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The Heart Won't Lie, Part 7
Continuing Tales

The Heart Won't Lie

A Once Upon a Time Story
by Eyes Like Dawn

Part 7 of 25

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First Truths

After searching and searching, Moe French had at last found a job. It wasn't much; a check out clerk in the 24 hour grocery store, but it paid well. It would be enough to help Annabelle pay the bills so she wouldn't have to work so long, and more than likely sufficient for them to finally rent an apartment rather than staying at the sleazy motel any longer.

Things were looking up, as far as he could see, he had his daughter, and he was no longer under the tyrannical heel of Mr. Gold, and they were rebuilding their lives independently. To Moe French, the world was good.

"Hello there, Mr. French." A feminine voice called his name pleasantly as a lithe figure strutted up to his register.

The former flower salesmen looked up from passing items through a scanner to see Regina standing in front him, a small blue carrying basket with a few items hooked over her arm. She stared at him, her look of happiness thinly veiling a sharp glare of disgust.

Moe put down a roll of paper towels he waved over the scanner and into a plastic bag, flashing Regina a friendly smile. "Good evening Madame Mayor. What bring you here this time of night?"

Smiling thinly, as if forced, the mayor tactfully kept her voice friendly. "I was just picking up some items before I went home, when I saw you. I wanted to say hello before your shift ended." She placed a comforting hand on his shoulder that almost had a chill to her firm grip. "I just wanted to make certain you're healing well after that nasty incident with Mr. Gold." Regina finished, her voice laced with soothing pity.

Grunting once, as if nervous, Moe nodded rapidly. "Yes ma'am, most of the bruises are gone. I wish I could say the same about that monster, Mr. Gold though, I don't think anyone would miss him if he disappeared."

"You're probably right, but I suppose hiring Annabelle is his way of apologizing for the whole incident." Regina remarked coyly with a shrug as she handed the owed money to him.

Moe's bloated features furrowed in confusion as he cocked his head slightly to the side. "I'm sorry; I don't quite understand what you mean by that?"

Forcing herself not to grin, Regina turned back to the flower salesmen, her face a guise of innocence. "Annabelle is working for Mr. Gold." The mayor explained slowly, as if she was confused herself, and shouldn't have opened her mouth. Her brow furrowed in concern and piqued curiosity. "You didn't know?"

The man only shook his head as if in shock, his sweaty hands staining his green store apron as wiped them absently; digesting the new information.

Regina shrugged, picking up the last bags of goods. "I'm sorry, I assumed you heard, or she would have told you. It's all over town that she begged Mr. Gold for a job."

The mayor watched in satisfaction as the bloated mans face twitched slightly at her carefully picked words. French, she knew, was extremely prideful, which had been the only thing she needed to rely on when she had lain the subtle hints for him to rob Gold's home the first time she had manipulated him. All it took to goad the fat fool into action was have his pride poked, and he was putty in her hand to mold an idea or suggestion.

"Mr. French?" She called his name innocently as if she didn't see the shifting thoughtful change in his demeanor. "My change, please."

Moe shook his head slightly as if snapping out a trance. "R-right." He stammered absently, handing Regina a fistful of bills.

He failed to notice Regina's disgusted sneer towards him, then walked out leaving the store. As Moe watched her leave he jerked off his apron throwing it on the register and heading for the doors determinedly. Another late night employee looked up from a newspaper he been reading; watching the aging man stomp out. "You're walking home this late?"

Moe said nothing as he all but ran out into the night. His mind was only filled with the revelations Regina had related; his daughter pandering to that measly puke of a man just so they could get by.

The night air was balmy and the dark sky above curled with ugly black clouds that rumbled with the faint testament that a storm was on its way. Moe French paid no attention the threatening sky as he headed to the motel to talk with Annabelle.

Under the harsh neon signs of the store, Regina watch in devious satisfaction as the former flower peddler staggered out into the stormy night never even noticing she was there.

The cold wind shifted her hair and jacket as she smirked devilishly and almost seemed to bask in her genius puppet play of the fool. Some people were just plain fun to manipulate simply because they were to stupid to realize they were being duped. Striding out from the place where she had watched Moe French trek out, the mayor threw the few bags she had bought in the garbage, wiped her hands clean and hoped in her car; patting herself on the back for a job well done.

~8~8~

Annabelle sat looking at the ominous night sky from the grimy window of the motel room. A finger held back the old curtains as she looked through to the dreary outside world. The streaks of lightening were odd and beautiful as they danced across the clouded firmament, lighting the whole town up in an eerie white brilliance every time they crackled to life.

She had been trying to sleep, and heaven knew she needed all the rest she could get, but, for the past few nights slumber had managed to dodge her no matter how exhausted from work she was. Something wasn't right, she felt excited, and panicked, like lost in some fog that had crept up in her mind. It wasn't a new experience, but for over the past couple of days the feeling had been growing, and her pills hadn't seemed to be helping old memories from resurfacing to haunt her.

Some times it would be just a glance or a sudden flash and things wouldn't seem normal, or from the right time. The long winding roads would look like ancient dirt paths or some one walking down the street would suddenly be wearing the oddest clothing before changing back to normal in another blink of the eyes.

