Status: Active

Dear God

Chapter 10

When we had landed at LAX, Matt was off the plane and grabbing our bags and taking off for his truck. The ride was quiet, but tense as Matt was focused on getting to his kids and I was trying to figure out where I fell in this whole situation. Sure, Matt claimed that he needed me with him, but what about what Carly and Jesse needed? How will everyone react to me being back in California? What if I didn’t want to leave? These were all questions swimming through my head as we pulled up to a building that I could only assume was the police station.

As soon as we got to the police station, Matt threw the car in park and got out, taking off for the front door. I watched as he came to a stop at the top of the stairs and looked back at me. His eyes held so many emotions, panic, anger, and guilt. He slowly walked back down the steps and opened my door, leaning his head against the door jam, looking down at me sheepishly.

“I’m sorry. I got ahead of myself.” He pushed away from the door and helped me out of the car before getting Lilly out of the car seat. “I have Jesse’s old seat at the house. We can put it in here. I didn’t think about it when I asked you to come along.” He blushed, reaching for my hand.

“Matt, you don’t need to apologize. The two of us coming wasn’t planned at all. We will make do with what we have.” I gave his arm a squeeze as I reached for my sister. “Give her to me because I know the second you get in that door and see your kids, you’re going to want them in your arms.”

With a small, grateful smile and a kiss, Matt handed Lilly to me and led the two of us up the stairs and into the station. Matt looked around the room for signs of his kids or Brian, but came up empty. I saw an officer sitting at the desk next to us and approached her.

“Excuse me, my boyfriend and I are here to get his kids. We were told that they were here, they have their aunt and uncle with them.”

The officer looked up at the two of us with sadness in her eyes. “Carly and Jesse?” We nodded and her frown deepened. “I was on that call. It broke my heart to see those two so scared. I’m glad you were finally able to make it home, Mr. Sanders. Mr. and Mrs. Haner have been with them all night.” She moved away from the desk and came to stand next to us. “I’m Officer Perez. ”

“I’m Matt and this is my girlfriend Caroline and her daughter Lilly." Matt said, his eyes still shifting around the room.
“Of course, Caroline you’re more than welcome to join him. From what I’ve heard, the kids know you so you’re family.” She turned on her heel and motioned for us to follow her. “I’m here for the night, so if any of you have questions just come get me and I’ll help ya.” She stopped at a door and opened it calling out. “I have a present for two little ones!”

I could hear sniffling and the soft murmur of Brian’s voice as the door opened. When Carly and Jesse realized who was there, they screamed and ran towards Matt who was already down on his knees with his arms wide open, tears in his eyes.

Lilly stirred in my arms at the commotion but quickly settled back down without waking up. I looked at the Sanders and felt my own eyes filling with tears. These kids deserved so much better than what they had been handed. I felt a little guilty because if their dad hadn't been out of the state visiting me, he would have been here for them and none of this would’ve happened.

Before I could get further into my guilt, Brian came over to me and wrapped me in a hug as best as he could with Lilly between us.

“Welcome home, Carrie.” He whispered, kissing my cheek.

I rolled my eyes playfully. “This hasn’t been my home for five years now, Brian.” Biting my lip to keep from spilling my secret. In the last few weeks, I’ve been in contact with a realtor and already had a bid on a house near Matt’s parents’ that I fell in love with the second I took the virtual tour. I knew it was risky to just buy a house without actually seeing it, but April really helped me out with the choice seeing as she worked for the real estate company I was using. No one but her knew of the bid and I intended on keeping it that way until I knew for sure.

“I’m glad you came with him.” Brian said quietly, keeping an arm around my shoulder as we watched Matt cuddle his crying children. “How was he when he found out?”

I shrugged. “I was at work when he got the call. He told me about it when I got home. Then he begged me to come with him.”

“He’s really going to need you.” Michelle’s voice filtered over to me as she approached Brian and I. She smiled widely as she gave me a big hug as well. “It’s good to have you back in California, Caroline.” She looked down at Lilly and smiled. “She’s getting so big.” She beamed.

“She is. She’s getting an attitude too.” I laughed. “I see so much of myself in her and I often wonder how my mother handled me.” I looked down at my sister and smiled as she snuggled closer to me. “She misses you guys. She’s going to be sad that she was asleep right now.”

“We will have you guys over tomorrow or something...assuming you’re staying for a little while.” Brian winked.

“Carrie...” Jesse’s tired and sad voice stopped me from answering Brian.

