Good Morning, Miss Australia

Chapter 3: Spinning Rotation


The bedroom was shrouded in darkness the early morning in November. Only the hands of the alarm clock slowly moving toward 6 A.M. were an indication that the man in the antique bed would soon be pulled from his slumber, though not by the unrelenting alarm clock itself. There was a slight chill in the air that made the man breathe a bit heavily. His tousled, half-long hair lay sprawled on his pillow and his brows were furrowed a bit, not finding enough rest to relax completely, even when in sleep.

Cold air made the heavy curtains sway, and Mr. Gold burrowed a little further under the covers when an old-fashioned cell phone that sat on the nightstand started to vibrate. A split second later a shrill ringtone ripped through the peaceful silence.

The eyes of the sleeping man flew open and with a suppressed gasp he jolted to life. Automatically, his hand grabbed the phone and before he'd even regained full consciousness he'd already flipped it open with movements that betrayed routine.

Not bothering to look at the screen, as he knew that it would say nothing more than 'Private number', and without clearing his throat he answered the phone.

"Hello?"

He jumped a little when a rough voice bellowed in his ear.

"WAAAKEEEE UUUUUPPPP! Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!"

Gold let himself sink back against his pillow; eyes closing as he distastefully increased the distance between the phone and his ear. A sharp sting of disappointment stabbed his heart, while the bellowing man on the other side of the line tirelessly repeated himself. He sighed inaudibly.

Like every morning since the silvery voice of Miss Australia had whispered into his ear, he wondered how long before that bloody rotation would come around and she would greet him again, the only reason for him to keep going with this madness.

In the past few weeks he'd been woken up by many different people, men and women alike. He'd been sung to, both in Chinese and English, shouted at, attempted conversation with about trains, and all variations in between. One man had spontaneously begun reciting (or rather badly butchering) Robert Burns at him when he'd heard Gold's accent. He still shuddered at the memory. And now there was this…drill-sergeant from the Midwest to add to the collection.

He lowered the phone until it rested against his shoulder and closed his eyes again. No matter who had called to pull him from his slumber over the past couple of weeks, it was never the one he was waiting for. Every night since her sweet voice had sounded through the small speaker, he had fallen asleep with his eyes fixed on the device as if willing it to be her who would be calling him the following morning. And every morning, the restlessness he refused to call hope plummeted to the basement when it again wasn't her.

Miss Australia.

It had slipped from his lips before he'd known it, the silly endearment, which in hindsight had been a rather blatant way of inquiring after her marital state. Though it wasn't until he'd gone to his shop and turned the closed sign to open that he realized that she hadn't corrected his playful assumption.

Three weeks had gone by, and the memory of her voice still lingered in the back of his mind, a cheerful echo that dispelled the dusty silence of his shop. It didn't matter if he polished silver, repaired a clock, valued a new acquisition or simply stood behind the counter for a moment. The entire collection of trinkets and artefacts reminded him of their conversation, made him wonder if she'd notice the intangible, magical atmosphere if he would bring her here... Most of the time this was the moment where he'd cut himself off, not allowing for his fantasy to imagine anything more beyond another conversation with the Australian woman. The situation was already ridiculous enough as it was.

As the drill-sergeant at the other side of the line worked through his routine the thought crept upon him that maybe…maybe she hadn't asked to be put back on his rotation list after all. After all, she'd never actually said that she would, only that it was a possibility. And how long could it possibly take for this rotation to end and start another one? There couldn't be that many people demented enough to sign up for what they even dared to call a service.

He furrowed his eyebrows as he pushed back the feelings of doubt and brought the cell phone back to his ear.

"Thank you," Gold decisively stopped the drill-sergeant's bellowing and without waiting for a response, hung up. He lowered his phone and an annoyed sigh escaped him before he threw the covers off of him.

He'd better get up and get ready or Bae would get ahead of him again.


When Bae entered the basement later that evening he found his father where he expected to find him: behind his spinning wheel. For a moment, he remained standing in the doorway, looking down the three steps and into the large space, which was lit by a single bulb dangling from the wooden ceiling. Though the basement looked old and worn, it was clean and lacked the earthy scent that was so typical for old basements. A workbench was shoved underneath the high basement windows, and the walls were aligned with shelves containing tools and parts for what clearly was an extension of Gold's workspace in the back of his shop. The light shone down on a large, antique spinning wheel in the middle of the room that was decorated with elegant carvings; its wielder looking small and a bit out of place in his tailor-made suit. There was an odd serenity on his features as his foot, still clad in his gleaming dress shoe, rhythmically pumped the pedal to encourage the gently purring wheel; his hands carefully holding the wool being spun into an even thread.

