Right Where I Belong Ch. 02byanon_temptations©
It was Monday afternoon and Tom still hadn't called. It had barely even been two days yet and Matt was already wondering why he hadn't been in touch.
"Stop moping, he'll call. Trust me, he was definitely interested." Tessa seemed to have an unnatural skill for reading Matt's mind and it unnerved him a little. Tessa hadn't even turned to look at him -- she was busy wiping down the kitchen table and putting crayons away. Matt had looked after Joseph whilst Tessa had worked a morning shift, and he suddenly felt slightly guilty for letting Joseph make such a mess and then failing to clear it up properly.
"I wasn't moping! I wasn't even thinking about him!" Matt protested as he started picking up toys from the floor and putting them away in Joseph's oversized toy box.
"Right," Tessa replied sarcastically. "At least it means you're over Mitchell now. I'd hate to find you moping over that arsehole."
Matt shrugged. "Mitchell really hurt me but when I think about the relationship we had, I honestly don't believe I was ever in love with him. Actually, I think I just liked having someone around."
"I suspected as much. The two of you just didn't have that spark, you know?" Matt rolled his eyes and pretended that he thought Tessa was talking nonsense, but in truth he knew exactly what she meant.
"So what's his story?" Matt asked, changing the topic back to Tom. Tessa stopped what she was doing and leaned against the kitchen counter to look at him.
"What do you mean?" She responded with feigned ignorance. Her voice sounded a little too nonchalant to be believable.
"Out with it, Tessie. There has to be a catch. Tom can't really be as perfect as he looks."
Tessa sighed. "It's not really my story to tell, Matt. Let's just say that you're not the only person to have had their heart broken by a man."
"Shit." Matt wasn't sure what he had expected when he'd asked Tessa about Tom, or whether he had really expected anything at all. He certainly hadn't expected something like this.
"Oh, a while ago now."
"How bad was it?"
With that, Tessa headed out of the room with a carton of juice for Joseph. Matt chewed on the inside of his cheek for a moment whilst he thought this over. The worst? Jesus, what had happened to him? Perhaps that was why he hadn't called, but then Matt had been part of a rather messy break-up himself just a few weeks ago and now he felt as right as rain. Granted, he'd been a mess at first, but he'd managed to shed Mitchell from both his life and his heart pretty quickly. But then, unlike Matt, Tom most probably had been in love with the guy who had broken his heart and perhaps he still wasn't over it. Matt was curious, but he realised that it would be wrong to pry the information out of Tessa. He wanted to get to know Tom properly and getting his secrets from friends behind his back would be both rude and insensitive.
Matt headed into the lounge and plonked down on the sofa next to Joseph, who was staring intently at the TV whilst drinking his juice.
"How you doing, buddy?" Matt asked, ruffling Joseph's hair.
"Good. Want some juice?" Joseph offered up his almost empty carton.
"No thanks, buddy. Is it alright if I stick around and watch cartoons with you for a bit?"
Joseph nodded his head and drank the last of his juice before pulling himself closer to Matt so that he could sit on his lap. Joseph was too big to fit comfortably and he kept shuffling himself about in an attempt to get comfy. "Come here," Matt laughed as he pulled him into an embrace and hugged his godson to his side. Joseph rested his head against Matt's chest before settling down to watch the rest of his show.
Matt had dozed off with Joseph curled up against him. He woke suddenly to the feeling that he was being watched. Tessa was standing in the doorway with Tom at her side. He rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and gently pulled Joseph into his arms and stood. He felt a little embarrassed at being caught napping.
"Aww, you two looked so cute," Tessa cooed. Tom's eyes sparkled as he leaned against the doorframe with a huge grin on his face. It looked as if he'd come by straight after work and Matt couldn't help but notice how hot he looked in his suit and tie.
"Yeah yeah," Matt mumbled as he walked towards Tessa. Joseph was still fast asleep with his head resting against Matt's shoulder. "Perhaps we should put the little man up to bed."
"Give him here, I'll take him. You boys head into the kitchen, there's beer in the fridge and snacks on the counter," Tessa said before heading for the stairs with her sleeping son in her arms.
Matt made his way into the kitchen with Tom following behind him. "It's nice to see you again," Tom paused. "Sorry I didn't call you. I was actually going to call this evening, but then Chris invited me over for a few beers after work."