I turned to face the little boy and my heart broke for him. It was clear he had a rough day, his face was red and blotchy, his hair was a mess and his clothes wrinkled, his eyes were blood shot and swollen from all the crying. “Oh, Jesse. Come here, buddy.” I held my empty arm out for him, which he quickly rushed to. Crying even more as he clung to my shirt, wrapping his arms around my neck. With help from Brian, I stood up, now with two kids in my arms

I looked over at Matt who had a red-eyed Carly in his arms clinging to him. He looked lost and helpless watching his son lose it again. I had to take a deep breath to center myself from all the emotions rushing through me.

Suddenly the stillness of the room was shattered by screaming coming from the lobby. Michelle and I looked at each other before my eyes met Matt’s suddenly, fury filled eyes. That’s when I knew who was out there and suddenly, I was pissed.

“Brian, can you take Lilly?” I asked my best friend as I saw an angry blond storming towards us with Officer Perez and male officer chasing after her. Once the sleeping toddler was out of my arms, I wrapped both my arms around Jesse who was all but shaking in my arms. I moved next to Matt who was nearly twitching with anger.

The door was thrown open as an angry Melony entered the room. “Get your slutty hands off of my son.” She snarled, glaring at me.

I laughed. I straight up laughed at the crazy bitch. “You must be Melony, I’m Caroline, but i assume you knew that. I am not going to let this little boy out of my grasp. He has been through enough today and is obviously scared. Now, why don’t you turn right around and walk back out that door? It’s seems like that’s what you’re good at.”
Michelle coughed out a laugh as she put herself between Lilly and Melony, once she saw Mel’s gaze land on Lilly.

“Who the fuck let her near my kids? She has no right to be near them, I don’t want them near her!”

Finally Matt stepped up. “Your kids?! You gave up your right to call them that, Melony. Or do you not remember when you walked out the door this morning and left them alone? You signed the papers and Jason has them, so you get no say.”

Melony looked at Matt with big doe eyes, her whole demeanor changing. “I’m sorry, Matty.” I rolled my eyes. No one ever called him that to his face unless they were being sarcastic. “I was going to come back. I could never leave my babies.”

I scoffed along with Brian and Michelle. Matt just stood next to me, his body turned just slightly so that Carly was as far away as possible from Mel. I looked down at Jesse who had my shirt gripped in his hand and his eyes screwed shut. He wasn’t crying anymore, but it was clear he didn’t want to be in the room right now. I pressed a kiss to the top of his head and whispered soothing words to him.

“Hey!” Mel’s shrill yell startled all of us, waking up Lilly and Carly.

I turned myself so I could reach Carly and began rubbing her back as she cried into Matt’s neck. Everything inside me was telling me to get the kids out of the room but I couldn’t pull them away from Matt right now, I knew that would do more harm than good. Plus, I knew they were safe there were for adults, six including the officers standing by, ready to jump to these little ones’ defense at a moment’s notice.

“Melony, get the fuck out of here. You don’t want to be here and I sure as hell don’t want you here. I’m trying to keep my cool because the kids are here but I’m losing my patience. You only came here to start shit, so do us all a favor and get the fuck away from my kids.” Matt was fuming, his jaw muscles were jumping as he clenched and unclenched his teeth. There were clearly two sides of him battling for the main stage right now. He was part Matt, worried father. Then there was Shadows, angry and threatening, protective. He was down right, panty slicking sexy right now.
Melony just stood there staring at Matt. Clearly she didn’t care that she was no longer welcome around her own kids or the effect her presence was going to have on the kids after everything she just put them through.

“Officer Perez, did Matt’s lawyer fax anything over since we’ve been here? I know he was processing something for him when we were leaving Iowa.” I asked the officer from earlier.

The male officer that had joined Officer Perez nodded and pulled a piece of paper out of a folder that I did not realize he was holding until now. “Yes, we received an official order of protection for a Carly and Jesse Sanders as well as one for a Miss Lilly Harper. There is also one here for a Miss Caroline Harper.” He paused and looked around the room. When his eyes landed on Melony he continued. “Miss Melony Stanley is to stay no less than one thousand feet away from all the mentioned above until further notice. Failure to comply to the order will result in up to 30 days in jail.”

Hiding my shock at both the fact that there was a protective order for myself and Lilly as well as the penalty for violating the order.I looked at the woman in question and looked at her like she was an idiot. “I don’t know if you realize this or not Melony, but you’re well within one thousand feet of all of us. So if you want to avoid jail or a beating you’ll never forget, I recommend you get the fuck out of here.” I smiled at her.

