a few inches below her knees as she walks. She likes the dress she finally chose, a chiffon halter style dress with red and black poppies on a white background, with a red satin sash tied in the back. A thick white velvet shawl is wrapped around her shoulders to counter the autumn chill. Opting to wear her hair down, as Randall has only ever seen her wear it pulled up, her chestnut brown hair reflects the setting sun. As she nears his house, her heart is racing. Her heart nearly comes to a complete stop as Randall unexpectedly steps out onto the sidewalk from the side of the house.
Willing himself to speak, Randall says, “Good evening, Belle. You look breathtaking.”
Gazing upon his hair back lit by the sun, his stylish dark suit with an iridescent blue tie and handkerchief, his inviting brown eyes that twinkle with mischief and dimpled smile, Izzy-B is rendered speechless.
Amused, Randall arches his eyebrow saying, “I hope I didn’t startle you, but seeing as you wouldn’t allow me to pick you up at your house, like a proper gentleman should, I had to improvise.”
Finally, gaining control of her mouth, she says, “You appear to have quite a talent for improvisation. Would you like to share your other talents with me?”
Shrugging his shoulders, he says, “Well, my dear, I’ve been known to have a green thumb.”, and then from behind his back, he produces a pink rose with a golden yellow center.
Truly touched by the blossom’s loveliness, Izzy-B says, “It’s exquisite.”
He informs her, “It is my favorite in my greenhouse. I’ve had the plant for years, and now I realize why?”
She cocks her head to the side curiously, and he continues, “This particular species of rose is called a ‘Belle Story Rose’.”
She shakes her head in surprise, “You’ve obviously put a lot of care into it. Thank you for sharing it with me.” He extends his elbow to escort her into the house, and she slides her arm around his.
A while later, while Randall puts the rose in a vase and checks on dinner, Izzy-B comfortably warmed removes her shawl draping it over the coat rack. She meanders around the sitting room of the ornate house. His living space reminds her a bit of his shop, brimming with curious items, some seeming organized, while others seem to have just landed in their space. Photographs on the fireplace mantel catch her eye. Some photographs are older, showing a younger Randall with a young boy, while others appear more recent with Randall and a man perhaps a bit older than her. Comparing the photographs, the boy and the man appear to be the same person. A knot tightens in her stomach as she recognizes the man with squinty blue eyes, and slicked back jet-black hair. He comes into The Rabbit’s Hole occasionally and is usually up to no good.
As Randall enters the sitting room, he first notices Izzy-B’s lush hair cascading down her bare shoulders and exposed upper back. He cannot believe that she is standing in his house waiting to have dinner with him. Walking towards her, he revels in the vision of her soft curves draped by her poppy print dress. He decides that dress suits her spirit, bold yet soft. His forehead crinkles observing a small tuft of what appears to be woolly gray dog hair on the back of her skirt. He recalls her rental contract stated nothing about pets. He wonders if that is why the little trickster always mailed her rent and refused to allow him to pick her up at her house for their date. Snapping back to reality, he notices the photographs on which she is focusing.
He clears his throat and says, “That’s my son, Kieron.”
Izzy-B notices an odd tone in his voice, and then processes his words, “You’re son? Really?”
Meeting her at the mantel, he says, “Yes, I know Kieron doesn’t look like me. Genes are curious things.”
Fearing she may be getting off on the wrong foot, Izzy-B says, “I…I didn’t mean to imply.”
Reassuringly, Randall says, “No, it’s alright, Belle. Kieron and I are quite different. However, we do have a paternity test confirming that biologically, he’s mine.”
Feeling awkward, Izzy-B changes the subject, “This is such a beautiful old house. It seems steeped in history.”
Obligingly, Randall says, “Would you like a quick tour?”
Though Izzy-B would not normally wonder around a man’s house on the first date, she trusts Randall in spite of who his son is.
