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You'll Never Be Alone

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Chapter 60

“Hello?” Ric said, answering the phone. Then he passed it over to Matilda. “It’s a woman wanting to speak to you,” he said.

“Hello?” said Matilda.

“Are you Matilda Hunter?” once Matilda had said she was, the woman continued. “I’m a nurse at Sydney Hospital, you’re mother, Beth Hunter, was brought in to us following a crash landing of her plane from Paris. At the moment she is in a stable but still critical condition” Matilda went numb. Her mum was meant to be in France, not on a plane. She turned and faced the TV where the scene was still being shown. My mum was in that, she thought.

“Umm, I’m going to come straight away, have you contacted my brother Scott and the others?” she thought suddenly.

“He has been contacted although a Kit Hyde, Henry Hunter and Robbie Hunter are still to be contacted, also, your mothers fiancé Tony Holden was brought in. We are in the process of contacting his family.”

Matilda put the phone down, she looked as white as a sheet.

“Mattie? What’s wrong?” asked Ric, having not heard what had happened.

Matilda pointed to the TV.

“My mum and Tony were on that plane. We have to go, they’re at Sydney main hospital.” Ric couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

“What about everyone else? Scott? Jack?” Ric said as he quickly gathered up some things to take.

“The hospital are phoning them.” Ric went upstairs to pack some clothes so they could stay over. Matilda was telling him exactly what the nurse had said.

Just as they got in the car, Matilda’s mobile rang, it showed Scott’s mobile.

“Hey sis, have you heard?” he asked hurriedly.

“Yeah, we’re on out way there,” replied Matilda, who was now shaking.

“Us too. Hayley’s spoken to Martha and they are also setting off, we’ll see you there. Oh and Mattie, don’t worry, I’m sure everything is going to be fine,” and Scott hung up.

For the majority of the drive, which took several hours, Matilda sat in silence, going over what she had seen on the TV. She still didn’t know what Beth and Tony were doing in the country. She kept imagining what they must have gone through on the plane. Ric kept looking over at her and occasionally rubbed her leg with his hand to show that he was here for her.

They finally arrived at the hospital and ran inside to find loads of other people trying to find their relatives who had also been on the plane. They joined the queue but then saw Scott and Hayley and so joined them. Matilda rushed over and hugged her brother. Scott wrapped his arms round her.

“Did you leave Noah with Leah?” asked Ric.

“Yeah,” replied Hayley, “we thought it would be best.”

They finally arrived on the right ward and saw that each patient had their own room and were all hooked up to numerous amounts of machines. Matilda held onto Ric’s hand and looked at Scott. Hayley went to find out where Beth was. Just as Hayley came back, they saw Lucas wandering down the corridor, tears in his eyes, as white as a sheet.

“Lucas? How’s Tony?” asked Scott. Lucas looked up and stared at them all. Tears started falling down his cheeks.

“He’s ... he’s ... he’s dead. He ... died in the ambulance,” said Lucas and he starting crying.

Matilda and Scott looked at each other. Matilda, putting all that had happened behind her, went over and hugged Lucas. She could forgive him for being stupid in the past, he needed her. Seeing him here showed Matilda how vulnerable he was. Jack arrived soon after, with Martha who was carrying Katie. Jack looked one look at Lucas and stopped.

“Where’s dad?” he asked quickly.

“He ... he died ... in the ... ambulance,” said Lucas through tears. Hayley was hugging Lucas now and Matilda was being held by Ric, she also had tears rolling down her face. Tony was as good as her step dad and she loved him. Martha was comforting Jack and holding Katie, who was silent.

“Umm I guess, we’d better see how mum is,” said Scott, looking at Matilda.

“Yeah,” said Matilda, quietly. She dreaded to think what sort of a state Beth would be in. All they knew was that she was critical. They left Lucas, Jack, Martha and Katie at the seats and headed off to find Beth.

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Chapter 61

They approached the room and Hayley and Ric held back, he let go of Matilda’s hand and she looked at him.

“Why don’t you and Scott go in, it should be just family,” he said.

“Ric, I need you. Please,” she said. So Ric hugged her and opened the door while Hayley was hugging Scott. Matilda gasped. Beth was lying on the bed with machines everywhere. She had numerous cuts and some burns. Matilda started crying. She couldn’t bear to see her mum like this. She turned and faced Ric and buried her face in his chest while he held onto her tightly. Next to them, Hayley was comforting Scott, who was trying to put on a brave face for Matilda’s sake.

The sound of Matilda crying and the door shutting made Beth open her eyes.

“Mum,” whispered Matilda, once Ric had turned her round and shown her Beth was awake. “Mum what are you doing here? Why aren’t you in France?” and she rushed to her mothers side and held onto her hand. Scott did the same the other side.

“I ... We ... didn’t want ... to miss ... the wedding ... planning so ... thought we’d ... come for a ... holiday and ... surprise you,” explained Beth. She had to keep pausing in order to catch her breath. “Where’s ... Tony?” she asked and Matilda looked across at Scott.

“Umm I’m not sure,” lied Scott, knowing it wasn’t the best thing to lie but he didn’t want to break Beth’s heart when she was lying in intensive care.

“Could ... you ... find ... out?” said Beth, still having to catch her breath.

Soctt, Matilda, Ric and Hayley all looked at each other, wondering what to say now. Unfortunately Beth saw this and immediately panicked.

“What’s ... happened? Where’s ... Tony?” she asked, she knew they were hiding something. Scott had always been a terrible liar.

Scott looked over Beth at Matilda and sighed. He had to tell her. Matilda nodded her reassurance and gripped tightly onto her mother’s hand.

“Well, they struggled to get Tony off the plane. This meant that he suffered smoke inhalation. And ... well his leg was trapped, and he was in a bad way. Umm ... he ... he died on the way here. Mum I’m so sorry.” He watched as his mother’s eyes filled with tears. Beth looked so vulnerable lay in intensive care, tubes and machines all around, having lost the second man she had loved. Matilda stood up and leant over her mum, hugging her but being careful around the tubes.

“Mum, it’s going to be okay. You have to stay strong, you have to get better,” Matilda cried.

A doctor came in and said that he needed to examine Beth and so the four of them went out to the corridor and found Lucas, Jack and Martha who was still comforting Jack as well as holding Katie.

“How’s Beth?” asked Lucas as soon as he saw them.

“She’s ... fighting. We had to tell her about Tony, she knew there was something wrong. I just hope it doesn’t make her lose the will to stay strong,” explained Scott. He walked over and gave Matilda a hug. Although they had never been close growing up, since Scott and Hayley had moved back Summer Bay they had grown very close. Growing up, Scott had been too busy helping on the farm to want to play with his younger sister. Matilda stood there and put her arms round her brother. She needed him. As much as she needed Ric, and she was thankful he was here, at this moment in time Scott was her rock. He knew what she was going through.

The doctor came and found them and asked them to come into his office so he could explain what was going on with Beth. Matilda sat down on a sofa in the small room in between Ric and Scott. Ric put a supportive hadn on her leg and Scott smiled slightly, reassuringly. He felt he had to be positive, for his own sake as much as anyone else’s.

