Emma Volding watched everything going on around her. The grand lobby of the resort hotel was buzzing with people checking in, people checking out, and many people chattering about their plans for that weekend. She clutched her Victorian dressed doll tightly against her breast. Her mother, who sat next to her, fidgeted, going over the itinerary yet again. Her mother was a brisk woman. She owned a large business in Buffalo, New York, and normally did not take the time out for such frivolous trips. The exception was that it was Emma's birthday. She had taken the time out for that, at least, since her father would not.
"Emma, dear, don't wander off, okay? This place is huge, and you could very well get lost." Saying this, the woman took Emma's free hand in hers. She walked with her daughter up to the registration desk. They were behind another couple.
Emma sighed. Her mother still treated her like she was four-years-old. She was six now, and she knew better than to run off alone. She glanced up at the couple. The woman, who looked no older than sixteen at best, turned and smiled at her radiantly. She waved a little.
"Hi there." The woman smiled. "Are you here for a special occasion?" Her teeth were a perfect white as she smiled.
Emma nodded enthusiastically. "It's my birthday today." She marveled at the woman's pale skin, which was beautiful, and flawless at the same time. She hoped she'd have such pretty skin when she got to be her age.
"Wow. How old are you today?" The woman asked now, nudging her companion. He turned to, to give his attention to his mate's new friend behind them.
"I'm six." Emma smiled cutely, holding up the appropriate number of fingers on her little hands. "Mama's going to take me horseback riding!"
"Ooh, that sounds like fun." The male spoke now. "What's your name, little one?"
"Emma Mallory Volding." She told him proudly. Then her mother tugged on her hand. She looked up.
"How many times have I told you not to talk to strangers, Emma?" Mrs. Volding sighed deeply, exasperated at her daughter's disobedience. "It's a simple rule, meant to keep you safe."
"They weren't gonna hurt me, Mama." Emma replied, embarrassed at being reproached in front of her new friends.
"It's really alright." The male spoke now. "She's adorable." He winked at Emma. "I'm Jasper Hale, and this is my wife, Alice."
"Elizabeth Volding." The woman relaxed a little. "I apologize if she bothered you…" She was still determined that her daughter was making trouble. She always seemed to.
"Oh she's not bothering us at all." Alice smiled brightly again, as Jasper checked them in. "If you want, we can watch her while you check in."
Elizabeth thought this over. Emma couldn't get into any trouble while she was still in the lobby anyway. She shrugged, and let go of Emma's hand. "Alright, but you don't go anywhere."
"Okay!" Emma smiled, as the one called Jasper took her hand in his. She was startled to realize how cold his hands were in mid May. "Are you getting sick?"
"Not really." Jasper smiled brightly. He was impressed that she didn't feel intimidated by them. "I'm always cold."
"Oh…" Emma didn't ask anything else. Jasper and Alice sat down in a couple of chairs, and she dragged a lone chair over to where they were. "Are you on your honeymoon?"
"Nope. Just getting away from the family for a little while. We needed a break." Alice smiled gently. "Where's your father?"
Emma blinked. It hadn't occurred to her that it might seem weird t hat they were traveling without her father. "He's away on business." The little girl climbed into the chair she'd pulled over. "Do you have any children?"
"Well, we're not really ready for that yet…"Alice allowed. She watched her mother argue with some man at the counter about something.
Emma followed Alice's gaze, and sighed deeply. She was feeling anxious now, and she knew it was because of her mother, but she wasn't sure why. And then she felt an overwhelming sense of peace sweep over her. She blinked. Her mother couldn't have gotten over her upset that fast. She glanced at Alice and Jasper. They were talking quietly between themselves. They hadn't even seemed to notice her mother's fit at the counter. "I should probably go…it was nice meeting you…" Emma had the distinct impression she might see them again soon.
Alice smiled that fabulous smile of hers again, and waved slightly. "Have a good birthday, Emma." She watched the child go over to her mother. Then she turned to Jasper. "She's gifted…"
"I felt it too…when I was trying to sooth her. It felt like her own gift was trying to reject mine." Jasper followed the mother and daughter with his eyes. He wondered how long Emma had been harboring such a gift, and doing it alone. He could only imagine how hard it must be for her, not knowing what it was. He stood up, taking his and Alice's luggage in his hands again. "Well. I hope she will be alright…."