It’s Thursday morning. Gwen was supposed to meet Peter at 9:00 at his office, but it’s 9:15 and oese’s not there yet. No matter. The phone rings, and it’s the reporter, Morgan Howard, informing Peter that he lost the case. Apparently it came down the AP but no one told Peter about it and, as he complains to Joe after telling Morgan he’ll call him back after the reads the decision, the copy that will be mailed to them probably won’t arrive until Monday.
Peter sat at his desk shaking his head. “We lost. We lost. I can’t believe we lost. They sure didn’t waste anytime on it either. Three weeks! Turkeys!”
Nice word choice there Peter. There are others that are more satisfying.
Not to worry, though, Joe has an idea of how to get a copy of the decision ASAP.
“I know a guy in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle,” Joe replied. “I’ll get him to fax it to us.”
Joe uses Peter’s phone, and but Peter is still impassion as they wait.
“I can’t believe it!” Peter said again, this time slamming his fist on his desk. “What are we going to do now?”
“In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you,” Joe said.
Peter says he’s too upset to pray, yet, and asks Joe to say a prayer. Which he does. He thanks God for allowing Gwen to become a Christian, reminding Peter, perhaps, that even if the case stops here he did manage to squeeze one soul out of it.
It’s at this moment that Gwen sticks her head in the door, asking what’s up.
“Well, we have to read the decision to be sure. Apparently it means the entire lawsuit has been thrown out. We’re finished.”
“And that’s it?”
“That’s it unless we take the case to the Supreme Court and they accept the case and then they reverse the decision.”
The fax machine rings and Peter asks Sally to bring each page to them as it comes off the machine. Peter and Joe huddle together and read the decision. They’re pleased to see that Judge Boyle wrote a fifteen-page dissent, and they’re hopeful that might catch the eye of the Supreme Court and increase the chance that the case would be accepted.
“You know of any constitutional experts we can call?”
“Well, there’s always Charles French at University of Michigan Law School.”
“You know him?”
“I just met him once at a seminar he taught on constitutional issues for federal prosecutors. He’s probably argued thirty cases in the Supreme Court.”
I’m seriously starting to think Joe this magic genie Peter can rub any time he needs a contact. He’s probably not being paid enough for this. He runs off to call Prof. French, leaving Gwen and Peter alone. “I guess it’s time that we discuss the important stuff,” Peter says.
“Well, I probably need to go first,” Peter said.
“Only if you get out from behind that desk and come over here and sit beside me. I want to talk with just Peter, not Peter the lawyer.”
“I was a real creep that day, wasn’t I?” Peter said, moving slowly, but delibertly [sic] to Gwen’s side of the office.
“I think he correct term is ‘colossal jerk.’ Lynn really has a way with words.”
“Guilty as charged,” Peter said, smiling. Looking suddenly serious, he said, “Gwen, you were kind and gracious when we last talked here. I was rude and bitter and angry. I’ve got a lot of things to ask your forgiveness for, but let me start with that. I ask you to forgive me for acting selfishly and foolishly that day. It was a time that you needed to be understood and forgiven. I did neither. By the way, I do really forgive you for what you said about me and Gordon’s accident. But as I am about to confess, I think I’m responsible for that one too.”
“Peter, thank you for saying all that. Yes, I do forgive you. It did hurt me a lot to be rejected right then, but I do know why you did it. I was surprised, but I do understand.”
“I appreciate your forgiveness and understanding.”
“Well, there’s something more fundamental I need to address. I was wrong to let my emotions run away with me. I was wrong to lead you on. I was wrong to entice you to respond to me with your emotions. I had no business being anything but your lawyer. I was wrong. Not only did I sin, but I led you down the wrong path as well. Gwen, please forgive me.”
Oh boy. He really is doing a decent job of apologizing without making excuses for himself. He’s right that he should just have been her lawyer, though he’s still wrong about the reasons he should not have been pursuing her. And unfortunately, Gwen is downplaying the severity of Peter’s actions—as women are no doubt taught to do for men all too often.I’m trying to put myself in Gwen’s shoes. It’s possible I would Peter another chance, but I’d like to think that it would be on a sort of trial basis. In other words, I’d be on the watch to see if he repeated this behavior, or if he’d really learned from it.
