Once we were settled in the car and on the road Quinn gingerly attempted a conversation.
“Did you like my sister a little?”
“Oh Quinn, I loved her. Please do not think I left because of her.”
“Well, it is unanimous then. She loved you too. She made me promise if I found you that I would bring you back again before you fly home.”
“Oh.” What would I say to her? I was so rude to run out and she’ll want to know why. That is something I cannot look forward to. I just smiled sheepishly at Quinn hoping he would change the topic.
He bobbed his head back and forth. “Or maybe not? Let’s not focus on that now. I need to get you back to your hotel for a rest.”
“I’m fine. Really I am.”
“Uhhuh.” His sarcastic response was nearly drowned out by the ring of his cell phone.
He scrambled in his back pocket for it. “Allo.”
“Ay, oui. Je suis Quinn.”
“Oh, bonjour Detective. Je conduis dans la rue d'Ulm.”
As soon as I heard the word ‘house’, my head shot to my left. “It was your house?” The image of the burning home came back to me. I had forgotten all about it in my own personal turmoil.
Quinn looked at me as he listened to the cellphone at his ear. Then he flicked on his signal light in a fury.
“Merci, Detective. Je serai là.” He closed his phone and tossed it onto the console between us. Without a moment’s pause he whipped the car in a frantic u-turn and sped down the street in the opposite direction.
He remained speechless as we flew through the afternoon traffic. He took deep, slow audible breathes as my head hurt from trying to sort it all out. There were no words that came to my mind that seemed appropriate. Was that really his house, Lord? What is happening?
Finally Quinn spoke as he darted in and out between the fellow drivers. “Sorry Cherie, but we need to make a quick stop before I take you back.”
“That’s fine. What did the detective say?”
“There seems to be a little trouble at my house.”
He turned to look at me. “Did you overhear the conversation or ...?”
“I saw it.” I felt horrible almost as if I had caused the fire. “I’m so sorry that I didn’t tell you. I didn’t know it was your house.”
“When did you see it?”
“In Anna’s room, while you were meeting with the doctors.”
“Is that why you ran out?”
“No.” The guilt and shame mounted upon me like a heavy backpack. Quinn stared straight ahead as he drove and I feared he would not be able to overlook this. Perhaps he would not forgive me. So I sat there, brewing in all the toxic emotions consuming me.
There was nothing said after that until we turned down a residential street lined with trees. Ahead of us was several fire trucks parked perpendicular in the street blocking our access. Quinn parked his car in the middle of the street and turned off the engine.
He reached for the door handle but paused. His face turned to me as he squeezed my trembling hands on my lap. “Don’t worry Cherie. From what the detective said on the phone I would have needed to know hours ago in order to do anything about it.”
I saw his worry or fear building in the corner of his eyes before he fled the vehicle.
Quinn walked briskly around the back end of a fire truck and out of my line of sight. He hadn't invited me to join him so I stayed. Somehow, I felt responsible for this new tragedy in his life.
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