Chapter 3.16: Dear Diary, Matthieu’s Project
Dear Diary, I know its been a while since I last wrote. I think this is the longest I’ve ever gone without writing. You would suppose perhaps that after being dumped by Dax, I would have had loads of thoughts and feelings pouring out of me. But that wasn’t the case at all.
At first, I was just stunned and I felt a little numb as if his leaving wasn’t really happening. Then, after he was gone, I found myself brimming to the top with anger again. The rude things he’d said to me (and all of the things I wish I’d had the cleverness to say back to him) kept replaying in my head. The bite of his words still stung my heart and I couldn’t fathom what I’d done to cause him to do this to me. Had he led me on? Or had I read too much into his words and actions?
Finally, I came to the conclusion that if Dax could change his mind so drastically and quickly like that, well, he just wasn’t the person for me. I wanted security and a lifelong partner who wanted a large family. My ideal man would want to plant his roots and lead the simple kind of life I’d always craved. So, maybe, Dax had done me a favor.
And that brings me to where I am now. Yes, this is Matt’s house, still looking pretty dreadful. Because my feelings were wounded and I didn’t want to dwell on them, I threw myself into helping him fix up his place.
It isn’t what you think, though. I mean, we’re not an item or anything. We’ve just become very good friends. From the beginning, he was kind to me and he was even straight forward enough to tell me the truth about what a terrible brat I was. Okay, that is my word, not his. He was actually very tactful in the way he told me off.
I’ve found that I have a deep respect for him and I think he feels the same way about me. When I’m with him, it’s almost as if we can read each others’ minds. He’s a serious sort who knows what he wants, but he’s also quick to smile or laugh when the occasion calls for it.
Being near him gives me a sense of surety as if I’m in a truly safe place without judgment. In fact, if I were to let my imagination wander freely, I could see the two of us together romantically. I do think he’s incredibly attractive, but more than that, I am at complete ease when I’m with him.
Except that he hasn’t shown any interest in me at all.
Anyway, this is a slideshow of the inside of Matthieu’s house as I first saw it. It’s pretty ghastly, isn’t it? Whenever I’m in there, my skin crawls, but that also makes me even more determined to dig in and get the place shipshape.
In helping Matthieu with this incredible endeavor, I soon met his family. His father Christophe, mother Helene, his older brother Jules and Jules’ teenage son Xavier. (I have to admit that I have teased Matthieu about being so much younger than his brother.)
From the moment I met them, I felt as if I was an honorary member of the family. The entire Larochette clan was warm and welcoming. His father, brother and nephew are all capable woodworkers, so they began with the windows and doors right away.
They also made a small table and chairs for Matt, which, even though the walls were still pretty grotesque, made the dining room feel cozy.
Elliott came over whenever he could to help and admire their hard work.
As for Helene and me, we moved all of the furniture into the rooms we supposed they went in, and we also hung lanterns so we could see better.
After we saw the sofa and chairs in better light, though, I felt they were beyond what we could work with.
“Don’t worry… some scrubbing and slip covers and the furniture will be just fine,” Helene said.
Looking around me and frowning, I doubted that very much. “Perhaps we should look for some good used furniture?”
She smiled warmly and patted my hand. “Of course, whatever you want, dear.”
What a strange thing to say, I thought. “Well, I think it’s whatever Matthieu wants.”
Putting a hand over her heart as if what I said touched her very soul, she said, “You are just the sweetest thing. Sometimes, I cannot believe you’re real!”
“Me either,” I joked but I had no idea what we were even talking about.
“Now, you mustn’t worry about a thing. I know things look drab and dreary right now, but it will all be shipshape in no time.”
“I sure hope so,” I said. “I will feel much better when things feel clean.”
“I always feel the same way,” she agreed.
“Me, too,” Audrey-Ann said as she came into the room.
I smiled as she spread a blanket on the floor and sat Laci in the middle of it to play. Yes, that’s how much time has passed. Elliott and Audrey-Ann are happily married and their precocious little daughter is a toddler already.
