Just when you think that you know what's about to happen...it doesn't.


Uh...What Just Happened?

By:  M. J. Cogburn and C. E. Krawiec

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Tala didn't even bother looking at Maxwell Robinson and Andrew Stockard.  She locked her eyes on Quinton's and muttered softly, "Delicious.  How about we have some Carmel Fudge Swirl... just the two of us?  Would you mind or do you have other plans?"


Quinton smiled down at Tala, tightening his arm against his side, holding her in place, her arm twined with his.  "Oh, no ma'am.  No other plans.  I'd be delighted to share with you," Quinton said, his voice dipping lower slightly.


"Lead the way, Quint," Tala said softly as she put her other hand on his arm and they started away.


Turning carefully, Quinton guided Tala out of the whispering amused circle of avoided mayhem and, as it turned out right past the staring and annoyed Andy and Max.  At the last moment as he allowed Tala to precede him, Quinton couldn't resist the temptation. Turning just enough to make eye contact with the two men still staring disbelievingly after them he said softly yet loud enough to reach them, "Yes, ma'am, Ms. Tala.  After all, a gentleman never argues with a lady."


As he and Tala continued along the concourse, Quint held his gaze on the two startled suitors still standing within the cluster of curious onlookers. Just before he turned away to focus on the lovely woman beside him, Quint felt like perhaps someone somewhere was letting him know that he was beginning to emerge from under the dark cloud of "if he didn't have bad luck, he wouldn't have any luck at all."  It was that notion that put the suggestion of a smirk on his face as he dropped a wink at Max Robinson and Andy Stockard.  That done, Quint dismissed the two hapless men from his thoughts and looked at his companion.  Not by a whit did it bother him to see the self-satisfied smirk on Tala's face.  So what if he had just been a convenience for her to escape the argument? All that mattered was that for the first time in a while, he had been at the right place at the right time and, more importantly, had said the right things at the right moment as well.


Glancing up ahead, he saw the door to Sundae Every Day just a few steps ahead.  "This place makes the best ice cream I've ever tasted," he declared, grinning unabashedly at the amused expression that came over Tala's face.


"Really?" Tala queried lightly as she paused to allow him to hold the door open for her. Stepping into the small shop, she was at once appreciative of the coolness as well as the mouthwatering aroma of ice cream.  "You come here often?"


Taking a cautious liberty, Quint slipped one arm behind her waist, guiding her to display counter.  "Oh yeah. In fact," he said, grinning. "I'm pretty sure I could name just about every flavor they have without looking at the menu board."  Tala's giggle at that was simply more affirmation to him that he had a good situation going on and taking it slow and easy was the best way to go at the moment.


"Good evening, sir...ma'am," the young man behind the counter greeted them.  "What can I get for you?"


Quinton only glanced at his companion as a small clue to her that she was to order first and he carefully studied her profile as she searched the displays for the ice cream that she'd like to have.  "The lady first," he said warmly before he glanced back at the young man standing before them. 


"Of course," he said simply then watched as she continued to search.  "Would you care to taste anything in particular before you decide, ma'am?"


Tala hummed, and then bit at her bottom lip as she looked.  "May I please have a taste of the Carmel Fudge Swirl?" she said as she slid a look at her companion. 


"Oooo... I... are you sure, Ms. Tala?" Quinton asked with a grin.  "Once you've had Carmel Fudge Swirl, you can't go back to just any oh blah ice cream again.  It's... well, it's addictive, if you know what I mean."


Tala couldn't help but smile at him.  "Let me taste it first and let me come to my own conclusions, Quint.  All right?" 


"Yes ma'am," he said as he glanced back at the waiter.  "The woman wants to taste it... might as well let her have the best, my good man."


"You got it Quint," he said with a grin then leaned into the display case after grabbing a small spoon and put a nice little helping of the delicious ice cream on it before he handed the plastic spoon over to Tala. 


Tala took the small spoon and with a daring look at Quinton put the ice cream into her mouth.  It was the best ice cream she had ever tasted.  It had just the right amount of... everything.  She raised her eyebrow slightly in response before she hummed and began to glance back over the display case once again.  "I don't know.  Could I have some..."


