There was nothing like the looming presence of St. Peter, and the stained light from the church windows, to make her feel uncomfortable in church. Unable to look anywhere in the church, she looked at the pew in front of her, and squirmed on the hardwood.
A soft shirt covered a hard surface. With the help of Quinn, Simon pulled it over his head. Running her hands over his rigid flesh, before he peeled off her shirt, and laid her back on the bed. Gabe would have distracted her with a kiss on the lips while laying her back, because he was greedy, and wanted all of her, but Simon was patient, and he wanted just to appreciate her body first.
Quinn flinched. She looked around with the purpose of ensuring that none of the stone statues had seen what she was thinking. Just as they had her entire childhood, they shot disapproving looks at her. The use of idols seem to be problem between differing sects of Christainity. Quinn thought those idols were placed abundantly around the church to remind everyone who was watching, and that no deed was unseen.
He ran his fingers all over her body, peeling at her bra, and plucking at her skirt. Demandingly, she pulled at his jeans, meaning to make him naked before she was. Around Gabe, she was always naked, even when she buried beneath layers of clothes, and wool sweaters. That was the comforting thing about Simon. His mouth didn't tease her.
Gabe would have suckled, and tortured her skin with his mouth, but Simon knew what he wanted, and he finally tasted Quinn's mouth his lips, and then his tongue. Her mouth demanded more. Through him, she could taste the heat of a Brazilian summer, and she wanted more. Quinn dug her hands into the back of Simon, as his knee divided her legs.
Quinn coughed, and buried her head in her hands, "Jesus Christ." The people on either side of her, including Helena and Felipe, and the worshippers in front of her turned around. "Hallelujah, and etc. What are you looking at, the preaching is being done up there," Quinn nodded her head to the pulpit. She unwrapped a starburst, and put it in her mouth. Though she'd tried to be sneaky, there was a disappointed sigh from Helena.
Taking the small piece of paper that she used to keep her place in the bible, Quinn folded it into a swan. "Pst, hey," she said to the small girl next to her. Two curly pony-tails turned just far enough to see the object in her hands. The girl looked just as painfully bored as Quinn used to be in church. Quinn pulled the tail, and made the swan flap its wings.
"Cool," the girl practically mouthed it. Quinn gave the swan to the girl, who entertained herself by flapping its wings.
"Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned," Quinn said the required ritual.
On the other side of the confessional, Father Santos said, "Quinn, it's good to see you. I didn't expect to see you in confessional again."
"I had intentions of committing the most grievous act of accusing a priest of lying, but then it was pointed out to me that I hadn't been exactly honest either. And isn't this supposed to be anonymous?" Quinn asked.
"Sure, but I know your voice, and you know mine," Father Santos responded. "It's only you, me, and God here, anyway. So what have you to confess?"
"Even though I was tricked into coming to church, I was not entirely honest in my confessions," Quinn said, "despite thinking it would aid my cousin in getting the wedding she wanted."
"I feel you are more mad at me about that, then your cousin," Father Santos responded.
"I know my cousin, and she has good intentions for me, plus I eat free food at her house all the time," Quinn replied, before she pointed out, "But you're a priest. You're supposed to know better. You act all sanctimonious, but the things you've done are no better than any man."
"You are right, but for bringing a lost lamb back to the flock," Father Santos replied, "I think God will forgive me. Now, this isn't my confession."
"Fine. I've committed several sins, and broken several commandments. First, I committed an affair in which I was the other woman," Quinn said, "With my best friend's girlfriend. Second, I've laid with a woman."
There was silence on the other end, and then she heard a cough and a snort, like he was trying to stop himself from sneezing. She didn't know if she'd given the priest a heart attack, or if he was laughing at her. "Do you think God will accept me back into the flock now?" Quinn asked. "Because I'm not sorry. I'm sorry for the brief chaos and hurt it caused, but everyone actually seems happier now, and while the affair was wrong, it was also quite satisfying."