“And how is this sweet darling today?” Helene asked.
“She’s over her cold and seems to be pretty much back to normal,” Audrey-Ann answered as she smiled down at Laci.
Personally, I thought Laci was just about the cutest baby I’d ever seen and I simply adored her. Someday, I hoped my husband and I would fill a house with children to love.
Over the next several weeks, the windows were all replaced but no matter how I scrubbed, the walls and floors didn’t feel clean to me. We were able to stock the kitchen, thanks to the St. Cyr garden. And the kitchen felt a little homier.
One evening, after a particular heavy day of work, Matt suggested we walk the path from his house to the beach. Slowly, we lowered our weary bodies onto the park bench and took long sighs of relief.
“It’s so beautiful here,” I murmured, pushing my bare toes into the gritty sand. It felt cool and relieved the pain in my feet from working in shoes all day.
“Yes,” he said. He looked from the setting sun, down to his hands, to the sky again, then back to his hands.
“Looks like a good fishing spot down that way.”
“Maybe we could try our hand at fishing sometime, then.”
Wrinkling my nose, I said, “I hope we get eaten by a Blood-Eyed Doom Fish or a Sharkigator.”
Laughing, I said, “Matt! What is it with you this evening?”
He swallowed hard, his cheeks flaming red. “I have some things on my mind, I guess.”
“Oh? Well, if something’s troubling you, I don’t mind listening.”
He smiled a little before answering. “I know that.”
“Good,” I smiled back at him.
Strangely, he abruptly looked away from me. Perhaps this was more serious than I’d first thought.
“Don’t you just love evenings like this?” I sighed, trying to put him at ease since he didn’t seem to really want to talk after all. “The sky is painted in pinkish-golds, the air’s cooled off and the ocean just smells divine.”
Oh brother, were we back to that already?
“This bench is really hard. Why don’t we sit on the ground?” he suggested.
Side by side, we sat cross legged on the sand. It was definitely softer and did feel better than the bench.
Suddenly, he shook his head and smiled wider. “I’m sorry, Blue. You must think I’m crazy.”
“You do seem distracted.”
The sun had gone down and slowly, stars began to light up the night sky, twinkling here and there. I took a deep breath of the salty air, letting it fill my lungs, feeling it refreshing me from the inside out.
Slowly, I felt him lean back on his hands, then one of his arms slid behind me, his fingers very close to my rear, but not touching. Gradually, I leaned back, too, partly against his strong arm.
As we gazed up toward the sky, he casually asked, “Do you like my family?”
“Oh, yes! I think they’re wonderful. I guess I know where you get it from.”
He had me stumped. Should I just come out and tell him how great I thought he was? What would he think of such a forward comment? Would it send him running for the hills?
“Uh, I just meant, you’re so sweet and all… you were obviously raised by a loving family.”
“I think your family is pretty great, too,” he said. “What…. ummm…. do you think your father thinks of me?”
Just what was he getting at and why was it taking him so long to get there? “I’m sure he thinks you’re very nice and hard working.”
On the spur of the moment, he stood, taking my hand and pulling me to my feet. Looking into my eyes, he softly said, “And what do you think of me?”
“I – I – ” Let’s just say, I stammered a lot.
” – Because, I love you.”
Feeling weak kneed, my jaw dropped slowly. His hazel eyes softened and seemed to be conveying in them exactly what he’d just said.
“You – love me?”
“Desperately,” he admitted. “And I’m wondering if you could love me, too?”
A stray tear escaped my eye as I realized my heart’s desire was coming true.
All at once, we both moved forward, into each other’s arms, our lips touching in a tender but passionate kiss. I inhaled sharply and tightened my grip on his shoulders as he pulled me closer. One hand held me behind the neck, caressing me there, the other hand drifted to my hip.
It was almost bewitching, the way his lips united with mine. They were softer than I had imagined, the warmth and tenderness of them awakening a fire within me I’d never felt.
Kisses like this, I was beginning to realize, spoke of something deeper, of new beginnings and bright futures full of promise.