"You’re kidding me," Quinton said in exasperation.  "That's the best that they got and you... don't like it?" He couldn't believe that she was going to ask for something else.  He blinked at her surprised.


"Tell ya what, Quinton, since you got me out of that sticky situation back there, I'll have a double scoop of your favorite ice cream.  Okay?"


"You did like it, didn't you?" he questioned.  When she didn't answer, he smiled as he glanced up at the young man.  "Two double scoops of Carmel Fudge Swirl in a waffle cone, please."


"Sure thing." 


After their order was filled and each had their ice cream in hand, they walked out of the ice cream shop and sat outside on a bench in the concourse. 


For a moment or so nothing was said, both savoring the first few delightful licks of the ice cream.


"Ummm," Quinton hummed softly as swallowed another taste of the frozen treat.  "I could eat this for breakfast."  He was quick to offer Tala a napkin when she spluttered a bit. "Not that I have...yet," he added, chuckling. "It's something to aspire to."


Having managed not to drop her cone in her lap, Tala watched Quinton, grinning just as he nibbled on the edge of his cone.  "Some might say that's not a very lofty thing to aspire toward," she ribbed.


After he had finished chewing the bit of the waffle cone, Quint swallowed then smacked his lips. "They have their aspirations and I have mine." He just chuckled down in his throat at the look that got him. For another moment, he didn't say anything, instead, enjoying just sitting next to the redhead that had been the catalyst that had started him on the painful journey into correction he'd endured.


"What was going on?" he finally asked, careful to keep his tone quiet and undemanding.  He didn't look at her as he asked, rather waiting a moment before turning his head to look at Tala.  She didn't answer immediately and he wondered if perhaps he had strayed into something that was about to get him set back on his heels for intruding upon.


No, no that's not right.  She came to me. I didn't go barging in after her. The brief thought was enough to convince Quint to keep quiet.  Better to enjoy the cold of the ice cream on his tongue, rather than chancing saying something that might land him back in a situation such as he'd just gotten out of. No thanks!  Once in my lifetime was more than enough!


Tala nibbled at the cone then slowly looked at the handsome man beside her on the bench.  She licked her lips to make sure that she didn’t have any ice cream on them then answered, “If you don’t mind the coined terminology, the cavemen were trying to figure out which one had the bigger stick.”


A smile immediately appeared on Quinton’s features and he held in the chuckle that wanted to emerge.  Clearing his throat, he met her gaze.  He wanted to respond to her with something pithy and shoddy about the other two men, but decided against it.  Instead, he held up the ice cream cone and lightly placed it against hers then asked casually, “Is it as good as I told you it would be?”


Tala smiled back at the guard beside her.  She so appreciated how he wasn’t asking anything more about the other two.  “Most definitely,” she responded.  “I think that I’ve found my favorite ice cream as well.”




Maxwell Robinson and Andrew Stockard watched in utter amazement as Tala Lothoman and Quinton Sylvane walked away.  The little wink that Quinton had given unto them as he left was one of those that irritated both of them as they both stood beside each other.  Each heard the other sigh then finally turned their heads to look at the other.


“Can you believe that?” Andy asked simply as he pointed in the direction the two had walked off in.


Max couldn’t help but crack a smile as he looked down.  He was totally irked at the whole situation.  He had met up with Ms. Tala first, had started a conversation first and then Andy had butted in, and now Quinton.  However, he couldn’t stop the smile.  “Actually, I can,” he said softly.  Leaning over, Maxwell Robinson clapped his friend and co-worker on the arm.  “Andy, how about we go grab a beer.  What do ya say?”


Andy looked at the young Englishman then back to the couple walking away and slowly nodded his head.  “Sure.  Why not?”


The big group that had gathered slowly began to disperse, and the two young men started toward one of the local taverns when Andy finally broke the silence between the two of them.  “Why is it that women are so complicated?”


“You got me, Andy.  But that one,” Max turned his head to look back over his shoulder the way that Tala had gone.  “That one isn’t as complicated as most.  Come on, let’s go grab that beer and a table and let’s talk.”




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