Once Quinn had his purchases wrapped and ready to go we left the store and headed further down the mall.
“Do you have more shopping to do?” I asked.
“I need to find some socks and pants, but then I wanted to find you a cocktail dress as well.”
“Nooo! I have my own clothes. And unless the hotel went up in flames you are not buying me a dress.”
He stopped in his tracks and looked at me intently. “You haven’t even seen it yet.”
“You already know what you want?”
The corners of his mouth tipped up in a crooked way. “Please allow me to show you my idea before you reject it.” He grabbed my hand within his and began to pull me along behind him.
“Quinn, I don’t like this idea. I have clothes.”
“You brought something fancy with you?”
“Yes, I brought my best dress to wear to church with Stacie and Neale.”
Again his feet abruptly stopped. “A church dress?” He smirked.
“Yes”, I announced as I stood taller and surer of myself. “Perhaps you should see it before you reject it.” I mocked.
Quinn pulled my hand entrenched within his behind his back drawing me near to his chest. He leaned over and whispered in my ear. “I saw the most stunning cocktail dress in a window the other day. The first moment I saw you in the pub the other night I knew it was made for you.”
My mind could not decide if I should blush or smile. It bothered me that he had noticed my body in such a way. Then again it would be invariably the same as how I ogled his back in the change rooms.
I reluctantly gave in and he ushered me through the busy mall.
When he arrived at the right place Quinn swung me to be face to face with a mannequin behind a wall of glass dressed in a sleek black dress. It had spaghetti straps that criss-crossed at the nape of the neck and went around the back of the mannequin’s thin neck. The bodice of the dress held snug to the plastic shapes of her body until it reached the top of her knee.
Quinn studied me as I took in the little bit of fabric before my eyes. “Won’t you please try it? For me, Cherie?”
I think I shook my head slowly at first. Eventually, my head was so emphatic against the idea that Quinn used his hands to halt my shaking.
“You are a beautiful woman and that dress will look amazing on you.”
“That is not a dress. That is a very expensive ... tea towel.”
I think he wanted to laugh at me, but he refrained offering me instead a handsome wink. “Maybe there is something else you would like in this store then?”
I turned to him. You are not buying me a dress.”
“And why not? You cannot give me one good reason I bet.” He shook his head and started to push me towards the store opening. “Besides, I owe you.”
“What could you possibly owe me?”
“Well, for starters, twenty-six thousand dollars.” He winked and nodded towards the dress hanging in the window. “Consider this my first payment?”
“Quinn, you don’t owe me. God gave you that money.”
That look of utter disbelief crossed his face again. “Right? I owe God twenty-six grand?”
“He doesn’t want your money. He wants your life.”
Quinn’s fist hit the glass display case sending a reverberating sound through the halls. He quickly regained control and whispered to me through gritted teeth. “He can only have my life on a trade!”
Without warning he walked away from me and sat himself down at a bench in the center of the hall.
There were many faces watching us, so I took my time joining Quinn on the bench. A sigh escaped my lips as I sat down. I had no idea where to begin with him.
When I didn’t respond to his outburst he continued on to further articulate his offer. “He can have my life when he lets go of Anna’s. He first has to release her from the pain and illness.”
My heart broke into two discernable pieces. One half for the loss he will inevitably receive soon from Anna’s passing and the other half for the rejection of his Saviour for all the wrong reasons.
“Quinn, God doesn’t work that way.” I said softly to be heard by only him.
Quinn let out a long deep breath and with his eyes closed he whispered back to me. “I know. He never did it before either. But maybe he could change just this once.”
My hand gently caressed his back while my prayers boldly approached God’s throne of grace. ‘Lord, only you know the answer to this one. In your mercy there is a plan for Quinn. I believe it is one where he won’t feel cheated. Help him to find it Lord.’
“I’ll bet you think I have never loved God.” He turned to face me. “I did. Once.”
“When?” I asked softly.
“I did as a child. My mum was a church goer. She taught me many things, like how to pray and how to trust God.”
His pause lingered, so I nudged him. “And then what happened?”
“He taught me a lesson I would never forget. Or forgive.”
NEXT PAGE is here.