Being on eight airplanes, two train rides, three bus rides (one of which I was certain would kill me), and countless boat and taxi rides in the last two weeks have given me new inspiration for the continuation of the Gabe and Quinn story. So please enjoy this newly rewritten prologue/ chapter one.
Even though the darkness was lit by thousands of lights, she somehow managed to keep slipping into the darkness. As thousands of glowing wishes raised to the sky, he kept his wish to close to his heart as he slipped past people, and lanterns, to chase her. Her dress was a scarlet red, and teased him, mocked him as it swished around her legs, before fading out of site. Red is the color of blood, war, passion, and love, and that night it was her armor. Two hearts desperate to reunite, but neither lover was willing to give in. Sometimes love blazes to furiously, and burns out quick. Sometimes it becomes the complacent, comfortable glow of embers. Rarely does it ever exist between these two points for an entire lifetime, but within these pages is the love story of two people who define real love, a love that will last for an entire lifetime.
Running her finger over the glossy page, Quinn swallowed, and tried to think of something polite to say. "It's very good," Quinn rushed to insist. "It's a little dramatic, but very good. It's just, I know you're an artist, but it wasn't like this."
Still, the picture was proof. Her fingers brushed over the hem of her red dress as she studied a moment in time, in her time, forever frozen. There was the dark, shadowy figure of Gabe as he hunted Quinn through the passage of so many people.
Romain had licked his lips while he eagerly waited for Quinn to page through his collection. He was a French photographer who had met Quinn in a Brazilian market place. Though he was fluent in several languages, he had not known Portuguese. He had limited conversational skills in Spanish, and he made the mistake of thinking that would be enough to get him through Brazil. He'd entertained Quinn, and it did not take long for his artistic eye to recognize the potential in her. Artistic curiosity had hooked him by the time Gabe had entered the scenery, and he'd spent the better part of autumn, and winter, following them on encounters he could not imagine.
How could two, ordinary people get caught up in so much ruckus?
"You have no idea what you have," Romain insisted, "What is between you two is rare."
"It really wasn't romantic though," Quinn contended, "I was really pissed off."
"I like it," Gabe interjected, nuzzling his mouth against her neck, his lips teasing. His arm was hooked around Quinn, who was leaning against his hard chest, so that they could look at the book together. His teasing lips made her want to shiver, but she fought to keep her composure in front of Romain.
Romain's hands raised, since he used them to talk, and get his point across. Looking hopeless, he tried to explain, "The electricity that is between you two . . . you have no idea."
Quinn closed the book that contained Romain's first published collection of artwork. "I am not contesting that you're a wonderful artist. I am honored you chose us to be your subjects. Though there are some questionable photographs of a sexual nature, that I'm not really sure how you got, and I am kind of afraid that might my future careers. Nonetheless, it really wasn't a romantic exploration of love. I was trying to teach him a lesson."
As if the lesson was wasted on him, Gabe grinned, "And I still won."
Quinn clicked her tongue, and Gabe had a look of dark amusement. He would push and prod Quinn to the boundary of frustration, and then reap the delicious fruits of his labor. She tried to duck her neck away from his silent assault, but her effort was to no avail.
In her opinion, Gabe was way too cheeky in front of Romain, as if he wanted the photographer to document all of their precious, and private moments.
Without needing any prodding, Romain lifted his ever-ready camera to his face, and snapped a quick picture.
"That was not love, I do not love you right now," Quinn glowered. Despite that Quinn's back was still leaning against Gabe, he could feel the heat from her glare, the one he dubbed the famous Medeiros' glare.
Now it was Gabe's turn to click his tongue. So softly that it tickled, he murmured in her ear, "One shouldn't say such things hurtful things. Especially not you." After he added the last part, he nipped her ear quickly, so that even Romain missed it. Sliding his fingers beneath Quinn's chin, he made her chin tilt upwards. Quinn head to tilt her body slightly sideways, and lean back to facilitate the movement, but she let Gabe guide her chin towards him, as he lowered his mouth to capture hers.
It satisfied him that her mouth quite happily, and even eagerly, conformed to his, as if it had missed him in the five minutes that they had been separated. And yet, Quinn was too stubborn to admit that Romain might not be taking such great creative license with their story.
It had started with an argument, and upon hindsight, it was probably Gabe's fault. In Quinn's words, which she had used several times, Gabe was being a pigheaded, domineering jerk. Gabe could have easily countered that Quinn liked it when he was domineering, and that he didn't know anyone more stubborn than her, except maybe all the other Medeiros women. There were other, quite painful accusations hurdled at him, however, and Gabe did not have time to take pause to point out those facts.