The tour that includes a personal library that makes her wonder if Storybrooke’s library is closed because he has all the books, and then he opens one last door; his bedroom door. She stands a couple of feet away from the threshold, peeking in, she says, “It’s nice.” Truthfully, it is much more than nice, and his antique bed would typically be a morsel of information that Izzy-B would tuck away for later fantasies, but she feels quite uncomfortable being this close to his bedroom on the first date.
Stepping in, Randall says, “Come in. There’s something I want to show you.”
She raises her eyebrows at that statement and stands her ground. He shakes his head, walking to the right side of the room out of her line of vision. She cautiously steps in to see where he has gone. She observes him opening french doors to a veranda. Randall is genuinely nervous, that he is overstepping by showing Izzy-B his bedroom, however he did promise her a tour and the veranda has a spectacular view. She walks in and he holds out his hand to escort her outside to enjoy the view.
As she takes his hand tentatively, he says, “I won’t bite.” Out on the veranda, she is impressed by the expansive view. One can see most of Storybrooke proper, as well as a lovely visage of the mountainous forest. He notices her shiver, thus he removes his suit coat, putting it around her.
After standing on the veranda admiring the sight for a couple of minutes, Randall speaks slyly, “It occurs to me, based on your previous dating experience, that any number of men have been denied a good night kiss by you.”
Wondering where he is going with this, Izzy-B folds her arms and says, “Ending the evening so soon?”
With a slight purr in his Scottish brogue, he responds, “No, my dear, we have hours ahead. Hours for me to unwittingly fall into your bad graces. Thus denying me a taste of those lips.”
Eyebrows raised, she asks, “Planning on behaving badly?”
Continuing his flirtation, he says “Oh no, but one can never be too careful with something precious at stake. So I propose you indulge me with a kiss now.”
Smiling broadly, she says, “I suppose that can be arranged.”
Leaning into each other, Izzy-B suddenly stops, “Wait! Is there a reason that I shouldn’t be kissing you? Will there be a jealous ex-lover come barging through the door?”
“No, that won’t be happening.”
“Are you an ax murderer?”
“I don’t own an ax.”
With genuine concern, she asks, “Why do I feel as though if I kiss you something bad will happen?”
With a mixture of amusement and exasperation, he replies, “You’re a paranoid control freak…now shut up and kiss me.”
With mock offense, she exclaims, “Hey!”
He threads his fingers through her hair, “Belle, I am going to kiss you now, and I intend for you to enjoy it.”
Randall presses his mouth to hers, and then slowly nibbles her bottom lip. Izzy-B wraps her arms around his neck, pulling his body flush with hers. Running her fingers through his hair, the heat rolling off his body, casts off the evening chill. She is more delicious than he imagined as he wraps his arm around her wanting to feel all of her. With slightly open mouths, their kisses are passionate, yet not penetrating; both afraid to shatter the moment by pressing too far too soon. Randall tries to ignore the knowledge that his bed is a mere fifteen feet away. He forces himself to focus on just kissing her, not risking losing this amazing woman by being too presumptuous. Izzy-B tries desperately to keep her head. His kisses are intoxicating. It would be so easy to give into the desire wracking her whole body, but she thinks to herself, “I’m not that kind of woman…no matter what others may think.” They continue to linger giving each other slow soft kisses. Neither wanting to part, they finally sever, going back into the house and downstairs, blissfully unaware of the man in black who has been watching their passion on the veranda.
In the smaller burgundy painted dining room adjacent to the kitchen, they enjoy their meal, while music plays in the background. Initially, conversation focuses on safe ‘first date’ topics; town activities, people they both know, etc. Eventually, Izzy-B decides to take the bull by the horns and delve into a more personal arena.
Looking pensively at Randall, Izzy-B sips her wine and asks, “Have you dated much since your divorce?”
Though this is definitely not a topic that he wants to discuss, for her, he will try, “Truth be told, my marriage to Des was a libido killer. I never wanted to go through that again.”
Izzy-B nods nervously, “What happen with…with Des?”
Looking way, “Desdemona was a rare breed of false innocence, deadly cunning and vindictiveness. Of course, I realized it too late.”
