quiet_curiosity: blonde haired woman in front of a wall looking down (Forlon)
quiet_curiosity ([personal profile] quiet_curiosity) wrote2013-05-05 05:11 pm

Every Word on a Whim

Title: Every Word on a Whim
Characters: Carolyn Stoddard, Quentin Collins
Word Count: 925
Summary: Carolyn and Quentin discuss and quarrel about her new suitor.

Notes: Title from a mishearing of a lyric in the song “Evening Fell Hard For Us” by James Blake.

* * *

“Oh, will you?”

The words had come out so quickly that they had barely registered with her. At the very least, should there be a problem, she was sure her tone had been light, if not joking. That should have nullified any real disagreement. But as the silence stretched into its second minute, she knew something was wrong. A quick glance at Quentin revealed knitted brows and a near scowl. Oh, I've really stepped it in, haven't I? She continued to walk forward, a bit anxious as to what he would say.

“I wouldn't have said it if I didn't intend to follow through,” said Quentin.

“It's not that I don't believe you,” said Carolyn, “I just don't see the need to resort to violence so soon in the game.”

“He is up to no good – for you or any other Collins. Believe me on this.”

Carolyn could only sigh. Stephen Brant was a sore spot for others in the family: Barnabas and Julia kept him at a distance and David possessed an almost pathological need to prank him at every turn. But it was Quentin, with his acerbic one-liners and barely concealed smirks, who had made his distaste in Carolyn's suitor the most known. It was a struggle to have them in the same building together, much less the room. The mere sight of one of them by the other was a sure signal for heated words.

“I believe that you feel that way, but I will not agree with you. Stephen has shown himself to be every inch the gentleman with nearly everyone in the house.”

“There's one key exception,” said Quentin.

“That's because you antagonize him.”

“He reminds of someone – a couple of someones, actually,” he said, seemingly ignoring her, “They're always the same vaguely attractive gentlemen in front of others but a real jerk when you get them one-on-one.”

“Romantic rivals, I should assume?”

“Always,” he answered with a hint of a smile.

“And did you win?” she asked.

“Usually.” Quentin stopped walking and took her by the shoulders. “I'm just asking for you to be more curious, even suspicious, of him. It's never steered a Collins wrong to err on the side of caution.”

“But sometimes it has: remember when uncle Roger refused that let that woman into Collinwood because she reminded him too much of his ex-wife, Cassandra?”

“It's amazing we that ever managed to find him! And I see your point. Still...”

“Shhh,” she murmured as she slipped free from is hands. She slipped an arm around his waist and said, “Come on, let's get back. The sky looks ready to cause trouble.”

“...Just like Stephen Brant.”

“If you insist, Quentin.”

They continued on in peace for at least two minutes. Again, the words took hold her and, despite knowing what they'd pull forth, she couldn't stop herself from asking: “What if Stephen asked me to marry him?”

Quentin stopped and stood a moment. “Has he?” he finally asked.

“No, of course not.”

“Then I would insist that you tell him no.”

“What if I said yes anyway?”

“Then I would do anything within my power to stop the ceremony from happening.”

“But what if we made it to the ceremony anyway?”

“Then I would be forced to stand in front of God and all of Collinsport and declare that this couldn't happen because …”

“Because you had found out his horrible secret?”

“The malpractice, the mob, the bodies...all that, of course. But also other things.”

It was Carolyn's turn to pause. Would he? She could feel the heat rising in her cheeks. “It would cause a scandal,” she said and squeezed him tightly round the waist in an attempt to get him moving again.

“Oh, of course,” he said, voice now half in jest. “But the Collins family can weather a scandal. And, if I understand history correctly, we have both caused a few in our days.”

Carolyn smiled and nodded. “This one might be different.”

“Probably not. The town would be back to holding the family in respectful contempt in no time.”

Again, Carolyn smiled. “And you would cause all this potential scandal to spare your walking partner the indignity of moving into town?”

“Well, who would I walk with? Julia? Barnabas would insist on coming and that would change the whole dynamic.” His eyes narrowed as he suddenly pointed ahead. “And look who has shown up on this dreary afternoon.”

Carolyn glanced ahead and saw the familiar outline of Stephen's car. For a moment she wanted to slow down, stave off the inevitable conflict for just a few moments more. But Quentin suddenly broke through her grasp and picked up his pace. “You don't have to rush into this,” she said, frustrated.

“I'm going to take another way inside,” he answered back. “There are better ways to the West Wing than the through lion's den.”

“If you insist.”

“Send him my love!”

“I won't!”

Quentin smiled before turning to run off.

Carolyn stopped a moment to watch him. Why don't I get you, Quentin Collins? A few stray drops of rain broke her focus. She too began to sprint until she reached the main door. She took a moment to tame her hair as best she could before opening the door.

It took a moment for her to find him, but there he was chatting with her mother. They both quieted once they noticed her watching them. “Oh, Stephen,” she said, “what a surprise! I was just thinking of you.”

It was true, just not in the way he would have preferred.