“Now, your mother is in a very serious condition. She has had major bleeding that we had hoped would have stopped by now, but unfortunately it hasn’t.” Matilda looked worriedly at Ric. “Also, when the plane crash landed it came to an abrupt stop, this made the seat belt cut into her stomach. We have done tests and I am afraid this has caused extensive damage in your mother’s case.” Matilda started crying. Ric put his arm round her and pulled her into a hug, Scott was on the verge of tears and Hayley was silently wiping her eyes.

“Umm, what does this mean?” asked Scott.

“Well your mother is very weak. She has had to find out that her fiancé has died which has not helped. I know you had to tell her,” he added quickly as Scott started to feel guilty. “She has been through as awful lot. The next 24 hours are critical and you must prepare yourself for the fact that she might not make it. I’m sorry, but that’s the bottom line and I think it’s only fair that you know,” finished the doctor. The four of them got up and walked out of the room. Matilda was weeping and being supported by Ric. Scott was looking shell shocked and Hayley was pale. Ric wanted to cry, Beth had been so good for him. But he had to be there for Matilda and so quickly wiped his eyes. They went back to Beth’s room and found a nurse just coming out.

“She’s very weak,” said the nurse.

Matilda took Ric’s hand and went into the room behind Scott and Hayley. They stayed there, Matilda and Scott on either side on Beth, while Beth slipped in and out of consciousness.

“Mum, please stay strong,” whispered Matilda after a while. “I need you.”

“Don’t give up,” added Scott. Beth opened her eyes and looked from Scott to Hayley.

“Where’s ... the ... others?” she asked, her weakness showing in her voice.

“Kit and Kim are on their way. Robbie and Tasha and Henry are on the next flights here, but they’ve shut Sydney airport so they have to fly somewhere else,” explained Scott.

“I love you,” whispered Beth looking at them both. “Can ... you ... tell them.”

“No, you can tell them when they get here,” said Matilda as Ric put his hands on her shoulders.

“Mattie ... you ... have to ...accept ... what might ... happen,” said Beth. “Just ... remember I ... love you.”

At that moment Beth’s eyes closed and the alarm on the machine behind the bed started going.

“Mum!” cried out Matilda.

“Don’t give up mum. We all need you,” said Scott, tears falling down his cheeks. Nurses came rushing in, followed by a team of doctors. They ushered Matilda, Ric, Scott and Hayley out of the room.

“What am I going to do without her?” asked Matilda, breaking down.

“Mattie, she might pull through. We have to wait and see.”

“Ric she knew! You heard what she was saying about how we should remember she loved us. She knew she was getting weaker and weaker.”

At that moment a doctor came out of the room and started to talk to them.

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Once again thanks for all the comments. This is a short chapter but emotional. I'll update again as soon as I can.

Chapter 62

One of the doctors came out of Beth’s room and started to talk to them.

“Your mum, I’m afraid to say, has suffered internal bleeding. We were monitoring the situation but it suddenly got worse. I’m afraid that there was nothing we could do. Your mum passed away.”

Matilda couldn’t believe it, she wouldn’t believe it. She was crying but at the time trying to think that it was a mistake, her mum would never leave her. Ric pulled her into a hug and stroked her hair.

“Mattie, we’re going to get through this,” he whispered gently, he too was crying. Scott was leaning against the wall, taking in the fact that he would never see his mum again, Hayley was next to him, trying her best to comfort him.

The doctor turned to leave, they needed to be alone right now. He turned around and said, “If you want to see her, then go right ahead.”

Scott stepped forward, He needed to see her one last time. Matilda looked up and started to follow.

“You don’t have to, you know,” reassured Ric.

“Yes I do,” she replied. So Ric held her hand and they entered the room. Matilda broke down. Ric caught her just as she fell and held her as she looked at Beth. This was the confirmation for Matilda, she hadn’t properly believed it until now. Scott had walked round the bed and kissed his mum’s head.

Matilda was leaned up against Ric, her head next to his chest making his tee shirt wet with tears.

After a while they left the room and walked down the corridor.

They walked away from Beth’s room but then stopped as they saw who was walking towards them. Kit and Kim were rushing down the corridor.

“Guys, what’s happening?” Kit asked. Matilda noticed that they must have left the two children at home. She couldn’t tell them what had happened. The words wouldn’t form in her mouth and so she stood there with Ric’s arm round her waist while Scott took in a deep breath.

“Umm sis, mum and Tony are both dead,” he said and watched as Kit collapsed into Kim’s arms, crying. Scott explained what had happened and what Beth had said. It was all too much for Matilda. She looked up at Ric and he seemed to read her mind.

“Umm guys, I think maybe we’ll go get a coffee or something,” he said and led Matilda down the corridor.

“Thank you,” she whispered, she was still crying and thought she would be for days. They found a small café which was on the same floor and Ric sat Matilda in a chair and went up to get them something to eat and drink. He returned and put a coffee and cake in front of Matilda. She took the coffee but pushed the cake away.

“Mattie, I know what you’re going through is horrible but you have to eat. Your mum would want you to eat.” At those words Matilda picked up a fork and ate the cake. When she had finished she looked up at Ric.

“What am I going to do?” she asked. Ric moved round to the chair next to her and pulled her into a hug.

“You have to stay strong. I know that at the moment it will seem like you can’t carry on, but you will. I’ve been through it with Flynn, meaning that I know how alone you must feel. But you’re not. I’m always going to be here for you, Scott and Hayley are round the corner, Jack and Martha live next door. Sally cares deeply for you and so does Pippa.”

They sat there for a while, Matilda leaning into Ric who was comforting her. Then eventually, they went and found the others who were still at the chairs. They all turned when they saw Matilda and Ric coming. Jack, Martha and Lucas had found out about Beth.

“We’re all going to check into a hotel for the night,” explained Kim. “No one’s in a fit state to drive.”

“That suits us. I put some clothes in a bag just in case,” replied Ric. So they all went to the lifts. All of them either still had tears falling, or had red eyes from crying. Whether they were a son or daughter of Beth and Tony or whether they were married into the family, or nearly in the case of Ric. They all loved them very much. Then there was Robbie, Tasha, Ella and Henry who at that very moment were all making their way to Australia, none of them knew what they would face when they landed.

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Hey guys, thanks as usual for all the comments. I really appreciate them. My AS exams start next friday and so I will be pretty busy for a while. But once they are over I will have lots of time to write chapters as school will relax when I go back after study leave so just bear with me for a bit.

Chapter 63

The following evening they were all getting ready to head back to Summer Bay. They had found a hotel for the previous night opposite the airport. Scott had then gone to meet Robbie, Tasha, Ella and Henry and tell them what had happened. Matilda felt bad about not going with him but she didn’t think she could handle it. She had been sat in the hotel room all day, hardly saying anything. Scott had brought everyone to the hotel and they had all grieved together. Ella, though only 6 could tell that something was wrong and so was quiet and slept most of the day. Henry had gone straight over to Matilda and the twins had hugged each other and cried, staying like that for a long time. It had been ages since they had seen each other and they just wished it could have been under better circumstances. Robbie also took his turn in comforting his youngest sister. Though all were sad, Matilda was taking it the hardest. Lucas had kept his distance. Despite Matilda being the one to approach him at the hospital he didn’t know what was going on between them. So he mainly stayed with Jack and grieved his father.

