If Only Tonight

Life After The Storm: Chapter Seventy Two - When It Was Good

Life After The Storm:
Chapter Seventy Two: When It Was Good

Feeling much better, Matthew woke up to hear the sound of birds chirping through his open window. His leg, although stiff, didn't hurt as much as it had over the last few days...before Mia's aid.

Getting dressed in a black shirt and jeans, he went down to the kitchen, the aroma of food wafting in the hall. He peered in to the kitchen, only to find her at the stove, her back turned to him. She was dressed in shorts and a brown t-shirt, her auburn hair tied in to a loose ponytail. Watching her quietly, he couldn't stop the smile from growing on his lips.

Up until a few weeks ago, his heart had been berating him for letting her walk out of his life. He had spent so much time hoping to see her or hear her, that finally being in her presence seemed so unreal. He could still feel her touch, for once her hands warm as she gently applied the balm, he had wanted to pull her in to his arms. Somehow he had mustered up the strength to refrain from doing so.

Walking in to the kitchen at last, Mia turned to see him, a smile on her face.

"Good morning! How's the leg?" She asked, cheerfully.

"It's feeling a lot better, thanks." He smiled, as she handed him a plate with scrambled egg and toast.

"I thought you would try to escape from painting." Mia teased him.

"No way. We made a deal. I paint, you show me the city."

After eating breakfast, they headed down stairs. He saw that Mia had already opened two cans of paint, a tray held a mix of the two colours. She was going to paint the main room a pale green. How early did she wake up? He wondered, glancing at his watch. It was only 9:30 in the morning.

Handing him a long paint roller, she went to the smaller room to bring out a small step ladder.

At first he could feel that she was nervous being around him. Hesitating to come near him, she would wait for him to move before starting a border along the edges of the wall. He would notice the short glances she would steal when she thought he wasn't looking. Each time he caught her eyes, she would turn away, her cheeks starting to pink.

The silence between them was becoming unbearable.

"Why repaint the place?" Matthew asked, finally, having racked his brain for a topic to converse on.

"I wanted a fresh start. Besides, it'll liven up the place." Mia answered, looking over at him before returning to her work.

"So how did Felix manage to let his best doctor take a break?" He asked, trying to sound casual.

"You'll have to ask him that. We weren't touring over the summer so I asked if I could go home. He said yes, as long as I come back before September 5th."

"Really? You took a whole month off?" he asked, surprised. She never took days off unless she had things with her family.

"Two seasons of not missing very much work, Matt...I'm allowed." She told him, wryly. "Anyway, Calvin and Kyle will be able to handle the guys."

As he continued to roll the paint on to the wall, spreading it evenly, he saw her walk towards the other room.

"Ditching me already?" He sent her a questioning look.

"Nope. Just getting the borders over with...I hate having to do them." She smiled before closing the door.

How am I going to get you back? He wondered, feeling the emptiness in the room without her.


Settling in to a routine, Mia found it easier to deal with him as time passed by. Feeling more and more comfortable around him, it scared her how deep her feelings were. The tension between them was visible. Neither of them would talk about what had happened, avoiding the subject, they would change topic if one of them got too close. Having pushed it far from her mind, it made being around him bearable. Each morning when she saw him come in to the kitchen, her heart would jump with joy in spite of herself, glad that he hadn't left during the night.

During the mornings she would paint the main room alongside Matthew. They would eat lunch on the deck, before returning to the basement to work.

For the first two nights he stayed, Mia didn't bother with taking him out on the town. She was worried that he would make his leg injuries worse. So, instead, they sat on the lawn chairs on the deck, watching the sunset. Not saying much between them.

Most of the time, he would ask her questions. Why was she painting the rooms pale green? Why was she going to wallpaper the bathroom? Did she know how to wall paper? Simple questions. He didn't bother to delve any further.

On the third day of their stay at the cottage, Mia finally decided to get out and show him the city. The afternoon sun shining above them, it was the best time to head to the city, so he could see it as it turned dark.

"So where are we heading?" He asked as they walked to the car. His limp had diminished, but still she watched his face for pain.

"Downtown Toronto." She answered, opening the door to the driver's side.

Seeing him hesitate, Mia looked at him in annoyance.


"Do we have to go in this?" He whined, making her laugh.

"Your choice, Matt. This or the truck. Take your pick."

"Urgh...they're both hideous..." He said, sounding disgruntled as he opened the door to sit.

Starting the engine, she saw Matthew glare at the dashboard.

"You know it's just a car...right?"

"Yea...an ugly car..."

"Aww...don't say that, you hurt its feelings!" She patted the dashboard, as if to console the car.

"It's just a car, Mia." He told her, snidely.

