Status: Active

Dear God

Chapter 02

I was exhausted and there was no denying it. All I wanted to do was get back to my house in Huntington Beach and relax with my kids for the next couple of months. What I didn't want to do was go to some random diner in a Podunk town outside of Des Moines, Iowa, but here we were.

"Why are we here?" I growled out, stepping off the bus and looking around. It's exactly what I expected it to be, empty and slightly run down, but the place seemed to be busy. That didn't lighten my mood though. I just wanted to go home.

I noticed that our bus was the only one in the parking lot and we were supposed to be meeting Slipknot's bus here.

“Where the fuck is Taylor?" I asked Brian as he stepped off the bus and stopped next to me.

Brian chuckled. "He texted me and said that he was going home and that you would understand in a little bit. Whatever that means." He shrugged walking towards the diner's door.

With a sigh I followed the rest of the guys into the diner. I was pissed to be stuck here in this god awful town, a town that I swore years ago I would never step foot in. I knew it was irrational to despise a city so much, but when the love of your life lived there and wanted nothing to do with you. You hate it. We walked into the diner as a group and quickly noticed how busy it was. It seemed that every visible table was filled and staff was running around everywhere. It seemed to be a control chaos, but there was an underlining panic in the air.

There was a wait for a group of our size so, Needing a distraction, I pulled my phone out and groaned when there was a text from my sister asking if I was going to dinner at our parents' house next week. It was a tradition for me to go to a dinner at their place when I got home from tour and Amy knew this, so the fact that she asked means that she had something big to talk about.

Yeah I'll be there. I'll be home tomorrow sometime.

I rolled my eyes. I loved my family and I enjoy spending time with them, but I really wanted to spend time with my kids. They’re the ones I missed the most when I was away. They are what I looked forward to.

"I'm sorry for the wait gentlemen, please follow me and I'll show you to your table." A slightly frazzled, elderly woman said, breaking my train of thought. “Carrie will be your server as soon as she gets clocked in. Again I'm sorry for the wait." She apologized again before taking off for another table.

Zacky whistled "This place is popular." He looked around before looking down at his phone, smiling. "Look what April just sent me." He turned his phone so we could all see his young son sitting on the Harley Zacky got for his dad for Christmas.

"Little man has good taste!" Brian cheered seeing as he helped Zack pick the bike out.

We all began talking about what we were going to do when we finally made it home. We were all excited to see our wives and families after being on tour for three and half months. There were no talks of a new album or tours, we were ready for a break. And as much as I love our fans and touring, I couldn't wait to put M.Shadows to rest for a bit. I was ready to just be Matt. Father and son.

"Hey there guys, thanks for being patient with us, we're a bit short staffed today. My name is Carrie and I'll be serving you today. Can I get ya'll started with some coffee?" My heart stopped at the sound of the voice next to me. A voice I hadn’t heard in almost five years. A voice I only heard in my dreams, telling me how big of an asshole I was. A voice I’ve missed more than anything. I didn't dare look up. I couldn't bare to look at the woman standing next to me, even if I wanted nothing more than to do just that.

"Sweet Caroline" Jimmy started singing and it caused the whole table and some other guests, to burst into song as well. Something we always did when we all hung out together.

"Oh my god." She whispered. I could just picture he cheeks flushing with embarrassment and I felt myself smile at the image. “I haven't had that happen in so long."

"So we're still the only ones to do it?" Jimmy was practically bouncing in his seat.

"What are you guys doing here?" Caroline finally asked, letting her arms hang by her side.

Zacky smiled up at Caroline. "So this is where you work, huh?" He chuckled. "We've missed you, Car." He wrapped his arm around her waist, hugging her to his side.

I felt my blood boil at the sight of another man's arms around her even if it was one of my best friends. I shook my head at my reaction. I had no right to be jealous. I lost that right five years ago when she walked out of Brian’s backyard and I didn't go after her. I sat there still refusing to even look at her as rest of the table got up to give her a hug.

"Matt don't be an ass." Brian hissed at me. "At least say hi to the woman!"

I suppressed the urge to throw something at the guitarist and looked up at our waitress. "Hello Caroline. How are you?"

"I'm good Matt, thanks." She scanned the table. "Alright guys, drinks? I need to check on my other tables."

We all have her our drink order and she was on her way to the next table with the promise of bringing drinks out quickly. The table was silent until Johnny felt the need to make a comment.

