Episode 468: IrreplaceableJustine stood up when Quentin finally joined her in his office. Despite the long wait, she still greeted him with a smile.
"I’m sorry, baby," Quent apologized to his wife, moving in for a hug, but remembering at the last second he’d yet to change out of his coveralls. He pressed a quick kiss to her lips instead, which didn’t do much to sate his hunger to touch her. She wore an ice green dress and looked every bit as beautiful as the first time he’d clamped eyes on her all those years ago.
One more kiss. Two. Quent had to step back or he’d step really close and have her covered in black smudges. "Give me ten minutes to clean up and change clothes then we’ll celebrate our anniversary with a proper kiss and that dinner I promised."
Glancing at the clock on the wall, he grimaced. "We’ve probably lost our table. I really am sorry."
"I’m glad," Justine said, reaching out, stroking his jaw. "Relieved, actually, is a better word. I am relieved that the garage is busy again." Moisture gathered in her eyes. "So many times over the years I’ve wondered how much more you would be able to take, I mean, I’m not the person you signed on for, you thought you were marrying this really together woman and half the time I’m nowhere close to that. Then on top of all this emotional stuff you’ve had to put up with, my father tries to put you out of business. I was so worried losing the garage would be the final nail."
"You mean that I’d leave you?" Quent knew she’d felt partially responsible for what her father had been trying to do, and that’s why she’d come up with that whole scheme of their fake separation, and that’s the only reason he’d gone along with it, he didn’t want her to blame herself. He had no idea the stakes had seemed even higher in her mind.
Biting her lowing lip, she nodded. "Every year I am so relieved and amazed when I get to this day and you’re still by my side. Most of the time I haven’t deserved you."
"What you don’t deserve is parents who taught you that love is conditional," Quentin said, pulling her into his arms, no longer caring whether he got grease all over her, all that mattered was showing her how he felt. A long spell later, he backed off only enough to take her face in his hands. "You are exactly the person I signed on for. You are the woman I love, you are the person I was aching for every minute you insisted we be apart, whether I have the garage or you have a down day, or a down year, I am going to love you, I am never going to leave you. I am not your mother and father."