Stacie stood to her feet announcing, “That’s enough Cathie. It is time to go.”
Then I saw him coming right towards us, just as I knew he would. He parted the crowds of people like a synchronized act. His handsome good looks took my breath for a moment. His eyes were right on mine like we were alone in the room. As he neared the table I couldn’t wait any longer and I jumped to my feet. “He’s here!” I proclaimed as I leapt from my spot into his personal space.
My movement was so quick I almost missed noticing how his eyes were not on me anymore. Instead his eyes were expectantly scanning the room on past me. Although, when I suddenly approached him, his eyes lit up with the flecks of gold that I love so much. His hands were full of drinks so I smiled sweetly then swung my arms around his neck.
“You made it! I missed you.”
“Hmm. Well,” he stammered out. “That is a wonderfully special greeting. I guess I missed you too, Cherie.” His thick and drippy English accent rolled off his tongue right into the only soft corner of my heart. Most of the time I am reserved and cautious but when he speaks to me I melt. That one special place that is only reserved for him overpowers the rest and in his presence I am a new person.
I released him and offered to take one of the drinks from his hand. Turning to place it on the table I was accosted by Stacie’s fired up green eyes. They almost glowed with anger; or concern? As we stood still with our eyes locked for a split second I could read from Stacie’s expression that she was not approving.
Through gritted teeth she spoke her anguish. “What in the world are you doing?”
There seemed no need to address her infantile reactions so I sat down. I turned towards him and inquired which drink was mine. He stood speechless for a moment then with a look of uncertainty teased with a hint of intrigue he shrugged his shoulders. “Well, Cherie, you may take whichever one you want. I will trade it for the chance to join your table. Then he motioned to Stacie, “Allo. Choisi.”
Stacie gave him a nasty glare and then grabbing my wrist she announced loud enough for the neighbouring tables to turn, “Sorry. We’re leaving.” Her sarcasm was completely interpreted as rude. Yet it didn’t seem to bother him in the least. He just smiled his ‘knock-em-dead’ smile and shrugged.
I stood by the force of Stacie’s pull on my wrist. Then, however I managed to stop her in her tracks. “I am not leaving. But you may. You are being rude anyway.” Then I gave her the ‘thanks-a-lot’ glare.
She leaned towards me. “What are you doing? You don’t even know this man and you are all over him like a ... a ...”. As she scrambled for an appropriate word I flopped back into my chair mortified that she would act like this. “Cathie!” She said, gaining my attention.
My mind was grasping for an explanation. Usually Stacie was the encouraging and supportive one. She had even slipped into a routine of annoyingly so since Mitch’s passing. Her words and actions seemed an impossible fit for my present circumstances.
“Cathie, this is dangerous behaviour. You don’t know this man or anything he might do!” She glanced quickly down at him and offered a weak apology. “Sorry, no offence.”
He chuckled and responded bravely. “None taken.” His mouth twisted into a sly smile as he watched our little dispute.
A fog had settled in my head and with all the commotion of people everywhere and the pounding music I felt the room begin to swivel. Attempting to shake it off I asked Stacie to sit down so we could talk for a few minutes.
Once she was eye level with me I took her hand and held it from across the table. “Stacie, I don’t understand why you are acting like this but please just listen to me.” I motioned towards the breathtaking statuesque man beside me. “This is Quinn. You know him and so do I.”
Stacie’s mouth dropped open and her eyes scanned between the two of us. As I was about to finish my statement I glanced at Quinn and saw the exact same look on his face. I did a double take ending with my eyes pouring over his facial confusion.
“How did you know my name, Cherie?” Thankfully, his quirky smile and cocked head gave away his teasing. At least, I hope he is teasing me.
A gentle slap to his arm on the table beside me made Stacie jump. “You’re not helping the situation any, Dear.” I said with a hesitant smile. The emphasis on dear came out a little more sarcastic that I had planned.
