Authors: Mary Eason
“Well, I think you have Matt to thank
in part, but I’m willing to take all the credit. It’s good for my ego.” He grinned at her.
Kate mentally brushed aside his deliberate attempt to bring Matt into their conversation.
It seemed everyone in Silver Mountain was determined to get them together. In spite of the roadblocks Matt put up to discourage any personal interest, she’d caught small glimpses of the man Matt had been before his family's tragic deaths. The man she wished he could set free.
She gave herself a mental shake. She shouldn’t be spending her time thinking about Matt.
“I should be going. You’re swamped today. Your waiting room is packed.” Kate was half way to the door when Denny stopped her.
“Oh, I almost forgot. Melissa asked me to invite you over for lunch on Sunday.”
Something in his tone made her suspect there was more to the invitation. “Who else is going to be there?” Denny hesitated and she answered for him. “Matt. It’s Matt, isn’t it?” Kate sighed. Why was everyone so determined to push them together? “Denny, I know Matt's a good person and I know he’s your friend, but stop it, will you? I’m not the person you think I am. He doesn’t need me to save him.”
There was so much despair in
Denny's expression that she regretted saying the words.
“You’re wrong,” he
said at last. “He does, you both need saving. You have no idea how much the two of you need each other. I’ve seen hope in him again. It hasn’t been there in a long while. Kate, you are going to be Matt’s miracle. I can almost
She held back her frustration with difficulty.
“How can I help him? I can barely help myself. How can I be anyone’s miracle?”
He patted her arm gently. “I think you know the answer to that already, don’t you?
Pray for God's guidance.”
Kate tried to pretend she didn’t understand exactly what he meant.
Denny was so adept at reading people that he’d seen through her defenses.
“Just come on Sunday. I promise there are no strings attached. Melissa is an excellent cook and she really wants to get to know you better.”
and groped for the door. “I’ll think about it. I’ll think about what you’ve said, too.” Kate left without another word, but she couldn’t get what Denny had said out of her thoughts long after she left his office.
“I’m so glad you came.” Melissa Hernandez gave Kate a welcoming hug.
That Sunday morning had dawned with enough bright sunshine to set Kate’s spirits free, while she
tried to ignore the nausea that still hung around most days.
It seemed today
was going to be a good day for hugs. She’d received one from Amy as they walked up the steps of the church and now a hug from Melissa. It seemed part of God’s plan that she be accepted as part of this small community.
“Thank you. It was good of you and Denny to invite me
over. Can I help you with anything?” Kate glanced around the enormous gourmet kitchen and wondered how much fun it would be to test out those state-of-the-art kitchen appliances.
“There’s absolutely no way I’m letting you help out with lunch. Doctor’s orders.” Melissa’s
grinned at her.
She heard the doorbell and then
recognized Matt’s voice immediately. The familiar tension sharpened her senses when he walked in the room followed by Denny. She’d deliberately avoided him during the church service. Kate felt as if she were free-falling head first from the top of a mountain peak whenever he was around.
Matt didn’t appear surprised to see her.
He'd obviously known she would be there. Melissa pulled Matt into one of her bear hugs, which he accepted without hesitation. When he turned to Kate, he simply held his hand out to her. In spite of his desire to be her friend, they weren’t there yet.
Okay, you two are our guests, so shoo. Matt take Kate out to garage and show her what your friend here spends all of his extra money on.” Melissa winked and Kate froze.
Matt simply clasped her hand and led her out of the kitchen. “Relax. They really do mean well.” He pushed open the double wooden doors to the old barn and waited for her reaction.
glanced around surprised. The place was filled with old cars. Every possible make and model and in various stages of restoration.
laughed and couldn’t keep from joining in. This was a side of Denny she would not have guessed.
, I know. You’d never picture him for a gear-head. Denny used to help his uncle, who owned the local repair shop, whenever he’d let him. He’s been addicted to these things ever since.” Matt closed the door and leaned back against it as he studied her. “We both know this was only an excuse to get us alone together. So why don’t we try to work on that friendship thing?”
Kate forgot all about the cars
when he pushed away from the door and came to her.
“Trust me. I
do want us to be friends.” His expression said what his words had not.
She swallowed hard and tried to keep her thoughts in focus. “I’m sorry
. I really don’t mean to be so difficult—”
“You’re not. It’s not you. I can’t seem to say what I mean anymore.” Matt
shook his head. “What are you doing later today? Because I have an idea."
Her mind went blank. She couldn't think of a single reason not to see him later except for her own reaction to being close to him.
He read her lack of answer for a yes. "Good. Then why don’t we go somewhere quiet and we’ll just talk. Just the two of us without anyone watching everything we do.”
It sounded good. Too good. It sounded dangerous.
“You can tell me anything you
'd like, ask me anything and I’ll do my best to be honest with you. Some things are hard to talk about, I won't deny. But then, I think there are some things that you find difficult to talk about as well.” He reached up to tuck one of her curls behind her ear.
His sweet, charming, completely unstaged
honesty made her see beyond the wounded person he was to the man he’d once been. Husband, father. Creative, intelligent, and one very handsome man.
