The following conversation takes place early on during MORE Book 3 (More Than Ever).
Matthew opened the front door, and his face lit up with a huge smile. “Hi, Sloan.” As it always was with him, he seemed so excited to see me.
The feeling was completely mutual.
I offered him a return smile. “I’m glad you had time for a visit today.”
“Me too. Come on in. I was just starting dinner.” He motioned me inside and then led me through the house and into the kitchen.
“Can I help?”
“Sure. I’m making fajitas. With homemade tortillas. You wanna chop the vegetables?”
“You got it.” I got started on the onions and peppers while he set to mixing the ingredients for the tortillas. After a few minutes of silence, I asked, “Where are the guys?”
“Still at work.” He opened his mouth to say more, and I knew he was going to talk about Luke and Richard and how they were doing and what they were up to. I didn’t want to hear about them right then.
Before he could say anything, I asked, “How have you been doing lately?”
He lowered his head and shrugged. “I’m okay, I guess.”
“You still waiting to hear about that job?”
“Yeah.” There was a long pause. He took a deep breath. “I really want this one.”
“I know you do.”
He nodded. Keeping his gaze on the dough he was now kneading on the surface of a wood cutting board, his next words poured out in a rush. “I’m not gonna ask you how it turns out because I know I have to wait, but if there’s anything you can do…” He trailed off.
I set the knife down beside the strips of peppers and onions and gave him my full attention. “I’m going to do my best for you, Matthew. I promise you that.”
He smiled at me again, his eyes beaming with genuine affection. “I know you will.”
I probably shouldn’t have said anything more, but I couldn’t keep the words inside. “Thank you for trusting me with your life. It means a great deal to me.”
He laughed. “I should be the one thanking you. I wouldn’t be me without you. I’d be somebody else.”
I laughed too. “I guess that’s true.”
Then he studied me with an intensity that reminded me of Richard. “You’re going to make me tell them about the other stuff that’s been on my mind lately, aren’t you?”
“Don’t you think you should?”
“It’s not a big deal. None of it is.”
“That’s not true, and you know it.”
He finished with the dough and then went to the sink to wash the sticky residue from his hands. After drying his hands with a towel, he turned to face me. His voice wavered on his next words. “Yeah, I know.”
“It’s going to be okay. They love you, and they’re going to help you through this.” I took a step toward him and grasped one of his hands in mine. “But most importantly, you’re going to help yourself.”
He wiped a tear from his cheek and nodded. He met my stare and squeezed my hand. “Yeah. I am.”