a/n: Here's another chapter in Camille's life.

Disclaimer: I don't own any name brands mentioned within this story. However, the characters are my creation, and thus belong to me.


Rather than lunch being eaten in uncomfortable silence, Camille felt very calm and relaxed sitting across from Matteo as they ate quietly. She felt like such a slob as she watched how meticulously he ate his lunch. She spilled everything, and she ruined every single white shirt she had in her closet, so she refused to buy any more.

After they finished eating, he paid for their lunch. She tried to refuse his offer, but he insisted, saying it would insult his manhood if she didn't let him do it. So she did, and inwardly grinned like she was an idiot on her first date.

When they exited the restaurant, he looked up the street, then down at his watch, and then turned to her as if he was going to say something. "So-"

Her ringtone went off loudly in her purse, and she sighed, closing her eyes. "I'm sorry," she told Matteo, and he nodded in understanding. Of all times for someone to call me...Just when he was going to ask me something. She pulled out her phone and answered it without even looking at the phone number.


"Camille, you never got back to me."

At the sound of his voice, her blood turned to ice and her muscles locked in place. "I know, I've been really busy with work and some other things."

"Other things?" he chuckled. The fact that he was trying to be friendly and casual irritated her to no end, and no doubt Matteo could see whoever she was talking to wasn't someone she wanted to talk to.

"Yes, other things," she replied, trying to take the edge out of her voice. "Listen, I'm busy right now. I'll call you back later." If I call back at all.

"Alright, I'm going to hold you to it."

"Sure," was all she said, then hung up the phone and put it back in her purse.

When she looked up, Matteo had a concerned look in his eyes. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah, just some annoying businessman," she dismissed with a wave of her hand. "You were saying something?"

"Oh, yes. I was going to say that meeting you again today, was too much of a coincidence. I figured you were married, because of how beautiful you are, but surely your husband would've put a nice big ring on your finger. I'm not saying we should date, but...I would like to keep doing this. I hope I'm not being too direct," he quickly added.

"No, you're not being too direct. So far, I like you too, Matteo. If you're not an ax murderer then we can keep doing this. Y'know, going out to eat and talking."

He laughed at her joke and added, "I don't want anyone to know about my side job, so try not to say it too loud."

"Well, then I guess we should exchange numbers, then," she replied with a chuckle.

"Okay. You don't have a Twitter or Facebook or anything, do you?"

"No. I don't have the time to manage them."

"Same here. 415-555-6295."

"415-555-0128." After saving his number, she looked up and down the street; she didn't know how to continue their conversation, now that Paul had made his way back into her mind. She dreaded calling him later, and she knew he would keep calling until she did. "That was...an annoying ex, on the phone," she blurted out awkwardly.

"Oh." His face was indiscernible. "Uh...is he trying to get back with you?"

"I don't know," she sighed. It was the honest truth. After not hearing from him for months, and moving on with her life in a major way, she didn't know what he wanted. Maybe he lost her father's phone number; they were practically in love with each other. "I haven't heard from him in forever, so to hear his voice again, it brings back all of my memories with him."

"And some of them...aren't so positive?"

"No, they aren't. He was never abusive, but he was a very restrictive, controlling boyfriend. I thought I was okay with it, but I kind of lost myself in him, and became what he wanted." She began to walk back in the direction of her car and he kept in stride, his hands in the pockets of his dark grey peacoat.

"It happens even to the best of us. When you're in love, you want this person to see the best in you, even if it's not really you."

"Sounds like you've been there before."

"I..." he sighed, "Have had several girlfriends that had serious emotional issues. They would say crazy things to get me to stay, like they'd kill themselves or their abusive ex wouldn't leave them alone or that they needed me or they'd never fall in love again. Why I stayed with them, why I ignored the warning signs...I don't know. I was young, dumb, and hot in the pants. They were very attractive, playful and kind of wild. After a while, I realized that those kinds of women aren't what I would take home to my mother, and I outgrew focusing just on what they look like. So I got tired of the games they played and stopped putting myself out there."

"You learned quickly," she remarked. They were almost to her car, and she was really enjoying the conversation; she didn't want it to end. "Did anyone else come along eventually?"