They had all decided that they would return to Summer Bay and then organise things from there. So they set about making arrangements to get everyone there. Ric was going to drive his car with Matilda, Robbie, Tasha and Ella as it had Pippa’s car seat. Hayley said she would drive as Scott wasn’t in any fit state and she was also taking Henry. That left Martha to drive her, Jack, Lucas and Katie while Kim drive his car with Kit, they had left their two children at home, they were too young to understand what was going on.

Ric had phoned Sally and told her what had happened and she had passed the news round to everyone else. Sally had also gone round to their house and tidied so that they didn’t have to worry about that and she had done the food shopping.

Matilda hardly said anything on the way home. She would answer any questions that were asked but in as little words as possible. They eventually reached the ‘Welcome to Summer Bay’ sign and Robbie looked out the window.

“Haven’t been here in about a year. Wish it could be under ... better circumstances,” he said, gloomily.

Once they reached the house Ric went ahead and opened the door, everyone was coming back to their house. Matilda got out of the car and looked up at the house. Beth had brought it when they moved to the Bay after their father, Jack, had died. Just looking at the outside reminded Matilda of her mum. Ric came and put his arm round her. Robbe had gone in and sat on the sofa and Tasha was getting Ella out of the car. Matilda moved away from Ric and headed into the house. He followed her with his eyes but then went to get the suitcases out of the car, she just needs some space he thought. Minutes later the others had arrived. Robbie was still sat on the sofa, Matilda was sat at the table, Tasha was watching Ella and Ric was making everyone drinks.

After a while of everyone sat in silence, Robbie said that he was going for a walk.

“Can I come?” asked Matilda, looking up at him.

“Sure sis, anyone else?”

In the end Robbie, Matilda, Henry, Kit and Scott left to go for a walk. They felt that they needed to be together, all the siblings. Jack, Martha, Katie and Lucas went next door, to grieve for their father. That left Ric, Hayley, Tasha, Ella and Kim at the house. Ric went and sat down on the sofa, he was exhausted from trying to stay strong for Matilda.

“Ric, you okay?” asked Hayley.

“Yeah I’ll be fine. I’m just worried about Matilda and how she’s handling everything.”

“She knows that you’re here for her, that we’re all here for them all. If she needs to talk then she will. Everyone deals with it in their own way.”

When they all returned, Matilda hardly said anything. She ate some dinner and then said she was going to bed. Kit and Kim were staying with Scott and Hayley, Leah still had Noah. So the four of them set off, leaving Ric, Henry, Robbie, Tasha and Ella who was asleep in Tasha’s lap. She went upstairs to put Ella to sleep, leaving Robbie, Henry and Ric in the lounge.

“How was Mattie on the walk?” asked Ric.

“She was ... quiet, which isn’t like my sister,” said Henry.

“She’ll come around. We’ve all just got to learn to deal with it,” said Robbie.

Eventually they all went to bed. Ric walked quietly into the bedroom to see Matilda in bed facing the other way. He could hear her crying and so quickly got undressed and got into bed next to her. He put his arm round her and she turned round to face him.

“Mattie, you know I’m always here for you,” he said and she nodded. “I don’t want you to keep your feelings bottled up.”

Matilda sobbed into his chest, comforted by the fact she was with someone she loved and that she had all her brothers and sister near her. She lay there not saying anything until eventually she cried herself to sleep. Ric stayed awake longer, wanting to make sure she was asleep. He wanted to take the pain away, but knew that it was impossible. Eventually he too fell asleep, arms wrapped around Matilda.

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Chapter 64

A week later in was Sunday morning and the double funeral of Beth and Tony would be taking place the next morning. Everyone was still in the Bay, supporting each other and coming to terms with their grief. While the others liked to talk about Beth and the happy memories they share, Matilda would leave the room. She couldn’t face up to talking about her, not yet. Jade had been phoning daily to see how she was. Hayley and Martha were often round Matilda’s house with everyone else. The funeral arrangements had all been made and, although she still had the option, Matilda’s name had been put down to say something.

“It’s completely your decision,” said Scott. “If it gets to the day and you don’t want to then that’s fine. But I’ll put your name down anyway.”

Kit and Kim were leaving after the funeral to get back to their children. Henry would also be flying back to England. Robbie, Tasha and Ella would be leaving the following day, back to America. Lucas didn’t know when he would go back to Uni. In the mean time he was getting notes e-mailed to him.

On the Sunday morning Ric went downstairs to find the house quiet. He knew that Robbie and everyone were probably still asleep but expected to find Matilda sat on the sofa. She didn’t like turning the TV on because the news channels were still reporting about the plane accident.

Instead, he found a brief letter on the table.

Ric, gone for a walk. See you later, Mattie.

She had been very distant since Beth’s death. She would prefer to be alone and hadn’t really said anything, not even to Ric. He kept trying to comfort her, hug her, but she would walk away to be alone. Every night she would pretend to be asleep when Ric came to bed.

Meanwhile Matilda was walking along the beach, letting the sea lap up around her bare feet, holding her shoes. She had needed to get out. She felt so claustrophobic at home, like everyone was constantly watching her.

She had woken up early, after finally getting to sleep in the small hours of the morning. She looked up and saw another lone figure walking along the sea edge. Getting closer she recognised it as Lucas and she slowly made her way over.

“Hey,” she said once she was close enough for him to hear him.

“Hi,” he replied.

“I won’t bother asking how you are, I know I’m fed up of hearing it so no doubt you are too.”

“Yeah I am,” replied Lucas.

They walked up the beach and sat on the sand.

“So, I haven’t spoken to you since at ... at the hospital.”

“I didn’t ... I didn’t know whether you wanted me too. After last time ...” thinking back to when he had kissed her months ago.

“I forgive you for that. I used to think that, that was it between us, that we couldn’t be friends, but then last week ... when I saw you ... I forgot everything you’d done.”

“Thank you. I have really missed being able to talk to you, especially this week. I promise that I completely understand about you and Ric, you have my word.”

“Thanks Lucas.”

“Your mum would be so proud of you, you know,” said Lucas, turning to face Matilda, who looked away. “Come on, one of us had to mention them.”

“I just ... everyone else has been talking about them ... but I can’t ... it’s too hard.”

“It’ll get easier. I know, because I’ve been the same. At first I shut down completely, but ... Jack and Martha have been helping me through it.”

“I know I have to ... and I will.”

Lucas looked at his watch. “I’d better go, I’m meant to be bringing breakfast back. So, see you around.”

“Tomorrow, at the ... funeral.” They hugged and Matilda stay sat on the beach watching him walk away.

A little later Sally walked down the beach. Brad had come round early and was looking after Pippa while Sally went to the Diner to get some breakfast.

“Mattie? What are you doing here?” she asked.

