If Only Tonight

Unfamiliar Territory: Chapter Twenty Four - If I Had You

Unfamiliar Territory:
Chapter Twenty Four: If I Had You

"Hello Matthew."

Looking up, Matthew saw the elderly man peering at him. He had been finishing the last of his warm ups.

"Hello Felix." He greeted Felix, standing up.

"You've been playing well."

Matthew smiled, Felix was always there to take notice of hard work and compliment those who were deserving.

"Thank you."

Thinking that that was all Felix wanted, Matthew started to walk away, to start running his laps around the field.

"Wait a minute, Matthew."

At once, Matthew came to a stop. He turned to see Felix walk up to him.

"There's something I need to discuss with you." He told Matthew.

Sounds serious, Matthew thought.


"I've already spoken to the rest of the roster about this. It's extremely important that you pay attention."

Matthew felt a little unsettled. The look on Felix's face didn't say much. Racking his head wondering if it was about him, he couldn't find anything he'd be in trouble for that the roster needed to be spoken about. He couldn't help but think this was something to do with...Mia, he thought.

"What's wrong?"


Walking over to her lunch bag and pulling out a bottle of water, Mia sat back at her desk and started typing up the notes she had made so far. I hate this part, Mia thought with disdain.

She had barely gotten through a page when she heard a knock at the door. Turning to see who it was, Mia sighed and looked up at the clock.

"Aren't you early?" She asked.

"Well doc, you know how it is. I'd rather be early than late." Lucas told her.

"Really?" She asked, looking him over with suspicion.

He was the third person who had come early. The other two had not only come early but left a little later, talking to her about the dinner and the upcoming match against Newcastle.

"Are you all trying to skip practice today?" She asked.


"Just wondering."

Something was definitely up, Mia thought as she walked over to the filing cabinet and picked up Lucas' folder. But what was it? Returning her attention to the player at hand, Mia shoved her suspicions to the back of her mind.

"How's the foot?" She asked Lucas as she walked towards him.


"Ready for the dinner?" Oliver asked Matthew. They were standing in the changing rooms pulling on the last of their clothes. They were the only ones in the room.

"Yea, I guess." Matthew replied, absentmindedly. Sitting down on the bench and pulling his shirt over his head, he was still thinking about his talk with Felix. What was he going to do?

"So which well known model are you taking this year?"

Caught off guard, Matthew shook his head turning to face Oliver.


"That's what I would be hearing about from you, this time last year." Oliver told him.

"What are you talking about?" Matthew asked, a little confused. He had a feeling he knew where this was heading, but kept quiet just in case he was wrong.

"Nothing. You've just been very quiet. Usually you force feed me all the details."

Feeling as though he had been put on the spot, Matthew shifted on the bench uncomfortably. Luckily he didn't have to answer.

"Did Felix talk to you?" Oliver changed the subject.

"Yea, he caught me during practice."

"What are we going to do? I mean the season's almost over."

"Keep a close eye, I guess. We hardly have three more months. Our last game is April 13th."

"Do you think he'll show up at the dinner?"

Oliver had been thinking along the same lines as Matthew. It had been one of the many things bothering Matthew since his talk with Felix.

"You never know." Matthew could only fathom.

"Did Felix tell her yet?"

"No...I told him one of us would." Matthew had thought it would be easier for her if they told her. Of course now he was starting to regret it...how would either of them tell her? Which one of them would do it? When would they tell her?

"Do you think Mia's going?"

Again, Matthew could feel himself squirm. Maybe it was better if he told Oliver right now. Resigning himself to the inevitable, Matthew took a deep breath.

"Yea, she's going."

"How do you know?" Oliver asked, curiously.

"It's a long story...but since neither of us were willing to show up alone, I kind of asked her to join me..." Matthew stared at his shoes as he said this.

An awkward silence settled over them. Matthew looked up slowly, curious to see what was going on with Oliver. He saw the older player grin at him.

