You come to me on a summer
Keep me warm in your love and then softly leave
And it's me you need to show
How deep is your love
How deep is your love, How deep is your love
I really need to learn
'Cause we're living in a world of fools
Breaking us down
When they all should let us be
We belong to you and me
They drove back to the Storybrooke Inn listening to the old Bee Gees tune on Neal’s Sirius 70’s channel. Emma could change clothes at the Inn; no need to make her little overnight indiscretion obvious.
Emma popped on clean jeans and a new tank top. Neal was waiting when she got down stairs.
She slid into his car and they went off back to Goldark Inn.
“You don’t have to wait until nightfall?” Neal asked her.
“Maybe, but I’m going to give it a shot in broad daylight.”
“I’m curious,” began Neal. “Why is most ghost hunting done at night?”
“Well, there are certainly those who feel that spirits are more active at night; in the daytime there are just too many people who get in their way. Many people feel that you get the best hits between one and three in the morning.”
“But you’re thinking you can get Rumach to talk to you at what? eleven o’clock in the morning?” he was puzzled.
Emma shrugged. “Maybe, he strikes me as being a cantankerous character who would go against what was expected just for spite. But, hey, if I get nothing, I can always come back. I think this may actually be an intelligent haunting which ups my odds of making contact.”
“Say again?” Neal hadn’t followed what Emma was saying.
“Well, hauntings fall into two broad groups. Residual hauntings are like a video that is being played over and over, like an imprint left in the atmosphere with no awareness. It usually occurs when you have someone who died traumatically and they keep “reliving” the moments before their death. Any other major trauma can also leave behind an imprint. That’s what I think may be going on with the crying in the basement. Residuals won’t interact with you, so you won’t get any EVP’s or changes in the environment.”
“And the other group?” Neal asked.
“Intelligent hauntings. These entities may or may not know they are dead but they can’t move on for some reason. Demonic forces also fall into the intelligent haunting category. They’re acting on an agenda and may very well be out to hurt us.”
“Is whatever in the Red Room a demonic force?” Neal had to ask.
“Not sure. Cora may have been some kind of dabbler in dark arts when she was alive. We know she was accused of poisoning people, and there was the rumor that she may have picked up some voodoo practices when she was in Barbados. She could just be a very nasty, evil human. Or she might have called up some thing, some evil-er entity”
“Emma,” Neal was hesitant. “Do you believe in any of this? I mean sometimes you talk like a believer and then, other times, you’re the hardass skeptic.”
“Ah yes,” Emma nodded. “I believe that we are experiencing something, but I don’t necessarily think that anything and everything we can’t explain is paranormal. It just hasn’t been explained yet. And whether it’s paranormal or not, things can still be dangerous. “
Emma continued, “The weirdest, scariest experience I ever had was at Rose Hill Plantation in Jamaica when I was interning with a Voodoo priestess. I participated in several of their worship services and, according to Mambo Leelee, who was working with me, teaching me about the religion, during one of these services, we were successful in conjuring up Baron Samedi. He’s one of the loa, not a deity but more like a go-between. He’s the one who allows or doesn’t allow people to die. He’s quite the bobby-dazzler and is usually dressed in a tuxedo.“
“Wow,” commented Neal. “Pretty weird, Emma. Now, do you really think there are any such things as ghosts?”
Emma sighed, “I don’t know. I really don’t know. But if they do exist, they certainly deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.”
“Can I come?” Neal asked. “This morning, I mean, when you try to talk to Rumach?”
Emma looked at him and grinned. “Sure, I need someone to hold the camera.”
Colin and Clarissa were already at the Inn reviewing some of the older data. When Emma and Neal got there, the two were sitting in the kitchen drinking coffee. Emma thought that they might have been holding hands but had quickly broken apart when she and Neal walked up.
“You two are up early,” she said.
“Same could be said of you, Dr. Swann,” said Colin. “What’s on tap for this morning?”
