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You'll Never Be Alone

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Once again thanks for all the great comments. This chapter is shorter than the rest but full of Ric and Matilda fluffyness.

Chapter 21

Over the next week Matilda visited Belle everyday and told her about the goings on in the Bay. Ric went most days but sometimes had to go into work. In the evenings Ric and Matilda would cuddle up on the sofa and comfort each other.

One night, Ric decided that they needed to do something different, something that would take their minds off Belle for a couple of hours. He had booked a table in the most romantic restaurant in Yabbie Creek. Matilda was excited and had so far spent an hour doing her hair, makeup and deciding on what to wear. She wore the black dress that she had worn on New Years Eve.

“You look amazing,” Ric said as she came down the stairs. “You know I can’t resist you in that dress.”

“Thanks,” she said as she walked over and kissed him. He was dressed in a tux and looked very handsome.

“Now, what is the one rule for tonight?” he asked.

“Not to talk or think about Belle. We have to take our mind off it, just for one night.”

When they arrived at the restaurant they were seated.

“Everything’s so posh,” said Matilda, looking around. She reached over and took Ric’s hand and entwined it with hers. They smiled at each other, this was exactly what they needed.

A couple of hours later they left the restaurant holding hands and smiling. Ric drove them back to the bay. When they opened the door there were candles lit all around the lounge and the lights were dimmed.

“Ric, what’s going on?”

“Well, I wanted to make this night extra special so I got Sally to come in and set all this up. And I thought we could watch your favourite film.” He walked over to the TV and turned the DVD player on. The start of Love Actually came on.

“I can’t believe you went to so much trouble.” She went and sat next to him on the sofa and Ric put his arm around her.

Once the film had finished Matilda shifted from her position in Ric’s arms so that she could kiss him. The kiss turned passionate and Matilda felt that the time was right.

“Ric, you know we agreed to take things slow?” said Matilda.

“Yeah ...”

“Well, the thing is, I get very lonely in my bed at night and I feel that the time is right for us to take our relationship to the next level,” she said seductively.

“You mean ...”

“Yeah I do,” she said.

“As long as you’re sure. I don’t want you to do this for the wrong reasons.”

“Oh I’m sure,” and she took his hand, got up and led him upstairs to her room.

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Once again thanks for all the great comments.

Chapter 22

Matilda woke the next morning and smiled when she remembered the night before. Ric was still asleep next to her and had his arm round her. It had been the perfect night and had ended perfectly. She thought that Ric was so sweet to have gone to all that trouble. Ric opened his eyes and smiled when he realised where he was.

“Good morning,” said Matilda and she leaned over and kissed him.

“So, you don’t regret last night?”

“Definitely not,” and she kissed him more passionately.

Ric went down and got breakfast ready while Matilda got washed up and got dressed. She walked downstairs and found that Ric had laid out the table all nice and was in the middle of cooking a full English breakfast.

“You didn’t have to go to all that trouble,” she said.

“But what if I wanted to do something special for my beautiful girlfriend who I love very much?” asked Ric.

“Well, in that case, I’ll have a bit of everything,” and she held her plate out.

“Well your not getting anything until you give me a kiss,” he said smiling.

Once they arrived at the hospital Matilda sent Ric off in search of coffee so that she could talk to Belle.

“Guess what,” Matilda said as soon as Ric had left the room.

“Well, seeing as though you were going for a romantic meal last night, and you have been in a very happy mood this morning I think you had sex,” replied Belle.

“Oh my god, how did you know?”

“It’s obvious. You’ve been going out for well over a month now, are very close and he’s even living with you. It’s about time you did it.”

“Hey!” and Matilda through a pillow at Belle. Just at that moment Ric walked into the room.

“What’s going on?”

“Nothing, we were just messing around,” said Belle smiling. There was a knock on the door and Drew came in.

“Hi Drew, remember us, we met at New Year,” said Matilda.

“Umm ... yeah you’re Matilda and you’re Ric,” he replied quietly. It was obvious that he was quite shy. “Well umm I just came to see Belle but ... I’ll come back later ... I don’t want to interrupt.”

“Hey Drew, you don’t have to go,” said Matilda and she moved off the chair that she was sat on and went to sit on Ric’s lap. “There, you can sit there.”

The four of them talked for a while and filled Belle in on what was going on in the Bay.

“So, when does school start Drew?” asked Matilda.

“Umm not for another 3 weeks.”

“Cool, I’m just about to start college to train to be a teacher but it doesn’t start for a while yet.”

“Yeah and she’s going to be the best teacher in the world,” said Belle.

Then a doctor came in and said that they needed to take Belle for some tests.

“We’ll go then, see you tomorrow Belle,” said Matilda and they all said their goodbyes. “Hey Drew, can we give you a lift back to the bay?”

“Umm well I was going to get the bus ...”

“Nonsense, come on it’s no trouble,” and they made their way to Matilda’s car.

“This is your car?” Drew said, amazed.

“Yeah, I just got it at Christmas. My dad left some money for me in his will years ago and my mum was waiting for the right time to give it too me and so she brought this for me.”

“It’s amazing, I love cars. My last foster family owned a garage and they let me help out whenever I could.”

“Hey I own a garage. Maybe, if you wanted you could come by after school or something and I’ll show you what’s what, maybe let you help out if you want,” offered Ric.

“That would be great!” said Drew and his eyes lit up. In his 15 years of living he had never really had anyone who cared about him. Now, since he moved to Summer Bay, he felt that his whole life had been turned around. People were friendly towards him, they genuinely seemed to care about him. He only wished things could have been different with Belle.

They drove back to Summer Bay and pulled up in front of the Diner.

“Do you want to join us for milkshakes?” asked Matilda.

“Umm wouldn’t you rather be alone?” asked a nervous Drew.

“We can be alone later, now we’d rather enjoy milkshakes.”

So Drew joined them in the Diner, Ric and Drew sat at a booth and Matilda went to order.