"Well then...you're going to break the news to her. I'm going to go pick up my wife."


"What am I supposed to wear to these things?" Mia spoke to herself, looking through another rack of clothes.

Having finished with her work, Mia had decided to check out some stores and get a dress for the dinner. It was one of those black-tie events, and there was no way she would get away with wearing any of her dresses that had been worn to work.

Looking through yet another rack of dresses, Mia selected a blue v-cut dress, a black floor length one shoulder dress, and a beige strapless knee length layered dress. Going in to the change rooms she tried and retried each one. It took her a little while to make up her mind, but as she got out of the change room and went to check out, Mia was sure she had made the right selection.

Walking out of the store and into the main hallway of the mall, Mia could feel her stomach grumble. Time for some food, Mia thought.

As she walked around, Mia couldn't help but think over the last two days. Her guys were definitely hiding something from her. The roster was collectively keeping something a secret. She just couldn't figure out what.

Each of the players on her roster had been coming in early for check ups and leaving around the time the next person would be coming in. It was starting to get to her. They gave her, virtually, no time to prepare.

Ordering a chicken sandwich and an iced cappuccino, Mia sat down at a nearby bench. Unwrapping her sandwich and taking a few small bites, she knew she couldn't eat. The anxiety of the next day had already gotten her stomach twisted in to a knot. Wrapping up her sandwich she walked out of the mall and in to her car.

Having yet to tell Stacie about who she was going with to the dinner, Mia couldn't help but wonder how it would turn out. She was more than a little nervous. What if she tripped up on her heels? What if she looked out of place? What if Ariana hated her immediately? What if Matthew changed his mind? Get real, Mia admonished herself. Although Matthew was capable of being a jerk, Mia didn't think he would abandon her with little notice. He had come through for her so many times before when she had least been expecting him too; it was hard to believe he would stand her up now.

Sipping her drink, Mia used her other hand to start the car. All she could do was hope tomorrow would go well.


Checking himself in the mirror, Matthew fixed his tie in to place once more. Even though she was still a little miffed, Lina had dutifully tied it for him.

"I can't let my dear cousin look like an idiot." She had muttered through gritted teeth.

Walking down the stairs and into the living room, Matthew stood before Lina.

"So...how do I look?" He asked her, knowing full well that his question sounded vain.

From her place on the couch, Lina gave him a once over.

"Fine." She muttered, returning her attention to the television.

"Fine good, or fine bad?" Matthew pressed on.

"What does it matter?" Lina asked, with annoyance. "It's not like you're going to impress anyone? Or is it to impress the girl you gave the locket too? The one that I don't know about." She said snidely.

"Shut up." Matthew muttered, sighing deeply. "It's not like you would have known. Had you not gone through my stuff, you'd be oblivious to the fact."

Matthew watched as Lina glared at him.

"It's the truth and you know it." He told her.

"Alright fine. You look like the handsome footballer you are. Happy now?" She said, rather unhappily.

"Yea. Now I can go."

"Hold on!" Lina called as Matthew turned to leave.

"What?" Matthew asked, facing her once more. Lina gave him a sweet smile. She's going to kill me one of these days, Matthew thought.

"When do I get to meet her?"


There was a knock on the door, Mia nearly tripped on her heels rushing out of her old room. Patting down her dress, Mia ran a hand through her hair before opening the door.

"Hey Mia!"

It was Oliver.

"Hey! What are you doing here?" Mia asked in surprise, as she opened the door fully to let Oliver in.

"Ariana really wanted to meet you before the dinner."

It was only then that she noticed there was someone else standing beside him. Dressed in a pale blue floor length gown, with strawberry blonde hair, and blue eyes, Mia felt stupid for not taking notice earlier.

"I'm so sorry. It's nice to meet you." Mia held out a hand towards Oliver's wife.

Instead of shaking it, Ariana pulled Mia in to a friendly hug.