“Spirit Box. Rumach Goldark,” Emma responded succinctly.
“Really? I thought you said the Box could be dangerous,” Clarissa spoke up.
“I don’t think that Rumach’s particularly dangerous,” Emma replied. “Well, at least, he’s not a threat to us. I think he’s under a curse and may want to talk with someone.”
“Do you want help? What can we do?” Colin asked.
“Neal’s volunteered to be the tech man for this one. I somehow think that if he’s going to talk, he won’t want a bunch of people in the room,” Emma told him.
“Well, let me help get equipment together for Neal,” Colin offered.
“Thanks,” Neal told the younger man and the two went off, out to the van to gather the equipment Emma wanted.
Emma waited until the two men had left. She poured herself a cup of coffee and added some milk. “You and Colin?” she said to Clarissa.
Clarissa blushed. “He’s really very nice. I know, a lot of people say that he’s bad news but he’s been nothing but a gentleman with me.”
Emma was, of course, immediately suspicious. “Clarissa, he is very experienced around women. You know, this could just be how he’s working you.”
Clarissa nodded. “I know. But he’s the one who’s pushing me away, telling me he’s not worthy, not deserving. He’s told me all about his background. He’s had a tough life, Dr. Swan. Not a lot of breaks. He talks like he’s some kind of monster, but he’s trying to do better. I can see a kinder, gentler person in there.”
Emma debated. She knew she was the last one to give advice on relationships. She knew she had a particularly distrustful, bitter view of men in general and wasn’t an especially big fan of True Love, doubting it existed. “Clarissa, be careful,” she settled with just giving the younger woman a caution.
Neal and Colin came back in. He was suited up with all the equipment Colin could pack on him.
“Will this do it?” he asked.
Emma nodded and led the way up the stairs. She was carrying some of the documents that she had pulled out of Neal’s stash the night before. She went up the narrow staircase.
“Please be there. Please be there. Please be there,” she kept intoning to herself as she took each step.
Neal was following behind, carrying the equipment, including the Spirit Box, the data logger, the EMF meter, a thermal camera and a regular digital camera recording unit.
Emma took a deep breath and opened the door.
The morning light speared through the single window and tiny dust particles could be seen dancing in the air as the draft from the door disturbed them from their resting places.
Emma smiled. Gone was the metal shelving with the tidy boxes of extraneous linens, seasonal paraphernalia, and just plain odds and ends.
Instead, there were the two narrow beds, the end tables, the braided rug, and the rocking chair turned toward the door.
She walked on into the room.
Abruptly the door swung shut behind her, slamming shut, leaving Neal out on the staircase.
Neal promptly tried to get the door open but it was stuck. Emma also pulled on it but the door refused to budge.
“You wanted to talk to me, Miss Swan?”
Emma turned slowly.
There, sitting in the rocking chair was Master Rumach Goldark.
“Yes sir,” she answered warily.
“I didn’t want all that technical equipment coming between us,” he told her with a casual hand gesture dismissing it all. He rose to stand before her.
Damn, Emma thought. She could feel the man’s strong presence, his magnetic attraction, standing ten feet away from him, despite his being about two hundred years dead. How had Belle managed working right next to him for weeks and months?
“I must apologize for my earlier attempt to contact you,” there was a noticeable Scottish brogue. “I’d had the impression that you were made of sterner material and was most surprised to find myself confronted with an attack of the vapors. So I have waited for you to come to me.”
Emma bristled. “Vapors?! I had mixed some medication and some wine. And I wasn’t expecting to turn and find a solid full-bodied apparition. That would make anybody skip a heartbeat.”
There was the merest trace of a smirk, “I suppose.”
Neal was pounding on the door, “Are you all right, Emma?”
“I’m fine. I just need a couple of moments. Relax, will you please, Neal?” she asked him, never taking her eyes off Rumach.
“That door will stay shut until I’m ready for it to open again,” Rumach told her. “I have some small powers left to me in this room. Take a seat, please,” with a wave of his hand, he sent a stool scampering over to her and re-seated himself in the rocking chair. “You have some questions for me?”
