Mia's Heart


Page 11



“Are you a cowboy?” I ask him, eyeing the way that sweat is rolling off his abdomen. I fight the urge to lick it.

Gross. Lick sweat? What is wrong with me?

Am I a freak?

He smiles. “Yes, I guess you could say that. I like to ride things. Does that make you nervous?”

I stare him blankly. “Nervous? Why would I be…oh.” His meaning hits me like a truck and I blush. “I get it. You like to ride things.”

I smile, even though I’m pretty sure my mom would kill me for engaging in this conversation. But what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her, right?

“And, no,” I add. “I’m not nervous. I can handle anything.”

“But you don’t even know who you are,” Quinn reminds me with another grin. “So how can you handle anything?”

I love the fact that he doesn’t pussy-foot around me. Everyone else has been and it has grown so annoying. I don’t need to be handled with kid gloves. I’m not going to break.

“True,” I concede. “What all do you ride, beside women and horses?”

Quinn’s dark eyes sparkle. And I find myself transfixed by that. His eyes are such a dark brown, like a rich gourmet chocolate. I’m mesmerized by them.

“I ride four-wheelers, horses, bulls, you name it. But I haven’t seen any bulls in Caberra yet, so I’ve settled for Titan. Dante bought him for Reece when they were still here. She told me that I can mess with him.”

He gestures toward the enormous devil of a horse behind him. I eye the beast cautiously.

“Titan looks a little dangerous,” I point out. Quinn only grins. He’s so relaxed in his worn-out jeans and boots. He’s like the epitome of country charm. I gulp.

“Oh, I sort of like a little danger from time to time,” he tells me. “It keeps things interesting.”

“Oh, really?” I shake my head. “It’s all fun and games until you wind up in the hospital.”

Quinn laughs. “I’m very good at handling danger, so don’t worry. Everything will be fine.”

“Will it?” I ask and Quinn nods.

“Yes.”

And I don’t even know what we’re talking about anymore. I’ve been distracted by his handsome good looks and his charm and all of the sexual innuendoes that have been flying around.

“Do you want a ride?” Quinn asks. I’m startled because I’ve been staring so hard into his eyes that I wasn’t expecting him to speak.

“On Titan?” I stutter.

He laughs.

“Unless you have a better idea,” he says with one brow raised. He patiently waits for my answer while I die of embarrassment. I can literally feel the heat splashing across my cheeks.

“Uh, no. I don’t have a better idea,” I stammer. I don’t know where my wits have all gone. They seem to be missing in action. I curse them silently and order them to come back. They silently laugh at me and then run for the hills. I have rogue wits.

Quinn’s damned eyes continue to sparkle.

“Well, that’s a pity. If you think of something, let me know. Until then, yes, I was speaking of the horse.”

“I don’t know how to ride,” I tell him. “At least, I don’t think I do. Do I?”

Quinn shakes his head. “I don’t know. You and I just met awhile back. Horses aren’t all that common here in Caberra, though. So I doubt it. But I heard that you’ll be staying here for a while. Maybe I could teach you. We could work out a trade. You teach me to swim, I’ll teach you to ride.”

I stare at him hesitantly. “I don’t know if I remember how to swim. But if I do, I’ll be happy to teach you.”

Quinn throws his head back and laughs.

“Mia, you are a constant surprise. I never know what to think with you. I like it. Okay, it’s a deal. If you remember how to swim, you can teach me. And I’ll teach you to ride regardless. Deal?”

I nod immediately, because the image of me sitting in front of him on that horse, leaned back against his strong chest between his legs, is enough to give me heart palpations.

For real.

“Deal,” I agree.

“Now, how about I lead you around for a bit on Titan. I’ll have a hold of his head the whole time so there is nothing to be afraid of,” Quinn tells me. My chin automatically juts out on its own accord.

“I’m not afraid of anything,” I announce. And then I’m startled by that. I’m not? Those words came out on their own. I didn’t even think about them. It was Old Mia talking. Maybe I like her, after all.

Quinn appraises me and there is appreciation in his eyes.

“Come on, then,” he tells me, holding his large hand out. I take it and he leads me into the paddock. He holds his hand out to Titan, who huffs a big breath out of his gigantic flared nostrils before he steps closer to Quinn.

Quinn snaps a lead rope into the ring on the halter and I fight the urge to run. What was I thinking, agreeing to this? Titan is enormous. And he’s looking at me with the wild eyes of a demon as he stomps the dirt with his huge demon hoof.

Ohmygod.

I’m an idiot.

This horse is a freaking demon.

Quinn looks at my face and laughs.

“Come on, Miss I’m-Not-Scared. It’s alright.”

He makes a cup out of his hands and motions for me to use it. I wedge my foot between his fingers and he boosts me up. I swing my other leg around and before I know it, I’m situated on top of the demon.

HolyHell.