"Papa?"

"Hmm?" Gold didn't look up from the turning spinning wheel as he fed the wool into the orifice, but Bae knew his papa was listening.

"There's a field trip tomorrow. We need to be at school at 7 A.M."

His father finally turned around and his foot stopped pumping the paddle. The wheel came to a halt and the pensive expression that always rested on Gold's features when spinning disappeared. A teasing smile formed on his lips.

"That will be tough for you then," he replied and Bae scowled as he went down the steps and crossed the basement.

He knew his father woke much earlier than he did and though he was grateful for it, it had proved physically impossible for him to do the same. He was a teenager after all.

"You should have told me before, though." Gold gave his son a mildly stern look. "What do you need?"

The teenager shrugged and gave the wheel an awkward turn, watching it slowly rotate before coming to a halt. Bae had always been far too restless to understand his father's hobby.

"Just the usual. We're going to some museum in Boston."

Gold suppressed a smile at the indignant reply as he stood. One day he expected Bae to regain his interest in museums, perhaps show his own child around like Gold had done when Bae was just a wee thing clinging to his good leg, but today his son was too much of a teenager to care. He ruffled his boy's hair affectionately, which the teen allowed because there was no one around to see it.

"We better pack your lunch for tomorrow then."


It was well past 11 P.M. when Gold pushed the alarm button and put the alarm clock back on the nightstand.

Half an hour earlier than normal.

He would already be up tomorrow morning when the next participant would be calling. A smile tugged at his lips as he closed his eyes. He was a reluctant participant and certainly not an easy one but for the first time he was looking forward to answering the phone to someone else than the Australian woman. If it was only to tell the confused person on the other side of the line that at 6 A.M. he was too late to wake him up.


When the following day's expected ringing cut through the early morning quiet, Gold turned from where he was standing at the window, staring at his own gloomy reflection against the darkness outside as he put on his tie. On the nightstand his cell phone was vibrating and ringing, harshly demanding his attention at this ungodly hour. An amused smile appeared on his features.

Today was Bae's field trip and he had to make sure his son would arrive at school before the bus would be leaving for Boston. The parents had been asked to bring their children to school as it was too early for the school bus to ride. Gold expected that the appearance of his black Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham would cause quite a stir among the other parents, who had never seen the frightening Mr. Gold doing something as homey as taking his son to school. In a grim sort of way, the prospect of their astonishment actually amused him, knowing that it would force them to completely revise their views of the town beast.

Without haste, he crossed his bedroom and for what seemed the hundredth time already glanced at the screen. 'Private number' it said. Better to get this over with quickly, he decided and pushed the reply button, lifted the phone to his ear and grabbed his jacket all in one flowing movement.

"I'm sorry to disappoint you, Dearie, but calling to wake me up requires you to get up before me."

The person on the other side of the line didn't reply, obviously stunned by his very awake, very alert greeting. Gold didn't mind. The ghost of a smirk still remained on his lips as he flicked off the bed lamp and turned to leave the room. But when he opened is bedroom door he realised that the other side of the line had remained silent still all this time.

"Dearie?" He repeated uninterestedly like he did when someone called the shop and fell silent, which happened most of the time. He would simply continue what he was doing, patiently waiting for the person on the other side of the line to regain his or her courage.

At this moment, his time was limited though with Bae going on this field trip.

"Mr. Scotsman…"

The wind was knocked out of him as a completely unexpected, wonderfully sweet voice cut through his sarcasm, the Australian accent melodious and little disconcerted. Suddenly his heart pounded in his chest and he actually had to lower himself on the edge of his bed as the voice, her voice, which he had longed for to hear again, tentatively reached out to him.

The first thing that flashed through his mind was a heartfelt curse. This could not be happening. Why did she have to call on this day of all days? He had been hoping to hear her voice again for the past three weeks, had endured one strange phone call after another and now that she'd finally returned to him he was in a rush and lacking in time. Why, oh why could fate never smile down on him like it did on others?

Gold realized that he'd had yet to say something in response.

He closed his eyes. "Miss Australia, it's good to hear your voice again."

This was a grave understatement of the feelings the two words falling from her lips had stirred up with him and he let out a quiet breath in a desperate attempt to will himself back to calmness.

"Yours too," was her soft reply and for a moment she sounded almost like she'd missed him. A warm feeling spread through his chest as he tentatively entertained the idea that maybe she'd been looking forward to speaking with him again too.