"That's fine," Matt responded, trying to sound casual but failing miserably. "Where is Chris anyway?" Matt asked, looking around.
"He had to make a quick run to the shops for Tessa."
"Oh." Matt was silent. He watched whilst Tom took off his suit jacket and loosened his tie. Tom caught him staring and grinned.
"So, I was wondering... do you still want to go out some time?"
"Sure, when did you have in mind?"
"I was thinking Wednesday night, if that's good with you."
"Of course!" Matt blushed at how eager he sounded. He seemed to be blushing a hell of a lot more these past few days, he realised. "I mean, yeah, that sounds fine."
Tessa walked into the kitchen with a cheeky smile on her face. "What did I miss?" It was obvious that she'd been listening in, but Matt chose to play along.
"Nothing that you need to concern yourself with, Tessa. We were just arranging a dinner date."
"Oh! How lovely!" Tessa did her little happy dance and Matt groaned in embarrassment. "I knew you two would hit it off! And didn't I tell you that he was interested?"
Tom laughed at Matt's obvious discomfort with Tessa's forwardness and then changed the topic, for which Matt was instantly grateful. "How's Joseph doing?" He asked.
"He's doing great, thanks. He's just completely wiped out since he had such an active day," Tessa said, giving Matt a pointed look.
"Hey, it's not all my fault! You never warned me that children had a sugar limit! Besides, Joseph and I had a great day. I think I might have developed an addiction to watching Spongebob Squarepants and singing along to the theme tune."
Tessa rolled her eyes and shook her head. "That theme tune is the bane of my life, I swear to God," she muttered. Matt and Tom both laughed heartily. Chris arrived a few minutes later and unloaded the bags of shopping. He took some snacks through to the lounge and placed a fresh case of beer on the coffee table. Matt helped himself to a can of lemonade from the fridge -- handing one to Tessa as well -- before following Chris into the lounge where everyone took a seat, with Tom sitting down next to Matt.
"Oh, Chris! Matt and Tom have made plans to go out to dinner, isn't that nice?"
Matt blushed whilst Tom laughed. Chris, at least, had the sense to realise that Tessa was embarrassing Matt and considerately passed over the subject in favour of sports.
After an hour or so of playful sports banter and the re-telling of some rather embarrassing moments from Matt's school and Uni life by Tessa, Joseph started crying. Tessa got up to see to him and came back downstairs a few minutes later with her son resting on her hip. She headed into the kitchen and Tom followed, leaving Matt alone with Chris.
"So you like him, right?" Chris asked.
"Why does everyone keep asking that?"
Chris laughed. "It's only me and Tessa. Besides, the two of you look great together. It's like, fate, or something."
"Fate has nothing to do with it. It's more like two meddling friends," Matt joked.
"Touché. But aren't you glad we did, huh?" Chris laughed.
Chris got up and headed to the bathroom, still laughing as he went, so Matt headed over to see what Tessa and Tom were up to. As he walked towards the kitchen, he could hear the two of them talking. He stopped just outside the doorway to listen. He knew it was wrong but he'd deal with the guilt of eavesdropping later; Matt had always been far too nosey for his own good.
"...so I really hope you don't mind me taking him out, Tessa, I know you're his best friend and all," he heard Tom say.
"Of course I don't mind Tom, just be careful with him. He's only recently single and although he seems to be doing alright now, I still worry. He's like a brother to me and I don't want to see him upset again."
"I'll be careful, Tessa, you know that," Tom paused. "I do kind of know how he feels, after all."
Crap. Now he felt really guilty for eavesdropping. Matt cleared his throat before he entered the room, faking nonchalance and pretending he'd not just been listening in. "Miss anything?"
"Nope, Joseph here was just hungry so he's having a snack, aren't you pumpkin?" Tessa said affectionately.
Joseph was sitting in his chair at the table, half asleep with a yoghurt pot in his hand. He waved it about when he saw Matt, the remainder of the yoghurt flying out and hitting the table.
"Joseph! You're a nightmare sometimes," Tessa joked, grabbing a cloth from the sink to clean up the mess.
Tom took that as his cue to leave and Matt offered to see him out. Chris was back in the lounge and watched them both head to the front door with a knowing smile and a wink, and Matt gave him the middle finger as he passed.
