Matthew and Camille Ch. 07byinnocent_angel©
**I'm so, so, so, so sorry that this took so long coming out. I wrote the majority of it a while back, it just wasn't as organized on paper as I wanted it to be. There is a lot more that I wanted to add to it at first but, I'm still working on a proper end to the second part, which will now be Chapter 8. I hope you guys enjoy this and forgive me for my procrastination. I checked, but there may still be a few errors/typos, if you find any, sorry.**
"Let me get this straight," Andrew Gibson said making himself more comfortable in the chair in front of Matt's desk. "You've been dating this girl for...what, three, three and a half weeks, close to a damn month, and you have yet to introduce her to the 'Italian Stallion'?"
Matt couldn't help but laugh at his best friend's crude analysis. It wasn't a surprising one though, because at one time in his life, sex had formed the foundation to every romantic relationship that Matt had had with a woman. But just like his comic book phase, he'd grown out of it.
He shook his head as he took in Drew's dumbfounded look. "She's not that type of girl."
"So...she doesn't want sex? What is she, some kind of nun in training?" Drew's deep mocha colored brow furrowed as he struggled to wrap his mind around the concept.
Matt laughed. "No, she's not a nun in training," Matt frowned slightly, "I don't even think she's Catholic. But anyway, yes she does want to have sex. We both do, but, she wants to build something deeper first, and so do I. I like her too much to see this end badly."
Drew shook his head. "Whatever man, you're getting soft," he said waving it off. "If it floats your respective non-intersecting boats, then I say have at it."
"Thanks for your approval," Matt said sarcastically as Drew relaxed against the leather chair again. "And I'm not getting soft."
"Well, the term 'pussy-whipped' would probably be more appropriate but you're not getting any, so that throws that out."
"Don't you think that at some point in your life you need to stop dicking your way across America?"
Drew thought for a moment. "I mean, yeah, but there's still life left in Drew Jr., and we're not that old."
Matt shook his head. "No, but if the right one comes along, why wait? Why not try to spend as much time with her as possible?"
Drew shrugged. "I guess, but my dick's not quite ready to retire yet. Tell me why I haven't met this Camille yet? You scared that once she sees this damn good looking black man she'll never look at your European ass again?" Drew asked, his tone joking again.
Matt cut his eyes at Drew. "First, I'm Italian-American --
"With an accent that's thick as hell--"
"Second," Matt went on, ignoring Drew's interruption, "name one instance in which you have ever stolen a woman from me." Matt smiled at Drew's frown. "Can't? Didn't think so. But I do recall, however, a young lady in college who used you to get to me."
"Shut up. She just wanted you because you did that Italian shit around her."
Matt shook his head. "Doesn't make a difference. Third, she is black, so I doubt that she will be floored upon meeting you, the Ebony God of the south," the last part Matt said with sarcasm dripping from every word.
"She's black? Now I've got to meet her. She have a great ass?" Drew said smiling.
Matt frowned. Leaning forward in his chair, he pointed his finger at Drew. "Keep that up and I'll kick your ass all over this damn office."
Drew smiled and held up his hands. "Hey, it was just a question," he said, enjoying getting a rise out of his friend.
Matt sat back in his chair. "You'll get to meet her, everyone will," Matt paused, "You just make sure to keep your hands to yourself."
"That great a girl, huh? She has to be to have you threatening to kick your best friend's ass."
Matt nodded, giving a cocky smile. "Well, kicking your ass would just be for fun, but yes, I think she is. I'm not saying that I'm ready to marry her, but the thought of 'forever' with her, doesn't frighten me."
Drew looked at his friend as he became thoughtful. He and Matt had been friends since elementary school and not once over the last twenty odd years had Matt ever thought beyond a short-term, relationship with any woman. Not even with Stacy, and he and that crazy bitch had a complicated ass history.
"How does Ari like her?"
Matt looked up. "Well, here's the thing, she hasn't met Ari."
Drew sat up, sensing that there was more. "She hasn't met her. Well does she know about her?"
Matt diverted his eyes guiltily, but not before Drew saw his answer.
"You haven't told her that you have a five year old kid?" Drew practically yelled.
"What the hell man?" Drew said throwing up his hands. "You're practically obsessed with this chick and you haven't said a word to her about Ari?"
"I've mentioned her," Matt said evasively.