"I've been waiting to meet you! Oliver's told me so much about you." She told Mia, her voice was like velvet. Soft and smooth to listen to, with a light melody.

Mia glared at Oliver from over Ariana's shoulders. What did you tell her? She mouthed to him. Oliver only smiled. Don't worry, you'll get along fine, he mouthed back at her.

As Ariana let go, Mia watched as Oliver sit down on the couch.

"So where's Matt?" He asked Mia. How did he find out? Mia wondered, but quickly she realized that Matthew had probably told him.

"He said he would come around seven." Mia told him. Please hurry up and come! She thought, not wanting to have Oliver interrogate her at the moment...especially in front of his wife.

"Is Nate coming here too?" Mia asked, not giving Oliver a chance. It also seemed more than likely for Nathaniel to present himself at any moment.

"Nope, he was going to head straight to the banquet hall. He said he'd reserve our seats."

"Who is he going with?" Mia asked, out of curiosity.

"No one. He was all smiles about being single and meeting some people at the dinner."

Mia smiled, that sounded just like Nathaniel, care-free and knowing how to take full advantage of the situation he was in. Too bad I'm not like that, Mia thought.

Hearing the lock on the door turn, Mia snapped out of her reverie. Nervously she waited for the door to open. Will he approve of me? Mia thought as her nerves came back full force.


Matthew opened the door, only to find Oliver, Ariana, and Mia looking at him.

"Hello..." Matthew mumbled as he closed the door behind him. Out of the frying pan and right into the fire, he thought darkly as he looked over to Oliver. What is he doing here? He wondered. The older player was sitting watching him, an amused look crossing his face.

"How long have you been waiting for me?" Matthew asked approaching Oliver.

"Not long. We were just about to go." Oliver said getting up. "Ariana couldn't wait to meet Mia."

Oh I bet...you're probably checking up on me, Matthew thought snidely.

"It's nice to see you again, Ariana." Matthew said instead, turning to Ariana. The blonde girl smiled at him before giving him a hug. "You too, Matthew."

"Oh! You're going to have to give me Lina's number. I think I may have lost it in the move." Ariana told him giving him a notepad and pen she pulled out of her purse. Matthew held back a groan.

Lina's partner in crime had arrived...Lina was going to be over joyed. Scribbling the number and handing it back, Matthew couldn't help but wonder how things would be if Mia hung out with the other two...she'd probably get along very well with them. Lina would love her.

Ariana was by nature a very kind person. Put together with Lina, it just brought out a mischievous side in both girls...one that both Oliver and Matthew knew better to avoid. No doubt the same would happen with Mia...Matthew could picture the three of them planning the best way to drive the guys crazy. If only...Matthew stopped himself from thinking.

"We'll see you both later." Oliver said, giving Matthew a pointed don't-screw-this-up look. Matthew glared back at him.

As the door shut, Matthew turned to face the unknowing object of his affection. Just one look, and Matthew knew he was at a loss for words. His knees were feeling as jelly like as they had the first time he had seen her.

Wearing a creamy beige strapless dress, which was layered all the way down to her knees, Mia looked breathtaking. Her pale complexion made her look that much more alluring. Her shoulder length auburn hair had been let out of it's usual ponytail and framed her face delicately. She had put on very light make up, her emerald green eyes accentuated by black eyeliner. Her lips shining with a slight pink lip gloss. Around her neck was a simple locket – Lucy's locket, Matthew thought. It looked like it was meant to be worn by Mia. It glittered in the light.

"You look nice." Matthew said, dumbly, trying to keep himself from staring at her. You're beautiful...I wish you were mine, his mind whispered. If only I had you...Matthew blinked hard, trying to shut his brain from thinking any more. The thought of spilling his feelings to her was starting to sound more and more rational. Got to keep that locked away, he thought.

"So do you." She told him.

He saw her cheeks redden under his gaze. Matthew turned away and headed to the kitchen for a glass of cold water. Only he knew how much he needed it. His palms were sweaty, he could feel his stomach knot.