With an odd expression, Izzy-B says, “Wait, your ex-wife’s name is Desdemona, as in the tragedy, ‘Othello’?”
Snidely he says, “Yes, but unlike Othello’s innocent wife who was falsely accused of adultery and killed by her husband. Des made no attempt to hide her dalliances, in fact she flaunted them. Perhaps the fact that the word ‘demon’ is in her name, should have been a red flag.”, and then feeling he has overstepped, he adds, “I’m sorry. I suppose I shouldn’t talk about the mother of my child that way.”
Izzy-B shakes her head and waves him off, “Don’t apologize for how you feel. I told you yesterday that she was an idiot for not knowing what she had. Personally, I’m not a fan of cheaters. I understand that sometimes people make mistakes, but to intentionally step out on someone is a whole other matter. If it’s not working out, then they should end it, and then find someone who suits their fancy.” Reaching across the table to rest her hand on his, “I’m sorry you went through that.”
With a bemused expression, Randall stares at their joined hands, “I’m not a saint, you know. When we were first married, I worked long hours at a law firm in Boston. She liked the money and prestige that came along with the position. If a case was valued enough, I’d sleep in my office a night or two. I felt guilty as Hell, not being there for Des. I wanted to divide myself in two, in order to be both places at once. It wasn’t until much later that I realized that she preferred my absence. We’d been married two years when she’d become pregnant. I just couldn’t imagine missing all his milestones; just for whatever case was the firm’s priority at the time. I wanted to quit the firm and provide my family with a more steady existence. I had been through Storybrooke a few times and realized I could find a way to accumulate a sustainable wealth to provide for my family. Des and I argued a great deal about moving, but eventually, I made a command decision and we moved. After a few years, she took her bed swapping ways to another continent.”
His brow furrows as Randall turns his gaze to her’s, “What’s strange is it seems like I’ve lived in Storybrooke forever. Sometimes our time in Boston feels more like a movie that I watched than a memory. After our son was born, it was apparent that Des had no interest in motherhood.”
An odd look of shame paints its way across Izzy-B’s face, prompting him to ask, “What are you thinking about?”
Izzy-B starts nervously fiddling with her salad fork, sighing she says, “Well, it’s not really first date conversation, but I guess I should be honest. I…I might not want kids myself.”
Something about her confession pains Randall, but he is not sure why. He responds, “Not that I’m asking you to bear me a child, but I’m curious why you feel that way.”
Still fiddling with her fork, she says, “I don’t think I really connect with kids. I didn’t even when I was a child. They were mean. And, well, I didn’t get the best model for how to be a parent. Caring for a little life is a huge responsibility. What if I’m terrible at it?” He can tell this is the first time she has ever verbalized these thoughts and is processing them as she speaks; hence he remains silent giving her the space to continue. “Then sometimes, no matter what a parent does, the little critters just up and die on you.” Looking into his eyes, with her crystalline blue eyes brimming with tears, Izzy-B says, “How does a parent go on after that? I can’t imagine anything worse than the feeling of losing your child.” She chokes down a sip of wine, as she stares at a landscape painting on the wall. He observes a pain in her that seems primal in nature. Suddenly, Randall feels the sensation of warm liquid streaming down his own cheeks.
After an extended silence, Izzy-B haltingly says, “I’m sorry. I really killed the mood there.”
Still rather choked up, Randall says, “A wise woman recently told me, ‘Don’t apologize for how you feel.’ How ’bout you take her advice?” Izzy-B nods and bites her bottom lip.
Switching to a less emotionally charged topic, Randall says, “It’s quite impressive how you worked your way up to managing the print shop.”
“I started with janitorial duties when I was a junior in high school. I thought I could use the money towards college.”
Not recalling a time when Izzy-B was away from Storybrooke, he asks, “Where’d you go to college?”
Self-consciously, she replies, “Um, well…I had been considering two possible paths…Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Vassar or Electrical Science and Engineering at MIT. I probably would have opted for applying to MIT, since I love science and tinkering with inventions. But…actually, with the situation at home, the money that I made at the print shop had to go to necessities.”
