Her heart squeezed at the sincerity and graveness in his tone. She had no doubt he meant it in this precise moment. That wasn’t in question. He’d also been absolutely sincere after the night of their anniversary, and look where that had gotten them. It wasn’t a matter of him speaking an untruth now. It was the question of how long that vehemence would last. A week? A month? She had no faith that he’d continue to put her first in his life and she refused to live with that uncertainty any longer. She had a child to think about now and her child deserved a full-time father, not someone who was gone all the time and never there for the important moments in life.
“I don’t know what to say—to think,” Chessy said, her mouth turned down in an expression of unhappiness.
“Just say you’ll think about it,” he urged. “I don’t have to have an answer today or even tomorrow. Just promise me you’ll think about it and not give up on me quite yet.”
She closed her eyes but nodded, knowing there really wasn’t an alternative. She couldn’t very well say with any authority what would happen once he told her whatever he had to tell her, and she then told him she was pregnant. She knew he’d fight even harder for them to get back together once he learned she was pregnant, but not telling him wasn’t an option. He deserved to know he was going to become a father no matter her reservations about him as a husband.
There was visible relief on his features. His eyes brightened and lost some of their dread.
“I swear you won’t regret it, Chess,” he said gruffly.
He turned away and cracked open the stove, peering in at the bubbling cheese that was just turning a yummy brown. She sniffed appreciatively, her stomach growling in anticipation. She hadn’t even attempted to eat today because the mere thought of food was revolting to her.
He grabbed oven mitts and slid the casserole dish from the oven, setting it on the stovetop while he closed the oven door.
“We’ll give it five minutes or so to rest and then we’ll dig in,” Tate announced.
As he spoke, he went to the cabinet where the plates were and took two down. Then he retrieved knives and forks from the drawer and set the small table in the breakfast nook where they so often had eaten together. The formal dining room had only been used on the occasions when they entertained clients or their friends.
He carried the still-steaming casserole dish to the table and then fetched a spatula to spoon up the delectable entrée. Chessy took a cautious sniff, praying her stomach didn’t rebel.
To her relief, she felt no nausea when she forked in the first savory bite. The flavor hit her taste buds like a mouth orgasm. She moaned her pleasure. This was right up there with good sex.
“Good?” Tate asked with a smile.
He knew damn well it was fantastic.
“It’s wonderful,” she sighed. “Best thing I’ve eaten in weeks.”
He frowned at that. “Have you been eating, Chess? I know you. And when you’re unhappy or stressed you don’t eat or take proper care of yourself.”
“Well duh,” she muttered. “I can assure you that my marriage crumbling around me isn’t exactly lighting my world on fire.”
He sighed. “We’re both miserable, baby. Doesn’t that tell you anything? We both still love each other. I certainly love you. If we’re so unhappy apart, don’t you see that the logical thing to do is get back together so we can make one another happy again?”
“Because I’m afraid,” she said frankly. “You’ve broken too many promises to me, Tate.”
His nostrils flared and he went silent a moment before pushing his plate forward. He propped his elbows on the table and directed his stare at her.
“Maybe my news will prove to you that I’m trying to change—that I am changing. I’ve partnered with two other guys and expanded my firm to include them. Which means that I’m no longer a one-man show. It also means I won’t have to devote so much time to work or my clients. I have two partners now to share in juggling clients and their needs. I did this for us, Chessy. Because I let my career get in the way of our relationship. I let it overrun all else. That wasn’t fair to you and I’m prepared to go to whatever lengths necessary to make amends.”
Chessy stared at him in utter disbelief. Tate had been so adamant about not taking on another partner after his first one had bailed. He’d been determined to make his business a success without anyone else.
“It will be made public tomorrow,” Tate continued. “But I wanted you to hear it from me. And for you to understand why I did it. I did it for you. To hopefully help you see the commitment I’m making to you. To our marriage. You mean more to me than my business, my career, money, worldly possessions. Having it all means nothing if I don’t have what’s most important in my life. You.”
Of anything she may have expected him to say, this was not it. She was shocked at the matter-of-fact way he’d said he was taking on not one, but two partners. Tate was extremely possessive and proprietary when it came to his clients. He was a hands-on person who didn’t believe in allowing anyone else to handle matters he himself could personally see to. He didn’t trust other people not to f**k up.
This was huge. It was epic. She had no idea what to say to his announcement. Instead she simply stared openmouthed at him.
“I hope this will at least show you that I’m very serious about doing whatever it takes to win you back,” he said quietly. “And it’s only the beginning, Chess. There will be no afterhours calls. No client dinners unless you go with me. The weekends will be ours and I’m going to start taking vacation days more frequently so we can travel together.”