It was Charlie. Definite Charlie, from the wrinkle in his forehead to the way his eyes moved when he was bewildered. Joe never looked that way.
She stared, disbelieving. Three years. Three whole years. All she had ever heard was that Charlie was alive, Charlie was missing her, Charlie would try, really try. But he never did.
Every day, Joe was there. Joe was her rock, like he'd always been, even before the wedding. And she loved Joe. She had always loved Joe. That's why she'd accepted it. She knew that Nick would never know, at least she prayed every night he would never know. Joe was comfortable. Joe was safe. Joe would always be there for her, the most self-sacrificial man she'd ever known.
But there are different kinds of love. She loved Joe the way a man loves his ten-year-old dressing gown or a woman loves her favorite tea or a child loves his teddy bear. That's why Joe had been the best man at the wedding, the one she'd depended on to make sure everything was organized properly, to make sure Charlie was sorted.
Three years had not changed that love, though they had deepened it into something uncommon. Joe was no longer just her brother-in-law. He was her lifeline. He was the one who had rescued her when everything crashed. She couldn't do without him, not any more. She'd gradually come to realize that this was the way it was, the way it would always be.
But he wasn't Charlie.