She didn't look at him. She couldn't look at him. What would he think? she wondered as she sipped her wine and kept her eyes averted while he looked at her steadily, scratching his prematurely grey beard. "What's wrong?" he asked in his tenor voice.
"Nothing," she lied, and felt guilty for it.
"Come on," Mark said. He rolled over to Mary, took her hand and squeezed it gently. "We've been friends since we were kids, darlin'. You can tell me anything. Just like I can tell you anything."
"I love you," she blurted. Mark blinked at her as she blushed. "I have for years, Mark." She sighed, setting her glass down on the coaster in front of her. "I should have said something. I shouldn't have married him."
"I know," Mark said softly. "I know, Mary. I didn't want you to marry that bastard." He took a deep breath, popped his tongue between his cheeks. "I love you too," he told her. "I have since we were kids."
Mary glanced at him, then glared at him and he quickly raised his hands to ward off the pillow he knew was heading his way. But, she didn't throw it. "Why the hell didn't you say anything then?" she demanded.
He glanced down at his legs, at his chair, and his jaw clenched. She saw the look and frowned. "You should know me better than that, Marcus Aurelius Strickland."
"Ouch," he said. "Full name. I love you."