Standing on The Edge Of Goodbye (10 page)

She unfolded it
and smiled as she read the words written in Rachel’s faded handwriting. “
Ten Thousand Angels
. I’d almost forgotten about this poem. My grandmother used to read this to me whenever I was frightened or upset. She believed in angels.”

Matt glanced down at the words Rachel had written all those years ago, the ink fading on the paper.
             

Ten thousand angels listen while I pray,

Ten thousand angels watch over me through the day,

Ten thousand angels bring God’s smile on morning ray,

Ten thousand angels take my hand, keep me strong,

Lead me home to God’s loving arms on my final day.

 

“You can do what you want with these things, Matt, it’s okay.” Kate spotted the worn wooden rocking chair in front of the fireplace. Matt could almost picture Rachel sitting there rocking.

“Except for this chair,”
she added, still clutching the Bible as she sat in the chair. “I can still remember her holding me in her arms and rocking me. I’d love to have this chair to rock my child.”

Matt knelt next to her, his fingers brushing a smudge of dust from her damp cheek. “It’s yours. I’ll bring it over to the apartment for you.” He
helped her to her feet.

“I can’t imagine renting this place out again. I only bought it to keep from having any close neighbors. I’ll make sure the rest
of the belongings go to charity.”

It felt as if he were saying good-bye, but when he glanced at Kate, who
was thumbing through the pages of her grandmother’s Bible, it didn’t hurt so bad.

Maybe Rachel was
up in Heaven smiling with that sometimes-wicked grin, the same one her granddaughter had inherited, pleased with the outcome of things here on earth.

Chapter Nine

 

“Do you have plans tonight?” Matt asked Kate
one morning at the diner.

“No,” she answered. “Why?”

His full attention was focused on the black liquid in his cup. “Well, I was wondering if you’d have dinner with me tonight at my house if you’re not busy. There’s something I want to talk to you about.”


Okay.” She couldn’t quite keep the question out of her tone.

“Good, then I’ll pick you up at your apartment around five.” He stood, tossed some money on the table, kissed her, and then left
without saying what he needed to talk to her about.

For the rest of the morning Kate could barely concentrate on what she was doing.
She found herself forgetting orders or mixing them up. Finally, Amy sent her back to the kitchen to help Herman.

“You got a problem you want to talk about?” Herman asked quietly.

She didn't even know where to start. She wasn't sure why she was so anxious suddenly.
“No, nothing. Just a crazy day I guess.”

“That baby got you flustered, or is it a grown-up child who’s worrying you?”

Kate was always amazed at how much this quiet man really saw. “Both, I guess.”

“Well, don’t let it get you down none, hon. It will all work out the way the good Lord wants it to. You’ll see.”

She prayed Herman was right.

A few minutes before Matt was due to pick her up, Kate wasn’t any closer to believing that assurance
than she had been hours earlier.

She
chose one of the few outfits that still fit reasonably well. Her favorite black pantsuit. Kate took extra care with her hair as well, the curls gave her face a softer appearance. She didn’t bother with makeup. Just a touch of pink lip-gloss.

When she opened the door,
Matt let out a low whistle. “You look nice. Ready to go?”

The ride to
his house was made mostly in silence, which in itself was disturbing. They’d gotten comfortable enough with each other to discuss anything.             

“You said you had something to talk about?” She reminded him as she glanced around his kitchen.
He’d gone to a lot of trouble to make everything perfect for their dinner together.

“Yes
, I haven’t forgotten, but we can talk about that later. Come and sit down. Let’s enjoy dinner first.”

Much to her surprise Kate was
actually able to relax.

Matt entertained her with stories about some of his more difficult customers from the past and they ended up giggling throughout most of the meal.

After dinner, Kate sat on the leather sofa in his office watching the fire while Matt answered a call from Frank. She listened to his husky voice with her eyes closed. She was almost asleep by the time he ended the call and sat beside her.

“Well?” she asked, eyes still closed.
             

She heard him laugh softly. “Kate, I’ve been thinking about what you told me on the trip to
Denver, about never falling in love again. That's something you and I have in common. I don't intent to go down that path again either. But I have been thinking about our friendship. How important it's become to me. I believe you feel the same.”

Worry churned in the pit of her stomach. What was Matt trying to tell her?

“You and I have more than just a friendship. Most people marry for what they think is love, yet physical attraction isn’t always strong enough. It can get in the way of making a relationship work.” Matt’s gaze slid to hers.

“What are you trying to say?”
she asked, dreading his answer.              

“I’m doing this all wrong
, it’s coming out terrible, and I’m not making any sense right now, I know. But I’m trying to ask you to marry me, Kate.” He finished in a rush.

The second his words
registered, Kate was on her feet and heading for the door.

“Where are you going?”
He exclaimed.

“I’m leaving. I thought that was obvious
.”

“Kate, you came with me, remember?”

“Then you can just take me home.” she shouted.

Matt caught her hand and turned her round. “This isn’t exactly the reaction I was hoping for
—”

“Oh really? Well, try this one. Have you lost your mind? This is insane.” She tried to pull away, but his fingers tightened
around her wrist.

