Right Where I Belong Ch. 01byanon_temptations©
Matt lay across his bed and stared up at the ceiling. Mitchell had just left after collecting the last of his belongings and he was now all alone. It had been two weeks since Matt had walked in on his boyfriend of two years having sex with Ben, a mutual friend who they'd both gone to university with. Matt thought back to that day when he had let himself into Mitchell's flat only to be greeting with the sights and sounds of his boyfriend fucking someone else. It had felt as if Mitchell had taken a sledgehammer to his heart. With Ben throwing on his clothes and fleeing, Matt had been left alone with Mitchell whilst crying and screaming that they were over. Mitchell had promised that it wouldn't happen again and that it was the last time he'd sleep around. Matt had been dumbfounded. So this hadn't been the first time? He couldn't believe what he was hearing.
"I can't stand the fucking sight of you. You can collect your things from my place in the week but stay away from me after that, Mitchell." Matt turned to leave, scalding himself for ever trusting Mitchell. He should have known that he couldn't be trusted. All the signs had been there and yet Matt had just ignored them. Mitchell had never wanted to give up his own place even after two years of being together and Matt had told himself that it didn't matter. He's probably been screwing other men here the whole time, Matt had thought. How could he have been so blind?
"Mattie, please. Don't be this way, we can sort this out." Mitchell grabbed Matt's arm to stop him from storming out the door.
"Don't touch me, you cheating piece of shit!" Matt screamed the words with tears in his eyes and pushed Mitchell's arm away from him. Suddenly and unexpectedly, Mitchell's hand came up to slap Matt hard across his left cheek. Matt reeled from the shock of it and was left staring open mouthed at his former lover.
"Oh my God, I am so sorry Matt. Holy shit. I shouldn't have done that, but you were shouting and I – " Matt held up his hand to cut Mitchell off.
"I don't want to hear it. We're finished." With that, he'd walked out with his cheek still stinging from the harsh contact.
Matt had been left with a bruise across his cheek as a reminder of Mitchell's sudden outburst of violence, and Matt felt slightly ashamed. His dark blonde hair wasn't long enough to cover it and he'd not wanted to see anyone and then have to explain what had happened. After a week, the bruise had disappeared and all that was left was Matt's damaged pride. He had made an appointment to see his doctor and got tested, and thankfully the results had come back negative. Mitchell had phoned many times over the following fortnight but Matt refused to pick up or return any of the calls or texts. He'd reluctantly had to answer in the end, simply to arrange a time for Mitchell to collect his things.
"I'm so sorry, Matt," he had said as he lifted the last box of his belongings. He gave Matt his infamous 'puppy eyes' look, something that would have previously worked for Mitchell. But then Matt remembered how crushed he'd felt when he'd found him on top of Ben, and the space in his heart that used to care for Mitchell instantly filled with anger and hurt.
Mitchell shuffled his feet as he stood in the doorway. "Where do we go from here, Mattie?"
"What kind of a stupid fucking question is that? We go nowhere, Mitchell. I can't even stand to look at you anymore."
"Don't be like that, Matt. I mean, we had a lot of fun together, didn't we? I was hoping we could be friends."
Matt couldn't believe what he was hearing. A lot of fun? That was how Mitchell defined their two year relationship? Matt shook his head and let out a bitter laugh. "No. We can't be friends."
There were a few moments of silence before Mitchell spoke again. He took a few steps closer to Matt. "I really am sorry, babe."
"Don't give me that. The only thing you're sorry for is getting caught. If anything, I'm the one who's sorry. I'm sorry that I wasted two years of my life thinking that you loved me, two whole years of believing that you were faithful. I spent two years hoping that one day you'd decide to move in with me and finally open up. What a waste of time that was."
Mitchell looked down at the floor and didn't meet Matt's eyes.
"Just go, Mitch. Please."
He had said nothing, simply nodded and walked out the door.
Now that Mitchell had collected his belongs and the relationship was officially at an end, Matt was unsure of what to do next. He continued to lie across his bed whilst he considered his options.
Matt had called work last week and put in his notice. He'd worked his last shift two days ago and was currently on the hunt for something new. Something he would enjoy. He'd majored in graphic design but had struggled to find a job straight out of university so had settled on a shitty desk job answering phones for 12 hours a day.