"She's been in here this whole time? Why haven't we ever visited her?" He asked, playing with the silverware on the table.

Zacky looked down at his menu sheepishly. "I've been out to visit her a few times. None of you asked how she was doing so I figured you guys didn't care anymore." I felt more than saw the glare he shot in my direction, but I continued to ignore him.

"I've visited her once or twice, Michelle's been out here more than me though. I still keep in touch with her." Brian spoke up.

Johnny and Jimmy both looked down at their menus, clearly hurt that she didn't keep in touch with them and suddenly I was mad at her. She can be pissed at me all she wants, but the rest of the guys didn't do anything to her and didn't deserve the silent treatment.

I continued to glare at the menu when Carrie returned with our drinks. "Alrighty you guys ready to order?" I wasn't going to be able to avoid her now, I was going to have to talk to her. "Matt?" She spoke softly and I sighed hearing my name leave her lips after all that time.

"I'll take the same as Brian." I had no fucking clue what he ordered but I hadn't actually looked at the menu and didn't hear what he ordered. By the looks I was getting from Brian and Carrie, it was a shock to them.

"Are you sure?" She asked, an eyebrow raised in question.

"Yep" I handed her my menu and folded my arms on the table. I nearly sighed in relief when she walked away.

"Do you really have to be such an asshole? I know it can't be easy seeing her, but really?" Jimmy threw at me.

"Don't start with me Jimmy. I knew stopping here was a bad idea." I mumbled.

My phone vibrated on the table and I growled when I saw it was Corey.

I glanced around the table to find Zacky staring at me with uncertainty in his eyes. Like he didn't know how I was going to react. Did he know she'd be here?

"We didn't know this is where she worked." Brian said, reading my mind. "We knew she was a waitress, but she never told us where. You'd know that if you bothered to talk to her, Matt. You two were inseparable when you met."

"You know what happened, Brian. Don't pin this on me."

Brian shook his head and looked around before speaking again. "She's never going to mention this, but she needs you. It's not my place to say why, but just know that she does ask about you." He leaned back in his chair and smiled when Carrie approached the table. "So Care, anything new going on?"

She shook her head. "Not really, Lilly is growing faster than I can keep up with." She sighed, letting the exhaustion show. "She misses your mom and Mac. They came for a visit last month."

"Is Lilly your daughter?" Johnny asked hesitantly.

Carried laughed and my chest tightened again. God I missed that sound.

"No she's my sister." I scoffed, I couldn’t help it. She looked down at her hands and shifted uncomfortably. “I have no excuses for not staying in touch with all of you. I am so sorry. I just thought that after the way things went down that it was better for me to keep my distance. It wasn’t easy though." She admitted looking everyone but me. She was doing a really good job pretending that she doesn't notice me.

"Carrie! Table 3 needs you." The older woman who seated us said as she rushed past our table.

"Sorry guys, duty calls. Your food should be out in a bit. I'll be back to check on you."

After our food arrived, we ate in relative silence. I was still trying to get a handle on my emotions after seeing Carrie for the first time in five years. I knew I messed up leaving her all those years ago, but pride and my ego wouldn't allow me to call her or admit that I was wrong.

"I'm going for a walk guys. I'll catch a cab back to the hotel." I said getting up and making my way out the door. I took a deep breath of the clean air and sighed, reaching into my pocket and pulling out the seldom used pack of cigarettes.

"You're smoking again?" That voice once again made my head skip. I ignored her and lit the cigarette and took a deep drag, sighing as the nicotine hit my system.

"Only occasionally." I answered with a shrug. “Why does it matter if I smoke or not?”

Carolina sighed. “Matt, I didn’t come out here to fight with you. I came out here to see how you were doing and maybe apologize, but I see you’re still the asshole you were five years ago. Enjoy your cigarette and have a safe return home.” She took a shaky breath. “It was nice seeing you Matt.” She opened the door to the restaurant and glanced back at me before walking in. I stared at the spot where she was standing and groaned as I threw my head back, coming into contact with the wall. I ignored the pain because at this point it was a reminder of how big of an asshole I actually was, just like Caroline said I was.

Why was my first reaction to lash out at her? I pushed off the wall and just started walking. I had no destination in mind, I just needed to clear my head. Seeing Caroline again really threw me for a loop. I had gotten it in my head years ago that I was never going to see her again and if I did that we both would be happily married and over each other. But here I was, divorced and thinking about her. I didn’t see a ring on her finger so it was safe to assume that she wasn’t married to anyone, but that didn't mean she wasn't seeing anyone.

