Sequel: Ours
Status: 6/6 Thanks so much everyone!

I've Got A Thing For You


There was no rest for the wicked, they said, and Rory’s thoughts that night as she tossed and turned were decidedly sinful. She couldn’t escape the lingering thoughts of Matt, no matter how many sheep she counted or times she rolled onto her back, staring at the ceiling, praying for a blank mind. She could still feel his hands, his lips, the northern lights still glowing behind her eyelids. Truth be told, Rory had been with a lot of guys, but none of the guys had ever gone out of their way to do something nice for her. It boggled her mind that someone would do that, especially someone who was essentially a stranger.

She finally managed to fall asleep when the sun came up. Two hours later, an annoyingly perky Terry burst into her room, singing Italian opera at the top of his lungs. He yanked open the floral print curtains, ending on a high note. A bright splash of early morning sunlight fell right across her face.

“Ugh,” Rory groaned, pulling her pillow over her head. A second later, it was snatched away.

“Wake up, Ro!”

“No. Go die.” She dove beneath the scratchy coverlet, pressing one side of her face to the mattress. Her head ached, and her eyes were dry. She wanted nothing more than to rip off Terry’s face and go back to sleep, but now that he was in the room, she knew he would never leave her alone.

“Come on, Rory, get up! We’re hanging out with Matt and his friends today.”


“Um, no, not really. Matt’s going to be here in two hours.”

Rory sprang up, throwing the blanket off. “What?”

“Yeah, I thought you knew! He called me last night and said that you mentioned you were here working, so he offered to show us around the city, and then we’ll have a kickback later this afternoon with him and his friends.”

Matt Niskanen, you are ruining my life. She would bet money that he had done that on purpose, just to annoy her. She ran a hand through her wilted curls, slumping her shoulders. “That means I have to get up now, doesn’t it?”

“Unless you can get ready in less than an hour.”

“Don’t be an idiot.”

“That’s what I thought.” Terry dropped her pillow on the bed and walked to the doorway. He looked back once. “Oh, by the way, you might want to try some concealer. Those under eye circles are brutal.”

She threw her pillow at him.

An hour and fifty minutes later, she was ready. She was freshly showered, her hair had been curled to perfection once more, and she was wearing her favorite red lipstick. She left a note for her relatives, who had gone on a walk in the woods, telling them where she and Terry would be. Her camera was packed snugly into her polka-dotted tote bag, and she was ready to get some work done. Or, she would be, if she could stop thinking about--No. Shut up.

Now, she and Terry were just waiting on their ride.

Rory paced in the living room. Tied her right sneaker. Went to the window. Twirled a loose, dark curl around one finger. Bit her lip. Curled her eyelashes. Sat on the couch. Went to the window again.

Terry watched her, his eyebrows raised. “We’re just hanging out with Matt and his friends. You don’t have to be nervous.”

“I’m not nervous,” she shot back, smoothing her t-shirt down. “I’m fine.”

“Right. That’s why your hair is a mess.”

What?” She hurried back to the mirror, checking her reflection in the entryway. She snorted, rolling her eyes as she turned to face him. “Don’t be ridiculous. My hair is perfect.”

He stood. “Good thing too, because Matt’s here.”

This time, Rory ran to the window. Sure enough, that ugly silver car was clunking up the drive, spitting gravel and dust. She tossed her hair over her shoulder one last time, before spinning back around to grab her tote bag. Once it was settled over her shoulder, she took a deep breath. Terry locked up the front door, and as soon as the spare key was back in his pocket, Rory pushed him down the stairs.

He didn’t fall down all five steps, but he definitely fell down a couple. He was still squawking out complaints when they walked to where Matt’s car was parked, but when they reached their newfound acquaintance, he fell surprisingly silent. Matt was leaning against the front of his car, one foot up on the fender. Rory was torn between laughing hysterically and fainting away in a cinematic swoon. It was a hot day without him around, but with him… She resisted the urge to fan herself, though it was difficult. He was wearing a dark green polo shirt, and a pair of tan shorts. Truth be told, the clothes were kind of awful.

He’d look better without them.

She squashed down the manic giggles creeping up her throat. Shut up, hormones. Nobody asked you.

“Hey,” he said, not looking directly at her, but not ignoring her, either. “I take it Rory didn’t tell you about the beer.”

Terry frowned. “The beer?”

Matt shrugged. “It doesn’t matter; we’re going into the city anyway, so we can pick up all the stuff for tonight while we’re there.”

“Sounds good.”

Matt’s eyes finally landed on Rory. Their gazes met, and she smirked. “Hey, Matt. Nice to see you again, as always.”

“Yeah, you too. You look tired. Get much sleep last night?”

