Status: Active

Dear God

Chapter 03

I stood in the middle of the living room staring at the door. The same door Matt just walked out of not even five minutes ago. I still couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that Matt was in Iowa, let alone my apartment. It was weird being in the same room again with him after all the time we were apart and I had expected it to be awkward, but after the first few minutes it was like old times. We were joking around and teasing each other while catching up. There were a few times throughout the night that I felt guilty because I had kept in touch with Zacky and Brian and only asked about the other guys a handful of times. Especially Matt. He was the one I was afraid to keep in touch with after everything that happened. When he told me about his kids, I wanted to cry. I always thought he and I would have a family together, but clearly that never happened. I knew he would be a great father and it made me wonder about his relationship with his kids. Brian had mentioned them in passing, but I never brought it up or elaborated on the subject. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to know about his kids, it was more of a pride thing. I stung to think about Matt with kids and not being the one to bare those children and watch them grow up with him by my side.

Hours after Matt left my apartment, I checked on Lilly one last time before getting myself to bed, my television shows forgotten. I was too lazy to pull the bed out so I just laid on the couch and stared at the ceiling in the dark. My mind was all over the place. Part of me was happy to see Matt, but the other part of me never wanted to see him again after he inadvertently broke my heart.

At the same time though, seeing him brought back memories from when we first met when I was a fresh eighteen years old and trying to survive life and college in Southern California.
It was just over six years ago that in a small café where I had been studying for the first midterm of my college career. I had been in the café all week long either working or studying and almost every day I noticed a group of tattooed guys-- sometimes together or sometimes solo-- getting large quantities of coffee. They never seemed to stay long in the café, but knew almost everyone in the place. I was aware of the guys but never really paid them any mind. However, I did find the buffer one of the group quite attractive. So attractive that I often caught myself staring at him which pissed me off because if I was staring at him, I wasn’t studying. I had to chuckle to myself in the dark of the room because being mad at myself for staring at Matt didn’t stop that day at the café.

During our times together, I always got caught or caught myself staring at him whenever we were together, especially when they were in the studio and I got to go with them. That’s when I’d get caught up in him the most. When he was in his element and in full M. Shadows mode.
Before I knew who M.Shadows was, I was introduced to him. Matt was so confident approached me that fateful day all those years ago. I laughed, thinking back to how much I wanted to turn around and stab the asshole when he interrupted my studying. Then he flashed me those dimples and I couldn’t follow through with my internal threat.

“You look like you’re ready to kill someone.” He commented.

I had to bite the inside of my cheek to keep myself from telling him that he was my victim. “And yet you chose to come over here and talk to me. You’re either very brave or you have death wish.” I smirked.

He chuckled and I felt my heart flutter. “Little of both, but mostly curious about what has you so huffy.”

I looked down at my textbook with a groan. “Public relations and business management”

He whistled. “PR sucks. I have a great PR team though, so I don’t have to deal with it very much. What do you want to do with that degree?”

I smiled. “I want to be a music producer. My cousin is in two bands and my best friend is in a band as well. My cousin use to let me sit in on their recording sessions and their tech would show me the ropes, as would my cousin. My best friend loves to tell me all about his band’s recording process and I’ve even talked to their tech about possibly interning with him once everything is said and done with school wise.” I took a much needed breath, “I also like the workings of the music industry, especially touring.”

“Wow, you’re clearly passionate. Are you cousin and best friend in any known bands?”

“Yes! My cousin is the lead singer of Slipknot and Stone Sour.” Matt’s eye brows raised in pure shock and I knew that he knew who my cousin was. It wasn’t a secret that Corey’s bands were well known and because of that I don’t tell many people who he is to me, but there was something about this tattooed man in front of me that made me tell him…and trust him. “My best friend is the lead guitarist of a band named, Avenged Sevenfold. They’re actually from around here so you probably know them.”

Matt busted out laughing. “Yeah I know the band pretty well actually.” He caught his breath and leaned forward on his elbows. “Tell me Caroline, has your cousin ever introduced you to anyone from the his band?”

“Yeah, Jimmy, their drummer. They were in a band together before created and joining Avenged. Why?” I asked, with a small tilt to my head.

Matt didn’t say anything as he handed me his phone. On the screen was a picture and I quickly recognized Brian and Jimmy, but that wasn’t what caught my attention. Front and center of the picture and the group was the man sitting across the table from me.

