Chapter 13

Priorities

“Where have you been?” Rheaux stood on the porch looking tired and swollen, and ready to pop the baby out at any second.

“Providing for my family,” Dor said, as he pushed past her. He really wasn’t in the mood for her yelling.

“Thieving,” she accused. “We have crops to attend. Father can’t do it all by himself and I can no longer help.”

Dor stopped short of the door and pivoted around to face her.

She placed her hands on her stomach to remind him she was carrying his child.

Not this time. He wasn’t going to let her pull that card on him now. “What crops?” He pointed to the brown withered plants attempting to grow. “If it had rained, just once … but it hasn’t. Not one drop all summer long. There’s not enough food out there to feed our baby, let alone us and your father. So I got this!” He tossed a leather bag full of gold and silver coins to her.

She easily caught it and looked inside, but instead of smiling, she frowned.

“There’s enough to buy food for winter, pay for a midwife and buy spring seed.” He stood waiting for her to continue charging him of some travesty.

She looked like she was about to object. Rheaux desperately wanted Dor to settle down and become a farmer. He hated farming and didn’t know how to raise a crop in good conditions; in a drought, he was defeated.

He promised he’d stop thieving and farm the land with her father. He promised himself he’d never look back to his past life. But as a farmer, Dor was a failure. As a thief, he was king. In her heart, Rheaux knew it. She just didn’t want to admit it, not to herself or to him.

“You’ve been gone for nine days.” She spoke as if he’s been gone for over a year.

“It’s a three day’s walk to the city. I didn’t think you’d want me to take the horse.” He’d gone to the city by the ocean, instead of his town, where he hoped to bring back more money. He’d been right. “I needed a couple of days to plan.”

“You didn’t ask about the horse. You didn’t even tell me where you’d gone.” Her angry words were like knifes slashing at him.

“I knew you’d be mad.”

“Well, I’m mad now, but you don’t seem to care.”

“If we’d gotten into this argument before I left …” Dor said, exasperated by the situation.

“You’d have gone anyway, no matter what I’d have said.” Her voice was definite.

“And I would have been too upset to do my job …”

“Thieving!” she corrected. Why didn’t she understand?

“I might have gotten caught,” he finished. “Or maybe you’d be glad that I got caught.”

“You didn’t care that I thought you might be hurt and dying where I couldn’t find you.” Tears sprang in her eyes. “Or worse,” she screamed, “I thought you’d left me!”

“Don’t be stupid …” He was going to finish: I’d never leave you. I love you.

But Rheaux became hysterical. “Stupid? Stupid? Is that what you think of me? Stupid? You never used to think I was stupid!”

There was no reasoning with her. In two steps, he was at the edge of the porch. He leaped off and walked away.

“Where are you going?” Rheaux demanded.

“I can’t talk to you when you’re like this. I’m sleeping in the barn.”

“Stop it!” Rheaux’s father’s voice interrupted from inside the house. “Life on a farm is difficult enough without the two of you fighting. You two love each other. Make up. Come inside.” His voice softened. “Soup is ready. Eat before it gets cold.”

Dor stopped walking, but didn’t turn around. He was still too angry. Maybe, he wouldn’t sleep in the barn. Maybe, he’d go to his town and come back after she’d had the baby. Maybe, then she’d be her old self again. The closer she drew to the child’s coming the more unreasonable she became. That was the real reason he’d left – for the peace and quiet.

Sighing, Dor faced reality. He didn’t want to sleep in the barn or go back to town. He wanted to be with her, to sleep with her and hold her. He missed her. Nine days was a long time. He’d missed the feel of her hair, her smell, her touch, the sound of her voice. He missed her.

After a moment’s silence, Rheaux said gently, “Don’t sleep in the barn.”

“Why not?”

“I’ll be cold tonight.”

Dor smiled. “You’ll be cold? I’ll be without a blanket.”

“I have plenty of blankets.” Her voice was coy and inviting.

He turned. She no longer looked disapprovingly at him. Her eyes shone with love and admiration. With the bag of coins in one hand, she held the other out to him. Dor walked to her and placed his hand in hers. She led him into the house.

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Published in: on July 1, 2011 at 11:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
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