Strong Silent Type(6)

By: Lorelei James


Quinn had told Libby he was perfectly content to spend his life with her, just her, and he wasn’t basing his present or future happiness on whether the stick turned pink or blue every month.

That’s when things had gone downhill.

So Quinn had lied to Ben when he claimed he hadn’t seen the separation coming. He just hadn’t known how to handle it, so he’d done nothing to prevent it. He’d been floating along, hoping like hell Libby would come around.

She hadn’t. In fact, she hadn’t been around at all.

Too little, too late.

Like hell. He might’ve been slow on the uptake, but he was good at playing catch-up. Damn good.

The sound of Libby’s car crunching on the driveway brought Quinn out of his reverie and he headed downstairs.

Her arms were overloaded with bags and Quinn rushed forward. “Lemme help you.”

“Thanks.”

“Where you want me to put them?”

“Dining room table is fine.”

Libby arranged her belongings to her liking before she looked at him.

God, she was pretty. Old hairstyle or new haircut, barefaced or all made up, it didn’t matter. One glimpse into her eyes was all he needed to see the real Libby. His Libby.

She bristled. “What?”

“Can’t a man admire his wife?” Quinn let his gaze roam over her sweet face and linger on her lips.

“I thought we were gonna eat.”

Staring at her made her nervous. Interesting.

“We are. Go on in and have a seat. I’ll dish up.”

“This is odd, you waiting on me,” she said.

“No more odd than you lettin’ me do it.”

That retort brought forth the cute wrinkle on her forehead and no additional comment.

Good.

Soon as Quinn sat across from Libby, she frowned and started to get up. Quickly, but gently, Quinn placed his hand on her forearm. “What do you need? I’ll get it.”

“A napkin.”

He reached behind him for the wicker container and kept hold of her arm. “Here.”

“Thank you.”

“No problem. So what’s been happenin’ in the world of books?”

Libby clutched her fork. “You really interested or are you just making conversation?”

“I’m interested, Lib, I’ve always cared about what you do at the school.”

Satisfied with his answer, she said, “I’m gearing up for the summer reading program.”

“Betcha already got quite a few kids signed up for that.”

“Yes, actually I do. How’d you know?”

Quinn gave her a noncommittal shoulder hitch. “Because you’re you. You never do anything half-assed.”

“My, my, aren’t you full of compliments tonight?”

“I reckon I owe you more than three months’ worth so I’d better start makin’ up for lost time.” He swept his thumb over the smooth skin on the back of her wrist. “That okay with you, darlin’ wife?”

She squirmed at his term of endearment but didn’t try and shake off his hand, much to his surprise.

“I’m not used to you acting this way.”

“Maybe you oughta get used to it. Maybe I’ve realized the error of my ways and I’m a changed man.”

“Is that why you behaved like that last night at Ziggy’s?”

“Like what?”

“You know how you behaved.”

Quinn chewed slowly and swallowed. “You lookin’ for an apology?”

“Maybe.”

“Okay. I’m sorry that sonuvabitch who had his paws all over you didn’t spend all goddamn night pickin’ his teeth up off the floor after I knocked ’em clean outta his mouth.”

Libby stammered, “B-but, you didn’t do anything! You just left.”

“Huh-uh. Ben said he wouldn’t post bond if I beat the snot outta that snot-nosed punk. With you and me on the outs, I figured I couldn’t count on you for bail money either, so I let Ben drag me away, against my will, I might add.”

“So you’re not apologizing?”

Quinn flashed his teeth. “For actin’ like a man and for protecting what’s mine? Hell no.” He leaned closer. “Does that shock you?”

“A little. Lord, Quinn, that was completely out of character for you, cussing, threatening a guy and causing a public scene.”

He shrugged. “That’s because I keep that side of myself to myself.”

“Why?”

Should he answer? Could he?

Yes. No more hiding. Balls to the wall.

“Quinn?”

“Because it’d scare you worse than it does me.”

“I’m not exactly a delicate flower,” she retorted. “And I’ve known you all my life.”

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