“Oh my god.” I whispered to myself before meeting laughing hazel eyes. “Now I know why you laughed” I blushed. “I am so sorry, before now I’ve never seen a picture of the band. I’ve only ever heard stories or heard your music. Brian usually sent me audio files and you guys are never on the album covers so I never knew what anyone other than Jimmy looked like.”
Matt reached out and squeezed my hand. “Relax, Caroline. I’m not offended, it’s actually nice to not be recognized.”

After the initial embaressment of not knowing how Matt was, the two of us continued to get to know each other. As Matt was telling me about something that happened on tour years ago, I couldn’t stop checking him out. He wasn’t my normal type of guy but there was just
something about the lip piercing, the gauged ears, and the tattoos that drew me in. Now that I’ve been talking to him, it was clear he was a pretty good guy. He loved his friends and family and would do anything for them.

After about three hours of talking, I had to leave for my next class. Matt offered to drive me to class but I had declined, but promised to meet him for coffee the next day.

I shook my head as sleep started taking over. Those coffee meet ups turned into lunch dates which then turned into dinner dates. Brian had found out and freaked out on Matt demanding that he respect me but he wasn’t going to keep us from seeing each other because he approved. I fell asleep thinking of Matt and the good days when we were together.
A few days after the surprise of a lifetime, I found myself staring at my phone wondering if I really wanted to call Brian and get the answers to the million and half questions that I had. I had already talked to Corey about everything, but he wasn’t able to answer my questions about Matt. Sure he knew some things, but not as much as Brian would know. I took a deep breath and clicked on Brian’s name.

“Hello Sweet Caroline,” Brian answered with a chuckle.

“Hello Guitar Master.” I replied.

Brian and I have always had silly ways of greeting each other ever since we were little. It had started when my mom took me over to Senior and Suzy’s place the first time. I was introduced to Brian and as soon as he heard my name, he bust out into song. Near the end of our trip, I had heard Brian call himself a guitar master so many times that I stared calling him that. Even after all these, we still call each these nicknames and Brian even got the guys to starting singing “Sweet Caroline” or just call me that. I never got tired of it. It reminded me of simpler times.

“What do I owe the pleasure of your phone call?”

I sighed. “I need answers, Bri.”

It was Brian’s turn to sigh. “I was waiting for this. Seeing him hit you hard didn’t it?”

I shook my head. “It hit me that’s for sure. It got me thinking about everything. Every time I talked to you, Zack, Michelle, or April, I never really asked how Matt was doing.” I sighed again.

“That’s not true, Care. You asked about him.”

“Yeah but in a polite manner. It was always “how’s Matt and the rest of the guys?” or “How’s everyone doing?” Not once did I ever ask how Matt was doing.”

“In the beginning you did….”

“That’s because I was hoping there was still some chance that we could work through everything and stay together, but clearly that never happened.” I took a deep breath. “Be real with me Brian. How did Matt handle the break up? You know how I handled it, but I want to know how he handled it. Was I being over dramatic about my first real breakup or was he feeling it too?”

I listened as Brian shifted around before letting out a deep sigh. “He handled it just like you did, except he chose to be pissed off at the world and everyone in it. It was when he was drunk or high that he really let us know how he felt about leaving you. He was mad at you, Caroline. He had no right to be, but he was and he didn’t care that it made him an asshole. It fueled his persona and management was loving the new pissed off, fuck the world, M. Shadows that dominated the stage, so he kept on hating you.”

Brian took another deep breath and I did too. My eyes were stinging with unshed tears at the thought of him hating me. Of being mad at me. I hated when I disappointed people and I really hated having them upset with me. I was a people pleaser, so knowing that the one person I cared about the most back then hated m-- it killed me.
“What management didn’t see was the man who cried into his beer or in the darkness of his bunk. What people didn’t see was the man who cringed and fought through playing one of our most popular songs and then standing back stage screaming until the next song. We saw that. We were the ones who had to stand by as he paraded women around one minute, wanting to punch him for doing that to you even if you didn’t know it was happing, to bawling in my arms because we ended the night with Dear God. Caroline, he was a mess. On stage he may have been badass M. Shadows, but on the bus he was a broken version of the guy you left behind.”

I couldn’t stop the tears from falling. I saw the on stage front he had in place. I followed the band and their endeavors once I knew who they were. I knew what Brian was talking about when he mentioned the give no fucks attitude Matt had. It broke my heart, though, to know he hurt like I did. The only difference was I didn’t drown my hurt in booze, drugs, and chicks. I couldn’t. I had Lilly to worry about.

“Brian, how did he meet his ex...Melony?”

Brian groaned. “Please don’t make me tell you that Care. You don’t want to hear it and I don’t want you crying over him again.” I smiled at the big brother tone, Brian was using on me. It’s been so long that he needed to be my big brother.