Ugh. “Tons.” She held out her tote bag. “Mind putting this in the car for me?”

“No problem. I live to serve.” He forced a smile, before taking her tote bag. He glanced up at the smaller bandage now adorning her forehead. “How’s that doing? Didn’t get infected or anything, did it?”

“No, as a matter of fact. Thanks for asking.” She glanced down at his chest, pointing with one finger. “Your shirt is atrocious, by the way.”

“Well, if it bothers you, then I love it.”

Terry laughed loudly and Matt finally let loose a smile. He moved around the car, setting her tote bag in the backseat. He held the door open, and glanced between the two of them.

Lucky for her, Rory was quicker on the draw than her cousin. “Shotgun,” she piped up. Terry groaned, slapping a palm to his forehead. She grinned, one hand on her hip. Maybe she was imagining it, but she could’ve sworn Matt’s smile mirrored something like approval.

When Matt looked away, kicking at something on the ground, Terry scowled at Rory and mouthed, Beer?

Rory waved it off, making a face. Matt looked up at them expectantly, and they shuffled across the gravel. Terry slunk into the backseat, one arm on Rory’s bag.

“It’s fine,” he said sourly. “Don’t mind me.”

“Trust me, we won’t.” Rory slid into the passenger seat and buckled her seatbelt. Matt shut her door, and she met his gaze through the window once more. She didn’t like the way he was looking at her; there was a question there, but she didn’t know the answer yet. Hell, she didn’t even know if she knew what the question was. She didn’t know what to make of the kiss the night before, much less anything else he wanted from her. She was so tired, she could barely think enough as it was, but with him around, too? This is going to be a long day.

Matt started up the car, sparing her long, bare legs one brief glance before eyeing Terry in the rearview mirror. “You all right back there?”

“As all right as I can be,” he grumbled. “Looks like it’s just me and Rory’s shit! Oh, wait…” He stooped, before straightening back up. “Me, Rory’s shit, and a pair of woman’s shoes? Matt, do you have something you need to tell us?”

In Terry’s hands was a pair of white sandals, looking as shiny and new as the day Rory first bought them. She tried very hard not to gape.

Matt didn’t even look at her. He grinned at Terry in the rearview mirror. “Only that it was a lot of fun.”

“Matt, you dog,” Terry said, dropping the sandals and laughing. “We need more people like you in New York.”

“Right, because the Empire State needs more jerks,” Rory said, rolling her eyes. “Good one, Terry.” On the inside, though, she was a whirlwind. A lot of fun. That’s me. We didn't even do anything, but that was me.

“Well, I can see why you live there, then.” Matt glanced pointedly at Rory, and she folded her arms, glaring out the window.

Terry coughed dryly. “Is there a morgue in Duluth, Matt? Because the sexual tension in here is killing me.”

This time, even Matt didn’t have a reply.


Matt took Terry and Rory all over Duluth, running up the miles on his car and his gas tank. His mom wouldn’t approve of him wasting his resources, but he decided he didn’t care. It was worth it all just to watch Rory.

At first, she had been quiet, sulking in the passenger seat. He had taken that time to watch her, silently appreciating the dark blue t-shirt and the denim shorts she wore low on her hips. Even pissed off, she was cute, and he couldn’t help thinking of the night before. That comment about her not getting enough sleep hadn’t been so much a dig as a mutual complaint, as he had spent the entire night feverishly entangled in his sheets, recalling the feel of her hair as it slid through his fingers. He didn’t know why he couldn’t stop thinking about her. It didn’t seem right; he was never the type of guy to run off with someone he had just met. But there was something about her…

You’re never going to see her again, that’s what. Soon as her work's done, she'll be gone, off to some other corner of the world. He pushed that thought far in the back of his mind, determined to make the best of what he had in front of him...whatever that was.

After Rory had her first dose of coffee, her eyes started to open fully and she got to see the city around them. Once she had her second cup, Matt started to regret it.

She wanted to go everywhere. Being the stupidly nice person he was, he obliged. She whipped out her camera and snapped away, as he took them around the Lake Superior Zoo, the Great Lakes Aquarium, and to Glensheen. The entire time, she made comments and appreciative noises, her face practically glued to the camera. She begged him and Terry to visit Adventure Zone, but luckily, Terry put his foot down. In retaliation, she demanded they go shopping. For some reason, Matt just couldn’t say no.

Which was why, five hours later, he was ready to collapse into the backseat of his car and sleep for a year. She had dragged them into The Electric Fetus to buy some CD’s, and into the UMD store to embarrass him. She walked around and pointed at stuff, looking at him to see his reaction.