Her pills were lying forgotten on the motels uneven table, but they weren't helping anymore, and she was determined not to see a doctor knowing she'd never have the money to pay, and fearful one look at her records might have her hauled back to asylum. In fact ever since a few weeks prior, the pills hadn't seemed to be working, but her head had felt clearer than it ever had for a long while, it was as if some gray film had been lifted from her vision, and she was acting like her old self. It was only when the foggy out-of-place feeling began to shroud her mind that she felt different and strange like her body was being jerked to two different places.

The door to the motel room slammed open suddenly, crushing Anna's contemplations on the images that flashed in her head, and why she was seeing them again. Anna jerked her head about away from the window to see her father standing at the door like some disturbed specter. "Papa? What are you doing back so soon?" She asked alarmed, seeing him puffing and panting out of breath.

"You work for Mr. Gold." He spat accusingly, his chest sucking in huge loads of air.

Annabelle visibly flinched at his accusatory tone. She had never told him, who exactly her employer was, only that she worked for the cleaning services. It had been to spare her fathers pride that she worked as a house keeper for the man who had taken his only livelihood away so callously.

"We need the money." She replied assuredly, but not denying that she did in fact work for Gold. She saw no need to be ashamed of such a fact; honest work was honest work even if it was for Mr. Gold.

Moe stared hard at his daughter for a moment letting the confession sink in like some kind of poison. He shook his head suddenly his ruddy face reddening slightly in anger. "You have to quit."

"I can't we still need the money." Anna protested. She didn't want to stop working for him anyway, but never would she mention to her father that she literally couldn't quit due to Mr. Gold's threats.

She shouldn't have been surprised, but she was taken aback that her father would think to tell her not to work at the only place she had been lucky enough to stumble upon. Was his pride so important that he would rather be scrounging for Mr. Laffue than a good job to help get back on their feet?

Her father's face screwed up in anger and disbelief at her words. He waved his hand about the room as if displaying to her for the first time where they were and in the ratty conditions which they dwelled. "It's because of him that we live in this hell hole, it's because of him I lost my van, and my only means of income, it's because of him I ended up in a hospital room after he beat me into a concussion with his cane!"

Even though his roaring words echoed off the paper thin walls, to Anna they seemed slurred and far away as if he was yelling from a great distance. Her head began to swim sickeningly as old memories or hallucinations began to dredge up in her mind. Placing her head in her hands, she tried to stop the all to familiar swirling feeling that felt like it pulsed right behind her eyes. No, not now! Anna all but screamed inside her head. At all times why had an 'episode' started at that moment?

"Annabelle are you even listening?" Moe snapped, his voice only quieting slightly as his eyes searched his daughter. "You will not work for that…that…beast. I won't allow it!" He snapped firmly.

Annabelle turned to him sharply, her cobalt eyes having a confused and haunted look about them, which made the words dry in Moe French's throat and actually take a step back.

His words seemed so familiar, and yet foreign to Anna, filling her with anger, but she didn't know why. "He's not a beast!" She screamed at him suddenly.

Her father no longer looked like a man down on his luck wearing a beat up brown jacket and cap, but an image of a noble garbed in finery staring down at her. The two pictures of her regular father and the richly suited one seemed to mix, making Anna's head throb in sharp stabs of pain.

"You're defending the monster that brought us so low?" He screamed back at her, but it sounded pitiful compared to her shouting.

"He was a man once." Anna's voice softened as she bit her bottom lips slightly, as if in thought her eyes looking vacant and distant. She hadn't even heard her father's words, she was more speaking to herself and the thoughts resurrecting in her mind.

In her mind Anna was standing back in her old room in her fathers home after Rumpelstiltskin had so callously told her he didn't want her anymore. "I should not have left him. I kissed him..." Anna muttered; lost in the creeping fog in her head.

She barely heard the gasp of astonishment from her father as he gaped owlishly at her words. Kissed him? Moe's angered mind could only come up with a few meanings to her words.

"What have you been doing with Gold?" He whispered fiercely, his jowls wobbling. The look on his face was one of a man whose worse nightmare had materialized into a reality that he could not escape. "Have you been… sleeping with him?"

"Master or lover?" Anna asked herself ponderously hollow. She turned her head to the window watching the blackness. "Both?"

Anna barely heard her father's words, nor would she have wanted to anyway. The only thing that brought her slightly out of her fog was his tight grip suddenly on her arm. She felt herself being yanked to the door, and stumbled slightly, but not knowing why; lost on what was happening or what she had done.

"Do you know what people would say about us if that got out in the open, Anna?" Moe roared in his daughters face; both hand clutching her arms in his vice grip.

Not only had she gone to Mr. Gold for a job, he now thought she had been sleeping with the merciless Gold to keep it! "My daughter and Mr. Gold! I'd be the father of the crazy girl so desperate she'd sell her soul to that monster for a few dollars! I won't have that shame and embarrassment on my head! If you won't quit then get out; I'll have no part of it!"

With that he pushed her out into the dreary night, sneering angrily at her, and slammed the door.

