|Hide and Seek
Author: Elusive Lucidity PM
Quinn & Liam-two strangers who meet in a metro station and are instantly attracted. Throw in a scary list of exes who turn out to be super jerks, and Quinn begins to fear dating again in case a new jerk makes his place in her list of boyfriends. Well, Liam turns out to be just that-a jerk.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Hurt/Comfort - Chapters: 41 - Words: 114,419 - Reviews: 163 - Favs: 29 - Follows: 30 - Updated: 03-20-13 - Published: 04-18-12 - id: 3014483
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I got hooked to this song named My Gift of Silence by Blackfield. I think this song is appropriate to the Neil and Quinn part in the end. [I'm going misty-eyed :'( ]
Thank you Lethaldoze, forget the past, Water Balloon and readinglover for all your reviews! Although, I was a bit disappointed since some of my old reviewers didn't review.
Also, Anon. Y . Mous - Vera wasn't in the antique shop. She was just running past the shop when Neil was locking up and she bumped against him in her haste.
So, on with the chapter! :)
Something Gained, Something Lost
She was happy.
More than happy in fact.
The 'date' with Carter had gone absolutely fantastic.
She wondered how Carter could put her to ease so easily.
She had been aware that she had made an effort dressing up but she didn't want Carter to think that she was expecting more to come out of their dinner.
And Carter, ever the gentleman, didn't even hint anything about it, and didn't make her uncomfortable in the least.
He had been nice, complimented her in the right amount-without appearing to be smitten with her-and he found her amusing.
Quinn liked it when guys thought that she had a good sense of humour. She didn't have to try too hard with Carter. Somehow he just made everything seem natural.
At the end of their dinner, he didn't take her home right away.
He took her to a pier, where he said that the boats that shipped their cheese products harboured.
Carter had been wearing a sky blue shirt, the cuffs rolled back till his elbows, showing off his sinewy arms. And Quinn had to admit, it was hard keeping her eyes away from that corded arm of his when he offered her his hand so he could help her step down and sit on the pier steps.
Carter had sat down beside her, and with their feet dangling-just a few inches over the water body-they had talked about their families, their hobbies, accomplishments, regrets, possibly everything they could think of.
Quinn had been surprised how easily she could talk to him about her life. Usually she was a guarded person-only letting out things about herself that she knew weren't so personal-but with Carter, she couldn't hold back. And Carter had been both a good listener and conversationalist.
Since it had been a two-way thing, Quinn hadn't felt like she was the only one sharing about her life.
Quinn just woke up in bed and was thinking about all the things from last night and smiling radiantly.
There had been a slight glitch last night, which she thought she had managed properly.
Carter was driving her home, and he glanced at her every ten minutes.
"Afraid that I'll doze off?" Quinn teased.
"Guilty as charged," Carter grinned.
"Don't worry," Quinn assured him. "I can hardly fall asleep in a moving vehicle."
Carter smiled at her, and then turned his attention to the road.
"I've been meaning to ask-who was that guy back at your place? The one who had tripped you in the park."
Quinn's eyes widened and she cleared her throat a few times before saying the first thing that came to her mind.
"That was Adam's friend," she said and gave him a nervous smile. "We never get along. I don't know-the guy just gets on my nerve!"
Which was partially true.
"Well, tripping you-that's got to be personal," Carter chuckled. "What did you do to deserve that?"
Quinn waved her hand, trying to appear nonchalant. "I lost count. We are always trying to get each other in trouble. I must have done something that ticked him off."
"That sounds like those epic sibling rivalry stuff," she heard him laugh softly.
Except what Liam and Quinn had was SO not anything remotely close to a sibling rivalry…
But Quinn let the thought stray.
Quinn pulled down the duvet from her body and ran her slender fingers through her wavy dark hair.
After finishing the usual routine of brushing her teeth and washing her face, she stepped out into the dining area.
A knife and a fork scraped across Heather's plate as she cut off bits of omelette and stuck them into her already cramped mouth.
Adam set down his glass of freshly squeezed orange juice without finishing the whole of it, and checked his reflection in the silver mirror that hung on the wall a little way beside the breakfast table.
"Going to impress Candice, are we?" Quinn teased, folding her arms across her chest, and winking at Adam.
Adam almost strangulated himself while fixing his tie, and turned around to face Quinn.
Narrowing his eyes at her, he asked, "what did you just say?"
"Oh nothing. What did you hear?" Quinn asked, giving him an angelic smile.
Heather curiously followed their string of conversations.
"Who told you about Candice?" Adam raised an eyebrow at her.
"I hear things…" Quinn trailed away.
Uh-oh! Shouldn't have revealed that. Now she was surely going to be crucified by her mother!
"Who told you?" Adam repeated.
"God, Adam, cool off! If you don't want your own family to know, then fine, I won't bring this up again!" Quinn said, taking a seat beside Heather and popping two slices of bread into the toaster.
"You couldn't get a kick out of your romantic little escapade so now you have to poke some fun out of me," Adam said testily.
"What does that suppose to mean?" Quinn asked, plucking the toasted bread slices and arranging them on her plate.
