Read Shattered Grace (Fallen from Grace) Online

Authors: K Anne Raines

Tags: #testing, #not working

Shattered Grace (Fallen from Grace) (6 page)

BOOK: Shattered Grace (Fallen from Grace)
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A smile played at the corners of his mouth, touching the depths of his steel-gray eyes. He made a big display of the takeout. “Where do you want this?”


Probably the kitchen. Unless you want to just pass the boxes back and forth until we’re full?”


Funny.” Gently, he brushed past her and walked to the kitchen, straight for the cabinets and drawers that held the plates and silverware, grabbing what they needed.


You obviously know your way around this kitchen,” she observed.


That I do.” He then grabbed napkins from the cabinet above the refrigerator.


Because…you’ve known my grandfather for years?”

Hands full, he turned to Grace. “Yes. Where do you want to eat?”


How ’bout the family room? I was lying in front of the fire.” Grace eyed him, wondering quite literally where he had been all her life. A stupid thought in truth, since she was only seventeen. “Since you clearly have things under control, I’m going to go to the bathroom.”

As if enjoying some inside joke, he smiled. “That I do. But a fire, Grace? You do realize we live in Utah and it’s pretty warm right now?”


You know what they say about those who can’t take the heat,” Grace said jokingly.


Trust me. I can take the heat. I’ll meet you in the family room next to the fireplace. You know…where the heat is.”

 

 

Grace came back to a note sitting in front of the fireplace and no Quentin.

Meet me out back. Q

So much for being able to take the heat, she mentally scoffed, and walked through the double doors leading to the backyard oasis. Utah was known for its dry, arid desert; Morgan Manor was known for its views of distant stony canyons. It was beautiful.

Large blossoming fruit trees lined the path to the pillared gazebo where Grace expected to find him. From where she stood, all she could make out was the bell-shaped roof of the gazebo. Grace took in the scents of cherry and apple blossoms as she followed the path created with slabs of natural slate. The smell was more amazing than the views, in her opinion.

Not seeing Quentin under the gazebo, she continued down the path to its right and brushed aside a low-hanging branch to reveal a grassy clearing before her. Her eyes widened with surprise at the picnic setup Quentin had managed to pull together in the few minutes she was in the restroom.

In the middle of the grassy knoll, Quentin sat on top of a blanket, take-out boxes scattering the center of it. His shoulders bunched under his blue button-down shirt and his hair fell forward as he reached for the boxes, opening their tops. Still not noticing her, he mumbled to himself and ran his hand through his hair, pushing it from his eyes. Grace quietly watched him with a smile, taking in the Quentin view. The sleeves of his shirt were rolled up to his elbow. On his left wrist he wore a watch, and a thick leather bracelet on his right. She never noticed jewelry on a guy before, but on him, it looked totally hot. Her stare remained fixed on him as he pulled his leg up, to rest his elbow on his knee. Slowly, he pulled a napkin between his fingers. A fluttering in the pit of her stomach took her by surprise as she remained mesmerized by his hands

A soft breeze ran over her, and for a second, the smell of water and fresh night air enveloped her. Closing her eyes, she breathed it in. When she opened her eyes again, Quentin was turned around and watching her with a grin. The flutters instantly died down. She felt stupid, but seeing the picnic had her smiling back.


Hungry?” he asked, still smiling.

Grace sat down across from him on the red gingham blanket, unable to contain a wide, toddler-like grin as she crossed her legs Indian-style and reached for a plate.

Quentin nodded toward the plate in her hand. “I would have already had your plate dished, but I wasn’t sure what you’d want to eat.”

She gestured to the feast that he had set out. “Hello? You’ve done more than enough bringing me this food and the tissues.”

He handed her a wineglass full of liquid the color of sunshine and lifted his glass close to hers. “Here’s to new friendships.”


To new friendships.” She gently touched her glass to his before taking a tentative sip
.
The liquid was lemonade. Homemade lemonade. Her favorite. “How’d you know?”


Know what? That you’d like the lemonade?” He gave her a playful smile.


That too. But no, the tissues.”


Yesterday at the reception you continued to use that shredded-up tissue, and your nose looked more worn-out than the tissue. I figured there wasn’t anything softer in the house, or you would have found it. And Christophe told me about the lemonade.”

Inside she was torn. She was happy her grandfather had talked about her favorite things, but sad he wouldn’t be talking about anything ever again. “Perceptive
and
observant,” she said instead, not wanting to need the tissue any more today.

Quentin chuckled. “I’ve been accused of worse.”


Oh, really?” Grace’s brow pulled up. “Like what?”