Anna remained silent, but blinked in confusion as she stared at the white painted door that was chipping of color. Her head was in jumbles only vaguely grasping what had happened as she slowly turned away from the door and roamed out into the sleepy town. Above her the clouds finally unloaded their burden and the rain began to fall in heavy driving sheets. Wrapping her arms around her, the brown haired beauty looked up briefly to the pouring sky and resumed walking.

Hours Anna wandered the deserted streets, confused and almost in a trance as her mind was divided in two different realms. Cold wind whipped her hair and soaked clothing about as she all but ran through the torrents of rain. With every lash of lightening she could see blurry images of the quiet town, sometimes how it should look and other times blurred with different images that mingled in the illuminated night before fading back to shadow.

Houses would twist into homely cottages, closed stores into taverns, and even locked cars into carriages. Anna watched it all through the curtains of silvery rain with no way to escape from the images or the thoughts that echoed in her mind. Her father had shunned her, she had no friends, no money. She had nothing…except him.

The thought of him was almost like a blazing trail that seared through the fog of her mind. All around her the images and thoughts preyed upon her, but when she thought of him the way seemed clear. She had to find him; he would make everything alright, he would make her divided mind whole again.

Wiping the cold rain from her eyes, Anna doggedly set out to find the house she knew so well.

~8~8~

Every room in the large home was pitch black without one light to show that he was still up as Anna finally set foot on the muddy walkway that led to his home. And why should he be up, it was the middle of the night with a thunderstorm to remember roaring above like some angered behemoth.

Anna's breath came in ragged gasps as she stumbled up the wooden stairs of Mr. Gold's home. She had been astounded she had even been able to find it in her condition and the treacherous weather that she staggered through.

Balling up her fist she slammed it against the door with what little strength she had left in her fatigued worn body. No one answered. She knocked again, pounding desperately, a small desperate cry escaping her lips. Still, it almost seemed as if no one had lived there for millennia; silent as a tomb. Could he even hear her, above all the noise of the gushing rain, whipping wind, and the peals of thunder that rumbled across the sky?

Tears finally came to her eyes as she stood at the door; the only place left to go, and not even that was an option. Why wasn't he answering, why didn't he come? Her wet hands trembled as they ran across the gold plated numbers of the house address screwed into the door, before she slumped to the ground curling up miserably against the door. She hadn't energy for much else.

~8~8~

Something was wrong Mr. Gold knew as he lay in bed wide awake listening to the rain splatter against his bedroom window. The room was black as night save for the occasional flashing streaks of lightening that would illuminate the lonely room and cast sharp eerie shadows upon the walls before fading back into darkness. Somewhere inside him something was screaming that a problem had occurred. Looking up at the black ceiling he tried to dissuade himself of the gnawing feeling within him. It was more than likely nothing much to be concerned about, payment off or worried about damage to an asset.

He was Mr. Gold, he had nothing much to worry about; so why did he feel so very worried?

The faint sound of what might have been a knock suddenly reached his ears making him go rigid, and hold his breath to listen out again. It wasn't the noise that had suddenly made him freeze; it was almost as if he had expected it.

The storm set up another crescendo of noise, deafening all around Gold for the slightest sound. Shaking his head he forced himself to close his eyes, probably just a branch scraping against the side of the house, he should probably try to get some sleep even with all the noise.

Yet sleep still refused to come.

He knew he shouldn't give into the feelings that plagued him; he usually didn't. But this night he made an exception. Grumbling her threw off the blanket covering him, and slipped into the blue night shirt he had thrown off in his restlessness. He snatched his cane that was hooked to the headboard, and grabbed the silver gun in his bed stand then began hobbling at a slow pace as he made the laborious trek in the dark downstairs.

Everything looked the same since Belle had left in the late evening; no burglars on the dreadful night, thankfully. Clicking on lights one at a time he made sure nothing was disturbed in the rooms and no one caught in the act of pilfering his things. As his fruitless and ridiculous search came to a close, he shrugged, inwardly cursing himself for rousing out of bed then turned back to the stairs. He stopped suddenly, a faint noise catching his ear making him turn back to face the door.

A cat more than likely was trying to find shelter from the storm had probably clambered at the door. With a dissatisfied frown Mr. Gold turned back to the door stalking determinedly in his limping gait; his cane brandished to shoo the critter off his doorway. Undoing the hefty deadbolt locks he grunted to jerk the door open to the raging elements his cane raised to swat at a critter that tried to find shelter on his stoop.

He was all ready to let his swings fly as the cold air blew through the house and rain sligthly wet his shirt. To his surprise he saw Belle there curled up miserably against his door, her knees pulled up to her chest, brown tresses clinging to her soaked body and face, her shoulders and body heaving in wracking sobs and shivering cold.

As if suddenly feeling the presence of another there, or perhaps feeling the warmth from the home come oozing out into the cold, the tormented beauty looked up to see the door had been opened. He was looking down upon her in shock, his onyx black eyes staring into her sky blue orbs. A flash of lightening illuminated his face, and for a moment, to Annabelle, his normal features changed to a cloudy grayish green tint.

The Heart Won't Lie

A Once Upon a Time Story
by Eyes Like Dawn

Part 7 of 25

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