Letting herself in Quinn threw the door open, kicked her shoes into a corner of the room, slid her feet into Helena's slippers and yelled, "Prima! Onde você está?"
"Na cozinha," Helena shouted back.
"Onde mais ela estaria?" Where else would she be? Helena's fiancé, Felipe said, coming from the hallway, into the front room.
Another, familiar voice echoed from the hallway, chastised, "É que como você entrar na casa de outro?" Is that how you enter the home of another?"
"It's how I enter the house of my family," Quinn said, giving the man a running hug, "Uncle Martim."
"As soon as we get back to the house, you'd think she'd be tired. I said, why don't we go to bed together," Felipe complained. "You know what she does instead? She goes straight into the kitchen, saying she has to make lemon tart and honey cake for you."
"I also made your favorite pork recipe that grandma cooks," Helena came out of the kitchen, with a plate.
"What did I do, to be given so many sweets by you?" Quinn wondered.
"Ordered the flowers for my wedding, ordered the invitations, figured out the seating chart, not that anyone will respect it, did my gift registry, got the caterer that I wanted. I thought you performed a miracle when you convinced the priest to get us the date we wanted, and approve my dress."
"Well, the priest will do anything to see me in church. The trade off is that I go to mass every Sunday until your wedding, but I turned my bible into a study guide, which is actually quite appropriate, given my priorities," Quinn said, then remembered her uncle. "I mean, I always go to church, Uncle Martim. Sometimes even twice a week."
Filipe coughed, and Uncle Martim looked skeptical. "Who do you think you're talking to? Who taught you how to sneak in a snack, and who taught you to make it look like your book is a bible?"
"Oh yeah," Quinn clapped. "I don't have to pretend with you, Uncle Martim."
"Half your family is going to hell," Filipe told Helena.
"Everything else was easy," Quinn told Helena, "since I had Felipe's card."
Everyone laughed, even Felipe who added a defeated sigh. Quinn continued. "I followed all your instructions. You had everything nicely detailed in your wedding planner. I just talked, and talked until the florist lowered the price of those Amaryllis flowers, and I almost got a discount because my voice apparently sounds sexy on the phone, but then the owner of the company got upset, but it turns out, her son is failing physics- and tiger moms don't like that. We get five percent off for each final he gets an A in. She was vicious. At first, she said only three percent, but I talked her up. You're reasonably looking at a twenty percent discount, at least. Thirty-five if God is looking to hand out miracles. She said if I can get him into an ivy league school, my own wedding is half off."
"Nice," Felipe held his hand up for a high five.
"This is why we didn't pay for a wedding planner. Who would go above and beyond like that?" Helena said to Felipe. "Oh, it's almost four." Helena grabbed Quinn's wrist, and dragged her to the bedroom.
"No, pork," Quinn protested, reaching out for the dish, but Helene was intent on whisking her away. She sat Quinn by the vanity table, and began to add eyeliner, and eye shadow onto Quinn's eyes. "What are you doing," Quinn said. "What is this?"
"I told you, I wanted you to meet a man," Helena said.
"That wasn't Uncle Martim?" Quinn replied.
Helena scoffed, "You've already met him. He's only here to avoid our grandmother pestering him for a wife. You're lucky your lashes are so dark. You don't need much mascara."
"Ew, don't put that on me. It makes my eyes stick together."
"Deal with it," Quinn was told. "Are you more of a peach, or summer rose?" Helena decided between a pink, and a darker pink lipstick.
"I like to think of myself as Turkish Delight pink," Quinn joked.
"Summer rose," Helena decided. They heard the front door open, and someone came in. "He's here." Helena capped the lipstick. She ushered Quinn back into the living room. "Hurry."
She pushed Quinn all the way back to the living room. When she did, she saw three men she already knew, in a room where she'd only left two. "Simon?" Quinn said.
"You two know each other?" Helena asked.
Nodding, Quinn replied, "He's a TA at my school."
"He's friend of Felipe's family. He's staying with us until he finds a reasonable apartment. Unless there is someone else here who has a house, and spare bed space." Helena added the last part with innocent eyes, eyes that Quinn scoffed at.
"I wouldn't know. I roll terribly," Quinn replied.
Simon smiled, "I'm sure that's just a small roadblock. The world seems to be trying, quite blatantly, to throw us together."
"Shame on the world," Quinn mocked, "Being so obvious."
