Threads of Grace, continued


Three days later.

     Would the snow ever stop? Peter blew on the window pane and wiped the melting frost with his shirt sleeve. The wind blew undulating waves across the open sea of prairie. It looked as barren as he felt and as beautiful as his wife.
     “Peter, would you please listen? I can’t continue like this.” Claire touched his shoulder.
     He moved away from his wife’s touch. “Trey’s been here for three days, my dear. Hasn’t he had time to listen to you?”
     “That’s cruel and unnecessary, and you know it. You haven’t given me a chance to explain.”
     He gripped her wrist and led her to the table. “Sit, and I’ll listen. But first you hear this. Do you have any idea what seeing you in another man’s arms did to me? And you stayed there—completely oblivious to anything or anyone around you. My sister was lying on the floor and you didn’t even notice.” He wanted to yell, but the space was too small and everyone would be able to hear him. 
    “You aren’t going to hear my side, are you?” Claire folded her hands on top of the table. She was as pale as the falling snow, and her black hair shone like coal. He  yearned to take her in his arms again—to be one like they’d been since the day they married. If he could only erase from his mind the look in her eyes when she recognized her childhood love. She had never looked at him that way, had she?
      “It will take time. Tell me, why did you marry me?” He moved back to the window. Could he really listen to this?
     Claire moved to his side, but didn’t touch him. “I married you because I loved you. I still love you. Seeing Trey hasn’t changed how I feel about you. You didn’t even know SueAnna was married. Now you are the loving, offended brother.
     He turned to her with the fury of the wind that still screamed around them. “Offended brother? Try offended husband. Never once, Claire. Never once did you mention Trey Martin, or that you had someone who just might be coming back for you. Maybe if I’d known you had a secret love I’d have taken more time to court  you. I certainly would’ve tried everything I knew to make you forget him. Did you pretend it was Trey when you making love to me? Did you—”
     His neck jerked and his face stung with the slap. She stood in front of him, fist doubled for the next blow and tears streaming down her face. 
     “How dare you suggest such a thing. How could you, for even one minute, accuse me of thinking of anyone but you in our bed, or anywhere else for that matter? I was fifteen years old when Trey Martin left. I only thought I knew what love was. You’re the one who taught me how to love. You’re the only…” she grabbed for his arm, and then, as though in slow motion, she crumbled to the floor.

     Doc Thayer joined Peter and Adam at the table. “Well, I’ll say this much—this bunch certainly knows how to keep things stirred up.” He spooned sugar into the cup of coffee Adam sat in front of him.
    “What’s wrong with her, Doc? Is it my fault.” 
     Fred leaned back in his chair and chuckled. “I reckon it is, Peter. In fact, I’m going to go as far as to lay all the blame on you. And I’d venture to say this won’t be the last time you’ll be responsible for what’s ailing her.”
     Peter groaned. “I’d do anything to take it back.”
     Fred laughed. “Son, you find a way to take this back and men all over this country will pay you big time.” He put his arm around Peter’s shoulders. “Only thing wrong with that little lady, dear boy, is she’s gonna make you a Papa in about six months.”
     Peter left the room looking like he’d been whipped. Adam joined Doc in laughter. “You enjoyed that, didn’t you, Fred?” Adam wiped his eyes with his handkerchief. 
     “I sure did. Feels good to have good news for a change. The climate around those two has been as cold as it is outdoors.” He stood and raised his arms above his head. “Gonna go check on that little gal of our then find me a place to stretch out for an hour or two.”
    “Did she have a bad night, or are we through the crisis—again. I thought we’d see more improvement by now. I suppose Trey is still in there with her?” He walked with the doctor as they ambled the short distance to where SueAnna lay.
     “Take a look.” Fred opened the door to the SueAnna’s room and motioned for him to go in.
     Trey sat on the floor, his head on the bed as close as he could get to his wife, sound asleep. SueAnna turned sleepy eyes toward them. One hand slowly stroked through Trey’s hair, and with her free hand she motioned for them to leave. 
     Adam nodded in recognition of her plea, then turned and left the room. When the door shut behind him he looked at Doc Thayer, then wrapped his arms around his good friend and wept. Maybe, just maybe they were going to be just fine. 



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