"Wait, so she does know about her and that crazy psycho bitch baby momma of yours?"
Matt sighed. "I may have led her to believe that Ari is one of Mara's children, so no, she doesn't know about Stacy."
"You what?" Drew shook his head. "I'm confused. I know you're not ashamed of baby girl, so why exactly are you keeping her a secret from this Camille?"
Matt was silent for a moment. No, he wasn't ashamed of his daughter, more so of himself. He hadn't been in a position to care for a little girl, and her mother, Stacy, wasn't in a position to take care of herself, let alone a child. So Mara had been his saving grace. She and her husband had gladly taken her in, treating her no differently than any of their own children. And because of that, Ari was a happy, healthy, mostly well-adjusted little girl. On occasion, when he visited, however, Ari would ask him to take her with him. He knew it wasn't because of mistreatment by her aunt, uncle, or any of her cousins, but because she just wanted to be with him. It hurt him to no end to deny her, but he couldn't do it. He didn't want to ruin her with his unstable, work filled life. He loved his bambina, he just couldn't care for her the way Mara could.
Matt shrugged, turning back to Drew. "I guess I wanted to see who she was before I introduce her to Ari."
"So how do you feel about her now?"
Matt turned away from Drew to look out the window. "I lied to her, in a way. She didn't ask, but neither did I volunteer the information. I want them to meet each other. I just don't know how to go about doing it now."
Drew sat back again studying Matt. "Well, I don't know any woman, especially a black woman, who would be okay with that 'little' omission, but if you plan on keeping this girl, then I suggest you figure it out."
Matt gave a humorless laugh as he turned back to him. "Thanks for the vote of confidence."
Drew shrugged, then stood up, straightening out his suit. "Wouldn't be much of a friend if I beat around the bush. But chances are, if she's as great as you say she is, she'll forgive you," Drew paused, "if you grovel a bit," he said walking toward the door. When his hand was on the door knob, he turned back to Matt. "One more thing."
"Yeah?" Matt asked distractedly, as he began to get back to work.
"She got a sister?"
"Does your face hurt?"
"Jesus Christ!" Camille exclaimed nearly falling out of her chair.
Amy openly laughed as she sat next to Camille.
"You scared the crap out of me, you jerk," Camille said as she righted herself, going back to her typing.
"So does it?"
"Does what, what?" She asked glancing over to Amy.
"Does...your...face...hurt?" Amy asked slowly, as if Camille were a toddler.
"Why would my face hurt?" She asked, gathering her two books and the file she'd brought with her to the lab, and standing.
"Cuz you've been grinning like a goof for like, the last month," Amy said following Camille out of the computer lab into the hall.
"I have not. Shut up," she said after a moment, walking away when she realized that Amy might be right.
Amy laughed, still following. "Did Matt put that smile there? You two knocked boots yet?" She asked giving a lecherous smile.
"Don't you have some papers to file?" Camille asked, knowing the clerk dig would get her.
"That's cold, Cam, extremely cold," Amy said frowning.
"Yea, yea, whatever. Are you headed to lunch or what?" She asked, glad that the subject of Matt had been dropped, at least for the time being.
"Yea, I just have to take these over to Dr. Khan," she said holding up the files in her arms. "You wanna meet me in the lobby in like 30?"
"That works," Camille paused to feel the pockets of her lab coat. "Shoot. I grabbed everything except my phone. I'll see you in a bit," Camille said turning to walk back to the lab.
"'Kay," Amy said, and was off.
Camille turned and headed back into the lab. She grabbed her phone and made her way back to her office. She juggled the items in one hand as she tried to unlock the door with the other. "Damn doors with their damn locks..." she grumbled as the key, again, missed the lock.
"Would you like some help?" A deep voice rumbled from behind her.
"Shit!" she screamed, the books and the file flying from her hand as she jumped. "What is it, scare the be-Jesus out of Camille day?"
Matt laughed. "I'm sorry to have startled you," he said as he bent to pick up her fallen items. "I take it I'm not the first to do so today?"
Camille couldn't help but laugh as she bent to grab her things. "No, you're not, Amy, thought it would be fun to take a few years off my life," she said standing, empty handed, as Matt had grabbed everything up rather quickly. Balancing her items with ease, he gestured for her to open the door.
She did so, letting him enter before closing the door behind him. "Where do you want this?" He asked lifting the items in his arms.