"How are you doing, Dearie?"

"I'm fine," she said, her voice automatically taking on a reassuring tone that made his eyes soften. "But you're up early. Even earlier than last time… Why?"

"Well…" Using his cane as leverage he stood up, her question reminding him of his fatherly duties.

Quietly, he opened his bedroom door. "My son's school decided that today is a perfect day for a field trip to some museum he failed to remember the name of, so I have to get up early to drive him to school. Speaking of which – he should be in the bathroom by now, taking a shower. Do you have one moment?"

"Of course! If you're busy then maybe we should cut it short for today-"

"Oh no, Dearie, I'm not letting you go so easily as that," Gold interjected quickly.

He nudged open Baelfire's bedroom door with his foot and as he lowered his phone his accent acquired a harsher edge while he called in a low voice, "Bae, it's time tae get up. If ye don't, I swear I'm gonnae drop ye off in yer pyjamas. It's yer choice."

A pained grumble mounted from somewhere inside the dark room and Gold let the door stand ajar so the light from the hallway would convince the boy to get up in case his father's promise hadn't already.

With his cell phone back to his ear he made his way downstairs, the tap of his cane soft on the polished wooden floor.

On the other side of the line Miss Australia chuckled. "Poor boy. How is he doing?"

An indulgent smirk momentarily passed over his lips as he carefully stepped into the kitchen and automatically opened a cupboard, taking out a frying pan. He turned towards the refrigerator. "Oh, he's as fine as a teenager can be, I suppose. Just having trouble waking up."

"Did you think about what we talked about last time?"

"Yes, you were right about that." His voice sounded strangely subdued as he absent-mindedly slid his tie between two buttons of his shirt and ignited the stove.

"If…" She hesitated. "If you don't mind me asking, how did it happen? Baelfire's disappearance I mean."

She sounded terribly careful but if he'd had any reservations about telling her, her sweet mentioning of his son's name would have swept away all of that. It sounded as if she'd been thinking about this for some time, which caused his heart to make a small jump.

"I don't mind," he told her. "After Bae's mother passed away, the man with whom she'd shared her bed thought he would be granting her final wish if he'd take her son with him."

He closed his eyes, his hand tightening around the spatula as the memory resurfaced.

"And I let him," he recalled bitterly. "I thought that was what Bae wanted. So, I let him. I regretted it the moment my boy was taken away. He looked back over his shoulder, and I saw the panic in his eyes. Sadly, it took me another month to start realizing what it meant. I searched for him ever since."

"But you found him," her voice gently pulled him from the horrible memories and he responded almost automatically.

"Yes, I found him."

It had cost him six long years and he'd gone down many roads that were too questionable to elaborate on but apparently that's what it had taken to get his son back.

"It was quite a surprise for him to find himself living in the US all of a sudden and going to a real American middle school," he added dryly to lift the atmosphere and it worked. Miss Australia chuckled.

"I know the feeling," she sympathized with his son. "It's very exciting. But the most important thing now is that you can take care of him again," she supported him. "I'm willing to bet you're making him his breakfast right now."

He let out an amused huff as he looked at the sausages and black pudding in the frying pan. They started to spread a mouth-watering scent through the kitchen, which was sure to have Bae clumping downstairs eventually. "You're quite perceptive, Miss Australia."

"Ah well," she laughed. "I can clearly hear something sizzling in the pan through the phone. I was wondering… Is Baelfire a common name in Scotland?"

"No." He turned over the black pudding. "Bae's mother was into Celtic mysticism when she named him, but it's a good name in my opinion. Strong. It means bonfire."

The only thing Milah had done right by her son, he thought bitterly but didn't say out loud.

"It's a beautiful name," Miss Australia agreed sincerely. "One you won't soon forget, so erm…"

Her voice turned serious all of a sudden. "… Did you talk with him about the wake-up service?"

For a moment, he stayed silent to assemble his thoughts on what exactly they'd said to each other about this the previous time they spoke.

"Yes, I have."

"And?"

"He said that he unchecked the option that would have me calling other people myself," he responded dryly.

"That's it?" She asked disbelievingly.

"Yes. There was nothing more to say."

She burst out laughing, a freeing sound that swept away any uneasiness that time and waiting had built up. Once again, he found that he was basking in it, that warmth and cheerfulness as he put bacon and black pudding into the pan and his closed-off features softened.

When true to his word, Gold said nothing more on the matter, Miss Australia changed subjects.