Once they reached the door, the two of them stopped and stared at each other. Matt looked up and lost himself in Tom's mesmerising dark eyes for a moment. They were the kind of eyes that seemed to pull you in and Matt feared he might lose himself in them. He had to make a conscious effort to look away, at which point he noticed how close together they were standing. Matt only just managed to hold back his urge to pull Tom forward and kiss him.
"I'll pick you up at 6 on Wednesday, that alright?" Tom asked.
Alright, I'll see you then."
Tom reached his hand out and gently brushed his knuckles across Matt's cheek. Matt froze. His heart gave a flutter and then started to beat hard against his chest. He closed his eyes and gave a contented sigh.
Tom chuckled softly and lowered his hand. "Bye Matt." He pulled open the door, flashing one of his trademark killer smiles that Matt was quickly becoming addicted to, and then left.
At 5:30pm on Wednesday, Matt was pacing about in the guest bedroom, trying to decide which shirt to wear. He could hear Tessa playing with Joseph downstairs and he was tempted to head down and ask for her opinion, but he knew she'd only end up trying to embarrass him with wolf-whistles or catcalls.
In the end, he settled for a navy blue shirt and a pair of dark tight-fitting jeans. He put on his best shoes, slid his wallet into his back pocket and then headed downstairs.
Joseph was sitting in the lounge wearing his Superman pyjamas and Tessa was sorting through a pile of children's books. Every time she pulled one out of the pile, Joseph would exclaim "not that one" and she'd move on. When asked which one he did want to read, he kept saying that he didn't know yet. Tessa was starting to look rather exasperated. As Matt walked in, she stopped what she was doing to give him an appraising look before nodded her approval.
"I suppose I can let you leave the house looking like that," she joked.
"I'm glad you approve."
Matt sat down on the sofa next to Joseph, who proceeded to climb into his lap.
"Where you going, Uncle Mattie?" Joseph asked.
"Out to dinner," Matt answered, lifting him up to put him firmly down on the next seat and ruffling his hair.
"With Uncle Tom-Tom?" Joseph asked.
Matt snickered; he'd never heard Joseph call Tom that before and he couldn't help but find it rather cute. At that moment, there was a light knock on the door. Matt jumped up to answer it. He ran his hand through his hair quickly before pulling the door open.
Tom looked amazing. Matt couldn't help but stare; he just prayed to God that he wouldn't start dribbling. Tom had shaved and styled his hair in a tousled sort of look that Matt thought was extremely sexy. He wore a gorgeous baby blue shirt and black jeans. He smelled good too -- the scent of his cologne had drifted Matt's way whilst he stood there with his mouth hanging open. Matt finally came to his senses enough to speak.
"You look great. I mean... wow."
Tom laughed, but he sounded a little nervous. "Thanks, you look pretty good yourself. Are you ready to head out?"
"Yep," Matt grinned, heading out the door. "Quick, before Tessa shows up and says something embarrassing."
"Have fun boys," Tessa called out at that exact moment, almost as if she had timed it. Matt and Tom looked back to catch her shooting a wink in there direction, a huge smile plastered across her face. Matt groaned and grabbed Tom's arm to pull him away from the house.
"I'm surprised she didn't ask us to pose for a photo or something," Tom laughed as they left for the restaurant.
Dinner was fantastic. Tom had chosen a lovely little restaurant that was described as the town's best kept secret. The conversation flowed throughout the evening and Matt learned a lot about Tom. He learned about Tom's family, his work and his dream of teaching.
Matt learned that Tom, like himself, didn't have much family. His dad had left when he was five and then his mother had remarried eight years ago before moving up to Scotland to live closer to her husband's family. Tom didn't see them much, but he didn't seem too bothered and it sounded like he was really close to his sister.
Matt told Tom about his own parents and their move to Spain, as well as how he met Tessa who was more or less the only family he had left, and anything else that Tom wanted to know. Matt had never thought he was particularly interesting, but Tom made him feel like he was. Tom made him feel as if he were special.
The two of them took a walk around the area before heading to the car. Matt was left in awe of both Tom and the town that he hoped to make his home.
"I know Chris and Tessa can be a pain in the backside with their interfering, but I'm extremely glad that they did this time," Matt laughed as they walked back in the direction of the car.
Tom grinned. "Yeah, me too."
Matt reached over to take Tom's hand and his pulse started to race when Tom responded with a gentle squeeze.
"I meant it when I offered to help you with the house-hunting," Tom said.