“Hey dahl what can I get you?” asked a tired looking Irene.

“Three chocolate milkshakes please.”

“I see Drew’s joined you.”

“Yeah we ran into him at the hospital and we brought him back then invited him to join us.”

“You know I do worry about him. He doesn’t get out much. He spends most of the time in his room or at the hospital. I never realised how close he and Belle were. He seems so lonely, and almost too scared to settle down here in case he has to move again. I just wish he would realise that this time it’s for good.”

“Maybe I can get Ric to talk to him. I think he sees a lot of himself in Drew. Both have lost their parents, Ric was also in foster care and then found Sally.”

Later that day Matilda and Ric were strolling hand in hand along the waters edge. The sun was setting and the sea was as calm as could be.

“So, what do you think of Drew?” asked Matilda.

“Seems like a cool kid. He seems serious about becoming a mechanic, we was talking about it when you were chatting to Irene.”

“I feel sorry for him. You know I think he has a little crush on Belle. He’s going to be devastated when she ... you know,” said Matilda sadly. They could see that with each day Belle was getting worse. Matilda knew that she had to prepare herself but she didn’t want to. She didn’t want to think about having to say goodbye to Belle, however she knew the time would come when she would have to. She hadn’t gotten a chance to say goodbye properly when her dad died. Her mother had come to the boarding school and asked to see Matilda and Henry and then took them home. She would have liked to have gotten the chance to tell him how much she loved him and how much she cared about him.

Once the sun had almost set completely they set off home, both thinking about having to say goodbye to a friend.

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Chapter 23

A couple of weeks later, towards the end of January both Matilda and Ric knew that Belle had little time left. She looked weaker and weaker everyday and some days slept the whole day as she was so tired. Matilda and Ric were getting ready to go to the hospital, Matilda finishing her hair and Ric clearing away the breakfast things. Just as Matilda came down the stairs the phone rang and she ran to pick it up.

“Mattie? It’s Rachel from the hospital.”

“Oh my God is Belle alright?” she replied getting really scared. Ric had walked over and was listening.

“Well, she had a rough night and has taken a turn for the worst. She really wants you and Ric to come down here.”

“Of course, we’re on our way, see you in a little while,” and she put the phone down.

“Oh my God, this is it, isn’t it. Rachel said she took a turn for the worst.”

“Give me your keys and I’ll drive,” said Ric, “we need to get to the hospital.”

They ran through the hospital to where Rachel was standing behind the nurses station.

“Is she okay?” asked Matilda, worriedly.

“Why don’t you come in my office? Belle has told me to explain to you what’s going on.”

“Matilda took Ric’s hand and they followed Rachel. They all took seats before Rachel started to talk.

“During the night Belle’s blood pressure went dangerously low. We managed to get it back up again, but it has left her very weak. We did some tests and found that she has a chest infection. Her immune system has been weakened by the cancer. In an ordinary person this chest infection would be nothing more than a cold but for Belle, it is serious. Her body is unable to fight it and any drugs we give her don’t seem to be working. Now I know this is hard for you both, but you must understand, Belle probably only has a few hours left.”

Matilda broke down. She couldn’t believe it. She looked across at Ric and saw that he too was crying. She moved over to him, she needed to feel close to him.

“Umm can ... can we see her?” asked Matilda looking up at Rachel.

“Yes of course. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news. I’ll be along later to check on Belle.”

Matilda and Ric slowly made their way over to Belle’s room and paused as they got to the door. Part of them didn’t want to face what was inside. Today was the day that they had been dreading. They opened the door and walked round to the end of the bed. Belle looked so fragile that Matilda could hardly believe it was the same person. She used to be so bubbly and energetic but that had slowly disappeared.

“So ... I guess Rachel ... told you I don’t have long left,” Belle said slowly. She had to keep pausing in order to catch her breath.

“Umm yeah she did, said Ric. Matilda squeezed his hand as she looked at Belle.

“Mattie, it’s okay. I’ve accepted what’s going to happen. It’s what’s best for me. I hate lying here in bed all day, looking at the same four walls. I’ve had a while to get used to the idea. Please don’t be sad.”

“How can I not be sad? My best friend is dying.”

“I’m your best friend?” asked Belle surprised.

“Well yeah. Apart from Ric of course. You’ve been there for me since I got back from Uni. I had a great time hanging out with you. We had a laugh didn’t we.”

“Thanks,” said Belle weakly.

“Do Irene and Drew know?” asked Ric, thinking that if they didn’t then he could go and ring them.

“Yeah, they’ve been here most of the night. Rachel said that they could use one of the relatives room to get a couple of hours sleep, they didn’t want to leave.”

“Well they didn’t want to leave you alone,” said Ric.

“At least they care about me, and I know you two do, that’s more than my mum.”

“Does she know?”

“Well Rachel phoned her but as soon as she mentioned me, Amanda started shouting how she doesn’t care about me,” and Belle started to cry.

Matilda moved round the bed so that she could comfort her friend.

A couple of hours later Matilda and Ric had been joined by Irene and Drew. Drew was sat beside Belle on the bed, tears rolling down his cheeks, Irene was stood by the bed and annoying Belle by fussing and propping up her pillows every few minutes. Matilda was once again sat on Ric’s lap, crying. Belle had gotten really tired and sleepy and everyone knew she didn’t have long left.

“Irene?” whispered Belle.

“Yes dahl, what is it? What can I do?”

“Can you post this letter to my mum for me, after I’m ... gone.”

“Of course dahl,” she hated hearing Belle talk about after she’s ‘gone’.

For the next hour the four of them tried to keep Belle’s spirits up and told her how much she means to them.

“Belle, I have never really cared about anyone before. Going from foster family to foster family it means that you don’t really get attached. But, I really care about you. In fact, ever since I first met you I’ve thought that you are the most wonderful, beautiful girl in the whole world,” said Drew.

Belle smiled and closed her eyes.

