Amateur

Chapter 10

Alex should have canceled. That’s what she told herself over and over this weekend. Going to lunch with this woman was all but sealing her fate. She knew that.

But Quinn’s words from her office were stuck on repeat in her mind no matter what she did. No sense of logic could keep her from this lunch.

And that kiss. She had never had a kiss like that. Her whole body was still on fire that no amount of touching herself could satiate.

When she told Quinn that she was going out of town it wasn’t the complete truth. She often left the city on weekends to go to her family’s residence in the East Hamptons, but not usually this late in the year.

But self-preservation reared its head after that kiss, and she packed up and headed out as soon as her last meeting was done.

She thought some distance from the bustle of the city might clear her head of Quinn. But it became clear quickly that the still and quiet of the empty house just made her think about Quinn even more.

As she took her seat at the restaurant she’d chosen for them, she was more nervous than she could remember being in a long time. Though to be fair, Quinn was also different than any woman she’d met in a long time.

She still couldn’t believe Quinn had seen her perform, especially in that production. One that still meant so much to her.

You’re inspiring too, Alex. She repeated Quinn’s words from her office in her head. It just makes me want to bend over this desk for you.

Christ. The woman wasn’t even there yet and Alex could already feel her pussy throb.

Perhaps Courtney was right, and she should give in to her desire for Quinn. What harm could really come of it?

But then she pictured her father’s sneering face in her mind and knew exactly what would happen. He was bad enough in the meet and greet last week, acting as if Alex was the only reason Quinn even had a shot in New York. As if Quinn wasn’t a best-selling author in her own right.

Simon would use any whiff of a theater romance as reason not to promote Alex. It was almost as if he was challenging her to sleep with Quinn. She wouldn’t give him that satisfaction.

Then what was she doing here? The question kept rolling around in her head. She didn’t get lunch with random artists at the theater. Why was she even entertaining this?

Deep down though, Alex knew the answer to that question. She may be playing with fire, but she was there because she also wanted to get to know Quinn better.

Well, what she really wanted was to hear more deliciously dirty things from the brunette’s mouth. She wanted to see Quinn submit the way she promised in her office.

Before she could school her thoughts into the platonic ones she should be having, the door to the restaurant opened and her mouth went instantly dry at the sight of the woman coming in.

Quinn was wearing a simple white dress that flowed over her curves. The top of the dress was cut low and tighter than the rest, which gave Alex, and everyone, a healthy view of her cleavage. Her dark hair was down and cascaded over the thin dress straps and her pale shoulders.

She looked stunning but the only thing Alex could focus on was the woman’s lips, which were painted bright red. With her white dress and shoes, the red lips were the only color Quinn had on.

She smiled slowly when she saw Alex and swayed her hips knowingly as she walked over to the table.

“You look like you’ve never seen a woman in red before,” Quinn joked as she sat down at the table.

Alex had yet to stand up, say anything, or perhaps even blink. She shook her head ever so slightly as she watched the woman sit.

“You did that on purpose,” she said to Quinn with her eyebrow quirked.

“Mad about it?” Quinn smiled widely back at her.

Alex wanted nothing more than to tell Quinn exactly what she wanted to do with her blatant sass. How much she wanted to make another part of the woman red, preferably with her hand. But they were already treading dangerous waters and Alex had to maintain some semblance of professionalism.

“On the contrary, you look lovely, Quinn.”

Quinn’s eyes, which a moment before danced with humor and a challenge, were now looking at Alex softly.

“Thank you. You always look good.”

Alex loved how pale Quinn’s complexion was, illuminating even the softest of blushes. She was such an open book. Her emotions were always worn transparently on her face.

Alex reached to take a sip of her water so she had a reason to look away and not get lost in those beautiful eyes. Quinn was a near perfect specimen in every way—but it was those eyes that haunted Alex’s every thought.

“I didn’t ask if you were a vegetarian, but they should have some options of you are,” Alex said as she put down her water and picked up her menu.

She was acting like a nervous teenager and needed something to do with her hands even though she always ordered the same salad at this restaurant.

“I’ve noticed that you generally Gaziantep Otele Gelen Escort don’t ask, you tell. But no. I’m not a vegetarian. Though I don’t eat fish.”