Randall is dumbfounded to think that this brilliant woman before him was cheated out of opportunities because of her father’s laziness and debauchery. He also feels a pang of guilt, as one of the creditors that pocketed funds that should have gone to her future.
Seeing the expression on his face, Izzy-B sternly says, “Don’t! Don’t give me the ‘poor little Izzy-B’ look. I’ve seen it all my life. I don’t want or need your pity. I have a fairly content life now. I’m taking classes on the Internet, and I’ve got a good job.”
He queries, “You seem to enjoy your job, judging by what I saw yesterday.”
She confirms, “Yes, there is a certain rush I get from hammering out a deal and making certain people follow through.”
He smiles and nods knowingly.
She continues, leaning forward slightly, “Though I do miss more tangible endeavors. After the rush wears off, there’s a bottoming out effect that leaves me questioning ‘Is that it?’…truthfully, I get a bit giddy when one of the machines needs servicing, because more times than not, I can fix it before maintenance arrives.”
Leaning in slyly, Randall says, “Don’t tell anyone this, but often I’d rather be restoring an antique than making a deal. It relaxes me.” Then processing her previous statements, he asks curiously, “So you’re an inventor?”
Bashfully Izzy-B says, “I work on things when I can. I always loved science and experimenting. Ironically, that might be why Regina hates me.”
Raising his eyebrows, Randall says, “Do tell.”
Izzy-B explains, “When Regina graduated from college, she spent a term as a teaching assistant at the high school. God only knows why! Anyway, one day I was working with a volatile experiment in the Chemistry Lab. I told her to stand back, and I told her to put on goggles, but she didn’t listen. A little while later, she had no eyebrows.”
Randall bursts into laughter at the thought.
Izzy-B continues, “Regina despised me after that, and though I can’t prove it, I know she started the students calling me ‘crazy Izzy-B’…and started some nasty rumors about me. She wasn’t a student, but she was the biggest bully at the school. I guess some things never change.”
Randall is appalled to think of someone in that authority role victimizing a student in that manner, yet he knows it is completely in keeping with Regina’s vindictive nature.
Changing the subject, Izzy-B says, “I noticed an old spinning wheel in the library. Do you spin?”
Shaking his head, “Sadly, no. It belonged to my grandmother. She was a remarkable woman…strong willed, yet kind. My grandfather was killed in World War II, when my mother and uncle were just wee ones. She protected them throughout that horror, rebuilt their farm when it was over, and made a life for them without the support of a husband. She carried with her an unparalleled dignity and warmth. When my parents were killed in a car crash when I was ten, she took me in and helped keep my head on straight.”
Once again, Izzy-B’s hand makes its way to his, stroking his long fingers between her delicate digits. She says sincerely, “She sounds amazing. I’m glad you had her when you needed her.” After a moment of silence she adds coyly, “Too bad you don’t know how to spin. I was thinking I could hit you up for lessons.”
Surprised, Randall responds, “You want to learn to spin?”
She confirms, “Yes, for quite a while now. I’ve watched YouTube videos about it, and even checked out some spinning wheels on eBay. It goes back to that desire to do something tangible. One of these days, I’ll get around to doing it…then I suppose, I should learn to knit too.”
He says thoughtfully, “It seems rather unusual for a woman in modern times to have a drive to do something so arcane.”, and then, remembering the woolly tuft of fur on her skirt, he asks knowingly, “So do you have a connection to get some wool for this undertaking?”
Nonchalantly, she answers, “I have some resources.”
He smirks, saying “I’m sure you do.”
Eyeing the ample amount of wine remaining in her glass, he queries, “I notice that you’ve hardly touched your wine. Does it not meet with your approval?”
Trying to figure out what to say, she replies, “No, it’s not that. It’s good, but I’m not much of a ‘drinker’. I avoid things that make me feel out of control. My family doesn’t have the best track record with alcohol. The only time I typically drink is…” She nervously ends without finishing her statement.