“Should I buy a shirt?” she asked the cashier, a girl Matt had actually seen at school before. “Is this team any good?”

She chatted with the girl, laughing at Matt’s expense, before she bought two shirts and a pair of sweatpants. “What can I say?” Her eyes glimmered. “A friend told me to check them out.”

Friend. He kind of liked that.

Afterwards, they stopped at Fitger’s. She spent an exorbitant amount of money at Andi’s, while he and Terry ordered some beer at the Brewhouse. She handed off most of her bags to Terry, who complained until Matt offered to buy them all ice cream at Bridgeman’s. They spent their first quiet moment of the day staring out at Lake Superior.

Everything was still and relaxed. While it had been fun watching Rory run around like a maniac, he was more excited just witnessing her calm down. She was leaning back on the picnic table they were seated at, her elbows on the table. Her hair fell over her shoulders, the ends brushing the worn wood. Her lipstick had faded, but her lips were still a soft pink, made brighter by her pale skin. He couldn’t see her eyes behind her yellow sunglasses, but he wanted to. He wanted to know what she was thinking.

“What?” she asked, noticing his stare. “Do I have ice cream on my face?” She raised a hand to her mouth.

He shook his head, bemused. “No.”

Her eyebrows curved into a frown. “Then why the hell are you staring at me?”

Because you’re so damn beautiful. “Just thinking.”

“Well, do it somewhere else.”

Terry snickered. “Being a bitch is a full-time thing for you, huh, Ro?”

She got up to throw her empty cup in the trash. She didn’t sit back down; instead, she leaned against the railing, looking out over the lake. She raised one foot, propping it against the other, her long curls spilling down her back. Nobody seemed to notice when Matt reached for her camera beside him on the bench.

“You know,” Terry said, chocolate smeared on his fingers. “I’ve been to a lot of places, and I honestly thought this place was going to suck.” Matt snorted, as Terry went on. “Now that I’m here, though, it’s kind of cool. Like, really cool.”

Matt smiled. He raised the viewfinder to his eye and pressed the button. Click.


Rory decided within minutes of meeting them that she liked Matt’s friends. She would never admit that, though.

After spending the afternoon in Duluth, they made the trip back to the cabins, Terry talking the entire time. Rory had conceded to him sitting in the passenger seat on the way back, stretching out in the backseat and trying to squeeze in a few minutes of sleep before they met up with Matt’s gang of hooligans. As tired as she was, though, she was wired on adrenaline and caffeine, and she couldn’t stop her mind from racing, especially when she could almost feel Matt’s eyes on her in the rearview mirror. She was restless, itchy beneath the blanket of her skin; she wanted to shed her insecurities and do something wild. It was dangerous thinking, but she was too delighted to stop.

With the sun low in the sky, nearly hidden by clouds, they pulled up a winding driveway to a cabin on a hill. To Rory’s surprise, there were a couple of guys outside packing up an SUV. They shoved a cooler into the back, turning when they noticed Matt’s car approaching. Rory’s heart kicked up with nerves, but she shoved the feeling down as quickly as it came.

Terry was out of the car first. “Dudes!”

The guys raised their arms, crowing like they had known him for years. Rory rolled her eyes behind her sunglasses, reaching for the handle to her own door. Before her fingers could close around, the door opened.

Matt flashed her a half-smile. “Ready?”

She stepped out, huffing in annoyance. Nobody had ever opened a door for her. “Why wouldn’t I be?” She pointed at the SUV, as he kicked the door shut. “So, I take it we’re going somewhere?”

“Yeah, the guys and I have a fire pit in this little campsite about a mile or two away. Thought we could grill some food, even though we kind of suck.”

“Nice. Very Midwestern.” She reached into her tote bag, pulling out her camera. She took a couple experimental shots of the sky, frowning at the clouds hovering low. “Those don’t look great. Think it might rain?”

Matt shrugged. “Probably not. The weather up here is pretty consistent.” He leaned against the car, smirking. “Why? You worried about getting a little wet?”

Jesus, take the wheel. “No.” She turned away, sniffing imperiously. “I just worry about my hair, that’s all.”

“Right.” He slipped his hand into hers, and pulled her along after him. She protested, trying to yank herself away, but he held tighter, practically dragging her over to his friends. She scowled at him when he finally let go.

The guys had been talking with Terry, but they stopped the moment she stood in front of them. “Guys, this is Terry’s cousin, Rory Montgomery.” Matt pointed to one, a guy with light brown hair whose mouth was hanging open. “Rory, this is Mason Raymond.”

He shook her hand, still staring. Her scowl darkened. “What’s your deal?”

“Sorry, you’re just way hotter than Matt led me to believe.” He laughed, punching Matt on the arm. “Jeez, dude, way to be a team player.”

