“You know, you really don’t have to help me with all this. I can get it.” Emma eyed the woman with apprehension – Aurora looked all of a hundred pounds soaking wet, and she was currently squatting down to pick up one of the heavier boxes Emma had packed. If she remembered right, that one actually contained the weights she used at home in favor of a gym membership. She didn’t remember how much she’d actually thrown in the one box, only that she herself had struggled a little bit to get it into the U-Haul.
“Nonsense,” Aurora replied, only panting a little bit as she hoisted it up. She gave a little nod as she got it into her arms, flashing Emma a smile. “You should see the things I have to lift at work. Nobody tells you that being a florist involves so many heavy bags of soil. You should see my biceps under this shirt.” With that she brushed past Emma, making her way into the apartment.
Emma blinked, watching her carry it off effortlessly. She shook her head, loading her own arms up before making to follow her.
Ruby was running around the apartment, picking up various clutter and mumbling apologies as she did so. Emma had just met the girl – she’d only decided to move to Storybrooke a few weeks ago, and she called up Aurora, at least happy to have an acquaintance in the area. They’d only met briefly a couple of years back at a hotel bar, but they’d exchanged phone numbers and kept in touch, and Aurora had mentioned that her friend Ruby needed a roommate – and, well, here Emma was, moving in with a stranger again. She’d been planning on finding a one bedroom somewhere, but hell, she wasn’t one to complain about splitting the cost of rent in a big city, and so far Ruby seemed nice enough.
“It’s really okay,” Emma called as the leggy brunette blew past her with a couple of jackets in her hands and raced over to the coat closet. The apartment wasn’t dirty by any means, and hey, Emma wasn’t exactly the neatest person alive, either. “You can relax, I’m not going to be mad about a little clutter.”
Ruby shot her a half-embarrassed, half-appreciative look as she finished putting the jackets on hangers and closed the door to the coat closet. “I’m sorry. It’s been a few months since I’ve had a roommate.” She strode over to Emma, taking a few of the items out of her arms and carrying them off to Emma’s room. “I can help you with stuff, at least.”
Emma shook her head, sputtering out the same things she’d said to Aurora when she’d insisted on coming over to help – you don’t have to do that, I can really handle it, I pack light anyway – but Ruby only rolled her eyes and kept going. Ruby poked her head out from the bedroom doorway, eyes trailing over Emma in a way that made her certain she was being assessed.
“You’re no good at accepting help, are you?” Ruby said it good naturedly, a small smile on her red lips, and Emma blinked, a bit stunned at the blunt statement.
Blunt, but accurate. “...I guess not.” She shook her head, passing Ruby to enter the bedroom and set her box down on the bed.
Aurora laughed. “Don’t worry, she’s not always that blunt.” Ruby raised a brow, and Aurora shook her head. “Oh, wait. Yes, she is.” She flashed Emma a grin. “Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it.” With that she went out for more boxes.
They had the U-Haul unloaded pretty quickly – Emma didn’t have much to bring, and the apartment was pretty small, anyway. Pizza showed up after that, and before she knew it, they were all sitting in the living room, beers in hand. Aurora was easy to get alone with, and Ruby was nothing short of ecstatic to have her.
“I’ve missed having a roomie!” She offered Emma a bright smile before stuffing another garlic knot into her mouth. “We’re going to have so much fun together, just wait.”
“Just don’t let her rope you into half-price margarita night at the restaurant. It never ends well,” Aurora warned, earning a laugh and a half-hearted smack on the arm from Ruby. “Oh, you know I’m right!”
“Are you a server?” Emma asked, and Ruby nodded. The employment status of her new roommate was probably the kind of thing she should have found out before agreeing to move in, but Aurora had vouched for her and Emma had been willing to take it at face value. She filed that away in her brain in future life lessons , thankful that it had at least worked out this time.
“Yep, at my Granny’s place. I’ve been working there since I was a teenager.” She shrugged. “It’s not glamorous, but it pays the bills. But enough about me. Aurora says you’re going to be working at the shop?”
Aurora beamed, and Emma nodded. “You’re looking at Sleeping Beauty Blooms’ newest delivery woman.”
Ruby clapped. “Oh, good! Rory’s always complaining about having to run out all the time. Maybe you’ll put an end to her whining.”
Aurora rolled her eyes. “Not a chance. I’ll just find a new topic.” Ruby laughed, and Aurora shook her head. “Anyways, I should be going. I told my wife I’d be back by ten. You okay to be left alone with her?”
“I think I’ll manage,” Emma replied with a smile as Ruby rolled her eyes indignantly.
