off beside her. Pulling her back against his chest, he wrapped his arms around her middle and kissed the back of her neck. “I’m happy, too.”
His satisfied sigh tickled her shoulder blades, and when she stretched back against him like an overgrown cat, he pressed his lips against her hair. His warmth disappeared from her back for a moment, and a country song sounded from his stereo before he returned and pulled her more firmly against his chest.
Soft guitar notes filled the air as a crooner sang about a woman with a wild spirit he’d fallen in love with.
“Mmm, I like this song,” she said languidly.
“What else do you like?”
She frowned at the wall, trying to come up with a good answer. “You know, it has been so long since anyone asked me about myself. And now it feels like there is nothing interesting about me.”
“That’s not true at all,” Dade murmured, plucking her earlobe gently with his lips. “I want to know everything. I want to know what made you into this shy, caring woman.”
“I like animals.”
“That’s a given.”
“And I like riding my bike. I like being outdoors. And I like…I like you.” Her voice faded to a whisper.
“You said you mourned Jay with his mother. What about your mother? Was she there for you?”
Quinn gritted her teeth and closed her eyes at the momentary slash of pain through her insides. “I don’t have a mother, or a father. And it’s not some tragic tale of losing them or anything like that before you start thinking I’m pitiful. They gave me up for adoption when I was five.”
“Jesus. Do you remember them?”
“I know I’m supposed to, because I was old enough, but I really don’t. I mean, no blurry faces in my dreams or anything. I just sort of…let them go.”
“Who raised you?”
“I was in the foster care system until I was released at eighteen. The last ten years were spent with one family though, and it wasn’t so bad. A woman named Meryl Brady took me in, along with a revolving plethora of other foster kids. And she wasn’t one of those people trying to scam the government for money, either. She got paychecks for us, but she put that money straight back into feeding us and buying us clothes and getting us school supplies. It was a situation where the older kids raised the younger ones because her husband had passed away, and she was working two jobs to make ends meet. Sometimes I think that’s maybe why I tend to be quieter. There were a lot of loud personalities in that house, and the cast never stayed the same for long. I was a little overwhelmed with everything, I think. Anyway, it wasn’t a bad childhood. Not like it could’ve been. It was different from most people’s, but it was all I knew, so I didn’t feel jipped or anything.”
“When did you meet Jay?”
An accidental smile took her face. “Freshmen year of high school. He was the complete opposite of me. Loud, never met a stranger, talked to everyone, and seemed to remember every detail about his conversations with them. He was athletic and played sports, and I was a quiet geek who was so clumsy I could barely walk in a straight line. I don’t know why he took an interest in me. I think over the four years we dated and the year we were married, I didn’t ever come to grips with why a boy like him would look twice at a girl like me. I’m still a little baffled when I think about the girls that flocked him. He could’ve slept with anyone in that school, but he chose to wait for me.”
She sighed as pain unfurled in her chest. “I moved in with his mother, Ruth, when he joined the army. If I ever had a mother, I think Ruth was the closest. We both answered the door when they told us Jay had been killed in combat, and I held her hand all during the funeral. We were both a mess, but we kept each other strong enough to get through it while everyone was giving their condolences. And we fell apart together when we’d been left to our grief. She didn’t have a