The snow fell over the black granite counter in a soft hush of white. Kai focused on the sieve she shook as she brought a winter of sugar to the dark world, letting the powder slide across her thoughts the way snow on a falling night would…
She hadn’t yet managed to say a word to him. When she had opened the door, she had meant to. It shouldn’t have been so hard. Hello, Kurt. She could say that, right? After practicing it over and over in her head on the way to the door. But the instant their eyes met, his hazel gaze had struck her mute. As the moment drew out, his hand had clenched around his duffle until his knuckles showed white, and his whole body leaned just an inch forward, as it had so many, many times in their lives, when she greeted him after a long day or a trip and he leaned in to kiss her.
She had flinched back so hard that her elbows had rapped the foyer wall with a resounding smack, and he had looked away from her and walked quickly into the cabin without speaking, disappearing to find a room for his things. It had been at least twenty minutes before he reappeared, his hands in his pockets, to set himself at that post by the window and watch the road. Probably sending out a desperate mental call to his mother: Hurry up, God damn it. Where the hell are you?
But the cars hadn’t come, and now he watched her. She could feel his gaze trying to penetrate her concentration on the snow. But she had to get that powdered sugar snow just right. She had to. Even if she had to play at snow for all eternity.
“Kai,” he said and she shivered. Her name. Her name in his voice. “Can you still not even look at me?”
The weariness in his voice was like a hook dragging her gaze to him, and she did get her head up, just for a second, because he deserved so much better from her than what she had managed to give him. But he was so beautiful and so distant there against the window that it broke her heart, and her heart was so, so tired of being broken. It gave up quickly and let her look down at her sugar-snow again.
“Do you want me to go?” he asked.
Oh, God, yes. Oh, God, no. Oh, God, she didn’t know. It’s snowing, she wanted to protest, but her lips felt stiff and frozen. Besides, it was snowing more on her counter than it was outside. He could get away still, if he wanted.
“Kai.” He sounded as exhausted as her heart. But—firm against that exhaustion. Determined to go on through it. He was that way.
She concentrated as hard as she could.
“It was the cruelest thing you ever did to me,” he told her evenly. “When you cut me off like this. And you never even told me why.”