It was hot.
Well, that was an understatement, Regina thought, wiping at the thin line of sweat trickling down her fevered brow. Ever since Elsa and her vengeful, frosty blizzard were vanquished from Storybrooke, the weather seemed determined to countervail the tempestuous snowstorms with unadulterated, blazing heat.
The scorching sun shined high above the residents as they sought various methods of escaping the blistering temperatures. Ava and Nicholas grinned proudly from their lemonade stand as they handed glass after glass to the thirsty townspeople, most of who were passing by Michael's auto body shop on their way to the crowded beach.
"Mom! Mom! Come play with us!" Henry called from the water, waving excitedly to the regal woman who lounging under the cooling shade of a large, black umbrella. Regina raised one hand in acknowledgment and gave a slight nod, beaming at her happy, carefree son.
After Neverland and the subsequent defeats of Zelena and Elsa, Regina was worried she'd forever lost her baby to the seriousness of adulthood; he'd seen and done too much in his young life to really go back to the innocent child he was before the first curse broke.
But being part of the Charming family had its perks, Regina admitted begrudgingly to herself as she stood up, brushing sand from her bottom and off her palms before making her way to the water's edge. Snow and David's effervescent, incessantly cheerful personalities combined with Emma and Regina's clumsy attempts at co-parenting had coaxed optimism and childlike playfulness back into Henry's everyday demeanor. He smiled more, and slowly relaxed into boyhood once again.
Reaching the shore's edge, Regina tentatively dipped one toe into the icy waves before shivering and retracting her foot violently.
"Is the Evil Queen scared of a little cold water?" a teasing voice taunted from amidst the ocean's waves.
Regina smirked and lifted her head, unsurprised to see a playful grin adorning Emma Swan's face. Despite the wide, white sunglasses shielding Emma's green eyes from the sun, Regina swore she could see the telltale glint of mischief glittering from behind the darkened frames.
"The Evil Queen is scared of nothing, dear," Regina responded, lowering her foot back in the water. "I am simply allowing my body temperature to become acclimated to the frigidness of the water before diving right in, as you did. In fact, I seem to remember you shouting, 'Holy shit, that's cold.'"
Emma grinned and gracelessly paddled her way through the waves before reaching shallower waters, where she stumbled to her feet and walked over to Regina. A sudden gust of wind had Emma tossing her head from side-to-side in an effort to remove tangled blonde hair from her eyes. "Miss Swan," Regina scolded, lifting her hands to shield her face from the violent onslaught of water droplets, "please refrain from shaking your head around like a mangy canine. You're getting me soaked."
"Then I guess it's a good thing you're wearing a bathing suit, Your Majesty," Emma responded dryly, knotting her wet, unruly curls into a floppy bun. Her gaze dropped to examine the former queen's swimwear for the first time, the sight causing her breath to stick in her throat and her stomach to flip in somersaults.
Despite the icy water lapping gently at her ankles and numbing her toes, Regina could feel her insides heating up under Emma open, scorching appraisal. She resisted the urge to squirm as electric green eyes trailed up her toned, tan legs and traversed over the flat expanse of her stomach.
Emma unconsciously slipped her bottom lip between her teeth and bit down as she eyed Regina's sensuous, tempting body, parts of which were covered by the stretchy, black lycra of her one-piece bathing suit. The best parts, Emma thought a bit dejectedly, her brain nearly short-circuiting as she took in the view of Regina's ample chest ensconced in the tight , circular cutouts at the sides highlighted the sharp lines of Regina's hipbones, and Emma fought to regain her composure and focus her eyes somewhere more polite – like Regina's face.
"Yes, dear. I am wearing a bathing suit – which is more than I can say for you," Regina said, wrinkling her nose in faux disdain before pushing her black frames back up her nose with a sniff.
"What's wrong with my suit?" Emma asked defensively, looking down at her bright red two-piece. The bandeau top was tied in a tight knot at her back, and while she might not be as gifted as Regina in the cleavage department, she thought she looked pretty good.
"Is that what it is? It looked to me as though you forgot to put the rest of your clothes on before leaving the house this morning," Regina quipped, turning to watch her son awkwardly attempt to bodysurf alongside his surprisingly agile grandfather.
