If Only Tonight

Unfamiliar Territory: Chapter Twenty Two - The Club Is Alive

Unfamiliar Territory
Chapter Twenty Two: The Club Is Alive

Concentrating on the research paper she was reading, Mia was annoyed when she heard the knock on the door. Sighing deeply, she spoke without turning to see who it was.

"Lucas! It doesn't matter how many times you knock on my door, call, email, or text me! You still can't play on Friday!"

"Somebody's desperate, but that's not why I'm here!"

Swiftly turning to see who it was, she broke in to a smile.

"You're back!"

Getting up from her chair, Mia headed for the door. Oliver stood in the doorway, smiling at her. He looked weary. She gave him a hug.

"Yes I am. I'm glad to see you're still here." He joked, as she let him go.

"You thought I would leave?" She asked him, feigning how appalled she was at the thought.

"Well, after that speech and the fact I left you with the equivalent of Godzilla in the football world. It was a pretty good guess."

They both laughed.

"I survived. He wasn't that bad. We went to the cinema and stayed up late watching more movies." She told him.

"Sounds like you had fun without me. That's good."

They stood in silence. Mia decided to ask the inevitable.

"How's Ariana? I'm really sorry about her mother."

"She's doing alright."

"Did she come back with you?"

"Nope. She's coming in two weeks. We had to change our plans since her sister is taking it really hard. Ariana's busy helping her out." He told her, walking over to her chair and sitting down.

"How are you?" Mia asked, noticing his eyes had dark circles around them.

"I'm fine." Mia frowned. "Don't look so worried, I'm alright. So how was your Christmas?" Oliver asked her, changing the subject. She saw his eyes note the locket around her neck.

"It was good. I loved the bear and the watch, by the way." She told him. "The bear sits on your bed to keep me company."

Oliver laughed upon hearing this.

"How about you?" Mia asked, immediately regretting it. I must sound so insensitive! She silently yelled at herself.

"It was as good as it could have been, under the circumstances." Oliver told her, giving her a smile. He knew she hadn't meant to ask him.

"Sorry." Mia muttered, staring at the ground feeling stupid.

"It's okay." He assured her. "So what have you been up to?"

"I'm done writing all my notes for today on the computer. Lucas is driving me crazy! He's broken his foot. Every day, it's the same question! Can I play yet? Can I play yet? Can I play yet?" Mia vented. "He's worse than Kalan, who broke his arm."

"Sounds like fun." Oliver chuckled, giving her a grin. "Is he really calling, texting, and knocking?"

"You have no idea." Mia muttered, foully. Lucas' persistence had been grating on her nerves. "He's a real nice guy...I don't have any problems with him...he's just too..."

"Persistent?" Oliver finished.


As Mia shuffled around her office trying to clear things away while talking to Oliver, she heard another knock on the door. This time, Mia turned to see who it was before saying anything. Matthew was standing in the doorway.

"Hey." He said, nodding towards her.

"Hello." Mia replied.

"The guys were looking for you after practice, Oliver." He said, walking in.

"I just came to see how Mia was." Oliver told him.

Matthew looked offended.

"You didn't think I'd behave while you were gone?"


Mia took one look at the false angry look on Matthew's face and a laugh nearly escaped her. Matthew looked over at her and then back to Oliver, his face relaxed in to a smile.

"Well I did. We called a truce."

"I heard." Oliver chuckled.

"Anyway, I just came to tell you the guys are going out to Mahiki. They want you to come." He told Oliver, before looking over at Mia. "You're invited as well. Some of the ladies on the staff are coming."

Mia looked up at him in disbelief. He was inviting her to a club in front of Oliver. This was too good to be true!

"I don't know..." Mia hesitated.

"Do you have any work left?" Oliver asked.

"Nope, I was just reading some papers when you came."

"Well then, come on. You can meet some of the others that work here." Oliver told her.

He did have a point. Mia had yet to make any friends with the ladies.

"Okay, sure." Mia agreed, becoming slightly nervous.

"Just one thing." Matthew said, looking at her.

"What?" She asked.

"You're coming with us."

It wasn't long before Mia realized what Matthew had meant by that comment. She was not going in her own car.

"What do you have against American cars?" Mia asked Matthew, annoyed at his insistence.

"They're not Italian." His response made her want to shove him.

Getting the back seat to herself in Matthew's car, Mia was glad she had been allowed some time to change and freshen up, she had looked a little scrappy in jeans and a sweater dress compared to the guys in their dress pants and collared shirts. Mia had put on a black knee length trench coat over a deep green frock. The v-neck and slit sleeves had always made her love the dress. As they arrived, Mia felt her stomach churn. She wanted to make a good impression on the ladies.

