“I’ve been to this park,” she said. “It’s near that quaint little tea shoppe. Minivers.”
“This is exquisite. Who’s the artist?” She stood on tiptoe trying to make out the signature.
“Alison Schuyler Devlin.” Ian said, his voice cracking. “My wife.”
Marie jerked her head toward him, staring as he gazed with a sad smile at the painting.
“We went there the first day we met. It was one of her favorite places.”
The tiny word cut a sliver into Marie’s heart even as it explained the grief Ian tried so hard to hide.
“What happened?” she asked softly.
“She was on a steamer in the North Sea. And it . . . the Germans . . .”
The cut deepened. “Don’t say it,” she whispered, wrapping her arms around his chest.
He placed his arm around her shoulder and pointed to the child in the painting. “This is Libby. The other half of ‘us.’ She came back to England with me.”
“But she’s only a child.”
“An orphan.” He sighed as memories seemed to assault him. “We hoped to adopt her after the war. I’ll still try.”
“Where is she?”
“With my parents at Kenniston Hall. Along with Trish and a set of two-year-old twins Alison smuggled out of Holland.”
Marie gazed at the painting again and tried to imagine the talented artist who had so firmly captured Ian’s heart. “Your Alison must have been an amazing woman.”
Instead of replying, Ian rested his chin on the top of Marie’s head and squeezed her shoulder.
“I’d like to hear more about her. If you don’t mind telling me.”
“I’d like that very much.” He twisted, turning her with him and headed toward the kitchen. “While we eat.”
In the tiny kitchen, Marie lit the gas burner to heat the stew and cut thick slices of dense bread. Ian appeared in the doorway with two glasses of red wine.
“Not fine Spanish vintage, I’m afraid,” he said, handing her a glass.
“I prefer it. And the company.” Sipping the wine, she stirred the stew with a long-handled wooden spoon. “This is ready.”
Ian pulled two ceramic crocks from a cupboard. After Marie filled them with the hearty stew, he carried them to a square table situated in front of a leaded window. She sat across from him and picked up her napkin, but he laid his hand on top of hers.
“Do you mind if I say grace?”
She shook her head and clasped his hand, but didn’t bow her head. As Ian closed his eyes and gave thanks for their meal, she pressed this moment into her memory. For the rest of her life, she wanted to remember the serene features of this extraordinary man. After all he’d been through, all that he’d lost, he hadn’t forsaken God.
“Amen,” he said, squeezing her hand.
She placed her napkin on her lap and smiled at him. “Still feel like talking?”
His eyes softened, seemingly lost in the glow of a treasured memory. “We met at Waterloo Station. There was this boy . . .”
Christian Fiction Friday is a weekly blog hop where authors post snippets from their current works in progress. It is hosted by Alana Terry and Hallee Bridgeman. Click here for a full list of rules and suggestions.