In the last days of summer fading into autumn, they had been floating on an inflatable green raft on Lake Daria. Attached to the raft was a sturdy, but slim rope, that attached a much smaller raft, upon which a bunch of drinks, and snacks floated. Gabe was stretched out, with Quinn snuggled around him, molding to his body, and resting her head on his shoulder. While Quinn lay against him, Gabe turned his chin so that it was just above Quinn's head. This way he could breathe in the smell of her. Taking a deep breath, he smelled wildflowers, and warm sunshine.
Did sunshine even have a smell?
Into her hair, he murmured, "This is the best idea that you ever had."
"It's a nice park," Quinn replied, stretching, and yawning. "I want a Travesseiros de Sintra."
Upon her order, Gabe wheeled in the cooler, and took out a puff pastry filled with egg custard, a treat known as Pillows of Sintra.
A loud motor roaring over the water cut into their quiet afternoon drift. Ranger Roger turned the motor off, so he could scold, "That cooler better not have alcohol in it."
"This is root beer," Gabe held up his glass bottle, with the label pulled off. "The classic kind."
Narrowing his eyes, Roger figured that Gabe was lying, but he cut the kids so much slack, what was the point in being strict now? So long as he did not find them cooking meth, or burying bodies in his park, then Gabe and Quinn weren't really doing that much harm. Before turning on his motor again, Roger shot one last warning, "Don't litter."
"I think he likes us," Quinn said, reaching for the pastry. "Give."
"Say it," Gabe taunted.
Quinn's mouth fell into a pout. "No."
"Say it, or it goes into the water," Gabe threatened.
"But it would be so inappropriate. It's blatant nepotism," Quinn pointed out.
Unsympathetically, Gabe said, "Nepotism is how people get places. It's a good opportunity."
"But it's so unfair to the other applicants. You know if I say I want it, your mother is going to give it to me," Quinn replied.
Why did Quinn have to live by so many unwritten rules? Ignoring her concerns, Gabe asked, "Why shouldn't she? You've a good academic record, it's in an area of physics that you're specializing in, and you work so hard to keep her son in line. You can't turn down opportunities like this."
Glowering, Quinn muttered, "Fine. I'll do it. Can I have it now?"
"Sure," Gabe agreed, acting like he was about to hand it to her before taking a bite of it himself. Quinn pouted even more, making Gabe laughed. His finger poked the custard center, intending to paint Quinn's skin with it.
Quinn protested, and tried to get away, but the raft beneath them was not prepared for that kind of activity. As it slid out beneath, them, they took quick breaths before being cast under the water. Underneath the surface, their hands reached out for each other so that they could rise together.
Once they were locked onto each other, Quinn had better ideas than rising to the surface. Like a mermaid after a sailor, Quinn pulled him down to her, and kissed him beneath the water.
Pressure was building against his lungs as they began to run out of air, but the impulses that told him to attack Quinn with kisses, don't let her assault get the better of you, screeched louder than the ones that said he needed air. One hand entangled in wet hair, another snaked around her back, so he could draw her to him, and kiss her as if he was trying to suck all of the air out of her. Though it seemed like an eternity, they floated to the top in a matter of seconds. It was for the best, as they bobbed with their heads above the water, gasping for air. The conversation would have been an awkward one, had Ranger Roger thought he had to save them.
Beneath the surface, their legs slid past each other. Quinn hooked her right leg around Gabe's, and ran her hands up the front of his torso. Her hands felt oddly cold against his skin, but he ignored it as he moved to kiss her again. As they've learned over the course of the last three years, there was no way for them to have extravagant sexual encounters, because they kept sinking beneath the surface, plus Gabe imagined that Quinn worried about the innocence of the fish, and other nonsensical things.
Forgoing his assault on Quinn salty lips, which she licked why peering up at him, Gabe groaned. The slightly misted look of her bright eyes, the one that said her thoughts were only of him, made Gabe groan even more. For a moment, he placed his forehead against hers, and growled quietly, "You're lucky that Ranger Roger is on patrol in his boat, or I'd fuck you under the pier until the water claims us."
"It's not as if you take that long," Quinn hedged, knowing the words would get her in trouble. "Just hold your breath."
Somehow, she managed to swim out retaliation range, her laughter chiming against the water, and Gabe's ears.
"Fine," Gabe swam after her, "We'll do it your way."
"No," Quinn protested when Gabe finally caught her. She'd taken a deep breath so that she could recess to the safety of the dark water, but he had dived after her, and snagged her like lost treasure.
His arms around her stomach, Gabe's legs kicked until he had taken them back to the raft. In order to help the process, Quinn's legs kicked lazily, but she let her upper body rest against his. Into her ear, Gabe murmured, "If you apologize pretty enough, I'll go easy on you."
