The storm begins and Calcite’s family is separated. In a classical novel beginning, danger lurks from that old titan, Mother Nature herself. The man of the house, Bonito, is away from home and can’t protect his wife. Readers are given the impression that a woman is alone and possibly in danger back at the ranch. Calcite’s old lover arrives at her house just in time to be trapped there by the storm. It would be one thing if Calcite had to wait out the storm alone in the big house, worrying about her husband and small son being in danger out in the storm.
But she’s not alone: as soon as the storm starts, a handsome guy moms to the picture a guy she has a history with. That’s a complication waiting to happen!. Calcite and Alice are reminded of their past flirtation. As we were just saying, this conflict is a complicated one. First Alice shows up and keeps Calcite from being alone. While it’s technically K for them to be alone together from a societal standpoint (they’re both married, and it’s a cyclone), it’s pretty clear they both feel a little weird about it.
That weirdness is compounded when they start having flashbacks to the more physical interludes they had in the past. Once they start remembering their attraction to another, it’s a slippery lope to acting on that attraction again. Calcite and Alice have sex. We realize that putting this scene in this category is a bad pun waiting to happen. It’s impossible to avoid, though, since this is the most exciting part of the story, the part where the characters are either approaching or coming down from their high point.
Both the story and the characters reach their high points at the same time here. It’s rare that this element of the plot is played out so literally in fiction, but it happens from time to time. Calcite’s family returns home just after Alice leaves. Here we wait with bated breath. Will Bibb and Bonito get home before Alice leaves? Will they cross paths? Will Calcite be able to cover up what has just happened? For his part, Bonito worries over whether Calcite will be angry with them when they return home.
It’s a state of worry about a possible set of repercussions or punishment – but it all turns out to be just fine. Alice writes to his wife and tells her she doesn’t need to rush home. Here we see the aftereffects of the previous scenes, as Alice reacts to his affair by telling his wife that she can stay away longer on her vacation. While he presents his request as a favor he’s making on her behalf and as proof of his love for her, we readers know see’s doing it not because he’s selfless, but because he just got laid.