Rumold woke the next morning to a spiting headache and the most wonderful dream. Belle, asleep beside him as he spooned against her. He could smell her hair, feel her warmth, the softness of her skin under his finger tips. With a groan, he opened his eyes to find a sleeping Belle in his arms. It wasn't a dream. What happened last night?
It had been Bae's birthday and he'd gotten drunk at the office then his memory blacked out until Belle was undressing him. He flushed at the thought, a strain in his underpants. He rolled towards her and hid his face in her hair. But soon Belle stirred beside him, and tried to untangle herself from his arms.
He tightened his grip.
Belle rolled towards him, "You awake?" she asked quietly.
He groaned, "Don't talk, too loud, it hurts."
"Let me get you some aspirin and coffee," she whispered and he reluctantly let her go. Maybe he was still dreaming?
Belle returned a few minutes later with the medication, water, and coffee. Another groan, and he sat up, taking the aspirin as she perched on the bed.
"What are you doing here?" he growled.
"Good morning, I slept fine, thanks for asking," Belle replied.
"You were drunk. At the office. Dove and I brought you home but you didn't want me to leave, so, here I am," she explained.
Belle smiled at his glowering and patted his legs, "I'll go make some breakfast, okay?"
Rumold would have rather dragged her back into bed with him and sleeping the hangover off, but as long as Belle was close by, he could manage. He laid back in bed and listen to her hum to herself as she puttered around his kitchen.
He let his imagination run wild, indulging in the fantasy he'd been having quite often lately. The one where Belle lived with him, setting her feet in his lap while she read or sipping white wine, watching him make dinner.
With a groan he sat up. He was allowing himself to daydream far too often now, this girl had addled his mind. He limped out to the kitchen, leaning on his cane. Belle was there, cooking bacon and scrambled eggs, still only dressed in his shirt.
"I already called the office to cancel your appointments today. I'll go in later today and reschedule everything. Do you want some toast?"
"You are far to chipper for this early in the morning," he growled, sitting down at the counter.
Belle slid a plate of food in front of him, "It's ten thirty, not that early. You just have a hangover."
"I hope I didn't say anything," he paused to find the right word as she joined him with her own food, "Inappropriate last night."
Belle shook her head, "You made an attempt to undress me, but to be fair, I was trying to get you out of your suit at that time, so, you know."
"Hmph," he ate his eggs.
"Can I ask you something?" she said after a little while, "If it's too personal, you don't have to answer!"
"If it's about why I was drunk last night-"
"No, no! I just was wondering why you're helping Emma Swan's legal battle for joint custody for her son. And anonymously too," she said.
"Ah, been reading my files have you?" he asked.
"It's my job."
"Very true," he leaned back, "I was... separated from my son when he was young. I never stopped searching for him and hired a private investigator to aid. Several years ago they came back and told me that my son had fathered a child, but that the mother had given him up for adoption."
Belle watched him, head tilted in curiosity.
"I was surprised to learn that the child had been adopted by my vise president, Regina Mills. And not only that, but the child, Henry Mills, had found his birth mother who had just applied for the security position also at Gold Books."
"So you hired her and started helping her see her son?" Belle asked.
"I don't think any parent should be separated from their child except when they are harmful to them," Gold said.
"Do they know? That you're Henry's grandfather, I mean?" she said.
"No no, no one knows my involvement, not even Jefferson," he replied, then shook a finger at her, "This is a secret, love, you are not to tell anyone."
"No, of course not," Belle moved closer, close enough to touch, although he resisted the urge, "Thank you."
"For what?" he snapped, his grumpy exterior rising, he lifted his head to look at her, only then realizing exactly how close she was. He stilled.
"For telling me, for being honest," she patted his shoulder. The movement would have been awkward coming from anyone else, but from her it was filled with gentle kindness.
He tried to wave her off, "Think nothing of it."
But she just smiled and, to his disappointment, moved away, "I think I'm going to get dressed and head home for some fresh clothes. Then I'll go to the office to reschedule your appointments."
"Ah," he rubbed his unshaven chin, watching her track back into his bedroom in search of her clothes, "There are some things from the office that I need."
"If you make me a list, I'll bring them back," Belle called as she dressed, "After I finish rescheduling."
He nodded, then realized she couldn't see him, "Yes, I'll do that." Once she'd left, he would have a several hours to devise a plan to keep her there, once she returned with the files.
He hunted around for paper and a pen, ignoring the pain in his knee and the pounding headache from his hangover. He compiled a list of random things for her to bring him, and after she'd took it, she disappeared out the door.