"Well," Father Santos claimed, "I think He takes back the most wayward lambs, and that I am receiving this confession, instead of Father Andre, is proof of the fact."
"You don't think I'm going to Hell?" Quinn asked.
"If you do, it'll be for other reasons, such as your refutation of the divine," Father Santos said, "But everyone experiments at your age."
"That's pretty cool for a Catholic priest," Quinn noted. "But now I'm dating a guy who has a hired position in my department."
"Quinn, there is only so much you should confess at once," Father Santos replied, "Is he a professor?"
"No, he's a graduate student working for a professor with whom I've no classes," Quinn answered.
Raising his hands, Father Santos said, "Then I don't know what the problem is."
"Other than that we've had coitus before marriage-," Quinn started.
Father Santos interjected, "I've already figured."
"During it, I could only think about another man," Quinn said. "Which feels as bad as cheating. I kept comparing them in my head. How many Hail Mary's do you think I'm up to?"
"More than you can say in one life time," Father Santos replied, then inquired, "Do you like this other man?"
"He's a friend," Quinn said. "And he'd not Portuguese."
"That's not an answer to the question I asked."
"It's the only answer I need."
Father Santos sighed, "He might have a Portuguese heritage, but culture is not spread through blood."
"He's annoying, and bossy, and a jerk, and he's pushy, and he kisses really good," Quinn muttered. "And I can't just stop seeing one guy, who is Portuguese, for no good reason."
"If your hearts not in it, that's reason enough."
"That's what I said about not going to church."
"Quinn, have you murdered anyone, stolen material objects, or committed any other grievous sins?" Father Santos asked.
"Not that I'm aware of," Quinn told him.
"We'll call that a blessing. I absolve you of all your sins."
"Great, can't wait to do this next Sunday," Quinn returned, only to receive a groan from Father Santos.
Alexis and Wesley Lawson knocked on the door to their son's house. The house was tidy enough on the outside. Someone had been weeding, so bright orange, and yellow flowers popped up in the garden bed in front of the window. It was probably Quinn, Alexis thought. The only reason they were comfortable with Gabe moving out of the house before finishing his undergraduate studies was that Quinn would look after him.
The door opened to reveal the tall, athletic body of Sara. She wore a t-shirt that fit her curves, without being tight, a clean pair of jeans. "Mr. and Mrs. Lawson," Sara opened the door wider, and stepped out of the way, "Please come in."
"Hi, Mr. and Mrs. Lawson," Smith called from the kitchen. When they directed their attention briefly over to him, they saw he was feeding vegetables to a porcupine. He wrote down on a piece of paper, prefers salted peanuts to celery, celery to carrots, carrots to cinnamon sticks.
"What an adorable porcupine," Alexis noted, "Is my son here?"
"Mama, pops," Gabe said, coming down the stairs. "I'm glad you're here. How are you?"
"Excellent, sweetheart," Alexis noted, "And you are?"
"Good. I'm ready for my finals. Mandarin is not going to know what hit it," Gabe said.
"If you can master Mandarin, you can master anything," Wesley Lawson told his son. "I looked over your proposed international treaties for International Relations Seminar. Every impressive. I think you're professor will be quite impressed."
"Thanks, pops," Gabe said. He pointed to the porcupine, "Have you met Smith's newest pet, Spikecicles?"
"We've been acquainted," Alexis said, using the tip of her finger to slide forward a salted peanut. You find the most interesting, pets, Smith. I remember when you brought a runaway goat to our house, because your mother wouldn't let you keep it. Have you ever considered veterinary sciences?"
"Naw, I've never been good at much, except sports," Smith replied.
"You seem to have a gift for animals," Alexis replied, "And last we spoke, you were telling me about all the physiology and nutrition classes you were taking, to start your own gym," Alexis answered, "Seems to me that you would only need a few more science classes to apply to a veterinary school, and I know several zoologists who would be willing to give you an internship. Just something to think about. One should not limit themselves to what one thinks he or she should do, but pursue what they enjoy."