Seeing Caroline in the diner sent me back to the first day I ever met her. She was a freshman and fresh to town and it was clear she was out of her element. The first day I saw her, she had her face buried in her textbooks, oblivious to what was going on around her. She was adorable and I knew that I had to talk to her. From that day on, I was almost obsessed with her.

I knew this was my chance to make things right, I had to make things right. I wasn’t going to get another chance like this. I pulled my phone out and called Corey. He wouldn't question me as much as Brian would at this moment

“Matt, is everything okay? Where are you? Syn texted me saying you took off.” He asked as soon as he answered.

“I’m fine. I need Caroline’s address. I need to make things right with, man. When is the next time I’m going to be in the same town as her and know she’s actually here?” I rushed out.

“If I give it to you, you have to promise me not to be a dick to her. She doesn’t need that shit, Matt. That girl has been through enough shit to last her a life time.” Corey warned.

“I swear. I just want to talk to her. To fix whatever is between us. I miss her, Corey.”

“You need to tell her about Mel and the kids. She has a right to know.”

I ran a hand down my face. I didn’t really want to tell her about my failed marriage, but I couldn’t wait to tell her about Jesse and Carly. “I know I do.”

Corey sighed. “Fine, I’ll text it to you.”

“Thank you!” As soon as I hung up and got her address along with another a threat, I requested an Uber and waited.

The longer I waited, the more nervous I became. What if she slammed the door in my face and told me to fuck off? She had every right to, but I really hoped she wouldn’t. I was so deep in my thoughts that I jumped when my phone rang indicating my ride was here. I quickly got in and made small talk with the middle aged man driving the car. I filled him in on everything that went down between Caroline and I, not sure why I did because I am a very private person and rarely disclosed more than needed.

“You got yourself in it deep, son.” He scolded me. “You’d be lucky if this young lady even opens her door for you. Get ready to do lots of begging.”

I chuckled. “No begging….yet. I have to get her to talk to me first.”

He pulled up to a rundown, yet nice looking apartment building. “Good luck, son.” He called as I got out of the car. I looked at the address again and ran up the two flights of stairs to Caroline’s apartment.

I stood in front of a door with a sign that welcomed anyone who walked by with bright colors, sure to brighten anyone's day. I studied the sign as I tried to steady my breathing as I clenched and unclenched my hands. I looked to my left and then to my right taking in the state of the hallway of the apartment building Caroline lives in. It was very outdated and basic. It wasn’t in the best part of town from what Corey told me, but he assured me she was safe.

Taking a shaky breath I knocked and listened as I heard mumbling and movement on the other side. When the door swung open, I had the wind knocked out of me. Caroline stood there in short athletic shorts and a Vengeance University shirt. Her hair was held back by a headband and she had fuzzy socks on her feet.

“Matt.” She breathed.

“Hi Care-Bear...” I smiled.

I stood there and smirked lightly as she ran her eyes all over my body. I tried my hardest not to flex or even puff my chest out. I knew I was far more built than I was when she was with me. I mentally shook my head, why did I care if Caroline found me fit and attractive. I wasn't here to win her back, I was here to apologize and catch up with an old friend.

Wordlessly, Caroline stepped to the side and let me into her apartment. I looked around the small space and smiled to myself, it was clear there was a child living here but everything else was purely Caroline. Once the door was closed, I turned at looked at the woman in front of me, using this time to check her out much like she did to me not too long ago.

"How did you know where to-Corey." She hissed, then sighed. "What are you doing here, Matt?" She asked.

"I wanted to talk to see you. I've missed you, Car." I said, shifting around.

Caroline was shaking her head no before I was even finished talking. "Uh no, you're not allowed to miss me. You're the one that left for tour when I mentioned I was coming out here. You waited until I left before leaving yourself. Hell, you didn't even call or text me! I had no idea where you were or that you even left! At least Zee was nice enough to tell me that you went on tour early. At least he apologized for not getting to say goodbye. He actually kept me in the loop. I spoke to him more than I did you, Matt.”

I watched as tears filled her eyes, but she quickly blinked them back and continued to berate me before I could even get a word in. She continued to yell at me about being an asshole and not caring about her. "Just because I had to leave California didn't mean that I stopped loving you or thinking about you." Caroline confessed. I breathed deeply, but continued to stay quiet. She didn't stop loving me? If she never stopped loving me, then why didn't she ever contact me? She continued to yell at me and blink back tears, but still remained silent. "We were going to get married!" She screamed at me and my heart stopped. She was right, we were going to get married after she graduated college.