Camille pointed. "On the desk is fine." She watched him put the stuff down before walking over to him. She stood on her toes kissing him lightly on the lips, then gave him the once over. As usual, he was wearing a perfectly tailored suit and looking damn good in it, much better than she did in her plain slacks and lab coat, but she had long ago stopped feeling the wave of self-consciousness when she stood next to him. A large part of it was due to Matt seeming to like the way she looked no matter what she was wearing. "So, how are you doing today?" She asked, still looking over his face.
Matt smiled. "Better, since I've arrived. How are you?"
Camille blushed, tucking her hair behind her ear, trying to hide her growing smile. "I'm good, better since you've arrived," she said returning his sentiment. Matt smiled and leaned in to kiss her, again. So what brings you here today?" She asked.
Matt backed up until he was leaning against her desk. He shrugged, instead of giving her an actual answer.
Her brow furrowed. "Is something wrong?" She asked, moving to lean beside him on the desk. She stood so close that she could feel the delicious warmth flowing from his body and smell the cologne, which she'd discovered was Hugo Boss.
"No," he said simply.
"If I guess correctly, will you tell me?"
Matt laughed. "Does something have to be wrong for me to drop in on my girlfriend every once in a while?"
Camille smiled. "I guess not. It's a nice surprise."
Matt raised a brow. "Nice," he asked, sounding offended . He turned slightly to lean over and kiss her. It wasn't the peck that she'd been expecting, instead, he moved his hand to grasp the back of her neck, gently pulling her closer to him. His tongue dove into her mouth to begin the exploration that he so enjoyed. As he devoured her mouth, he massaged her neck, moving from her nape around to her clavicle.
Just as she let out a soft moan, he reluctantly lifted his head, dropping his hand back down to the desk just behind her.
"Nice?" He asked again after a moment, licking her lingering taste from his lips. He watched her closely as she tried to regain some of her composure.
"Okay, a damn good surprise," she said reaching over to clean the clear gloss from his lips then straightening his tie and shirt.
Matt smiled at the gesture. She had finally begun to become comfortable with their budding relationship. It had taken him countless reassurances to get to that point. He couldn't understand why she was so apprehensive about getting closer to him. His guess, it had to do with someone in her past who'd hurt her. The anonymous individual boiled his blood but he could do nothing more than think about all of the ways he would inflict pain on the person if he ever did find out who the bastard was.
"So you're telling me that you came halfway across town just to make out," Camille said, causing Matt to snap out of his wayward thoughts.
"That's not enough?" He asked, a look of mock confusion on his face.
Camille elbowed him playfully in his side, causing him to grunt. "If you're here to take me to lunch, I hate to disappoint but, I've already made plans with Amy."
Matt gave her an appalled look. "You wouldn't cancel your lunch with Amy to have lunch with me?" He asked placing his hand over his heart.
Camille scoffed. "Are you kidding? If I told her I couldn't go to lunch with her because I was going to lunch with you, she'd tag along just for the hell of it."
Matt laughed and grabbed her hand, lacing it with his own. "Well in that case, no, I'm not, I have a lunch meeting."
Camille returned his appalled look. "So you would go to some stuffy old lunch meeting instead of going to lunch with me?" She asked in an exaggerated tone.
Matt looked off into the distance for a moment as if contemplating something. "Well, I'd cancel if you were planning to..." He trailed off, and began to look everywhere in the room except at Camille.
She waited, but after another few seconds she tugged his hand. "If I what?"
"Well," Matt started, "how should I say this? If you were planning to put out, I'd definitely cancel my lunch meetings and any other engagements for the rest of the week."
Camille's mouth hung open and Matt couldn't help but give a loud, deep laugh. When she continued to stare at him, mouth agape, he kissed her, causing her mind to momentarily drift from his last comment.
After a moment, however, she pushed him away. "You perv!" She finally yelled indignantly, but she had begun to start laughing as he started up again. She wasn't actually offended because over the last few weeks, she'd had the chance to get used to Matt's sense of humor which ranged from goofy to downright raunchy at times.
"I was kidding," he said blocking the playful hit she aimed at his shoulder.
"Get out of my office," she said but she kept her fingers laced with his.
"I was kidding, it was only a joke," he said smiling at her.
Camille rolled her eyes. "You were half joking," she stated.