“I love you all, I can’t tell you how much,” she whispered. Her eyes opened and closed again. Over the next half an hour she fell in and out of consciousness, surrounded by the people who cared most about her.

Irene was trying to stop herself from breaking down, knowing she had to stay strong for Drew, Matilda and Ric. Belle opened her eyes and mumbled some words that no one could understand.

“What’s that? What are you trying to stay Belle?” asked Irene.

“I’m ... ... sorry ... for everything ...” and as she closed her eyes they knew that she was gone. Matilda could feel it and she clutched Ric’s hand for support. Ric pulled Matilda closer to him and cried. Irene also had tears rolling down her face and she moved around the bed to comfort Drew who was clutching Belle’s limp hand. Rachel came in and turned off all the machines and said that they could take as long as they wanted. Drew kissed Belle on the cheek and moved towards the door, Irene then kissed her.

“Love you dahl,” she said and took Drew out of the room. That left Matilda and Ric.

Matilda moved round the side of the bed. Tears were flowing down her face.

“You have nothing to be sorry about Belle. I totally forgive you for everything.” She put her arms round Ric and they left the room and shut the door. In the corridor Drew and Irene were talking to Rachel and they called Matilda and Ric over.

“I know this is a very hard time for you all. A couple of days ago Belle gave me these letters for each of you. She wanted me to give them to you now.”

They each took the letter with their names on and slowly walked out of the hospital. It was still sinking in that she had gone. They would never speak to her again.

“Umm are you okay to get home?” Ric asked as they approached the solver convertible.

“Yeah ... we have my car,” replied Irene.

Once they had got in the car, Matilda sat there and cried. She cried her heart out. Ric leaned over and comforted her, crying himself. For ages they sat there in the car, before finally drying their eyes and driving home. Matilda clutched at her letter from Belle the whole way home. Once they got back Matilda told Ric that she was going down to the beach to read her letter.

“This is something I need to do alone,” she told Ric.

“I understand,” and Ric slowly walked inside.

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Chapter 24

Matilda walked slowly down to the beach, tears still flowing down her face. She sat near the waters edge and slowly opened the letter.


Well, I’m gone or else you wouldn’t be reading this. Don’t be too sad for me, in the end it was what’s best. What kind of life do I have at the moment stuck in my hospital bed? On the other hand, I want you to be a little upset so that I know you cared about me (only joking). I want you to know that you are the best friend that I have ever had. We may not have got off to the best of starts when I first moved to the Bay but since we have both come back I have really enjoyed spending time with you. You have made my last few months fun and enjoyable. I can’t thank you enough for coming in each day and keeping me company.

You and Ric make the most perfect couple. I can see true love and that’s what you two have. You two have a great future, I can feel it.

Now I have a favour to ask. I want you to organise my funeral. I know it is a lot to ask but I want you to do it. I have enclosed instructions and have already made some arrangements, you just have to sort out dates.

Thanks again for being such a great friend,

Love Belle


Back at the house, Ric was sat on the sofa, holding his letter. After a while he ripped open the envelope and read.


Well, I’m gone. I know that you want to be all macho but I know you better than that. It is okay to cry, it just shows how much of a friend I was to you. I know you will do this anyway but, support Matilda. I know you care a lot about her and I know she cares a lot about you. You need to stick together. Seeing you two together all those times at the hospital really cheered me up. I can tell its true love and you need to remember to always tell her you love her. I know you probably don’t want relationship advice from me but I feel it’s my duty. I want to see you have a long and happy future. Keep her happy and be happy yourself. Thanks for all the support you’ve given me over the last few weeks.

Love Belle


Over at the Beach House Irene was sat in what was Belle’s room. It looked no different to how it did when Belle had left it. Irene took the letter out of her pocket, sat down on Belle’s bed and read it.


Where can I start? I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t have been in my life. When I first came to the Bay to find my mother I found you instead. You kindly took me in and looked after me as if I were your own. When I was stuck out in the bush after Jack and Martha’s wedding all I could think about was getting back to you. You were the first person in my life to really care about me. When I first got diagnosed I knew I had to come back and see you. There was nothing for me in LA. You took me in once again and I loved it. You are the best mum anyone could have and now you have to show Drew that. I know I could be stressful to have around and I am grateful that after all that happened you were there for me in my last weeks. Now, I have told Matilda to arrange my funeral, she needs to do it. But she will need your support and help. Thanks for being the person I cared most about in the world,

Love Belle


Drew was walking along at the top of the beach, clutching his letter tightly. He had told Irene he had wanted some fresh air, he wanted to read his letter alone.


Well, when you first arrived I thought you were annoying but that changed once I got to know the real you. You are kind, caring and one day you will make some girl the luckiest in the world. I know how you feel about me, and I know that one day you will get over me. It may not be soon but it will happen. My guess is that once I am gone you will hide away and not let anyone know how you’re feeling. Well that is not good for you, let Irene help you. I know that you have had a rough past, so had I when I found Irene. She can help you, support you and be the best mother figure you could ever have, if you just let her. You will never forget me, but you must move on. You are only 15 and have the rest of your life ahead of you. If you ever need advice and feel you can’t go to Irene then go to Matilda or Ric, I’m sure they will be happy to help. They may not be your age but they have the experience that you don’t. When you start at Summer Bay High, try to make friends, it will make the place more bearable. Take care Drew, have a fantastic life.

Love Belle


Matilda was walking along the waters edge after reading her letter and came across Drew. He was holding his opened letter and was crying. She went over, also in tears, and comforted him. They were joined by Ric who had come looking for Matilda, and then by Irene who was looking for Drew. The four of them stood in a circle looking at one another. It had been a hard day for all of them, the day they had all dreaded since New Year. Slowly they spilt and walked back to their houses. While Ric rang Sally and told her what had happened, Matilda opened the second envelope which had been in the first. It was labelled Belle’s Funeral.

Matilda, here are some instructions for my funeral. I know it will be hard, but it was provide you with closure. Some of my requests may be out of the ordinary but hey, that’s me.