"So, how did you like the past three weeks of wake-up calls?" she inquired curiously and it felt as if she was standing next to him, peeking past his shoulder to check the contents of the frying pan with a cheerful smile. He wondered what she looked like.

"I wouldn't recommend it," he replied honestly. "Have you ever been lectured about the inflorescence of late flowering bulbous plants at 6 A.M.?"

He was glad to hear that he had made her chuckle again.

"Constantly," was her surprising response though she didn't elaborate. "What are your favourite flowers if I may ask?"

"Bellflowers," he responded a little distractedly while making sure the eggs would slide into the pan while keeping the yolk intact.

But despite his effort he did detect that for some reason her breathing hitched slightly at his reply and immediately he wished he knew what she was thinking. Instead, he settled for a gentle reminder.

"If I remember correctly this time is actually your turn to tell me about you, Dearie. So, why won't you start?"

"You're right," she readily admitted and his lips curled in a satisfied grin. "What would you like to know?"

Her voice sounded a little breathless and his eyelids fluttered closed at the tingling sensation it caused in his stomach. 'Your address, your telephone number, your name,' he thought but he suggested courteously, "How about we start with your work? What do you do?"

Over the past weeks several possibilities had passed through his head and he was keen to know if he'd judged her right.

"I'm a librarian," her voice sounded from the other side of the line and a smile involuntarily formed on his lips. He was pleased – and not only because he was right about her but also it shed more light on the person behind Miss Australia. There also was something appealing about her being a librarian, a profession like his own; studying life from the side-lines.

"Ah well, that explains your interest in my pawnshop," he deduced easily and she chuckled lightly.

"I can't help myself sometimes, I'm afraid. Actually, I wish I hadn't agreed on telling you more about me. Instead of talking about me I could have listened to more stories from the pawnshop."

"I'm flattered that you want to hear an older man prattle on about his baubles Dearie, but ah, I'm afraid the deal is non-negotiable," he lightly teased her, "it sounds like a good title for a book though: 'Stories From The Pawnshop.'"

She gave him a hearty laugh. "I'm sure it would find its way to our library. We actually have a large section about antiques & collectibles. It sounds like a great addition for either that section or fantasy and fairy tales. What do you think?"

"Well," he paused, "I do have in my possession a beautiful compass that once belonged to a father who lost his two children in the woods…"

He was rewarded with an audible gasp coming from the other side of the line. "Hansel and Gretel!" Miss Australia exclaimed excitedly and he smirked in satisfaction, pleased with her enthusiasm.

"If you say so," he replied easily. "Though you shouldn't jump to conclusions before you've read the whole book, my dear."

"Hm, I seem to remember that one," she mused in mock thoughtfulness. "When I was younger I went through this period when I decided to read only half of each book to save time and read more. Not one of my best ideas. I should have known that with books the sting's often in the tail."

"Not only with books, Dearie," Gold replied as he thought about the shocked faces of people when the full extent of what their deal with him entailed became clear to them. It wasn't as if he hid the truth from them, they simply didn't bother to properly read the agreement he presented them with. And he didn't consider it his responsibility to educate grown men and women. But this wasn't something he wanted to discuss with Miss Australia. Instead he asked, "What was your best idea?"

"Going to university," she replied immediately and he nodded in agreement. "I majored in English literature, but through the years I've also become proficient in French, German, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese and Russian. At the moment I'm studying to learn Arabic."

"So, your work is your hobby then," he established, not a little impressed. A lovely voice and educated too. She was getting more interesting with each minute he talked to her. "Am I correct that you learned all these languages because you prefer to read books in the original language?"

"Yes," she confirmed a bit shyly, sounding terribly vulnerable all of a sudden and he realized that she most likely had had to defend herself on her choices before. In response, a completely inappropriate feeling of protectiveness roared to life.

"You're quite the learned lady, Miss Australia. The entry requirements for the pageant must have been raised considerately. My compliments to the Aussies."

His deep voice held just the right notch of appreciation. It worked. She laughed softly. "I barely meet the requirements to even start dreaming of becoming Miss Australia for real, Mr. Scotsman. Take the guidelines for height for example. Mine is the perfect height for a ballet dancer, not for a model or a Miss."

Something primal within him purred possessively at her revelation, understanding that she would fit him perfectly.

He cast a look at the ceiling, estimating the time it would take Bae to come downstairs judging by the sound of his trudging around and placed the sausages, bacon, black pudding and eggs on the plate he'd set out for his son. When he was done he went to stand before the kitchen window, looking outside. He didn't want to spoil his precious time with Miss Australia with his own breakfast; he could always stop by at Granny's for a sandwich after he'd dropped off Bae at school.

