Without a fancy gown, minus makeup and dancing music and any emboldening drinks inside her flat little tummy, the woman remained beautiful. Quentin hadn’t seen her...well, since that long-ago evening. A gorgeous creature like this should stand out on campus. Just the men sniffing at her heels had to make her obvious. Yet there she was, a solitary creature sitting beside the library table, wrestling with a book that had to be made from uranium, those pages looking so heavy between her elegant fingers.
She was Egyptian. Was he told that, or did he just assume? Whatever her origins, she had definitely danced with men twice her age, and Vinnie had warned him that she couldn’t be trusted. But why not? Reasons weren’t given, or they were forgotten. Or they were no reasons, and the only purpose in Vinnie’s cautionary tone was to leave Quentin available for a certain Persian.
Nearly a year later, and this man was instantly, happily angry.
The Egyptian hand dropped the current page and she sat back, and after a moment of determined frustration, she looked up, discovering a strange man staring.
Quentin considered offering his help in whatever subject this was.
But she stood first, coming close enough to talk with a library-suitable voice. “I know you from somewhere,” she said.
The tone wasn’t unfriendly, but it was guarded.
Quentin nodded. “There was a party--”
“At New Years,” she guessed.
There were a thousand flavors of joy, but being remembered was among the best.
“I was one of the drivers,” he volunteered.
He offered it.
She hesitated. Nodded slowly. It was the reaction of someone who couldn't place that specific name. It was a politely vague gesture meant to shroud ignorance, and that made her more appealing.
“What’s your name?” he asked.
She meant to answer, to share her precious identity. But some recollection tugged, and she repeated, “Maurus,” and then, “Quentin.”
“I’ve heard about you.”
Bracing himself, Quentin waited.
The smile was pretty and a little wise. “I remember,” she said. But instead of explaining her mind, she made a swift retreat to the table, grabbing up the uranium book before fleeing the library.
“Good night,” she said to the air, to the lights.
But not to him.