Brian chuckled and Matt beamed at me as he readjusted Carly in his arms. “I won’t stop her from doing what I can’t do, Melony, so I suggest you leave.”

Appalled, Melony spun on her too high of heels and glared at the two officers. “are you going to just stand by and let them threaten me like that?!?” She screeched.

Perez stood taller and looked at the flustered woman with veiled hatred. “Miss Stanley, considering what you did to these children, I’m surprised it’s only threats. If I were in Miss Harper’s shoes, you’d probably be bleeding already.” I bit my lip to keep from grinning as Officer Perez popped the snap on her handcuffs and walked towards Melony. “So why don’t you and I take a walk to another room where we can go over in detail what exactly this protective order means.”

Once Melony was lead from the room with dramatic flair, the remaining officer looked us all over and sighed. “I know you all are exhausted, but Mr.Sanders the CPS agent needs to speak with you.”

Matt sighed and looked down at Carly and back at me and Jesse. “Can the kids be in the room? Normally I wouldn’t ask, but I don’t want to leave them alone again.”

The officer shrugged. “I don’t have a problem with it.” He looked around the room. “As for the rest of you, you’ll need to move to the lobby.”

“Jesse, I have to go sit outside with Uncle Brian and Aunt Chelle, okay?” I asked the little boy who still had a death grip on my shirt. “Do you want to stay here with your daddy and sister or do you want to come with me?”

“Both of you.” He sniffed.

“I can’t stay with your daddy, bud. He has to talk to someone and I can't be there for it"

Tears began streaming down his face as he let out a wail that woke Lilly up. My heart broke for him and I wanted to cry with him. Instantly though his demeanor changed when he noticed Lilly sitting up and waving at him. He grinned and waved back as Carly started chanting that she wanted me with them as well. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry at the kids' antics right now, but before I could comment on anything, the CPS agent had entered the room.

She smiled gently at me. “It’s okay guys, Caroline can stay with you too.” She turned to the Haners, “Unfortunately, you two need to step out, but don’t go too far because I have a few other agents that want to talk to you as well." She turned away from Brian and Michelle and looked over at me. "Caroline, are you comfortable with allowing your daughter to go with them?”

“Of course. Lilly, you’re going to go sit with Uncle Brian and Aunt Chelle, okay? I need you to be good.”

“Sissy, are you in trouble?” She asked looking around, her voice wavering.

“No, baby. I’m not. Matt and I need to talk to this nice lady about some adult things. I know you’re anxious to talk to Bri so go talk his ear off.” I smirked at the man in question as he feigned anger towards me. Content with that answer, Lilly began talking to Brian and Michelle as they walked out of the room, laughing at what the toddler was saying.

Once the door closed behind them, I moved to the small couch in the corner of the room and sat Jesse down in my lap, rubbing his back.

“Try and rest, bud. We’re not going anywhere and you’re safe. Your daddy and i are right here okay?” I looked down at the toddler and pressed a kiss to the top of his head. When i looked up, Matt sent me a wink and motioned to Carly in his arms. “Carly, do you want to come cuddle with Jesse and I? I know I could use a nap. Come here, baby girl.” I waved her over and smiled when she quickly left her father’s arms and joined her brother in my lap. She quickly settled on the other side of me and laid her head in my lap, sticking her thumb in her mouth.

I sat there and ran my hands over both their heads, hoping that it would relax them enough to get some sleep because I knew they hadn’t slept since they were left alone and they probably wouldn’t sleep for some time. As I sat with the kids, I was vaguely aware of the conversation going on at the table.

The agent was asking Matt a ton of questions about Melony as a mother and the more questions she asked, the more my hatred towards the selfish bitch who called herself a mother grew. It made me so angry because she CHOSE to have kids and more importantly she CHOSE to leave them. My mother didn’t get a choice to leave us and it wasn’t fair that there were children out there who didn’t have mothers or fathers because they CHOSE to walk away. I vowed in that moment that I wasn’t going to let anything happen to Lilly orCarly and Jesse.

“Mr. Sanders, what is your relationship with Miss Harper?” The CPS agent finally asked, looking over Matt's should towards me. Hearing my name caused me to sit up straight. I was curious to know what he would say to someone outside of our circle.