A look of hurt-? crossed his features, and quickly faded into indifference. "Yes," was all he said, and she knew not to keep pressing the issue.

Something very serious must've happened for him to clam up like that. I'll just leave it alone, and maybe he'll tell me later she thought. "Well, I enjoyed our lunch date, Matteo. Thank you for being so...chivalrous," she beamed.

"It was my pleasure taking you two lovely ladies out to lunch." He looked down at Ari, who was smacking her lips in her sleep. "Bella(Beautiful)." He returned his gaze to Camille, "We'll talk again soon."

"Of course." With that, he continued to walk down the street, and disappeared around the corner. Camille found that she was still smiling long after he had gone on his way, and even after she had put Ari in her crib once they got home.

Now, now Camille...it's been a while since you've actually liked someone...That blind date a few months ago was terrible, and that Internet stalker was the worst. Matteo seems to be pretty sane and he's crazy about Ari. It seems like if anyone can blow this, I can. Leave your crazy past with Paul out of it. He no longer matters.

As if on cue, her phone rang several hours after she had gotten home. She was in the middle of her most recent project that was due in a few days. She knew exactly who it was. Agitated already, she started, "Listen, Paul-"

"-Paul? I thought your relationship with him was over." It was her father, and she was at a loss for words. It had been a while since she spoke to him last; he didn't even know about the woman that had been living with her, Ari, or the fact that she was going to try to be her adoptive mother. She was still trying to figure out how she was going to explain all of it to her family.

"Hi Dad, sorry. It is over, but he's back in town," she grumbled.

"I know you're not happy to hear that, but you know how I feel about him. That was my golden boy."

"Yes, I know Dad. If I didn't know any better, I'd say you were the one marrying him."

"Well, you know what they say, you marry one person, you marry their entire family. I spoke to him a few days ago, and he did tell me that he was coming back to the Bay Area, probably for good. He established his law office in Atlanta and he's coming back out here to give Stanley, Huber, and Mackey a run for their money. He has some solid investors and a partnership with one of his old college friends that's supposedly a bull in the court room."

"Dad, it all sounds good and dandy, but I don't like him anymore. He ruined my life. He tried to control me. He did control me."

Her father was silent for a few moments. "Yeah, I know, sugar lump. You told me everything. But maybe this time apart made him think about how wrong he was in how he treated you, and he wants it to be better this time around. Men do change, when they have a good reason."

Camille sighed heavily and closed her eyes; she knew her dad was Paul's Trojan Horse. He knew she didn't want to talk to him about even the hint of a possible reconciliation between them, let alone try dating again. Besides, there was Matteo to consider. She wanted to know where that friendship would lead her.

"Dad, I appreciate you wanting to help, and I know your ideal husband for me is Paul, because he's successful and smart. But I know what kind of man he is. Once is enough for me with him. I'm sure he can find some other woman named Katie or Lin or something while he's here. He can choose any flavored woman he wants in the Bay Area, just leave me alone."

He chuckled, "You sound like you're twelve again."

"Because Dad, I don't want to be bothered with him. I finally feel like I have control over my life again."

"Okay, baby girl, okay." Her father was finally starting to get it. "But at least do yourself this favor: don't kill him, but hear him out. See what he has to say. Not too many men have the humility to admit when they are wrong. And we are too proud to chase a woman, if our ego is bigger than our feelings. And if you don't want him to control you again, keep your distance. He came back to you, so you call the shots. I only want to see you happy, Cammie."

"Thank you, Dad," she breathed. Her phone beeped, indicating she had a call waiting. It was him. "Dad, I have to go. Paul is calling."

"Alright," he said in a hurried, but excited tone. He could hardly contain his joy. "I'll talk to you later."

"Okay. Bye." My dad can be such a woman sometimes. She took a deep breath before clicking over to the other line. Why her heart was thudding so heavily in her chest all of the sudden, she didn't know. "Hello?"

"Camille." She hated the way he answered the phone. Cold. Formal. Impersonal. Even after they had gotten engaged, he was still distant and aloof. What did she see in him?

"Paul. What do you want?"

"Is that how you greet an old friend?" he attempted to joke. It sounded painful, coming out of his mouth.