Walking in to the bar, Mia saw faces she recognized. All of her roster was present. Even Lucas and his broken foot had managed to make it to Mahiki. He grinned at her, Mia couldn't help but smile back; as annoying as he could be; Lucas was a still good guy. Nathaniel was busy talking to some of the other guys when they arrived. A few girls were gathered in a corner, glancing at the players and then talking all the while nodding at them.

Oliver maneuvered them to an empty table, where they sat down and took off their jackets. Matthew sat next to her. Music was playing around them but Mia couldn't name the song.

Matthew leaned over the table and looked seriously at the two of them, as though he was about to let them in on a big secret.

"Remember, your job is to make sure I don't do anything that even in your drunken state you know is stupid." As he said this, he gave Oliver a pointed look, to which Oliver somberly nodded in agreement.

"But I don't drink." Mia told him.

"That should make your job easier, then." Matthew retorted, and with that he got up and headed over to the bar.

"He doesn't drink that much...does he?"

Oliver shook his head.

"Not usually."

"What do you mean 'Not usually'?" Mia asked in alarm. All she got in reply was Oliver's laughter.

"So who's driving us back?"

"Me, or you can if you like his car."

"You're on your own, Oliver." At this Oliver grinned.

Mia looked around and saw the group of women talking and laughing.

"Who are they?" Mia asked nodding towards the gaggle of girls. Oliver glanced to where she was looking.

"They are the women on the staff."

"Oh. What do they do?"

"Some of them are nurses, lab technicians, secretaries, and some work in accounts. I think I might have missed a few."

"We have lab technicians?" Mia asked.

"Yea. Felix used to get frustrated when the labs we used to send tests to came back late. The basement has all the equipment to do the tests and stuff."

"That's interesting."

Hearing her name being called Mia looked up again, only to find one of the girls catch her eye and then turn to the others and talk quickly. She found the source who had called her. Nathaniel had a wide smile, he was standing next to Matthew, and was waving at her. Mia waved back, before taking her question to the football player across from her.

"What's with them?" She asked Oliver, perturbed by their behavior. He looked at them and understanding crossed his face.

"Their probably wondering who you are, and why you're here with Matthew and me. And why Nathaniel greeted you." Oliver said, as he got up. "I'll be right back."

"Oh. Okay." Mia said, slightly downcast. What Oliver had told her definitely didn't sound like a good start.

"You should go and introduce yourself." Oliver suggested, handing her a tall glass of bubbling dark brown liquid, he drank from an identical one. Mia eyed the drink. "Don't worry it's just Coke, no alcohol. We'll eat in a while."

Mia sighed.


Watching as Mia approached the wolf pack, as Matthew referred to them, he couldn't help but feel a little apprehensive of letting her mingle with them.

The girl in the blood red dress, Kristina, had a habit of chewing out the new comers. Matthew had seen a few cry when he and the rest of the team had gone out. He wasn't sure he wanted Mia to be shred to pieces, he had already caused her enough grief.

Sipping from his frosted tumbler, Matthew watched as one of the girls eyed Mia. It was Amanda. He couldn't stop himself from glaring. Amanda and a few others had stalked him a few times each season. Hopefully tonight they wouldn't bother with him.

"What are you looking at?"

Turning to see Nathaniel's curious face, Matthew inwardly sighed.

"The wolf pack, and their latest victim."

He watched as Nathaniel took a closer look before turning back to him.

"Mia's talking to them?" Disbelief written all over Nathaniel's face.

"That's what it looks like." He answered, leaning against the wall.

"You know Amanda and Tasha are looking over at you?"

Matthew scowled upon hearing this.

"Don't they ever give up?" He asked, exasperated and annoyed.

"I don't think so. Just be glad they haven't walked over here."

Taking another long gulp of his drink, Matthew knew Nathaniel was right. He took a quick peek at Mia; she was standing and listening to something that Kristina was saying. Her face was blank as another girl talked. In a split second, Matthew watched as Mia walked away her face taking on an angry expression. What just happened? Matthew found himself wondering, as he watched her sit on a stool next to the bar.

Looking around for Oliver, Matthew couldn't see the older boy. Where is he when she needs him? Usually Oliver had these situations covered. Still, he couldn't see where the blond boy had gotten too. Sighing, Matthew knew it was up to him.

"I'll be right back." Matthew told Nathaniel, as he headed through the crowds towards Mia. "Find Oliver, and see if he wants to eat."

Pulling up a stool beside her, Matthew set his drink on to the counter. She was sitting hunched over her drink. Coke? She wasn't joking about not drinking, Matthew thought.

"Are you sure you don't want something stronger?" He asked, trying to get her attention. It worked; she immediately looked up at him. She shook her head. Suit yourself, Matthew thought.

"That didn't go so well, huh?" Matthew asked, she looked upset, her emerald eyes showed hurt.

"No. They didn't even give me a chance." She told him, twirling a straw in her drink, playing with the ice cubes.

