Summary: Mr. Gold leaves a pretty generous tip for one of Granny’s waitresses.
Chapters 1-11 here.
Writer’s note: While watching 2x04 The Crocodile, I was flailing over the scene with Belle and Moe. It was like seeing this fic come to life for like 20 seconds lol! Anyroad, this chapter will sort of get things moving to the climax I’m hoping to get to soon!
She wasn’t going to the library. Isabel walked past the building, arms wrapped about her chest and dread in the pit of her stomach. She always knew how protective her father was. That seemed like an unwritten rule in the book about raising daughters. Most fathers were that way.
But the imagined fear her father was conjuring was seriously getting out of hand. As much as Isabel dreaded it, she needed to do damage control, and fast, before someone received a black eye or broken nose or ended up in jail.
She had wondered how he was getting along without her extra part of hands to help. Isabel’s duties from the time she could remember were to water the potted plants, along with changing the old water in the bouquet holders and tossing out wilted flowers. When she entered high school, she began to man the phones, taking orders and scheduling the deliveries for the next day. She knew Moe could handle it all by himself, so all her absence did was create more work for him. The way he had been acting lately, Isabel didn’t feel the least bit guilty about it.
Isabel found her father in the back behind the floral shop, outside by the tool shed. He was squatting down with his back to her, gathering a stack of black, plastic pots. “Hi, father.”
Moe spun around, pots forgotten, startled eyes meeting hers. “Izzy!” He stepped forward, his arms spread out but Isabel gestured for him to halt. Moe stared at her in confusion. “Are you coming back home?”
“No, father, I’m not” she replied, colder than she had anticipated, his accusation weighting on her mind. She pulled the sleeves of her light blue sweater over her knuckles in a nervous fidgety way.
Moe’s eyes narrowed and he hissed venomously, “Gold got to you, didn’t he?”
Isabel’s mouth hung open, shocked at how quickly his tone changed. “If you mean, he told me of your crazy accusation that I’m sleeping with him for money, then yes.” She knew this would end with her storming out, and as much as she wanted to do it right at that moment, she needed to speak her piece first. “How could you say such a thing, father? How could you even think such a horrible thing about me?”
Moe breathed in raggedly through his nose, his nostril flaring. “Because men like Gold get what they want by hoarding money and power. All he saw was a kind, innocent girl he could take advantage of, and your heart is so set on self-scarifying that you accepted his offer to keep the business going and a roof over our heads.”
Isabel laughed bitterly, clinching her fists tightly to her sides to keep her arms from striking out. “You’re living in a fantasy world, father. None of that happened! He never offered me anything, and I sure as hell wouldn’t sell my body to pay the bills!”
“Then he has to be holding something against you,” Moe continued, unrelenting. He looked beyond pained and Isabel felt a sickening satisfaction over it. “Whatever it is, we can get you out of it.”
“He’s not holding anything against me either.” Isabel shook her head. Her father, who she loved dearly, was chipping away at her heart, bit by bit, with every crazy assumption that was coming out of his mouth. She’s never felt so alone than at this moment.
“Why did I even bother coming to talk to you?” Her voice dripped acid. She turned to leave, but felt Moe’s hand grip her shoulder as he lunged towards her. He spun her around, holding firmly to her forearms.
“Please, Isabel, I don’t want to lose you.”
Her lips formed a straight, malcontented line. “You should have thought of that before you started claiming that I’d lower myself to the standards of a prostitute. Goodbye, father.”
She freed herself from his grip and didn’t look back.
Isabel wished she could find a hole and disappear in it until the hurt eased up, but life didn’t work that way. She couldn’t wander the streets forever either. Gold would come looking for her, or worse, he’d call Ruby and to her embarrassment, a search party would be formed to find her.
By sunset, Isabel found herself trudging down the street to Gold’s house. He wasn’t home yet and she was glad of that. She knew his faults, how ruthless or politely cold he could be to other people. As much as she understood why he was that way, she wished that he wasn’t. Gold desired to give her the world, why couldn’t he show a little kindness to the world he was offering her?
Isabel plopped down on the couch, not interested in making supper. Her stomach was in too many knots to actually eat anything. She thought she’d be living back at home by now, that she’d forgive her father for stealing her necklace and their relationship would begin to mend.
But no, it hadn’t worked out that way at all. Moe had gone so far, she knew she’d never go home again, and that fact brought tears to her eyes. She felt utterly hopeless and without a home. She didn’t want to live with Gold, not like this, not for this reason. She knew Ruby and Granny would always have a place for her. At least she had that option.
She and Gold had never talked of marriage in the few months they had been together. Really, it wasn’t a subject that she felt was right for the time length that they had been a couple. They were still getting to know each other, and it was apparent that she knew hardly anything about him. That was proven earlier with his confession of having a son. How much more did she not know about him?
The question of love had played on her mind lately. She could feel deep down that love for him was forming in her heart. She didn’t truly want to admit it to herself yet, but every now and then, the stirrings would come to mind. Did he love her? He cared for her, yes. He’d proven that over and over again. But loving her, she did not know.
The front door opened, light from the foyer flicking on. Isabel popped her head up from where it lain pitifully on the back couch cushion. Gold seemed surprised when he spotted her sitting their quietly in the dark.
“Dearest, what are you doing with all the lights off?” he asked, coming to her at once. He lifted her legs, seating himself beside her, and settled her bent legs on his lap.
“I talked to my father” she began, a hint of bitterness in her voice. “I was hoping it wasn’t true. Not that I was thinking you were lying, but I just didn’t want to believe that he could say such things.”
Gold rubbed her thigh, fingertips kneading through her jeans. “No father should wound their child,” he said quietly and Isabel wondered if he was talking about himself just as much as he was talking about her father.
“What happened to your son?” she asked, thankful to take the subject off of her. She needed to know more about him and this seemed to be the right moment to get to know him better, even if it was an unpleasant subject.
Gold’s gaze drifted to the coffee table, looking but not seeing. He was suddenly lost in some other place and time. Isabel started to think he would never answer her question, when- “There’s not much to tell. I lost him a long time ago. One day I’ll find him and we can reconcile.”
Isabel placed her hand upon his that was now stilled on her thigh and squeezed reassuringly. “If you want, I’ll go with you when you go to find him.”
“I’d like that” he murmured, his gaze straying to her hand atop his. Gold cleared his throat, raising his eyes to meet hers again. “Are you hungry?”
“No” Isabel replied immediately. She hauled the heels of her hands over her eyes. “I just want to go to bed. Maybe a good night’s sleep will make me feel better.”
Gold gently removed her legs from his lap, stood, and offered her his free hand. “Let’s go to bed, darling.”
Isabel nibbled her bottom lip as they ascended the staircase, not wanting to be strong enough to talk with Gold about her plans to find her own place to live. She pushed it to the back of her mind, the plans all but forgotten now that his warm hand was holding hers.