Matt’s cheeks were red. “And this over here is MacGregor Sharp.” The other guy was taller, with darker hair that curled over his forehead, and wide eyes that looked hurt.

He shook her hand, smiling hesitantly, like he was afraid she might bite. “You can call me Mac.”

Matt glanced around, shoving his hands in his pockets. “Where’s Nate?”

“His girlfriend got food poisoning, so he’s shacking up with her,” Mason said, shaking his head. “Personally, I wouldn’t go near her in that state, but he has an obligation, I guess.” He glanced at Rory. “Uh, no offense.”

“None taken. I wouldn’t go near her, either. My dad got food poisoning once in Spain; I took off for France and told him to call me when it was through.”

They all laughed, even Matt. Rory managed an easy-going smile, shoving her sunglasses up onto her head. Maybe they weren’t totally terrible, but she still had her reservations. She glanced at Matt out of the corner of her eye. He met her family, she met his friends; it all felt too much like dating, and that was one thing that Rory never did.

They talked for a few minutes, loading up the SUV with the last of the camping gear. Rory managed a few more pictures of the guys while they were busy. She particularly liked the last one; they were all laughing at Terry, whose twelve-pack of beer had broken in his hand and dumped cans all over the ground. After stowing her camera back in her tote bag, Rory helped them, shoving foldable chairs and sleeping bags into the back of the SUV.

She eyed the sleeping bags dubiously. “Are we really going to be spending the night out there?”

“Why?” Mason grinned wolfishly at her, wiggling his eyebrows suggestively. “You scared?”

No. I just don’t have a change of clothes.”

“Oh, no! I guess you’ll just have to walk around naked…” Mason faked a pout, his blue-green eyes sparkling. “What a shame!”

She rolled her eyes. “I don’t have a toothbrush with me, either.”

His face fell. “Oh. Ew.”

Rory reached for what was next, a lumpy pillowcase. She lifted it up and almost fell over with the weight of it. “Jesus, what’s in here?”

Mason snatched the pillowcase away from her, bundling it up in his arms and eyeing her suspiciously. “Nothing. Don’t worry about it; you’ll see later. Anyway, let’s get going, shall we? It’s almost sundown.”

Mason dumped the pillowcase into the back and slammed it shut. They all exchanged high fives for a job well done, surprising Rory by including her. She caught Matt’s eye and grinned, laughing as Mason and Mac started arguing over who got to drive. Mac pulled Mason into a headlock, and Terry started cackling. Before she could react or resist, Matt grabbed her hand and pulled her towards his car.

When she looked to him for an explanation, he just shrugged. “They’ll be here all night. Let’s get there first.”

“But they have all the stuff!”


She thought about it for all of one second, before she grinned and jumped into the passenger seat. Their doors slammed, and the guys paused, looking over at Matt’s car. Mac released Mason and started yelling, as Matt started it up and gunned it into gear. They raced out of the driveway, Rory laughing at them as they grew smaller in the distance.


They're are going to kill me, Matt thought. Oh my god, what am I doing?

He glanced at the girl sitting in his passenger seat, where she had been for the first time just days before. Now, with her feet up on the dashboard, nodding along to the music, she looked like she belonged there.

Matt had never really been the type to do crazy things, but now, he wasn’t sure he could stop himself.

His mouth opened against his will. “The last time you were in here, you puked.”

To his surprise, she laughed. “That I did. Hopefully, we can avoid a repeat.” She glanced over at him over the lenses of her sunglasses. “You know, you’re more fun than I originally gave you credit for.”

Matt started to grin.

“You’re still a jerk, though.”


You said you wouldn’t do this, protested the last remaining scrap of rationality in Rory.

But… look at him.

She pulled her lipstick out of her bag and reapplied it, smacking her lips. She couldn’t help but study him through the mirror. If he pulled over, she would have had sex with him right then and there. But she knew he wouldn’t. He just wasn’t the type. For all the times she called him a jerk, he really wasn’t; he was a genuine nice guy, and it was starting to grate on her nerves. Even now, he was smiling, like he knew she was full of shit. Maybe he did.

Come on, she urged silently. Slip up. Give me a reason to stay away from you.

But he didn’t. It wasn’t natural. He doesn’t even know me, she thought. Rory had a long list of stupid things (and people) that she had done in her twenty years, but she wasn’t ready to add “fall in love” as the newest one.

At least, not today.
♠ ♠ ♠
Chapter Tunes:
"Obvious" [Rory] -- "She's Killing Me" [Matt]

In case you didn't notice, this story has now changed to six chapters. This one was just getting too long, so I had to split it. I just can't stop myself! Haha.