Our first stop inside the shopping centre was the food court. It had been several hours since we sat at the little cafe across from my hotel for lunch.
It boggled my mind to think of everything that had transpired since then. Quinn had taken me to meet his sister, who was wonderful. However she revealed a most disturbing revelation that rattled my world. Only to be outdone by Quinn’s home burning to the ground leaving him homeless and lost in every sense of the word. Now, of all things, we are shopping.
Our time together felt effortless. Quinn’s demeanour was once again lively and fun-natured. Somehow amidst all this turmoil he managed to shed his anger and face life with a smile again. It was of course his devilishly handsome smile. Every time he laughed or teased me my heart sang.
Our snack was precisely that – a small taste of French culture, he said. He did not want to spoil my appetite, all the while raving about Jane’s feast that awaited us.
Quinn was as giddy as a school boy as he introduced me to two of his favourite treats. ‘Croque-monsieur’ was a couple pieces of grilled French bread with ham and cheese melted inside and ‘pain au chocolat’ was a croissant with a wedge of chocolate inside. We bought one of each and shared them. Naturally, he added, his recipe was better than the food court version.
Once our tummies were satisfied, Quinn excitedly dragged me into a men’s clothing store on the second floor to find him an outfit for the party. He greeted the woman at the counter and immediately turned to me. “Which one should I get?”
It was hard to hide my shock. “You want me to pick?” I stumbled for words as my eyes took in all the fashion surrounding us. “I don’t know what you like.”
“Cherie, I am a man. I’ll like whatever you like.” Then he turned to the lady approaching us and spoke in French. She turned away and went straight to work. Her arms were soon weighted down with many articles of clothing as she ‘shopped’ for Quinn.
In a haughty French accent she passed by us announcing, “come”.
Following her to the changing room area, Quinn excitement grew. He followed her right into the cubicle. They exchanged a few words and she left hardly acknowledging my existence. I plopped myself onto a large orange triangle. It was like an ottoman resting against a wall, but it was big enough for two.
The first time he popped out from behind his change room door he was decked out in a stylish black buttoned shirt with grey pants and a grey vested cardigan over top. With a flick of his hair away from his face he looked like a fashion model. It made my breath catch in my throat. He looked gorgeous.
“Do you like this look?” He asked as he turned a few different directions in front of me.
Gasp! I didn’t need to see any more angles of him. He looked stunning. “Oh, it’s nice. Do you like it?”
Swallowing the large lump wedged in my throat actually hurt. How dare I feel this way? I am a widow.
“Nice, huh?” Then he swung around and headed back into the change room.
I breathed a sigh of relief giving my heart rate time to slow.
He chattered on while he changed about his belief that all women loved to shop and how I was shattering that image. Instead of my interest in his words, they were merely a means to an end. A distraction. Maybe I should excuse myself and let him shop with the aid of the woman at the counter. I leaned over on my ottoman to get a glimpse of her. She was standing at her station filing her nails.
Just then the change room door opened and I turned to see the next product. His breathtaking, almost regal pose sent my heart into overdrive. I may be a widow but I am not dead – obviously!
Breathe Cathie! The words screamed in my ears as I took in the next view of Quinn-like perfection. He had a pair of dark coloured and form fitting slacks on with a white buttoned down shirt open loose at the bottom. There was a slender black silk tie hanging loosely from his open collar. Then a black leather jacket hung from his finger as he draped it behind his shoulder. He really was posing like a model.
I blinked several times giving pause for my throat to produce words. “Are you doing that on purpose?”
“What?” His innocent look passed over me with little effect as he did his spin around. “I only want to know what you thing. Is this one better than the first one?”
“They're both good. Just pick whichever one you like best.” I added in exasperation.
He closed the distance between us and squatted at the base of my ottoman. Our eyes were level with one another and my heart did the most fearsome pitter-patter imaginable. “Are you alright, Cherie?”
Breathe! “I am fine. I am sorry if I was curt.”
“Well, you were. If I look dreadful I would appreciate you telling me now before I step out in public. Honestly, you won’t hurt my feelings.”
Dreadful? My frantic, racing heart could only wish. “Quinn,” I extended my hand to his stubbly cheek. “You look anything but dreadful.”
His eyes danced for a moment as he interpreted my words. He leaned a little closer to me. “Do you like it then, my Dear?”
“Yes.” My voice could barely muster a whisper as I struggled with the rising emotions in me.
For a moment he didn’t budge. He remained there, a breath’s distance from me looking like my knight in shining armour. Then he stood with that mischievous smile he sports so often. Without a word he headed back into the change room. I was certain my heart could not take any more outfits like the last two.
As I sat in my place practising my breathing, Quinn’s head popped over the top of the change room door.
“Cherie, would you be a peach and grab me a pair of trousers and a shirt to match just for regular wear?”
I stood reluctantly and headed towards the lady at the counter. Perhaps she could show me the ‘trouser’ rack.
Well, the look she gave me when I asked her where I would find the trousers told me I was completely brainless. She surveyed her hand out across the whole room. “What kind of trousers?”
She might as well have added the ‘duh’ sound after her question. I thanked her and then started to peruse the clothing racks all by myself. Okay Lord, if you can direct me on how to keep Quinn alive, perhaps you can direct me to the right kind of ‘trousers’.
Then Quinn wandered out of the changing area with a few items draped over his arm. He handed them to the lady at the counter who offered him a warm and enticing smile. He didn’t even seem to notice though as he made a beeline right to me.
“Did you find anything you like?”
“I will be completely honest with you. I don’t really know what trousers are. I mean, I think of them as pants my grandfather would wear. Is that what you really want?”
Quinn stifled a giggle and reached over my shoulder to a pile of clothing behind me. He pulled back his arm with a pair of jeans in his hand. “Would you Grandfather wear these trousers?”
He smiled and then turned back to the lady at the counter not even waiting on my response.
“Do you carry socks and pants as well?”
The lady shook her head.
Quinn shrugged his shoulders and then approached her counter pulling his wallet from his back pocket. All the while I was thinking he was holding the pants but that must refer to something else I was ignorant of.
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