Before she could turn out of the drive way, a shrill ringing sounded from her pocket. She took out her cell phone, but it wasn't it. Sighing, Mia pulled out the other phone and touched it to turn off.

"Here." She said, giving the device to a puzzled Matthew. "Just hold on to it."

"You have two phones?"

"Yea...I didn't want my Dad to be calling long distance while I was right here...besides it looked pretty."

"LG Optimus 2X...I bet you were crying over all the books you could have bought instead." He snickered.

"No...I got it off my Dad. He didn't like it so I swiped it." She grinned.

Driving on to the road, Mia glanced at him. He was staring at the phone.

"Any particular reason you're avoiding someone named Elena?" Matthew asked her with a smirk.

"It's my cousin. She's calling to ask me to go to a party at some club, when I already told her no." She answered him, a little irritated.

"How come?"

"She wants me to meet some guys. She thinks I'm always alone."

"You could always bring me along." He grinned. "Prove her wrong."

"I bet you'd love that." She retorted.

"It would get your cousin off your back, and you could take me to the party." Matthew said, innocently.

"Uh huh...she'd ask you a million questions."

"Never mind...so do you always avoid your cousins?" He changed the subject; she knew he hated being interrogated just as much as she did.

"No...just when I know their trying to fix me up."

"Are you guys close?"

Looking at him, she saw he was genuinely interested.

"I suppose...just not like the way you, Lina, and Leon are close. We grew up in different cities and I was always really close to Max, and I guess we're all a little bit more independent." Mia told him, remembering how she had found out about Juliana's wedding. "You're really lucky though. I don't think I know anyone who has cousins that would move with them."

He nodded slowly.

They were quiet, for a little while. She decided to ask him some of her own questions.

"So how did you find out where I was?" Mia asked, knowing the answer. There was only one possibility.

"You're not going to like my answer." Matthew laughed nervously.

"Oh, I already know your answer."

"You do?" He looked at her in surprise.

"Yea. It was Oliver."

"He told you, didn't he?" Matthew gave her an expectant look.

"No...but he was the only person I gave the address to. He's supposed to forward my mail." She said, shaking her head. She had thought Oliver would be the least likely to pass on the information, having known that Stacie and Lina would try to set them up, while Leon and Nathaniel were too easy to convince. Oh well, she thought. A part of her was thrilled that he was here.

"Do you mind if I go through this? Play some games?" He asked, motioning to the phone.

"Nope. Go ahead." Mia answered. Not like there's anything important on that phone, she thought.

When they had finally reached the city the sun was starting to turn orange, getting ready to set. Mia parked her car in one of the last remaining spots of a parking lot. Getting out, she paid for a ticket and placed it on her dashboard.

"You have to pay to park here?" Matthew asked, incredulously.


"So where are we going?"

"You'll see. Just let me know when you're tired." She grinned.

"Funny, Brooklyn...it seems you found a sense of humour after all." Matthew joked, pushing her away lightly.

"Well, one of us has to have one, remember?" Mia laughed, as he shook his head.

Dressed in capris and a frock, Mia put on her floppy black sun hat along with the aviator shades he had given her. She had completely forgotten she had them when she came home. She watched Matthew as he put on his own baseball cap, and sunglasses; his t-shirt showed off his muscles, while his jeans hid his bandaged leg. With the heat of the city enveloping them, Mia handed him a water bottle as they started to make their way down the street.

"You're going to need it." She told him, wisely.

As they walked down Gould Street Mia pointed out the buildings.

"This is Ryerson University."

"All of that?" Matthew asked, curiously.

"There's more. It's a little bit spread out."

"Did you go here?"

"No...I went to the University of Toronto. It's close by...sort of. I had friends who went here."

She led the way as they walked down towards Younge and Dundas square. The fountains were running, little kids could be seen running through the shoots of water.

"This place always looks pretty in the winter. They put up Christmas trees and other decorations." She told him, as they looked up at the big screen TV's looming over them.

"That's the Eaton center. It also houses Ryerson's school of business." She mentioned, as they stepped in to the building away from the searing heat.

"This is big...but somehow Westfield is way bigger."

"No kidding, Einstein." She shook her head with disdain.

They walked around, peering in to the shops. Every time his shoulder brushed against hers, she would feel the rush of electricity. Mia wanted badly to hold his hand, especially when she saw some girls looking at him, slow smiles playing on their lips trying to entice him. Though Matthew would coldly look away, she glared at them, as they took the hint and walked away. That's right keep walking, the childish part of her thought, he's taken! She shook the thoughts out of her head. This felt so complicated.

Leaving the Eaton Center, as the sun had begun to set, Mia and Matthew walked down the crowded streets. She was taking him to the CN Tower. Though it had been a while since she had been in the city, she was able to navigate through it as though she had never left.