"So are you ready?" Matthew asked Mia, as he gulped some water down.

"Yea, just let me get my purse and coat."


Getting out of the car, her nerves took hold of her once more. The car ride had been quiet with little conversation.

Matthew had looked handsome in a black shirt and suit. His hair had been spiked, giving a more roguish look. Good thing his tie had already been done, Mia didn't think she could resist him this time.

Take a few steps on the concrete, Mia felt herself wobble. Matthew caught her before she could fall.

"Thanks." Mia said letting go, as Matthew gave her a chance to straighten herself.

"No problem. Just hold on...I know you usually don't walk in those." He said, offering his arm.

Skeptical, but not wanting to make an idiot out of herself by falling, Mia took his arm.

"Don't let me fall." She mumbled quietly, clutching tightly, as they neared the entrance.

"I won't." Mia avoided his gaze.

It wasn't until they were directly in front of the entrance that Mia gasped. There were lights flashing, Mia quickly found the source. Photographers were surrounding the place. Matthew turned to see the frightened look on her face.

"If you're that worried about falling, don't, I'll be with you..." He reassured her.

That's not the only thing I'm worried about...Mia didn't know why she hadn't thought of this being a red carpet event. There were bound to be stars coming to support the event...and here she was clutching the arm of one of the top players in the EPL, holding on for dear life in hopes that she wouldn't fall. This just gets better and better...Mia thought darkly. I should have stayed home!

"Ready?" She heard Mathew ask her.

No! She could hear her mind yell at her.

"Umm...yea. I guess so."

"Don't worry about them..." He tried to assure Mia, understanding her worry. They started to walk once more.

It wasn't long before someone recognized Matthew and yelled to the others. "Look it's Rossi!"

Please kill me! Mia found herself hoping, as the flashes from their cameras blinded her.


"You finally made it!" Nathaniel called out, as Matthew and Mia approached the table. Oliver and Ariana were already settled in their seats.

Pulling out a chair beside Ariana, Matthew waited for Mia to give him her coat and sit down. He seated himself beside Oliver. The shouts from the photographers were still ringing in his ears.

"Rossi! Will you be playing for London FC next season?" "Is it true that Inter Milan and FC Barcelona are competing to buy you?" "Is It true they're offering upwards of 70 million for you?" "Did you cheat on Daria?" "Is this your new girlfriend?"

The mention of his old girlfriend had been a little unexpected since they had broken up long before the season had started. Of course the questions on Inter being interested in him weren't unfounded. Inter hadn't been secret about their desire to buy him.

Instead of muttering the usual "Go to hell!", Matthew had stayed silent and lead Mia away from their prying eyes. Let them think what they want, he had thought, for once disinterested.

Watching as Mia talked to Ariana, he felt someone tap on his shoulder. Turning to Oliver, Matthew saw a knowing look cross the older player's face. Glaring at Oliver, Matthew saw Nathaniel was looking over at them.

"What?" Matthew asked, sounding his irritation.

"Nothing, just thinking how lucky I am. To be married to the love of my life and all..." Matthew turned away, knowing that Oliver was just trying to get a rise out of him.

"Oh and I'm lucky for not having to tell her. Which reminds me...have you told her?" Oliver asked nodding in Mia's direction, his voice turning serious. Matthew shook his head...he had still to tell her, and still he hadn't figured out how to do it.

"Matt, you really need to tell her. I saw him here." Nathaniel said, leaning over to join the conversation.

The entire roster Mia took care of had been briefed by Felix. They had the duty of making sure she was alright. Each of them knew to keep a close eye on her. The only problem was...Mia had no idea.

"I'll tell her...soon." Matthew told the other two. I'll tell her later...right now she's mine...his thoughts were giving him hell. He gulped some wine from his glass trying to dull them. Please shut up! He shouted at the voices in his head.

"So how was it getting in?" He asked, changing the subject.