Matt had a fair amount of money; his parents hadn't been particularly rich but they had lived comfortably. Before they had relocated to Spain two years ago they had insisted on leaving Matt with a substantial lump sum in his bank account. It was their way of trying to neutralise the guilt they felt at leaving their only son whilst they vanished to live abroad. On top of that, a rather large sum had been left to him by his grandmother who had passed away a few years back. Matt had never had any need for this money. He wasn't a big spender and he lived a fairly humble lifestyle. His flat was by no standards small, but his job had pretty much covered all his costs. Consequently, he had enough to live comfortably off of for several months without working and so Matt was taking his time in the job hunting process and even considering a relocation to somewhere new. He'd always hated this area, anyway.
Matt was supposed to be staying with his best friend Tessa in a fortnight, but all he wanted to do right now was crawl under the covers and sleep until he felt better again. He didn't want to speak to anyone, he didn't want to leave the house, and he certainly didn't want to keep thinking about Mitchell and how much of a shithead he had turned out to be.
His phone rang and he considered ignoring it. He suspected it was Tessa though and he knew she'd only keep on calling until he picked up. Reluctantly, he pulled himself into a seated position and grabbed his phone from the nightstand, flipping it open and putting it to his ear.
"Is the bastard gone yet?" Tessa said in greeting.
"Yeah, he popped by first thing. He left about an hour ago."
"Mummy's on the phone, pumpkin, go watch TV for five minutes," Tessa said to her four year old son Joseph before speaking to Matt again. "Well, you know what I say, don't you? Onwards and upwards. You're better off without him anyway. Now go pack your stuff; I want you to drive over here as soon as you can. There's no point sitting alone and wallowing in that flat of yours for the next two weeks."
"No Tessa, really. I'll be fine."
"There's no point in arguing with me, sweetie. I already spoke to Chris and we both want you here with us. You'd be here anyway in two weeks, so what does it matter if you're here a little earlier? You quit your job, didn't you?"
"Yeah. But – "
"No 'buts', Matt. You're staying with us. Joseph misses his godfather and I miss my best friend." Tessa paused. "That week you booked off to visit can be extended now that you've quit your job and I was thinking that you could perhaps look for a job and somewhere to live that's a little closer to us..."
Matt sighed. "Can we talk about it when I get to yours? I'll pack now and set off this afternoon."
Tessa let out a squeal of excitement. Matt laughed a little, picturing her jumping up and down like she always did when she was excited. "Great, I knew you'd make the right choice. Well I won't keep you then since you've got packing to do. I love you, Mattie."
"Yeah, love you too Tessie. I'll call you when I'm almost there."
Matt hung up and collapsed back onto the bed. Tessa was right, there was no point in him staying here on his own, and he knew it. He'd originally planned to spend this coming weekend with a couple of his friends, but they'd all seemed to stop talking to him now that he and Mitchell had broken up. Now that he thought about it, most of his friends had been introduced to him by Mitchell. It depressed him to realise that they had probably only hung out with him because of his boyfriend and wouldn't bother with him now that they'd separated, especially considering the circumstances of that separation. Matt wondered briefly if they'd known that Mitchell had been sleeping around. Had they been laughing behind his back all this time?
Matt pulled himself up to find his suitcase and a backpack before packing up some of his things. It was a two hour drive to Tessa's house, maybe longer if he hit traffic. Matt didn't mind the drive and sang along to a CD he had burned with a mix of all his favourite rock songs. He rather enjoyed the journey and found that it really helped to clear his mind a little from the fog that had started to take up residence there.
Matt called Tessa from a service station when he was about fifteen minutes away, and she answered the door before Matt had even made it half way up her front drive.
Tessa was the same age as Matt but had always acted so motherly towards him. In fact, she was like that with almost everyone. She had been his closest friend since nursery school and Matt was so pleased – and just a tiny bit jealous – that her life had turned out so well for her. Tessa had gone off to a different University at eighteen and it was there that she met Chris. They made the perfect couple, and Chris had become a very good friend to Matt over the years. Chris had proposed to Tessa on the night of their graduation and she had announced her pregnancy two months before the big day. Now they lived a very happy life in Chris's hometown and Matt didn't see them half as much as he would have liked to.