For a few moments Alex let her eyes linger on Quinn as the brunette browsed the menu. Each time she saw something that looked good, she let out a small hum. Normally that kind of thing would annoy Alex, but on Quinn it was charming.

“No fish?” she finally asked when Quinn looked up from her menu.

“I love fish. I even own some. They’re so cute. It’s too mean to eat them.”

It was official. Quinn was the cutest thing Alex had ever met. She couldn’t help but laugh at the statement.

“I have so many questions,” she said in a mockingly serious voice.

“Oh please, ask away.”

At that moment a waiter came up to their table to take their orders. After leaving their table, Alex turned her attention back to the beautiful brunette across from her.

“You have fish? Like Nemo? In a tank?”

Alex couldn’t fight the full out smile that reached her lips as she asked the question. She also couldn’t help but notice Quinn look at her lips as she did so.

“First of all, I’m honestly shocked you know who Nemo is.”

Alex faked offense. “I don’t live under a rock you know. I also know who Buzz and Woody are.”

Quinn let out an easy laugh before continuing. “Ok then. Yes, I have fish. Leo, Don, Raf, and Mike. I named them after the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”

“What if you got another one? You’re out of reptile siblings.”

“Already prepared. Splinter. Or April. Or Shredder. There are a lot of options,” Quinn said as she gave Alex an easy smile.

“Of course,” Alex laughed back. “Next question. Why is it mean to eat a fish but not the chicken you just ordered in your sandwich?”

“It’s not. I’ve just always loved fish. And I grew up spending summers on a farm. Something about being made to slaughter a turkey at the age of five takes some of the cuteness away.”

Alex looked horrified. “Five? Are your parents’ farmers?”

“Hardly. Just my grandparents. My parents like to act as if they’ve never seen a farm. But my sister Claire and I spent a lot of time there as kids when my parents were working over the summers.”

“Where is this farm?”

Alex found herself leaning forward on the table. She wanted to know more about Quinn, even these little details that made her who she was.

“About an hour outside of Seattle. It’s not big, they don’t have major livestock or anything. Just chickens, and goats and stuff.”

“And doomed turkeys.”

“And those poor, poor turkeys.”

Quinn stuck her bottom lip out in mock sadness and Alex had the urge to grab onto it.

“Are you close to your parents and sister?” she asked instead.

“Claire’s my best friend, well, besides Mikey. I got into some trouble a few years ago and they were my rocks. My parents,” she waved her hand in the air in dismissal, “not so much.”

Alex wanted to ask about the trouble she mentioned but didn’t want to pry. Besides, intrusive questions tended to be reciprocated and there were plenty of topics she didn’t feel like broaching over a nice, relaxing lunch with a beautiful woman.

The waiter brought over their food and for a moment they were both comfortably quiet as the dug into their respective dishes. Quinn hummed as she ate, lightly rocking her head back and forth as if she was listening to an amazing song with each bite. She only stopped when she looked up and noticed Alex watching her.

“Sorry, I just really love food. Bread was my kryptonite as a model.”

“I think I remember a chapter in your book called Bread.”

Alex realized after she said it that she just admitted to not only seeing Quinn’s show in the festival, but also having read her book too. The look on Quinn’s face indicated she was just as surprised by the admission, but she graciously let it slide.

“Now you know about my fish, which to be fair, is highly personal. Tell me something about you, Alex.”

“No fish,” Alex said as she took a sip of water.

“What about parents or siblings? I met your dad so I kind of know how that one is, but are you close with your mom?”

“She passed away.”

Alex looked down at her food and played with her fork before she looked back up at Quinn.

“But we were very close.”

“I’m so sorry Alex. How old were you?”

Alex didn’t want to talk about this, but she knew it would come up inevitably. Once she lost a parent, she realized just how often that topic came up with people. She knew from experience it was easier to just get it over with.

“College. It was breast cancer. Right after that production of Streetcar you watched. She got sick and I moved back in to take care of her.”

The mood was notably heavier now and Alex regretted not ordering a real drink before.

“Did you ever finish school?” Quinn asked, her food all but forgotten.

“Not at NYU for theater like I was. But I did get a degree in business while I was her caretaker.”