“I’m just ...” started Matilda. Sally sat down next to her, where Lucas had been sat. Matilda had seen Sally only briefly since the previous weekend.

Matilda looked into Sally’s eyes.

“Ric says that you’ve been finding it hard,” said Sally. “It’s completely understandable, but you don’t have to block everyone out. We all want to help you. If you don’t want to talk to Ric then you can talk to me, or anyone. We all care about you.”

“Thanks Sally. It’s just ... I needed to get out of the house. I haven’t really left it much since ... it happened ... but everything about that house ... reminds me of mum.” Matilda started to cry and Sally pulled her into a hug.

“Maybe you need a break from there, to deal with it.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well if you wanted to you could come and stay at my house, for tonight at least. Maybe it’ll help get your head around it and then after the funeral tomorrow you can see what you want to do.”

“Really?” said Matilda, her eyes gleaming. That is exactly what she wanted, to get out of the house.

“Of course, come round later and you can stay as long for as long as you want.”

“Thank you so much Sally,” and Matilda hugged her again. They stayed sat on the beach for a while longer. Sally held Matilda and comforted her while she cried.

“Mattie, Ric’s here. I think he’s looking for you so I’ll leave you. I’ll see you later.”

“Thanks for offering a room to us.”

Matilda looked to where Ric was jogging towards her.

“Mattie I’ve been worried.”

“I just needed some space, so I came here. Lucas was here and we talked for a while and then Sally came.”


“Yeah, I sorted everything out with him and I would appreciate it if you would too,” said Matilda. Ric had sat down.

“If it’s what you want, then of course I will.”

“There’s something else Ric. I was telling Sally how I wanted to get out of the house and she said we could go and stay with her for a bit.”

“Of course we can. Why didn’t you tell me you wanted to go?”

“I don’t know,” said Matilda.

“Mattie, I’m here to help. I love you and I hate you shutting me out.”

“I’m sorry. I just ... couldn’t face talking about it. Everyone else is talking about memories and I couldn’t! It was too upsetting. But, between them, Lucas and Sally have made me see that it will help. So, I’m sorry for shutting you out but I hated people asking how I am and everything. The house has too many memories for me.”

“Why don’t we go home, pack up some things and head over to Sally’s. I’m so glad that you are beginning to deal with it.” They stood up and Matilda hugged Ric and kissed him gently on the lips.

“What was that for?” he asked.

“For ... being there for me, for putting up with me. I know I haven’t been the easiest person to be around.”

“Mattie, I love you. Whatever happens in our lives, we’ll have each other.”

“I love you,” said Matilda.

They started heading back when Matilda stopped. She was holding Ric’s hand so he stopped too.

“Could we maybe get some breakfast? At the Diner,” said Matilda.

“Are you sure you’re ready for that?”

“Yes. I have to do it some time and with you here, I could do anything. I have to get used to being around people.”

“Okay, lets go.” So they turned around and started heading towards the Diner. Ric put his arm around Matilda, happy that she was starting to open up to him.

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Chapter 65

Matilda and Ric arrived at the Diner and stopped just outside.

“Are you sure you want to go in? We don’t have to,” said Ric, clutching Matilda’s hand. She took a deep breath,

“Come on,” she said and led him inside. She led the way to a booth and sat down, aware that people were looking at her. Colleen seemed to want to come over but was being stopped by Irene and Leah.

“Are you okay?” asked Ric.

“Yeah, I just have to get used to people looking I suppose. Mm I think I’ll have a full English, suddenly I’m starving.”

“Well it might have something to do with the fact you haven’t eaten properly all week,” said Ric.

“Yeah well, I’m going to change now. My mum wouldn’t want to see me not eating.” Ric went to order.

“Hello Ric, how’s Matilda?” asked Irene, and suddenly Colleen became very interested in the till so that she could listen.

“She’s ... getting better. This is her first proper outing and it was her choice so that’s good. And she seems to be talking more,” explained Ric.

“Ah that’s good. Well then what can I get you?”

“Two full English breakfasts please.”

“Okay and it’s on the house,” said Irene as Leah came out of the kitchen.

“Absolutely,” said Leah. “And give Matilda our love.”

“I will,” said Ric and went to sit back with her.

“Everyone sends their love,” he told Matilda.

“I bet Colleen wanted to get all the details,” replied Matilda.

“Well Irene and Leah were stopping her.”

Not long after, their food was brought over by Irene.

“Hey guys,” she said, putting their food in front of them.

“Thanks Irene,” said Matilda.

“No problem, if you want anything else, anything at all, just ask,” and she left them to eat.

“So, I’ve been thinking,” started Matilda. “I want to say something at the funeral tomorrow.”

“Are you sure?” Ric replied.

“Yeah. I know it’ll be hard but I’ll have you and everyone to support me and it’s just something I have to do.”

“Well then I guess you’ll have to get thinking of what to say.”

“Thanks for being so supportive Ric,” she said and reached over, holding his hand.

“Hey, it’s what I’m here for.”

Once they had finished and waved goodbye to Leah and Irene they left the Diner and walked home, hand in hand.

“I’m so glad you’re talking more,” said Ric.

“So, we need to tell everyone that we’re staying at Sally’s for a while. Do you think they’ll understand?”

“Of course they will. They want what’s best for you.”

They entered the house and found that everyone was in the living room. Scott and everyone else, including Jack, Martha and Lucas.

“Mattie! We were getting worried. Where have you been?” asked Robbie.

“I just ... needed to get out of the house and then Ric came and found me and we went and had breakfast at the Diner.” Ric sat down on the only available chair and Matilda sat on his lap and put her arms round him.

“The Diner?” said Scott, sounding surprised.

“Yeah,” she said, aware that everyone was looking at her. “I’ve realised that shutting everyone out isn’t going to make things better, it actually makes it worse. So, I’m dealing with what’s happened and just needed to get out and to some sort of normality. There’s one more thing. Umm this house, at the moment reminds me too much of mum, so me and Ric are going to go and stay at Sally’s for a couple of days.”

“That sounds like a good idea,” said Kit.

The talk soon came round to the funeral which was taking place the next day.

“Umm Scott? I’d like to say something at the funeral, if that’s okay,” said Matilda. Her eyes met with Lucas’ and he smiled reassuringly at her.

“That is absolutely fine Mattie. So that means that me, Robbie, Kit, Henry and Mattie are all talking for Beth and Jack and Lucas are talking for Tony,” explained Scott. While some were talking in groups, Ric went to make some drinks and Robbie came and hugged Matilda.

“I’m proud of you sis,” he whispered in her ear.

“Thanks Rob. But ... everyone’s been through the same here, not just me.”

“But you’re the youngest, apart from Henry of course, and you were closet to mum.”

“I know I was stupid to shut everyone out, but that’s going to change.”

“Well, I’m always here for you. I know we’re going back to America in a couple of days but you can always phone.”

“Thanks Robbie.”

“And I think you’re doing the right thing staying at Sally’s for a while.”

“Thanks. Now I just have to get through tomorrow.”

“Well we’ll all be there for you.” Robbie and Matilda hugged for a while before Robbie went and sat next to Tasha.

