Matthew and Camille Ch. 15byinnocent_angel©
****So, needless to say, I am so sorry this has taken so long. No excuse for it really. I hope you guys enjoy this chapter. I see an ending, but this ain't it so there will be more to come. Again, I'm really sorry that this has taken so long. There is Italian in this chapter. I don't really speak the language, I just really love it and would like to one day. I just use Google Translate to find the words and phrases I wanted, feel free to do the same if it's unclear what they mean. As always, please excuse any errors.****
Arianna's first nights home were difficult to say the least. Matt had kept her out of school on Monday and Tuesday just because she'd spent most of the previous night awake crying. The first scream that pierced the quiet darkness of the house on Tuesday night had both Camille and Matt sitting straight up in bed. Matt pressed the heels of his hands into his eyes as he slowly became aware of what was going on. Without a word, he climbed out of bed and made his way to Ari's bedroom.
"Papa!" She yelled the moment Matt rushed through her bedroom door.
"Sì, papà è qui, tesoro," Matt said as he sat next to her on her bed. The little girl immediately threw her arms around Matt's neck. Matt sighed as he wrapped his arms around his daughter's small body. "You're ok," he whispered. "It was just a bad dream."
Camille leaned against the door jamb as she watched Matt cradle Arianna in his arms. Like every night since Saturday, it had taken nearly two hours to get her down in the first place and even then they had needed to stay in the room with her until she was sound asleep. Poor thing just didn't want to go to sleep. They were sure she was reliving the accident every time she closed her eyes. Camille could tell that Matt blamed himself; that guilt sliced through him every time someone mentioned the accident, or he looked at the cuts and bruises that marred his daughter's beautiful skin. It was something he was going to have to eventually come to terms with but it would definitely be a while before that look of guilt disappeared from his eyes. They'd both require some counseling.
Ari sobbed quietly and Matt held her. He gently rocked her murmuring soothing words as he rubbed a hand over her back. After a few minutes, he stood with Ari still in his arms. He walked toward the door, and Camille pushed herself off of the jamb to give him room to walk out then followed as he walked back to his bedroom. Ari was still firmly grasping his shoulders as he sat down on his large bed. He made a few attempts to loosen her grasp, and Camille had to smile when he was initially unsuccessful. "Tesoro, it's fine, you can let go now."
Ari slowly let go and climbed into the middle of Matt's bed. Her eyes were already getting heavy and by the time Matt pulled the cover over her small body, she was asleep. Camille walked over to the bed, climbing back into the spot she'd been in before Ari woke up. "I feel so bad for her," she said as she moved to sit back against the headboard.
Matt gave her a sad smile as he did the same. His eyes moved back to his sleeping daughter before he spoke. "She shouldn't be going through this right now. She's not even six yet, she's a baby. Babies shouldn't have to go through something like this. Then to just be abandoned. Stacy's already abandoned her before, but the first time, she was taken care of, this time," he shook his head, "it's like she didn't really care what happened to her, Camille. How did I not see that she was such a bad person from the start?" He asked more of himself than her.
Camille reached over and lightly caressed his arm. "None of this is your fault, baby. None of it. You didn't know she'd do something like this."
Matt scoffed. "Well, there is one thing I know for sure, she's never getting near Arianna again. I've given her far too many chances to be a decent human being."
"Matt, she'll be fine. She is fine. It will take some time, but she's fine and she will get through this. She has a great father, a great family, you guys are all she needs."
Matt looked at Camille and gave her a genuine smile. "She has you, too."
Camille nodded. "I'll always be there for her if she needs me."
Matt silently studied her for a long moment. She could see that he had something on his mind, so she waited patiently for him to say whatever it was. "Camille," he started then paused.
She reached over and laced her fingers through his. He immediately pulled her hand onto his lap, careful not to disturb Arianna.
"Camille," he started again, "I want to thank you. These last few days have been...trying, to say the least and you've been with me this entire time. You've been putting your life on hold for us and I can't thank you enough for that."
Camille smiled. "You're always welcome, Matt. I really don't mind," she said honestly. "I haven't missed work at all and anyway, I like being with you both."