"Oh, really?" Emma hummed, causing Regina to jump in surprise. The impish sheriff had taken advantage of Regina's focus on Henry and used the distraction to sneak up behind her, allowing Emma to whisper directly in her ear.
Regina pursed her lips and narrowed her eyes in annoyance, feeling traitorous goosebumps beginning to form on her arms in response to Emma's close proximity. She rubbed at her flesh viciously to hasten the bumps' disappearance and turned away from Emma, under pretense of watching their son.
"Yes, Miss Swan, really. In fact, I hardly think – oof!" Regina's scolding cut off abruptly when two strong hands pressed hard into her back, shoving her forward. Knocked off balance, Regina was forced to drop her to her knees in the arctic water to avoid submerging herself completely. Cold, soft sand squished beneath her knees and fingers and gentle waves splashed over her chest, chilling her entire body and eliciting a startled gasp.
Scowling, Regina turned to face Emma and was irritated to find the woman doubled over in laughter. Emma had both hands wrapped around her taut stomach as she gasped through giggles, struggling to reclaim control of her breathing. A coy smile ghosted over Regina's lips before she quickly schooled her features into an appropriately scandalized expression, allowing the tide to roll over her body while she glared at her assailant.
"Come on, Regina, stop looking at me like that. It was funny!" Emma defended herself between laughs, hands still clutching at her abdomen.
"Hah, hah," Regina drawled, pushing herself up from the ocean floor and balancing on her knees. Henry's excited cheers upon seeing his usually uptight mother 'swimming' prevented Regina from reprimanding Emma any further – not that the other woman would even be able to hear over the sound of her own laughter. Instead, Regina gave her son a beaming smile and a thumbs-up when he successfully surfed all the way to shore, where Snow was waiting for him with a snack.
Emma's gleeful chuckles slowly subsided and Regina accepted the sheriff's proffered hand, scowling at her only slightly. Emma's damp palm slid against her own and Regina shivered at the contact, trying to ignore the burst of heat blooming in her chest and the ceaseless dance of butterflies inside her stomach.
With a wicked grin, Regina curled her toes in the wet sand for leverage and allowed Emma to pull her into a standing position. Before she was fully on her feet, Regina tugged firmly on Emma's arm, throwing the unsuspecting woman off-balance.
Emma gasped as she surged forward and fell into the water, head briefly disappearing into the cresting waves before she resurfaced, choking and sputtering. This time it was Regina who released a mischievous chuckle, internally patting herself on the back for catching the sheriff by surprise. Regina was so caught up in congratulating herself that she didn't notice Emma's horrified expression until the blonde turned to her in a panic.
"Regina!" she shrieked, eyes wide with dread as she squeezed Regina's hand in a death-grip. Emma's head bobbed comically as the waves rolled over her, the undulating swells occasionally revealing her freckled, bony shoulders. Regina briefly wondered what it would be like to taste Emma's skin, to savor the saltwater on her tongue as she guided her mouth over the nonsensical map outlined by scattered freckles.
"Oh, come on now, dear. What's that old expression – 'turnabout is fair play?'"
"My bathing suit top is missing!" Emma said through gritted teeth, digging her blunt nails deep into Regina's palm.
Regina's smug expression slipped from her face and a small wrinkle formed between her eyes as she furrowed her brows together. "What do you mean it's missing?" she hissed, wrenching her hand from Emma's grasp and turning to scour the waters for the offending red garment.
"I mean that when you knocked me over, my top somehow came untied and now I can't find it!" Emma felt her hysteria rising as the strong current pulled the waves further out to sea, forcing her to squat in the shallow water and cross her arms over her chest.
"Well it's got to be around here somewhere… let's not panic," Regina said calmly, willing herself not to stare at Emma's newly exposed chest. The surging ocean surrounded them, curling around their bodies like thick smoke, and they struggled to remain upright in spite of the onslaught to their equilibrium.
"What do you mean 'around here somewhere?' We're in the middle of the freakin' ocean!" Emma cried, stumbling backwards as a particularly forceful wave crashed against her. Her arms shot reflexively to her sides to catch herself, and it took Regina's stunned gasp for Emma to remember why her arms were crossed over her body in the first place.
Regina's heart stuttered inside her chest, her charcoal eyes fixating on Emma's naked torso. Her hands had reached out to seize Emma's waist when she careened backwards, and Regina couldn't resist stroking her thumbs over the unclothed woman's soft, slick skin. The hitch in Emma's breathing did little to deter Regina's caresses, and she allowed her eyes to roam over Emma's upper body like a predator about to devour her prey.