Just before lunch, Matilda and Ric packed some clothes and their outfits of the funeral and left everyone else to go to Sally’s.

“See you tomorrow, it’ll be fine,” said Robbie, hugging his younger sister again.

They arrived at the Caravan Park and found Sally preparing lunch.

“Hey guys, come in. Ric why don’t you go put the stuff in your old room.”

“So, I know you are probably sick of hearing this but, how are you? Seriously,” Sally asked Matilda.

“Well, I went to the Diner with Ric for breakfast so I’m getting better but I’m dreading tomorrow.”

“Well, Pippa’s at school and then going to Madge’s with Noah so I’ll be there if you need me.”

At the mention of her name, Pippa came into the room and walked over to Matilda.

“Ric said that you needed a hug,” she said as she wrapped her arms round Matilda’s waist.

“Thanks Pippa. Sorry I haven’t been able to look after you after school.”

“That’s okay Mattie.”

They had lunch and then, while Ric helped Sally put up some shelves upstairs and Pippa watched a DVD, Hayley came round with Martha.

“Hey guys, what are you doing here?” asked Matilda.

“Well, Scott, Jack and the others are still at your house and we felt bad about not talking to you earlier so thought we’d pop round,” explained Hayley.

“Yeah, we’re so proud of you for what you said earlier,” said Martha. The three girls hugged and then sat down on the sofa.

“I’m sorry I haven’t talked to either of you much.”

“That’s okay, but remember we’re here for you.”

“So, how’s Jack been?” Matilda asked Martha.

“Well, he’s been spending a lot of time with Katie. I think what’s happened has made him think about his relationship with her and he wants to make up for the past. He’s taken the next couple of weeks of work and has told them he wants to cut down his hours.”

“That’s good then. What about you Hayles? How have you been?”

“I’ve been okay. Scott’s been a bit quiet, but that’s normal under the circumstances. But he’s dealing with it.”

“We just have to get through the funeral,” said Matilda.

That evening Matilda was watching Friends on the TV with Ric, Sally and Pippa. She was sat leaning against Ric, her head on his shoulders. Sally got up to get some ice cream for everyone and Pippa came and sat cuddled up to Matilda.

“I’m sorry about your mummy, Mattie,” she said.

“Thanks Pippa.”

Later that night Matilda and Ric were lying in bed and Matilda had her head on Ric’s chest.

“How am I going to get through it?” she said, thinking about the funeral.

“Mattie, you’re a strong person and you have the whole Bay looking out for you.”

“I don’t know how I could manage if I didn’t have you.”

“Well that’s never going to happen. You’re stuck with me for the rest of your life.”

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Chapter 66

Matilda got a couple of hours sleep and woke early Monday morning. She gave up trying to get back to sleep and tried to get out of bed without disturbing Ric. She managed to get to the door before he realised she wasn’t next to him and he lifted his head to look at her.

“Mattie? Are you okay?” he asked.

“I can’t get back to sleep and so thought I’d go downstairs,” she replied.

“Hey, come here,” he said to her and she lay back down next to him and cuddled him.

“I miss her so much,” she said.

“I know you do,” he whispered.

They lay cuddling for a while until they decided to go downstairs. They crept down as not to disturb Sally and Pippa.

Matilda sat on the sofa and turned the TV on, she quickly skipped through the news channels and found a Friends marathon on. So she sat and watched as the group of friends went to Barbados. Ric got them both some hot chocolate and sat down next to Matilda.

“I love you Ric,” she said, kissing him.

“I love you too sweetheart.”

Hours later, Sally came downstairs and found Matilda awake on the sofa and a sleeping Ric.

“Morning Sal, I couldn’t sleep so got up and Ric got up too but then fell asleep,” she explained.

“Do you want something to eat?” asked Sally.

“No thank you.”

“I can’t tempt you with a piece of toast? You’re going to need your strength for today.”

“Okay then, toast please.”

Ric, hearing the voices, woke up and found Matilda sat at the table, her head in her hands. He walked over and sat next to her.

“It’ll be alright,” he whispered.

Matilda watched as from afar, as Pippa came and had breakfast and rushed around getting everything for school. Brad came round and said he would take walk her on the way to the high school.

“Mattie, we should go and get dressed,” said Ric and led Matilda upstairs. In silence, Matilda put on a knee length black halter neck dress. She sat down in front of the mirror and looked into it. She had bags under her eyes from lack of sleep and her hair was sticking up at funny angles. She started running the brush through it but kept stopping. She wiped her eyes. Ric was watching this, feeling helpless. He left the room and quickly returned with Sally.

“Ric says you might need some help with hair and make up?” she said.

“Thanks Sally,” replied Matilda, handing her the brush. Ric went back downstairs to have something to eat and Sally started brushing Matilda’s hair. Matilda felt comforted by this, it reminded her of when she was a little girl. Sally turned on the curling irons and carefully curled Matilda’s long mouse brown hair. Then she turned her attention to make up.

“There you go,” Sally said, finishing. Matilda looked into the mirror and couldn’t believe it was the same person. Her hair was carefully in curls and her make up made her look perfect.

“The make up is all waterproof so it won’t spoil by crying,” explained Sally.

“Thank you so much,” and Matilda stood up and hugged her. Once they were all ready Ric drove them all round to Matilda’s house, where they were being picked up by the funeral cars. Everyone was waiting inside and turned to look when the three of them entered. Robbie rushed over and hugged Matilda.

“You look lovely sis, absolutely stunning.”

“All thanks to Sally,” said Matilda.

The cars came and Sally then left as she would be getting a lift with Leah.

Matilda stepped outside and saw the two coffins in the cars, Pink flowers lay on top of her mums. She got into the back of one of the funeral cars and sat in the middle seat so that Ric could sit next to her. Robbie got in the other side and looked reassuringly at Matilda. Hayley, Kit and Kim sat in front of them.

They slowly made their way to the church and before Matilda knew it, she was stepping out of the car and the coffins were being carried into the church. She held Ric’s hand and followed Robbie and Hayley. They walked down to the front of the church with everyone looking at them, feeling sorry for them. They sat in the front row and everyone fell silent. The vicar said a prayer but Matilda didn’t hear it, she was concentrating on what she had to do. Tears flowed down her cheeks as she listened to Scott, then Kit talk about Beth. Then it was Jack’s turn, who described his dad. Robbie read out a poem and then it was Matilda’s turn. She stood up as Robbie walked back to the seat and she looked up at him. He had tears in his eyes.

“You’ll be fine,” he whispered, so only she could hear.

She walked to the front and turned to face everyone. Her eyes fixed on Sally, then she looked back at Ric.