"So this is the CN Tower." She said, motioning upwards at the gargantuan structure. "And that's the Roger's center. It used to be called the Sky Dome when I was little. Our sports teams play there and at the Air Canada Center...except for TFC, they have their own field, which you already know about."

"Do we get to go up?" Matthew asked, interested in seeing more.

"Maybe some other time?" She said, uneasily.

"Scared of heights?"

"Yes..." She admitted, feeling rather foolish.

"Come on!" He took her by the hand, dragging her behind him.

A mixture of emotions crashed over her, but she allowed herself to forget. Just for now, she told herself.

Getting in to the elevator, Matthew laughed as he saw the look on her face. She knew she looked petrified. The glass panelled floor showed how high they were. She clenched his hand in hers, as she closed her eyes tightly.

"It's not that bad." He told her. "It looks beautiful."

"I don't care...it's freakish. What if the floor breaks?" She argued, her stomach tied in knots.

By the time they had come back from seeing the CN tower, darkness had started to pervade the last remaining light in the sky. The CN Tower had lit up, bright colours flashing up and down.

"Come on, one last place before we head back to the car." She told him, pulling him along, having not let go of his hand yet.

A little while longer, Mia thought, despite the logical part of her protesting against it.

By the time they reached her destination, the place had been lit up, the fountains of water bubbling, as they poured water in to a large rectangle.

"This is Nathan Phillip Square." Mia announced, as they walked up to the edge of the water. "In the winter, they freeze this so that people can skate."

"It looks amazing." Matthew told her, his blue eyes sparkling in the light.

Drawn to him, she could feel herself leaning in; before she could go any further, her mind clicked. Don't even think about it, Mia! Her brain shouted at her. Thinking quickly to cover up her weakness, Mia lightly smacked him on the cheek.

"Mosquito." She told him, smiling to hide her momentary lapse in judgement. He shot her a look of incredulity; she knew he didn't believe her.

Walking around the pool of water, with his hand laced with hers, Mia battled with her emotions. As much as she wanted to let go of everything and just embrace the moment, deep down she knew she couldn't. He was here with her, and for now, that was enough.

"How's the leg?" She asked, remembering his injury.

"Not bad." Matthew smiled at her.

"Are you up for some ice cream?"


Leisurely strolling, hand in hand, she led him back down the streets towards the Eaton Center. She took him to the Dairy Queen she knew was located on the lower level. Buying them both Blizzards one full of Oreo and the other Kit-Kat, she handed the Oreo one to him. Watching him take a spoon full, she saw the curious look on his face.

"This tastes funny." He told her, having swallowed the ice cream.

"I know...I feel the exact same way in England. They have really dry ice cream there." She laughed, as he stole a spoon of hers.

Walking back to the car, as they ate their ice cream, Mia looked at him. His face lit by the street lights, making her heart pang again. Matthew caught her gaze, but this time she didn't look away.

"That was a lot of fun." He told her. "Where are we going next time?"


"Where are we going again?" Matthew asked, once more.

"Wonderland." Mia answered. "You're sure you can handle the walk? I don't want you to kill your leg."

"I'll be fine." He assured her, touched that she cared so much about his wellbeing.

Having decided not to paint today, Mia had announced that they would be going to an amusement park in the morning.

It had been a couple of days since their trip to the city, and Matthew couldn't seem to get close to her again. She would stay far from his reach; he knew she remembered why they had parted in the first place. If he could have changed anything, it would have been that. He wished he had never done any of it...never left her, never kissed those girls...never been so stupid.

Pushing the thoughts out of his head, he saw her pull on a baseball cap, her ponytail coming out of the hole through the back. Her black shorts showed her long slim legs, while she wore a baggy blue t-shirt on top.

"You put on sunscreen right?" Mia asked, her green eyes glowing under the cap.

"Yes, Doctor." He replied snidely, to which she gave him a look of disdain.

Grabbing her bag, he headed out before her, as she locked up the house.

"Matt, we're taking the truck." She called from behind him.

"Why?" He complained, not liking either of the vehicles in front of him.

"Because, no one else uses it. Besides, it'll give my car a break from you." Mia snickered.

"I swear you're trying to kill me..." He muttered, climbing in to the passenger seat, as she laughed.

Over the drive, Matthew held on to her phone once again. He noticed that her cousin had texted her a few more times; each time asking if Mia would go clubbing with her, and Mia had responded to each text with a no. He smiled; at least he still had a shot.

He remembered their night at Nathan Phillip Square. She had leaned in, as though she was about to kiss him. But something had stopped her. Instead she baffled him, when she smacked his cheek. There is no way that there was a mosquito, he thought, I didn't even hear one near me.

