Four

Behind the Mask




Quinn and Esmerelda hopped from the food truck to another bar, drinking far more than they should have. They didn’t stay there long before they ended up going bowling. Quinn had never gone bowling with a woman he was hoping to sleep with before. In fact, he couldn’t recall bowling at all before that point.


They were both terrible at it. They bowled in the wrong lanes and Esmerelda nearly fell over from laughing too much when Quinn fell face-first after the ball he had thrown. Her laughter had been contagious. He was doing stupid things just to hear it again.


Her finger had gotten caught under one of the bowling balls and she had laughed despite the pain. He had told her he had pretended to be a doctor once before and that qualified him to look at the damage and she only laughed harder.


That was when he kissed her. Essence, could that woman kiss. They’d made out in that bowling alley until they were asked to leave and Quinn had half a mind to make the employees into puppets for interrupting them. It was so rare for him to find a woman who kissed as well as Esmerelda did - it was like being struck by lightning.


They stumbled out of the bowling alley and into the quiet night. Most of the city had closed down, and it was nearing 3:30 in the morning. Quinn did whatever he could to keep his lips locked onto hers for as long as humanly possible.


He was doing all the things he never did. He had almost forgotten to even ask her to come back to his hotel with him. He couldn’t even think straight. He was intoxicated. She was intoxicating. This is why he never let himself get this drunk.


The cab ride was long. Unbearably long. He stared at Esmerelda and they made faces back and forth at each other. Faces of desire and faces of hysterical laughter from the absurdity of it all. He had never had this much fun doing absurd things before. He had never had this much fun before period.


The cab had dropped them off at Quinn’s hotel where they maintained a semblance of themselves until they hit the elevators. He pressed her back against the wall and closed the gap between them immediately. Her hair smelled of mint. Her lips were soft and they uttered beautiful, foul words when he would kiss the right spot on her neck. He wasn’t prepared for how undone she had made him in the course of one night, and he certainly wasn’t prepared for what came next.

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Esmerelda laughed lightly as they stumbled back into the room, Quinn nearly falling on top of her from his lack of balance. She tripped and he attempted to stop her fall but only ended up knocking both of them to the ground.


Her musical laughter invaded his ears and she snorted. He looked at her with a hilarious and dumbstruck face before laughing too. “Oh gods, we’re so good at this.” The words slurred together as he joked with her.


She snorted again and covered her face. “STOP! I can’t BREATHE!” She laid back on the floor and tried to calm herself. “I’m going to die if you keep this up.”
He tried to stifle his laughter and look at her seriously. “No, no! That… that would be bad.”


She started laughing again and he rolled over on the floor to be closer to her. He leaned over to say something when he started laughing again and he let his head fall so it rested on her shoulder. He tried to make himself serious as he pulled his head up and prepared to speak.
She stared at him only before laughing harder.


“What?!” He broke down laughing again. “What did I do that time?”
“Your face! You… you make funny faces!” She laughed.
He tried to frown, but only ended up smiling instead. “My face… is not funny.”
She nodded her head, her eyes sparkling as she laughed. “It is… too. It’s cute.” Her laughter slowed down.


The words fell out before he could even stop them. “But this… this isn’t my face, though!” He felt himself stop laughing after he spoke and she stared at him curiously before laughing herself.
Perhaps she took it as a joke? It didn’t stop him from feeling nauseated from his confession. “Oh…? Well… this… this isn’t my face… either.” She laughed even louder.
Some part of him felt challenged. “You’re lying… where… where are the shots?” He looked around the room teasingly.


She laughed and swatted at him. “No… no I’m… I’m serious.” Her laughter calmed and her face grew serious. “This isn’t… my face.”
Quinn looked down at her and his face calmed as well. It was like her words hadn’t hit him yet. He stared into her eyes and could see the magic brewing there. “Fine… if… if that isn’t your face… then what does your face… what does it look like?”


She pursed her lips slightly, she wasn’t smiling any longer. “I don’t like my face very much.”
“S’it the nose?” He slurred as he asked. “Cause I can understand if you’ve… if you’ve got a bad nose…”
Esmerelda smiled at him and laughed lightly before shaking her head. “I… I don’t think so. It’s…” She swallowed and shook her head. “It’s a secret.”