"Easy on me?" Quinn cried out softly. Grasping onto the green raft, Quinn turned to face Gabe with gooey brown eyes. All too used for her plays of innocence, Gabe's heart was armored against Quinn's claim to irreproachability. "I've been an absolute angel."
"You're toying with your future over an irrational sense of morality, you've slighted my impotence, and you're forgetting exactly whom you belong to," Gabe had one hand on the raft, one hand grasping Quinn's chin so she had to look into his stern gaze.
Though there was a spike of anger that shot through her at his words, a coy smile commandeered Quinn's lips. If only this cheekiness was a rare occurrence. Gabe watched as the troublesome thoughts piled behind her eyes, pulling his hand back from her chin. Whatever came out of her mouth next was sure to lose her gold star for the day.
Playful eyes danced at the opportunity he put before her. "I've slighted your impotence? So you are admitting that you have an impotency problem?"
Before he could catch her, Quinn slipped beneath the water, and arose again on the other side of the raft. Trying to swim around the raft, Gabe started, "Quinn Alexis Medeiros."
Careful to keep the raft between them, Quinn replied, "You don't have to be so macho about it. Everyone in this lake, and their fish, knows the truth." Quinn replied. It was a joke, because there were only two people in Lake Daria, ever. "Besides, why are you always telling me what to do?"
Sternly, he responded, "Because you let good opportunities bypass you."
Mockingly, Quinn returned, "And you know what's best for me?" What gave the man who had upset two mafias, three gangs, five countries and more than eleven joy rides under his belt, the right to chastise her about life decisions.
"I always have," Gabe asserted.
"What if you don't this time?" Quinn pondered.
Gabe snorted, "What could be better for you, than a fellowship at my mother's company?"
"Many things. I could work for NASA," Quinn said, because it was the first, and most obvious choice, "Or some government job."
This time, Gabe mocked, "I didn't realize you wanted to work for food stamps, and conduct research with limited funding."
"Shut up," Quinn whined, much to Gabe's amusement, since it was something she so rarely said. "It's not that bad. Besides, there are wonderful opportunities that people would kill for in Germany and Australia."
"We've stolen too much to ever go back to Germany, and you don't like kangaroos," Gabe told her.
"The pouch on their stomach's is just so weird," Quinn responded, "And I've only stolen that one statuette from Germany. You stole all those others."
Sweetly, Gabe reminded her, "Yes, but you drove the getaway car. Why don't you want to work for my mom? It's the perfect opportunity."
"You just want me to stay in this city, so we don't have to rock your perfect, snow globe of a world," Quinn accused.
"The point of a snow globe is to rock it, so that the snow flurries in it," Gabe pointed out.
"Crack it then," Quinn self-corrected.
Annoyance was so clear, and evident in her voice, and Gabe had yet to know what he had done to deserve it. Heaving himself onto the raft, Gabe grabbed Quinn's hands before she could let go. As if Gabe would ever allow her to be lost to the lake. Staring down at her, Gabe gave her a look that was halfway as bad as his strict, archangel glare, which always sent shivers throughout Quinn, making her contract meekly.
Instead, Quinn was merely paralyzed, as if Gabe had the power to hypnotize her. For a moment, she even forgot to keep kicking her legs, and if Gabe had not his hands clasped around her wrists, Quinn might have sunk.
His voice sounded careful, wanting to end an argument before it started, but Gabe still managed to sound dominating. "I want what is best for you. If you want to go all the way around the world, then do it, and I will follow you, or find someway to make it work. First, all you have to do is look me in the eye, and tell me this isn't the best opportunity there is for you."
Though her brown eyes were pinned on his even darker ones, Quinn's mouth stayed closed. Swallowing empty protests, she held his gaze impassively, and Gabe knew that he had won. Quinn might not have liked it, but she conceded nonetheless.
As a reward, Gabe lowered his head just enough to give her a soft kiss. To his pleasure, it was one that she eagerly returned.
Quinn stared at the hand-drawn picture. She had opened Romain's book again, and flipped past the first page. Staring at in surprise, she figured Gabe must have told Romain more than Quinn knew, because she had not told him about this very scene. Despite not being present, or even having known the two lovers at the time, Romain had managed to draw it exactly as it had happened. Gabe was half resting on the raft with his hands grasping Quinn's looking half like a playful cherub, half as if he was a vengeful archangel. Quinn was peering up at him through wet hair, like a chastised lamb shepherded back to the flock. Looking at it, Quinn was sure that without context, it was quite a confusing snapshot of the lovers, but she was more positive that she and Gabe remembered the outcome of it very differently. He had been positive that he'd successfully regained control, but inside of Quinn there was a small crystal of anger that was only going to grow.