Walking into the living room, Gabe demanded, "Where's Quinn? I feel like I haven't seen her in awhile."
Daniel and Sara were on the couch, studying statistics again. "Dude, she's been gone, for like, a day and a half."
"That's usually what I give her before I drag her ass out of the library, and make her take a shower, at the very least. The old book smell can really get into one's hair," Gabe responded.
"She's not at the library, bro," Daniel told him.
"She's at her cousin's house," Sara interjected. She pointed at Daniel's notes. "I don't know how you got that number."
"That's because you misused Baye's law," Daniel pointed out. Then he said to Gabe, "She said she'd be gone a while. Packed up all her books, most her clothes, took her suitcase, and said, enough of this shit. I'm gone."
"What?" Gabe and Sara said at the same time. Sara's tone was a little more dubious.
Daniel shrugged. "It's what she said."
Cursing, Gabe grasped his coat, and strode out of the house. Sara looked at Daniel, disgusted, "Why do you manipulate him like that? You know damn well she'll be back before the weekend."
"Because I can," Daniel said.
"Do you not like me, or something?" Sara instigated.
"You're the one who entered a relationship you knew was doomed," Daniel told her. "You were jealous of Quinn from the get go, and then you started an affair with her, when you realized how easy it was to take control over her. All the control you didn't have over Gabe, you held over Quinn, and since Quinn holds Gabe's heart, it was the same thing as controlling him."
"That's not true," Sara cried out.
"What does the psychologist in you believe?" Daniel asked.
Sara returned, "We've been dating, like three years."
"He's known Quinn his entire life. He used to be her dream catcher, and she, and I mean this as literally as possible, has been his getaway driver. You and Gabe are similar in so many ways, and people who are similar, cannot complete each other."
"You think she completes him," Sara said.
"Even in three years, you don't know half of what Quinn knows about Gabe, and the only thing you know about Quinn is that she's a huge people pleasure, and she's a good fuck," Daniel replied, "At least, she sounds like one."
"I thought you loved Quinn," Sara said.
"I do. Platonically," Daniel answered.
Repeating Daniel's own assertions, Sara replied, "You're the one who told me three years ago that men and women cannot be friends without their being business, or sex involved, unless they were raised to be like brother, and sister."
"And Quinn and I are the third option," Daniel replied.
"You said she and Gabe were the third option too," Sara reminded.
Shrugging, Daniel admitted, "That was just to make
you feel better."
Sara scoffed, and Daniel explained, "They were raised to be close. They were raised to look after each other, but he and Quinn were not raised to be siblings. His parents told him he was only a man if he looked after Quinn, and they paid her to make sure he never did anything too stupid."
"There are some checks she should return, in my opinion," Sara muttered.
Daniel outright laughed, "Without a doubt. My point is, if they expected her to be like a sister, they wouldn't have paid her. Regardless of how close friends they were, she was always the help."
"I thought her parents liked her. A lot better than me, anyway," Sara said.
"They do," Daniel stated. "His mom is a physicist, like Quinn is going to be, and she appreciates how smart Quinn is, and is impressed by Quinn's character. You, on the other hand, are a psychologist, and Quinn's mom disapproves of that particular science."
"How would she feel about Quinn's character if she knew about the affair," Sara exclaimed.
"She'd blame you," Daniel replied sympathetically, "You know that's true."
"What did you mean, Gabe used to be her dream catcher?" Sara asked.
It was the first time Daniel had hesitated during the conversation. "Sometimes she'd have a hard time sleeping, so they'd sleep in the same room. I'm not saying in the same bed, or anything. He'd usually have a bat, or something, and pretend he was keeping guard by the window, or door. I'm talking about when they were eight."
"When was the last time?" Sara asked.
"What am I? A diary on them?" Daniel returned. Then he relented, "Two years ago, that I know of. I was in the room with them, mostly. It's not like we were all in the same bed, having an orgy."
"We've been dating three years," Sara said quietly.
"You're going to get mad, because they slept in the same room, but hardly ever on the same furniture? You fucked her," Daniel pointed out. "You're too powerful of a woman to be this insecure all the time."
"You're the one telling me my relationship is doomed," Sara accused.