I could stop the growl of frustration and anger that escaped me. Did she really think I forgot that? "You think I don't remember that little piece of information? Hell, that's all I thought about when you were gone...when I was on tour." I seethed. "I wanted to call you and apologize for just leaving but my ego was wounded. I wanted you with me, not here taking care of a baby that wasn't even yours." I knew it was a low blow the second I said it, but in the heat of the moment I wasn't worried about hurting her. I needed her to understand how I felt about her leaving me.

"Watch what your next words are, Sanders." She practically growled at me. I nearly flinched at her tone. "That's my sister you're talking about."

There was the fierce protector I knew Caroline to be. She would stand up for any and every body she cared about. I held my hands up to let her know that I meant no harm and that I was smarter than to cross her. "I know." I caved. "Speaking of, how is your mom?" I looked around and noticed all of her sister's things but there were also some other things lying around.

Suddenly Caroline's face fell and she paled. "You don't know?" She whispered. "Brian didn't tell you?"

"Tell me what?" I asked, thinking back to all the time Brian and I spoke. Not once did he ever mention anything about Caroline. Not that I would have listened to anything about her. I continued to stare at her and wonder what the hell was going on.

"Mom died six months ago and I am Lilly's legal guardian." She said in a shaky breath. My heart stopped. Oh my god. I knew the cancer was a concern, but I never thought it was bad enough to kill her. I didn't know what to say, so I just reached for you. I didn't care about the fact that I was supposed to be mad at her, but I could put that aside for now. I held on to Caroline as she sobbed into my chest, hitting my occasionally while yelling about how much she needed me. It broke my heart to hear her so sad and it killed me even more that I wasn't there for her when her mother passed away. I should have been.

"Let it out, baby. I've got you." I whispered as she continued to cry and yell at me. ""You didn't need me, Caroline." I told her. "You made it through without me. You continue to stay strong for Lilly. Brian told me about everything you've done and sacrificed for her and I wouldn't expect anything less of you. That's who you are, that's one of the many reasons I fell in love with you." She pulled away from me and looked up at me with her tear filled eyes and I felt myself soften. My Care-Bear was hurting and I didn't know how to fix it.

Before either one of us could say anything, a scared yell filled the small apartment. The second the sound registered with the woman in my arms, she stepped away from me and wiped the tears off her cheeks and took a deep breath before leaving me and walking down the hallway. I stood in the small living room and ran a hand down my face, wrapping my head around the fact that Caroline was essentially a mom. I knew I could be mad at her like I wanted to because I had two solid reasons back home to prove that.

I listened to the quiet chatter coming from down the hallway and soon I heard the familiar words of Dear God being sung. Quietly, I leaned on the door frame of a small room clearly decorated for a young child. Looking around, I saw a lot of the same things that I would find in my own little girl's room back home. Smiling at the thought of Carly, I pulled my phone out to call Melony and talk to the kids, but decided to snap a picture of Lilly curled up on Caroline's chest, tears still streaking down her cheek. Seeing the little girl upset, made him ache. There was nothing worse as a parent than your child being upset. I must've made a noise because Caroline turned and smiled at me, blushing lightly. She spoke softly to her sister before smiling and gesturing me into the room.

As I walked into the room I picked up where Caroline left off. I didn't even get two words out before Lilly shot off of Caroline's chest with gasp. She stared at me wide eyed before looking at Caroline for an explanation, making me chuckle.

"He sounds just liked the song." She whispered, awed.

Caroline chuckled and placed a kiss on the little girl's head. "That's because it is him. I met him and we became friends when I lived in California. Can you say hi to Matt?"

"Hi Matt." Lilly said shyly.

"Hi there Lilly," I waved. "It's nice to meet you." I shook her hand with a smile. "Would you like for me to finish the song?"

She nodded enthusiastically and demanded that Caroline helps too. I smirked over at Caroline and she blushed some more before making sure Lilly got into bed before we finished. Once Lilly was settled Caroline and I playfully argued over who started the song and I "lost". I started the song over and watched as the little girl slowly fell asleep gripping her blanket and sucking her thumb. I continued to sing even after she was asleep, lost in my own world thinking about Carly and wondering if this is what life with Caroline would have been like. Would we have sat on the floor of our daughters' room singing to them? How would Caroline do as a mother? How was she with Lilly? I shook my head to get rid of the thoughts swirling around in there. It was weird to be singing this song with Caroline next to me because I wrote this song for her. I knew it wasn't hard for her to figure out, so the fact that she started singing it to Lilly was the best compliment ever and I couldn't wait to tell the guys.