For a brief moment my mind considered the ramifications of what was happening. Suddenly I was feeling faint. My sister, the dearest person in the world to me was looking at me like I‘d fallen off a cliff. No, change that to jumped. Then the look on Quinn’s face had me questioning everything. Despite how I assumed he was joking with me his face did not completely testify to that.
“Alright you two,” I spoke with a cautious jesting, “what are you up to?” I leaned all the way back into my chair and crossed my arms over my chest.
Stacie looked at Quinn and he looked back at her. After a moment of awkward silence she leaned over and asked me if I was feeling alright. Her eyes were drowning in worry. It was her look I knew way too well. Even though I hadn’t seen her a lot since she moved overseas, I had become far too familiar with it as I grieved the loss of my husband. How could she be giving me this look now? Not now when I had Quinn in my life?
Just then Quinn rose to his feet and tried to politely excuse himself. “Wait!” I grabbed his wrist and pulled him back down to my level. “Don’t go.” His topaz eyes studied mine very closely for a moment. His smile never left his face but it morphed a few times as he pondered his options. Then in his perfect tone and drawl he asked, “Why should I stay, Cherie?
How odd to ask me that? We’re in love, why wouldn’t he stay? “Well for the first reason I want to spend time with you.” His smile deepened at my words.
“Then the second reason is I have been looking so forward to hearing how Anna is doing with her treatments. And for the third reason I ...”. I stopped there because both Stacie and Quinn leaned in closer to the table with looks of utter panic and confusion. They watched me like I was an alien.
“What?” I asked now very self-conscious.
Stacie’s response was right on top of Quinn’s question, “How do you know my sister?”
My first response was a smile thinking I was on Candid Camera; only Stacie had never been a good actor before and she was completely believable tonight.
“What is going on?” I insisted.
Stacie barked back at me, “That is exactly what I want to know!” Then we both managed to look over to Quinn, who had to wipe off his sexy smile for the first time this evening.
“Well, don’t look over to me for answers. I just got molested by a beautiful woman so I decided to sit down. Now I am really confused.”
Before he could sneak away I pulled him closer to me. “So, you aren’t joking ... you don’t know me?” The question feared me only for the answer I might receive.
His face softened and I could see inside his eyes to a depth of character that I had not recognized before. “Non, Cherie. I am sorry, but I have never met you before.” Then he paused and it felt like he looked deeper into my soul. He moved in another inch towards me and whispered, “At least I don’t think I have. There is something very familiar in your eyes though.”
“Alright that’s enough.” Stacie parted our precious moment of connection with her hands. “I think it’s safe to say that Prince Charming can move along then.”
As Quinn slowly stood up I remembered what I needed to tell him. “Oh before you go Quinn, I wanted to tell you that Dean will be at Anthony and Jane’s dinner party tomorrow. So you may wa...”.
Quinn’s hand shot over to my chin and he lowered himself onto his haunches. “What did you say about Dean?”
I stumbled for the right thoughts because it had come out so naturally I hardly knew what I had said. “Well, I said that Dean will be at --“.
Quinn interrupted my sentence as his eyes shifted from fun and intriguing to frightening. “How do you know Dean? Do you work for him?” He stood, grabbing my wrist so hard it pulled me up to standing. “You can tell Dean that I won’t be played with any longer. I will have his money by the end of next week.” Then with one last flash of fury in his eyes poured out on me, he turned and walked away.
Stacie finally let her lungs take in a breath. “What just happened?” Her voice shook with intensity.
“I don’t understand.” My head shook from side to side in slow motion. “He doesn’t remember me.”
“Cathie! You do not know that man and you have never been here before.” Stacie reached for her purse. “I need to take you to the hospital I think. Let’s go.”
Like a mannequin, she pulled me through the throngs of happy people out to the sidewalk. I was so overwhelmed by my own feelings that she could have led me off the end of a pier and I wouldn’t have noticed. Lord, I am so confused. How is it that Quinn doesn’t know me?
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