"You definitely didn't get to make much progress in the 'getting close to each other department'," Adam smirked. "No goodnight kisses, dear sister? Aww…maybe next time."
"Shut up!" Quinn turned around in her chair to face Adam with a death glare. But she couldn't do anything about the heat rising up her neck to her face, undoubtedly making her face a shameful shade of red.
"We got close enough!" she added, then regretted saying it.
Heather pushed back her chair with a sudden force and huffed all the way to the kitchen, gripping the edges of her plate in an iron hold, rendering her knuckles pale.
Quinn frowned at her sudden departure and then fixed another glare at Adam.
"What's up with her?" Adam asked spreading his arms. Then he caught Quinn's glare and chuckled.
"Listen, baby sister-"
"Don't call me baby sister! You're just six years older than me!" Quinn cut across.
"Six years is enough!" he said smoothly. "So as I was saying, it's not hard to figure things out when you're concerned. You're like an open picture book."
With that, he gave her a mock version of French kissing (Quinn gagged at that point) and made his way to the door.
That was enough embarrassment to last her a century!
Adam peeped over the top of the newspaper and when he found her walking in his direction, her three inch heel clacking on the hardwood floor with every step, he straightened the newspaper and hid his face behind it.
Behind the newspaper, he ran hurried fingers through his hair, messing it up, and pulled the tie so it was loose around his neck. He didn't want to appear like those workaholic uptight fraudsters-acting all prim and proper, while they were nothing but worthless pieces of competition who tried to impress their bosses to come out as the employer of the month.
How bloody pathetic!
His head jerked up at the sound of her rich voice.
How someone could sound so alluring was beyond him.
"Hi, Candice," Adam smiled at her, trying to appear casual.
"Did you read the headlines?" she asked, placing a hand on his desk. "It's awful."
He frowned as she appeared dejected, and glanced at the headline so he could contribute to their current topic of conversation.
"Ye-ahh," he muttered. "Pretty bad."
He didn't even understand what the headline was about; something about demographic trend bar.
Really? Why did these newspaper headlines have to be so dramatic?
"You know what this means?" Candice said, looking all business-like all of a sudden. "It means we should target the eighteen to thirty ranged demographic because this age range is normally into sports magazines."
"We should broaden the range," Adam said thoughtfully. "How about from fifteen to forty? Forty year olds love 'em some sport!" He tried to sound country, which earned him a chuckle from Candice.
"Hmm, that's right," she nodded. "I should go discuss this with Dad."
Dad-as in the company's boss. Candice wasn't just a rich daddy-o's spoiled girl. She worked for the company and not really on any high position. She made sure the other staff could interact with her as an equal and not think she was the boss's daughter.
She was a member of the magazine's designs and layouts crew where she contributed ideas.
"Absolutely," Adam smiled at her.
Candice returned the smile and turned away from his desk and her blond hair that had been tied up in a ponytail swished to a side, the ends ending up in those adorable curls.
"Candice?" Adam called abruptly.
"Yes?" she asked. Her jade eyes studied him.
"I was thinking of going to this new bistro they opened up a few blocks away. Fancy coming with me for lunch?" he asked.
"I don't have anything to do, so why not?" she smiled.
"Right. We'll go together."
"Sure thing!" she gave him an amused look and walked off.
Adam set the newspaper aside, fixed his tie and flattened his hair.
Time to get back to work.
He shifted around in his chair, leaned far out to see if Candice had gone out of sight, and pumped his fist in the air in mock achievement.
Then grinning from ear-to-ear, he muttered, "thank God she didn't see that."
"She didn't; I did," Cole drawled in his seriously bored voice, clutching his fifth latte of the day.
God, talk about an overdose of caffeine.
Something had made Neil bring back the discarded overcoat that Vera had left behind.
He was now eyeing the worn faded brown coat that he had swung across the chair in his room.
Sighing deeply, he got up from where he was sitting on the edge of his bed and walked towards the coat.
Something about Vera hadn't sat right with him. The men who were chasing her made her look like a criminal-even she admitted that she was trespassing in her father's property. But he saw something in her eyes. Desperation?
She didn't seem as tough as she appeared when he had studied the vibrant green of her eyes. Her eyes somehow reminded him of Quinn's doe-like green ones.
However, there was a slight difference.
Quinn's eyes were more forest green, while Vera's were a dirty green. He snorted at his own choice of descriptions.
He picked up the overcoat and shook the pockets out.
Two 5 by 3 cm cards fell out of one pocket, and a battered looking cut-out of a photo slid out from another.
He stooped down to pick the fallen items.
One card read:
Ciara's Cup O' Tea
Your taste is our priority!
Open everyday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Manager: Kendra Woolsmith
Contact info: 555-20316 (Ext: 4043)
E mail: kw_ciara'scupo'tea
He flipped the card over and drew a blank.
Hmm. Maybe a place she frequented?
Fiddling with the other card, he read:
Lowman Pawn Shop
Bargains to kill for!
Contact: Paul Lowman (owner)
Lowman Pawn Shop? How fitting!