Dress code: No one, I repeat no one will wear black. Everyone should wear pink or a similar colour.

Flowers: Pink flowers round the church (these are on order, just tell them the date.)

Songs: ‘always look on the bright side on life’, ‘is this the way to Amarillo’, ‘bye bye baby’.

Ashes: I would like to be cremated and scattered in the sea. You, Ric, Irene and Drew should take a boat out and scatter them off shore. Make a day of it and take a picnic and don’t forget the champagne and persuade Irene to let Drew have some.

Now I have a present for you, my best friend. Go into the jewellers in Yabbie Creek, I have left a present for you that you can pick up.

Matilda finished reading and smiled. It was typical Belle. She went upstairs and into her room. She placed the letter next to the letter from her dad, she would get a frame in the morning. She walked downstairs to where Ric was reading the funeral instructions.

“Typical Belle,” said Ric.

“I wonder what the present is?” mumbled Matilda.

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Thanks for all the great comments guys, really appreciate it.

Chapter 25

A week later Matilda was putting on a pink dress. She had pink shoes to match and had fixed a pink flower in her hair. It was the day of Belle’s funeral and Matilda was going to make sure that her instructions were followed to the letter.

The day after her death, Matilda and Ric had driven into Yabbie Creek to get the present. The jeweller had found a box out from the back that was labelled ‘Matilda Hunter’. She had waited until they got back to the car to open it, she did not want to break down in the middle of the shop. She opened the box to find a charm for her bracelet. It was a bell. A note card inside said ‘So you’ll never forget me’.

“Like I could ever forget you,” said Matilda to no one in particular.

Ric came into Matilda’s room to see if she was nearly ready. They needed to be at Irene’s soon as the car and coffin would be arriving. Matilda checked her bag to see if she had everything, put another packet of tissues in just in case and was ready. She had brought a new dress as she didn’t own a pink one and had made all the arrangements. Ric put his arm round his girlfriend and they set off, this wasn’t going to be an easy day.

Arriving at Irene’s they found her in a floral pink dress and Drew was wearing a pink tie with his suit which had been specially brought. Ric too was wearing a pink tie. They hugged each other for support and looked out the window just as the funeral cars came down the street.

“This is it,” said Irene, checking she had enough tissues. They went out and looked into the car with the coffin. It was pink. Belle had ordered it already but hadn’t told anyone. Pink flowers were on top of it.

On arriving at the church they weren’t surprised to find it almost empty. A lot of people hadn’t liked Belle and hadn’t gotten to know the new her. Sally was there (Pippa was at a babysitters) and so was Colleen, Leah and the other waitress from the Diner. A few people who Matilda recognised from years ago sat at the back. The church had been decorated with pink flowers.

As the coffin was carried down the aisle the song ‘Always look on the bright side of life’ played. Matilda started crying and got out her packet of tissues. She had wanted to say a few words but had decided that she wouldn’t be able to get through it, besides, Belle hated speeches. It was a short ceremony but it seemed like a lifetime to Matilda. She sat there in Ric’s arms until the song ‘Bye bye Baby’ came on, they all got up to leave while the coffin was taken for the body to be cremated. It had been arranged that they would pick the ashes up later that day and they had arranged to take a boat out that afternoon.

Matilda, Ric, Drew, Irene, Sally, Leah and Colleen all went to the Diner, which had been closed for the day. Leah got them sorted with drinks and milkshakes. They talked about Belle and how they thought that Amanda was well out of line not caring. People gradually left. Sally had to go and pick up Pippa, Leah needed to get back so that Dan could go out, Colleen had a bowls club meeting. Just as Colleen left, Irene got the phone call saying that the ashes were ready to be picked up. Her and Drew went to get them while Matilda and Ric went to see if the boat was ready. Alf had spent the morning decorating it in pink flowers and fairy lights.

Half an hour later the four of them were heading out to sea. Irene had surprised them all be revealing that used to take boats out for rich people and so she was in charge while the others sat there, waiting. Matilda had brought a picnic (just as Belle had instructed) and was laying it out on the rug she had also brought. Eventually the boat stopped moving and everything went silent.

“So... what do we do first? Scatter the umm ashes or have the picnic?” asked Irene, not sure what to do.

“ ... I think we should scatter the ashes before it gets too windy. Besides then she will be all around us, in the sea,” suggested Drew.

“Great idea,” mumbled Matilda, trying her best not to cry. “umm who’s going to ...”

“Why don’t we all hold it and then we are all scattering them,” suggesting Drew. Everyone smiled at him. He was handling it surprisingly well. So they all moved to the edge of the boat. Matilda paused and put ‘Always look on the bright side of life’ on the portable CD player then joined the others. Ric put one hand with everyone else’s and one around Matilda so that she would know he was there for her. They took the lid off and scattered the ashes into the sea, all were crying but they didn’t care. When it was done they stood in a line looking out to sea. It was almost as if they could feel Belle’s presence. They knew that this is what she had wanted, what she had requested. They knew they were doing the right thing by being there. The sea was amazingly calm and the sun was just starting to slowly go down. One by one they stopped staring out and sat down ready for the picnic. Matilda poured the champagne.

“Drew you’re too young,” said Irene, when she saw him hand his glass over to Matilda.

“um Irene, it was in the instructions that Drew had some. Not a lot,” Matilda said quickly as she saw Irene’s face, “ but some.”

“O go on then, just a little mind you.”

They sat round the picnic, sharing stories about Belle. Ric spoke of the time Belle entertained the class at school by getting up on the table and dancing, just as a teacher walked in. Irene told them of all the times Belle would stay out late, how she caused trouble and then how she would sweet talk her way out of trouble.

“I could never stay mad at her for long,” she added. Drew spoke of all the times that she would come in and demand what she wanted on the TV.

“She could never annoy me though,” he said softly. “I don’t think I’ve ever liked anyone as much as I like her.” Matilda and Irene who were sat either side of him put their arms round him to comfort him.