Quinn groaned and shook his head dramatically. “But… I want to know now…” She was sucking in her lips and his brain raced to find a way to discover this piece of uncharted territory in her mind. She was magical. He wanted to see inside her mind. She was beautiful and funny and fun and intoxicating and he wanted to see how she worked.


His brain used the first thing he thought of. “I… I use magic to wear… Wear disguises because… because…” He lost his train of thought and it all snapped back suddenly. “Because I’m half Nymphen and people are… are racist assholes… that I still wish to… to belong with.” Where had that come from? Why had he said it? This was all a bad idea and he scrambled to find a way to retract the statement. He opened his mouth to speak when she spoke then.
“Racist… racist assholes should be burned. It’s… it’s bullshit that you feel… that you feel like you need to be someone else just… just to meet people.” She was looking at him seriously.


He sat up and leaned against the side of the bed before sighing. “I… I don’t like talking about this shit.” He shook his head and begged his mind for clarity, yet he received none.
He felt Esmerelda’s eyes on him a moment longer before she spoke. “I’ll… I’ll tell you the secret then.” She took in a deep breath and swallowed. “My mother used to… well… before she… you know… died… she used to tell me I looked… looked like my… my biological father who… raped her.” She paused in her speech, as if sitting on the horrific thought. “That’s… that’s why I change my appearance.”


Quinn stared at her from across the way and felt something unusual. Some strange sense of connection. He tilted his head. “Can I see?” If she could really do it, it would point out that she was magical. Really magical.
She bit her lip and thought about it. “Only if you take off your disguise too.”
Quinn swallowed. No way. No way in hell.


She wouldn’t take off her disguise without him taking off his. He needed to see what was in her head. He didn’t know why. He just needed to. “Only… only if you promise not to freak out.” He looked at her seriously. People reacted as if Nymphs were from another planet most of the time, so he doubted she would not freak out. Especially if she were a Bridgeport local - as the chances of running into a Nymph around here border on slim to none.


She grinned at him, not taking his promise seriously at first before she nodded. “I… I won’t freak out. I promise.”
He nodded and looked at her curiously.


She seemed to realize what he was implying and she took in a deep breath, hesitation filling her features before she lowered her head into her hands. Magic stirred in the air and made him dizzy. He drank way too much tonight.



Her hair darkened and curled and he watched with his lips twitching into a smile. She really was magical. She was a shapeshifter. A Siren. He could feel it in the magic she used. She was strong, too. The magic calmed around her, yet she kept her face resting in her hands.


“This was a bad idea.” She whispered to herself.
“No… no it’s not…” He slurred as he leaned forward then. He was so close to seeing behind her mask. Why he wanted to see it so badly was a mystery to him, yet he was willing to take off his own mask just for a chance to glimpse behind hers. “Come… come on. I won’t… I won’t bite. Promise.”


She lifted her head, brushing her dark hair back as she did so with her porcelain-colored hands. Her skin contrasted with the darkness of her hair. Her face was mostly the same, but he was met with ice-blue eyes that froze him in place.


His mouth hung open slightly and he let out the breath he was holding. “Wow.” He swallowed and she was nervously twisting a strand of her hair. He struggled to find the words to speak with as her gaze held him stunned. This was an Ezzie. There was something familiar about her he couldn’t place, yet he didn’t think about it too long. “If… if you look like… like your mother’s rapist… then… then your mother’s rapist was… beautiful.” Oh gods, what did he just say? “I… I… I didn’t mean… Shit...”


Her eyes were wide for a moment before her lips twitched upward and she started laughing. His lips twitched up into a smile yet he was still stuck staring at her. It suddenly all fit perfectly. Her laughter. Her eyes. The dark of her hair on her fair skin. This was Esmerelda. “Thank you… I guess.” She laughed again.


They sat for a moment and she kept her eyes averted while he stared at her unabashedly. Finally her gaze turned on him and he felt his stomach drop as he knew what she was going to say.
“It’s… it’s your turn now.” She said with a grin.


He finally broke his stare from her to look up at the ceiling and he cursed. “Fuck. Maybe… maybe this wasn’t a good idea…”
“Come on! I… I promised… I mean… you promised.” She pointed.
He didn’t have to do anything he didn’t want to do. That was his freedom.