Matt smiled and nodded. "Buono. But don't downplay your part, miele. You've been so important to us all, I just want you to know that. Also, I'm much too selfish to do the right thing and tell you that you should focus more on your life. We want to be around you and I really don't know what I would have done if you had not been around. " He paused again and Camille wasn't sure whether or not he was finished. After some time had passed, he spoke again. "I also want to apologize." Her brow furrowed and she started to ask what he was talking about but he continued. "In the beginning, I kept my daughter a secret from you. That was something I should have mentioned from the start."
Camille's expression changed from confusion to one of understanding. "Matt, I—"
"No, let me finish," he said cutting her off. "I'm sorry that I wasn't completely honest with you from the start. I'm sorry that you've had to deal with my daughter's...difficult...mother. I'm sorry that we've been together all of three months and you've had to deal with so much. And, I'm sorry that you're having to do so much for a child that isn't yours. She's so attached to you it's almost scary. She's only ever had that type of relationship with Mara. Please, don't misunderstand, I love it. I love that she cares so much for you. I love you and I'm glad that my daughter does also," he said looking directly into her eyes.
Camille blinked. "I'm sorry, what?
Matt smiled. "I said I love you, Camille. Ti amo così tanto."
"Oh," she said looking down at Ari but lifted her head as she heard Matt chuckle. "What's so funny?"
"Well, do you love me or is it just one-sided?" He asked, only half serious. He knew Camille had feelings for him, even loved him, she just never said the words. He hadn't minded as her actions said everything he needed to know. Only a woman who loved him could do the things she did for him without expecting something in return. He didn't deserve her, though he'd never say the words out loud to her or anyone else. He knew he was selfish, had even admitted it to her, so he was certainly never letting go of this woman.
She gave him a smile and nodded.
"I'm sorry, what was that?" He leaned closer with his ear pointed in her direction.
She playfully shoved him. "I love you."
Matt smiled and leaned over placing a chaste kiss on her lips. "Good. Now go back to sleep." He watched as she settled back into sleep. He wasn't sure how long he sat up in bed watching them both. He just couldn't sleep. He was partially angry, partially scared shitless. He could have lost her, he thought looking down at Ari, and he'd sent her away. She should have been with him, not his sister. He should have made the necessary adjustments to his life to have Ari with him.
He gave a heavy sigh and ran his hand over his face. He resigned himself to the fact that he probably wouldn't sleep well. Getting more comfortable, he sat and watched Ari and Camille sleep.
Matt came awake to the sound of his front door closing. He immediately reached out to the spaces next to him and found them empty. He cracked one eye open for visual confirmation and, again, found it empty. He got out of bed, rubbing his face as he did. He went on a search through the house, his first stop, Ari's room. He'd been through nearly every room before catching sight of Camille making her way down the hall.
"Well good morning, sleepy head," she said walking up to him.
"Where's Ari?" He asked, his brow furrowed
Camille's expression changed to one of uncertainty and she hesitated a moment before speaking. "Um, when she woke up this morning, she asked if she could go to school. We tried to wake you but you kind of just grunted and rolled over. She said she felt fine and she really wanted to go to school. I called Mara just in case and she said as long as she felt up to it. She just left with her to take her to school." Camille paused. "Wrong thing to do?"
Matt immediately shook his head and smiled. "No, it's fine. Ari loves school and I know these last few days have been difficult for her. Going to school helps her return to some semblance of normalcy."
Camille gave a sigh of relief. "Ok, I really didn't want to overstep, but she just wanted to go to school so bad she was almost on the verge of tears. And you know what that does to me."
Matt laughed as he walked over to her and wrapped his arms around her waist. "I know you'd never do anything to harm her, Camille. If you felt like she was ok to go to school, it's fine by me."
"Good," she said giving him a peck then moving away.
"Hey, where are you going?"
"To shower. I have to go to work, and so do you," she said, quickly moving down the hall.
Matt grunted. "Well, can I at least get in the shower with you," he yelled when she pushed his bedroom door closed.
"No! Your breakfast is in the kitchen. Go eat. I'll be out soon."
Matt grumbled and made his way to the kitchen. He immediately smelled the sausage, eggs, and grits that Camille had cooked. His stomach growled as he spotted the plate on the island. He was half done when he heard the ringing of Camille's cell, which she'd left on the counter. He reached over and grabbed it, expecting to see Amy's or Danielle's picture flashing across the screen, but instead it read Arik. Matt's brow furrowed. He looked over his shoulder then stood to move to the doorway. He could still hear the shower running and Camille's faint singing in the bathroom.