Sara resisted the urge to role her eyes. Unless you're a psychologist, or date your son.
"I will think about it, Mrs. Lawson," Smith scooped up his porcupine. In Smith talk, that meant he was sold on the topic. Skipping down the stairs, he cheered, "I'm going to be a zoologist! Ow." He sucked on the finger he poked on a quill.
"That will reinforce the intervention we had about taking in wild animals," Gabe replied.
"It's just the poisonous ones that worry me," Sara replied.
Alexis turned innocent eyes onto Sara. "And what about you dear?"
"I've been volunteering as a grief counselor on Saturday mornings, and I've had an internship with child psychologist as well," Sara said, "This summer I've obtained an internship with a forensic psychologist, and I'm a final candidate for a research grant for the fall semester."
Inwardly, she felt satisfied at her accomplishments. So suck it, Mrs. L.
"Congrats on the forensic psychologist," Gabe told her, "I know you were excited about that." Quinn had been over the affair before Sara, but she'd quickly dropped her pursuit of Quinn when Sara realized she was more excited about the idea of forensic psychology, then sleeping with Quinn.
"Thanks," Sara blushed.
"We brought snacks, for you kids, for finals week," Wesley said. "We've got boxes of tea and coffee, to help you stay away, some sugary snacks, healthy ones, mints, and gum."
"Mint and gum can help increase concentration," Alexis added.
"Yeah, Quinn's always chewing mint leaves when she studies, because she doesn't like gum," Gabe replied, then added silently, and it makes her mouth taste like spearmint.
"She doesn't like gum?" Sara responded.
"She doesn't like anything that not made in a kitchen, or grown in the backyard," Gabe replied. "When was the last time you saw her eating frozen pizza, instead of one that she made from scratch?"
"Now that I think of it, never," Sara replied. Maybe Quinn wouldn't mind being Sara's case study, in lieu of a senior thesis.
"That reminds us, we also wanted to take you out for lunch," Alexis replied.
"Great," Gabe said.
"Would Sara like to join us?" Alexis politely asked.
"No, thank you," Sara replied. "I have to study for my cognitive neuroscience exam." That's right, I said neuroscience, bitch.
"If neuroscience is a branch you're interested in, we have a friend you could talk to," Wesley said.
"Absolutely," Alexis replied.
"Suck it, Gabriel Lawson," Quinn shouted, coming into the house. "If confessional was a college course, I'd rock it."
She kicked her shoes into the closet, and said, "I have to get out of this dress. It's like Sunday clothes are intentionally stiff, and itchy. Oh, hi Mr. And Mrs. Lawson."
"Yeah, but with how many hail Marys?" Gabriel teased.
"None," Quinn scoffed, "It's not like I killed anyone."
"You're mother must be happy to see you back in church," Alexis smiled.
"It's just until my cousin's wedding," Quinn assured her.
"Would you like to come to lunch with us," Wesley asked.
Brightly, Quinn smiled, "I would love to, but I am supposed to meet my astrophysics study group in a few hours, and I'm meeting some of the group earlier, to prepare."
Rolling his eyes, Gabe said, "She's meeting him to make out."
"Gabriel Lawson," Alexis chided.
"No. I'm meeting Ty and Tina," Quinn wanted to stick her tongue out, but the presence of his parents made her act with more decorum.
"But she is dating a TA at her school," Gabe tattled. "Simon the Brazilian."
"Simon?" Sara's eyes glittered; a sardonic smile crossed her lips. She and Quinn exchanged a wink, and Quinn went on, "Do you have a problem with Brazilians, Mr. Gabriel?"
Now Alexis eyes sparkled. No. He's just jealous.
"He's not my TA, and he's also a graduate student on the campus. He plans on going into nuclear astrophysics, like you, Mrs. Alexis."
"I'd be interested in speaking with him then," Alexis replied.
"I'll tell him after the study group," Quinn smiled, but her stomach twisted at having to see Simon again, before skipping up the stairs, "I'll see you later, Mr. and Mrs. Lawson."