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To Tell A Tale As Old As Time

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The weekend.

It had now gone from welcome respite to the longest part of Lacey’s week. It meant that she had to survive from whatever she and Robert had managed to sneak in on Friday- in this case a quick fumble in his dressing room during lunch- until Monday when she could see him again. After so many years of surviving alone, the weekends somehow seemed cruel now.

The highlight was Colette and she had taken Robert’s advice, signing her up for ballet class. She accompanied her on Saturday morning and though the teacher did try to assure her that the other mothers left, Lacey couldn’t. She tried to hide and not let Colette see as she watched her learn the most basic movements.

“Did you like ballet?,” Lacey asked as they walked back towards the bungalow.

“Yes, Mama.”

“Because you don’t have to do it if it’s not fun,” said Lacey.

“No, Mama, I had fun.”

“Good.” Lacey smiled. “Good.”

“Hey!”

Lacey turned to see Ruby getting out of her car.

“I called but you didn’t answer,” said Ruby.

“I was out,” said Lacey.

“Yeah, kind of caught me by surprise with that,” said Ruby. “Which is why I was calling.”

“Oh?”

“I thought you could use some of your movie stardom and get us into the Casa Del Rio.”

“A nightclub? Oh, Ruby, I don’t think so.”

“Why not? It’s going to be Gerhard and his brother.”

“Victor?”

“He’s a Special Effects guy at Storybrooke. His brother does stunts. Come on. It’s just drinks.”

Lacey sighed. “Who would watch Colette?”

“I already got Mrs. Schuman to agree. Come on.”



This weekend seemed to drag on forever.

Bae had just gone to bed. Milah was holed up in her room with a bottle of wine. She had been wretched all week.

Gold quietly went back to his room and locked the door before he dialed Lacey.

“Hello?”

He smiled. “Colette, is that you?”

“Who is this?,” she snapped back.

“Robert. Do you remember me? Your mum’s friend?”

“Yes.”

Gold waited. The girl seemed to be taking no steps to moving closer to handing the phone over.

“I don’t suppose I could speak to your mother?”

“She’s not home.”

“She’s not?”

“She went out and I have to listen to stupid Mrs. Schuman. She told me to go to bed.”

Gold looked at the clock. “It is a bit late, sweetheart.”

“Mama always puts me in bed.”

“Where is Mrs. Schuman?”

“She fell asleep.”

Gold nodded. “Well, sweetheart, why don’t you go on up to bed then and I’m certain your mum will see you when she comes in.”

Colette finally agreed. Gold wondered where Lacey went out to, it certainly wasn’t like her and she hadn’t mentioned any plans the day before.


 

 

 

Lacey was already regretting this.

Yes, she had underestimated her fame. The nightclub owner was only too happy to have Miss Lacey French and her friends take one of the center tables. She noted that Killian and Dawn were at another one not far off. The music was good, a performance by Dorothy Dandridge, but the company was not.

Ruby was interested in the brother, Gerhard, leaving Lacey to try to find the right level of interest with Victor so she wouldn’t be seen as rude, but to let him know nothing else would be happening. Ruby and Gerhard went to dance, Lacey refused, claiming her heels hurt.

He didn’t get the hint.

“You must get lonely,” mused Victor.

“I really don’t.”

“I know I would. Anyone would really.”

“I don’t.”

“You must want... companionship?”

Lacey suddenly felt a cold hand on her thigh. Her eyes widened. She then realized a photographer was close by.

Her instinct was to run, but she couldn’t do that. Not where people could see, not while people were watching her. Ruby was no help. “Take your hand off.”

“You need to relax.”

“Now.”

The photographer got his snapshot with Lacey forced to smiled all the while. As soon as he was gone, she stamped on his foot with her heel.

“Bitch, what’s your problem?!”

Lacey stood and Victor grabbed her by the wrist.

“Lacey, love, how are you?”

Lacey was surprised to find Killian standing next to her. He managed to yank Lacey’s wrist away from Victor and she held it back against herself.

She saw the photographer coming round again.

“I just thought I’d say hi,” said Killian. “Do you know Dawn Stephens?”

He motioned at the petite young woman next to him.

“I don’t think we’ve met formally,” said Dawn.

“No, I don’t think we have,” she said, pretending to be chatting.

“Over here!,” called the photographer.

They smiled for a picture as Victor tried to get his face in it. The photographer left.

“Come have a drink with us,” Dawn said brightly.