Then Matilda told them of all the fun she and Belle had had hanging out on the beach, swimming in the sea, shopping in Yabbie Creek and just generally having fun.

“I just wished it could have been different in the past,” she said. “All that hate, for nothing. She wasn’t a bad person, I have seen that from the past few months.”

Before they knew it, it was almost dark and they had to get back to the shore. As the boat started moving Matilda looked to where the ashes had been scattered.

“Bye Belle,” she whispered. Then she made her way over to where Ric was sitting with Drew. It had been a hard day for everyone. They had all known it would be. Matilda had gotten through nearly all of the tissues she had brought, and knew that the she would need some more over the next few days. Drew was due to start school in a week’s time and Matilda’s college course started mid February. As she already had an English degree and had done some teaching work for that, it would only take her a year to become a teacher.

“We have to look to the future,” said Ric, who was looking at Summer Bay all lit up.

“It’s what Belle would have wanted. She was never one to sit round and dwell on the past,” replied Matilda.

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Chapter 26

The sun was rising over Summer Bay early one morning, exactly a week after the funeral. The beach was deserted, except for one figure standing ankle deep in water, holding her shoes and crying. Her hair was blowing in the early morning breeze. Matilda was staring out to sea, thinking about Belle. Two weeks she had been dead. Two weeks and Matilda had thought about her the whole time. Ric had been there, supporting her. Sally had come round and given her advice, but she couldn’t stop thinking about how Belle was too young to die.

As the sun rose over the sea, more people made their way down to the beach. Some, like Dan, came for their morning run. Others, such as some teenagers came for the early morning surf. She walked out of the sea and sat down on the sand.

The beach slowly filled up around her and she still sat, staring out. Only when she heard her name, did she look away from the sea.

“Mattie! Mattie!”

Looking around, she saw Pippa running towards her. Sally was following behind but struggling to catch up. Matilda quickly wiped her tears on the sleeve of her jacket and smiled as Pippa ran up to her, embracing her in a massive hug.

“Mattie, I haven't seen you in ages!” said Pippa, sitting down beside Matilda. It was true. Matilda hadn't seen Pippa since Belle had died, she had been too upset and didn't want the 7 year old to see her like that.

“I'm sorry Pip. I've been ... busy.”

“Mummy said that your friend Belle has gone to heaven, like my daddy.”

Matilda looked down at Pippa.

“Yeah she has.”

“Mummy said that you're upset because you miss her. But my mummy says that my daddy isn't really gone. She says that he's always with us and looking over us. So won't your friend be doing the same?”

Matilda smiled. How could a 7 year old make everything seem so simple? But she had a point.

“Mummy says that heaven is a special place where people get to look at the people they care about and guide them through their lives. So your friend Belle isn't really gone. Won't she be with you all the time like my daddy's with me?”

Matilda smiled again.

“Yeah, I suppose she is. I never looked at it like that.” Matilda looked up and saw Sally standing about a hundred yards away, watching them. She looked down at Pippa again, she was young, yet so wise. The little girl had already been through so much yet was always so happy. Matilda had lost her dad in her teens. She had lots of happy memories of him. Pippa's dad, Flynn, had died when Pippa was just 2. The only memory she had of him is pictures and a video he made for her. Pippa had had to go to school with everyone talking about their dads. But she had been brave and told them all that her dad was always with her, in her heart and that he had been a wonderful man who saved many lives.

Sally walked over,

“How are you Mattie?” she asked.

“I'm ... I'm okay,” she replied smiling. “Pippa has helped me to see that I can’t sit round all day moping. I have to get on with my life.”

“Well, what can I say, I have a very special daughter,” smiled Sally and she sat down next to them. It was still quite early,

“What are you two doing down here this early?” asked Matilda.

“Well, we were going to go and collect shells and then go swimming, weren't we Pip,” explained Sally. “We were both ready so thought we'd come when the beach was quieter.”

A shadow then came over them. Looking up they saw Ric, who looked out of breath.

“There you are!” he exclaimed. “I was so worried. I woke up and you weren’t there and then I went downstairs and you weren’t there either.”

“I couldn't sleep so I came here early. Then Pippa and Sally came and this wise little girl has made me feel a whole lot better,” she explained to Ric, who joined them sat on the beach.

“Do you want to join us shell hunting?” offered Sally.

“I think we're going to go home,” said Matilda looking at Ric. “We might come and see you later, if your still here.”

“Well how about I treat you to lunch at the Diner?” offered Sally.

“That would be great, see you at about 12?”


“See you later Pippa,” called Matilda, Pippa was now down at the waters edge.

“Bye Mattie! Bye Ric!”

Matilda and Ric walked slowly home.

“Ric, I'm sorry for the way I've been acting over the past few weeks. I know I haven't been the easiest person to live with.”

“You don't have to apologise. I understand. You've had a tough time, I completely understand.”

“I have the best boyfriend in the world,” said Matilda as they walked up the drive. They got into the house and started kissing. His lips felt so soft, thought Matilda. She felt safe in his arms. She pulled away to look at his face.

“Shall we go upstairs?” she asked.

“Are you sure, we don't have to if you don’t want to.”

“I want to,” she smiled.

“Well in that case ...” Ric picked her up and carried her up the stairs.

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Chapter 28

It was now the beginning of February and things between Ric and Matilda were going great. Things had been rough since they got together but they comforted and supported each other. Slowly, things were getting back to normal, well as normal as it could, after Belle’s death. They still all really missed her, but had to remember that they had to carry on with their lives. Ric had been going to the garage almost everyday and business was going great. It had recently been voted the most popular garage in the area and was making loads of money. Matilda spent the days relaxing and shopping and babysat for Pippa after school until Sally got home. Her college course still didn’t start for another 3 weeks but she knew that it would be very hectic once it did start. Her and Lucas were still on good terms and spoke on the phone every other day. She still really missed her mum but knew that she couldn’t do anything about it. Her mum had always wanted to get out and explore the world and now was her chance. Her and Tony had been staying with Scott and Hayley for a couple of months now and loved France.