"'Old friend'?" she echoed, trying not to lose her cool less than thirty seconds into the conversation. "Paul, we were more than friends. We would be husband and wife right now if things were different, and we'd be celebrating two years of marriage in a few months."

"Right," he answered in a clipped tone. "Um...how have you been?"

Oh, he's not so sure of himself, now is he? He expected old Camille to be chasing after him for a second chance. Not today, baldy. "I'm fine."

"How's your business going?"

"Fine. Look Paul, enough with the small talk. What do you want?" She could hear Ari moving around in her crib, making noises with her mouth. She'd be needing a diaper change soon.

"I want to talk to you in person. About us, I'm not even going to lie."

"Paul, there is no us, and you decided that a few years ago when you took back your ring and ditched me for Atlanta. I have to go." Before he could say anything, she ended the call, and went to Ari. She could feel something stirring in her chest, something hot and tingly. Her ears were ringing, and her eyes were feeling heavy. "I'm not going to cry," she said aloud. But the memories came rushing back, and it became overwhelming. Her sobs grabbed Ari's attention, but she soon ignored them as Camille worked on getting her soiled diaper off of her and into the trash. It was her bath day.

Once she was dry and in her pajamas, Camille held her close to her chest, and stared long and hard out the window at the night life outside her window.

I thought I was over Paul for good, and as soon as we talk again, I'm crying like we just broke up. Am I really over him? Despite her approaching thirty, she still didn't fully understand male-female relationships.

She knew exactly who to call.

"Hi Mom. Do you have time to talk?"

"Yeah, honey. What's wrong?" Her mother could always tell when something was bothering her.

"Paul called me not too long ago, and I cried like a baby after I hung up. I feel like an idiot. I felt like I had finally moved on from him. I don't want to be desperate and go back to him. I have more dignity than that."

"Camille, no one is telling you that you have to go back to him. And you have done a wonderful job of getting over him. You've established your own business, you bought your own house, you have your own friends, you travel often. It's just that, sometimes our heart doesn't get rid of everything. It never does, actually. Once someone is in there, they are in there. Paul was going to be your husband; you loved him. It's hard to stop loving someone, especially when you wanted it to last forever."

"But-but why am I still crying over him?"

"Camille, your father and I divorced years ago, but there are some days where I feel overwhelming sadness. And it's because I still love your father, and we raised children together. I've accepted that he's remarried and he doesn't think about me at all, but it doesn't erase all that we had together. You will feel that way about Paul every once in a while, but it won't last long. When and if you decide to marry someone else, Paul won't be a thought. He had his chance with you, and he didn't appreciate it. You're a beautiful, smart young woman, and he was a fool for trying to turn you into his personal little doll. It hurt, but not all heartbreak is a bad thing. Now you know what you don't want. And you don't want Paul."

It felt as if a large stone had been lifted from her shoulders and pitched into the ocean. "Mom, why is talking to you always so therapeutic?"

Her mother chuckled gracefully. "I'm just glad you listen. I didn't approve of Paul from the beginning, because I knew he wasn't going to treat you the way I want you to be treated."

"And I didn't want to listen then. But I know better now." She started to say something about Matteo, but she stopped herself. Maybe it was too soon. They didn't know each other well, and they had only had one long conversation with one another.

"Was there something you wanted to say?" her mother asked.

"O-oh, no. It was a stray thought about something else. Paul is back in town, and he's trying to be friendly with me, because he's hoping for a second chance."

"You're not actually considering that, are you?"

"Most definitely not," she scoffed. "I'll meet with him a few times, see what he has to say, and go from there."

"Okay." Her mother didn't seem so certain, but didn't voice any objections. "I'll talk to you later, okay?"

"Okay, Mom. Good night."

"Good night, baby." The phone call ended, and she plopped down on her living room couch, with a newfound confidence and firm resolve.

But she couldn't help but feel that small flicker of...something that seemed to linger. What it was, she didn't know, and it would have to wait.

End of chapter! Camille and Matteo are hitting it off pretty well, but Paul is back! This isn't considered a drama for nothing. I know there is a lot of talking going on right now, but I promise the story will pick up. No, it won't turn into an action-adventure, but more will happen in terms of plot development.

Any questions or concerns, leave them in your reviews!