Going through the music on her phone there were a few names he recognized. Simple Plan, Cheryl Cole, Girls Aloud, JLS, Frankmusik and Westlife were on her playlist. Noticing a name he had never seen before, he scrolled through songs by the artist.

Pulling out her earphones from the bag, he plugged them in to the phone and started to listen.

~It seems like everythin' is happened again. It's the same old story. People keep on getting in my way. I'm tryin' to do this for me. Cause I had a chance in everything. Puttin' all this on me. It's breaking every little piece of me, And I don't ever want you to leave.~

Instantly, he recognized the song as the one he had heard Mia sing in the bar. Looking at the who the artist, he saw that it was by Neverest. Curious, he looked through their other songs.

"What are you listening to?" He heard her ask.

"I have no idea." He told her. Matthew was pretty sure she didn't know he was there that night, and there was no way he was about to tell her just yet.

Playing another song by the band, he watched the scenery change as they entered the city.

~What am I thinking, if I'm not thinking about you? Nothing. What am I feeling, if my heart doesn't feel the truth? Nothing. This is a love, that I've never known, and it's got a strangle hold on me. This is a love, that makes me believe. I just wanna remind you, lady!~

It was like they knew how he felt, only they had put it into words for him, Matthew thought ruefully. He felt the burning against his neck. Having put her ring on to a thick silver chain, he had been wearing it since the night he came to her, hoping to find a moment to give it back to her. Looking at her, he hoped that time would come soon.

~We can't go on like this, Girl you're killing me. It's going on a week without your love. I know we made mistakes, we played the game. It would be such a shame For us to part. Let's take it serious. Let's make an effort 'cause We're losing it, we gotta keep it strong. And I know I want you, and you know you want me. We're both losing, can we make it stop?~

The next song started to play. He sighed, he couldn't believe how accurate the songs were.

As they arrived in the parking lot, Matthew saw a huge mountain peak over the tree tops.

"Have you been here before?"

"A few times...in high school." She shrugged.

Walking to the security barrier, Matthew was surprised that they had to go through metal detectors as well as have their bag searched. Making sure to go in front of Mia so she wouldn't see, he pulled out the chain for the security guard as he stepped through the barrier, an expected beep sounding after him. The man smiled, giving him the all clear, as Matthew stuffed the ring and chain back underneath his shirt.

Mia came after him, not a single beep going off. She handed her bag to the security guard, who after rummaging through it gave it back to her.

Handing their slips to the girl behind a counter, Matthew and Mia had their hands stamped with the same cartoon character, along with 'VOID' written backwards underneath.

"Do they have to do that?" He asked, staring at the blue stamp on his hand.

"Yea...they change stamps every day, and they check for them at the rides. If they see 'VOID' spelled correctly they know you've double stamped so they can kick you out." Mia explained to him.

"So where do you want to go first?" She asked, handing him a map as they walked towards the mountain. He noticed the giant waterfall that came from it, dumping water in to a large rectangular pool with fountains.

Looking around to see the attractions, Matthew spotted a tall tower.

"Let's go there." He pointed, as she groaned.

"You just have to pick things that'll scare me, don't you?" She said, poking his uninjured shoulder.

"You brought me here. Don't blame me!" He countered with a smirk.

"Fine...let's go."

Trekking to the tower, they waited in line. Matthew could see her losing her wits, as their moved closer to the front. She looked terrified, her green eyes shifting from the top of the tower and then to the bottom, as though calculating the height of the fall.

"You've been here before. Haven't you gone on this already?"

"No!" She squeaked. "I hate heights...why would I go on Drop Zone, or Drop Tower, as it's been re-named."

"Why did they re-name some of the rides?" He heard her ask, aloud.

"No idea...it's your country." Matthew quipped.

As their turn came, he watched Mia reluctantly take a seat beside him. Taking off her hat and sunglasses, she motioned for him to do the same; he handed them to her and she stuffed them in to her bag, slinging it over her shoulder so it was secure. The ride operator came by to strap all the riders in.

Matthew observed her as she took a deep breath. Trying to comfort her, he took hold of her hand, it was cold and clammy. She looked at him.

"If I live through this...you're dead, Matt." Mia told him, while he snickered.

"I love it when you threaten me, I almost believe you."

Before Mia could find something to say, the ride started, taking them up slowly.

"See it's not that bad." He told her, as they moved, their seats going higher and higher.

"It's not the up part that's scaring me right now." She told him as the ride stopped, high above the park grounds. From the height, he could see the city around them.

He could hear her muttering under her breath, he looked to find her eyes closed, her hand holding his tightly. He didn't have a chance to wonder what she was saying, when their seats fell. They were hurtling to the ground. He laughed as he looked over at Mia. Her eyes closed, her hair blowing around her face, she wasn't even screaming like the others around them.