Tessa ran across the front drive and pulled Matt into a huge hug, squeezing with much more power than she looked capable of possessing. She ushered him into the house, taking his bags despite Matt's protests and placing them at the foot of the stairs. She turned and rested her hands on Matt's shoulders, holding him in place so that she could get a good look at him.
"It's so lovely to have you here, I've missed you like crazy," she pulled him into another hug before shouting out, "Joseph, look who's here."
There was the pitter-patter of little footsteps from the lounge to their right before four-year-old Joseph poked his head out of the doorway and squealed in delight. Joseph was the spitting image of his mother – he had the same dark brown hair that was almost black and the same big chocolate brown eyes. However, where Tessa had always been petite, Joseph was quite big for his age. This he'd got from his father, who was 6"5 and had apparently always been much taller than everyone else, even as a child.
"Uncle Mattie!" Joseph ran up to Matt and hugged his leg, then lifted his arms in the air to signal that he wanted to be lifted up.
"Hey buddy! Haven't you grown since I was last here? You're almost as big as a giant!"
Joseph giggled and flapped his arms about excitedly as Matt lifted him up and held him high in the air, before pulling him into a hug.
"I'm four now!" Joseph exclaimed excitedly. He had been four the last time Matt had seen him too, but he decided not to point that out. "Come see my room!"
"He will in a minute, sweetie. Let him settle in and have a drink first," Tessa said.
Matt put Joseph back down on his feet and watched him run off into the lounge, then turned to follow Tessa through to the kitchen at the back of the house. Whilst Tessa put the kettle on, Matt plonked himself down on a stool at the breakfast bar. Tessa put a couple of mugs down on the counter then took the seat opposite.
"So, how are you holding up?" Tessa reached out and rested her hand over Matt's, patting it gently.
"Not too good, really." Matt sighed. "I don't know why I wasted two years of my life with Mitchell. I feel so stupid. I've spent a lot of time crying and sleeping since I broke up with him."
Tessa nodded. "Well I'm glad you don't have that bruise anymore. When you told me that he hit you, Chris had to hold me down and stop me from driving down there and beating the crap out of him. It took him hours to talk me out of it."
Matt shook his head. "It really wasn't that bad."
"Bullshit. He hit you, Mattie. There is absolutely no excuse."
Matt supposed Tessa was right. "I guess so. I just wish I had done more than cry, you know? It's not like I didn't expect something to happen. Two years and he rarely told me he loved him, he treated me like a doormat, and he refused to get rid of his own flat because he said he needed his own space. I think I feel more humiliated than heartbroken. I can't believe I let him get away with it. I should have known that something was going on."
"Well you're here now, and Chris and I are here for you. That scumbag doesn't deserve your tears. I never liked him but I just didn't want to upset you by telling you that. You were right to end it. You deserve so much more than that – you deserve someone special, someone who will love you and do right by you."
"I don't know, Tess. I'm just starting to think that maybe it's not the fact that Mitchell and I are finished that's upsetting me, but more to do with how stupid I was for actually putting up with his crap. I wasted so much time with him and now I'm alone and I feel like I'm running out of time or something."
Tessa laughed a little. "Matt, don't be so silly. You're only twenty-seven years old! You have all the time in the world to meet someone."
Matt shrugged. "All the time in the world? You're the same age as me and you're married with a son. I'm single, with no job and no prospects."
"Don't talk like that! That's complete rubbish, and you know it. You might be single, but you do have prospects and plenty of options. Talking of options, I was serious when I said I wanted you to move nearer to us. I miss you, and since I know you never spent the guilt money from your parents or the money that Grandma Maggie left you, you could easily afford to rent a place around here or even put down some serious roots and buy your first house."
"Maybe." Matt paused. He had been thinking about relocating, hadn't he? "I'd have to to think about it. I'd need to speak with my landlord and then clear out the flat and find a new job, and hunting for a new place just doesn't sound like fun to me right now. All I want to do is crawl into bed and stay there for a while."
"Well you can stay here until you find a place of your own, we have plenty of room. Chris and I could help you clear out your flat and I'd be more than happy to help you with the house-hunting too. Buying a house would probably be a smart move anyway, you need to invest in property and stop living in these characterless rentals you seem so fond of."
