Mia's Heart

Page 28

“Fat chance,” I mutter. “Gavin’s dad isn’t reasonable.”

“Well, perhaps he will be this time,” my mother insists. “I want you to go outside and take a walk. You should get some fresh air. You need a distraction.”

“Speaking of distractions,” Dante interjects. “My father is christening our new yacht today. It’s sort of sentimental, actually, since we’re replacing the boat we could have been killed on with a new one. Plus, our old yacht was named after my mother. And our new one is named for Reece.”

This surprises me, because I didn’t know anything about this. But then, I’ve been wrapped up in my own problems lately. Suddenly, I feel like a terrible friend.

“I didn’t know any of this, D,” I tell him. “I’m so sorry. What are you naming it?”

Dante grins, a brilliantly white smile that is full of pure adoration as he stares at Reece.

“The Sunflower.”

I have to smile. Kansas, Reece’s native state in America, is apparently filled with sunflowers. It’s why Dante is always calling her his sunflower. And I get a huge lump in my throat because this is the sweetest thing on the planet.

“That is so sweet,” I tell him. I don’t know why my eyes feel like tearing up. I’ve been so emotional lately. So again, I blame it on my injury. That injury comes in sort of handy.

“Isn’t it?” Reece asks happily. “I couldn’t believe it when he told me.”

I can believe it. Dante adores her. And I’m suddenly once again envious of their relationship. I feel ashamed of that envy though. If anyone deserves it, it’s them.

“So, we’re christening it today,” Dante continues. “And I know it seems like a bad time, but it might be a good distraction for you to come. We’re having a little party on the boat afterward for close friends and it might be a good opportunity to talk with Stefan.”

I stare at him. “That’s an excellent idea,” I tell him. I glance at Quinn. “Want to go?”

He shrugs and smiles. “Sure. Apparently, I’ve never met a party that I didn’t like.”

He’s so casual and cool and collected about everything that it makes my heart constrict. If it were me, I’d be flying off the handle and freaking out. But he’s not. He’s as calm as can be. We’re like yin and yang. Perfect opposites.

“How about we go for that walk now?” Quinn asks me quietly.

“Sure,” I tell him.

We leave everyone else in the Great Room as we head out the back doors into the fragrant gardens.

“Your concern for me is sweet,” he tells me as we walk down the picturesque winding stone path. I glance at him.

“Of course I’m concerned for you. I can’t believe this is happening. You can’t go home right now. You just…can’t.”

He stops. We’re hidden behind flower vines now, a good distance from the house beneath our own little canopy of white flowers. I gulp a big mouthful of the scented air.

“Is there a reason why not?” he asks huskily. “Is there a reason why you want me to stay?”

I am frozen as I look into his brown eyes.

There are hundreds of reasons. I can’t even begin to list them.

“Yes,” I say simply.

And I lean up and press my lips to his, pulling his face down to meet mine. I wrap my arms around his neck and I feel like I don’t ever want to let go. And at that realization, I pull away, breathless.

“There is a reason. It’s because I don’t ever want you to leave,” I tell him. “I want you to stay here with me. I think I’m falling in love with you.”

Quinn sucks in his breath and pulls me back to him. His lips crush mine and he lifts me up. I circle his strong waist with my legs and he holds me there, for what seems like an eternity. I am surrounded by his musky male scent and his muscular arms. I love being in his arms. So I tell him that. And he squeezes me tighter.

I kiss him until I can’t breathe.

And then I tell him that I can’t breathe.

He laughs and slides me to the ground.

“What am I going to do with you?” he shakes his head. I grin.

“You’re going to figure out how to get out of this mess and stay here with me for the rest of the year. And we’re going to date. And then you’re going to fall in love with me, too.”

I stare at him.

He stares back.

“What makes you think that I haven’t already gotten started on that?”

I smile. “Have you?”

He nods slowly. “Mia, I’ve been falling in love with you for weeks.”

It’s my turn to suck in my breath. And then I kiss him again.

And again.

And again.

And then one more time for good measure.

“We’re going to live happily ever after,” I tell him.

Quinn stares at me. “Oh, we will, will we? I thought happily ever after was just a fairy tale thing?”

I sniff. “Shows how much you know. Besides, we live in paradise, Quinn. Obviously, we live in a real life fairy tale.”

“Hmm,” he answers. “I didn’t realize that fairy tales had police stations and handcuffs and black eyes. But I’ll take your word for it.”

He grabs my hand and we continue walking.

“Quinn, my dad will talk to Stefan. And we’ll get this sorted out.”

Quinn glances at me. “Thank you, Mia. For believing in me so strongly that you went to bat with your father. I know that was hard for you.”

I shrug. “It turned out to be pretty painless. So, don’t mention it. Until such time that I need to call in a favor and then I’ll mention it.”