"So, how did this love for the written word come to be?"

Always having been a very good judge of people he'd felt that something about it was important to her the previous time they'd spoken and he knew his feeling had been correct when a painful silence descended between them.

"Dearie?" He asked after ten seconds, deliberately keeping his voice subdued.

"I'm still here." On the other side of the line Miss Australia's voice suddenly sounded weak as if there was a lump in her throat. Then she sighed as if to try and expel some of the tension she obviously felt. "I…I don't know…if I can tell you."

"I believe we made a deal, Miss Australia," he responded quietly but he knew that if she refused to tread this water he would let her off the hook.

She let out a small, watery laugh. "Oh, it's not that I don't want to tell you, Mr Scotsman. It's that I fear that I will burst into tears halfway through and I would hate for that to happen."

"Why would you burst into tears?" His eyes flitted from one side of the garden he could see to the other as his features crinkled in a rare display of sympathy. She sounded so vulnerable despite her clear effort to stay strong that he wished he hadn't asked her about it.

"Because reading became my hobby and passion when my mother got sick. We moved to the States, my mum, my dad and me, when I was six years old and she fell ill about a year later. Cancer. Inoperable."

She sighed again, clearly to give herself a moment and he closed his eyes, knowing what would be coming. It was the consequence of living in a country where there was no such thing as the National Health Service, however flawed the system might be.

"She went through a number of treatments, though, before that verdict came and every time she was convinced she would get better," she told him quietly. "But she passed away half a year later and there wasn't any money left to return to Australia. I doubt my father would ever have left her behind, anyway."

Her voice, which had become a bit hoarse, had taken on a higher note and he knew she was on the verge of bursting into tears like she'd feared.

"Your mother sounds like she was a fighter," he ventured carefully.

"Yes, she was. The doctors said that that was what had prolonged her life, not the treatments." Her voice sounded small and her dejectedness actually broke his heart.

"I'm sorry, sweetheart," he said softly, the endearment falling from his mouth before he knew it. How long had it been since he'd used that word with a woman? Perhaps a few times in the beginning of his relationship with Milah – certainly not with Cora. If anything he meant what he said, which was remarkable.

Miss Australia however was deserving of it, even though he'd only heard her voice over the phone. He wanted her to stay strong for him because that's what she wanted. He chose to ignore, however, that this concern for her could only be attributed to his rapidly increasing fondness for this woman; a fondness he didn't quite want to acknowledge at this moment.

He turned around when Bae entered the kitchen after having only faintly registered the sound of his son clumping down the stairs. The boy threw him an odd look, as he silently pointed at the filled plate and then at the hallway mouthing 'living room' before he disappeared from the kitchen. His cane added to the sound of his footsteps and for a moment he wondered if Miss Australia would pick up on that but if she did, she didn't comment on it as she let out a shaky sigh.

"Anyway…" she cleared her throat and her voice grew in strength. "The public library is opposite from Dad's work, so as soon as I had learned to read I started to visit almost every day to read."

"It was a way of forgetting," he supplied and she confirmed in a small voice, "Yes."

A long moment of silence descended between them and he sat down on the nearby sofa, his cane resting against his knee.

"Thank you, sweetheart," Gold said with a tone that came out surprisingly tenderly, "for telling me. I must say, that outside Bae, it's been a long time since someone trusted me enough to confide in…"

He closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose, then took a deep breath. "May I ask if it brought you what you hoped for?"

It took only one more moment then he'd expected for her to answer but then came her melancholic reply, "Actually…no. Not entirely. Many books reminded me of her, but I noticed…that I came to love it, because they helped me preserve the good memories. Does that make sense?"

Gold gave a knowing nod, although she couldn't see it. "Yes, it does."

But before he could say more she added fiercely, "But that's not the only reason why I love books. I simply love to read about adventures and I kind of live through my books."

Then she let out an adorable groan that sounded much more like his cheerful Australian girl again. "Oh my, that sounds terrible! I didn't mean to say that I don't live at all…"

He smiled as he sat down on the sofa. "Don't worry, Dearie. Rest assured that I'm not thinking that you are a sad spinster who lives amidst piles of books and hasn't the seen the light of day in three years."

"Ouch, you only make it sound worse!" She protested laughingly and automatically one of his smirks appeared on his face.