I laughed sarcastically. “Too late Bri. Please just tell me. I need to know. I know they never got married but he proposed didn’t he? He had to have some feelings for her.” I whispered.

Why was I doing this to myself? Why was I breaking my heart all over again?

The guitarist dramatically caved. “She was a groupie. She followed us everywhere that tour and she took advantage of heartbroken and intoxicated Matt. Then she got pregnant and he sobered up a bit. We saw a change in him. He cleaned himself up and started taking care of himself again. We all knew she did it on purpose to trap him but he didn’t want to hear it.”

“Does he know it was a trap?” I asked, fuming.

“He has an idea but he doesn’t want to believe it.”

I threw my head back and stared at the ceiling. Not really sure how to process everything Brian had just laid on me.

~~Matt’s POV~~
My house was quiet. The kids were in school and I couldn’t get them for another three hours. Bella and Shadow gave up on playing and decided to leave me alone to go lay by the pool. I glanced around the living room and decided I couldn’t stay here much longer or I’d lose my mind. Since returning from Iowa, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about Caroline. It was starting to drive me nuts and I needed a distraction.

Grabbing my keys and sunglasses, I was out the door and unlocking my prized Chevelle. I drove the car whenever I didn’t have the kids because as much as I loved Jesse and Carly, there was no way they were getting in my baby until they were older and didn’t make a mess everywhere they went.

Not wanting to go anywhere crowded, I decided to see what Brian and Michelle were up to. I didn’t really need a car to go to Brian’s but I was feeling lazy today, so it wasn’t even two minutes later I was parking in front of the Haners’ front door. Walking in without knocking was something our group did all the time, so I did just that.
Michelle was sitting in the family room and waved as I passed her on the way to Brian’s studio. Seeing that the light was off, I walked in and sat on the couch when I noticed he was on the phone. I laid my head back on the couch and listened to the one-sided conversation.

“What management didn’t see was the man who cried into his beer or in the darkness of his bunk. What people didn’t see was the man who cringed and fought through playing one of our most popular songs and then standing back stage screaming until the next song. We saw that. We were the ones who had to stand by as he paraded women around one minute, wanting to punch him for doing that to you even if you didn’t know it was happing, to bawling in my arms because we ended the night with Dear God. Caroline, he was a mess. On stage he may have been badass M. Shadows, but on the bus he was a broken version of the guy you left behind.” Brian said, spinning around in his chair to look at me.

My head snapped up and I glared at him. He was talking to Caroline and telling her about tour. That time apart was not something she needed to know about. She didn’t care to ask about me then, she doesn’t get to ask about me now. I was fuming, mad at Brian for telling her and mad at Caroline for asking.

Brian looked at me with pained eyes before leaning his head back with a groan. “Please don’t make me tell you that Care. You don’t want to hear it and I don’t want you crying over him again.”

Crying over me? She cried over me all those years ago? As much as I wanted to hear what else those two were going to talk about, I couldn’t stop thinking about Caroline crying over me. The only times I really saw her cry were when she was so stressed out and when her mom was diagnosed with cancer. I hated seeing her cry then and surprisingly it killed me to know she was crying over me after all this time.


I watched as Caroline walked out of the Haners’ backyard with tears in her eyes. I hated making her cry, but I was mad at her. She was just going to up and leaving me to go be with her mom…I knew it was a possibility but it hurt to think about. I knew she wanted to be there for her mom and the birth of her little sister, but did she really need to make her trip indefinitely?

Johnny came over to me with a few beers. “Want to tell me what that was all about?” He asked, handing me two the beers in his hands.

“Just stupid shit. Caroline is leaving tomorrow.”

“So you got in a fight with her?” Johnny rolled his eyes. “That’s real nice Matt, it’s not like she doesn’t have enough shit going on.”

“Shut up, short shit. You don’t understand.” I grumbled, sipping my beer.

Johnny got up and glared down at me. “I understand that you’re in love with her and you don’t want to see her go, but remember that she loves you too.” He said before joining the rest of the guys by the pool.

Part of me felt bad for my reaction towards Johnny but I was hurt and when I’m hurt I lash out and turn into a bigger asshole. Everyone keeps telling me that I need to tell Carolina about tour and they were right but with everything going on with her mom, I felt like I was being put on the back burner. I mean she didn’t even tell me about the possibility of her leaving earlier than planned. She wasn’t including me in these choices and it hurt more than I cared to admit. I loved Caroline and I needed her and I thought she needed me too, but clearly I was wrong.