“We’ll do more than that. Just wait, we’re going to be best friends in no time,” The brunette chimed in.
“I’m counting on it,” Aurora replied as she stood and grabbed her purse from the counter. “Are you still okay to start tomorrow, Emma? We can push it back, if you want. Give you a day to unpack and settle in.”
Emma shook her head. “Nah. I like to keep busy. Besides, you saw my stuff. There’s not much unpacking to do.”
“Fair enough. See you tomorrow, then.” She shot a pointed look towards Ruby. “Behave.”
“Yes, mom .”
Aurora left with a laugh, and with that, Emma was alone with her new roommate. Ruby leaned forward to pluck another slice of pizza from the box, and then curled her legs beneath her on the couch as she turned to Emma.
“So, Emma. You single?”
Emma found the flower shop the next day with ease. Storybrooke was a small town, and it was only a couple blocks over from the apartment. Sleeping Beauty Blooms was printed on a sign out front in neat, curling purple letters, decorated with images of roses and a couple of other flowers Emma didn’t recognize.
She’d have to learn what things were called if she was going to work here, she thought.
Then again, she was mostly going to be doing deliveries, from what she understood, so her minimal knowledge of the different kinds of blooms may be enough to get by. How many questions was she really going to be asked?
She swung the door open and a little bell chimed above her. A brunette woman poked her head out from among the rows upon rows of potted plants to her left. The woman was cute, from what Emma could see – she had a kind face, long, wavy hair pulled back into a ponytail, and she was sporting a flowy blue sundress. She had her hands full of little seedlings, and she rushed over to the counter to set them down before hurrying over to Emma, dusting dirt off of her hands.
“Hi there! What can I do for you?” The woman had an accent, a lilt to her words – Australian, maybe?
“Hey, uh, is Aurora around?” Emma asked, glancing around the shop, but she didn’t spot her. She turned back to the woman, offering her a friendly smile. “I’m Emma. I’m supposed to start today.”
“Oh, Emma, hi!” The other woman held her hand out, and Emma shook it. “It’s so nice to meet you! I’m Belle. Aurora said you were coming. Come on, she’s just in the back.”
Belle – Aurora was really leaning into the disney princess thing, apparently – waved for her to follow as she headed towards the counter. She slipped behind it and cracked the door that was back there, leaning inside and calling, “Rory! Emma’s here!”
“Coming!” Came the voice from the other side, and Belle turned back to Emma, a bright smile on her face.
“She’ll be right up.” Belle collected the pots she’d been holding in her hands once more, heading to the spot she’d been in when Emma had walked in. “So, you’re our new delivery woman, huh?”
Emma nodded, stuffing her hands into her pockets. “Sure am.”
“Good! We could use one, that’s for sure. It’s just been the two of us. Aurora’s wife helps out here and there too, but she’s got her own job, you know? It’ll be nice to have some extra help around here.”
Aurora stumbled out from the back with dirt smeared over her jeans. She looked a bit disheveled compared to the night before – her hair was pulled into a scraggly ponytail, and she was tugging a pair of thick gardening gloves off of her hands.
“Emma!” She offered her a dazzling smile, holding her hands out in a flourish as she added, “Welcome to the shop!”
“Happy to be here,” Emma replied.
“Well. I see you’ve already met Belle. Let me show you around.”
Aurora gave her a brief tour – the shop wasn’t huge, but it was bigger than it looked from the outside. The door behind the counter led to a large back room that was filled with bags of soil and huge stacks of pots on the one side, and more flowers than Emma had ever seen in her life. Some of the plants were live, growing out of heavy fixtures by the wall with fancy lights above them. Others were just blooms, clippings residing in tall metal buckets, neatly arranged and labeled. There was a table in the middle of it all, surrounded by vases and housing stacks of ribbon and cards. A door at the back of that led to a small greenhouse.
“We grow everything we can support in house,” Aurora explained proudly. “Everything else we purchase from local farms or order in.” She nodded to a van parked in the driveway outside the greenhouse – large and dark green, with the shop’s logo painted across the side. There were flowers painted over the doors, too, and Emma thought it looked something like the mystery machine would if Daphne had decided to start a business.
She decided not to voice as much.
“That’s what you’ll be driving. I’ll be honest, though, most of our business is in-house. You’ll probably do a couple of hours of deliveries a day. The rest of it is going to be cleaning and helping customers. You okay with that?”
Emma nodded. A job was a job – and she’d had far worse, at that. “Fine with me. Where do you want me to start?”