Matt shrugged. "That is true," he said sobering.
"Anyway," she said rolling her eyes again, "You're here for something other than my full luscious lips. Spill," she added.
Matt's eyes dropped to her lips. "I'm inclined to disagree, but yes, you're right. There is another reason that I came here," His gaze left her lips to meet her eyes. "I want you to meet someone this weekend," Matt said still watching her.
She turned to glance at him. "Why do I get the feeling that this someone is someone important?" She asked, her brow furrowed. Her eyes suddenly stretched wide. "Oh, God, it's not like your wife or something is it?"
Matt laughed. "Woman, hell, no, I'm not married, nor have I ever been."
Camille couldn't help but laugh at the vehement declaration. "Okay, so who is it that you want me to meet?"
The smile slowly faded from Matt's face as he looked away from her questioning eyes. He suddenly felt as if he were the worst person in the world. Drew was right, he should have told Camille about Ari as soon as he realized that she was more than just some woman he met in a bar. He turned to look at her again, studying her as she studied him, waiting for him to continue.
After another moment of silence and studying, Camille bumped his shoulder, "Matt?" She said, urging him on.
Matt sighed. He reached in to his jacket, pulling out his wallet. He searched through old receipts and credit cards, thinking absently that he should really clean out his wallet, before he found what he was looking for. He held the picture for a moment looking at the angelic face of his little girl. He looked up to Camille then handed her the small school picture.
Camille took the picture, looking down at the smiling girl. "She's adorable, but who—"
"Her name is Ari, well Arianna Donielle Roman. She's five and she's my daughter," he watched her, trying to gauge her reaction. He couldn't, however, because her facial expression remained the same.
"Arianna?" She said after a moment. "Haven't you mentioned that name before?" She asked looking up to Matt.
He had been hoping that she wouldn't remember that, but of course she did, because, apparently, she had a mind like a steel trip. "I mentioned her, that night that we went to my sister's restaurant."
"Yea, I thought she was your sister's kid."
Matt slowly shook his head. "Ari is my daughter. She just lives with my sister. Her mother is not fit, and I work long hours on a regular basis, so I thought it would be best for her to live with my sister."
"You're just full of surprises aren't you?" Camille asked, but didn't wait for him to answer. "So your sister adopted her?"
Matt studied Camille for a moment. She wasn't screaming at him, nor was she kicking him out, he wasn't sure yet if that a good sign or not. He also wasn't sure yet if he should prepare to dodge a paper weight or a plague or something "No, I retain custody, and she comes with me on occasion, but Mara handles the day-to-day things." They grew silent and Matt continued to watch her, as she looked at the picture. "Are you upset?" He finally asked after the silence drug on for much too long.
Camille turned to face him. "Why didn't you tell me?" She asked instead.
Matt sighed. "Honestly, I don't know," he said lifting his head to stare unseeing at the wall, "I guess I was just trying to protect my daughter."
Camille's brow furrowed. "Protect her from what, exactly?" She asked crossing her arms over her chest, a gesture Matt knew to be a protective measure.
"I've never introduced her to any woman I've dated. From the beginning, it just didn't feel right to expose her to that." He paused. "At first, I would mention Ari. When I did, I would get one of two reactions from the woman; either the woman would be eager to meet my daughter, so that she could play mommy in an effort to get closer to me, or the woman would back off completely, not wanting to get involved with someone who has that kind of 'baggage'." He made air quotes as he turned back to Camille. "I love my daughter, my vanto e gioia, but I don't want to introduce her to someone who would eventually hurt her."
"I know you may be upset, because I wasn't honest with you from the beginning but—"
Camille stopped him by placing the tips of her fingers over his lips. "I'm not upset," she said as she slowly lowered her hand. "I'll admit that it stings a little bit that you weren't honest with me from the start but, Matt, I can understand why you did it, and I can't be mad with you for wanting to protecting your..." She trailed off waiting for him to fill in the blanks.
Matt smiled and gave a sigh of relief. "Vanto e gioia, pride and joy. And thank you," he said as he leaned down and placed a kiss on her lips. "I'm sorry for hurting your feelings."
Camille waved off his apology, then turned to look at him. "So when do I get to meet her?"
"This weekend, if you're free."
He nodded. "So I will pick you up Friday night, we can stop by Mara's, and afterwards dinner and a movie?"