I’m an idiot with amnesia who is sitting on a demon.

A very tall demon.

I gulp.


“Calm down,” Quinn tells me as he glances up at me. “Horses can sense fear. There’s nothing to be afraid of. I’ve got you.” He pats my leg before he walks to Titan’s head. And I can feel the imprint of where his hand was on my thigh. I swallow. He has a very sexy hand. Both hands, actually.

“You know, in America, horses are sometimes used for therapy,” Quinn tells me conversationally, as he leads Titan out of the coral. I am panicky as we leave the confines of the fence. A fence means safety. And since I am outside of that fence, I am no longer safe. I swallow hard.

“Are you saying that I need therapy now?” I ask, only half joking. I clench my thighs around Titan’s bare, broad back. I so don’t want to fall off. There’s no way that Quinn could catch me in time and I’d break my neck. I fight the urge to leap off and run for the house.

Quinn glances back up at me.

“Oh, you’ve probably always needed it,” he tells me. “I’ve never met anyone who tried so hard to be someone that she’s not.”

That definitely gives me pause.

It’s almost the same exact thing that Elena said.

“I’m kidding,” he chuckles as he sees my expression. “You did try hard to portray a certain image. But I’m sure you didn’t need therapy. Just a reality check.”

I stare at him.

“A reality check? How well did you know me, anyway?”

Quinn shakes his head and wipes a little sweat from his brow. He’s got a strong jawline. I love that. I fight to focus on his words, not his face. It’s a difficult feat to master.

“Not that well. But you were fairly easy to read. Not so much now, though.”

That pacifies me a little.

Sort of.

“Why not now?” I ask slowly.

Quinn looks at me uncertainly. “Because it’s hard to read someone who doesn’t know who she is.”

“Who do you think I am?” I am practically whispering now. I suddenly feel very, very tired. I’m physically tired, I’m mentally tired and losing my identity is just a bit exhausting.

Quinn stops and turns to me, taking a step and then another, until he is pressed against my leg and staring into my eyes.

“I think you’re a sweet little bird who has always tried to break out of her cage because you really had no idea what life is like outside of your world. And now you’re a sweet little bird who doesn’t know what to think. All of your masks are gone and now you are forced to be yourself. It must be scary for you.”

He doesn’t sound sympathetic, just matter-of-fact.

And I have to respect that.

I nod.

“I’m not a bird,” I tell him. “But you’re right about one thing. I don’t have anything to hide behind now, that’s for sure.”

“Why would you want to hide at all?” Quinn asks, still staring into my eyes. “That’s the part I could never figure out. You don’t have anything to hide from. You can take life by the tail if you want to. It’s yours for the taking.”

“What’s mine for the taking?” I ask, momentarily confused by his nearness. He smiles.

“Anything you want.”

I suck in my breath.

And he inhales deeply.

And then the moment is broken by my mother’s shrill screaming.

“Mia Alexandria Giannis. Get off of that animal! You’re going to break your neck!” I turn and find her rushing out of Giliberti House toward us and Quinn grins at me.

“I take it back. You might want to hide from that.”

I smile back as warmth floods through me. He lifts me down and I enjoy the feeling of my body pressed against his, even though it only lasts for a second. His heart beats against mine.

Ba-bump.

Ba-bump.

He glances down at me and his eyes are like melted chocolate. And I want to eat him up.

Eat him up?

Yep. With a freaking spoon.

I’m insane.

But he makes me feel so good.

That’s a fact that I come to realize as I turn away from him to meet my mother. Quinn walks away to take Titan back to the stables and I miss him immediately. Just like I missed Gavin in the hospital yesterday.

They both make me feel good in two different ways.

I sigh.

Because I know that I’m in trouble. I don’t even know who I am, but I just woke up from a coma and I find that I want two separate boys for two separate reasons. That can never be good.

At least I know that much.

Chapter Ten

Dinner at Giliberti House is interesting.

Marionnette, Darius and Quinn eat in the kitchen, because that’s the way they’ve been doing it. Quinn apparently didn’t want to eat in the formal dining room alone and the Papous would never eat in there because they don’t consider that proper behavior. They are staff, after all. Even though they seem more like family.

But my mother refuses to eat in the kitchen.

“Mia,” she sighs. “The wife and daughter of Stanyos Giannis cannot eat in the kitchen. It just isn’t seemly.”

So, we eat in the formal dining room.

Alone.

And it feels so stuffy and unnatural. And I hate it.

As I stare down the long table at my mother, I hate it even more. I have to practically yell so that she can hear me. That’s how big this table is.

I want to join the others in the kitchen, where it is warm and cozy and because Quinn is there. But that’s not going to happen. My mother told me as much. Right after she threatened my life if I ever got on a horse again. And told me that I need to stay away from Quinn. Which of course, for some reason, had the immediate and opposite effect. I want to be near him more than ever.

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