As the ride slowed before reaching to the ground, Matthew saw her open her eyes. Seeing the amused look on his face, she scowled.

"I hate you..." She muttered, as they were unlocked from their seats.

Having let him choose the first ride, Mia pulled him along to her choice. Krachenwagen, it read on the board, as he saw bumper cars racing around.

Putting their hats and glasses back on, he could still feel Mia quivering. She was so adorable, even when she was scared.

Getting in to their separate cars, he saw a flash of mischief cross her face.

"Told you, you're dead." She grinned.

"Uh huh, we'll see."

As the ride started, Mia made sure to hit his wagon, as she passed him by, a victorious smile on her face. Not one to be left in the wings, Matthew manoeuvred his own wagon to chase behind her. She was laughing at him, when his attempt crashed him in to another car. Passing him, as he tried to move back, the look on her face read 'I told you' as she smiled widely at him.

"That was unfair. We should go again." He complained afterwards.

"Not my fault you crashed." She grinned at him.

They were walking towards another ride, a wet one by the looks of it. Timber Wolf Falls. He watched as the boat rode to the top of the hill and slid down the steep part, a huge wave crashing over observers who stood on the bridge.

"We're going to get wet?" He asked.

"Yea...it's a fun ride." Mia told him smiling. "Give me your phone."

Handing it over, she put both their phones in to a separate pouch of her bag.

"After this, we're going on Vortex." Matthew told her.

"Fine..." She grumbled.

He had expected to be more soaked at the end of the ride, Matthew thought. The wave that had formed during the ride, soaked the bridge better than it soaked them. He didn't even feel that wet as they waited in line for Vortex.

"So how many of these rides have you actually been on?" He asked out of curiosity.

"Not very many." Mia admitted.


"Yea...mainly just the kid rides like the merry go round, or the Swing of the Century...I'm a chicken. I hate heights and rollercoasters...and that's pretty much all there is here."

As their turn finally came, Matthew saw as she took a deep breath, while sitting in the seat. Mia closed her eyes.

"Don't you ever keep them open?" He asked in disbelief.

"Not if I know I won't like it." Came her snarky reply.

As they went on more rides, Matthew laughed seeing some of the pictures taken of them. Her hate for roller coasters was obvious. In almost every picture, Mia was seen with her eyes tightly shut, while Matthew was laughing.

"We're getting these." He told her, seeing the one's taken on The Fly.

"Please don't." She said, seeing the picture. Mia was holding on to Matthew's arm, as they rounded a corner, for once her eyes open.

"Too late." He told her, going up to the counter to buy the pictures.

Mia groaned as he brought them over to her.

"You are never showing these to anyone." She told him, as Matthew put them in her bag.

"So, where to next?" He asked, since it was her turn to pick.

"White Water Canyon...since it's a ride that I can actually enjoy with my eyes open."

Taking a long drink from his water bottle before putting it back in the bag, Matthew walked along side Mia as they walked through the exit of the ride. She had been right, it was probably the only ride he had seen her relax and keep her eyes open the whole time. Probably because it's just a tube on water, he thought. The scenic ride had been enjoyable, although he had not been expecting to get wet.

As they walked with no destination in mind, Matthew's stomach grumbled loudly, making Mia giggle.

"Hungry?" She asked, pointedly.

"Yea, but how about one more ride before we eat." He suggested, having spotted something he knew Mia would hate.

"Okay...sure...which ride?" She asked, narrowing her eyes.

"That one!" He pointed.

"I knew I was going to regret asking." She muttered turning to look at what he was pointing at.

"Sky Flyer? Really? Please tell me your joking!" Mia said, frantically. "Are you trying to give me a heart attack?"

"Nope! Come on, please. I promise I'll do the dishes for the rest of the week." He tried cajoling her.

"Why? I have a dishwasher?"

"You do?" That was news to him, he hadn't even noticed the appliance.

"Yea...it's under the counter."

"No wonder the sink's always empty." Matthew mumbled, before remembering his task at hand.

"Come on, it'll be fun. Then when you're old you can tell your grand kids you did something cool and scary." He pulled her along.

"Old? If I live that long. You know they make you sign forms...death forms. I don't want to die!" She whined, but he paid no attention.

"That's okay. We'll die together then." He smiled.

"N-n-no! We die, and I will kill you again, and again, and again; for all of eternity." Mia told him, as Matthew laughed.

Paying for their turn, Mia came back with forms, giving him a scathing look.

"You can do it, Mia." Matthew told her, as they signed the forms together.

"You're driving after this." She muttered.


As she returned to hand back the forms, Matthew quickly slid the ring off of his chain and into her bag's pocket, not wanting it to appear in mid-fall.