“Out of all my brothers and sister, I was the one who took it the hardest,” she began. “I shut down, thinking that if I ignored it, if I didn’t talk about it, then things would change and she would be back here with us, and Tony. But I was wrong. It took a week, and several wise people to make me see that, in order to accept what had happened, I needed to talk about it. Until yesterday I wasn’t going to do this, but I was made to see that I can be stronger than I think and that this is something I needed to do.” She paused and looked round again. Lucas was sat next to Jack, nervous as he was next to speak. Ric was looking at Matilda and gave her an encouraging look. “My mum was a wonderful woman and I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks so. She was more than a mum to me, she was my best friend. She kept us strong after dad died and she built our lives again when we first moved to Summer Bay. Then her life changed for the better when the Holden’s moved to town. She was happy for the first time in years and that made all of us happy,” she looked at her brothers and sister who were all nodding. “Whenever anything happened in my life, I would phone her up and tell her. We would gossip ... we would shop ... we would hang out. She helped me get through hard times, when I couldn’t see the way out. She made me see that I can be strong and can cope with more than I think I can. Without her in my life, I don’t know what I would have done.” She paused and let the tears escape and roll down her eyes. “When she first told me she was moving to France, I was annoyed with her for leaving me. But I realised that she needed to live her own life. For the majority of it, she was looking after us children but finally she was free and she made the most of it.” She paused again and cried. “She once ... told me ... that ... there is no ... greater love ... than the love a mother has for her children ... but ... that statement can be ... challenged by the ... love a child ... has for their mum.”

Matilda stood and cried, looking at the coffins. Ric got up, walked over to her and hugged her. She turned and faced into his chest crying and he led her back to her seat. The sound of her crying echoed round the church. Lucas, then Henry each said something, although Matilda wasn’t aware of what they said. She got up at the end and watched everyone walking out of the church. She followed them out, looking back at the coffins. She let Ric direct her to the cars and they were driven to the Surf Club for the wake.

“You were brilliant,” said Ric and he kissed Matilda on the fore head.

“Thanks,” she replied.

“Yeah Mattie, you really were,” said Robbie and everyone else agreed.

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Sorry it's been a while but I've had exams.

Chapter 67

When they arrived at the Surf Club, Sally was waiting outside for them. She pulled Matilda into a hug.

“I’m so proud of you!” she said.

They entered the Diner and found a table to sit at. Matilda sat down while Ric went to get some drinks and Sally went to the bathroom. Henry came over and sat opposite her.

“Hey Mattie,” he said. “What you said was brilliant.”

“Thanks Henry.”

“We haven’t really spoken properly in a while have we,” Henry said.

“No, I kept trying to call you in England but you were busy.”

“I’m sorry. And I’m sorry we haven’t spent much time together since I’ve been back. But, I’ll call more and e-mail. You’re my twin after all, I’d like to try and rebuild our relationship.”

“That would be great,” Matilda smiled weakly.

Henry left to go and find Kim and Sally came over.

“How are you holding up?”

“I’m ... well I’m not okay, but ...” Matilda said.

“I understand,” nodded Sally. “What you said really was great, I was so proud of you. I just want you to know, that if you ever need anything, advice, someone to talk to, anything, then I’m here for you.”

“Thanks Sally. You’ve been great.”

Ric came over with the drinks and sat next to Matilda and put his arm round her. Sally left the two of them to go and talk to Leah. Matilda put her head on Ric’s shoulder.

“Thank you,” she whispered.

“What for?” asked Ric, kissing the top of her head.


After a while Ric went to go get them both some food from the buffet that Leah and Irene had put together. While he was gone, Jade, Hayley and Martha all came over and sat around the table. When Ric came back they took Matilda’s plate off him,

“We’ll look after her, you can go join in the guy talk over there,” said Martha, pointing to where Jack, Scott, Robbie and Henry were sat. Tasha was catching up with Irene.

“You’re probably sick of this, but how are you?” asked Jade.

“I honestly don’t know how I am,” replied Matilda.

“I felt like that when my dad died,” said Hayley.

“You were great, what you said in the church,” said Martha.

“Thanks,” said Matilda.

“You’d better eat some food, or Ric won’t be happy with us!” said Jade.

“He’s been great,” said Matilda, taking a bite out of a sandwich.

Half way through the afternoon, Matilda was sat with Ric and Henry came over to say goodbye, he needed to leave in order to catch his flight back to England.

“I promise I’ll call more,” he whispered to her as he hugged his twin.

“Love you Henry,” Matilda replied.

Not long after that, Kit and Kim were also leaving for their drive home and back to their kids.

“Give the boys a hug from me,” said Matilda. “You’ll have to bring them here and visit.”

“Well there’s always the wedding,” said Kit, looking at Ric. Matilda, Ric, Hayley, Scott, Robbie and Tasha all went outside to wave them off.

They all turned to go back inside, except Matilda who stayed where she was.

“Are you okay?” asked Ric, turning back.

“I just need some air, I’ll come in a minute,” replied Matilda. Scott looked back as well and patted Ric on the back,

“I’ll stay with her,” he told Ric.

When it was just Matilda and Scott, they sat down on a bench.

“You didn’t have to stay with me,” said Matilda.

“I wanted to. I haven’t really spoken to you today,” replied Scott.

“Yeah well I’ll be glad when it’s all over.”

“We can get back to some sort of normality.”

“Everyone’s been great though, looking after me,” said Matilda, cuddling up to her oldest brother.

“Well, that’s cos everyone loves you. Mattie, you’re a brilliant young woman, caring, intelligent, friendly. Mum really would be proud of you.”

“Thanks Scott. Has Hayley been looking after you?”

“Yeah, she’s been doing a great job.”

“You’re the head of the family now,” said Matilda, looking up at him.

“I suppose I am. It’ll be up to me to keep everyone on the straight and narrow, and to make sure they visit,” joked Scott.

“I’m so glad you moved back to Summer Bay,” said Matilda, crying. Scott wiped her eyes and looked at her.

“I couldn’t leave you here all on your own could I. This place needs some Hunters and soon, you’ll be a Dalby.”

“Hunter-Dalby,” corrected Matilda. “I want to keep our name too.”

At that moment Scott’s phone rang. Matilda sat up and let him wander slightly towards the beach. After a dew minutes he came back.

“That was the solicitor. They are reading both the wills tomorrow morning. Just our luck it happens just as Kit and Henry go home.”

“Do they need to be there?” asked Matilda, not knowing.

“No, they don’t. We can tell them what they get.”

“Robbie will still be here though won’t he?”

“Yeah they have a late flight so don’t have to leave til mid afternoon.”

Matilda stood up and hugged her brother.

He put his arm round her, wiped her eyes and led her back inside. Scott went to see Robbie and Jack to tell them about the will.

Matilda walked over to where Ric was stood with Lucas. They had made peace with each other the day before and were being friendly towards each other. Ric saw Matilda coming towards him and pulled her into a hug.

“The solicitor just called Scott, they’re reading both the wills tomorrow, 10 o’clock.”

“At least it gets it all over and done with,” said Lucas.

Finally the wake came to an end and Matilda was grateful. All she wanted was to go back to Sally’s house and relax, where she didn’t have to hold in the tears. When they got back to the Caravan Park they found Brad sat on the sofa. Sally went over and gave him a kiss.

“Pippa’s playing in her room,” he told her.

“We’re going to go change out of these clothes,” said Ric, and him and Matilda went upstairs. Matilda sat on the bed, put her head in her hands and cried. Ric went over and hugged her.

“You were brilliant today,” he told her.

