Two Days Later
Monday afternoon found Anna sitting in her art studio, editing the last batch of images she had captured of a birthing shoot the previous night. Her client’s labor had lasted a grueling ten hours but Anna had persevered and now held the priceless proof of life’s greatest miracle in her hands. She no longer knew how many births she had witnessed and photographed. It didn’t matter. Each one flooded her with newfound hope in humanity. And each one left a shadow of despair upon her heart as it became clearer she would never know the pure joy of motherhood that she was well paid to put on film. She quickly dampened that train of thought as the muscles in her neck screamed at her for some much needed rest. It was the perfect time to stretch her legs and grab a cup of coffee to carry her through the remainder of her day as she glanced at the clock.
Anna grabbed her coat and flew out the door, already craving the sweet heat of her favorite latte. The noise of the city invaded her senses as the cold nipped at her tired body. Anna had been so consumed with the photo session since she received the call yesterday; she was a bit disoriented by the passage of time as she joined the masses making their way home after a long Monday spent in cubicles or in meetings. Anna dug her hands into her coat pockets, grasping for every bit of heat when she felt Quinn’s business card slide along her fingers. Immediately, a different type of heat flared throughout her body as she remembered his good-bye kiss.
It was no wonder she was so exhausted. She slept miserably Saturday night after they parted ways. She had relived every word of their conversation, determined to discover exactly at what point their meeting had become derailed. She was still perplexed. Was it possible she had misinterpreted what Quinn meant by “but something tells me that if I invite you back to my apartment for more, I will lose a piece of you that I will never be able to retrieve”? But it was the passion in his kiss that had robbed her of sleep and coherent thought until she had been called upon to do her job.
Since then she had not been able to consider her options regarding the too charming, too worldly, too good to be true Mr. Wilcox. Anna was too much of a realist to believe that she had a future with this man, but she could not deny that she had enjoyed his company immensely. And why should she be denied that experience again if he was willing to indulge her until he tired of her? Decision made, Anna halted on the sidewalk and called the number on Quinn’s business card.
Expecting a receptionist to answer his business phone, Anna almost dropped her cell when she heard the rich baritone of his voice, “Hello, Anna. I was expecting to hear from you before now.” As she was pushed out of the way by the rush of pedestrians, Anna struggled to find an appropriate response and just blurted, “Why are you answering your own phone?”
Quinn’s chuckle lit her entire spirit with a smile. There was so much comfort to be found in his easy going manner with her, she forgot to be annoyed with their prior parting. “Well, as you pointed out, it is MY phone. Who were you expecting to answer?” he teased.
“Oh, a voice much sweeter and much more feminine,” she playfully tossed back.
“Who has a voice you consider sweeter than mine?” Quinn quipped, obviously basking in their banter.
Anna thought back to the kiss and the physical attraction she felt in every pore. “Many voices are sweeter, but I don’t know anyone that has a mouth I enjoy more,” Anna confessed before realizing that she actually spoke the words aloud to Quinn.
“You’ve accomplished something very rare, Anna,” Quinn intoned.
“You’ve surprised me with your candidness and you’ve made me blush.”
“It’s a shame I cannot see that blush as it would be quite a reward,” Anna pouted in an attempt to hide her mortified state.
“I am more than willing to reward you with dinner since I am hoping that this phone call was to request my company,” Quinn acquiesced. “Do you have plans tonight?”
Anna’s mind began to spin with the possibility of seeing Quinn. She felt herself reaching blindly for balance before everything went black. She fell to the pavement with phone still clasped in her hand and Quinn calling out her name.
Anna opened her eyes and was mortified to be surrounded by a sea of concerned but strange faces. She attempted to sit up but needed no one to tell her that was not a good idea at the moment; however, a kind, older gentleman firmly held Anna’s body down in a bed of donated coats as he assured her, “It is okay. Help is on the way. Let’s not rush anything.”
It took a moment for his words to register in her addled brain before she began to panic, “Help? I don’t need help!! Please tell me you didn’t call an ambulance!”
“No, he didn’t. I just asked him to keep you calm and warm until I arrived,” Quinn soothed as he knelt by her head.
Although embarrassed by her predicament, Anna was instantly put at ease to have Quinn at her side. “How did you get here so fast? Internal super power or in a super vessel such as the Bat mobile?” Anna quipped as she tried to mask her weakened state.
Quinn lowered his head until his mouth was next to Anna’s ear, “Let’s make a deal, shall we? Once your health and well-being are restored, I promise to answer one question for every request of mine you currently fulfill without hesitation.” Quinn felt Anna’s sharp inhale as she processed his words. He could feel her objections about to explode from her lips when he quickly covered them with his own mouth in a quick but firm kiss. “Or would you prefer an ambulance, Miss Jones?” Quinn commanded as he pulled back slightly to watch Anna’s eyes dilate in surprise.
Anna glared at Quinn’s obvious bribery but knew that he would most certainly call her bluff and an ambulance if she didn’t relinquish some control. Resigned to accepting his help, Anna meekly asked, “May I please sit up now?”