The operators of the ride motioned for them to come over, so Matthew handed their bag to one of them.

Strapping them in to the apparatus, Matthew faced Mia, his arms around her this time. Her head rested against his shoulder, her arms tightly fastened around him. He had been waiting for so long to feel her against him that he couldn't believe it was happening. How much had he longed to hear her, to see her...

As they were lifted in to the sky, Matthew felt her nuzzle against him. He could feel both of their hearts pounding, as they were raised higher.

"Mia, you're going to be okay. I'm right here." He murmured.

They stopped ascending; there was a pause before he heard the latch open and they fell freely towards the ground. The rush of air whooshing past them exhilarated him, as Mia clutched on tightly.

There was no one else he would have shared such a moment with, he knew right then and there. As the bungee cord pulled them back up, he hugged her tightly. He loved her, and this time he was determined to do whatever it took to get her back.

Finally being un-hitched from the apparatus, Matthew was unable to keep himself from buying pictures of their fall. Afterwards he grabbed hold of Mia's hand, and took their bag. Leading her to the park's exit. She was still shivering from the fall.

"I told you, you'd be okay." He grinned.

"Funny, Rossi...I don't feel okay." Mia glared daggers at him, still a little wobbly.

Pushing her in to the passenger seat of the truck, he handed her the bag, before Matthew started the ignition.

"Where are we going now?" He asked, looking at her.

She looked pale, but the pink in her cheeks was making its way back.

"We can stop at Subway or something before going back to the house." She told him, directing him where to go.

By the time they had reached the cottage, Mia was dozing in the seat. His high adrenaline rides must have taken a lot out of her, he guessed. Waking her up, Matthew helped her out of the truck, taking the bag back from her.

As she unlocked the door, and they headed inside, he decided the time had come. Pulling out the ring, as they walked up the stairs together, Matthew stopped her.


"Yea?" She asked, looking at him questioningly.

"Gifts aren't meant to be returned." He told her, placing the ring in her palm and firmly closing her fingers over it.

"Good night." Matthew leaned in closer, lightly kissing her cheek before heading in to his own room.


Turning the ring in her hand, she felt the familiarity of it. The blue gemstone still sparkled in the sun's rays. Tearing her eyes from it, she placed the ring in her dresser drawer. She hadn't seen it since giving it back to him...she hadn't bothered to wear the glittering heart or the bracelet he had given her either. The other two were somewhere stashed in her dresser drawers. Unable to part with them, she had brought them along before hiding them. The ring however...she was surprised to see again.

Gifts aren't meant to be returned, Matthew had told her a few nights ago. She touched her cheek, where his lips had burned their imprint. With Matthew here, it felt like nothing had happened, like they had never fallen apart. Hadn't she dreamt of his touch, of him holding her...what was stopping her now?

And then it happened...all the pain and hurt that had been simmering for months washed over her. The press conference, the signing, the pictures...shutting those thoughts down before they went too far, like she had for the last few months, Mia tried to forget. She didn't want to think about them, right now. He did come here, she thought giving him some credit, as she walked out of her room.

It was still early in the morning. Mia had showered, and gotten dressed, knowing he would sleep for half an hour longer, before heading down to breakfast. The time alone gave her a chance to think...think about him...

Tip toeing towards the guest room, Mia carefully opened the door, unable to stop herself. Peaking in side, she saw he was still sleeping soundly. His hair ruffled, one arm covering his eyes, while the other rested across his chest. She wanted to go and touch him, run her fingers along his face, but she didn't have the nerve to. Instead, she quietly shut the door behind her, before heading down the stairs to make breakfast.


He found it amusing when his door would open in the mornings. As though checking if he had survived the night, Matthew would feign being asleep, as he felt her eyes on him. Too bad she didn't know it was the sound of the shower running that would tip him off. He knew she would be walking down the hall to peak in on him, before heading down the creaky stairs.

Since their trip to Wonderland, Mia had kept them busy with painting the basement and going out around the area; not taking him too far from the cottage. Mia had shown him the local tavern, The Salty Dawg, as well as some local shops. She made sure to be at arms length when they went out, still distant with him. Each time they got close, she would put up a barrier. In time he hoped she would trust him again.

Having noticed the bronze heart missing from around her neck, he guessed she was still pondering over where they stood. He didn't know how to tell her how sorry he was...he had regretted his actions over the time they had spent apart.

Once done cleaning up for the night, Matthew lay on his bed, waiting for sleep to come. Moon light streamed in to his room, giving it a soft glow. Getting up noiselessly, using the light from outside he crossed the room and walked in to the hall.