Her first couple of days at the shop passed fairly uneventfully. Deliveries were slow – Emma made a couple each day, and then returned to the shop to do whatever needed done at the time. Aurora had her dethorning roses, for a lot of it – not her favorite task, but she managed to only stick her fingers a handful of times. She had to rely pretty heavily on Belle and Aurora for any of the customer’s questions, but she’d worked retail before, and that was pretty much the same.
Ruby was pretty relaxed as far as roommates went. On her second day she even came home to find burgers from the restaurant waiting on the counter.
“Perks of being the owner’s granddaughter,” Ruby called from the couch. “If they make too much I get to take it home. Help yourself.”
It was her third day at the shop now, and Belle was finally showing her how to work the POS system. Emma watched as she tapped away at the buttons, barely looking up as the bell above the door chimed.
“Hi, welcome to…” Her voice trailed off, words disappearing as she finally looked up.
Finally looked up, and found herself face to face with the most gorgeous woman she’d ever seen in her life.
Her hair was dark and glossy, cropped above her shoulders in a layered bob, and she was wearing a suit that probably cost more than Emma’s entire rent back in Boston.
“Sleeping Beauty Blooms?” The woman prompted, a glint of amusement flashing through dark eyes. There was a smile pulling at the corners of her painted lips, and she watched Emma with a kind of casual appraisal that made her want to duck and hide beneath the counter.
Emma cleared her throat, attempting to break herself out of the trance. “Right. That.”
Belle snickered beside her, and Emma reminded herself that she didn’t know the other woman well enough to elbow her behind the counter.
“I don’t believe we’ve met,” The woman replied, and Emma swallowed. Her voice was like…like velvet and dark chocolate, honey and…other sexy things that Emma was having a hard time coming up with at the moment.
“We haven’t. I’m new,” Emma said.
“I can see that.” She held out her hand, waiting until Emma clasped it to add, “Regina Mills.”
Emma shook her hand, still feeling a bit dazed. “Emma. Uh, Swan.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Miss Swan.” She held eye contact with Emma for another moment. Emma tried to quell the racing of her heart, to no avail. “Are you a florist?”
Emma shook her head again. “Uh, no. I’m just the delivery woman.”
Regina raised a brow. “Delivery woman? We’ll be seeing a lot of each other, then.” Her tone had dropped. That tiny quirking of her lips was now a full blown smirk, and Emma was certain that her cheeks had gone red.
“I’ll just tell Aurora you’re here.” Belle finally cut in, a not-so-subtle amusement to her words as her eyes flickered over to Emma. Regina nodded her thanks, and a moment later Aurora was at the counter, taking over the conversation. Emma stepped back, trying not to let the relief show on her face.
Regina and Aurora went over details of bouquets as Emma listened in. Regina was asking for blues and purples, and Aurora was rattling off names of flowers that Emma had never even heard of. Eventually they reached an agreement, and Regina nodded, saying, “I’ll pay you upon delivery, as always?”
Aurora nodded, smiling. “Of course.”
With that Regina turned her gaze towards Emma. “I’ll look forward to it.” With that she bid them all a good day, turning and leaving the shop with a little chime of the bell.
The moment she cleared out both women’s gazes snapped to her.
“You are totally into her,” Aurora supplied, as Belle added, “That was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.”
Emma choked out, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Aurora rolled her eyes as Belle snickered. “Yeah, right. You thought she was cute.”
“I can’t blame you, she’s hot.” Belle added.
“I –” Emma began, words failing her. “Even if I did, she’s probably straight.”
Aurora straight up snorted . “Emma, if that woman is straight, so am I. And I have a wife .”
“She’s right.” Belle smiled. “I know a gay woman when I see one, and Regina’s definitely not.”
Emma rolled her eyes, trying to hide exactly how flustered she’d been left. “Whatever. Even if she is, there’s no way she'd be interested in me.” She sighed, adding, “So, she’s a regular, then?” She wasn’t sure how she felt about the idea – on the one hand, the woman was a work of art. It wouldn’t exactly be the worst thing in the world to see her often. On the other hand, if the last few minutes were any indication, Emma would be rendered into a stuttering mess each time.
Aurora nodded. “She owns a local business. She likes to have fresh flowers for her office. She gives me almost total creative freedom, you know. It’s pretty nice.”
Fresh flowers for her office.
Flowers only lasted, what, a couple days in a vase? Maybe five?
“Exactly how often does she get flowers delivered?” Emma asked, just a tiny bit of panic making it through to her words.
“Every single week,” Aurora replied, chipper as ever. “Sometimes twice.”
Emma groaned internally.
She was fucked.