She closed her eyes,
her breath labored as she struggled with her heart. When she opened her eyes again he was still there. His hand still touched her hair. He stroked it as he watched her expression. She hadn't realized how startling his blue eyes were, or how his dark brown hair held touches of gold. She hadn't noticed a lot of things about Matt until now.
. She looked away from those beautiful blue eyes that watched her too closely. R
emember how nice Josh seemed at first.
“Kate?” Her name
sounded like a whisper. “Will you do that? Will you try?”
Slowly she nodded
. She wondered how they must appear, standing mere inches apart, looking at each other like they’d just realized the worth of the other person. The tip of her tongue glided over her dry lips. He followed the movement, making her feel shaky from emotions she’d almost forgotten existed.
is finger trailed down to her cheek to rest against the frantic beating pulse of her throat. Kate responded to his gentle pressure that moved her closer to him. He was so close that she could see the uncertainty in his gaze.
He wanted to kiss her.
And she wanted that more than anything else in the world.
“Matt, are you still in there?” Denny sounded close, just outside the barn, an unwelcome intrusion into the
reacted first. His hand drop away. His smile held as much regret as Kate felt. “Probably for the best, don’t you think?” he said softly as he bent to kiss her cheek.
ok at me.”
managed to keep his feelings for Kate neatly sorted out until now. But that ‘almost kiss’ had messed things up inside his head.
Friendship was what he
her he wanted but was that the truth?
“Forget what happened in the barn,” he said, reading her
reaction easily enough. “Let’s just write that off as simple frustration at being the object of everyone’s speculation.” He grinned at her. “It won’t happen again, I promise.”
Matt promised himself that what he’d just told Kate was the truth. He really,
wanted it to be. Of course it wasn’t. Friendship was the last thing he wanted from her. He’d unexpectedly been awakened back to life. It was like being shocked awake by the sound of a fast moving train, realizing you were sitting squarely on the tracks. It was sheer torture. The last thing on his mind right now was friendship. It was the only thing she had to offer him.
He was sitting in the tiny living room of Kate’s one bedroom apartment and wondering exactly how he’d let things get so far out of hand.
Yeah, that was it. That was what he was after.
“I’ll try,” The object of his tortured thoughts said softly
. He had to focus to remember what she was talking about.
“Good. It’s what I want, too.” His conscience told him he was playing with fire.
“I think it would help if we talked about the pasts we’re both trying so hard to forget. Maybe if you knew something about me.” He stopped. Did he really want her knowing his ugly secrets?
She surprised him by saying,
“I already know about you. You own your own business, you prefer to work alone, and you don’t much like surprise visitors.” She was teasing him, actually
“That’s not exactly what I meant. I’m sure there’s lots more you know about me. About my past.”
She didn't shy away from the question. "Yes. This is a small community, and I didn’t have to ask to find out things about you.”
nodded. The familiar sense of emptiness overtook him once more but this time was different. He was ready to talk about it. He didn’t believe anyone could help him though, but Denny insisted Kate needed
“You mean you know about my wife and son’s death
s? Or that you know the truth?” The sympathy in her eyes gave it away.
“Then you probably know more about the truth than I’d like.” Matt saw
that she didn't believe everything she'd heard about him. “You don’t believe it?” he added, amazed at her unwarranted faith in him. A hardness crept into his tone he couldn’t begin to control. “It’s true. All of it. Every little ugly detail. My wife was leaving me on the night of the accident.”
She recoiled from the bitterness in his voice but didn't say a word
“Our marriage was over long before Caroline decided to leave that night. Truthfully, around the same time Sam
my was born. He was the only thing keeping us together. But after a while even he wasn’t enough. One day I woke up and decided I’d had enough of the lies, the arguments, the pretense. I told her that night that I wanted a divorce and there was no way I’d ever let her have custody of Sammy. I had no idea what she was planning until it was too late.”
Matt, what happened that night wasn't your fault. Surely, you see that. You couldn’t have known what Caroline was planning. You couldn’t have stopped her...”
His bitter l
aughter cut through whatever else she'd been about to say.
“I’m sorry Kate, but you’ve got it all wrong. I’m not blaming myself. I dealt with that guilt and I accept my responsibility in their deaths. I don’t excuse my part. I can’t blame all the failure of our marriage on Caroline, either. I did my part there, as well. It’s not me I blame any longer. It’s God.
His confession shocked her into silence.
“The night that Denny told me the news of my son...” Matt shook his head. “Well, I quit believing in God. I can’t. I found out that night just what a lie believing in God really was, and I can’t be a part of that lie anymore.” Matt hadn’t even told Denny the depth of his bitterness toward God. The loss of Sammy had been crippling. He'd lashed out at himself first, then God.
Kate to be disgusted, but she wasn’t deserting him. There were tears of pity in her eyes. He rejected them without hesitation and mentally withdrew from her. Didn’t she realize that pity was a wasted emotion on him?
“I don’t believe you,” she
finally said, her eyes bright with moisture. “How can you say you don’t believe in God? You still attend His church.”
“Lots of people go to church who don’t believe in God. I started going again for Denny’s sake. He still believes he can save me
, and I can’t bear to disappoint him anymore than I already have. When I attend church, listen to the music and the pastor's sermon, I feel absolutely nothing.”