Here is the second in my series on the characters in The Wounded World. Those of you who have read the book know that Quin finds one particular woman interesting--Meriym. Well, several of my author friends are romance authors, so naturally I decided a little romance might be fun. You can read the original post here.
For those of you that don't know, the book takes place (in part) on the planet Sagitta, where Quin, a tall, dark, and silent man employed by the local military, returns home to find that his father has disappeared. He also discovers that his father has left behind a mysterious and dangerous Door which can take you to nearly anywhere in the universe. Accompanied by his close friend, John, Quin sets out to find out what happened to his father. Along the way he meets the beautiful Meriym.
This entry is designed to give you a taste of Quin and Meriym’s relationship - post-novel.
A little background: The main characters of this snippet are Quin and Meriym. John is Quin’s best friend, Wolf is a mutual acquaintance of Meriym and Quin, Kip is Meriym’s son, and Melissa is a coworker of Quin and John’s who works at the Globe. In addition, giving leaves is a symbol of affection in Meriym’s culture, as opposed to flowers in ours.
Quin and Meriym Go On A Date
He stood patiently on the curb, awaiting the arrival of Meriym. Wolf was due to drop her off at this spot, two hours before sunset. He thought that perhaps he should feel nervous, but there were a lot of things that should probably make him nervous and didn’t. Besides, Meriym had explicitly told him not to be nervous, and he was good at taking orders.
At precisely two hours before sunset, Quin heard a cough. He turned his broad shoulders and bald head to the left to see Meriym and a very hirsute Wolf striding towards him. Meriym was stunning, in a dark red dress with intricate embroidery around the hems. Her hair was piled on her head, and she wore sparkling sandals on her feet.
Placing a small smile carefully across his lips, he nodded at them. Wolf scratched the ground with one foot, and then leaned forward and slipped a leaf into Quin’s hand.
“Thanks,” Quin said, and pulled an entire bouquet of leaves from behind his back. Wolf nodded in approval, grunted once, and disappeared into the nearby bushes.
“How sweet!” Meriym exclaimed, taking the bouquet from him.
“I picked a safe restaurant,” Quin explained, leading her down the street. The venue, only about a block away, was famous for its Marbresian Bird Delight and potato salad. She seemed to like just about everything; and if she wasn’t a fan of the menu, he would take her somewhere else. In fact, he probably should take her somewhere else, he mused, so John wouldn’t know where they were going to eat.
The restaurant featured brick walls adorned with unusual feathers from various species of birds. This probably had something to do with their most famous dish. Small lights were hung in strings across the ceiling, which Quin quickly scanned for security cameras. There were eight in the front lobby, and probably countless others in the dining areas. Many high-level government officials ate here on a regular basis, which meant that John would be able to keep an eye on this date from every angle.
The hostess, with a feather necklace and a strange feather headdress - really, they were taking this whole bird theme a little too far - led him and Meriym to a table. It was secluded, as Quin had requested beforehand, but not too dark. There were still four cameras pointed at the table.
He scanned the room. A couple sat at a table on the far side; a family of four dined at a larger table by the windows. A lone man read a newspaper a few tables over. Quin frowned. A lone man at this restaurant? It seemed odd, but he put it out of his head.
He turned his attention back to Meriym.
“How was the trip over?” he asked.
“Oh, fine,” Meriym replied. “I was surprised by how close you are! It only took us about fifteen minutes to get here, even though Wolf said we were travelling thousands and thousands of miles.”
“Doors make everything a lot quicker,” Quin agreed. “I’m excited about the ramifications of the new Door especially - I think sharing culture is going to be a fun and interesting challenge.”
“We already do it on Path,” Meriym agreed. “And it seems to be working out, now that everything has pretty much stabilized. I feel so lucky that you were the one that came to rescue us from imminent destruction.” She looked down, her long eyelashes dark against her cheeks.
A cough sounded from the man with the newspaper. Quin ignored it, and stared at Meriym instead. How could he tell her that, in fact, he was the lucky one?
“How is Kip?” he asked instead.
A smile played across Meriym’s lips. “He was very jealous and wanted to come with me. I promised him that we would set up a playdate with John sometime soon.”
Quin chuckled, and then silently berated himself for not thinking of that sooner. That would have been the perfect strategy to prevent John from spying on Quin’s first date in many, many years.
“How is John, by the way?” Meriym asked.
“Oh, I’m fine,” came a voice from the other side of the room.
Quin closed his eyes and took three deep breaths. When he opened them, the man with the newspaper had risen from his seat and now stood next to their table.
“It’s lovely to see you!” An enormous grin plastered his face.
“I thought you were going to play with your ringworm tonight,” Quin stated calmly. He thought that maybe he should be angry, but really, hadn’t he expected it? Expecting John to mind his own business was a bit as realistic as expecting John to grow up.
“Good news! Stacy cleared up my ringworm with a little bit of Doctor Miracle’s Miracle Lotion!” Nodding excitedly, John slipped into the seat next to Meriym. “Mind if I sit down?”
Quin shrugged and leaned back in his seat. Only a few more minutes - then John would be gone.
“I was just telling Quin that we should set up a time for Kip to come see you!” Meriym said to John. “He really wants to see your lab, and you told him once that there might be some exotic animals for him to visit.”
“Oh yeah!” John was practically vibrating from his excitement. “I thought I would show him the lab, and the zoo, and the observatory! And then possibly, we could go get pretzels. Can he eat pretzels?”
“Those are doughy pastries with salt on them?” Meriym asked.
John nodded enthusiastically.
“Of course he can!”
“Speaking of the zoo,” Quin said. “Did you hear the news earlier?”
A frown slipped across John’s face and he shuddered. He turned to Meriym. “Do you know what a tarantula is?”
She shook her head.
“It’s a giant, evil, eight-legged, disgusting piece of nature that should rightfully be completely obliterated from the universe! And it escaped!”
Quin shook his head. “It’s a spider.”
“Oh!” Meriym exclaimed. “Poor thing! It must be so scared!”
“Poor thing? POOR THING?” John leaped to his feet. “How could you even say such a thing? I can’t believe… you…?”
At the next moment, someone shrieked on the other side of the room. Quin turned his head. A table of people were rapidly pushing their chairs back and rushing to get out of the way of a young woman heading towards their table.
“John!” the young woman exclaimed, beaming.
“Melissa?” A horrified expression crossed his face. Melissa worked in accounting and finance at the Globe. She and Quin had known each other for quite a long time.
“Good news! We caught poor little Fetch. He didn’t actually run away at all - one of the school kids tried to give him a new home.” She held out her hand.
John shrieked. “YOU BROUGHT HIM HERE?”
“It was right on the way back,” Melissa explained. “Quin said you might be here.”
Quin felt a grin growing across his face.
“You… you…” John stuttered. His face was deep red. “How dare you!” He looked back and forth between Meriym and Quin rapidly. He took a deep breath and scooted around Melissa, keeping as far away from the spider as he could. Then, he ran from room, calling over his shoulder, “You two deserve each other!”
Looking across the table at Meriym, Quin let his smile grow even wider. She returned it with a smile of her own.
“I’ll just leave this here,” Melissa said, winking at Quin. She bent down and set the rubber spider on the table. “You two enjoy dinner.”
“Thank you, Melissa,” Quin said, smiling, and then turned his attention back to the beautiful woman sitting across from him. “Shall we eat?”
“We shall,” Meriym replied, reaching out to take his hand. “And I think I’d like to try Marbresian Bird Delight, if you don’t mind.”
“That sounds perfect.” Quin nodded. And it was.