"What happened?"

Mia gave him the why-do-you-care look he was so used to. Matthew returned his attention to his drink. Finishing it off, Matthew set his tumbler down with a flourish, and turned to her. He had had his fill.

"Come on, I'm all ears." He told her. When she didn't say anything, Matthew bent his head a little closer to hers.

"Besides, I know your darkest secret. This is nothing." He whispered loud enough for her to be the only one to hear over the music. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the wolves look towards them, and then start discussing something heatedly. Let them talk, he thought, not caring what they said.

Sure enough, Mia gave him a wry smile.

"Lucky me." She said, as she turned to him. "They just don't want me around. It's okay."

"What did they say?" He asked, slightly curious after seeing the girls shoot Mia a furious look.

"Nothing. They just asked how I knew you and Oliver. I told them that both of you were on my roster. They kind of gave me the cold shoulder after that."

They had said more than nothing, Matthew was sure of this. The anger written on Mia's face as she had walked away had given that much away.

"Nothing. Are you sure?" He pressed.

"Yes, I'm sure." She told him, looking away and sipping her Coke. Matthew stared at her until her cheeks started to burn with colour.

"No...they just said some really stupid things." She finally admitted. He had known it would be along those lines.

"What did they say?" He asked, trying to keep his voice level. He knew those girls had a habit of being vicious. He could feel his blood boil.

"It was nothing." Mia insisted.

"Mia! Just say it." He told her, she flinched at his tone. "Sorry, but just tell me."

"They started to bring up Jason. They think we went out! They said I was a tease for leading him on!" Those emerald green depths were beginning to get watery. "They think I-I-you...their just, never mind." Mia stopped. Matthew had a pretty good idea what they had said about the two of them.

"Mia, don't listen to their shit. You're not one of them, you're one of us." He surprised himself and her by saying this.

"How much have you had to drink?" Mia asked him, eying him suspiciously.

"Not nearly enough." He retorted, before continuing. "They're just jealous."

Sitting there across from her, Matthew wanted to lean in and kiss her. Somehow as the thought crossed his mind, he saw Oliver and Nathaniel wave at him. Shaking it off, Matthew took a deep breath. There was definitely something about Mia that he needed to keep away from.

"Oliver's over there with our stuff. I think we're going out for dinner. Go over to him, I'll come in a minute." He told Mia, getting off the stool. He pointed to where the other two were standing.

"Okay..." She said glumly, sliding off the stool and heading in Oliver's direction.

Instead of following her, Matthew slowly walked over to the girls. What was he doing? Matthew wondered, shaking his head. If it had been anyone else, he would have let them fight their own battle. I'm out of my mind to be doing this, Matthew thought.

The group zeroed in on him as he reached them. The girls looking at him, curiosity in their eyes and their lips in a sly smile.

"Ladies." He said standing in front of them.

"Matthew." They simpered collectively. Matthew groaned silently, they really were a piece of work. Matthew caught Amanda giving him the once over, a smile of approval playing on her lips. Hiding his disgust at being thought of as a piece of meat, Matthew collected his thoughts before speaking.

"I see you all have met Mia." He said.

"The so-called doctor? Yea, we've met her." It was Kristina who spoke up. "Not impressed, if that's what you're wondering."

"What do you mean?" Matthew asked, hiding his confusion.

"Let's face it Matthew, your standards have slipped if you're taking Jason's left overs." Tasha told him.

"You could do so much better." Amanda chimed in.

Matthew couldn't stop himself from glaring at the nerve of them.

"What exactly has Jason told you?" He asked.

"Nothing. Drake said that Jason and the girl hooked up. And if you're going out with her, I feel sorry for you." Kristina told him in a condescending tone.

Leave it to Drake to embellish some of Jason's less finer moments, he thought with annoyance. When Matthew had heard Drake's version of what had happened between him and Jason a few years back, Matthew had laughed at how much the truth had been stretched. At the moment, laughing was the last thing on Matthew's mind.

"Firstly, her name is Mia and she is a doctor. Secondly, Jason never hooked up with her. Lastly, we're not going out." He told them. "We're friends." He said, wiping the smiles that had started to appear on a few of their faces.

"Friends? Matthew Rossi is friends with the help?" Tasha asked scornfully.

That did it. Matthew saw red as he heard her say this. Mia wasn't 'the help'. Mia was the reason Matthew was able to play football. She made sure he was taken care of. She had gotten him through the red card, without him punching holes in walls.

"Mia isn't 'the help'." He said through gritted teeth. "If anything she's one of us. She's a part of the team, you're not." They looked flabbergasted at his remark.

As he started to leave, Matthew remembered the other reason he had gone up to them in the first place.

"A few words of advice. Stay. Away. From. Her." He said over his shoulder, emphasizing each one. Or you'll be sorry, he added silently before walking away.