Unable to stop her wandering gaze, Regina drank in the sight of Emma's bare chest. She mentally catalogued each and every freckle painted onto the lightly tanned skin, and she reveled in the way Emma's nipples hardened into tiny, darkened nubs under Regina's fervid scrutiny. Arousal simmered hot and heavy in Regina's veins, coiling low in her abdomen and thrumming furiously at her core.
"Regina," Emma murmured in a strangled voice, leaning forward just enough for her warm breath to tickle Regina's parted lips.
Emma's throaty whisper was enough to shake the mayor from her reverie, and she quickly remembered where they were – at a very public, very crowded beach with their son and the Charmings not far off.
"Sorry," she breathed, averting her eyes back to Emma's face. Removing her hands from Emma's sides, Regina lightly and deliberately flicked her wrist. Purple sparks skimmed across the surface of the water and spiraled around Emma, who soon felt the tight material of her bathing suit once again stretching over her chest.
"Thanks," she choked out awkwardly, a crimson blush staining her cheeks. "Guess you were right about this suit," she blundered, pressing her inner thighs together in a desperate attempt to alleviate the throbbing ache that was induced by Regina's fiery gaze.
"Hmm?" Regina mumbled, still fighting against the intense buzz of desire ripping heatedly through her veins. "Oh, yes, well… perhaps next time you'll choose more sensible beachwear," she stammered, clenching her hands into tight fists to resist the overwhelming urge she had to reach out and touch Emma again.
"Mom! Ma! Come build a sandcastle with me and Grandpa!" Henry called out, beckoning to his mothers with a plastic, green shovel.
"Coming, Henry!" Regina called back at once, smiling at her son's enthusiasm. "Come along, Miss Swan," she ordered as though Emma wasn't standing three inches away from her. "Our son wants us to help build some kind of architectural structure out of this unreliable, grainy substance. Please try and keep your suit on as we head ashore, dear."
Emma scrunched her eyes in indignation and followed Regina to where Henry was waiting at the water's edge. "Th - that was your fault! You pushed me and made my top fall off," Emma spluttered, hands nervously flying to her back in order to ensure her top was still secure.
Regina scoffed and half-heartedly listened to the remainder of the blonde's incessant protests, her mind somewhere else entirely. As Emma yammered on about "almost being drowned by the Evil Queen," Regina replayed the enticing image of Emma's naked chest, gilded with water droplets that clung to her tan skin and glistened in the bright afternoon sunlight.
"Today was fun," Henry mumbled sleepily as he led his mothers up the walkway to 108 Mifflin Street. Unable to shed her cop-mode even when she wasn't on duty, Emma followed Regina and Henry until they were safely inside the mansion's foyer. Accepting a hug from her sleepy pre-teen son, she agreed.
"Yeah, kid, it was fun," she concurred, eyes meeting Regina's when Henry stepped aside to kick off his sandals. "Maybe we could do it again tomorrow," she suggested, hoping the tremor in her voice wasn't obvious to anyone else, namely, Regina.
"I would like that very much, dear," Regina replied in an even tone, dark eyes purposefully flicking down to Emma's chest and back up to her face. Stomach flipping pleasantly, Emma once again felt herself tightening in response to the intensity of Regina's ardent gaze. Cursing her body's visceral and fierce reaction, she crossed her arms tightly over her chest in an effort to hide the evidence of her sudden arousal.
"See you tomorrow, Ma," Henry yawned from behind Regina, waving to Emma before giving his adoptive mother a quick hug and retreating up the stairs to his bedroom.
Emma smiled and awkwardly saluted her farewell, bidding Regina a silent goodnight. She was halfway to her car when a voice called out and stopped her. "Miss Swan?" Regina said, cocking one eyebrow and tilting her head to the side.
Emma turned and faced the mayor, pleased to note Regina's obsidian eyes glittering with seduction.
"Do go ahead and wear that bathing suit again tomorrow. I think I'm starting to warm up to it after all."
Emma tossed her head back and laughed, raising one hand to acknowledge the woman's request. "See you tomorrow, Regina," she grinned.
"Until tomorrow, dear."