Her parents brought her to the club to 'socialize', but they're the ones doing all the socializing. And now they've met some business friends of her dad's, and there's some secrecy clause about an upcoming deal, or something? So her mother's at the bar getting a drink with the guys' wives, but Emma's only twenty. So here she is, wandering around on the golf course, enjoying the sunset and trying to kill time until she can go back inside. And really, honestly missing school, where she doesn't have to go through this nonsense.
Finally she decides she's had enough of being outside- however much her mother protests that really, Connecticut is lovely in the fall, it's also chilly- and she starts to make her way back to the clubhouse. She's walking up the golf cart trail through the trees to get across the last hole when suddenly she realizes-
-the clubhouse isn't there any more. There's just more forest.
...what just happened?
"You're welcome. It'll take me a while to learn how, and you'll have to tell me where to aim it within the mortal world, but I should be able to do it. I don't really have any reason to lie to you. Why would I need to?"
"I don't even know," Emma sighs. "It's just, um, hard to hope, any more."
"How long did she have you?"
"...um. I don't really know that either," Emma admits wearily. "Months? Maybe a year? I couldn't really keep track, and, um, the light thing didn't really help."
"Yeah, this forest doesn't have a night cycle. Well. She's not literally the worst fairy who could have caught you..."
Emma had, upon occasion, come up with Nightmare Scenarios, to try to remind herself that it could be worse. (It wasn't particularly effective.) All the same, she shivers violently at the picture that invokes. "Yeah..." she mumbles. "It- could have been worse."
"At a guess River would be run-of-the mill. But I expect her agreement to hand you over to last at least long enough for me to learn to make a gate. Will you be okay if I leave you here for a few hours to fly out for books?"
"I, um. Is there something I should do?" she offers, bemused.
"Do you want something to do so you aren't bored? You can read my books if you want. Or take a nap. I don't really have any chores lined up for you."
She hopes. It's promising so far, at least.
"Okay, well, you can read my books if you want. I don't recommend you leave the house. You probably won't be bothered." Promise picks up a bag that looks like it's made of a giant flower petal.
She stays put, for the most part. It's practically a habit now. She dusts everything, feeling that she should do something useful, and finding dusting the most likely "helpful and unlikely to disturb anything" of available activities. She skims the titles on the bookshelf when she gets to it; most of the titles look hopelessly obscure but she does briefly page through one that looks like fairy tales (hah).
Mostly, she just sits and hopes.
"Did you get hungry while I was out?" she inquires, unloading these onto her little table.
Thinking, thinking. Normal, non-fairy-servant levels of hunger. "Um, only a little," she decides.
"Okay, I'll get you a snack and start studying." Promise gets her some nuts and feeds them to her. They are soft and salty.
Emma eats quietly and tries to stay out of the way. She was more curious, before. Now, it's more a sense of I should help, she rescued me that prompted her to say, "Um, can I... help, at all? With the gate thing?"
"Humans can learn sorcery, but you aren't going to get up to speed enough to help with the gate before I finish learning how by myself."
"Um. I could organize things? Your books? Or clean, or-" she won't suggest going outside to hunt for food, she doesn't want to ever leave until it's to go home, "cook, or something?"
"If you want to, you can cook and clean. The books are organized, please don't rearrange them."
"I can cook, or clean, if it-" would get me home faster, "-would help. I'm... only okay at it," she admits, "but I don't mind."
"Like I said, you can. You don't have to. Oh, and I don't really have a bed for you, but you can put some spare pillows and a blanket on the floor."
Not being forced to sit in a corner all night while you sleep will be an enormous improvement just by itself.
And Promise starts investigating the books she got.
For all that, she's been running on adrenaline most of the day- and if she'd had the energy to think about it, fear-based adrenaline for most of her time with River as well- and she finds herself passing out in the corner without even really meaning to.
When Emma wakes up she finds a blanket over her and a pillow tucked under her head, and Promise asleep up in the little bed-nook above the bookshelves.