I sighed and got up off the floor and looked over at Caroline who was clearly lost in her own world. "Caroline." I whispered, placing a hand on her arm. "She's asleep." I nodded in Lilly's direction before slipping out of the room and going back into the living room. I pulled my phone back out and sent a text to Brian.

There is so much you didn't tell me. I'm not mad, but I am at the same time. I missed a lot with her. She can fucking sing, man! And Lilly is adorable. She reminds me of Carly. I attached the picture I snapped of the Harper sisters before sipping my phone in my pocket as Caroline came back into the room.

"Do you want a beer?" She asked as she walked into the kitchen. Shocked, I agreed and smiled my thanks when she handed it to me. "So....the floor is yours."

I took a sip of my beer and looked at her. "I don't know where to start, Caroline. I have so much to say to you but at the same time I don't know what to say." I sighed and ran a hand down my face.

"Tell me what I missed the last five years. I've been following you guys and I have to say I am so proud of you guys." She smiled.

"Don't you want to talk about us leaving?" Why the fuck did I just ask that?

Caroline shook her head. "I don't want to get into that right now. I just want to catch up with you, Matt. It's been five years, I want to catch up on what we've missed." She took a deep breath. "Are you still married? Brian told me you were engaged a couple years ago."

Leave it to Caroline Harper to jump right into the think of things. I was going to ease Melony and the kids into this conversation, but clearly Caroline had other ideas. So, I dove into the whirlwind that was my brief marriage to Melony. I was pleasantly surprised with how well the conversation was flowing without many awkward pauses. There were even times when it felt like old times and we were laughing and picking on each other. Before we knew it, it was after midnight.

"Shit, I hate to be rude, Matt but I need to get to bed soon. I may not have to go in until noon, but Lilly is going to wake me up in a couple of hours." Caroline said, standing up and gathering the beer bottles that began to stack up during our catching up.

"I'm sorry Care, I didn't realize with was this late. I need to be getting back to the hotel because we fly out tomorrow." I said, suddenly disappointed that I had to go home.

"Oh, you're leaving tomorrow." Was that disappointment I heard in her voice?

"Yeah, I promised the kids that I would take them to mom and dad's cabin now that they were older."

Caroline nodded with a fond smile on her face, no doubt thinking back to all the trouble we all go into at the cabin . "That will be so much fun." She said, walking me to the door.

"We are looking forward to it. " I smiled. Opening the door, I turned to Caroline and pressed a kiss to her cheek. "Don't be a stranger Caroline. Keep in touch this time. I really have missed you. We all have." I smirked, making sure my dimples popped.

"I promise, Matt. Tell the rest of the guys I said hi and for them to text me more often! Especially Johnny and Jimmy. I know they hate me, but I do miss them." She frowned.

"They don't hate you." I assured her. "They're just hurt that they haven't heard from you in years but Zack and Brian have. Give them some time and they'll be back to their normal annoying selves and you will wish you never got back into contact with them."

She sighed. "I know. I'm sorry."

"Let's not get into that right now. You need to get some sleep and I need to get my shit off the bus and packed. I promise to keep in touch with you, Caroline." I leaned forward and kissed her cheek again. "You take care of yourself and that little girl asleep in there."

She blushed. "I will. You take Care and have a safe flight home. It was really nice to catch up with you, Matt. Even if it didn't start off the best of ways."

"You too, Carrie" I smiled. "Have a good night."

I walked out into the hallway and waved at Caroline one more time before making my way out of the building and into the cool night air. I sighed and lit up a cigarette as I waited for my ride to get to me. I looked up at the stars and couldn't keep the smile off my face. My day started off horribly when I saw Caroline for the first time and I thought it was going to be the worst day ever, but I was wrong. It was so great getting to catch up with her and remind myself why we were friends in the first place five years ago. I was hoping I wasn't going to regret rekindling anything with her, but even if it back fired. It was the worst best decision I've made in a long time.
♠ ♠ ♠
Here’s is Matt’s feeling. Drama is brewing and I can’t wait for it to explode.

Hope you guys like it! Please let me know what you think!