Expectations have a cost, but neither grasp that at the start. This snippet is where they are coming up against some of those differences, which can be too much -- even with love as the binder.
“You really went to the Reimers?”
“Yes, I did.”
“I told you I wanted to meet our neighbors. I felt like it’d be a good thing to do for us. Having friends is a good thing, Sam.”
“I don’t need friends.”
“It’s not a matter of need. It’s just nice to know your neighbors.”
“God, you are green, Abby. I keep thinking I have seen it all with you, and you surprise me again.”
She knew that was no compliment, and it irritated her to have him keep saying how she was so unknowing of the ways of the world. True, she had not lived out on her own as he had, but she knew something about people “People need people, Sam. It’s about community. You then have someone you can count on.”
“You count on anyone but yourself, and you’ll be dead.”
“So you keep people from getting too close?”
“It works best.”
“And where does that leave me?”
His smile was reluctant. “I’m trying to figure that out.”
There was no answer to that. She managed a smile of her own. “I’m hungry. How about you?” She opened the cupboard and looked around for what might be possible.
She gave a little laugh. “Well, I am starved.” She found some biscuits and handed Sam one. “I should have left Margaret’s earlier. Time got away from me.”
“You liked her?”
“Yes, I did. She’s a plain spoken woman. I told her we’d have them to dinner some evening.”
He gave her a look. “Abby, you’re not using your head. You and I are not the usual couple here. I am not the usual ranch owner in these parts.”
“Well, I certainly know how it’s been, Sam but...”
“If we go around other people, they’re going to figure something is wrong at the Circle R. From there it won’t take long to bring a hanging rope.”
She wasn’t ready to let this go even though she felt a surge of fear at the idea of Sam at the end of a rope. “Haven’t you thought of being a real rancher someday, Sam?” She saw by the expression on his face that this was something he wasn’t open to discussing. “Things change. For instance, you could learn to read if you wanted.”
“I’ve tried. I’m illiterate."
“I’ve tried. I’m illiterate."
"You're not or you wouldn't even know a word like that."
"I took care to learn that one. It had special meaning to me."
“You can learn to read, Sam. I know I can teach you. You couldn’t read that note, but sometime it could be something that matters even more.”
He appeared equal parts embarrassed and exasperated. "Don’t you think I’ve tried. I've looked at books, tried to figure them out. I can't."
"Because everybody needs somebody to help them, to read to them, to show them words. You were too proud to ask for that help, weren't you? The question now is are you still?"
"What do you mean?" He didn't like the idea of her teaching him to read. It seemed to put him even further beneath her than he already knew he was. He wanted to be the one to teach her things, not the other way around. As he watched her stubborn expression, he thought of all the things he wanted to show her. But tonight was not the night. He was as tired as she was.
"I can teach you to read. Are you too proud to let me?" she asked nailing it on the head.
"It's not pride."
He stared at her, knowing she was right. It was pride. He swallowed a chunk of it. “I could try, I guess."
This couple show up as secondary characters in Book 5's Echoes from the Past.