That’s not a conversation for today. Eat. I don’t know about you, but I do not like cold Chinese.”


I don’t either.” She smiled, glad she’d made the phone call.

They relaxed into an easy conversation while they ate. It didn’t take long for Grace to toss her chopsticks, however. She was done pretending to be fluent with them and dug a plastic fork out of the take-out bags. Easier to eat and easier to talk. Of course, Quentin managed to expertly wield his chopsticks, bringing his food to his mouth without dropping any. Some people are born with all the talent, she mused.

Reminiscing about Christophe with Quentin made her feel better, smoothing out some of the rough edges of her mournful heart. Some of the stories they shared between them brought out her emotions, and Grace more than once had to fight against her compulsion to reach out and touch Quentin’s arm. She knew it wouldn’t be appropriate and imagined him bolting as soon as she did, thinking she was coming on to him.

There were two things Grace knew without a doubt she couldn’t handle right now:
A)
his being mortified by thinking she was making a pass, and
B)
trying to explain the reason for the touch. She decided the best thing for both of them would be for her to keep her hands to herself, so she slid them underneath her thighs and pinned them beneath her.

It was easy talking to Quentin. As she sat with him now, she understood why her grandfather had said she could trust him. She imagined pulling out her secret and sharing it with him. The thought of being able to trust someone with something she had only shared with one other soul made her a little giddy, but also somewhat anxious.

When the shadows lengthened and the sky began to hint of twilight, Grace realized it was getting late. “Crap! Do you know what time it is?” she asked.

Quentin looked at his watch. “It’s 7:05. Do you have a date?”


Kind of,” she said, hurrying about gathering the food and dishes from their picnic. “I’m supposed to meet Emily at Latté Da’s at seven thirty.” Her hands filled with paper containers, she paused and glanced down at Quentin, smiling with what she thought was a great idea.


What?” he asked, his voice not quite steady. “Why are you smiling like that?”


You wanna come with me? It’ll be fun and
you get to listen to some awesome music.”

Quentin looked away as he rubbed absently at his shirtsleeve. “Hmm, awesome music, huh?”


Actually, I can’t guarantee that, so don’t hold me to it. Em’s boyfriend is playing tonight and she said his band is great. She isn’t an unbiased spectator, though,” she said.


You sure you want me hanging around? I won’t cramp your style?” He chuckled in an adorable self-deprecating way.


Seriously, Quentin, my style? You dress better than any male or female at Woods Cross High.” As he stood, she let her eyes roam, taking inventory of his “style.” Not able to control the roaming, she noticed how his beige slacks fit just so, and how the ridges of muscle under his blue shirt continued stretching down the length of his forearms. “Trust me, if anything, you’ll help my style.”

 

 

Quentin was standing in the foyer when she walked out of the kitchen. Grace stopped and leaned against the doorjamb, looking anywhere but into his eyes, and hesitated, wanting desperately to ask him once again to go with her to Latté Da’s. Instead, she bit her lower lip in indecision, reluctant to appear too desperate in his eyes.


Okay,” he said with a sigh. “I’ll go.”

Grace felt a huge smile take over her face before she could stop it. “Great!” she said too fast. Hurrying to the table next to him, she put her cell in her purse and flung it over her shoulder.

The smirk Quentin wore as she rushed past him toward the front door gave her pause, but his next words stopped her in her tracks. “On one condition.”

She pivoted and cocked her head before asking tentatively, “What’s the condition?”

He crossed his arms across his chest, tightening the shirt that hugged and defined his pecs, as his smirk widened into a Cheshire grin. “I get to drive.”


Simple. No problem.” She lifted her shoulders in a “fine by me” shrug.


I get to drive the Shelby,” he clarified.

Oh no! Not so simple and not so fine. Reflexively, her stomach clenched at the thought of someone else driving her car. “I don’t usually let anyone drive it.” Grace prayed inside that he’d let it go.

Quentin dropped his arms and took a step toward her, moving closer into her personal space. “Maybe we can work something out.”


Like what, me driving us in my car?” Grace’s eyes turned to slits as she glared at him. She knew she was a little irrational and selfish when it came to her car, but she couldn’t help it. With her grandfather’s recent passing, she felt even more possessive of it.

His voice took on a cajoling tone. “You let me drive your car and I’ll let you drive my Jag any time you want.”

She had to give him an
A
for effort. She’d noticed the late model top-of-the-line Jaguar in the circular driveway when Quentin first arrived. It was a sweet ride.

BOOK: Shattered Grace (Fallen from Grace)
9.71Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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