"Fine...only they asked me if you were planning a move to Inter or Barcelona...are you?" Nathaniel asked, looking a little worried but impressed.

Truth be told, Matthew had been thinking about it...FC Barcelona was a prestigious club with some great players like Lionel Messi...the only thing was that Felix and his agent had convinced him it would be best to stay on for another season or two. Of course there was one other reason Matthew was compelled to stay for...Mia.

"Not that I know of..." Matthew brushed off the question.

He was saved from further questioning when Lucas came over to talk to Nathaniel and Oliver. Instead Matthew contented himself with listening in on Mia's conversation with Ariana. They were both laughing...and Matthew knew exactly why. Ariana was retelling the time she had come to watch Oliver practice. Oliver had wanted to look good in front of her. When Matthew had passed the ball, Oliver tried to kick it into the goal. The only problem was that Oliver missed kicking the ball as he ran and instead tripped.

"I can't imagine Oliver showing off!" Mia said in between fits of giggles. "He's always so proper."

It was true, anyone who knew Oliver wouldn't expect him to show off...but that was the first time Ariana had come to watch. Matthew had some sympathy for his best friend. Of course that wasn't enough to save Oliver from his teasing.

"Want to know what their laughing about?" Matthew said to Oliver, mischievously.


Oliver groaned as Matthew recounted the tale.

It wasn't long before dinner arrived.

"Enjoying yourself?" Matthew asked Mia, having caught her eye at long last. They hadn't really spoken since the car ride...if that could count as them talking. At least now he didn't have to worry about one particular friend over hearing him. Oliver had switched seats with Nathaniel to sit next to his wife.

"Yea! Ariana's a lot of fun to talk to. She has some pretty interesting stories about you guys." Mia said, laughing at the pained expression that crossed his face.

Being the only one who wasn't drinking anything, Matthew watched Mia get up after taking a few bites of her chicken parmigiana.

"Do you guys want anything?" She asked.

"No we're good." Nathaniel told her.

As Mia walked over to the bar, Matthew returned his attention to the food on his plate. Tell her! His mind had been screaming at him. Soon! He had shouted back.

All of a sudden Matthew felt Nathaniel's elbow jabbing in to him. Looking up, Matthew saw Nathaniel point to the bar.

"Who's that talking to Mia?" He asked.

Oliver and Ariana joined Matthew as they all turned to see who Mia was talking to.


Having known that she wouldn't get much of a chance to talk to Matthew, Mia was happily surprised that Ariana was so friendly. Ariana had made sure to tell Mia some funny stories about the boys she was charged to take care of.

"You think that's funny! Wait until you hear some of Lina's stories. They are killer!" Ariana had told her, having told her some of the things Matthew and Oliver had gotten up to. "You'll love Lina! She's such a free-spirit!" Ariana had commented.

Leaning against the counter of the bar, Mia waited for the waitress to come back with her Coke.

Although she was a little hesitant about ever meeting Matthew's cousins, having heard some stories...Mia was hungry for more. She was also a little curious about what his family was like. They didn't sound as cold as he had been when they had first met. Of course...I could be wrong, Mia thought evenly.

Where is she? Mia thought, her heels were killing her. She wasn't sure if she would be able to walk back to her table, if the waitress took any longer. Soon, a guy with slightly long brown hair joined her.

He looked over at her. His brown eyes giving her a once over...as if to check that she really belonged with the crowd of football players, their wives, and other important people. He smiled, as thought he was convinced she was one of them.

"I haven't seen you around here before." He said to her, leaning close to her. There was a slight panic that struck Mia. What could she say that wouldn't give away that this was her first time?

"Do you know everyone?" She asked.

The guy laughed at this.

"You've caught me red handed...no I don't know everyone personally...but I know of them." He told her.

"That's Matthew Rossi and his team mates from London FC; Oliver Fields and Nathaniel Madonia, over there." He pointed out her table.

