Into The Storm
Chapter Sixteen: Out Of Tune
"What's going on with you?"
"What are you talking about?" Matthew asked Oliver.
"You seem to be upset about something." Oliver told him
Matthew sometimes forgot how well Oliver knew him. There were a few things bothering him. The main one being Mia. He could've kicked himself for telling her they weren't friends. But he wasn't about to tell Oliver that. Clearly Mia hadn't said anything about it either. Instead Matthew decided to tell Oliver the other thing that was bothering him.
"I'm just a little nervous about the international games. I know Italy has one in December, but they haven't told me if I'll be playing, and Nathaniel doesn't know either. I guess I'm just worried about not making the squad."
It had been haunting him that they may have left both him and Nathaniel off the squad. Matthew had been hoping that he would find out soon. He had really wanted to play against the Luxembourg. Even Nathaniel was looking forward to it.
"Is that all?" Oliver asked him.
"So how's Ariana?" Matthew asked Oliver, changing the subject, their training session had finally ended.
These days it seemed that everyone had something on their minds. Both Mia and Oliver were looking a little weary. No doubt, he was probably looking the same for completely different reasons.
"She's alright." Oliver sighed.
"How's her mother?" Matthew asked. He knew Ariana had stayed behind to take care of her ailing mother. It must have been hard for the both of them to live so far apart from each other. Matthew knew how much Oliver had been hoping for them to start a family.
"She's not doing any better. Ariana's not sure how much longer she has." Oliver sounded upset.
"I'm sorry." Matthew said, putting a hand on Oliver's shoulder.
"It's okay...it's been a long time coming. It's just hard to think..." Oliver trailed off.
"What's hard to think?" Matthew asked, as they headed for the direction of the dormitories.
"It's hard to think my future kids won't know their grandparents."
"I'm sorry for your loss."
"Where is he? What did you do to him?"
Mia woke up with a jolt. Sitting up she realized she was covered in a cold sweat. The words and her screams kept echoing in her head. Taking a deep breath she tried to calm herself.
The closer it got to Max's memorial, the more she had been dreaming of her brother's death.
Turning to look if the others were still sleeping, Mia saw that neither Oliver nor Matthew had woken up because of her. Lying back in her bed, Mia stared up into the darkness.
I miss you Max, Mia thought glumly. It had been five years since he had passed away. There were still odd moments when Mia would expect her brother to call. Lying in the stillness of the night, Mia tried to conjure up his voice. During the first few months after his death, she had been terrified that she would forget how Max looked like, the sound of his voice, she was scared to forget him.
Even now Mia would see something that reminded her of Max, and she could feel her throat clench up. He had always stuck up for her against their mother, and here she was snubbing their mother through him. Mia couldn't help but feel a little ashamed. He stuck up for me only until- Shut up brain! Mia berated herself for trying to find an excuse.
Maybe I should go home, Mia pondered, it's been so long... Mia still hadn't sent her father a reply. The email had been in her draft folder, forgotten. The memorial was the week after next.
Stifling a yawn, Mia got out of her bed silently, and left for the living room. Finding her laptop, she started it up and logged in.
Looking over her email, Mia deleted some of it started to write once more. Once she was satisfied, Mia read it over once more.
How are you? I'm fine. I've been busy with work, so I'm sorry about taking so long to reply. I love being out of the university. For once, I don't have to worry about publishing papers. Hope you and Mom are alright. I know it's been a while since I've been home...I missed the cottage this year too. I miss you. I hope I'll be able to come for the memorial. I'll go and ask Mr. Pettyfer tomorrow if I can take some time off. I don't think I'll be able to stay for the holidays...the team has a big match on Boxing Day, so I'll have to be back here before that.
Hope to see you soon,
Proud for not taking a shot at her mother, Mia clicked send. Falling back against the couch, Mia hoped everything would work out. Now all I have to do is ask Felix...She thought tiredly. Sitting on the couch, Mia let her thoughts drift off to think about Max.
"Sorry, Matthew...you've been left off of the squad."
He was flabbergasted. He couldn't find the words to speak. It was then he felt the ground beneath him give way. He started falling, the feeling of despair enveloping him.
Matthew woke up suddenly. Breathing hard, he looked around in the dark allowing his eyes adjust. It was then he noticed the bed beside him was empty.
Where is she? Matthew thought with concern. Is she okay?