"My apologies, Miss Australia. It won't do for me to accuse you of something that applies more to myself than anyone else. Let me rephrase that." Mild amusement laced his courteous tone. He genuinely enjoyed their banter. "We may sit in our library and yet be in all quarters of the earth."

"John Lubbock," she added immediately and a soft smile passed over his lips in response.

For a moment she fell silent.

"You know what I mean," she then said softly, gratefully, sending a shiver down his spine.

"Then again…" she hesitated. "You know… Books have surrounded me since I can remember and sometimes it feels as if I've gone the easy way by becoming a librarian. And I start to wonder if there's more to life than just…this."

He quirked up one eyebrow. "The librarian wants to go on quests for spears?"

On the other side of the line Miss Australia laughed amusedly. "You know about those Librarian films?"

"Yes, Bae made me watch them with him. They're actually rather amusing."

"And very good for promoting library sciences. All of a sudden we librarians look cool," she replied jokingly, "instead of – what did you just call me? A sad spinster?"

"Apologies not accepted then?" he inquired in a velvet tone, which earned him a mischievous laugh.

"You're forgiven, Mr. Scotsman but it's not forgotten."

"You're a sensible woman," was his approving comment. "But how about those adventures you seek?"

"Well, I'm actually not a very adventurous person, but apart from the four years when I went to college I've never left this provincial town where I grew up. I would love to see more of the world, you see? Create something new, even if it's only in the next town. I could become a librarian somewhere else."

"Then you should do that," he told her on an encouraging tone. "If it's your father you're worried about you should know that you could live your life and still support him. There are other ways. You just have to explore the possibilities."

"Papa?"

He lifted one hand and cast a look at the mantel clock. "I'll be there in a minute, Bae. Put your coat on and don't forget your scarf. It's cold outside."

"But, Papa…"

He turned around slowly, his phone to his ear, an unreadable expression on his features. "Yes, Bae?"

Bae wore a hesitant, slightly awkward expression and shifted his weight from one leg to another.

"You haven't eaten anything," Bae mumbled as he raked his hand through his thick dark curls.

Gold's expression softened immediately. "It's alright, Bae, I can get take away on the way back. Now go get your coat. I'll be there in a minute."

Bae hesitated and his eyes flicked to the phone plastered to his father's ear but then shrugged and left the living room.

"You have to go," a warm voice with an Australian accent on the other side of the line established. "Was that Bae? He sounds like a nice boy. He really cares for you."

Gold's mouth quirked up in a smile. "Yes, that was him. We have to go, I'm afraid. Otherwise, I'll be driving him to the museum myself."

"We can't have that happening, can we? I'm afraid there's nothing more than to say than 'see you later'. Or 'Hear you later', I suppose," Miss Australia said regretfully.

"Can I surmise that you'll ask to be put on my rotation list again?"

"Of course, Mr. Scotsman. You shouldn't doubt that," she replied, her voice laced with some sadness. It was clear she was as reluctant to end the conversation and have fate once more decide when they would speak again as he was.

He clenched his teeth, knowing about the rules but very much tempted right now to just begin blurting out his phone number until the computer would terminate the conversation. That would be a ruthless end to a wonderful conversation, though, so he decided against it.

"One more time," he promised her as much as himself, "One more time and I swear I'm going to ask you for your address, your telephone number – everything, the first thing I hear your voice again, Miss Australia."

She drew in a halted breath. "I'm going to hold you to that promise, Mr. Scotsman."

He closed his eyes. "Until next time then, Miss Australia."

On the other side of the line the Australian woman let out a defeated breath. "Until next time, Mr. Scotsman. I can't wait."

When he terminated the call he almost viciously pressed the red button on his cell phone.

"Papa?"

The intensely frustrated look hadn't completely disappeared from his features when he looked up and saw Bae standing in the doorway holding his father's coat, car keys and his permission slip for the field trip in his arms. His face showed a scrutinizing look that Gold had never seen with his son before as he studied his father. "Are you ready to go now?"


A/N: Ariel a wonderful person to write and somewhat demanding too, haha, Wondermorena. It's sad indeed that Belle's father fails to understand what's going on in his daughter's life. I agree with you that Belle has to be dragged to Storybrooke one fine day by Ariel and then it's hard not to notice a certain pawnshop...

Thank you so much, Cynicsquest! Gaston is such a nasty piece to write. I hope you like this chapter too!

I'm absolutely delighted that Delintthedarkone is my beta, Neferet25! She's a wonderful person and an amazing artist. Thank you for liking the idea for this story!

I hope you all liked this chapter. Thank you so much for reading!