He hesitated only a moment before answering. "Hello?"
There was a brief pause on the other end before Matt heard a voice he was beginning to despise. "Hello, is Camille around?"
"She's busy. What the hell do you want, Svensson?"
"Ah, Mr. Roman," Arik said chuckling. "And how are you today?"
"Cut the small talk. What do you want?"
"Well, aren't you as chipper as ever," Arik said, dryly. "I was just calling to tell Camille that she left her jacket Friday night. I can either drop it off or she can come to my office to get it."
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"She left her jacket at the restaurant Friday night. I just want to return it to her."
Matt's grip tightened around the phone. Camille had met with Svensson behind his back. That's why he couldn't reach her the night of the accident. A fucking meeting. She'd lied right to his face. "Camille is busy today. How about I come to get it?"
"O...k. I'll tell my secretary to expect you then," Arik said, uncertainly.
"Fine." Matt immediately hung up the phone, looking at it as if he were expecting it to ring again. He absently heard Camille's footsteps coming down the hall and quickly deleted Svensson's call from the call long and gently placed the phone back onto the counter.
"Everything good?" She asked indicating the food as she walked into the kitchen.
"Delicious as always, baby," he said noncommittally.
Camille, taking no notice of his change in demeanor wrapped her arms around his shoulders and kissed him on his cheek. "Glad you like it. Hey, I have to get going. I'll see you tonight?"
"Yeah, maybe. I have to work late to make up for the time I took off to be with Arianna," he said, only half lying.
He felt her nod. "Well, call me later," she said then moved away from him.
Just as she was about to walk out of the kitchen, he stopped her. "Hey, have you heard from Svensson recently?" He asked, his back to her.
Camille paused. "Actually, I have. Why do you ask?"
Matt shrugged, still not facing her. "Just asking. What did he want?"
"Oh, nothing important," she said vaguely.
"I'll see you later, ok?"
"See you later," he said then turned to face her. "I love you."
Camille smiled. "I love you, too," she said walking back over to him to give him a quick kiss.
Matt watched her go, wondering what exactly it was that she was keeping from him. Why wouldn't she tell him what she and Svensson had discussed? She had admitted to actually talking to him, so she couldn't be hiding much. Still, it upset him that she felt the need to keep whatever they discussed from him. He still wasn't quite sure Svensson was over whatever little crush he had on her. No matter, he'd talk to Svensson soon enough and find out just what the hell she was hiding.
Matt made it to Svensson's office just after lunch. He'd been anxious to get over to the guy's office but even with the work he was able to get done at home, missing the days from work had put him behind. He'd worked like a madman for the first four hours and hadn't come up for air until halfway through lunch.
He quickly made his way to Svensson's office and the man's secretary gave him permission to go in. Matt had imagined that he'd calmly ask the man what was going on with him and Camille, had gone over it a few times in his head on the way. What he'd planned to do, and what he'd actually done had been two totally different things, however. As soon as Arik had come from around his desk and within arm's reach of Matt, he punched the man. He wasn't sure what had compelled him to do it, but before he realized it, Svensson was grunting and holding his jaw.
"What the fuck?!" Arik exclaimed holding onto his jaw as he stumbled.
Matt shook out his hand as he watched the other man reorient himself. He briefly thought about apologizing but immediately dismissed the thought. It was done now, no point in trying to take it back. He prepared himself for a fight as Arik regained his balance and stood to his full height once more. "Mind telling me what the fuck you were doing with Camille the other night?"
Whatever Matt had expected Arik to do, it wasn't charge full speed at him. Arik's shoulder hit Matt's solar plexus knocking the wind out of him and putting him flat on his back. Matt quickly recovered from his surprise and began pounding the other man's back with his elbow. The two exchanged a few well placed punches, Arik clipping Matt's jaw, Matt giving Arik a shot to the ribs, before Arik's door opened. "Mr. Svensson is everything alr—Oh my God! I'm calling the police!"
