I heard shouting as the door closed and breathed a sigh of relief. I looked at Quinn who was standing with his arms acrossed his chest and a cocky grin on his face.
“I had you scared. Didn’t I?” He asked that grin never left his face.
“That was not funny!” I pretended to scold him.
He chuckled shaking his head. Looking up I realized his eyes had softened. Oh no! Dropping his arms he walked toward me. Slowly I stepped back meeting the wall. Shit, I didn’t think I was that close to the wall.
Turning to the field door I said, “Well Mr. Carter, thank you very much. I have to get to work --”
I froze as he placed his arm on the wall in front of me. I looked up at him in shock. He had never been this forward.
“You know you wouldn’t have to deal with this kinda stuff if you would accept my offer.” He said smiling. I took a deep breath and looked down at my feet. Turning to face him I decide I need to ask the question I’ve had in my head since he started pursuing me.
“You know you the most sought-after single guy in our generation, right?”
He raised his eyebrow tilting his head a little, “Every girl but you. Yes.”
“Oh! That’s it!” great I didn’t even have to ask the real question, “So if I had sought you out like the other girls than this wouldn’t be happening.”
“No. That’s not true either,” He smiled again, “There is something about you that I find… intriguing.”
It was my turn to be more confused. I examined his eyes and as I looked his eyes flashed yellow. I gasped and took a step backed up. He frowned.
“Are you okay? You went pale for a second there.” I watched his eyes I saw concern in them. He really did worry for me but his eyes? Was I it… my imagination? I gasped as his hand touched my forehead. The ripples I get from contact with the living spread across my body. Quickly I moved away. His waves were very strong making me dizzy for a second. He stared at me in shock. He had never touched me before. Oh no! Did he see something?
“I’m sorry! I don’t handle physical contact well. Thank you for your concern I am feeling well.” I replied.
He smiled and dropped his hands. Gesturing to the field door he began to walk. I pulled out my communication device and started to put my earbuds in to listen to music. Thank god a lot of the technology survived. The music really helps me focus.
“So, are you doing anything after work detail?” I looked up in shock holding my earbuds in my hands. Was he still going to pursue me?
“Um…. I,” I looked toward the fields, “I think I need to get to work before we both get in trouble.”
Quickly I put my earbuds in and walked past him carefully avoiding contact. Walking toward the table I picked up one of the baskets. All I need to do was plant the seeds in this basket and I would be done. Short! Simple! He must not have seen anything. Otherwise, why would he continue? Carefully I looked at him from the corner of my eye. He was still watching me. Damn! Is he gonna wait and ambush me when I’m done? I need to come up with an excuse. Oh! Denise I still need to make her something. Looking up toward my row I smiled to myself. That will work! Now I can enjoy my hands in the dirt.
I bent down to start my row. As I slide my hands into the dirt and pretend to examine the consistency as I enjoy the low thrum that comes from the earth. I put the dirt back and set to work. The music gives me my pace. I plant the entire row in no time and look up. I see Denise crouched by her row just staring at the dirt. Standing up I put my stuff away. How could they make her work? Turning around I take out my earbuds and walk toward her. I feel a hand land on my shoulder. I look up.
“You know you can’t do her work for her,” Quinn says the sadness echoed in his eyes.
“I know but I think I have something that can help her. She will get in a lot of trouble if she can’t find a way to work.” I look back toward her.
“Be careful.” He lifted his hand up. Thank the elders I didn’t wear a tank top today. So much skin contact. Slowly approached her.
“Denise?” I crouched down.
“Oh!” She smiled at me with eyes full of tears. My heart broke for her.
“Hey. I saw what happened.”
She looked back down, “I know I need to work but it just doesn’t seem to matter. He’s gone.” She covered her face and cried. Carefully avoiding skin contact I wrapped my arms around her. I squeezed her trying to ease her pain. As her sobs slowed I pulled back.
“Hey, I have an idea,” I pulled out my communication device and unplugged my buds, “Have you listened to music?” I looked at her.
“No. But how will that do anything?” she looked confused.
“It distracts me. Maybe it can do the same for you just long enough to work. I don’t wanna see you get in trouble Denise. Not now. You’re strong. Chris is probably worried about you. If he hears that you got punished over all this he will feel very guilty. Just remember there is a chance he will return. But he can’t do that if you give up.”
As she handed me her device she smiled and said, “Your right!”
I smiled. Quickly I copied all my music and handed her my earbuds.
“Rose,” Quinn was right behind me, “she has to get to work.”
I looked over my shoulder. “Mr. Carter, I need just a few more moments, please.”
He smiled and raised an eyebrow, “You owe me.”
Crap! That was gonna come back and bite me. “Very well.”
I turned back to Denise and quickly showed her how to play, stop, and delete the music.
“I hope this helps,” I smiled gently.
I gasped as she suddenly wrapped her arms around me. I stiffened as the waves washed over me.
“Thank you.” She whispered and broke contact. Quickly, I pressed my hand to the dirt leaning over and breathing deeply as my stomach turned.
“Rose?” I heard Denise.
“Sorry, I got dizzy all of a sudden.”
“Hey,” I heard Quinn’s voice, “You have to go now, Rose.”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Carter,” I stood up slowly. As a righted myself, my stomach did a flip. Rushing by Quinn I headed to the bathroom in the locker room.
“Hey!!” I heard him shout.