It was a Sunday morning and Ric and Matilda had been lying in bed cuddling up to each other.

“You know what? I think that everything with Belle has brought us closer together,” said Matilda. “I mean you wouldn’t be here if she hadn’t gotten sick. We’ve been going out for just over two months and already live together.

“Yeah but it’s not like we were strangers before we got together. We were best friends and have been for years.”

“I love you Ric,” she said, resting her head on his chest.

“I love you too,” and he gently kissed the top of his head.

Then they were interrupted by the doorbell. Matilda quickly put on her dressing gown and ran to see who it was, leaving Ric trying to find some clothes to put on.

“Mattie, hi, sorry about calling round so early.” It was Martha looking quite stressed.

“Hey Martha, ahh hi Katie,” she said looking into the pram where Katie was smiling up at the sky.

“I’m really sorry to have to ask, but could you babysit her for the day. I have to be in charge of the Surf Club and Jack was supposed to watch her but he got called in to work.”

“Of course we’ll watch her, it will be our pleasure, won’t it Ric?” she said as he walked sleepily down the stairs with his t-shirt on inside out.

“Looking good cousin,” laughed Martha as she watched Ric rub his eyes and notice the mistake he made with the t-shirt.

“What are you doing here so early?” he asked.

“Well we are going to baby-sit Katie today, okay?” said Matilda pulling him into a hug.

“Yeah, yeah that’s fine.”

Martha then spent ages going through all of Katie’s stuff. When she finally left, Ric pulled off his t-shirt and put it on properly.

“Well that’s our day in bed over with then,” he said, kissing Matilda.

“Well, why don’t we take Katie down to the beach?”

Matilda went to get dressed while Ric got Katie out of the pram and sat her on his lap.

“Hello Katie. Are we going to have fun today? Are we? Yes we are!” Matilda came down having watched from the stairs Ric playing with Katie.

Hey slowly walked to the beach. Matilda pushed the pram and Ric wlaked with his arm round Matilda. Once they were settled on the beach and Katie was rolling round on the rug, Matilda lay down next to Ric.

“I saw you earlier with Katie,” she said. “And I thought you said you didn’t like babies.”

“Well, they’re okay,” he replied smiling and sitting up so that he could watch Katie.

“Ric, do you want kids? Not now, but in the future?” Matilda asked tentatively.

“Well, I always thought that I never would. I thought that I would be a horrible dad. But then, since I’ve been with Sally and Pippa, I don’t know, I suppose they have changed my mind. Why? Do you?”

“Well, yeah. Not right now! I want to have a career first and get married. But some day, yeah I do.”

“Well, then it’s a good job I came round to the idea then isn’t it.”

“Definitely,” and she leant over and kissed him.

After an hour of watching Katie roll around in the sand, they decided to take her for a dip in the sea. They paddled on the edge of the water and Matilda held Katie so that her feet and legs were in the water and watched her kick the water into the air.

“You know, being here by the sea, it reminds me of Belle,” said Matilda.

“I feel the same,” and he puts his arm round her.

“But I’m not upset by it anymore. I really miss her, but I can talk about her without crying. She wouldn’t want me to sit round in tears all the time.”

“I’m so proud of you baby.”

After another hour on the beach they headed off home so that Katie could be given lunch. Then they spent a relaxing afternoon. Katie slept most of the time and Matilda and Ric watched TV and messed around having a pillow fight.

Just before 5 the door bell rang.

“Hey Jack, you here to pick up your lovely baby daughter,” said Matilda.

“I sure am. Sorry about you having to look after her.”

“It was no problem. We had fun.”

“Hey Jack,” called Ric from the kitchen where he was looking for the Chinese take out menu.

Once Jack and Katie had gone home, Ric told Matilda to go and have a relaxing bath while he ordered the food. Once she had gone upstairs, he got on the phone and started arranging a surprise for Matilda. He made numerous phone calls and finally sat down on the sofa with a smile on his face. Matilda came down in her dressing gown, having had a bath, just as the food arrived.

They had a nice relaxing meal chatting and joking with each other.

“It’s valentine’s day in two weeks,” said Matilda.

“I know, and don’t worry, I have something planned.”


“Well you don’t need to sound so surprised,” he laughed.

“Sorry, I just didn’t think you thought Valentine ’s Day was a big deal.”

“Well, maybe I’ve changed,” he said.

He cleared the table while Matilda went and sat on the sofa, waiting for him. Once he had finished he joined her and she snuggled up to him.

“So, what have you got planned for Valentine’s Day?” she asked.

“I’m not going to tell you, it’s a surprise,” he said.

“Ahh go on, tell me!”

“Nope, it’s a secret.”

“Okay then, I’m going to bed.”


“Well, I was awake a lot in the night last night so I’m tired.”

“Were you thinking of Belle?”

“Well yeah, and my dad, and everything we’ve been through. Are you going to come up in a bit?”

“Yeah I’ll just watch some tv and I’ll come and join you.”

Matilda went into her room and got into bed. She looked at the two framed letters which were on the wall next to her bed. One was from her dad, the other from Belle.

“Love you both,” she whispered and lay in bed, trying to get to sleep. She was still awake an hour and a half later when Ric came up.

“I thought you’d be well asleep,” he said quietly.

“I can’t sleep,” she said. “I’ve got too much going round my head.”

“Come here baby,” he said getting into bed and pulling her close to him. She rested her head on his chest and slowly went to sleep. Ric stayed awake until he knew that Matilda was asleep the he too closed his eyes and started snoring quietly.

Next time: it's Valentine's Day and Ric has a surprise for Matilda.