"No, Sara," Arik grunted from the headlock Matt had him in. He held up a hand. "No, I have this under control. I'll call you if I need anything," he said before kneeing Matt in his side.
Matt grunted in pain but kept his grip around Arik's neck.
"Alright, I give," Arik said tapping Matt's arm. "Let go of me before I pass out." After a moment, Matt complied releasing Arik to fall on his back as he did the same. The two panted as they each looked up at the ceiling. "What the hell was that about?" Arik asked breathlessly turning his head to the side to look at Matt.
"Sir, are you sure you're alright?" Sara asked again.
Arik waved her off. "I'm fine, Sara, I'm sure this is just a misunderstanding." The woman reluctantly left the office, closing the door behind her." Arik turned back to Matt. "I ask again, Roman, what the hell was that about?"
Matt began to push himself up into a sitting position before he responded to Arik. "You were with my girlfriend Friday night. I want to know what in the hell you were doing with her?"
"That?" Arik asked in disbelief as he too sat up, moving the two chairs, which had already been knocked over, out of the way so that he could prop himself against his desk. "That's what you came here for? You couldn't have just asked instead of coming over here to try to kick my ass?"
Matt gave a humorless laugh. "Try?"
"Landing a few good punches," Arik said wiping the blood from the corner of his mouth, "does not mean you kicked my ass."
Matt waved him off. "What were you doing with my girlfriend?"
Arik gave a sigh. "Camille doesn't want me to tell anyone."
Matt growled and began to move toward Arik.
Arik held up his hands. "Wait, man, shit. It's nothing like what you're thinking," he said and Matt paused. "I'm handling something for her. There's an organization that she's giving money to and she asked me to handle it for her. Now that's all I'm going to tell you about that. She asked me not to tell anyone, so if you want to know more, you're going to have to ask her. I actually thought you knew."
"No, I didn't know," Matt snapped. "So imagine my surprise when my girlfriend's phone rings and on the other end is none other than the guy who flirted with her right in front of me."
Arik smirked and shrugged. "She's hot," he said simply. "But she's so into you that I could parade around stark naked in front of her and she wouldn't even notice."
Matt's face hardened. "You do that, and I'll cut your fucking legs off."
Arik laughed. "Wow, talk about missing the damn point," Arik said running his hands through his hair. "News flash, Roman. Camille loves you. No other guy stands a chance with her."
"I know she loves me. I love her, too, and she knows that as well. Make sure you're well aware of where Camille and I stand."
Arik nodded. "Man, cool your shit," he said, sounding nothing like his normal eloquent self. "Relax, you don't have to worry about me moving in on her. I've been trying to get the attention of her sister since the will meeting."
Matt frowned. "What? Kale is going to kill you."
Arik's brow furrowed. "Who?"
"Kale, the Asian guy who was with Danielle at the meeting."
"Ah," he said, his forehead relaxing. "No, wrong sister. I'm interested in Kari. She's not giving me the time of day, though," he said looking down and frowning. "Think she was burned by her ex or something." Arik shrugged and met Matt's eyes again. "Anyway, if you want to know what Camille and I discussed, you're gonna have to ask her. I've told you as much as I'm going to tell you and you can try to beat my ass as much as you want."
"Fuck you," Matt said, laughing unexpectedly.
Arik laughed also but it soon turned into a groan. "I think you broke one of my ribs."
Matt scoffed as he stood up. "Stop being such a pussy. I didn't break your rib."
Arik stood also, grimacing as he did. "So now that we've had this little...bonding time, can you relax about Camille and I seeing each other? I actually like her and value her as a friend."
Matt's jaw worked as he looked at the wall. "Fine. But if you try anything, I'll fucking kill you."
"What's wrong with you?" Amy asked discourteously as she made her way into Camille's office unannounced. She eyed Camille, taking in her greenish pallor, and her clammy skin.
"Good morning to you, too," Camille said, rolling her eyes.
"Yeah, yeah. You look like you're about to throw up, or already have," she said eying the damp paper towel in Camille's hand.
Camille shrugged. "I don't know what's wrong. I was fine when I left Matt's place this morning."
"Are you preggers?" Amy asked unabashedly as she plopped down in front of Camille's desk.
Camille's eyes bulged at Amy's question. "What? No, I'm not pregnant. Why would you ask that?"