“I found some interesting paperwork,” she began gingerly seating herself on the stool and holding up some of the documents. “Your first wife re-appeared after it was assumed she had died?”
He raised an eyebrow, “She did indeed. She came to see me out of the blue and told me that her paramour had quit his old job. If it had been up to her, she would have stayed away until hell froze over.”
“He was no longer a pirate?” Emma asked him.
“She explained that he . . . . well, he got religion, as it were. More precisely, he got political. He became a mayor in a small town in Massachusetts and was thinking of running for a position in the state house. He thought it might be best if he and Milah were actually married. Living with a woman in sin has a way of getting out and could hurt his career.” Rumach sighed. “For a moment I assumed that she had come back to kill me.”
“But she hadn’t,” Emma supplied. “She was letting you know that she was planning on divorcing you. In New England, at that time, it wasn’t all that uncommon. A man or woman could pursue a divorce on the grounds of adultery. And since you were certainly living with another woman openly . . . in sin as it turned out, since you weren’t really married. . . ”
He nodded, “Milah had never been declared legally dead. Everyone, including myself, had just assumed she was dead.”
“You couldn’t have divorced her for the same reason?” Emma asked.
“I had no proof. I couldn’t prove that Killian Jones existed, nor that she had been living with him. But she had a very strong case against me.”
“So then you had to get your second marriage annulled since you hadn’t been legally free to marry Cora or have a bigamy charge against you; there were certainly enough extenuating circumstances with your first wife being assumed dead to make the annulment possible.”
“Exactly. Milah was planning to be seen around town for a day, giving me time to get an annulment, then she would ask the town council for a divorce. After that, she promised me that she would never darken my path again. “
“So you got rid of Cora . . . and Milah in one fell swoop. There were no longer any impediments to your marrying Belle, assuming that was what you wanted to do.”
“Me, marry Belle? I wanted nothing more. Oh, but there were impediments. I was a divorced man. It wasn’t socially acceptable and even with my money, it was questionable whether Miss French would ever be accepted into society if she married me. Also, I needed to get her father’s permission.”
“Really?” Emma asked him.
“It was a different time, Miss Swan.”
“So how hard was that to do?” Emma asked him.
Rumach smiled again, “Harder than you might think. And at that time, I wasn’t sure it would happen. Maurice French loved his daughter and wanted the best for her.” Rumach paused a moment, “Of course there were some incentives. It was widely believed I had already had my way with the girl and no decent man would look twice at her with matrimony in mind. Also, I would be amenable to forgiving her father's rather substantial debt to me and I could set him up to have no future monetary concerns. And, of course, there was the fact that Miss French wanted to marry me, believing herself in love with me.”
“So you returned her to her father’s house?” Emma asked to confirm her suspicions, “without telling the poor thing what you were up to?”
“I didn’t want to give her false hope. There were so many things that had to happen right.”
“What happened to Cora? You had to tell her.”
Rumach pursed his lips. “It was difficult.”
“I can dimly imagine.”
“She had drugged me, then married me, not for love, but for money and societal position. But I had no wish to humiliate her and I arranged for her to move to a new town. I was planning to buy her a house and give her a stipend. She would be very comfortable and likely would be able to secure herself a new husband in short order. She was a very attractive woman, you know.”
“I’ve seen her picture,” Emma agreed with his assessment.
“She didn’t seem particularly upset when I told her. I assumed that she wasn’t particularly upset. She said she would need some time, that she had some things to get ready. I told her I would return in a few days and help her with the final arrangements.”
Emma heard knocking behind her.
“Emma, Emma, are you still doing all right?”
Emma turned. “Neal, I’m fine. I. . . “ she turned and . . .
She was back in the storage room with the metal shelves and large labeled plastic bins. The rocking chair was empty.
The door just opened. . . on its own.
Damn, shit, damn, damn, damn!