"Those guys over there are from Arsenal. That over there is the journalist table. That is Fernando Torres with his Liverpool teammates." He said pointing to each table. Mia was a little impressed.

"Wow...you must come to a lot of these dinners." She commented.

"As many as I can...Sorry – I'm Ryan Faber. You are?" He asked, holding out his hand.

"Mia. Mia Brooklyn." She replied, shaking his hand.

"Nice to meet you. I'm surprised we've never crossed paths before."

"I'm not one to go out much." She told him, the truth slipping out.

"I probably wouldn't go out much either, but my teammates love to drag me along."

Mia did a double take.

"You're a player?" She asked, getting nervous all over again.

"Well yea...I used to play for London FC. I transferred to West Ham two years ago." He smiled.

Awkward! Mia thought...he probably knew Matthew and the rest of the guys really well.

"Hope that doesn't put you off." Ryan said, noting her silence.

"No...well...never mind." Mia mumbled.

"So what do you do?" He asked, swiftly changing the subject.

"I'm a sports doctor." She muttered quietly. Please don't ask where I work! She pleaded silently.

"Oh really? Do you work for any of the Premier League teams?" He asked.

At that moment Matthew chose to make his appearance, coming to stand beside her. Mia couldn't believe her rotten luck...now what was she going to say?

"Ryan, I thought that was you. How are you?" Matthew said, his voice sounding a little clipped...or maybe Mia was imagining it. He reached over to shake hands with his former teammate. Narrowly avoiding meeting Matthew's eyes, Mia turned to wait for her drink. Could this get any worse?

"Good. How are you, Rossi?" Ryan replied.

"I'm fine. I see you've met Mia." Mia bit the inside of her cheek. Why did he have to come right now? She was getting along fine until the question of her workplace came up...and here was Matthew completely blowing her cover. She took a quick peak at Ryan.

He curiously looked at Matthew before looking at her.

"Yea...she works with Felix?" The disbelief in his voice was unnerving.

It was then that the waitress came back to give Mia her drink. Taking it quickly, Mia turned to Ryan.

"Well it was nice meeting you." She said, about to walk off in the direction of her table.

"Wait! Before you go...can I have your number? Maybe we can meet up or something?" Ryan asked, suddenly. Huh? Mia thought a little dumbly.


Having watched Mia talk to some guy at the bar long enough. Matthew had gotten up from his seat to make sure she was alright. She would never know the difference between reporters and other guests. It was best to make sure she was okay.

After seeing Ryan standing there and talking to her, Matthew couldn't help but feel a pang of jealousy.

He was buddies with...Matthew hated to think of the name. It was known that the two still hung out.

Ryan had been on the team a few years back. In fact, when he had transferred to West Ham, Nathaniel had joined the team. Although Matthew didn't know the guy well, at the moment Matthew wanted nothing more than him dead.

He had just asked Mia for her number...and to top it off Mia had given it to him.

They were finally walking back to the table when Matthew saw him. Turning abruptly to face Mia, he knew he had to get her away from here. It was time he told her.

"Mia, I need to talk to you." He told her urgently, motioning to the hallway. She gave him an appraising look before following him. Matthew lead Mia to a spot behind the staircase.

Next to the huge windows, draped with silky elegant curtains, it would have been a romantic spot, if he had any plans to tell her how he felt.

"Is this about Ryan?" Mia asked, sounding rather unsurprised, as though she suspected him to have an issue with Ryan immediately and though he did, Matthew knew better than to say it just now.

"No...I've been meaning to talk to you about this. All of us have." He shook his head. Ryan would have to wait for later...

"What are you talking about?"

"Felix talked to the players on your roster-" Matthew started when Mia interrupted him.

"About what? What did he say?"

At that moment a sharp whistle sounded. Matthew watched as Mia's face paled from its familiar sound. Her hand, holding the glass of Coke she had gotten only a moment earlier, started to shake. Matthew took it from her and set it down, and held her hand in his.

"Mia...Jason's back from suspension."