Not willing to let it go, Randall says excitedly, “Wait a second, Belle! You can’t stop there…what are you hiding?”
Shifting uncomfortably, Izzy-B says cautiously, “If I tell you, you can’t tell anyone.”, and then pointing a finger at him, “I mean it. I will cause you great physical pain if you blab this.”
He puts up his hand promising, “Not a word.”
Sighing tensely, Izzy-B says, “Okay then. On Sunday’s after Graham and I are done sparring, we have beer and nachos and talk for a while. I don’t like the taste of beer, but it’s kind of a tradition. I usually have a little and he finishes off mine, plus his own. Guess he needs it with a girlfriend like Regina. Anyway, it’s a miracle that she hasn’t put an end to our sparring thus far, but if she caught wind that Graham was actually having fun. She’d probably find a way to end it. I don’t want to lose Graham as a friend, in spite of Regina, he is one of the few people that I trust…and that’s important to me.”
Randall questions, “Should I be jealous?”
Izzy-B snickers, “Oh God no!”
Looking at her shocked and intrigued, he observes, “That was quite an adamant reaction. What’s the story behind that?”
She leans in and explains, “Nobody knows this, but years ago Graham and I kissed. It was enough to let us know that we never wanted to do it again. In terms of technique, I suppose it was fine, but there was no spark. It was like kissing a sibling. I remember towards the end of the kiss, trying to figure out a way to let him down easy and not ruin our friendship. When the kiss ended, we just burst out laughing. It was as terrible for him, as it was for me.”
Clearly pleased with the status of her relationship with Graham, he shifts subjects, “Would you prefer some iced tea with your meal?”
Smiling, she replies, “Yes, thank you. With lemon, if you have it.”
Randall returns a few minutes later with a glass of iced tea and a lemon slice, along with a fresh batch of steamed crab legs. Returning to his seat with their legs brushing against each other, he says, “You said there was no spark when you kissed Graham. Did you feel a spark with me on the veranda?”
Amused by his fishing expedition, Izzy-B answers bluntly, “I’m fairly certain Tesla coils have less electricity.”
Pleased by her response, he looks back and forth between her and the crab leg that he is cracking. Sliding out a long piece of meat, Randall plunges it into the warm drawn butter, and then says, “You should have this. It’s a nice big piece.” Motioning with his index finger, he adds in a low husky voice, “Come here.”
She rises from her chair slightly, leaning over the table as far as she can, giving him an enticing view. With her mouth open and waiting for the delicious morsel, he teasingly dangles the crab meat that is dripping butter on her tongue, lips and chin. She closes her lips around the meat, making a humming sound savoring the taste. Randall quickly leans forward plunging his free hand into her hair, pulling them together, as he licks the melted butter from her chin and lips, concluding with a wanton kiss. The taste of salty butter, tart hint of lemon and Izzy-B’s own natural exquisite flavor sets his senses aflame. Izzy-B sucks delicately on his tongue, feeling the slightest scrape of whisker stubble against her skin, making her crave him like nothing before.
After spending the rest of the meal intermittently feeding each other and partaking the flavors of each other, Randall unveils dessert; Hazelnut Cake with Roasted White Chocolate Ganache and says, “While I appreciate the blueberry pie, I thought we’d try something different tonight.”
Izzy-B gasps with delight, “You sneaky little devil! How did you know this is my absolute favorite?”
He replies nonchalantly, “I remembered Granny made it for you when you were promoted.”
Teasingly, she says, “Have you been stalking me?”
With mock offense, he replies, “No more than you have been stalking me to know which piece of blueberry pie I like.”
She smirks and teases, “Mine was simply an astute observation; while yours could be considered creepy.”
Sounding a bit haughty, he says, “Fine. If that’s the way you want to play it, I’m keeping the whole cake for myself, and you can’t have any.”
Pressing out her lip in pout, Izzy-B takes on a tone of false innocence, “I’m sorry. I promise to be good.”
Randall chuckles and says, “I highly doubt that, but I’ll let you have a piece anyway.”