“Were you doing that alone? No brothers or sisters?”

Quinn’s eyes showed a compassion that would normally make Alex defensive. The line of questioning was making her fidget and uncomfortable, but there was something in the back of her head that urged her on and made her feel like Quinn was safe.

“No siblings. I’m pretty sure the first thing my dad did after I was born was go to a different floor of the hospital for a vasectomy. One child was enough for Simon Anders I can assure you. But my mom hated other people in her house, so I took care of her.”

“That must have been really hard to do on your own.”

“I wanted to be there.”

Alex never wanted anyone to think she was a victim of her mom’s cancer. She made the choice to drop out of NYU to take care of her and she never regretted that decision.

“I used the credits I was able to transfer and did online classes and night classes until I got a degree.”

Alex gently pushed her plate aside. Memories of that time essentially disabled her appetite. She was reminded of why she tended to keep conversations centered on other people.

“Did you go to college?” she asked Quinn in an attempt to veer the conversation off that painful topic.

Luckily, Quinn seemed to understand and didn’t press for more information.

“No. My parents thought it better to take advantage of the modeling offers I was getting at the time,” Quinn said.

“Did you want to go to college?” Alex asked, relieved the conversation was focusing on Quinn once again.

“At the time I guess I agreed with them. It was just so easy, and the money was good. I got caught up in the whole fashion machine. But looking back I wish I had thought about it more.”

She looked off at another table for a minute, lost in thought. Alex took the chance to admire her face. She had such expression etched into every pore.

“Everything in modeling is very fleeting. One wrong move or a pound too many gained, and it all comes crashing down. I guess I wish I had thought about what else I’d want to do if people valued me over how I look.”

She turned her attention back to Alex and grinned. “I sound like such a brat. Like life is so hard for me.” She laughed again but her usual light-heartedness didn’t reach her eyes.

“And what did mini Quinn want to be when she grew up?”

“A dolphin trainer.”

Alex felt her body warm at the silly comment.

“Really?

“No. Actually, I wanted to be a writer when I was a kid.”

“A writer?”

“I know, kind of stupid.”

Quinn looked down at her napkin and Alex noticed this was the most insecure the usually confident woman had looked since they met. She wondered who had made her so embarrassed about this particular dream.

“How is that stupid? You’re a best-selling author and now have an Off-Broadway show. Seems pretty fitting actually.”

Quinn’s head snapped up at that.

“Most people don’t see it that way. Most people think the book did well because no other model has really written so openly about high fashion. Plus, people are interested in me for a lot of reasons that have nothing to do with my writing. Even Mikey thinks this show is an opportunity to move more into the acting side of things.”

“But that’s not what you want?”

“No. I don’t know. Maybe. I like performing the show. But I liked writing it even more. And I’m just being myself in the show. That’s not the same as acting.”

She gave a small smile and shrug as she looked down at the napkin her anxious hands had torn apart as she spoke.

“Sorry, I don’t usually talk about this.”

“We can stop if you’re uncomfortable. You can tell me what your favorite fish is instead.”

“It’s ok.” She gave Alex a small smile before she went on. “I can’t really complain. I’ve had a good career and luckily still have offers coming in.”

She waved her hand in front of her in a way that said she was ready to move on to a new topic.

After more conversation they both stopped pretending they would eat any more and let the waiter take their plates. Without the dishes in the way, both women leaned in without even noticing it.

“While you were creepily stalking me on the internet, did you happen to notice that Courtney was in that NYU show with me?”

Quinn let out an exaggerated scoff and reached across the table to pinch Alex’s arm. Alex tried to not to focus on how warm her fingers felt.

“I was not stalking. I was doing my due diligence as an artist at your theater.”

Alex was legitimately laughing, and she couldn’t remember the last time she felt so carefree in a conversation.

“But no! I had no idea. I honestly didn’t recognize her at all. Who was she?”

“Stellaaaaaa!” Alex said as she raised her fist in the air.

“I can’t believe I didn’t recognize her,” Quinn said as she shook her head gently. “You guys went to school together?”

Alex nodded. “That’s where we started that theater group.”

“And there were never any sparks there?” Quinn asked as she flicked her eyes down to Alex’s lips.