Heading for the door to her room, he opened it quietly. Since the start of their stay, he had noticed that by the end of the day Mia would be exhausted. All it took was laying in her bed, and she fast asleep. Leaning in the door way, he saw her. Her hair spread out on the pillow, while her arms encircled another. Her deep even breaths, signalling that she was sleeping soundly. Watching her for a few more minutes, Matthew shut the door quietly.

I love you, Mia...he thought as he headed back to his room.


They had spent the day window shopping at Vaughan Mills. Matthew had made sure to keep her from buying more books when they walked in to Coles, much to her protest. Of course, she hadn't been able to stop him from buying gelato at one of the food stalls.

Mia, this is proper ice cream; he had told her, handing her a large cup of chocolate chip covered Italian style ice cream.

On their drive back to the cottage, Mia had noticed the darkening sky. The sinister looking grey clouds converging over head, she hoped there wouldn't be a storm.

Even as a child, Mia had hated storms when she stayed at the cottage. It would terrify her to a point where Max would end up sleeping in the guest room instead of his room in the basement, or her father would leave the door open to her mother and his room.

Looking over at Matthew, she saw him leaning against the window, his eyes closed. He was probably tired. She had worn him out in between painting the basement, and taking him to see the city.

Once in the cottage, Matthew went to his room, telling her he would turn in. She stayed up for a little while longer, sitting in the living room flipping channels on the TV. Lonely without him, and unable to find anything remotely interesting, Mia decided to call it a night.

As she changed in to her night clothes, Mia went through the days events. She had noticed that Matthew had been a little quiet. Watching her every move, but not interfering, just observing her. I love him, she thought for the millionth time, but each time she did she could feel the conflict bubbling up to the surface. Nope, not right now, I don't want to do this right now! She thought, berating herself for always bringing up her feelings. I just want to relax, I want to enjoy my time...She sighed in spite of herself. I don't want to think things through right now! Mia shouted at herself, as she got in to her bed.

Pushing the thoughts out of her mind, she pulled her blanket over her while clutching her extra pillow. Time to sleep, she commanded herself, closing her eyes tightly.


Mia woke up disoriented; getting up she fumbled with her pillow trying to figure out what was going on.

Bright light illuminated her room, and the panic set in. It was a thunderstorm! Mia grabbed her pillow, swinging her feet around the edge of the bed as another bright flash of light lit up her room. About to take a step, Mia felt something soft. Focusing on the form next to her bed as her eyes adjusted to the darkness, she found Matthew. His head lying on a pillow, while the rest of him was on the carpet. His blanket covered him.

Her heart bursting with emotion, Mia reached out to touch him, pushing some of his hair off his closed eyes. Allowing herself to give in to her temptation, Mia traced his jaw with her finger tips, before lightly caressing his cheek.

As another loud crash sounded, Mia felt better knowing he was there with her. Slipping back in to her bed, Mia watched as the lightening illuminated his face. Feeling safe, she slowly drifted back to sleep.

Waking up the next morning, Mia opened her eyes, the sunny day showed no traces of the storm the night before. Looking down at the carpet, she felt more than a little disappointed. Was it a dream? She wondered seeing the empty space.

Matthew was gone.


"I fully understand why you love this place." Matthew told her, one evening.

Having started to wallpaper the bathroom in the basement the day before, Mia had given them both a day off. Instead they had slept in, watched TV, and prepared dinner together.

She had brought out a small barbeque, on which they had made burgers and heated buns. Stomach full, he was content to just lazy around on the deck, while drinking the bottle of ice cold Cola she had handed to him. Music played around them, since he had set up her phone with the speaker dock from her room.

Sitting on the lawn chair across from him, Mia leaned back, looking up at the sky. A starry night above them.

"I told you, the cottage and going camping are the most fun you can have." She grinned.

"I'll have to get back to you on the camping, but the cottage, definitely. I should buy one." He grinned back.

Sitting on the chair beside her, he thought she would move and walk away from him, but she didn't.

"So, did you call Elena back?"

"Pfftt...no! She's going to kill me if I tell her why I can't come over to her place." She told him, with exasperation.

"And why is that?" He asked, trying to sound indifferent.

"I'm busy entertaining a guest." She told him, snidely. "Besides she's just up to her old tricks."

"Entertain me then!" He told her with a wide smile.

"I can show you how to catch fireflies." She told him wryly.

"Never mind." He sighed, smiling. "So I take it she's still trying to set you up?"


"Who's the lucky guy?" He quipped, hiding his clenched fists in his pocket.

"I don't know. Some one from my high school, I think."

They were quiet.

"Haven't you ever gotten set up?" She asked him curiously.

"Yea...Lina once set me up on a blind date." He admitted.

"So who was it?" Mia asked, looking amused.

"Daria...this girl that Lina met on a shopping trip." Matthew regretted the line of conversation he found himself in.

"So what happened?"

