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.