"I know you did," Matt answered.
"Then how about I stop by after work tomorrow? It make's sense to start looking as soon as possible, what with you starting work next week and all." He pulled out a business card from his wallet and handed it over. Ashley Owins, the card read, followed by the address of an Estate Agency and a phone number. "If you give Ashley a call in the morning and tell her what you're looking for, she can drop some information over before I get there and then we can take a look through it together."
"Thanks, Tom. That'd be really great. Are you sure Ashley won't mind, though?"
"Of course not, I already told her to expect your call," Tom smiled.
Matt laughed, sliding the business card into his pocket. "Well it seems like someone wants me to stay."
Tom grinned but said nothing. They reached the car and Tom held the passenger door open for Matt before getting in and driving them back to Chris and Tessa's.
"Tonight was wonderful," Tom said as he pulled up outside the house.
Matt smiled and reached across the car to hold Tom's hand in his. They were silent for a moment before Tom slipped his hand free to lean forward and gently frame Matt's face between his palms. He then slid them down to the sides of Matt's neck and leaned in to place a tender kiss on his lips.
What started off as a gentle kiss became increasingly passionate as the seconds ticked by, and Matt felt Tom's tongue searching for entry. He opened his mouth to let Tom's tongue in and moaned softly as it brushed gently against the roof of his mouth and then became intertwined with his own. Being with Tom like this felt so right, so natural. When they pulled apart they were both gasping for breath. One of Tom's hands was resting against Matt's shoulder whilst the other was playing with the hair at the nape of his neck. Tom lightly caressed Matt's cheek before letting his hands fall away.
"So I'll see you tomorrow?" He asked, his voice barely above a whisper.
Matt nodded. He wasn't sure if he was able to construct any coherent sentences just yet and so he thought it best not to take the risk for a few more moments. His heart was still pounded and he was painfully hard in his tight-fitting jeans.
Tom stepped out of the car to open Matt's door. Once they were standing just outside Chris and Tessa's front door, Matt leaned up and placed one light kiss on Tom's lips.
Matt ignored Tessa questioning look as he walked into the house.
"Well?" Tessa waited for some sort of answer, before realising that she wasn't going to get one. "Oh come on, spill! How did it go?!"
He still said nothing, but he was sure that the huge grin plastered on his face gave him away. And if that didn't, then the bulge in his jeans certainly would.
Matt spent a lot of the night lying awake in bed, replaying the kiss. He began to wonder whether he was really ready for a new relationship. He knew that Tom was nothing like Mitchell had been and that he had no real reason to be scared, but he still didn't want to rush things. He was scared of getting hurt and he hadn't known Tom for very long, but that still didn't change the fact that being with him felt right. He remembered what Tessa had told him about Tom, and about how he had been hurt too. Was he just as scared as Matt was? He found that thought oddly comforting.
In the morning, Matt phoned Ashley. He chatted to her over the phone for a good hour, telling her what he wanted for his new home. Matt was looking for a two bedroom place, maybe even three bedrooms if the price was right. He wanted something modern and that didn't need much work because he was terrible at DIY. He also wanted it to be relatively close to Tessa and his work. Ashley popped by a few hours later with a manila folder containing details and photos of several possible properties that she'd selected based on all the information he had given her. She seemed to have gone to a lot of trouble, and Matt was grateful.
Ashley wasn't what he had expected. She was younger, for a start. He'd pegged her as the older sister, but looking at her now he realised she must have been about mid-twenties. He'd already learned from their date that Tom was 29, and he'd guess that Ashley was no older than 25 or 26. She was a beautiful, petite woman with long dark hair that was pulled up into a loose ponytail. She had been very chatty and bubbly over the phone and Matt had liked her straight away.
"Hey Matt, it's so lovely to meet you in person!" She pulled him down into a hug as she stood in the doorway. Matt invited her in but she shook her head. "I'm afraid I can't stay or my boss will skin me alive. This is for you to look through." She handed over the folder and then gave Matt a once-over. She nodded her approval. "Nice, I can definitely see why my brother likes you so much," she said with a wink.
Matt just gaped. "Err, thanks?"
Ashley laughed. "I wish I could stay and chat but I'm not really supposed to be here. I just had to drop those off myself as an excuse to meet you, 'cos I worry that Tom will try to keep you all to himself. I'll catch you later, gorgeous."