Matt couldn't believe Tessa's persistence. "Fine, but even if you help me out with all that, I'd still need to find a job first."
"Well finding a job will be easy enough, since I kind of already got you one..."
"Tessa!" Matt exclaimed. He couldn't believe what he was hearing. Tessa wanted him back so badly that she'd gone ahead and got him a job without even talking to him about it? Matt shook his head in disbelief.
"What?!" She exclaimed. "It's a good job working in graphic design, so your degree would actually come in handy, unlike with your last job. I knew it'd be ideal for you and it seemed too good to pass up. You have an interview the day after tomorrow but the job is pretty much yours if you want it."
"I – Tessa, I..." Matt was lost for words. "You really want me around that much?"
"Of course! We all do! You're family, Matt. You're my best friend and godfather to my son. Of course I want you closer."
Matt was embarrassed to realise that he had tears in his eyes. He ducked his head and tried to wipe them away before Tessa could say anything. She stood up and walked over to Matt before hugging him and kissing his temple.
"It's okay, Mattie."
"They're happy tears, Tessa."
"Good," she said with a smile. She let him go and headed over to the kettle. Matt watched her make the drinks and then pull the biscuit tin down from the cupboard. Joseph suddenly came darting through the kitchen door.
"Biscuit please, mummy!" Joseph exclaimed, putting his hands out in front of him.
"I swear Joseph has a sixth-sense. Every single time I get the biscuit tin out, no matter where he is or what he's doing, he seems to sense it." She gave him two and watched with a loving expression as he ran back to watch TV.
Matt hadn't been here for more than an hour, and he already felt a lot better. It felt like home. He laughed at the realisation. "Okay."
Tessa turned to face him. "Huh?"
"Okay. I'll move here."
The interview went well, and Matt had to admit that Tessa had been right – the job was ideal. The pay was pretty decent and he'd have his own office, plus his boss seemed like a genuine lady who he had hit it off with straight away. She was not only a friend of Tessa's but apparently a neighbour too, something Tessa had failed to mention beforehand.
He was told there and then that, if he wanted it, the job was his. He took a stroll around town for a while in an attempt to familiarise himself with it before heading to his car and driving back to the house. No-one was there; it was a Friday so both Chris and Tessa were at work and Joseph was at play school. He headed straight upstairs to the guest bedroom that he was currently occupying and changed out of his interview clothes before phoning Tessa. Tessa worked part-time at a local advertising agency but she always seemed available to take Matt's calls, although he was sure it got her into trouble with her co-workers sometimes. Probably because she never made any effort to disguise that it was a personal call. Tessa answered on the second ring.
"You got the job, right?!" She asked straight away.
"Yeah, so it looks like I'll definitely be staying," Matt answered.
Tessa practically squealed in excitement. "Oh Matt! I am so happy! We need to do something to celebrate, how about a take-out tonight and then tomorrow I can make a home-cooked meal? I can make a roast dinner with all the trimmings; I know how much you love that."
"Tessa, you don't have to go to any trouble, seriously."
"Of course I do, this is big news. Have you called your landlord yet?"
"Yep, I did that this morning. I have three weeks to get my stuff out, and then I'm officially an ex-tenant. I'll have to start looking for my own place soon 'cos I don't want to wear out my welcome with you and Chris."
"You're welcome to stay with us for as long as you need, Matt. You know that. Chris should be home within the hour. Perhaps you could pick his brain about the best areas to start house-hunting. He's good with that sort of thing."
"Okay, I will do."
"I best get back to work, Mattie. I'm getting the evil eye from the old bag across from me."
Matt laughed and said goodbye. He collapsed onto the bed and grinned to himself. In just a couple of days, things had turned around so much. He felt good. Really good. He just hoped that it would last.
"Matt, I hope you don't mind but Chris invited a friend from work to dinner tonight." Tessa was labouring away in the kitchen and Matt was leaning against the counter and occasionally passing her things as she needed them. Joseph was sitting up at the kitchen table, paying no attention to the grown-ups since he was fully engrossed in his finger painting. Or at least, most of the paint had ended up on his hands and fingers rather than on the paper in front of him.