Authors: Mary Eason
“Why do you want this? I
know what I’ll gain by marrying you, but what about you? What do you get? This isn’t out of some guilty responsibility you feel because of the latest rumor about us?”
“You knew about that? You never said
. I was hoping you’d be spared that.” Matt shook his head in amazement. “You really don’t see how important you are, do you, Kate? Just by being a part of my life. You’ve become very special to me, and I don’t want to lose that. Surely, that’s so much more than most people ever hope for?”
He cleared his throat.
“I have a chance to be there for the baby, as well. I know I can make an important contribution in the child’s life if you let me.”
She slowly digested his answer. “I have to tell you something.” Kate managed to get those words out.
Would she be able to tell him everything?
Please help me.
It's something I’ve never told anyone else. It’s about Josh and how the baby was conceived.” Kate closed her eyes. This was going to be harder than she imagined.
“He raped you?”
Her wounded gaze flinched at his directness.
“I guessed.” Matt answered her unsp
oken question. “It’s okay. You have nothing to feel guilty about. It wasn’t your fault.”
Her breath caught in a painful sob. “I know that’s true
, yet I feel so dirty.”
came to her side. “You have nothing to feel dirty about, Kate. There was nothing you could have done to prevent it. It wasn’t your fault.”
moved away to the window. She needed to put some distance between them. “I want to keep working. I won’t quit my job, so don’t ask me to. I have no intention of living off of you.”
Instantly the uncertainty cleared away from hi
m. “Does that mean you’ve decided? You’ll accept?”
“Yes, you’ve decided, or yes, you’ll accept?”
She chuckled at his confusion. “Yes to both. I don’t want you to think I’m marrying you because of money. You can keep it. I can take care of myself and my child.”
Kate, I promise you won’t regret this, but I want us to be partners in everything, including finances. I was hoping you’d let me adopt the baby. Be a real father to the child. What else am I suppose to do with all this money if not help make our lives and our child’s better?”
Kate went to him. “We don’t need money for you to do that. Just having you in our lives will make it so much more fulfilled. It’s more than I could ask.”
Matt touched her cheek. “Thank you for allowing me this chance. You have no idea how important it is to me.” His lips brushed across her forehead. “Come sit close to the fire. Your hands are freezing. We have a lot to talk about. When will you marry me?”
“I don’t want to wait. I don’t want it to be anything big, either. Just the two of us and our pastor. I think we should dispense with all the useless ceremony
“You’re sure? I don’t want you to have any regrets.”
When she nodded, Matt appeared relieved.
“We’ll keep it simple then. Leave all the details to me. I’ll get all the paperwork done so we can talk to Jack after the service on Sunday.”
Kat was convinced that t
heir marriage had to be God’s will because nothing short of divine intervention would have allowed the wedding to come together without a single glitch in a just two short weeks.
On a bright, sunny Sunday afternoon, she stood close to Matt in front of their pastor as well as Denny, Melissa, Amy, and Herman, who witnessed their union.
Kate was so nervous it took all of her willpower not to turn and run out the door. She didn’t doubt God’s will in her life but it was hard not to give into the jitters. She glanced up at Matt and realized he was nervous, too.
Everyone in town had them linked together romantically, so their marriage wouldn’t come as a surprise.
Matt had told Denny about their wedding plans and the good doctor had spilled the news. Amy’s enthusiastic yet tearful response showed she'd been expecting the news for a long time as well.
Denny’s response was just as enthusiastic. “You have no idea how happy I am for both of you, Kate.
“I’m sure Matt told you
we’re just friends.” Kate wondered what exactly had Matt said to his friend.
Denny patted her arm gently. “Friends don’t usually end up marrying each other,
now do they? But I will tell you this. Sometimes it’s not how you get there, it’s just
you do eventually get there. You know what I mean?”
had refused the offer by their friends to hold a reception. She’d even insisted the pastor leave out the part involving the final kiss.
She and Matt were friends. She didn’t want to cloud that reality. They would be good for each other and share their lives
, but there was nothing romantic in any of those things.
seem tired, Kate. Why don’t you get some rest? Maybe you should think about staying home from work tomorrow.”
After the ceremony, she and Matt had come back to his house.
house. Kate had been determined to keep the day just like any other Sunday afternoon.
ere was nothing special about the day despite being her wedding day.
could sleep late. Let me make you breakfast, maybe even read a book. Or you could just do nothing at all.”
“Absolutely not.” She yawned
then stretched as the familiar pins and needles attacked her ankles. “I want to go in to the diner. Besides, don’t you have work to do?”
Matt pulled her gently against him, shocking her into silence.
She’d married this man just a few hours ago. This was her husband.
“Are you coming up?” she asked
a bit breathlessly, when she could no longer bear the intimate silence.
Slowly Matt pressed a kiss against her forehead. “Not just yet. I’m going to work. I feel like catching up on some of the problem stuff tonight. I’ll see you in the morning. Goodnight, Kate.”
Kate didn’t answer. She couldn’t. In spite of her determination to put their marriage in prospective, she couldn't have felt less like a newlywed.
Alone in her bedroom she tossed and turned
. She couldn't let go of her troubling thoughts. Matt had suggested she use the room closest to his in case she needed him. It was more open and airy than the smaller bedroom downstairs.