"We broke up after a few months." He shrugged.

"Isn't that what those photographers were asking you about at one of the dinners?" He grimaced inwardly as she said this. He couldn't believe she still remembered.


"But they said..." Matthew saw the hesitation on her face.

"That I cheated." He said the words for her. "I didn't. She did...I just covered it up."

"Why?" He could hear the disbelief in her words. After what he had done to Mia, kissing those girls, he knew she didn't believe him. The unspoken question was clear in her voice, why would he have done it?

"I didn't want anyone to know that she was with Jason behind my back." He said finally, he could still feel the humiliation from that revelation. It had been a long time since he had told any one. He hated thinking about it. He saw the look of realization on her face. It was starting to make sense why he and Jason just didn't get along.

Silently they watched each other. He decided to see how far she would let him pry in to her own life.

"Didn't you ever go out in high school or university?" Matthew asked, lightly.

"In high school? No...not really. I was younger than most my classmates, and I was thought of as a nerd." She told him, deep in thought.

"Really? You? A nerd?" He smirked, though she didn't seem like one, he knew of her bookish tendencies. It was a part of her he found interesting.

"Yea...pretty much my only friends were part of the book club, or the science club. My brother was the more outgoing one."


"Yea, he was the easier one to talk to. I kind of ignored people for books. In high school he was the one who got invited to parties and had girls following him. One time this girl he was going out with looked so surprised when he told her I was his sister. The look on her face was hilarious." She told him, imitating the expression. Matthew laughed at her impression.

"So what about university?" He continued, since she hadn't shut him down yet.

"I went out a few times, but it never worked out. Either I was too focused on my studies, or they weren't really interested." She shrugged. "Then Stacie tried to set me up, and the rest you already know." Mia added snidely, as he shook his head laughing off her jibe.

"So have your cousins or family ever tried?" He pushed further.

"Oh! They've tried. Didn't I tell you? Last Christmas, my aunt invited these guys from when I went to grade school to a family dinner. She was hoping that I'd go along with it...but she didn't know my mother would throw her plans off the rails." She told him, with a snicker.

The music had faded out around them, as the song changed. A new lighter mood had set over them.

~There I was again tonight, Forcing laughter, faking smiles, Same old tired, lonely place, Walls of insincerity, Shifting eyes and vacancy, Vanished when I saw your face, All I can say is it was enchanting to meet you...~

"What did your mom do?"

"She came in while these two guys were asking me about my research, and then told them I was living in the dorms with you and Oliver. They left when they saw us argue...I was so embarrassed."

"Really? But she kind of saved you from your aunt's plans."

~Your eyes whispered "Have we met?" Across the room, your silhouette, Starts to make its way to me, The playful conversation starts, Counter all your quick remarks, Like passing notes in secrecy, And it was enchanting to meet you, All I can say is I was enchanted to meet you...~

"I know...thinking about it now, I'm kind of relieved." Mia smiled. "Anyway…that is the story of my life."

With that she got up and walked over to the railing; the lights around the deck reflecting in the water.

~This night is sparkling, don't you let it go, I'm wonderstruck, blushing all the way home, I'll spend forever wondering if you knew, I was enchanted to meet you~

Putting his drink down on the floor of the deck, he stood up, slowly walking to stand by her, he leaned against the railing staring out across the darkened lake. They stood together, not saying anything, the music speaking for them.

She had to have felt the pull between them. He couldn't stop himself from being drawn to her.

~This night is sparkling, don't you let it go, I'm wonderstruck, blushing all the way home, I'll spend forever wondering if you knew, This night is flawless, don't you let it go, I'm wonderstruck, dancing around all alone, I'll spend forever wondering if you knew, I was enchanted to meet you...~

Catching her eye, he looked deep in to the emerald green depths. They held something familiar for him. She had told him she loved him, he had often replayed those words in his head, missing her all the more. Here she was with him, not moving away after talking to him.

He leaned in, closer, unable to stop himself. Pressing his lips against hers, he felt the rush of emotions he had always felt around her, as he kissed her passionately. She kissed him back, with equal fervour, and Matthew felt like he was alive, after months of dying in despair.

The soft familiar feel of her lips, he deepened the kiss, not wanting the moment to end, but she pulled away. Looking at him, he saw a glimmer in her eyes, before she moved away.


He watched as she walked away from him, heading for the sliding glass door. Pausing, Mia turned to look at him, her expression unreadable as she walked inside; leaving him standing on the deck, alone in the night.

~This night is sparkling, don't you let it go, I'm wonderstruck, blushing all the way home, I'll spend forever wondering if you knew, This night is flawless, don't you let it go, I'm wonderstruck, dancing around all alone, I'll spend forever wondering if you knew, I was enchanted to meet you...~