“Yes, my dear.”
“I am so sorry. You were right.”
She sensed his reluctance. Lifting the
tray containing her empty lunch dishes, he rose, crossed the room and put
them on the desk.
Turning back, he asked, “About
“My reason for marrying you. I was
honest with you about my feelings, right from the beginning, you do
“Yes, Johanna, I do. You told me you
didn’t feel the same as I did.”
“I never lied about being in love
“No, you have made that evident.”
“You accused me of marrying you for
my father’s benefit.”
He closed his eyes, silently waiting.
“I did marry you for that reason. You
assumed rightly.” He did not react, so she continued. “I abused your
trust and I apologize.”
He answered her in a hollow tone,
“Johanna, you do understand I would be justified in ending this
He closed the distance between them.
She nodded her head, her eyes wide.
This declaration was not unexpected, but with its verbalization, she felt
the thrust of fear stab at her hopes. Clenching her fists under the
blankets, she condemned her own foolishness.
“God’s blood, woman.”
She shrank at his imposing figure
leaning over her, wanting desperately to give him something, anything but
“Are you so eager to get rid of me?
Will you make no claim upon my affections?”
“I don’t know how to give you what
you want, Hal.”
He straightened up and looked down at
“Clearly though, you know what I
“You want me to love you.”
Flinging the blankets back, Johanna
rose from the bed. Unsteadily, she made her way to him and grabbed his arm,
urging him to face her.
“I will not lie to you again.” This
statement gained his attention. “Look at me, Hal.” She held out the
front of her nightgown. “Look at me. Where do you see the flaw that
won’t allow me to feel passion like yours?” Dropping the handful of
fabric, she turned away in despair. “I loved my mother, my father…I love
Emily, and James.” She paused. “But that’s not what you want.”
Then ever so quietly, almost inaudibly,
she said, “It’s not what I want.” Turning on him in a fever, she
raged, “I want to feel your fervor, to understand your fire and have it
within my own heart.” Collapsing to her knees, she whispered, “I don’t
know how. Oh God, I am so pathetic.”
Joining her on the floor, he lifted her
chin and searched her tear-filled eyes. Smiling softly and with a lilt in
his voice, he said, “You make something so divine into such an ordeal.
Your life was dominated by a regimented mind who would not allow for
imperfection or failure. That is exactly where love begins. I will gladly
show you the door, but you will have to be the one to open it.”