“I realize this is coming out of the blue, but listen
. Just listen, Kate.”

“No, this is crazy, you must see that. Why would you even consider such a thing?”

“Sit down and let me explain. Okay?” He waited. “We’re friends, right? We enjoy the time we spend together. I’ve shared things about my life and my past with you. I love you, Kate. I mean I love you as a friend, and I believe you feel the same way.”

After a lengthy pause, Kate nodded.
"I do."

“I want to be there for you and your child the same way you’re always there for me. I want us to be partners. In life, in everything that marriage should be, just without...” He didn’t finish.

“Without sex? You want to us live together as friends. There’d be no intimacy—”

“I’ll let you set the boundaries for that.”
He’d shocked her by that admission.

“I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t attracted
to you. But I would never ask you to do anything you were not comfortable with.”

“But you don’t truly love me.”

He shook his head. “I can’t give you what I don’t believe in. It’s only a fairy tale. You should know that by now.” Matt continued before he lost his nerve. “And I would never hold you to any commitment if you found someone else.”

She was actually crying now.

“Kate, I don’t want there to be any misunderstanding between us.” His fingers went out to stroke her cheek. “I don’t expect you to answer right away. Think about it.”

“What about you? You don’t know what could be waiting if you’d open your heart
—”

“I
do
know. I’ve known for a long time now. I’m certain about this. I want you to be.”

“I want to go home. I don’t want to talk about this anymore.” She pushed his hand away and put on her coat.

“All right. I’ll take you home now.”

Throughout the ride home, she couldn't look at him. She was fighting back tears.

When he stopped the truck, Kate didn’t wait for him to say anything else. She got out of the truck and slammed the door. “Just go home, Matt.”

She
threw her coat on the nearby chair and began pacing the room. She had no idea why she was so upset.

“Kate, open the door
please.” Matt knocked hard. “I’m not leaving until I know you’re okay.”

“I’m fine
, but I don’t want to talk about this anymore. Just leave. I want to go to bed.”


All right, but I’ll call you soon.”

She waited until she heard the truck’s engine fade in the distance then undressed for bed, but sleep wouldn’t come so easily.
Every time she closed her eyes, he was there. She rolled on her side and saw the bright red digital clock. In just a few short hours, she wouldn’t have the luxury of sleep. Kate closed her eyes and prayed. Tonight she needed God's strength more than ever.

The ringing phone startled her. She reached for the receiver knowing it was Matt.

“I’m sorry. The last thing I wanted to do was upset you.”

“I’m not
. You didn’t. I don’t know what I feel. I just don’t want to talk about it.”

“Kate, I don’t want to lose your friendship
but I’m serious about the proposal. I think we could be good for each other. You call when you’re ready to talk.”


You don't have to worry. You could never lose my friendship. You’re too important to me as well,” she whispered softly.

“Get some sleep, and give me a call when you’re ready
to talk.”

Kate couldn’t understand why he was so willing to sell his own happiness short. He deserved to be happy and loved for the wonderful man he was and the husband he could be. Not tied to someone who was br
oken, scarred, and too afraid of being hurt to give him the love he so desperately deserved.

 

****

 

Matt picked up the phone a dozen times during the following days. He wanted to hear Kate’s voice more than anything. He needed to be certain he hadn’t driven her away by his proposal. But each time, he replaced the receiver without making that call. He’d promised her time.

Work
was the only thing that kept him from going to her. The project plagued with problems became his salvation, keeping his mind occupied on its countless difficulties during the long daytime hours.

But the night was a different story. It was during one of those long, endless nights
that Matt found himself locked in a struggle with God.

He didn’t believe.

He couldn’t believe.

But if there was the chance that Something was out there, as Kate, Denny
, and Rachel were convinced there was, then what did he do with this disbelief?

If
You want me back You’ll have to convince me. Give me some reason, one good reason to believe in You again.

The only answer was the silent night, and the still small voice that he’d turned his back on three years ago.

 

****

 

Kate could think of a dozen reasons to refuse
, but a tiny voice told her Matt needed her and to listen to God. She stopped the Jeep in the middle of the road and prayed again. If it was truly God’s plan for their lives, she’d be okay with it.

Please
, please let me know if this isn’t what You want before it’s too late. I don’t want to make another mistake. Just some sign—some little thing before it’s too late.

Endless hours of praying led her to believe that Matt’s proposal came from God even though he would never accept that. Now, just seconds away from facing him
again, Kate couldn’t keep from doubting. Did God really get involved in such little things or was she simply hoping for His blessing?

I believe this is Your choice for my life and for Matt’s. Please help me reach him and bring him back to You.

Kate parked the Jeep in front of his house. She drew in a deep breath, then let go of all her doubts.

She glanced up and saw him open the door.

Standing before her was her future.

All the uncertainty was gone. This was the right thing to do.

His gaze held none of the assurance that she felt in her heart.

“Hi
. I’m not interrupting, am I? I want to talk, but I didn’t want to do it over the phone. ”

Matt stood aside
then followed her into his office.             

He
seemed to brace himself for her answer.

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