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Chapter 27

The next two weeks went quickly and before long it was the morning of Valentine’s Day. Ric had had a hectic couple of weeks arranging his surprise for Matilda. She had been busy getting ready for college, babysitting Pippa and sometimes Katie too. Everyday she had gone down to the beach and had talked to Belle. The one day she had met Drew there as well, doing the same thing. She had talked to him and he had told her about school. She felt sorry for him. He didn’t have any friends his own age and hated school.

Matilda woke up on Valentine’s Day and looked over to find an empty space next to her. Then Ric walked in with a tray and put it on Matilda’s lap. He had made her a cooked breakfast for her to have in bed. He then gave her a rose.

“Happy Valentine’s Day!” he said and kissed her softly on the lips.

“Mmm I could get used to this. Happy Valentine’s Day baby. So, is this my surprise?” she asked eagerly.

“No, you’ll find out later.” He got back into bed next to her and they ate their breakfast cuddled up together.

At the Caravan Park, Sally was being woken up by Pippa. It was a Saturday so there was no school.

“Pippa go down and watch some tv, I’ll be down in a minute,” said Sally sleepily. Once Pippa had left the room, Sally looked over at the picture of Flynn that she kept next to her bed.

“Happy Valentine’s Day,” she said. It was occasions like this that she really missed him. She had gotten used to it over time but it didn’t make it any easier. She got out of bed, got dressed and joined Pippa in the living room.

“Is today the day of the party?” asked Pippa.

“Yes, but it’s a surprise so you can’t tell Matilda when you see her.”

“I won’t mummy, I promise!”

Back at Matilda’s house Ric was downstairs washing up the breakfast things while Matilda had a bath. Once she had finished and wanted to get dressed she called down to Ric.

“Ric, you know my surprise?”

“Yeah, I’m not going to tell you!”

“I get that but, I don’t know what to wear.”

“Hang on,” he said and he ran upstairs. He looked through her wardrobe and pulled out a short, halter neck dress.

“So, when do I get my surprise?” she asked. She hoped that if she kept asking, he would eventually tell her.

“Later. First, I need to go into work for a couple of hours and you need to go and babysit Pippa.

“Hmm does Pippa know my surprise?”

“Yes, but I’ve sworn her to secrecy.”

Ric dropped Matilda off at the Caravan Park and waited in the car while she went inside. Then he waited for Sally to come out and she joined him in the car.

“Hey Sal, so did she ask you about her surprise?”

“Yeah and I think she was a bit miffed that you had to go to ‘work’.”

“Well I had to tell her something.”

Inside the Caravan Park Pippa was watching TV and Matilda was fixing them both some ice cold drinks.

“So, Pippa you know what day it is today,” she asked.

“Yes, it’s Valentine’s Day.”

“And you know on Valentine’s Day, people treat the people that they love. Ric said that he had a surprise for me. Do you happen to know what it is?”

“Ric and mummy said not to tell you,” Pippa said giggling.

“Please Pippa!”

“No, Ric said he’s going to buy me another Barbie doll if I keep it a secret.”

For the next couple of hours they sat and watched TV and played while Matilda kept trying to find out her surprise. Eventually, about 3 in the afternoon, Sally returned home.

“Hey guys, how is everyone?” she said as she walked through the door.

“Mummy Mattie kept trying to find out her surprise, but I didn’t tell her!”

“O she did, did she,” and she looked at Matilda smiling.

“Well, I want to know!”

“You don’t have long now and you can find out. In fact, maybe you should go home and see of Ric’s back.”

“Okay! See you both soon!” Matilda hugged Sally and then Pippa, giving her a little kiss on the head.

Matilda more or less ran home and burst through the door when she saw that Ric’s car was in the drive.

“Ric! Ric!” she called out.

“Hey baby, how are you?” He came into the room dressed smartly.

“I’d be better if I knew what my surprise was,” she had grinning.

“Well, how about I take you to find out,” he said watching a smile erupt on her face.


“Well, if you don’t want to ...”

“Of course I want to, lets go!” she said.

Ric took her hand and led her out of the house.

“Are we walking?” she asked, excitedly.

“Yes, it’s not far.”

“I’m so excited!” she smiled.

When they got down to the beach Ric led her towards the rocks and then round into an alcove.

“Oh my god!” she screamed when she saw what was in front of her.

“And this is just the start of your surprise!” Ric said, happy to see his girlfriend smiling. They were standing in a private alcove on the beach. A table had been set up as if they were at a posh restaurant. There were roses everywhere and candles had been placed on the surrounding rocks. A portable CD player was quietly playing slow, romantic music. In the background the waves were slowly lapping up onto the shore.

“This is ... absolutely perfect!” she exclaimed as he led her to the table and pushed her chair in for her. “How did you do all this?” she asked.

“Well, I have a confession. I wasn’t at work earlier and Sally wasn’t running errands. We came down here and set it up while you were babysitting Pippa.”

“That’s so sweet of you, and of Sally.”

“And then I got Leah to cook for us. All I have to do is serve it, it’s in warming containers.” He got up, went behind a rock and pulled out two plates. “First course, soup, your favourite.”

“Ric, thank you! I can’t believe you’ve done all this for me!”

“Like I said, this is only the beginning.”

“There’s more?” exclaimed Matilda.

After the soup, Ric served them Lobster, which Matilda loves.

“I still can’t believe you’ve gone to all this trouble!”

“Anything for my beautiful girlfriend!”

After Ric cleared the plates away, he sat back down before serving dessert. He reached across the table and entwined his hand with Matilda’s. They smiled at each other and Ric took a deep breath before speaking.

“Matilda, we have been together as boyfriend and girlfriend for almost three months but it seems like so much longer. We have supported each other and always been here for each other. I have fancied you for as long as I can remember and think that you are absolutely wonderful. You’re the most beautiful woman in the world, you’re kind, caring and considerate and I love you more than I could ever imagine loving someone So, Matilda ...” Ric got up off his stool, bent down on one knee next to the table and got a box out of his pocket. Opening the box he said, “will you marry me?”

