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?
Promise waits patiently.
Patience is not required; Emma's got at most two doors, here. The space heater she leaves until later, since she wants to get Promise inside faster than she thinks she can track it down. (There's a lot of possible closets.)
She does not actually fling herself on Promise for a hug, since Promise is glaringly much smaller than she is and they haven't seen each other in years and this is wildly inappropriate. But she wants to. (Promise!) The pool house is pretty easy to find- there's only so many detached structures, and only one next to a body of (blindingly, artificially teal) water. Emma opens the door for her. "Home sweet poolhouse?"
"Looks good. What happened to that water?"
Emma blinked at her. "The... pool? The water- uh, I guess it's got chlorine to keep it clean. You can tell that from here?"
"I can tell what color it is from here. And it smelled funny, overflying it."
"Oh! The color's not the water. They painted the bottom of the pool, you can just see it through the water. The smell is definitely the chlorine, though."
"I don't think it was on purpose? They wanted it darker. But then they put the color in and then it was... that. And they didn't bother to try again. So now we have-" she flails her hands for a second, then just repeats, "that."
She can't quite stop smiling. It's probably not the conversation about paint swatches.
"It's very striking. I'm not familiar with... pool painting conventions."
Emma snorts. "Yeah, uh, me neither. I'm sure my mother has a book somewhere if you're curious?"
"An entire book on pool painting conventions? I'd be curious to see it and give it a skim, I guess, but I don't know that I'd sit through the entire contents so no need to go out of your way to locate it."
"My mom has lots of, um," ways to kill time because she doesn't have a job, "weird hobbies. Unnecessary home renovations happen a lot. They take a while and require lots of attention and stuff. I've totally given up keeping track of where the trash is in the kitchen." She gestures around the pool house. "Doesn't touch this one much, though, there's not a lot of it." It's just one small room, a twin bed against the wall with a night stand and a lamp; a door to their left leads to what's visibly the remainder of the space of the house, and small even for a bathroom. "I'd apologize for the lack of closet but, uh, you don't exactly have a ton of stuff, so."
"I don't and I brought even less of it. It's perfect, thank you."
"You're welcome." Like she would turn down a request from Promise, who rescued her from probably literal eternal bondage.
"So, uh." Words. How do words work. "How've you been?"
"Mostly pretty unremarkable but I think I attracted some attention from a guy I don't want paying attention to me so I thought I'd skip out and hope he loses interest when I disappear for a month."
"Attention?" Emma asks carefully. Her stomach is threatening to churn.
"There's this court master with a nasty reputation who collects sorcerers. I'm not really the best around but still."
Yep, her stomach is threatening nausea. She does her best not to imagine expansions of 'nasty reputation' for 'collecting'. "That's. Horrifying," she settles on. "I'm glad you could come here."
"Me too. I hope I'm not putting you out too far, I don't know what your life is usually like."
Emma shrugs. "Uh, nothing very interesting. I work part time at the restaurant at the club, I help my dad sometimes with translations... I guess you don't have that problem."
"Translations? No, not really. Seems very roundabout to me."
"Talking in a code and then meeting someone who doesn't know your code and having to change all the words into the second one!"
"That's just how we work! We can't all have fancy magic translation," Emma laughs. "Good thing too, I need the job."
"I'm not doing magic translation, I'm just not speaking in code to begin with," Promise asserts.