thank you for the positivity on this story! I appreciate every review, favorite, and follow. :)
here's the Quintis talk, for anyone that wanted to read it. enjoy!
Amy left, and a trail of discomfort and bitterness stood in her wake. She'd given Happy some final words while gesturing towards the pregnancy bump. "I'm...sorry. For being so hostile earlier. ...Please take care of him, okay? And take care of that baby."
Happy's feelings remained far from guilty, but rather curious as to what her husband and his ex discussed.
When Toby walked out, a few minutes after Amy did, he immediately headed towards his wife. She kept her eyes on her workbench. He came to a rest at its edge, opposite of her.
Happy evaluated his creased forehead, his fingers arched against the workbench, his hunched shoulders.
He needed her.
Happy's hands wanted to continue working, to work for hours and ignore the situation, but her brain and her heart commanded her to do the opposite, tackle the emotional problems head on, like Toby taught her to.
Her heart and her brain rarely agreed on anything. So even if she thought she could, it wasn't the moment to pick a side.
The tools came to a rest.
It's what Toby needed, anyway. And he deserved her full attention.
He would always come first.
Happy started to open her mouth. Then he asked, "Hap, are you okay?"
"Me? I'm fine." Taken off guard, Happy blinked. There he was putting her first, when he definitely wasn't all good. "You, on the other hand, probably aren't. Are you okay?"
"Yeah." Toby paused. "Yeah, I'm okay. But I'm more worried about you."
"I'm worried about you," she countered. A long exhale stole the space in the conversation that would've brought her next sentence into the limelight. He waited, though, and she pressed on. "This wasn't just some old flame, Toby. This was the soon-to-be-wife that called it quits and broke your gambling crazed heart."
Toby squeezed her fingers. Their rings brushed against each other, like two pieces of a puzzle falling into place amongst the image of hands infinitely entwined. "You're my wife. You're all I care about, Hap. I came over here to check on you. …But I don't want to push you. If you're-"
"Don't make this about me." Happy returned the pulse.
"It's every bit about you as me."
She frowned. "Not everything has to be, doc. This is primarily a you situation. I want you to...I don't know...put yourself first," she stated. "Honestly, I'm not great, but I'm doing better than you. Whatever you gotta say-hit me. I'm here."
His eyes brightened, and his smile followed suit. He gave her that look-the one no man had ever reached far enough into the depths of his soul to bring alive. And she gazed back-like no lover had ever responded, with love that burned brighter than all the stars in the sky.
His tone fell short in comparison to his expression, though his words shared the same message. "Happy Quinn," he said, "I love you so much."
"Ditto." I love you, too. She put everything into her stare. "That's why I want you to talk to me." She pressed her lips together, clarifying, "If you're up for it."
Shifting his gaze at her wedding band, he pushed an usually deep sigh from his nose. He broke their shared line of sight. "Happy, when I saw Amy today, it was..."
"Difficult?" she proposed, keeping her eyes steady on him.
"Weird." Toby nodded. "I was desperate for her to come back three years ago. I was manic. And I channeled all that into nonstop gambling. Which only helped her realize she made the right choice leaving me. ...Happy, I was drinking-I was gambling-I was a dumpster fire."
"You were pretty damn miserable," she mumbled softly, sore from the memory of his pain.
"As my best friend, you put out the fire. And you didn't even realize you had me falling in love with you in the process."
The rising and falling in her chest slowed.
Toby continued. "Amy's surprise visit didn't make me feel that old heartbreak. It's nonexistent. More like tying up a loose end, finally coming to a conclusion, if you will."
He looked like he was on the verge of laughing, like an awkward chuckle glued itself to the remembrance. "I got over it a long time ago. I just felt bitterness today, like anyone has for an ex. Resentment. All that. Nothing-nothing tethered to any romantic feelings."
Happy knew never in a million years would he still love that woman. But she thought maybe the encounter would've stung. They never talked about Amy-neither of them ever wanted to. After she realized the experience with Quincy a few years back was nothing more than a loser's fit of vexation, they both left Amy in the past. Happy figured everything was taken care of-after all, her list of exes failed to even reach five, and her list of exes she'd been with for more than a month hit a big fat zero. She wasn't so in tune. Though Toby hadn't known anything needed to be sewn shut, either, and Happy restrained from kicking herself.
"How did she feel?"
He didn't hesitate to provide an honest answer. "She wanted to rekindle the fire."
Happy's head snapped up, her fingers curling inside his. "That son of a bitch…"
Toby talked before she could utter the long stream of curses on her tongue. "She and Quincy are having some issues," he reassured. "She came to me for comfort, for nostalgia, so she could have a sense of familiarity and feel wanted. When I denied her, she couldn't accept it, convinced I was in love with her."
Simultaneously, Happy stiffened and cringed.
"Don't worry, baby. We talked it out. She understands now."
She tilted her head comprehensively. "She apologized when she was walking out. Wished us luck. I thought it was a dig."
"And you didn't snap back?"
The corner of her upper lip quirked. "She was out the door before I could. ...Plus, Paige was looming over me like a mama bear with a pre-prepped lecture if I made a single snarky peep."
Toby grinned, which then faded into a light smile, free from memories of the past. "It doesn't matter now, anyway. Hopefully she's gone for good."
"Even if she does, she'll never get what she wants."
He tapped the diamond on her ring with his finger. "Forever started when we met. Amy was only a roadblock. And our road just keeps on going, Happy-no matter what stands in the way."