After each finishing a piece of cake and occasionally nibbling the remnants of their decadent treat off of one another’s fingers and lips, Randall gazes upon Izzy-B with smoldering eyes and asks, “So, my dear, is this date to your satisfaction?”
Feeling the urge to squirm under his heated gaze, Izzy-B responds in the affirmative, “Oh yes. You have set such a high bar; I may never be able to date another man again.”
With an impish grin, he says, “May never? What can I do to raise the bar higher to ensure I’ve ruined you for all other men?”
Leaning back against her chair as though surveying from the catbird seat, she purrs, “There is one thing that could make tonight absolute perfection…dance with me.”
Tensing slightly, he says, “I’m not sure about that.”
Chiding him playfully, she retorts, “I’m not asking you to do the Lindy. Just wrap your arms around me, listen to the music and do what comes naturally.”
With his accent thick and sultry, Randall warns, “That could get us into some dangerous territory dear.”
With her ears burning from arousal, folding her arms in front of her, attempting to appear unswayed by the numerous rolling R’s in his response, Izzy-B tilts her head, giving him a steely glare until she gets the desired response.
As he wonders how she makes sweat roll down the back of his neck, just be looking at him, he relents his opposition, “If we’re going to do this, we should do it right. Let me change the music.”
Changing the CD in his stereo, ‘Unforgettable’ performed by Nat King Cole and Natalie Cole begins to play. Piano strains begin, creating an atmosphere of another time and place. Self-consciously, he debates what to do with his cane. He generally feels more secure when he has it in his grasp; however, the desire to wrap his arms fully around Belle is palpable.
Bowing to her theatrically, he asks, “Miss Belle, may I have the pleasure of this dance?”
She gives him a beaming smile saying, “Yes, I’d love to dance with such a fine gentleman.”
He holds his eyes a bit at the ‘gentleman’ reference, hooks his cane on the edge of the table and takes her hand, as the singers croon,
“Unforgettable, that’s what you are
Unforgettable, though near or far
Like a song of love that clings to me
How the thought of you does things to me”
With Randall’s arm slides firmly around Izzy-B’s waist and his other hand entwined in hers, they sway to the music. The sound of strings melodically hovering in the air seems to push their bodies closer together. The harmonies swell as he places a lingering kiss on her ear, and she nuzzles her face against his neck, feeling his hair fall softly across her forehead.
“That’s why darling it’s incredible
That someone so unforgettable
Thinks that I am unforgettable too.”
As a sultry saxophone joins the bridge of the song, Randall whispers with his lips touching her ear, “Is this what you had in mind, Belle?”
Breathlessly, Izzy-B answers, “I think it’s safe to say, you’ve officially ruined me for all other men.”
Pulling her more firmly against him, he purrs, “That was my intention. Glad to hear I’ve achieved it.”, and he dips his head down placing a nibbling kiss on her bare shoulder. He grins as he feels her tremble under his lips.
Barely able to speak, she gasps out, “You are quite the over achiever.”
Later sitting on the couch, peppering each other with kisses, he scrapes the stubble of his chin against her neck and she groans out, “Rumple.”
Activities cease as they pull away slowly, both looking confused, and he asks, “What’s rumple? Is that slang for something?”
Dumbfounded she says, “I don’t know what that was.” Shaking her head and blinking, she says, “The electric charge from your kisses must have fried my synaptic connections. Now I’m speaking gibberish.”
He grins, “Good to know I have that kind of power over you.”, and he leans in for a kiss, but her hand pressing against his chest holds him at bay.
Seeing a tension in her, he pulls back, and then she says seriously, “We need to talk.”
Guardedly, he grumbles, “That’s never good.”
Nervously, she hedges, “It’s not good or bad. I…I just need to tell you something.”
Randall awaits her words, as though he is waiting for a hammer to come down on his head.
Izzy-B continues haltingly, “I like you a lot and find you insanely attractive, but…I need to put my cards on the table. I’m not having sex with you tonight. I don’t know what you may have heard about me, but I don’t just fall in bed with a man.”