“I’m tired, I think I ought to go home,” said Lacey.

“Well, let’s get you a taxi,” said Killian. “Good night, Victor.”

They were in the long hallway leading out to the front when Dawn broke her smile.

“Are you okay?”

Lacey shrugged. “He got a bit grabby with my thigh.”

Dawn shook her head in disgust. “He’s such a creep. He did effects on my last two pictures. I knew you were in trouble when I saw you with him.”

“She insisted I save you,” said Killian.

“Please,” said Dawn. “It’s much easier to get rid of unwanted attention if you send in another man because you all don’t listen to us.”

“I listen,” said Killian.

“Well, thank you,” said Lacey, “whatever the reason.”

Killian went off to get a taxi. Lacey turned back to Dawn.

“Have you been seeing each other long?,” she asked as she realized just how strange this was. She was talking to her lover’s wife’s lover’s possible new girlfriend.”

“Well, it’s nothing serious yet,” said Dawn. She leaned in, eyeing Killian. “I think he has an ex he can’t seem to shake off.”

Lacey nodded. “That’s always difficult.”

Killian returned. “Your carriage awaits.”

“Thank you,” said Lacey. “Good night.”


 

Goldie walked over to Bae and took the paper.

“What are you doing? You know you shouldn’t be reading that rag.”

The boy pouted. “It’s the paper.”

“It’s a tabloid.”

Robert entered. “What’s going on?”

“Mister Nealfire thinks he’s an adult,” said Goldie, handing the paper over to Gold.

“I told you. It’s Neal.”

“Well, your father says it’s Baelfire, I’m just trying to meet you both in the middle.”

Gold smirked until he caught a look at the front page of the tabloid. It was a photograph of Lacey French, some man and Killian Jones at a nightclub.

It was so not good on a number of levels.

“Goldie, please dispose of this,” he said.

“I read that,” said Milah, suddenly appearing. She looked more haggard than usual and Gold could guess the reason why. She snatched the paper from him.

Her face fell. Gold went to the table as the maid hurriedly turned to her work. He could see Milah fuming out of the corner of his eye, but she chose somewhere other than her lover to place her bitterness.

“Well,” said Milah, “it looks as if that costar of yours is quite the tart.”

Gold tried to stop his blood boiling as he began preparing his tea.

“Miss French is most certainly not any such thing, dearie,” said Gold.

Milah scoffed as she sat. “And how would you know? She probably slept her way up. How else could she have gotten her studio contract?”

“Really, dearie, it’s entirely too early for this and you seem to forget Bae is in the room.”

“I bet when you’re not looking she’s off for a quick fumble with that George Knight in his dressing room.”

“I highly doubt it.”

“How would you know, Robert? How would you know anything?”

“Well, I know Killian Jones is awfully fond of his new costar.”

He regretted it as soon as he said it. If Milah had been one of Bae’s cartoons, smoke would have come from her ears.

“He is what?”

“Nothing.” He looked at his son. “Bae, eat your breakfast.”

“Oh, I see, you have a little crush on her, don’t you? It’s obvious. You put her on a pedestal, Robert, but honestly, she will never be serious about you. How could any reasonably attractive woman want to be tied to an aging cripple?”


 

It had been a week since the debacle with Laurel’s script and  the situation had yet to change. Laurel and Don exchanged the bare minimum of words. Mark waited out the morning discussing when the new ballroom would be done as Lacey had to see Regina. Mark finally sighed.

Don looked up from his coffee and the morning trades. “What?”

“How long are you going to keep this up?”

“Keep what up?”

“Your senseless bickering with Laurel.”

“Oh, so you’re taking her side?”

Mark rolled his eyes. “I am not taking anyone’s side. I just want you to reconcile already.”

“She shouldn’t have written for Eddie and not let Steve take the credit.”

“It is how you met her.”

“So we’re going backwards? Maybe she can move back in with him.”

“And there we have it...”

“There we have what?,” Don snapped.

Mark sighed. “If I have to play matchmaker for you, you really are scraping the bottom of the barrel, old boy. How long have you known her? Twelve years?”

Don was silent and looked back at Variety.

“And in that time you have done absolutely everything short of actually telling her how you feel.”

“Do you remember the part where she was married?”

“Yes, she was so married that when you found out she was in hospital you flew across an ocean even though her husband was there then helped her get a divorce. Even though you were engaged. Have I missed anything?”

Don kept his eyes on his paper.