Yet he pinched the bridge of his nose and looked forward towards the wall. He wouldn’t watch her reaction. Would the night end after this? Most likely. Women don’t like sleeping with Nymphen men. They never have. They usually couldn’t stand being in the same room as one. He closed his eyes and let the familiar spell wash over him.


What in the name of the Essence was he even doing? How had this woman gotten so deeply under his skin?
There was no disgruntled sounds and the silence only made Quinn weary. Would she have disappeared by the time he opened his eyes?


He could hear her shifting and moving and he resisted letting his face twist up in bitterness. The rustling stopped right in front of him though and his brows came together as he tried to figure out what she was doing without actually opening his eyes to find out.


“Did you fall asleep on me, Quinnie?” She giggled suddenly much closer to him.
His eyes came open immediately in response to the strange use of his name and he tried to scowl at her, yet she was grinning. In a heartbeat she crawled onto his lap and giggled at him.


“Your eyes! They’re golden!” She giggled again. “They match your hair.” Her fingers came up and ran through his messy hair. His hands came close behind them, attempting to slick the stray strands back and away from his face. She stopped one of his hands and looked at it curiously. “You have tattoos, too?”
His eyes were searching her face for the disgust. There was always some kind of disgust, some hint of discomfort, yet he couldn’t find any.


She instead ran her fingers through his hair again before she laughed. She leaned forward, her eyes narrowing slightly before her voice dropped. “I hear Nymph men make the best lovers.”
He couldn’t stop the grin that spread across his face before he shook his head. “No.” He stopped to laugh before carrying on. “...but I am.”


“Oh really?” She bit her lip to resist laughing and he broke the barrier between them as he pulled her down to kiss her once again. He couldn’t recall the last time he had sex with a woman without a disguise on.


If he had ever. He was sure he had… once? It hardly mattered, yet at the same time he felt exposed.
They slowly worked their way onto the bed, each taking off articles of clothing. Quinn’s hands ran down her back when a strange question crossed his mind and he pulled away from her curiously. “Those tattoos… were those real?”
Esmerelda laughed before she nodded, sitting up on top of him as she did so. “Very real. I keep those regardless of my disguise. It’s how I… how I still feel like me.”


Quinn sat up as well before one of his hands came up and tugged the familiar chain around his neck. “This one’s mine.” It had been a gift from his master. Magical immunity. He’d never go anywhere without it.


That and his pocket watch, but sometimes he had to leave that one behind to ensure its safety. It was his first possession he ever owned after he was freed. It was his first anything that belonged to him and him alone.


Esmerelda ran her hands over his amulet before her hands began to trace along his Priesthood tattoos. “They’re so intricate.” She breathed. “Did it hurt?”
More than he could ever describe. Yet the tattoo wasn’t done the normal way, it was just something that he woke up with after he survived the Priesthood ritual. His lips were too loose from the drink and he shrugged. “You could say that.” He pursed his lips slightly. “They’re magical tattoos.”
“Sounds fancy.” She snickered.


She never pushed too far, and Quinn was growing to appreciate that about her. “You better believe it.” He chuckled before falling back onto the bed with her.
“You know…” She pushed herself up slightly and looked at him. “You… you shouldn’t need to wear disguises. You look… you look better this way.”


He grinned at her. “You’re lying.”
Yet she shook her head firmly. “Am not.” She pursed her lips dramatically and he grinned. “I’ve… I’ve just got a thing for… for sexy tattoos. Ok?” He stared up at her before shaking his head slowly and she gave him a look of skepticism. “What? It’s true.”


He just kept shaking his head as he grinned. “This is the most fun I’ve ever had with… with anyone.”
She gave him a wide grin before resting her head down on his chest. “Ditto.” Her musical laughter filled the air. He had initially questioned if this had been a good idea at all, yet looking back on it now he had no regrets.

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Quinn groaned softly as he felt his body attempting to wake up. The smell of mint permeated his nose and lulled him back to sleep. It was a warm feeling.


He tightly squeezed his eyes shut further and rolled over slightly, moving further into the smell of mint. He tried to bring his arms closer to him but he couldn’t. That was unusual for him.