Getting up quietly, Matthew saw a light in the living room. Breathing a sigh of relief, Matthew peered around the half open door. There she was, sitting on the couch, contemplating something. She's fine, Matthew thought, tearing his eyes away from her.
Going back to his bed, Matthew lay facing the wall. It was hard to think he could be left off the squad. As Matthew waited for sleep to find him, he heard Mia enter the room. It was worse to think he had moronically messed things up with Mia. Would he get another chance?
A knock sounded on the door of her office. Mia turned to see who it was. In front of her, Matthew stood leaning against the door watching her carefully. On time, Mia thought with a certain air of smugness. Since their little boxing match, Matthew had not come late, not even once to Mia's delight. There's hope for you yet, Rossi, Mia thought to herself.
He didn't say anything as he sat down on the examining table, Mia stifled a groan. He was still as unfriendly as ever. Dealing with him had fast become her least favourite thing. She got his file and sat back in her chair.
"How's your wrist? Does it still hurt?" She asked; looking over the notes Jon had sent her.
"It's fine." Was his terse reply.
"Great." Mia muttered under her breath. This is going to be a while...Joy...Mia thought dully, getting up and walking over to him as she went through his file.
"Hello sir." Matthew replied. His cell phone had been ringing during practice. Finally checking who had been calling him, Matthew had been pleasantly surprised to see the Italian football team manager's number.
Although hesitant as he had dialled the number, Matthew hoped that the manager had called to tell him good news. Otherwise why would he waste his time? Matthew asked himself, unsure he really wanted to find out the other possibility.
"Matthew, we would be delighted to have you on the squad for the match against Luxembourg."
Stunned to silence, Matthew opened and closed his mouth, unable to find the right words.
"The match is on December 8th, but you know the drill. Players should be there a week before. We have a lot of practices scheduled."
"Thank you, sir. It's an honour." Matthew managed, as the manager went on in detail.
Hanging up the phone, Matthew stood, basking in his happiness. It wasn't long before he bolted out of the room and up the stairs. Pounding on the door with excitement, it took all of his power to contain his joy.
"Nathaniel, did you get the call?" Matthew asked, still a little breathless from the news and having rushed up the stairs to Nathaniel's dorm room.
"I just got their call! We're both going to the Luxembourg!" Nathaniel gave Matthew a high-five.
"This is going to be awesome!" Nathaniel said, excitedly.
"Yea, it is." Matthew said, sitting on the couch.
"Have you told Felix yet?"
"No, I just found out...we should go do that now."
"Mia, have you talked to your boss yet?"
Having finally answered a call from her father, Mia sighed away from the receiver, deciding to answer truthfully.
"No, Dad. I haven't had the time. I've been working all morning. Plus, I would have to make an appointment with his secretary."
"Alright, alright...I'll go in a little while to see if he has time. If he doesn't, I'll make an appointment for tomorrow at the latest." She hated it when her father used her name in its entirety.
"Okay, sweetheart." Her father relented.
"So...how is everything, Dad?" Mia asked, trying to change the subject.
"Everything is fine. Your mother is doing well."
"Oh I bet she is..." Mia muttered under her breath.
"What was that?" Her father asked her.
"It's good to hear that she's alright." Mia said quickly.
"You know she does love you, Mia." She could hear the exasperation in her father's voice.
"If you say so."
"Dad, it's okay. I'll be good. Anyway, I should go check in on Felix. Maybe he has a few minutes to spare." Mia interrupted her father, trying to keep him from justifying her mother's attitude towards her.
"Well then, I hope I'll see you soon."
"Yea...take care, Dad." Mia said, as she hung up the phone. She hated ending the conversation so abruptly. Getting up with a heavy heart, Mia left her office and walked down the hall towards Felix's.
Upon entering the large office, Mia saw the secretary look up at her.
"Hi, Ms. Wheldon. Does Mr. Pettyfer have a few minutes? I was hoping I could ask him some questions." Mia said to the elderly lady.
"I'm not sure if he has time today, but I'll check his books." She told Mia.
Standing at the receptionist's desk, Mia looked around the room. There were many pictures that framed the room; some were from times long before the current squad. In one corner of the room was a blown up photo of Matthew with the ball. The look of concentration on his face was captivating. I wonder what he thinks in those moments. Mia thought curiously. He looked impressive. His blue eyes focused on the ball.