But that’s not where Gwen’s going with this, as we’ll see.
Peter says he has more, but it’s Gwen’s turn now.
“To tell the truth, the things you said are what I was going to confront you about. Basically, I was going to say, ‘Peter Barron, you done me wrong by leading’ me on.’ Sounds like a country western song, doesn’t it?”
“Yeah, it kinda does.”
“That’s all I really had to say. It kind of shortens the time we needed when you plead guilty and ask the court for mercy,” Gwen said, smiling.
“You’re starting to catch on,” Peter replied with his eyes twinkling.
WHAT DOES THAT MEAN.
So anyway, next Peter starts telling Gwen about his revelation, about how their old relationship had to die, about who if they’d just gone right on with things after Gordon’s death they would have been building on a wrong foundation, etc. “As much as these fights and separation and anger and bitterness have hurt us, I’m convinced that our relationship had to go through a kind of death,” he says. Gwen takes a moment to accept the idea, but is soon persuaded. Peter goes on:
“I’ve asked God to give me a second chance to have the right kind of relationship with you. And now I’m asking you to give me a second chance also. I want a new relationship with you. A new life with you.”
“Yes, life. That’s how long marriages are supposed to last aren’t they?”
Gwen was trembling as Peter took both her hands and gently stood her up.
“Gwen, will you marry me? I want to build a new life with you and with your precious Casey doll, too. Will you?”
Yes that really just happened. Beyond the fact that they’ve never actually dated, remember that they’ve only known each other for six months. I dated my husband for a year before I got engaged, and my friends considered that fast. For all intents and purposes, Peter is asking Gwen to marry him before they’ve even had their first date. How does Gwen respond?
Gwen lowered her eyes and said, “I guess it all depends.”
She really ought to just say no and tell him that he’s going too fast, but at least she’s not just saying yes—if she’s got to stay with him, whether she marries him should depend—it should depend on how he acts in the future, whether there are more red flags, how they interact as a couple and how things go with Casey, among other things.
“Depends on what?”
“It depends on if you mean running off to Idaho this afternoon and visiting a justice of the peace or if you intend to have a proper wedding at our church.” She was smiling broadly. “Yes, Peter, I’ll marry you. I love you so much.”
No—wait—GWEN! Gwen, honey, Gwen, stop and think. Oh god.
He hesitated for a moment. Peter looked deep in her eyes once again. And then he kissed the lips that he had longed for and dreamed about. There was no hesitation. There was no guilt. There was only passion—pure passion.
In that moment Gwen felt a pinch on her neck. She put her hand to her shoulder and felt something wet, warm, and sticky—blood. Could it be? I must be! Peter was a vampire. Her mind raced, bringing up a variety of images—Peter’s insistence on staying out of the sun at his Labor Day picnic, his avoidance of the corner of the sanctuary with the baptismal, the pale whiteness of his skin. Gwen tried to scream but Peter pulled her to him and stifled her cry. The room faded as she blacked out.
I mean for real. This book would be a lot more interesting with vampires. Plus Peter pings the same charming creepiness Edward Cullen, and they live in the same area of the country. This book needs a rewrite a la Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
Okay so actually, all that happens next is that Gwen and Peter clear up a few loose ends. First, Peter says they’ll be having a big church wedding—the biggest in Spokane. It’s worth noting that he’s dictating their wedding plans, because he doesn’t exactly ask. Next he remembers that he needs to ask her dad, but Gwen says not to worry, her dad will say yes. But I’m still stuck on him dictating what size wedding they’re going to have. Seriously, Gwen, honey, you need more time to feel him out, especially after that huge nasty fight you two just had, and his really immature actions.
When I started this review series, I thought it would have a lot more to do with picking apart stereotypes about social services than with dissecting a really creepy courtship and super speedy proposal. But such is life, I guess?