“I don’t pretend to know how a marriage is supposed to work. I’ve never had the chance. I do know it’s much easier for you to be the person you love than it is for people like me.” He stood and picked up his folio. “So you’ll pardon me if I think you’re being a fool.”

The door opened and Laurel entered.

She looked straight at Mark.

“Are you going to set?”

“Yes, I am, as a matter of fact.”

“I had thoughts.”

“I’ll be glad to hear them.” He looked expectantly at Don who made no move to look up.

Mark went to leave and he spoke.

“Laurel, the shoot with the villagers storming the castle is next Monday night.” He didn’t take his eyes off the paper. “Are you up for it?”

“Of course I am.”

“Good.”

Mark rolled his eyes and the two left.  


 


Lacey didn’t like being questioned by Regina.

“I didn’t do anything wrong,” said Lacey. “A friend asked me to go out and I never should have agreed to it.”

“Well, you have that part correct,” Regina mused. “This friend of yours. Ruby Lucas. She’s the one who brought Colette to the studio?”

“Yes. She babysits for me sometimes.”

“And you wouldn’t be more than friends?”

Lacey frowned. “She’s a good friend?”

Regina shook her head. “Think no more of it.” She motioned at the photo. “Besides, it’s plain to see you weren’t enjoying yourself.”

Lacey snorted. “I wasn’t.”

“We can get away with this. You’ll just have to make it a point to mention in interviews what a homebody you are, how a friend took you out and all you could think of was getting back home to little Colette.”

“That was all I could think of.”

“Then it ought to be easier to tell that story. If you do ever decide to date seriously, please let me come up with a list of recommendations.”

“No, thank you,” said Lacey.

“You really have no desire to remarry?,” asked Regina. “After all, you’re not that old. You could still have more children, a father for Colette... Companionship?”

“It’s not that I don’t desire all that,” said Lacey, carefully censoring herself, “it’s that I don’t know if I’ll ever find that and be able to get it. You should know how hard it is.”

“Excuse me?”

Lacey motioned at the photos on the desk. “You haven’t remarried after Henry’s father.”

“Daniel? We were engaged, but he died in a riding accident before the war. Henry’s mother boarded with me during the war and became ill.”

Lacey looked at her sympathetically.

“Ovarian cancer. Henry became my ward.”

“That’s very generous of you, to open your heart like that.”

Regina shook her head. “It was nothing of the sort.” She pulled her handkerchief from her jacket pocket. “I’ll have Tink contact you with the dates for those interviews.”

“Right. Thank you. It won’t happen again.”


 

 


Lacey spent the rest of the day shooting with the actor who played Maurice. She didn’t have a scene with Robert, but Mark mentioned he was on the lot so she went back to his dressing room as soon as they were done.

“Robert? What are you doing in here? Where have you been all day?”

Lacey’s eyes went to the coffee table and the gossip rag on it, along with the half empty bottle of scotch. She looked up at him.

“You don’t believe that, do you?”

Gold shrugged. “I don’t suppose it’s my place to expect anything, dearie.”

Lacey crossed her arms. “You’re right. It’s not your place to expect anything.”

“Then we’re in agreement.”

“Ruby made me go. I didn’t enjoy myself at all.”

“None of my business really. I can see you were out with your friends and ran into Killian Jones. I’m sure you all had a great time together, laughing.”

“You utter ass,” said Lacey. “I am well aware that Killian is no angel, but he and Dawn did save me from a bad situation. Is that what this all is to you? Some fling? That I could just trade it for some bloke off the street who I had never laid eyes on before?”

Gold didn’t answer and kept drinking.

“And do you suppose seeing me at a nightclub with another man is any harder than what I have to do?”

“And what is it you have to do?,” he snarled.

She looked at him in disbelief.

“I have to watch you go home every night to a wife who doesn’t just despise you, no, she tries to crush you, pour poison in your ear, she kills little pieces of you every night and then I have to worry about how I’m going to put them back together and if I can’t how much of you will there be left? And I just keep wanting to bang my head against a wall when I try to figure out why you’re still there!”

She stared at him.

“Why are you still there? Just take me out of the whole equation, pretend I never existed. Why are you still there?”

Gold didn’t answer.

“Fine,” said Lacey. “If you can’t save yourself, why should I try?”

He snorted mirthlessly. “I need saving now?”

“Yes!,” Lacey snapped back. “You need saving more than anyone I have ever met in my whole life!”

Lacey slammed the door as she left leaving Gold with his Scotch.