Strong Silent Type(8)

By: Lorelei James


“None.” Libby peeked out the kitchen window, feeling silly for watching for Quinn’s truck to barrel up the drive. She hadn’t done that for years.

“And you just agreed?”

“Yep.”

Jillian sighed. “Sis, no offense, but the last time Quinn surprised you, he brought you home a new crock pot.”

Libby stuck her tongue out at the receiver. She loved that damn crock pot. Jilly didn’t understand it’d been an incredibly sweet gesture on Quinn’s part because he so rarely acted spontaneously. “He’s trying, Jilly.”

“Well, it’s about damn time.”

Usually Jillian’s constant yakking was impossible to ignore, but today, Libby easily tuned her out. She had more important things to tune into. Like the steamy kiss that’d knocked her sideways last night.

Man. She’d forgotten Quinn could kiss like that. She’d forgotten she could kiss like that. She’d definitely forgotten how arousing a simple kiss could be, as evidenced by the soaking wet condition of her panties when she’d stumbled back into the house on wobbly knees.

And Libby couldn’t help but notice Quinn’s erection. Kissing her had the same effect on him—a good sign—since the man hadn’t touched her for three months prior to their separation.

Six long months without physical intimacy. Half a year without her husband paying attention to her at all.

To cope with his apathy, she’d tried a few changes around the house, dropped some weight, updated her hairstyle, makeup and wardrobe. A confidence-boosting bonus she’d hoped would increase her physical attraction to her mate. But when she’d marshaled the courage to ask Quinn how he liked the “new” her, he’d responded he’d liked the old her just fine.

Quinn probably hadn’t meant his remark in an unflattering way, but it’d stung nevertheless. In response, she’d lashed back at him like she’d never done, said hurtful things and then kicked him out.

And speak of the devil; the man was kicking up a cloud of dust as he zipped up the gravel driveway.

“Can I offer you some advice—”

She cut Jillian off mid-sentence. “Quinn is here.”

“Libby, will you listen to me before you hang up?”

No. But Jillian would blather on anyway. “What?”

“Avoid talking about the baby issue. If you really want your relationship with Quinn to have a fair shot, it needs to only be about your relationship as man and wife.”

“Meaning?”

“Don’t bring up his refusal to take fertility tests or the years you’ve spent trying to get pregnant to the exclusion of everything else.”

“That’s unfair, Jilly. You make it sound like that’s all I’ve cared about.”

“It’s certainly been all you’ve talked about for the last several years,” Jilly gently chided. “I know I’m the only person you’ve trusted with your frustration about your inability to conceive, so my view might be skewed.”

Libby opened her mouth to argue, but a teeny germ of guilt sprouted. Only in the last twelve months she hadn’t been obsessing about babies because she’d been obsessing about what’d gone wrong between her and her husband. She’d figured by letting the big issue drop, they’d be able to focus on the smaller ones.

That hadn’t happened either.

She let her disquiet build as she watched Quinn hurry into the horse trailer.

“Libs? You there?”

“Yeah. Sorry. I’m still here.” Pause. “Was I really that bad?”

“It’ll be hard for you to hear, but yeah, you were. Sometimes I understand why Quinn didn’t protest too much about the separation. It’s been a rough couple years on both of you.”

Her stomach lurched. If she’d been so blatantly single-minded why hadn’t Quinn said anything to her?

Because his unwillingness to talk about anything was the reason you asked for the separation.

But Quinn hadn’t always been like that.

Maybe he’s grown tired of discussing the same old things and silence was his only defense.

“I didn’t say that to hurt you, Libs.”

“I don’t understand why you didn’t mention it before now.”

“Because it wasn’t my place, honey. It was Quinn’s. And we both know he wouldn’t say shit if he had a mouthful.”

Libby fought the urge to curl into a ball and weep. “Lord. How did everything get so screwed up?”

“I don’t know. Good luck.” Jillian hung up.

Quinn exited the horse trailer and Libby caught her first glimpse of his clothes. Gray sweatpants. A faded brown and gold University of Wyoming Go Pokes! T-shirt, tennis shoes and a “gimme” ball cap from the local Yamaha dealership.

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