After a while she changed out of her dress and put on pyjamas. Ric went to say goodnight to Pippa. Matilda went downstairs to get a drink. She stopped in the hall when she heard Sally talking to Brad in the lounge, she didn’t want to interrupt.

“It just ... brought back memories, you know,” she heard Sally say, she was obviously talking about Flynn. “It’s just been a long day.”

Matilda thought now would be the best time to go in and walked towards the kitchen. She saw Sally sat on the sofa in Brad’s arms, her eyes red.

“Oh hey Mattie, are you okay?”

“I just came down for some water,” explained Matilda. Sally walked over and hugged Matilda.

“Try and get some sleep,” Sally said “believe me, it’ll help.”

“Thanks, night Sally, night Brad.”

She went back upstairs as Sally cuddled back up to Brad. Ric was lying in bed already.

“You don’t have to come to bed just cos I am. It’s still quite early,” said Matilda.

“Well, Pippa’s just gone to bed, and I don’t fancy being third wheel to Sal and Brad so I’ll stay here. Besides, I like watching you sleep, you look cute.”

“Thanks, anyway I probably won’t be able to get to sleep anyway.”

Matilda cuddled up to Ric and tried to go to sleep. She eventually dropped off and only then did Ric even consider going to sleep.

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Chapter 68

Matilda once again woke in the small hours of the morning. Not wanting to wake Ric this time, she stayed where she was, wrapped in his arms. She started thinking about what it would have been like if they had never got together, if he hadn’t kissed her the night she got back from University. She would be at home, the home with so many memories, lying in bed on her own. He got her through the funeral, he had been looking after her. When she felt alone, he was there to remind her that she wasn’t.

Eventually, the sun began to rise and Ric began to stir. She heard Pippa getting up and going downstairs, and then Sally. Deciding she could now risk waking Ric, it was a sensible hour, she got slowly out of bed and went downstairs.

“Morning Sal,” Matilda replied weakly.

“Get much sleep?”

“Not really. I’ve been awake for hours, but didn’t want to disturb Ric so have been lying in bed.”

“Well, after today, things will get better, slowly.”

“Thanks Sal. I umm heard you last night, I didn’t mean to ... but when you were talking about Flynn. I’m sorry if me being here has brought back memories, and yesterday ...” Matilda trailed off.

“Matilda, don’t worry. Yeah I don’t deny it brought back memories but that’s only natural. I wouldn’t dream of you staying anywhere else, I care very much about you. I’m just happy that I can kind of help.”

“You’ve been a massive help,” said Matilda. She went and sat on the sofa while Sally set about making breakfast. Pippa was watching children’s TV and so Matilda joined her.

“Mattie? Are you okay?” asked the little girl.

“Umm well, not completely okay, but I’m getting there. I’m sorry I haven’t been much fun.”

“That’s okay Mattie.”

“Toast is ready,” said Sally, and Matilda followed Pippa over to the table. Matilda was half way through her toast, talking to Sally and Pippa when Ric made an appearance.

“Don’t suppose there’s any for me?” he smiled, and went over and kissed Matilda good morning.

“Do you have to do that at the table?” said Pippa.

“Ric, there’s some cereal in the cupboard or bread over there if you want toast,” said Sally.

Pippa and Sally went to get dressed not long after, leaving Ric finishing his cereal and Matilda worrying about the rest of the day.

“What time do we have to leave?” asked Ric, knowing he had to mention it at some point.

“Umm we have to be at the house for 10, but Robbie said we should go over earlier. I think he wants to spend some time with us before they leave later.”

They watched as Brad arrived and offered to walk Pippa and Sally to school and work. They quickly said goodbye to them, Sally pulled Matilda into a hug,

“It’ll be okay. After yesterday, you can cope with anything,” said Sally. Matilda smiled in response and hugged Pippa. Then her and Ric went to go get dressed. She put on jeans and a halter neck tee shirt and pulled her hair into a neat ponytail. Just after 9, they set off to the Hunter house, walking through the Bay.

“Sis, hey!” said Robbie, as he walked into the lounge and saw her letting themselves in. He walked over and hugged her, then called up to tell Tasha they were here.

“Did you enjoy having the house to yourself?” asked Matilda, looking around the old family house that was hers.

“It was ... quiet.”

“Hey Matilda, hello Ric,” said Tasha as she came down the stairs with Ella behind her.

Matilda picked up Ella and kissed her on the forehead.

“How’s my perfect niece today? Looking forward to going home?” asked Matilda. The girl shook her head.

“It’s cold at home!” explained Ella.

A little later, they were joined at the house by Scott, Hayley, Lucas, Martha and Jack, who was carrying Katie.

Robbie and Scott set about making everyone drinks and Lucas came over to talk to Matilda.

“When do you go back to Uni?” she asked him. She was happy they were getting along.

“Well, actually I’m leaving tonight. I was going to stay longer but I don’t want to get behind.”

“Well, now that we’re talking again, you have to promise to phone and e-mail.”

“I promise!” he said.

A few moments after 10, the solicitor arrived and was let in by Scott. After going through the formalities, they started. First off, Scott, Robbie and Matilda were handed letters, and there were ones for Henry and Kit too. Matilda knew what it was about. Her mum had made her dad include a letter for each child in his will and she had done the same. She had only gotten the letter from her dad at Christmas, which is when her mum thought she was ready for it. The solicitor started going through her mums will. Matilda got left some jewellery, a percentage of the money that would be gained from selling the house in France, and to her surprise, her mothers 50% of the Surf Club, Alf owned the other 50%. Matilda stayed close to Ric, sitting next to him, holding his hand and putting her head on his shoulder throughout the reading. She needed to feel close to him, he made her feel safe. They finally finished going through Beth’s and then moved on to Tony’s. Matilda listened without really taking anything in. Ric was running his hand through her hair, and holding her.

Finally, it was over and the solicitor left. Matilda was clutching the letter, knowing she would open it later. They stayed sitting in the lounge for a while, talking. Just before lunch time, Matilda whispered to Ric,

“Can we go?” so they made their excuses, Matilda hugged Ella tightly and then hugged Tasha and Robbie in turn. This would be the last time they saw them before their flight to America.

Then she moved over to where Lucas was sat.

“Promise you’ll keep in touch!” she said as he stood up.

“I promise! And if I don’t, you have permission to shout at me.” Matilda smiled. “Seriously Mattie, I’m so glad we sorted things out, and I am truly sorry for the past.”

“I’ll speak to you soon,” said Matilda, hugging him and then moving so that Ric could say goodbye.

They finally made it out of the house and Ric put his arm round Matilda’s waist and kissed her on the forehead.

“Ric?” said Matilda, quietly.

“Yeah babe?”

“Umm I want to open my letter, but ... I need to do it alone,” she explained.

“I understand,” nodded Ric.

“So, I’m going to go to the beach, I’ll meet you at Sally’s in a bit,” she said, kissing him. Ric watched as she walked away and he headed back to the Caravan Park. He didn’t want to leave her, in case she needed him but he understood that she needed to do this alone. He thought back over their relationship. She had first read the letter from her dad at Christmas, then there had been Belle, now Beth. Matilda had been through so much in her life. Yes, it was true that Ric’s biological parents were both dead but they were never really parents. Sally and Flynn, and the Alf were the first people to actually care about him. Then he met Matilda and found everything he could ever want.