Quinn laughs. “Hmm. Okay. The next time I have to save your topless ass from paparazzi, you can mention it.”

I laugh and feel warm, fluttery feelings.

We walk and chat for quite a while longer. Quinn picks me flowers and I carry them. We stop periodically and kiss. And then kiss more. I love the dimple that he gets when he smiles. And I love his lop-sided grin. And the way he always tastes like mint. I tell him these things and he shakes his head, making me realize that I also love it when he shakes his head. So I tell him that, too.

He says that he thinks that my head injury might have done more damage than we originally thought.

So I smack him on the arm.

Then kiss him so more.

After an hour or so, Dante and Reece come out and find us and we sit and have lemonade on the veranda. Reece watches the way I hang onto Quinn’s arm with a knowing smile. But she doesn’t say anything. And no one has been able to reach Gavin yet. But we put it out of our minds.

It has to work out.

It has to.

Reece and I go change our clothes into sundresses. Mine is hot pink, my new signature color. I wear strappy sandals and pink lip gloss. I’ve decided that I enjoy being a girly girl. Sort of.

I also blame this on my brain injury.

Dante and Reece have to leave for the christening early, so Quinn and I ride together in Darius’ truck. I slide over and sit in the middle.

Our ride is silent, but he reaches over and grabs my hand, holding it on his leg. It feels so good to be here with him. I lay my head on his shoulder and close my eyes.

We have to fix this.

We so have to fix this.

When we arrive at the pier, there is a small crowd already formed. The crowd quickly gets bigger. The Caberrans see this christening as a sign of re-birth. After the assassination attempt last year and the earthquake, it is a step forward. A symbol. It says, We can move on no matter what obstacles we face. It causes a lump to form in my throat.

We are allowed to board the boat because we have a personal invitation from Dimitri. So, we stand behind him with Dante and Reece as Dimitri speaks.

He speaks of hope and grace, of strength and patriotism. He speaks of enthusiasm and hard work and faith and love. My throat constricts more with each word that he speaks. Quinn squeezes my hand. I lean into his side.

Finally, the champagne bottle is broken on the side of the beautiful new yacht and the ceremony is over.

Quinn and I take a tour of The Sunflower and I am astounded at the beauty of it. It’s gorgeous and bright and modern. There are bedrooms and a galley and sitting rooms. There is a wrap-around balcony with a railing and there are reading nooks. There is a hot tub, even. It’s a gorgeous boat. But the one thing we don’t find on our tour, is Gavin.

Or Stefan.

And that makes me feel nauseas.

How can I plead Quinn’s case if I can’t find them?

I console myself with crab cakes and a glass of champagne. Quinn has a glass too and reminds me that the drinking age in America is twenty-one. He can’t get over that it is legal here for us.

I am not as enthralled with that because this is normal for me.

We make our way to a sitting area on the stern of The Sunflower. Surprisingly, there is no one out here and we are alone. I perch on the cushioned edge of the seat and stare out at the rippling turquoise water.

Quinn pulls me into his lap. And he nuzzles my neck and kisses me until I’m breathless. Goosebumps form wherever his lips touch and I shiver from the sheer pleasure of it.

“You’re so strong,” I tell him as I run my fingers lightly across his chest.

He smiles. “And you’re so small.”

I smile. “True.”

“I feel like you might fit in my pocket,” he says conversationally. He pulls me more tightly against him. “Mia, even if I have to go home, we can make it work. Look at Dante and Reece. They managed it, until Dante went to America.”

I sigh.

“But they were miserable,” I tell him. “That’s why Dante went to America. And they’ve been together ever since.”

“I know,” he says quietly. “But we’ll figure it out. Look how much we’ve overcome already. You had a brain injury for god’s sake. And here we are now- you’re sitting on my lap and you’re in love with me.”

“I’m falling in love with you,” I remind him laughingly. “Don’t get ahead of yourself, Awesome One.”

He laughs. “Heaven forbid,” he answers. “Let me know when you’re there, okay? That might be a good thing for me to know.”

I laugh, but before I can answer, before I can tell that I do, in fact, love him right now, Reece pops her head out.

“There you are!” She walks out onto the deck. “I’ve been hunting for you everywhere. Gavin’s here. He arrived an hour ago. You should go talk to him, Mia. He might listen to you.”

I’m already up and on my way.

Quinn stays with Reece, because that’s the smart thing to do. But I weave through the crowded rooms. And I don’t see him.

I walk all around the yacht on the deck and don’t see him.

I search through the galleys and the reading nooks.

I don’t see him.

And then I head to the upper deck.

After walking around the deck walkway, I head down a middle hall. And I hear him laugh. There is no one up here because this is where the bedrooms are.

But I hear him laugh again.

He’s definitely here.

I follow the sound.

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