“Caroline and I have been friends since she was eighteen years old and a lost freshman.” He chuckled. “We became best friends before we started dating. We broke up when she had to move home to help her mom. We’ve been together now for about three months, but it’s like we never were apart." I could hear the smile in his words and it caused me to smile. He was right, despite everything that happened between us things fell right back into place. It felt right...natural. "My kids love her and I trust her with their lives, if that’s what you’re asking me. Caroline is the legal guardian of her sister after their mother passed away from cancer. She knows what it’s like to be a parent.”

The agent nodded and looked over at me. “Miss Harper, what has been your relationship with Miss Stanley?”

I shrugged. “Before today I had never met the woman before. I’ve only heard about her from Matt, the kids, and my cousin, Brian.”


“Yes ma’am. His step mom is my aunt.”

“Mr. Sanders, are you one hundred percent sure you’re comfortable with Miss Harper being around your children?”

“One thousand percent sure.” Matt looked over his shoulder at me. “I’d actually like to make her an official guardian of them.” He looked back at the CPS agent after sending me a wink as I sat there with my mouth open. “Can you get the paperwork started and sent to my lawyer? You have his information.” Matt stood up. “I’m taking my kids and my girlfriend home. If you have any more questions, you have my information.”

Without another word, Matt walked over to the couch and picked up Jesse before helping me and Carly up, giving me a quick sly look--knowing how much he had just dropped me. He wrapped an arm around my waist and ushered me forward towards the door. We said our goodbyes to the agent and the second we were through the doorway I was able to breathe a little easier. When we walked into the lobby Brian and Michelle were just walking out of another room with a once again sleeping Lilly.

I turned to Matt and looked up at him, trying to hide my reactions to what he had just asked the officer. “How are we doing this? We have three kids and only two booster seats. I don’t remember how far away you live from here.”

“Don’t worry about that, Care. Brian and I have an extra seat in our car from when we babysit so we can just take ours and put it in Matt’s truck.” Michelle said, looking at Brian who looked like he was about to pass out where he stood. Everyone was exhausted and I wasn’t about to argue with the blonde, so the seven of us walked out of the police station together. While Brian retrieved the car seat, Matt and I got Jesse and a Carly in their respective seats while Michelle and I made plans for a girls’ day. We chatted some more before declaring it was time to head home.

After a long and heartfelt thank you, Matt, the kids, and I were on our way to Matt’s house. “I can’t wait to get home and crawl into bed.” Matt whined. He glanced at me and reached for my hand. “I know I’ve said it a few times, but thank you for being here. You not only helped me with the kids, but you helped me keep my emotions in check. Plus, watching you lay into Mel was pretty fucking hot.” He smirked.

I rolled my eyes playfully at his comment and turned my attention to the world passing by us. I didn’t realize how much I missed being in California until I was back here. I thought things would feel weird being back, but in fact it felt like coming home--a sudden calm settling over me.
“Where’s your head at, Care?”

“Just realizing how good it is to be home.”

Matt grinned but didn’t say anything as he turned down a residential street lined with massive houses and palm trees. Each house was different and unique which I loved. Some were smaller than others, but they were massive.

Matt pulled into a cement circle driveway that was next to a beautiful two story stucco house that was surrounded by palm trees and a privacy wall. It was clear that Avenged was popular based on the privacy. Matt pulled his truck into the garage and cut the engine.

“Home sweet home.” He beamed but clearly tired. “I’ll go unlock the door if you start getting the little ones unbuckled.”

I nodded and got out of the truck and tried not to drool over the Chevelle parked in the garage. That had been Matt’s dream car and it made me so happy that he finally got it. I ran my fingers over the door handle before turning my back on the gorgeous car to get the kids unbuckled. Matt came back and lifted Jesse out of his seat and with practiced ease, got Carly out of her seat and into his arms. I stared after Matt as he walked into the house, mesmerized by his strength and by how good he was with his kids. With a shake of my head, I got Lilly out of her seat and locked up the car before heading in the direction that Matt walked. When I entered the house, I was amazed by the size of the kitchen that was attached to the garage.

“Matt.” I yelled, not sure where to go or what to even do. I made my way through the house to a grand staircase. Walking up it, I heard Matt moving around on the second floor and I followed the sounds. I found him in what I could only guess was Jesse’s room. The walls were a light green and it was covered in a sports theme. The little boy in question was passed out in his bed with Matt just standing over him. “Hey.” I whispered.

Matt turned to me and gave me a sleepy smile. “Hey.” He walked towards me and kissed me lightly. “She can sleep with Carly tonight. None of the guest rooms are kid safe.”