For a moment, Alex was in a daze as she watched Quinn lightly slide her tongue across her bottom lip. She cleared her throat before answering since she didn’t trust her voice at this point.

“No,” she replied with her eyes transfixed on Quinn’s mouth. “We tried when we first met but it never clicked that way for us.”

Why was she whispering? And why was Quinn lightly biting her own lip?

Bringing her out of her trance was the waiter next to their table asking if they needed anything else. Sensing danger, Alex handed her card over without even looking at the bill.

Quinn didn’t argue but simply watched the waiter take Alex’s card before turning an intense gaze back on the blonde.

“Why didn’t it click with Courtney?”

“I like to be in control,” Alex replied.

“Clearly,” Quinn said with a smile as the waiter returned and handed Alex the card folder. She waited for him to leave the table again before asking her next question.

“And is Courtney a top too?”

“She likes to think she is.”

Alex could feel Quinn’s eyes on her as she signed the bill.

“Don’t you ever miss it?” Quinn asked.

“Sex with Courtney?”

“No smart ass. I meant, acting.”

Alex paused for a moment before answering.

“Nostalgia can be potent but it’s also very limiting. Being an actress was just one part of my life. This is a new one. One I’m very good at and passionate about. Maybe one day I’ll do something else, but for now I have certain goals I’m determined to make happen.”

Quinn looked at her like she wasn’t convinced but knew it was better not to push the topic.

“You’d be a good professor. You’re very good at the lecturing thing. Maybe that’s what’s next.”

“Cute,” Alex deadpanned back but a second later a small smiled slipped onto her lips.

“Besides writing, was fashion always something you were passionate about?”

Quinn gave a harsh laugh. “Definitely not. I just wanted my parents to leave me alone. They were always trying to get me into some extracurricular activity like my sister, but nothing ever took. They hated that all I wanted to do was hole up in my room and write poetry.”

“You don’t talk much about your beginnings in the show. How did you get into modeling?”

“I try to keep my family out of the show as much as I can. But a friend of my parents was a casting director in LA. When I was 14, he sent some school headshots I had done to some modeling agency looking for talent in local regions. Before you know it, I was taking professional shots with a Seattle modeling agency and going on jobs a month later.”

She spread her hands in front of her like becoming a successful model as a teen was the easiest thing in the world.

“I missed a lot of school, but my parents had an arrangement with the administration. I was able to take tests after school and on weekends to make up for any time I missed while on shoots.”

“The school agreed to that?”

“I guess everyone thought it would help maintain a more normal lifestyle than hiring a tutor. Plus, my parents couldn’t have afforded that unless they dipped into the money I was suddenly making. And they didn’t make that choice until years later.”

“Your parents took your money?”

Alex knew she was asking Quinn a lot of questions for what was supposed to be a casual lunch, but she was more and more intrigued by the woman the more time she spent with her.

Quinn’s show painted a fascinating picture of what it was like to be a young model, the highs and lows she experienced coming out to an industry full to the brim of queer people who cater to homophobic stakeholders in every corner, and what it meant to be judged as a commodity. But how she got to that place and the details of her home life and childhood weren’t talked about in the show. Nor was her personal life.

Alex wanted to know more about those sides of Quinn.

“From the age of 14-17 they took a percentage of every paycheck. I took over my own finances at 18 and cut them off from that revenue. It’s partly why there’s such a huge strain on our relationship.”

Her voice was tight and Alex felt her own first clench. She knew all too well what it was like to have a selfish, unsupportive parent and she hated that Quinn had to experience that.

“Did you ever enjoy modeling?”

“I guess it felt nice to finally get attention for something. I had tried to get my parents interested in my writing for years. But the moment I started to book modeling jobs they began putting up my various photos around the house, telling their friends about me and stuff. I guess it was nice to get some of the validation they usually reserved for Claire.”

“What about the show? Do you enjoy doing it?”

“I do. I love it. I love the energy from the audience. I love sharing this unique part of my history. Letting people get a glimpse into the fashion world. And I really love changing it. Writing new scenes and new concepts to make it fresh.”

Alex smiled at the sight of the dreamy look on Quinn’s face.

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