There is a deafening silence as he processes her words. Rationally, he had not really seriously thought that they would end up in his bed tonight, regardless of the fantasies of devouring her that danced through his mind when they were in physical contact with each other.
Taking one of her delicate hands into his own and gently rubbing, he says, “I appreciate your honesty, Belle. It’s one of the things that makes you a rare individual. Now, I’ll put my cards on the table. If you pushed me down and tried to have your way with me, I wouldn’t fight you off…”
She chuckles softly.
He continues with a tone infused with sincerity, “…but I am quite capable of being a gentleman. You are a radiant, captivating, strong willed woman, and I am not going to push you to do something you are not ready for. I learned a long time ago the value of waiting for something special, and you, my dear, are well worth the wait.”
With glassy eyes and a lump in her throat, she says, “Do you have to be so damned adorable? You’re becoming hard to resist.”
Without hesitation, he quips, “It’s a curse.”
She laughs saying, “Oh so now you believe in magic, do you?”
Smugly he says, “No, I’m just humoring your belief in hokum.”
With a teasing tone, she says, “Ha, we’ll see who has the last laugh when you wake up with two heads tomorrow.”
Amused, Randall responds, “Two heads? Do they both look the same?”
Giving a false look of contemplation, Izzy-B says, “Hmm…I don’t think so. I think they should be different. Oh! I got it! One should have greenish gold scales on the skin and wild kinky hair.”
He rolls his eyes, saying, “You’ve got quite the imagination. So, dear, which head gets to kiss you?”
She smirks, “Both of course! If you end up with two heads, I intend to take full advantage of it.”
They stare daringly at each other, and then she says, “Now that we’ve cleared the air. Could we go back to kissing each other a while longer.”
Wryly he says, “I could agree to that, but only if you promise to leave my virtue intact.”
She firmly places her hands on either side of his face and replies, “Shut up and kiss me.”
Her hands slide up through his lush soft hair, as their lips tangle in a deep, passionate kiss. They continue to relish in the taste of each other, as his hands glide up and down her ribcage, and her arms cling around his neck.
Across town at the mansion of Mayor Regina Mills, Kieron Gold zips his black jeans as Regina watches smugly from her bed. Her dark eyes and hair glisten from the ambient moonlight shining through the window. With a toothy grin she thinks to herself that this is the highlight of her curse. Taking away Snow White and Prince Charming’s happy ending was always the main goal, but this was too good to pass up.
Regina fights the urge to laugh, thinking how she manipulated the curse to make Rumplestiltskin and Killian Jones think they are father and son. As she focuses on his prosthetic hand while Kieron puts on his black shirt, she basks in the delicious irony that the pirate who stole Rumplestiltskin’s wife and mother of his real son, Milah, is now believed by Gold to be his son. Though she has no qualms against Killian, the preening pirate Captain Hook, it still gives her a measure of amusement that he is now the ever conniving ‘son’ of the man who killed Milah. She wonders from time to time, if perhaps she should give Hook his true memories back and let him kill Gold. Unfortunately, Gold still may be needed on occasion, and it is wickedly hilarious to see them try to exist in their familial roles in Storybrooke.
Her mother, Cora, was almost her undoing. Killian nearly joined forces with Cora, after his failed assassination attempt. Realizing now that Cora had removed her own heart, purely for the purpose of not feeling love, Regina has a new clarity on her own childhood. Things could have gone incredibly wrong, if Killian had betrayed her in favor of Cora. However, Regina’s pull on Killian remained strong, even in Wonderland. Though he did not understand his compulsion to remain loyal to Regina, he followed it blindly, when in a split second decision, he rammed his hook through Cora’s skull and brain, killing her instantly. Regina felt a twinge of guilt upon seeing Cora’s regal features marred, however Regina knew the necessity of purging familial sentimentality.
Regina is jolted out of her musings as Kieron speaks, “Get this, my dad has a little chippy!”
In confusion, Regina replies, “What?!?! Who? Since when?”
