If asked, he would maintain that he had always loved her in some way or another.
If he was completely honest with himself, he knew that was a lie. He had never planned on loving her. She was a poor girl; poor and the daughter of a widowed seamstress. There was no advantage to loving her, only in making her believe that perhaps he did, and even then, only enough to coax her into obedience. And it worked, for a while anyway. She was a pretty little thing, and while she was pleasantly compliant at first, he almost preferred her as she got older and rebelled, even it if was a damned headache. But he still didn’t love her.
If he was honest with himself, he only began to feel the icy grip of love when he saw the gun in her hand that cold day in December. He had saved her skin to save himself the scandal; had backed down in the face of her threats to do it again. Yet his mind dwelled on her, the gleam of polished steel flashing in his mind’s eye and the bite of her anger ricocheting in his skull like an angry hornet. He liked to think that he, in some way, had crafted that anger, had polished that force of will into something far beyond what it could reach on its own – had unknowingly elevated her to something resembling an equal.
And he found that he loved her, or what he had created of her. He found it hard to separate the two.