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Hey guys! Good news, my exams are now over and I have a couple of weeks off school so updates will be much more frequent. Thanks everyone for your great comments, it makes it all worthwhile.

Chapter 69

Matilda slowly made her way to the beach and sat on the sand. The wind was blowing across the beach and the sea was choppy. She carefully and slowly opened the letter.

Dear Matilda,

I start by telling you how much I care about you, and love you. I updated my will when I moved to France with Tony and as I write this I am watching the world go by from our villa.

You are probably wondering why I left my share of the Surf Club to you instead of one of the others. Well, for starters it’s been in your name for a few years now as you were the only one truly happy in Summer Bay. The others wanted more. I know that it’s your favourite place in the world. Plus, Mattie, I believe that you can handle the responsibility. It’ll give you something to focus on, because obviously I’m gone. I know you won’t let me down.

I know you will be upset, but you have to let people in. Don’t shut them out. You’ve been through more than enough in your life and that has made you strong. I can’t tell you how proud I was of you after the fire at the wedding. I know at first you handled it wrong but you got through it, with the help of Ric and other people.

This means that I won’t be able to see you get married, which I know will make you upset. But, I will always be with you, in your heart. Be strong Mattie, my beautiful princess. I love you more than I could possibly tell you.

Love mum xxx

Matilda finished the letter and tears fell onto the page. How was she going to get through her wedding and the rest of her life without Beth? After a while of looking out to sea, she got up and headed back to the Caravan Park, she didn’t want Ric to worry about her. She got to the top of the beach when she passed Drew.

“Mattie, hey, I heard about your mum. I so sorry,” he said.

“Thanks Drew,” she said, wiping her eyes.

“It’s not fair how much you’ve been through this year, first Belle then this.”

“Tell me about it.”

“Well, umm I’d better go, I’ve got to get back to school. I’ll see you around.” He gave her a hug before walking in the direction of the High School.

“Mattie! Come here,” said Ric as she walked through the door and he pulled her into a close hug. Tears were once again falling fast.

“What am I going to do Ric? She won’t be there to see me get married and for all the other major things in my life. I need her!” she sobbed into his chest.

“I know, I know. It’ll get easier, I promise.”

They spent the rest of the afternoon on the sofa, hugging and watching TV. Matilda rested her head on Ric’s lap and he played with her hair. Half way through an episode of Friends Ric noticed that Matilda had fallen asleep. He stayed where he was, with her head resting on his chest and was careful to stay perfectly still. After a while Sally came home, Pippa had gone to play with Noah. She walked into the lounge and Ric looked up at her.

“How did it go?” whispered Sally.

“As well as can be expected,” Ric whispered back.

Matilda sensed the movement in the room and woke up. She lifted her head and it took a moment for her to figure out where she was. Ric looked down at her and kissed her forehead.

“Hey sleeping beauty,” he said.

“How long was I asleep?” she asked.

“A couple of hours.”

“You sat here all the time as not to wake me?” she said.

“Yeah, I actually really got into Friends. I loved the one where they went to the beach.”

Matilda sat up and kissed him softly on the lips.

“I knew I’d turn you into a Friends fanatic,” she replied.

Brad came round for dinner and Matilda enjoyed joking around with everyone, allowing her to put the sadness to one side. Afterwards she went upstairs and came back down with her shoes on and a jacket.

“Where are you off to?” asked Ric from where he was sat on the sofa playing on the play station against Brad.

“I thought I’d go and see Alf, tell him about everything,” replied Matilda.

“Sounds like a good idea,” said Sally.

“So, you’re in business with my granddad, that’s a bit weird,” said Ric, who had paused the game.

“I suppose it is,” said Matilda.

“Do you want me to come with you?”

“No it’s okay. I’m a big girl and can manage on my own, not that I don’t appreciate you looking out for me.”

So she kissed Ric and then left the men to their game.

She arrived at the surf club where she knew that he would be working.

He looked up when she walked in and she saw that it was very quiet in there tonight.

“Matilda, what can I do you for?” he asked.

“Umm well actually I needed to speak to you about my mum’s share in this place,” explained Matilda. Alf led them to a table and they both sat down.

“Well my mum left her 50% to me in her will so ... I guess I’m your new business partner,” said Matilda, slightly worried about how Alf would react. After all Matilda was only 21 which was young to be given such responsibility.

“So, I’m in business with my grandson’s fiancé,” smiled Alf.

“Is ... umm is that okay?” she asked nervously.

“Truthfully, I don’t think I could find a better person to take over from your mum,” he said which made her smile. “You are very loved in this town and I know that you are responsible and a very nice young lady.”

“Thank you,” Matilda replied, not knowing what to say and knowing that she was blushing.

“Now why don’t we set up a meeting for next week to discuss how involved you want to be. Have a think and it’ll give you some time to spend with Ric. I know it’ll take time for you to get over what has happened.”

“Thank you Mr Stewart,” she said, grateful she didn’t have to do anything just yet.

“And don’t worry, I’ll show you the ropes and you can have more of a back seat position if you wish. Now, why don’t I leave our employee Becky in charge and walk my lovely business partner home.”

“You don’t have to, I can walk back by myself,” she said, not wanting to cause any hassle.

“I’ve been meaning to visit Sal for a couple of days and this gives me a chance to catch up with Ric.”

So the two of them walked back to the Caravan Park and walked in to find Ric and Brad still battling it out on the play station while Sally was sat on a stool in the kitchen watching in amazement at how fascinated they were with the game.

“Mr Stewart, hello,” she said as Matilda and Alf walked in. “Okay boys why don’t we turn the TV off for a while, it’ll still be there tomorrow,” suggested Sally.

Matilda went and sat with Ric while Brad moved to sit with Sally, leaving Alf to sit on a comfy chair.

“So I see you’re familiar with my new business partner,” smiled Alf, looking at Matilda.

“Yes and I hear she’s absolutely lovely!” said Ric.

“Nice to know she comes so highly recommended,” joked Alf.

After a few more minutes Matilda said that she was going to have a bath as it had been a long day. Sally went to check if Pippa was in bed and that left Ric and Brad to explain the car racing game to Alf.

Matilda had just gotten ready for bed when Ric walked into the bedroom. She got into bed and watched as Ric got changed.

“You seem happier now,” commented Ric.

“Yeah well, after reading the letter earlier I realised that mum wouldn’t want me to mope around. And now I have the Surf Club to concentrate on. So, from now on I’m going to be happier. It’s not that I’m completely over the death but I can’t do anything about it and since the will, it means that I’ve sort of got closure.”

“Well, it’s nice to see you smile again,” said Ric as he got into bed next to her.

She leaned over and kissed him which he returned. It turned more passionate until Ric pulled away.

“Are you sure you want to ...” he asked. “I’ll understand if you don’t.”

Matilda didn’t answer but kissed him more passionately.

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