"I didn't mean it. I just mean, he's already forgiven her, and after all the shit he's pulled, Quinn would have to commit murder to be refuted by him. Even then, it would depend on who she killed. But you and Gabe have barely touched, barely talked to each other directly. There's so much tension just having you in the same room. He hasn't left you, because he feels bad that he saw other girls before the two of you established yourselves as being monogamous, and Gabe's heart is as stupid as hearts can get. I am his friend, so he will always do whatever he can for me. You are his girlfriend, so he will always take whatever burdens you give him."
"And what is Quinn to him? A pet? A servant? A friend?"
"By now, she's probably his damn conscious. Gabe's only ever been talked out of very few things, like stealing from the Louvre, or any museum in general, trying to go to ninja school, and trying to commander a pirate ship replica we saw, so we could spend the summer as pirate, and sky diving. Quinn got a check after each one," Daniel said, "Though she gave one back after a stint we had with the racers."
Sara didn't find the last antidote as amusing as Daniel. She studied her book for a long moment, and then decided, "I'm done with statistics for the day."
The pounding on the door was incessant. It kept going, and going, until Helena flung it open. Judgmentally, she scanned Gabe over, and then demanded, "What are you doing here, babaca?"
"I know what that word means," Gabe defended, "What did I ever do to you?"
"Besides having the audacity to show up at my house?" Helena asked, then threatened, "You better leave, before I scream so loud, the neighbor sets their dog loose."
"I'm not leaving until you tell me what I did," Gabe told her.
That didn't sit well with Helena. "I know how things usually work with you, especially with Quinn, but not here, rich boy."
"What did I do so wrong?" Gabe exclaimed.
"You hit her with a belt? After handcuffing her to your bed for a threesome. You threatened to punish her? Spanked her with a wooden spoon," Helena's voice was rising.
Gabe flinched, "Hey, I only used it once, a couple of times. She beats me up, constantly."
"You boss her around constantly," Helena accused.
"I used to be her boss," Gabe shouted.
"Get off my property," Helena demanded. Appearing by her side, Quinn rubbed Helena's shoulder to calm her down, muttering softly in Portuguese. Whatever Helena said was much harsher, lips moving so fast, Gabe couldn't even recognize syllables, let alone words, before Helena finished in English, "I said I want him off."
"Did she tell you she had a two month affair with my girlfriend," Gabe accused.
Turning on her heel, Helena raised her eyes at Quinn, to see if it was true. A deep blush, incapability to exchange looks, and slight fidgeting helped Quinn silently tell Helena that the accusation was true. "Okay," Helena backtracked, "It's a little understandable, but not excusable. You've toyed with my cousin for her whole life. You've got a girlfriend, bother her. You're not dragging Quinn down into any craziness. She had a new man."
"Who?" Gabe said.
"I don't have a new man," Quinn replied.
"It's so obvious you and Simon hit it off," Helena replied.
"Simon?" Gabe exclaimed.
Shrugging, Quinn said, "Yeah."
"So you've run off to be with him? You just like jumping from bed to bed, don't you? You still owe thirty days rent," Gabe shouted.
Frowning, Quinn inquired, "Where exactly do you think I'm running to?"
"Here," Gabe yelled.
"I'm only here for a few days. I'm taking time to help Helena finish planning her wedding," Quinn replied. "A Portuguese-Brazilian, Roman Catholic Wedding, that has to accommodate two long distance families? It's a gargantuan project. That's my favorite kind of project."
"So you're not leaving for good?" Gabe repeated.
Staring at him oddly, Quinn said, "I told everyone last week that this was happening. This just goes to show that you are unappreciated, and don't listen at all."
"I listen," Gabe said.
Quinn clicked her tongue. "Accept when watching the dinosaur version of deadliest warrior."
"I- you could have written down or something," Gabe admonished.
"I sincerely apologize, Senhor," Quinn sarcastically responded, "Perdoe-me." Forgive me.
"You better apologize," he mumbled, before he whistled, "I'm going to murder Daniel."
Quinn smirked, "See you in a few days, puddin' pop." With that, she let Helena slam the door in his face, as they went back to the living room. For a moment, Gabe stared at the door with a misty expression. There was only a handful of recallable times, when Quinn had given him a nickname that didn't refer to him as lord, master or sir. Of all the choices, she went with puddin' pop? As he walked away, he looked at his abs, and pinched the skin together to see how flabby he was, or wasn't. I'm not a puddin' pop, he half decided, half sulked.