Standing on The Edge Of Goodbye (7 page)

Matt couldn’t ever remember seeing her in makeup. The obvious lack
of it made her appear younger than her twenty-four years.

H
e became conscious of their surroundings again. He was still sitting in front of the diner, hands on the wheel of the truck, staring at her.

He turned
and made a big production of starting the truck and checking for nonexistent oncoming traffic. “So what would you be doing today if you weren’t going to Denver with me?”

She laughed.

“What’s so funny?”

“Nothing.
Only I’m such a boring person. When I’m not working, I’m usually sleeping. I can fall asleep at the drop of a hat these days. I’ll probably do it today. You’ve been warned. I’ll try to keep from snoring.”

“I guess it’s because…“ His gaze dropped to her midsection.
             

“Yes, it’s because I’m pregnant,” she roll
ed her eyes at his awkwardness. “I was probably boring before, though. I just didn’t have an excuse. Now, Denny actually encourages me to sleep. Can you imagine?”

He arched a brown at her description of herself.
“I don’t believe there’s anything boring about you.”

Kate threw him a mischievous little grin. “
Oh, I’m not in need of any excitement. I’ve had enough of that to last a lifetime. I grew up in a town about the same size as Silver Mountain. There’s a lot to be said for the small town life. You can keep the big city, thank you, very much.”


Still, some day you’ll want to meet someone, fall in love. Maybe even move back to the big city.”

“No.” Her answer came in an instant
. All of her earlier humor evaporated. “No, I have no intention of ever going through that again. I’ve had enough hurt to last forever.”

She associated love and marriage to pain. He couldn't blame her. He did the same.
“I’m not trying to diminish what you went through, but you may change your mind. Someday you may want to be with someone. Even have more children.”             

“That’s never going to happen.”

“Don’t you think that the child you’re carrying might need the influence of a father in his life?”

She scoffed at that.
“Not the type of father Josh would have been--certainly not the type of father I had. Besides, my grandmother raised me alone. Having a male role model isn’t necessarily a prerequisite to turning out good.”

“No, but it can be a good thing sometimes
. A positive male role model could be good for your child. You shouldn’t dismiss the possibility just on the strength of the past. You had a rough time, I know, but you just met the wrong guy. There are plenty of other men out there who are good and kind and would never hurt you.”
Someone like me
, his mind taunted.

“Maybe you’re right, but I know in my heart that I just can’t do it again. All I can do is pray that I’ll do the best job
I can to bring up my child the right way. God’s way.”

He
didn't like her answer but he remembered his promise to keep this trip fun. So far, he was failing miserably.

Matt reached out to touch her cheek gently in apology. “We’re supposed to be having fun.
Why don’t you tell me something about where you grew up? Your grandmother said it wasn’t too far from Silver Mountain.”

Rachel
had told him a lot about Duncan’s Valley, which was only fifty miles north. After Kate left to attend university, Rachel decided she needed a change as well. She’d sold the house and settled into his tiny one bedroom cabin.

“What? Why are you
staring at me like that?”

Matt came back to the present in an instant with Kate’s question.
He realized he'd been staring at her with a goofy expression on his face. He considered making up some excuse but decided on the truth.

“Nothing.
I was just thinking of how much you remind me of your grandmother right now. Rachel had a way of plowing full steam ahead when she made up her mind about something.”

“That sounds like her all right. Will you tell me about my grandmother? You were there when she passed away, weren’t you? I’m so glad she wasn’t alone, even though I know she wouldn’t have been afraid of death.”

She was right about that. Rachel wasn't afraid of much. “No, she wasn’t afraid. She wasn’t in any pain. Simply drifted off to sleep. She died at peace, happy and ready to be with her God.”

Kate nodded. “That sounds exactly like Grandma Rachel. She had more faith than anyone I know.” Kate reached out to cover his hand on the wheel. “Thank you.”

Her gentle words surprised him as much as her tentative touch. “For what?”

“For being there for my grandmother. I wish I could have been.
I'm glad she was with someone she loved.”

Matt swallowed hard but the lump in his throat wouldn't go away.
“I loved her, too. Whatever I did for her she did a thousand times over for me. She was such an amazing woman I just wish I could have lived up to all the things she believed me to be.”

“I wish I could have, too.
Maybe there’s still a chance for both of us. It’s never too late. Grandma Rachel talked about you a lot. She never went into details, but she asked me to pray for you.”

Kate’s revelation came as a shock. He’d never fully understood the depth of Rachel’s love.

“I didn’t know.” But he’d suspected. It humbled him that Rachel had cared enough about his soul to seek her granddaughter’s help.

Once they reached the edge of
Denver, Kate’s attention focused on the city around her.

Matt was overwhelmed by the love that he hadn’t realized existed in the woman he’d considered his own grandmother.

Kate was strong like her grandmother, but she’d been wounded by love and she was determined to go through life alone.

Matt had decided after Caroline that love wouldn’t be an option ever again.
That was before Kate. Once she had the chance to heal, she’d love again.

He
hated to think about that day.

“What? Do I have something on my face? Why do you keep lo
oking at me like that?”

“No.” He sho
ok his head, before reaching out to tuck a curl behind her ear. “You don’t have anything on your face.” Matt left it at that. There was no way he would clue Kate into what he’d been thinking.

He stopped the truck in the parking space that still held his name.

“This is it.” He nodded toward the four-story brick-and-glass building.             

”Are you sure you wouldn’t rather I wait for you in the truck? I don’t want to be in the way.”