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Just a short chapter because I have lots of schoolwork to do. Also, I have my mock AS levels in 2 weeks so may be posting just little bits until they are over with.

Chapter 29

Matilda couldn’t believe what had just happened. Ric was knelt in front of her holding a box with a diamond ring in it, having just said the four words that every girl dreams of hearing. The guy of her dreams had just asked her to marry her.

“Yes!” she said, jumping out of her chair, kissing and hugging him. “Of course I’ll marry you!”

Ric placed the diamond ring on her finger and kissed her passionately on the lips. She couldn’t stop smiling, she couldn’t remember a time when she was this happy. It was probably when she and Ric had first got together.

Ric was just as happy. He had his dream girl and now they were engaged to be married.

“You have just made me the happiest man in the world!” exclaimed Ric.

“In which case we make the perfect couple because I’m the happiest girl.”

Matilda kissed Ric again and then picked up her glass of champagne.

“To us,” she said, raising her glass.

“To us,” and Ric put his arm round his now fiancé.

Half an hour later, once they had calmed down slightly, they were sat next to each other on a rock eating chocolate gateaux which was dessert.

“I love you,” whispered Matilda.

A further half an hour later, Ric decided it was time for Matilda’s next surprise.

“So, are you ready for the next thing?” he asks, holding his hand out for Matilda who took it and pulled herself up off the rock.

“You mean there’s more?” she asked, surprised. The proposal was massive surprise, a good one, but huge. She really didn’t think there was anything else.

“Well, yes. Come on my lovely fiancé,” and he led her towards the top of the beach and towards the surf club.

“What are we doing here? It looks closed.”

Ric opened the door anyway, even though it did look deserted. They stepped through the door and Matilda’s jaw dropped.

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Chapter 30

“SURPRISE!!!” shouted everyone. Most of the Bay were there and it was decorated especially for the engagement party. There was a banner along the back wall saying ‘Congratulations Ric and Matilda!’

“Oh my God!” screamed Matilda.

“So, what do you think of this surprise?” whispered Ric in her ear.

“I’m ... amazed! That you would go to this much trouble for me!”

“Well you are my fiancé.

“The more I hear that, the more I like it.”

Everyone started coming over and congratulating them. Pippa came running over,

“Mattie, did you like the surprise?” she asked sweetly.

“It’s brilliant and you were brilliant not telling me earlier,” replied Matilda.

“Does this mean that you’re going to be my sister now, cos you’re marrying Ric?”

“Yeah it does,” smiled Matilda.

“Yay! I always wanted a sister,” Pippa was too young to really remember Cassie.

The next person who came to talk was Sally.

“Well, welcome to the family,” she said, hugging Matilda.

“Thank you. And thanks for all you did down on the beach. It was so special.”

“You’re welcome.”

Suddenly Ric was calling for everyone to be quiet and Matilda wondered what was happening.

“Now, we are all here to celebrate the fact that the beautiful Matilda has agreed to become my wife.” Everyone started cheering, clapping and whistling. “Now today, I have surprised Matilda with many things, and the surprises are not over.”

“What? There’s more?” said Matilda who really couldn’t believe it. She had already been surprised by breakfast in bed, candle lit dinner on the beach, the marriage proposal and the engagement party. What more could happen?

“Now, there is someone outside that has come from the city to be here.” And in walked Lucas.

“Oh my God Lucas!” Matilda ran over and hugged him.

“Congratulations!” he said. “I’m so happy for the two of you.”

“This is a brilliant surprise,” she said, looking back at Ric. Lucas walked over and shook Ric’s hand.

“Congratulations mate,” he said before moving over to say hello to Jack and Martha.

Matilda went over to Ric and hugged him. “Thanks for getting Lucas to come,” she said.

“No problem, but the surprises aren’t over yet,” he replied. Mailda stared at him.

“There’s more?”

Ric called for quiet again and everyone was wondering what was coming next.

“Now, you all know Matilda’s family are all overseas and she is the only Hunter left in Summer Bay.

“She won’t be a Hunter for much longer!” called out Jack.

“Well, as a surprise I have hooked up a web cam on the projector and have got Robbie and Tasha to set one up in their home in America.” Everyone watched the screen as Robbie and Tasha, along with Ella, appeared on the screen.

“Hey, sis,” called out Robbie while Tasha and Ella were waving frantically.

“Oh my God!” cried Matilda, hugging and kissing Ric once again.

“So, I hear congratulations are in order! The youngster in the family is getting hitched,” Robbie said.

“Hey, what about Henry, I’m 2 minutes older than him!” cried out Matilda as everyone laughed.

“And you don’t let us forget that do you! Anyway, we wish you all the best in your engagement and you must let us know when the wedding is so that we can book out flights.”

“Rob, they’ve only just got engaged,” said Tasha, playfully hitting him on the arm.

“Anyway, we are really sorry that we couldn’t be there to celebrate with you, but we hope that you all have a brilliant night.”

“Bye Summer Bay, we love you all,” said Tasha as she was trying to get a moody Ella to wave.

“Bye sis, speak to you soon!” The screen went blank.

The music started playing and everyone started dancing again, but Ric pulled Matilda over to one side with his mobile in his hand.

“Kit and Kim are on the phone wanting to congratulate us,” he said, handing her the phone.

“Kit, oh my God, Kit I’m engaged,” she squealed down the phone.

“I know sis, it’s wonderful. I always thought Ric and you would make a good couple. Kim’s here too by the way.”

“Hey Kim,” Matilda said.

“Congratulations Matilda, sorry we couldn’t be there but we don’t have any more holiday left from work. We will definitely make it back for the wedding though, whenever that will be.”

“Don’t worry about not being here. Oh my God I am so happy, you would not believe it. Ric has been so great.”

While Matilda spoke on the phone it was the perfect diversion for Ric to slip out and check that the next surprise was ready. She had already been surprised loads today, but it was by no means over yet. He was going to make sure that she was the happiest she had ever been in her life.

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