Neal barged in. “Are you all right? What was going on?”
“I was conversing with Master Goldark,” she told him.
“Get out! What happened?”
“He didn’t want any technology so he shut you out. He confirmed that the first wife who was supposed to have been dead, had breezed in and asked him for a divorce.”
“And so he had to get the second marriage annulled?”
“Exactly, it matches all the paperwork we found. He said he sent Belle home to her father while he straightened everything out. He also picked up a marriage license but he disappeared before letting me know if he actually got married to the girl. Damn him.” Emma addressed the room, “You are an insufferable, arrogant bastard, you know that?” Emma turned back to Neal. “Let me get back to Belle’s diary”
Belle reported that she felt desperate. She moped around her father’s house. One of her sisters had accepted a proposal and there were wedding preparations in progress. Belle helped address invitations. She helped sew on her sister’s trousseau. She struggled to get in a happy mood on behalf of her sister but utterly failed, so miserable was she in her own situation.
Two days went by and there was no further contact from Master Goldark.
Then it was a week with no word.
He had decided that they shouldn’t see each other. She would never see him again or would see him only in public with many others around them. She wouldn’t see him smile at her in that calm, disarming way he had. She wouldn’t hear his gentle voice reading out numbers to her. She wouldn’t hear him rage and rant at her when she dared to challenge him.
She kept finding herself crying. At other times she would be so angry with his high-handed actions. How dare he dictate what was in her best interests!
Her father encouraged her to begin helping with his books again, “No one keeps them as well as you did,” her father had told her but she just couldn’t face another ledger. Not just yet.
Her father tried to get her to go out for walks to get fresh air, but no, she didn’t feel up to it. She might meet someone she knew.
She would help in the kitchen but often would only nibble on the food she had helped to prepare. She was just not hungry.
She had no interest in her needlework.
She didn’t even feel like reading.
The worst times she wrote in her diary was when she had to socialize with her sister’s friends, both male and female acquaintances. The young men were overly-familiar, boring, silly and seemed to her more like boys than men. They couldn’t begin to compare to Goldark. His mere presence radiated competency. He was always so self-assured and confident. All right, he was sometimes confident to the point of arrogance. And sometimes he was self-assured to the point of pigheadedness. But he would never ask if his jacket favored his complexion. Belle giggled remembering this from a recent conversation from one of her would-be suitors. Oh the man had never been boring. Infuriating, aggravating, but never boring.
But it had been from other women that she found herself the target of unkind remarks. They were overly curious as to exactly what her duties had been, what types of things he had made her do for him, how long were the hours they had worked together, and so forth. She knew well that it was commonly assumed that Goldark had obtained favors from her and there was rampant speculation as to her true status. Some of the women would share their ‘concerns’ with her, wondering how soon it would be evident that she was with child (assuming this was the reason that Goldark had lost interest in her). Not that she had ever had many friends in the town, her bookish, odd ways setting her apart, she was nonetheless hurt when she was on the receiving end of some especially catty remarks from the sisters (not to mention the would-be wives) of these same young men who fawned over her.
She had been sitting in the kitchen preparing some beans for cooking, thinking over her father’s urging to begin seeing some of these young men socially, thinking maybe, maybe she should consider trying to rebuild her life, move on. He wasn’t going to be there for her. She was young. She had her whole life ahead of her. It was one of those moments when she would keep finding that she had been crying and have to wipe tears from her face.
She heard someone at the front door.
She didn’t want to answer it and was grateful when she heard her father speaking. He had gotten the door. He was talking with whoever was at the door; she knew, she could hear low voices, men’s voices.
Her father came into the kitchen.
“Belle, there is someone here to see you,” he told her.
She figured it was Gaston or one of the other silly young men she had met just a little while ago. She had no interest in seeing any of them. Not yet. Not just yet.
“Father, please tell whoever it is that I am not feeling well. . . “
Her father shook his head, “Daughter, you will want to see this man.”