I nodded and waited for him to lead me to Carly’s room. When I walked in, I smiled at the pink Deathbat with a princess crown and her name under it on the wall above her bed. I didn’t notice one similar in Jesse’s room, but I could’ve easily missed it. I set Lilly at the foot of Carly’s bed and covered her before kissing the top of her head before taking Matt’s hand and walking out of the room.

The two of us stood in the hallway just looking at each other. I wrapped my arms around Matt’s waist and laid my head on his chest, exhaustion taking over. Wordlessly Matt took my hand and lead me to a door at the end of the hallway. I knew it was Matt’s room and I was too tired to start the conversation about sleeping in the same bed around the kids and what that would mean to them. Once we were in the room Matt dug through his drawers and pulled out a pair of basketball shorts and handed them to me. I quickly stripped out of my leggings and slipped on the shorts before crawling into Matt’s California king bed. Matt smiled before taking his jeans and shirt off, leaving him in his boxers before he crawled in next to me.

Matt wrapped his arms around me and pulled me into his chest. He buried his face in my hair and inhaled, tightening his hold on me. No words were spoken as we laid there, none were needed. Matt quickly fell asleep with his arm around me and his face in the crook of my neck. I felt as safe as I ever have and was drifting off myself , content. Thesound of the door opening woke me up before I could fall completely asleep. I sat up and saw Jesse standing at the foot of the bed, tears running down his face.

“What’s wrong, Jesse?” I asked softly, trying not to wake up Matt.

“I can’t sleep. I’m scared.” He said, voice quivering.

Matt stirred and sat up when he heard his son's voice and noticed him standing in the room. “Hey bud, what’s wrong?” Matt waved Jesse over and lifted him in the bed, laying the little boy between us.

“I dreamed that you and Carrie weren’t here when we woke up.” He nearly sobbed.

My heart broke and I felt my own tears forming as I looked over at Matt who was looking down at Jesse with sadness in his gorgeous hazel eyes.

“We’re not going anywhere, buddy. Caroline and I will be here when you wake up, I promise.” Matt ran a hand up and down his son’s back, reassuring him that we weren’t going anywhere.

“Can I sleep with you, daddy?”

Matt glanced over at me and i quickly nodded my head, there was no way I was going to say no. I settled down again and laid my arms across Jesse waist, letting him know i was there. Sometime later, I was once again woken up but this time by Lilly.

“What is it, Lil?” I croaked.

“Carly is crying in her sleep. She keeps calling for her mommy.” Lilly frowned.

Oh that poor little girl. “Thank you, sweetie. Do you want to sleep in here?” She nodded and lifted her arms up to be lifted. So I picked her up and settled her down next to Jesse who barely moved. I reached across the toddlers and shook Matt’s arm. I would have gotten up to get Carly, but she needed her daddy right now. “Matt.” I hissed. Finally the man in questioned stirred and he looked around frantically. “Hey, it’s just me. Carly needs you. Lilly said she’s crying in her sleep for Mel. Go get her and bring her in. We’ll have a slumber party.” Lilly giggled behind her hand at the mention of a slumber party.

With a groan, Matt threw his legs over the side of the bed and ran a hand threw his hair and down his face. He stood up and slipped on a pair of sweats before walking towards the door. “Go back to sleep.”

I just smiled at him and watched him walk down the hall. I wrapped an arm around Lilly and kissed her temple, resting my head on top of hers. I had a feeling there were going to be lots of nights like this, and if I was any other woman I’d probably turn and run away. This was part of being in Matt’s life, being in his kids’ lives. It wasn’t just Matt and I anymoreand I was okay with that.

Speaking of him, Matt walked back into the room with Carly in his arms. She still had tears running down her cheeks and was hiccupping occasionally as she tried to catch her breath. Matt set her down and she quickly snuggled in next to her brother with her thumb in her mouth. With a sigh, Matt laid down and draped his arm over the kids and reached for my hand. I gave his a squeeze and locked eyes with him. Clearly he was exhausted and he knew that they had some tough times ahead of them, but underneath that there was love. Love for his children. Love for his friends. Love for me.
“I love you. Thank you for being so flexible.” He whispered.

“I love you, too, Matt.”

“What about me, Carrie!?” Carly nearly yelled.

“I love you, too, Carly," I told her, laughing lightly.

Matt chuckled silently before pressing a kiss to Carly’s head. He closed his eyes and began humming “Dear God” softly and that’s the last thing I heard before I fell asleep.
♠ ♠ ♠
Still swooning over Matt in this chapter.

Thank you for all the comments on the last few updates!