Reaching the bathroom, I threw up the apple I had for breakfast. Sitting down beside the toilet, I tried to catch my breath. Crap! I hope that didn’t blow everything. I have worked hard trying to make sure the STC doesn’t find out about my ability. To much contact can overwhelm my body. Finally, having caught my breath, I stood up and flush the toilet. Suddenly, I heard the door slam open and my blood went cold.
I let out a breath when recognized Quinn’s voice. Slowly I crouched down to see just his feet. Standing back up I opened the door. Quickly he rushed toward me.
“Are you okay? What happened?” He seemed anxious.
“Sorry, Mr. Carter. I just got nauseous all of a sudden.” I smiled at him and turned to the sink. I scanned my wrist bracelet and splashed water on my face. Grabbing the last moments of my water I rinsed out my mouth. Turning around I saw he was still standing in front of the door and watching me.
“I’d like to take you to the infirmary.”
Quickly, I raised my hands and shook my head, “N-no. I’m okay I just need to rest that’s all.”
“Then let me see you back to your residence.”
“What about your work? You can’t just skip. You will get in trouble.” I replied. As I try to inch past him, he reached out to grab me. Dodging him I end up slamming my arm into the metal divider behind me. Gasping I grabbed my arm.
“Are you okay?” Quinn asked.
“Yeah. I’m fine. Just need-“
“A little rest,” he finished, “I’m sorry. I wasn’t gonna touch you. I already talked to the overseer for the next round. He took over. So, after all that the least you could do is let me escort you to your residents.”
Still holding my arm. I looked at this man who was grinning. Is he honestly trying to guilt me? If excepting gets me out of here faster so be it.
“Do what you want,” I answered rolling my eyes. I watched as he stepped out of my way and held open the door for me while giving me enough room so that I didn’t have to worry about touching him. I switched my shoes while Quinn stood at the assignment room door. Again, he opened the door giving me space to walk.
“Hey, will you go to the infirmary to get an ice pack for that?” he asked pointing to my arm. I looked down it was really swollen. I attempted to move it and winced.
“It’s not broken,” I looked up at him and stopped. I tilted my head to the side.
“Why do you care? I’m just a worker,” I asked.
Looking out the large window, he ran his hand through his sandy, brown hair.
“Well it’s kinda my fault,” he looked back at me, “besides I wouldn’t want my future wife to get any permanent injury.”
I felt my jaw drop at the face of this smiling, determined man. I must admit if I didn’t have my little problem I probably wouldn’t have pushed him away for so long. Quickly, I turned and walked toward the door that led to the street. I can’t let him have any hope. I can’t drag him with me. I made the decision a long time ago that I would stay alone because if I am ever found out the STC would take any family and execute them as well.
“Okay! Okay!” He stepped in front of me with his arms up in surrender, “maybe that last bit was much but I still would like you to at least get some ice. I know it’s expensive, but I will buy. Please.”
I stood watching this man who always seems put together stumble over his words. I felt a real smile stretch across my face as a laugh came out.
“Okay,” I answered. As my laugh settled I looked up at his face which seemed to be frozen in shock. Quickly, the shock was replaced with a grin.
He started to walk toward the hall that led to other offices with me beside him. It’s been a long time since I laughed.
“You know I’ve never seen you smile. Let alone heard you laugh,” he echoed my thoughts then looked down at me a smile on his face, “You should do it more often. You look radiant when you smile.”
I looked down at my feet trying to hide the fact that I was blushing like crazy. I heard whispering behind me and frowned. I looked over my shoulder to find some men had poked their head out of their offices and were looking in our direction. I looked forward there was nothing ahead of us. I looked up at Quinn.
“Are you in trouble?”
Looking down he raised an eyebrow, “why do you ask?”
I nodded behind us, “they’re staring at you.” He looked back with a grin. Then he looked back down at me and laughed. Watching me carefully he said, “You should be more careful.”
“Huh? What are you talking about?”
Quickly he reached out and wrapped his arm around me pulling me closer. I gasped as a worker went running by with STC agents on her tail. I turned my head toward Quinn’s chest. I didn’t want to that watch again. Suddenly, a shrill echoed through the halls. I stopped supporting my injured arm and gasped as I covered my ears. I pressed my hands tightly against my ears trying to block the screams that echo from that women’s lungs. I grunted and fell to my knees as a sharp pain thrust itself through my chest. I knew she was dead. As the pain died down I realized I was breathing hard and that there where another set of hands over mine. Opening my eyes and saw that I was wrapped in Quinn’s arms with his hands over my hands trying to help me block out the sounds. Slowly, I started to move and looked up at him. He looked down and smiled. His lips were so close I could feel his breath caressing my lips. Gently he wrapped his hands around mine and lifted my hands off my ears a little.
“Are you okay now?” he asked.
Slowly, I nodded. Wait? Why wasn’t I feeling the waves and ripples? I looked at his hands. He had pulled his long sleeves crossed his hands to prevent touching my skin. I looked up at him confused. Why does he care so much?
“We need to get you to the infirmary now. Can you stand?” he asked, his voice low.
Slowly, I nodded my head. I could feel my body shaking and I couldn’t speak. I gasped as I lowered my injured arm. Crap! I think I made it worse. Slowly, I tried to stand up but didn’t make it far as my legs gave out. Suddenly, a warmth surrounded me, and I was up in the air. Looking up, I realized that Quinn had picked me up.
Smiling warmly down at me he said, “Don’t worry I got you.”