He slowly let his eyes flicker open and the blinding light of day caused him to wince and close them shut again. His head started pounding, almost as if his hangover had waited until that very minute to make itself known. His eyes slowly opened again to the sight of black hair against his face.


That woke him up quickly and his eyes came open wide.
He looked down at the woman beside him when his eyes landed on one of the two tattoos that graced her back. Esmerelda. This woman was the same woman from the night before - yet she looked different. He caught a glance at his own tattooed arm resting on her waist.


He wasn’t in disguise anymore.
He wasn’t in disguise and he was cuddling with her, but she looked nothing like how she did last night.
What happened to them? He strained his mind to remember, and it all came rushing back.
Quinn’s mind scrambled to figure out why he was cuddling with a woman. They hadn’t even had sex!


He carefully tried to pull his arm from beneath her, yet it did nothing to calm the panic that filled his head. He wasn’t in disguise. He was cuddling with a woman who he just met the night before and he didn’t even have sex with her.


Esmerelda groaned next to him, as she rolled over against him. She froze in place when their bodies met again, having the same reaction he had just moments before.
Her head tilted back before their eyes eventually met and they stared at each other. Would she scream now, he wondered?


She didn’t. Instead, a soft smile tugged on her face before it turned into a bigger grin. She covered her face with her hand and started laughing.
He wiped his face slightly before looking at her with narrowed eyes. “Good morning to you too.” He grumbled.


“What the fuck happened last night…?” She laughed.
It was a question he had asked himself not but a moment ago. He shook his head with a distant stare. “I have no fucking clue.”
“We didn’t…” She started laughing again.
Quinn shook his head. “No, we didn’t.”


She let her hand cover the bottom half of her face and she looked at him with big eyes. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have fallen asleep here.”
Why was she apologizing? He had come off cold. Unintentionally so, it seems. He rubbed his face with his hand and shook his head. “No, no. Sorry, I’m… I’m just processing…” He swallowed and felt his lips twitch upward. “Fuck. I have never taken my disguise off for anyone before.” Nor has he ever apologized to anyone over something stupid before either. He raked his fingers roughly through his hair and reminded himself to keep it together. He was falling apart. This woman was tearing him apart at the seams.


He never fell apart. Especially not in front of someone. He certainly wouldn’t let that happen today.
“Can’t say I ever have either.” Esmerelda’s stare was unwavering on him. She shifted and rolled over, sitting up slightly which allowed some freedom to the arm that was trapped beneath her.


Quinn debated moving it, looking at all the ways he could slowly pull it completely free without being dramatic about it. He was in the middle of a thought process when her voice grabbed his attention. “I’ve also never had that much fun with someone before either… did we get thrown out of the bowling alley?”


Her eyes were blue and sparkling as the sun reflected off them. He long forgot about where his arm was and started grinning before he laughed. “We did.”
“Then… ‘this isn’t really my face?’ What kind of idiot am I? I may need to cut myself off next time...” She snorted and laughed harder and he laughed too, the moment of panic forgotten.
He struggled to take in a breath between laughter. “I told you your mother’s rapist was beautiful if you looked like him… I can’t say that was my finest moment either.”


Esmerelda’s face twisted up with laughter and she leaned her head down against his chest momentarily as she tried to regain her breathing. “That… that was the best reaction anyone has had to that story… ever.”
Quinn just kept shaking his head as he grinned. “Clearly I never lose my charm, even when wasted.”
“Or your grace… didn’t you faceplant into the room?” Esmerelda laughed until she snorted and she covered her face again with her hands.


Quinn narrowed his eyes at her. “Only because you faceplant-ed first. I was just trying to be the gentleman and you took me down with you…”
She kept laughing and shook her head. “That’s not…” She stopped and took in a deep breath before laughing again. “Ok, yeah, that is how that went.”
“When did we fall asleep?” Quinn rubbed the sleep from his face again groggily.


Esmerelda sat up slightly and stretched. “I don’t even remember…”
Quinn stared at her back carefully, eyeing the way her body curved. She turned her head slightly and her hair brushed past her shoulder, revealing one of the two tattoos that held him frozen the night before.
So that was real.


