Surprisingly early Sunday morning, I found myself pacing around the pond, wondering what I was supposed to do with Alma. I accepted a date for later today shortly after waking up, but I started wondering whether or not I was really ready for another one. I was talking aloud in frustration, which got Mila responding quickly about how my date with her would be far better. Coming out here for a bit seemed like the best way to have time alone. The pond was a comforting place where I could easily forget about time as I sat in the shade and watched the water. Regina’s statue was here, an amazing replica which seemed almost lifelike in expression and in folds of the fabric protecting her figure. What would Regina have thought of Alma? Even she didn’t go so far in her pursuit of me. Even she wasn’t so distractingly gorgeous. The thought pained me, as if I was betraying Regina in some way with it, but I couldn’t deny the truth of it. Regina was a very beautiful, talented girl who had incredible potential. Alma was… extremely accomplished and devastatingly intelligent. Part of me wanted to know her better. Perhaps I would forget her faster if I knew her weaknesses. There was no way I could simply walk up to her and say, “Hey! So what are you bad at doing?”
With the image of her dancing, her hair wrapping around her, in my head, I was having great difficulty believing she truly was bad at anything. I never knew anyone to dance in such a way before. Did she use magic on me? Was that why I couldn’t get her out of my head? How she moved was hypnotic and enticing, but I… How long did I dance with her? I would probably remember the way her lips parted into such a perfect smile until the day I died. Unfortunately, I wasn’t entirely certain she wouldn’t be the one putting me in my grave. She followed me on at least two dates already. Was she jealous? I felt like checking on them and making sure they were alright, but I didn’t want to risk them getting the wrong idea either. Neither date went very well. Alma wouldn’t really kill a girl for going on a bad date with me, right? I wasn’t certain at all. The girl’s influence seemed to have global reach, so was there really a limit to how far she was willing to take things? What all was she capable of covering up? Giving in to her wasn’t going to save me if she was that psychotic.
“Hey, man-slave!” called Emma as she walked up to me. I averted my eyes, not wanting to admire how amazing she looked in her red bikini for too long. Unwanted thoughts formed when I wasn’t careful, and I needed a clear head to sort through my troubles. “Hi, Emma. Felt like a swim?” I asked. “Nah. Was going to strip down and sun tan for a bit. Care to join me?” she inquired. “Wha-wha-what!?” I asked, staring at her in shock. She fell to the ground laughing and holding her stomach. She really got me with that one. I moved over her, started tickling her, and said, “That’s not funny!” Still laughing, she replied “It’s a little funny.” She gazed into my eyes, and I suddenly realized how close I was to her. She kissed me before I managed to convince myself to move away. The feeling was wonderful, but somehow wrong. Then there was a smell nearby of something burning, which made me pull back and look around, but I didn’t see the source of the smell. “Do you smell that?” I asked Emma. “Don’t worry about it. Alma was being a snoop and lost her cool a little. I already fixed the poor bush.” she replied, still smiling. I never before realized that Emma was as insane as she was beautiful.
“She set something on fire, and you call that losing her cool a little?” I inquired. Emma shrugged and said, “We’re still alive, and the city didn’t disappear. I’d say part of a bush is definitely a little. The world is lucky she has as much control as she does.” I looked at her incredulously for a moment before thinking about what I saw when fighting Alma. “Do you think she could really wipe out a city?” I asked. Emma’s casual nod made the idea all the more disturbing. “She won’t, James. Relax. Alma would never purposely hurt you. She won’t hurt me for kissing you. She doesn’t kill anyone without cause, and she promised me that dating you wasn’t actual cause.” explained Emma. “You wanted to date me?” I asked. With a smile, Emma said, “You can be really thick, man-slave. Ai and Mai are interested as well, although I think they’ve pretty much given up.” I felt so confused. “Why are you telling me this now? Did Alma put you up to this as some strange gambit?” I asked. Emma moved over to where I was kneeling and sat next to me.
“No, James. I’m officially unemployed. I’m telling you because I would rather date you than work for you, but I think the latter is more likely.” stated Emma. I felt at a loss. Could I believe her? She seemed perfectly earnest as I gazed into her blue eyes. “Did you know as well that I’ve been going on dates?” I asked. “You have? With whom?” she inquired. “Oh. Girls I met online. Alma followed me on at least two of them. I ended up dancing with her last night. I’m really sorry, but my feelings are a bit of a mess after finding out… well… everything. I didn’t expect you to be working for the girl I was training to kill. I don’t know if Ai and Mai are even my friends at the moment. Things have been so awkward here. Then there’s Alma… I really shouldn’t have danced with her last night, but when she started…” I said, stopping when Emma put her finger to my lips. With a grin, she confessed “Yeah. I was crushing on Alma when I first met her, but she’s way too far out of my league. Besides, she already was interested in you.” There were times, such as when she kissed me, that I completely forgot that Emma was bi. “I’m glad I’m not the only one whose head Alma sends for a spin.” I told her.
Emma and I sat there talking for quite a while, and I ended up telling her about my dates so far, which earned quite a few laughs. “Well, your date with me earned me a broken leg, which was definitely not part of Alma’s grand scheme, so you’re probably just cursed, man-slave.” she suggested with a smile. I wasn’t certain how to take such an idea. “Are curses real?” I asked, not entirely certain I wanted to know. She laughed and shrugged before saying, “They might well be, but I doubt it, unless you mean some demented spell placed on someone. Alma would have noticed such a thing on you. You’re just having an unlucky streak is all.” I frowned and told her “Luck can be manipulated by magic as well. Maybe Regina dying for me placed some sort of curse on me.” We both looked up at Regina’s statue, then to one another, and said, “Nah,” at the same time. I couldn’t really imagine Regina of all people cursing me. Emma obviously didn’t either, but she squeezed my hand and told me “I’m glad you’re feeling better at least. I still miss her too though, so don’t ever hesitate to talk with me. I was serious about the job thing, by the way. Mind hiring another female Best Friend? You’ll find that I have outstanding references.” I accepted wholeheartedly and sent a note to my secretary.
I wasn’t entirely certain how I felt about Emma explaining her feelings for me. I truly loved her company and was glad that our friendship was still intact, but I couldn’t really picture us dating anymore. After our first date, I gladly would have dated her and felt blessed for it. Something was different now though. Our friendship was greater than ever, but the romantic feelings simply weren’t there anymore for me. I still found her exceptionally attractive, and she definitely knew how to make me blush. We could talk together, laugh together, and play together with ease. The past couple hours proved that to me. Maybe a month of nightmares together was too much for me. I certainly couldn’t ever view death the same again. Instead of an idea of passing onto some other existence, there was now the certainty of a dangerous, inescapable entity who could claim numerous lives simply by lifting her scythe. Whatever was to come, I hoped with all my heart that I never faced Death’s daughter again. I was all too certain that such a meeting would be my last, even if my sanity was all that perished from it. Unfortunately, Death’s daughter was everyone’s last date.