The next day I stared at my phone where a text from Caroline asking if she was going to see me before she left, sat unanswered. It killed me not answering her but I was pissed and hurt. I wanted her to feel the same way I did. I wanted her to realize that she was being selfish and that she should have talked to me. That was the day that sent me on a dark path for the next few years.

~~End of Flashback~~

I leaned my head back against the back of Brian’s couch and stared at the ceiling. When it Came time for tour to start and Caroline wasn’t there, I was pissed. We had been talking about going on tour together and potentially getting married. We had plans and she had thrown them all away to be with her mom. I had turned to drugs, alcohol, and women to drown out my anger. Eventually I started hating myself for doing what I was doing to my sweet Caroline, but the more days that passed without any form of communication the more drugs I did and the more I drank. The more I drank the more women I went through. It was an endless, vicious cycle I was stuck in for years. meeting Mel helped me get out of that cycle and darkness. It was easy to pretend that I was happy with Mel, but in reality I was miserable. I was just happy to not be alone anymore.

Then years later I see her Sweet Caroline. Looking as beautiful as she did the day she walked out of Senior’s back yard. Seeing her that day in the diner pissed me off. It brought back everything i felt when we were apart from each other and it reminded me of the asshole i was back then. But with the bad comes the good. Seeing her again also made me feel like the excited and in love 25 year old I was when I had asked Caroline to marry me. Aside from the days my kids were born, proposing to Caroline had been one of the best days of my life.

We were all at Zacky’s annual Halloween party after doing a spontaneous free show for some local fans. Our whole group was getting on Brian and Michelle’s case about being together for so long and for not being engaged. Soon the conversation turned to Caroline and I, causing Caroline to blush and hide from everyone and it had got me thinking more than I already had been. I had a ring with me thanks to a trip to the mall with my friends and seeing the most perfect ring ever.

I looked at Caroline and smiled, reaching into my pocket. I heard April and Michelle gasp as they noticed the velvet box in my hand.

“I was going to wait until it was just the two of us, but this works better.” I chuckled. “Caroline, meeting you in that café all those years ago was the start of the greatest times of my life. I never expected to fall in love. I never expected for you to become such a huge part of this group of people I call my family and you have always been a part of this family, but I think it’s time we make it official. Caroline Harper, will you marry me?”
The tears in Caroline’s eyes didn’t kill me this time because I knew that, even though I was the reason for them, they weren’t because I hurt her. She smiled brightly at me and nodded. “Yes! Yes, Matt I’ll marry you!”

Everyone surrounding us cheered and Brian declared that we all needed to get drunk and celebrate.

“What the hell has you smiling like that?” Brian asked, after finally hanging up his phone.

“I was just thinking about the day Caroline and I got engaged and how happy I was.” I admitted.

Brian sighed and ran a hand down his face. “That was one of her happiest days too, you know. She still has the ring.” He whispered.

My eyes nearly bugged out of me head. “She does?!”

“She wears it on a chain. Hasn’t taken it off since the day she left to be with her mom. She never stopped loving you, Matt. Just like I know that despite a relationship and kids with Melony, you still love Caroline.”

I sighed. “I never stopped loving her, man. You know that.” I took a deep breath. “That was her on the phone. How was she?”

“Confused. Seeing you really messed her up and I’m pretty sure seeing her messed you up.” Spinning in his chair Brian groaned. “At the risk of you getting mad at me, I’m going to tell you something that I told Caroline. You two need to talk about things, for real. Sit down and talk about everything you’re feeling and felt since that day five years ago. You’ve both matured and have had lots of time to think things over.”

“I know, but she probably doesn’t want to talk to me, I was such an asshole to her.”

“She knows that and has accepted that it’s just who you are.” Brian laughed. “Text her. Get a conversation started. It can’t hurt anything and it will get things started in the right direction for the two of you.”

I sat there and stared at my best friend. He clearly had been talking to his wife because there is no way he came up with that all by himself. No matter how he got the advice, it was sound and I needed to take it to heart. I wanted to rekindle what Caroline and I had, even it is just friendship. I pulled my phone out and clicked on a name I haven’t used in a long time.

Hey Care, it’s Matt. I wanted to see if you had some time later this evening to talk? I know we saw each other a few weeks ago and got caught up, but there is so much more we need to talk about.

I set my phone aside and watched Brian mess around with his guitars for a little while before having to go get the kids from school.
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I am so in the groove with this story so be ready for quicker updates!

I hope you all are enjoying the story of Matt and Caroline!