Matt shook his head "You're not in the way, Kate. I invited you here because I wanted you to see the place." He got out of the truck and opened the door for her.

Once they were inside, he introduced Kate to the receptionist, then headed for the elevator.
”Why don’t I show you around and then I’ll drop by Frank’s office to take care of some things. You can wait in my office.”

“Who’s Frank?” Kate asked.

“Frank Thomas, my second in command. He keeps this place running, really. You’ll meet him in a minute. His office is on the fourth floor, along with mine.”

When they stopped in front of Matt’s secretary’s desk
sometime later, there was little doubt the news of the boss’s arrival hadn’t yet reached her.

“Matt?” The twenty-something, dark-haired woman
jumped out of her chair and was in Matt's arms before he knew what hit him. “I can’t believe it’s really you. It’s so good to see you.”                            

“Gena
.” Matt tried to gently untangle himself from the girl’s arms. “How’ve you been? It seems like the only time I talk to you anymore is through email. Is Frank keeping you busy?”

Gena made a face.
“He tries, but you know Frank.” Her gaze shifted to Kate.

“Gena
, this is Kate Alexander. She came in with me today. I need to go over a few things with Frank, but first I want to introduce him to Kate. Will you show her to my office afterward?”

Gena smiled warmly
at Kate, dispelling Kate's first impression that she wasn't happy to see Matt with another woman. “Of course, I'd be happy to. Frank should be in his office. He doesn’t have anything scheduled until after lunch. He didn’t tell me you’d be stopping in today. I’m going have to yell at him for that.”

 

****

 

“Matt? I was just thinking about you…” Frank got to his feet when he spotted Matt in his doorway. “What are you doing here, anyway? Did I forget a meeting or…” He stopped the second he spotted Kate standing next to Matt. “You’re not alone. I’m sorry, I didn’t realize—”

Matt winked at Kate before he made the introductions. "
Frank, this is Kate Alexander. Kate, this guy here is my right hand man, Frank Thomas.”

The man to
ok Kate’s hand and shook it. “Good to meet you.” He seemed genuinely surprised.

Matt didn’t miss Frank’s reaction or Kate’s embarrassment. He turned to Kate. “I promise I won’t be long. Can you find your way back to Gena?”

Kate nodded, smiled again at Frank, and then left them alone.

“Now I know why you never want to leave that little town.”

“We’re just friends.” Matt tried to nip Frank's curiosity in the bud before it went any further.

“Uh
-huh…I don’t remember you bringing your
other
friends over here.” He dropped back into his seat and eyed Matt across the desk. “Why are you here, anyway?”

“I just wanted to go over the Berrick account requirements in person since I dumped the whole thing in your lap unexpectedly.”

“You could have given me any advice you wanted on that account over the phone or through email.”

“Can we
just go over the account please?” Matt tried to keep from snapping at his friend. “Kate just came along to keep me company, that’s all.”

“So does th
is mean I have a clear field with Gena now that you've found someone to be…friends with? You know she's crazy about you.”

Matt
did his best to appear angry and Frank held up both hands. “Okay, right. By all means, let’s talk about work.”

 

****

 

Gena pushed open the door to a spacious office lined by a wall of windows. “I miss seeing him every day.” She said.

Kate glanced over at the other woman.
She wondered how long Gena had been in love with Matt. Did he know? Somehow, she doubted it.

“He was such a nice guy to work for.
He was so full of life and happy before.”

Gena went over to his desk
and picked up the single picture situated there.

Kate followed. The
photo was of a small boy.

Sam
my Stevens had his father’s eyes and a head full of dark curly hair. He grinned adoringly at the person behind the camera. The child was dressed in jeans and a pull over parka that had a dark stain on it. He was missing his front tooth.

It was heartbreaking to realize the sweet child in the photo was gone. How did a parent ever recover from losing such an angel?

“You knew Sammy and his mother?” Kate couldn’t stop herself from asking.

“Yes
, a little. Only from their occasional visits. I never saw them outside of the office, though. Matt adored his son. His whole world revolved around Sammy.”

She put the picture down and changed the subject. “Can I get you anything? Coffee or some tea?”

Kate’s shook her head and Gena walked to the door.

“Then I’ll leave you. There are some bo
oks and magazines on the shelf over there if you get bored. If you need anything just let me know.” She closed the door quietly.

Kate lightly touched the photo
. She realized she was crying. She couldn't imagine going through what Matt had gone through.

“Kate? Are you all right?”

Kate scrubbed at the tears still clinging to her lashes. She couldn’t face him like this.

She’d picked up Sammy’s photo and pressed it tight against her chest.

“Kate?”

He came to her and touched her face gently.
“Oh, Kate.” Matt’s tone sounded unfamiliar and brittle. He lifted her chin. “Please don’t cry.”

She struggled to explain the sadness she felt. She
glanced down at the sweet smiling child in the picture.

Sam
my.

“Oh
, Matt, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry about Sammy.” Kate went into his arms without thinking.

Matt gathered her close.
It was a moment before he answered. “Don’t, Kate. Don’t cry. It’s okay. It doesn’t hurt so much anymore.”


Oh, Matt, he’s so beautiful. I can’t even begin to imagine how much you must miss him.” Kate drew in a shuddering breath. “I’m so sorry. I have no right to tell you how you should deal with losing your son. It must have hurt you to hear me say that I wasn’t sure I wanted my baby after everything you’ve lost.” Kate lifted her eyes to his pleading. “I’m so sorry.”

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