She sneered. “Oh, I get it. You get a nanny and a woman to warm your bed for the price of one. No, thanks.”
He stepped toward her. “Don’t put words in my mouth.”
“Then what do you mean?”
“That you’re great with Lily. We’re great together.”
“So let me get this right. Lily is well cared for and you are happy so I should stay?”
“I know for a fact you have been happy here.” He gave her a wolfish grin.
She had been. The most contentment she’d ever known in her life was when she was in Grant’s arms. That was the problem. She’d become too content. Had started to believe it was for real. It was going to hurt to leave him behind but it would cause more injury if she waited longer to leave.
“If I stayed, how long would it be for?” She shrugged her shoulder. “For two months? A year? Two? Until Lily is out of the house?”
“I don’t know...” His words trailed off.
“Say I agree to stay another year. What will have changed? What happens when you meet someone you might be interested in?” Her chest tightened at the mere thought. “What if I do?”
He growled, “That won’t happen.”
“Who’s to stop me?”
“You’re just my employer. This was a business agreement, Grant, not a marriage. I’m not your wife in the real sense of the word and I’m not Lily’s mother.”
He flinched. “What do you want? A real marriage?”
“You and I both know that you won’t let your guard down enough for that to happen. You carry what your father and Evelyn did to you like a shield protecting you from any real relationship. Trust is the basis of any marriage. You’re not willing to take the step to commit fully. To trust me with every part of your life. I get that, but it doesn’t mean that I have to be willing to accept it. What I want is what is best for you and Lily. But I also have to think about myself.”
“And that’s to leave us?”
She stepped back until her butt touched the counter. “Yes. It’s now or later. We both know it.”
“So you’re running, just like your mother did. Like you did after you had the baby. Now that you’ve got your father taken care of, you’re out of here. To hell with Lily and me. You’re betraying us.”
“That’s not true.” He was hitting low now. Moisture filled her eyes. She squared her shoulders. “I am not.”
“Yes, you are. You’re running. I may need to learn to trust but how can I depend on someone who is always leaving?”
Was that what she was doing? “So what’re you offering, Grant? For us to play house until you get unhappy or fall in love with another woman and tell me to get out?”
“That’s not it at all.”
“Do you really think we can have a real marriage where you and I live happily ever after?”
* * *
Grant’s jaw twitched. Panic filled him. Sara was leaving. Everything he’d said to make her stay sounded weak and self-centered. What did he want from her? She wanted his love. He cared about her. Even wondered if he might be in love with her. But could he admit that and take the chance she would throw it back at him? She was all set to run.
“I don’t know. But what I do know is that I don’t want you to leave. Lily and I need you.”
“What you need is to face your past. Accept that people are human and disappoint us. Have you ever thought that your father and Evelyn were both just selfish people who cared little for anyone but themselves? Or maybe Evelyn was a gold digger to begin with and used you to get to your father? You shouldn’t let what they did define you, Grant. You’re an amazing man who needs to learn to trust that someone can care for you. You need to face your demons and put them behind you.”
Grant pulled in a deep breath. “And the woman who’s running out on me is giving advice.”
“You see me as leaving you. I’m not. We had an agreement. You got what you wanted. I did too. That’s it plain and simple. It’s time for me to go. I’m moving on.”
“I doubt that. You’re so compassionate that you’ll find someone who needs help and you will become part of their life instead of living your own. Then you’ll run again. You have already participated in two of life’s largest events, having a baby and marriage, but neither one of those you did for yourself. You deserve to live for yourself. Stop running so you can have a life of your own.”