Kate couldn’t keep from wondering if his decision had more to do with the fact that the bedroom she’d first chosen to use had been Caroline’s. Matt assured her that wasn’t the case, but Caroline was the reason he was so certain he’d never fall in love again. Caroline was his first love.
I’m his wife now
No, you’re his friend.
She and Matt were both hurt by their pasts. They’d decided on this path without the emotional attachments that came from romantic illusions. Kate was determined to keep their friendship strong and uncomplicated by emotions that had no place in their lives or their marriage.
She needed Matt and he desperately needed
to find his way back to God.
As she drifted off to sleep alone on her wedding night, redemption was the last thought on her mind. Saving Matt was the whole reason she’d married him. Wasn’t it?
oke early the following morning. For a moment, she couldn’t remember why she was here. Her room was blissfully warm as she dressed and went downstairs to Matt’s office.
He’d fallen sound asleep on the sofa.
Kate grinned as she considered all of the habits he’d have to break. He worked crazy hours, and he drank enough black coffee to stunt the growth of a herd of elephants. She found a blanket in the hall closet, put it over him, and started a fresh pot for when he awakened.
Kate was getting ready to leave when she heard him stir. She turned to see him rubbing sleep from his eyes.
“I was trying not to wake you.” She knelt next to him and touched the evidence of new morning growth on his face. “How late were you up last night?”
“Don’t ask,” he
winced. “You’re leaving? Why didn’t you wake me up? We could have breakfast together.” Matt sat up quickly.
“Don’t be silly, you were dead to the world. I made some coffee for you, but I think you should get some sleep
instead. You drink too much of that stuff.”
reached for his hand and tried to pull him to his feet. “Walk me to the door.”
Not you too? Denny is always harping about the amount of coffee I drink,” he grumbled, stifling a yawn. “At least let me drive you into work this morning. The roads are bad. I doubt the plows have been through yet.”
Kate arched a brow at his answer. “I grew up here, remember. I know how to drive in the snow, so stop worrying. Go to bed, Matt. You
must be dead on your feet.”
“I guess that’ll teach me to marry an aspiring attorney
.” He grinned as he helped her into her coat. His fingers brushed against her arm, sending unwelcome reminder of the reason for the sleepless night she'd spent the night before.
“Always, so you’d better get use to it now.” She met his gaze.
“I think I can adjust. Be careful, will you?” The humor left Matt eyes so quickly that it knocked the breath from her.
He touched her cheek gently and then kissed the spot where his fingers had been before letting her go.
It was all Kate could do to concentrate on the snowy, treacherous road as she made her way down Silver Mountain.
“Oh my goodness child. You know we weren’t expecting you to come in today. This is your day off. It was such a beautiful ceremony.” Amy squeezed Kate tight. “I’m so happy for you both. My too favorite people in the world married to each other. What could be more right in the world?”
Kate rolled her eyes
then hugged her back.
She retreated to the kitchen to find Herman working on his secret French toast batter. He glanced up as Kate entered the room.
“She means well, hon. You know our Amy.”
Kate relaxed in his gentle presence. He was right of course.
“I know and I love her for her concern, both of you. I’m so glad you came yesterday.”
“Wouldn’t have missed it for the world. We were honored that you asked us.” He gestured toward the dining area and Amy. “She might not be able to say it, but she thinks of you like a daughter. And Matt, well, he’s been like a son to us for as long as I can remember. Seems only right.”
The flock of people coming in and out didn’t ease up until well after the lunch hour was over. Kate and Herman were just finishing the last of the dishes when Amy walked in.
she asked her husband, who nodded.
Kate glanced from one to the other. “What’s up with you guys today?”
Amy practically dragged her to the dining area, with Herman in tow.
“Come sit down, child. Herman and I have something we’ve been
meaning to talk to you about, but we could never find the right moment.”
Kate sank down into the chair that Herman held out, feeling an uneasiness take life in the pit of her stomach.
“Now don’t look so scared. It’s not a bad thing.” Amy clasped her husband’s hand.
continued with the story. “Kate, you know that Amy and I were never able to have kids of our own. This business has been our life and it’s kept us busy and happy for a long time. But lately we’ve found ourselves with a dilemma that we weren’t really sure how to fix until you came along. We didn’t know what to do with this place when we finally decided to retire. We couldn’t bring ourselves to sell to a stranger or close it down and there wasn’t anyone to take it over, so we never thought about retirement. Now don’t say anything yet. Hear me out.” Herman interpreted Kate’s expression correctly.
”You know we love you. You’ve become like a daughter to us. And you’re so smart I know we can trust you to do what’s best for this place. Amy and I have more money than we’ll ever use in two lifetimes. We love the house we built here but we’re getting a little tired of all this cold. We’re ready to think about retiring, seriously. Turn the business over to someone we can trust and go see the country. You know all those places we’ve never had the chance to visit before. Maybe even go overseas and
“What my sweet husband is
to say,” Amy interrupted him, “is that we’ve had our attorney draw up all the papers. We want to leave the diner to you. Now, just wait a second, before you refuse. We know you’re going have your hands full with the little one for a while. We weren’t talking about dropping everything right away. Just maybe slowly over the next few years, we’ll start turning over the running of the place to you. We’ll still help until you feel comfortable running it alone. We plan on spoiling our grandchild an awful lot as well. I know we won’t be able to stay away for too long. But we both want to do this.”