Bargains to kill for? That didn't sound quite appealing to Neil.
Frowning to himself, he stowed the cards into his pocket.
Why was he curious about a girl he barely even knew and when she had practically held a knife to his throat?
Maybe because he had sensed that she was in big trouble, and she needed help.
Those men would have pestered her if she hadn't found him lurking close by and used him as bait to ward them off.
He now turned his attention to the photo cut-out in his hand.
The gloss of the photo was still intact, but the scratch lines that ran across one side of the photo and the folding marks from the numerous times the photo had been folded stood out.
There had been someone else beside the girl with the black curls who was smiling at the camera with freckles spread out on the bridge of her nose. Only someone's fingers rested on her left shoulder.
The rest had been cut out.
The girl appeared to be roughly twelve. And her blue eyes shone with mirth.
He flipped the card over, and this time, he found two letters written in black felt tip pen.
If the photo had been significant enough for Vera to carry it in her pocket, she wouldn't be pleased to realise that she had left it in the coat's pocket when she'd thrown it away.
Tucking the photo in his pocket too, he shrugged on the jacket lying on his bed and headed out.
It took him sometime to understand that Quinn was actually standing outside the antique shop and was not a figment of his imagination.
Not that he hallucinated about her…
She was tucking her hair behind her ears every four seconds and chewed her bottom lip.
Neil had been observing her from afar, not sure what she wanted, or who she wanted.
Liam hadn't shown up since morning.
Slowly he walked in her direction, ignoring the chaos that had already stirred up in his mind.
Ever since Liam had told him that he loved her, and then gone and lived under the same roof as her as her supposed boyfriend, Neil had tried to avoid talking to Quinn, or Liam for that matter.
If Liam hadn't told Neil what he felt about Quinn, he probably wouldn't have realised his own feelings for her.
But he tried to be rational.
Of course Liam had to fall for Quinn. Neil had known it all along. And it was a matter of time before he came to terms with it. Neil had just been waiting for him to admit it.
And he did.
What Neil wasn't ready for was how genuine Liam sounded when he talked about his feelings for her. After all, Liam wasn't used to being attached to a girl for long.
He took a deep breath and neared her.
"Neil!" she exclaimed as soon as she saw him.
She rushed to him and stopped short just inches from him.
Neil resisted the urge to reach out and tuck the strands that had escaped from behind her ear and shoved his hands into his pockets.
"Wasn't expecting to see you here," he said, smiling down at her.
"I'm sorry. I should've called," she said, giving him a wry smile.
"Anything I can help you with?" he asked. "Want to step inside?" He motioned behind her to the shop.
"Ah, yes," she said, looking agitated again. "I'd rather speak to you outside." She cast a nervous glance towards the shop.
"Liam's not inside," he assured her, frowning.
She relaxed slightly, then gave him an apologetic smile.
"I don't know if Liam's filled in on the details of our arrangement with y-"
"Oh yes he has," Neil stopped her mid-sentence.
Quinn thought he sounded almost hesitant.
"Well, then, I haven't had the time to talk to him after…well, after he left. The circumstances were difficult, you can guess. So, according to our agreement, I was supposed to forgive Liam for the blunder he caused by lying to my family after he helped fix it. Now that things are back to normal, I wanted to let him know that I forgive him. And I'm very grateful that he helped me out," Quinn said. "You can pass on the message to him, right?"
Neil let out a sigh, then ran his fingers through his hair.
"I can," he said at last. "But I won't."
Quinn opened her mouth and then shut it as soon. The space between her eyebrows narrowed in confusion.
"Let me rephrase that," Neil said, smiling strenuously.
"I won't because you should," he said softly. "Liam would want you to."
Quinn looked defeated.
"I…want to. God, I feel like a coward!" Quinn huffed. "I want to but I can't because I'm seeing this other guy now."
Neil blinked several times.
"You are?" he asked.
"Yeah, I know it's too soon, but I knew him from before. Violet set me up on a blind date with him two months ago. The thing is…well, you know Liam," she shrugged. She looked uncomfortable.
"Well, he tried to make a pass at me a few times, and knowing him…" she trailed away. "Just…just let him know I forgive him, okay?"
Neil reached out and traced her cheekbone with his thumb and then let his hand fall.
"I hope you're happy now," Neil said in a low voice. "I'll let him know. See you, Quinn."
Then he walked past her and unlocked the antique shop's door and let himself in.
Quinn stood outside, trying to comprehend what all that meant.
She gingerly touched where Neil had and wondered why Neil looked and sounded so desolate.
It was funny how once she had thought that Neil and she could have a future. Neil was one of those down-to-earth, amazing sort of guy.
Except, the timing was never right. And Neil slipped away before anything could happen.
She shook her head and headed towards her car.
Truth be told, I wrote this chapter with a heavy heart.
But this had to be written. *I am so cruel!* =(
A/N: I don't know how to write American contact numbers, so I made up random contacts. Forgive me if they're all crap!
And, if there are grammatical errors, forgive me too. I haven't had the time to go through this! :O
Thanks for reading and don't forget to leave a signed review! :D