More Than a Just River in Egypt
She knew it would have been easy to say the words back to him. Even if she didn't know if she meant them. The expectant look on his face after he'd admitted his feelings, the look of awe as they stared at the sonogram for the first time, even the way he'd jokingly proposed in her office… Taylor knew Matt was in this for the long haul. At least, that was his intention. She wondered if the reality of such a commitment had actually hit home yet.
He was a player. He didn't do monogamy, despite his apparent conversion during the past ten months. She couldn't trust that it would stick, any more than she believed in the institution of marriage. The only time she'd taken such a leap of faith herself, her brief engagement to Eli, was simply proof that it didn't work. Taylor had loved him completely – had finally allowed herself to be vulnerable with a man – and he'd rejected her.
Then there were her parents. She still remembered the arguments and the even longer silences, the bitter recriminations on her mother's side and accusations of abandonment. Taylor loved her father but she knew much of what her mother said had been true. Jordan put his career first and his first marriage had ended. Now it seemed his second was heading in the same direction.
Taylor had been involved in too many divorce settlements and custody disputes to believe in the institution of marriage anymore. The thought of making such a commitment to Matt was laughable. It was just as well he'd meant it as a joke (she refused to believe otherwise).
The fact that he loved her was harder to discount. Matt was many things but he wasn't a liar. Unless it suited him to help win a case. Or get out of something he didn't want to do. Or telling her that her ass looked no bigger when she knew for a fact it did. Matt lied about plenty of things, actually, but she knew he wasn't lying about this. He opened up to her, laid his heart out before her, and waited expectantly to hear those words back.
Maybe it was his vulnerability that scared her – the responsibility that he was giving her. She wasn't ready, it was as simple as that. He could get angry and mope and give her the silent treatment, but she wasn't about to be pushed into something she didn't feel. If he didn't like it then he could leave. She wouldn't even blame him.
But Matt didn't leave. She knew he was hurt but he tried not to show it. He didn't bring it up again. She wondered, if the situation were reversed, whether she'd be able to do the same. She doubted it, which made her even more uncertain about her own feelings. It would be too easy to run away. Yes, she was pregnant, but she wouldn't be the first single mother in the world. She was quite capable of handling things on her own, had the money for a nanny, the best schools, everything a child could ever want or need. And if the kid needed a male role model Taylor had her father. In the grand scheme of things, she and Matt working out was an insignificant detail.
He was leaving the decision up to her, making her be the bad guy. It was almost masochistic, as if he wanted to get his heart stomped on. She couldn't understand why he wasn't protecting himself better. Keeping his options open, bedding other women when the mood took him, not allowing her to string him along all these weeks.
Taylor had to break it off. It was only fair to Matt. Fair to herself, too. A swift, clean break and she could go back to concentrating on herself and the baby. Easy.
She decided to go to his office. It could get messy at his place or hers. There were no distractions there, no interruptions. No, work was best. She even made an appointment.
He was surprised to see her, or at least was good at feigning it when she entered his palatial office. Taylor had to hand it to him, he'd made a good decision in accepting the partnership at Posner and Klein. Even better that they wouldn't be stuck working together at her firm.
Matt came out from behind his desk to kiss her hello, pausing only slightly when she offered him her cheek instead of her lips. He motioned her to the couch but she purposely sat in one of the visitor chairs by his desk, going a step further and dumping her handbag on the chair beside her so he was forced to sit back opposite her, his expansive desk a buffer between them.
"Do I need to have an attorney present for this?" he joked, masking the fear that had crept into his eyes.
Taylor hesitated a moment too long, then started chewing on her bottom lip.
She straightened slightly in her seat. "We need to talk."
Matt smiled and looked down at his desk. The fact he knew what was coming and was still going to make her say it was annoying. She let out a breath, allowing her gaze to roam while she remembered her prepared speech. She'd crafted it like a closing argument. It was balanced perfectly – heartfelt but to the point. Any judge would rule in her favor.
That's when she saw the photo frame. It sat in front of his monitor, the only one on his desk. The other pictures of his family, the trinkets and object d'art that Posner and Klein had no doubt paid a fortune to an interior designer for were littered throughout his office. But this photograph had pride of place on his desk.
The sonogram. The grainy black and white blob that had entranced them both when they saw their baby's minuscule heart for the first time. It didn't really translate to the print out. Taylor had stuck her own copy into a journal that she had intended to use to document the pregnancy but hadn't had time to start yet. She didn't want people oohing and aahing over it, pretending they saw a baby when there was only a blob.
Matt wasn't displaying it for anyone either, it was there just for him. A constant reminder of what they had made together and the promise of the future. Taylor blinked back sudden, unexpected tears. Stupid, sentimental fool, she thought. Sexist wiseass, jerk. Why did he have to go and do that?
"Taylor?" he said softly, his voice full of concern.
She sniffed and tossed her head up, meeting his gaze.
"Okay, so I love you, too," she said.
Matt sat back in his chair in surprise. Taylor would have laughed at his expression if she wasn't convinced she was wearing the same stunned look.
"Okay," said Matt. "Um…"
"That's all, we don't have to talk about it now," she replied quickly. Taylor got to her feet, glancing briefly again at the sonogram picture.
Matt had barely gotten to his feet before she headed for the door.
"Well, hang on…" he started.
"If you intend to break my heart, at least give me some kind of warning first," she interrupted him when she turned around. "I promise to do the same."
Matt gaped briefly before stammering, "Okay."
"I'm not very good at this, so you have to be patient."
"I can do that."
Taylor paused as she judged the sincerity of his words, then nodded. "In that case I'll see you tonight."
She walked out quickly before she panicked and took it all back, or before Matt could ruin it with a joke, or worse, another declaration of love. Taylor needed to take things slowly.
But as she sped through the lavish PK office Taylor felt lighter than she had since finding out she was pregnant. She tried to hide her smile as she passed old colleagues and strangers alike. Tried, but didn't quite succeed.