The recurrence of the marriage dream had frightened Corinne. So much so that she didn’t dare allow Eric to kiss her lest the numbness should transform into an even worse reaction.
She hated upsetting Eric. He had only ever been kind to her. But she was too afraid that she might have to destroy him completely because of these recent troubling events. Her fear prevented her from acting like everything was satisfactory.
Outside it was cold like Eric had said. But Corinne needed to leave the cottage - she needed to escape from its confines. She needed space and privacy so that she could think. What could the marriage dream mean?
She returned to the cottage mere minutes before twilight, knowing the situation with her feelings and feeling extremely dejected.
“Corinne, what is wrong?!” Eric asked despairingly. It must have been awful for him to wait a whole three hours, Corinne thought distantly.
“I cannot tell you,” she answered miserably before going to his bedroom and shutting herself in.
She loved Eric ... but as she would a brother or a friend. She had felt relief in his company in the cottage after three years with no development in the frustrating relationship between herself and Richard. She had been touched by Eric’s kindness and his feelings towards her. She had been desperate to love someone after Richard had hurt her so terribly. But she had not found actual love.
She was still in love with Richard. Contrary to what she had said on the last day that she had seen him she wanted to believe that he would change as he had described. She wanted him to take her back to the manor and to marry him and to bear his children.
Due to her heart’s first discovery in that place she belonged in Dachshund Manor.
‘So I should visit,’ she decided. ‘I should see if Richard continues to care for me.’
And if he didn’t?
Well, she would come back to Eric, make up for her horrid treatment of him and forget all about this. Even if she still loved Richard. It would be the most appropriate course of action, and Eric and Richard would respectively benefit from the consequences.
When should she go?
Tonight. There was no point in delaying the act of going to the manor and Corinne was worried that she would change her mind - which would not be helpful if Richard could actually make up for his treatment of her in the past.
But for now?
For now she felt that she owed Eric an apology. She stood up from the bed, walked into the living room and joined him on the rug on which he was sitting.
He neither moved nor spoke.
She kissed him on the cheek, startling him.
He turned his head slowly, regarding her, the look in his eyes questioning. Bravely, determined that she would bring Eric some contentment, she kissed him on the lips. Luckily the numbness did not become something worse and remained at a plateau. If her feelings had worsened, Corinne might have cried.
Eric kissed back, immersing his fingers in her hair. After a few moments he drew away, removing his hand from her hair, possibly so that Corinne did not feel he only cared about gestures like kisses. Then he took her hand in his, rubbing her skin with his thumb. They sat in silence together. The moment was almost reminiscent of the last minutes after the indoor picnic before they had fallen asleep.