Not sure how long this one will be, but it's definitely going to be a shortish story (length of chapters around 1,000 to 2,000 words). Just to let you know what to expect. :-)
Disclaimer: The characters don't belong to me.
Emma shifted in the saddle, staring up at the dark clouds billowing above her, and with a sigh she pushed her heels into Moonlight's flanks to get going again. There wasn't anything she could do about it, she needed to spend the night in the hunting cabin; she couldn't be out in the storm that was about to break in less than an hour.
As she rode along the small trail towards the cabin she concentrated on going through the list of things she needed to do when she came to the cabin, occupying her brain with thoughts about getting a fire going and checking the cans in the pantry to find something not totally unhealthy to eat, instead of letting her mind drift to the memories that lurked in the shadows of her brain when it came to the hunting cabin.
Memories of the hours she'd spent with Killian there when they were kids, feeling like Romeo and Juliet hiding out there, knowing that their families wouldn't approve of them spending time together. Not to mention falling in love.
But when she rode into the clearing and her eyes fell on the cabin an image flickered through her mind, the image so vivid that for a second she wondered if he was actually standing on the porch with his hat shoved up his head and this lopsided smirk on his face. She felt a sudden pang where her heart was, and scoffed out loud.
Killian and she were ancient history, and she did not still have feelings for him. It had been a teenager love, nothing more. Looking back at things always painted them in a brighter light, and she ignored the hollow feeling in the pit of her stomach as she slipped out of the saddle.
The routine tasks of caring for Moonlight were helping her to keep the memories in check, though she heard his voice whispering words of everlasting love in her ear when she pulled the saddle down off Moonlight's back, heard their joined laughter echoing through the small stable when she rubbed Moonlight's flank dry, felt lips brushing over her neck as she leaned forward to fill hay in the manger, and her jaw started hurting from all the teeth gritting.
"Damn you, Jones," she muttered under her breath, pressing her hand hard against the wood of the stall as she leaned her head against Moonlight's neck, fighting against the overwhelming urge to let herself get lost in the memories of past love.
"Nothing past about it, Swan," she mumbled, her fingers curling in Moonlight's mane.
Deep down she always knew that Killian had been special, that even after he broke her heart she would never forget him, but she'd managed to banish him into the darkest corner of her brain and had shut away the memories about him.
He stayed by her side when she stepped into the cabin and walked over to the hearth, his lilting voice telling her how best to get a fire going, and her hands were trembling as she lighted the match and held it against the paper, watching the flames lick over the paper and the kindling start to glow while she felt his presence all around her. The memories were assaulting her with every step she took, and she felt the eerie wish to pull her brains out and stomp on them until she stopped thinking about him.
Of course that wasn't possible, and Emma let out a sigh as she walked into the pantry to find something to eat. Her eyes swept over the shelves, taking in the selection while contemplating if she should be reckless and open one of her cousins's cans or should opt for the much healthier choice of one of her mother's.
But before she could make her choice her eyes wandered to the top shelf and actual tears sprang to her eyes when she spotted the utensils for s'mores, her vision blurring when she heard his laughter ring through the cabin. She almost expected him to stand in front of the fire, holding a marshmallow on a stick into it, when she rushed out of the pantry, but of course no one was there.
Only the shadows of the past were haunting her.
Emma didn't know how long she was standing in front of the fire, staring into the flames with her heart squeezing painfully in her chest as one memory after another came back to her. But then she heard a sound and acted on instinct, her fingers closing around her gun before her brain had even caught up.
Frantically she tried to remember if she'd locked the door, her shoulders sagging slightly as she recalled turning the key when she'd closed the door behind her. But then she heard scrapping and a moment later the ancient key dropped to the rug as someone pushed a key in from outside, and her heart started to race again until she remembered that only her family had keys for this cabin. Maybe one of her cousins had been out too long, and needed to find shelter in here, like she did.
She didn't think of the only person who had a key outside her family until the door opened and a stranger stepped in. Her finger tightened around the trigger, and she already opened her mouth to ask the man who he was and what he was doing here as he looked up and met her gaze, and her heart stopped beating.
"Hello, beautiful." The same blue eyes, the same lilting voice, and the same lopsided smirk that still managed to shoot a shiver down her spine. "What a pleasant surprise to find you here."