As the secretary turned to her, Mia returned her attention to the task at hand.
"You may be able to see-"
Ms. Wheldon was interrupted by Felix's office door opening. Mia saw him step out and take a look around. As his eyes settled on her, Mia saw him break into a smile.
"Ah, Mia! I was just about to send for you!"
Mia couldn't stop the questioning look that must have crossed her face. Am I in trouble? She asked herself.
"Come in, Mia. There is much to talk about." Felix ushered her in to his office. As she entered, Mia's face fell. Already sitting in the office were Nathaniel and Matthew.
"That's why I will need you to accompany these two." Felix told Mia.
Matthew could see her sitting stiff, her back poker straight. Purposely sitting as far from him as possible, Mia had yet to look at him. Clearly she wasn't too happy with this development. She seemed to be apprehensive about the whole situation.
"You will be paid overtime for this. I believe these two are the only ones on your roster that play for their international squad. Oliver and Lucas retired a few years back, and the others have not been selected for England's squad."
Mia looked to be deep in thought. Finally she spoke.
"When will they be playing their match?" She asked.
Felix had not yet told her when Matthew and Nathaniel would be playing.
"You will be going next week; they have practices scheduled throughout the week. The game against Luxembourg is December 8th."
"I was going to ask you for time off during that week." Mia said taken aback.
"You can take two weeks right after their match. It'll give you a break before the Boxing day match." Felix told her, sounding hopeful.
Matthew watched her carefully, she was contemplating the idea. She muttered a few words.
What about your family? He wondered. Was there something that she would be missing?
A look of relief crossed her face, puzzling him. It was then Matthew heard her sigh. She was going to accept.
"Okay. I'll go. Is it okay if I just fly home from Luxembourg the day after their match?"
"Yes, of course. Ms. Wheldon will book your flights; just tell her where you will be going for your break. Matthew will book a room for you at the hotel where he and Nathaniel will be staying for the week. I think that just about covers it."
At last, Mia looked at Matthew. She glared at him, her green eyes glinting with fury. This is all your fault! The look on her face told him.
Felix turned his attention towards him and Nathaniel.
"Matthew and Nathaniel, I hope you two do well. Take care of yourselves, all of you. And Mia," Felix looked over to her, Matthew watched as she met Felix's gaze.
"Don't worry about anything. I'm sure everything will be fine."
Walking out of the main office, Mia clenched her fists. The thought of having to talk to her father about cancelling was not boding well with her.
Matthew and Nathaniel were walking ahead of her. Without much thought, Mia had told the secretary to book her flight home from Luxembourg, and then to Australia. Knowing she would need some time to forget her mother, it would be the perfect time to see Stacie.
Nathaniel said his goodbye as he headed for the gym, leaving Matthew and Mia to walk to their room, together.
If uneasiness between them was an indication of how the upcoming week would go, Mia hoped there wouldn't be much interaction between herself and Matthew. Please, let me get a room far, far away from him, Mia found herself hoping.
"You're not missing anything important with your family next week, are you?" She heard Matthew ask.
Mia looked up at him. He seemed interested. For some reason, he seemed to talk to her out of the blue. Whenever he spoke she was usually alone.
"It's none of your concern...just a family get together." She wound up telling him.
"Are you sure? We don't need a distracted doctor to come along with us."
Feeling the heat rising to her face, Mia was more than a little stung by the comment. How dare he question my ability! She thought with resentment.
"Firstly, I am not distracted. Secondly, you should be worried more about yourself than about me. And third, it'll be your fault if I am distracted." She told him, completely miffed.
"It's not my fault. Felix wanted you to come." He defended himself.
"Yea...because of you. It's always because of you! Anyway, I don't even know why I'm bothering to argue with you. We're not friends. You shouldn't care if I think it's your fault, which I do." She told him, angrily. His blue eyes registered surprise in seeing her upset.
It was then Mia's phone started to ring. Mia glanced at the screen. It was her father. Crap! Mia thought.
"I have to take this. I'd say we'll talk later but we both know that's not going to happen...so I'll talk to you, never."
Mia walked away, furious with the way everything was always working in his favour. She was always being dragged in to something that involved him. If this is punishment for not actually wanting to go home...then you've made your point! Mia thought with bitterness. Knowing who was waiting to talk to her, Mia nervously answered the call.