He reached over and touched the mark lightly before his hand fell and instead traced down her side, growing more bold as he moved. Perhaps the night wasn’t over just yet? His lips gently touched the side of her neck and he eyed her for any sort of rejection. She tilted her head and gave him access to which he grinned.
Not over yet, indeed.


His arms tightened around her to close the distance between them and she gasped lightly which only stroked his ego.
Her body slowly twisted around, her hands threading into his hair as she did so before their lips met once again and he actually didn’t mind it for once. Drunk or sober, this woman could kiss better than just about every other woman he had ever met. He usually made it a rule to never kiss a woman sober, but this time may be worth the exception.


He reluctantly broke their kiss to return to her neck and she gasped again. He tried to resist grinning when she stopped suddenly and pulled back. “Oh shit… is that the time? Fuck!”
His eyes came open wide and his head jerked to look at the bedside clock that read 9:30am. He did have to meet with Carule at 10 that morning, but as far as Quinn was concerned the god could wait.
Esmerelda, however, had scrambled off the bed and was quickly gathering clothes into her arms and Quinn groaned slightly with defeat.


He moved and pulled himself off the bed, watching her as she slid her heels back on before she even put her dress on. Her fingers pulled through her hair and she looked in the mirror before laughing.


“You have to go so soon?” Quinn tipped his head slightly to the side as he approached her. She spun around quickly and grinned at him.
“Unfortunately.” She pursed her lips slightly before she moved to stare at the clock, a curious expression on her face. Finally her face fell and she heaved a sigh. “I hate having to make adult decisions.” She grumbled before straightening. “No, Mellie has an appointment I promised I would go to with her at 10:30.”


Quinn was stubborn and he gave her a wicked smile as he ran his fingers through his hair. “I can move fast, you know.” He leaned in closer to her and she smirked at him, biting her lip.
They were kissing again, and Quinn was still surprised by it.


Finally Esmerelda pushed him back and took a step back. “Fuck, why do you have to be such a good kisser?” She touched her lips before laughing lightly. “Why the hell did I have to fall asleep?”
He was thinking the same thing about himself. “I’ll consider it one of my own greatest regrets.” He gave her a charming smile and she rolled her eyes.


“Careful not to slip on your silver tongue, slick.” She gave him a bright smile. “You should keep the disguises off more often. The tattoos are too sexy to stay hidden.” She winked at him and leaned up, kissing his cheek. She laughed as she strode for the door and he felt his eyes go wide.
“Aren’t you forgetting something?” He struggled to not laugh as she reached for the door handle.


“Hmm?” She turned back and looked at him, putting her hand on her hip.
“Your dress?” He snickered.
She looked down and pursed her lips, not at all the reaction he expected her to have. She sighed. “I suppose you’re right. People are awfully prissy about nudity around here. I mean… I am covered.” She reached down and grabbed the dress up before roughly throwing it over her head.
He laughed and shook his head. “You really are an interesting woman.”


She winked at him again and smiled. “I told you so. Take care of yourself, Quinnie.” She grinned bigger and he rolled his eyes at the nickname. “Perhaps we’ll meet again.”
Doubtful, he thought immediately, unfortunately doubtful. Quinn tried to keep his cynicism out of his voice, “perhaps.”


She vanished out into the hall then, the door closing behind her, and Quinn walked to the bed before collapsing on it.
Your future has that bird all over it, it seems.


Quinn scoffed to himself as he stared up at the ceiling. “Sure thing, master.” He sighed and closed his eyes slightly. “Sure thing.”






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Playlist
"Play That Song" by Train
"Perfect // Style" mashup by Jonah Baker

3 comments:

  1. OMG!!! Quinnie is so freaking hot beyond words! And, Ezzie is gorgeous!!! More please, Liv!

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  2. Awww it got even cuter!
    They didn't even sleep together! Well they technically did, but they didn't have sex. They're so perfect for each other! It gives me happy feels to watch them go! The way they accept and understand each other, and the way they both turn each other on, aww

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    Replies
    1. Hehehe, they're breaking all their own rules, it's freaking CUTE. I'm so happy to see you're enjoying it, man I swear your comments get me pumped, I've been pushing through my finals like crazy so I can get back into these stories!

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