Kieron replies with all the discretion of a town crier, “I saw him and Izzy-B French getting at it on the balcony of my dad’s bedroom! And here I thought she was a lesbian.”
Knowingly Regina asks, “Did you make a play for her and get shot down?”
With a smarmy grin, he says, “Regina, luv, would I cross you?”
Ignoring him, Regina fumes, how had Rumplestiltskin and his little house bunny have found each other again? Though they are in the same town, they are, for all intents and purposes, different people. Regina questions, how had she missed the signs that they were connecting? Regina has a visceral hatred for Rumplestiltskin and his doting true love. Determined to end their budding romance, a plan starts to materialize in her toxic mind.
Casually, Regina purrs poisonously , “Kieron, darling, you don’t have to worry. I’m not opposed to you having the occasional dalliance. After all, I have Graham too. I’m just worried about you.”
Questioningly, “Me? Why would you worry about me?”
Cuttingly Regina says, “It must be such a blow to lose out on a woman to your father. The mere idea that Miss French is cavorting in your father’s bed, when she wouldn’t give you a sniff; it breaks my heart. What does he have that you don’t have?” Pausing to let him stew on her words, then she continues, “You know, I recall when she was in high school, ‘French’ wasn’t only her name, rather her vocation. Perhaps you should give her another try?…I suspect the French tart would succumb to a more aggressive approach.” A slimy smile breaks across Kieron’s lips.
Concluding their date, Izzy-B and Randall begin to argue about the safety of her walking home. When he tells her that if she walks home, he will drive his car beside her, Izzy-B knows that there is no reasoning with Randall. Though she has made a point of learning how to take care of herself, she acquiesces and allows Randall to drive her home. They exchange several lingering kisses in his car, and then she walks to her porch, unlocking the door. Randall continues to watch her until she is safely inside.
Upon entering, Izzy-B lets out a gleeful scream, causing the dogs to startle and bark. Unaffected, she abandons her typical demeanor, running to her bed and happily hurling herself on it with all the enthusiasm of a teenager. She whispers to herself, “Best night ever!” She lies in her bed, longingly imagining Randall’s bed. She knows that she is not ready to take things to that level yet, however part of her desperately wanted to. She tries to banish the thought of her one and only sexual experience when she was sixteen. It had been horrid for her. Looking back on the fourteen years that have passed, it has shaped so many of her choices. The experience was bad enough, but then came the rumors…rumors that she suspects originated from Regina. After that, she put herself on emotional lock down. She would fully trust no one, and only marginally trust a few friends. It has been lonely, yet safer that way. Now there is Randall in her life…warm, funny, sweet Randall. With a dreamy sigh, she wonders if it is finally time to let someone in. She smiles at the thought of Randall, as she can still feel his kisses on her lips.
Back at his house, Randall notices the house feels less alive without his Belle. He cannot seem to talk himself out of considering her ‘his’, after only one date. He looks at the pictures of Kieron. Talking to Izzy-B about his son and ex-wife brought back many questions that he has tried to suppress. Randall notes that he reminds himself daily that he loves his son. He questions why the reminder is necessary. He recalls always wanting a child, yet it has always been difficult for him to feel lovingly towards Kieron. As he walks to the dining room to clear away the dishes, he wonders if perhaps Kieron reminds him too much of Desdemona. Clearing the dishes, he notices Belle’s mostly filled wine glass and empty iced tea glass. He grabs the wine glass and begins to drink, figuring if Graham gets to finish Belle’s beer, then he should get to finish Belle’s wine. He thinks about Belle’s friendship with Graham and worries whether Belle can trust Graham. From what he has seen, Regina seems to have an almost supernatural hold on the man. Randall does not buy into Belle’s nonsense about the existence of magic, yet the relationship between Graham and Regina is most peculiar. Randall thinks, if Regina dislikes Belle as much as it appears, he will need to keep an eye on things. Finished with the dishes and back in this bedroom, he smiles looking at the veranda where they had their first kiss. He thinks to himself, “If this is a dream, I never want to wake up.”
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