Meeting the Family

Europe to New Zealand

"Did you talk to him?"

"Yes, I did."

"And he just let you leave?" Alexis asked. "He didn't even put up a fight?"

"Nope."

Alexis stared hard at friend. "What happened?" she asked.

"Let's just say his father should be happy now, and leave it at that, OK?" Aurora said.

Alexis frowned. "Did he cheat? Is that why you're upset?" she asked.

"Lex!"

"OK," Alexis said, jumping in surprise.

"Sorry. I just don't want to talk about it, alright?" Aurora asked.

Alexis nodded. "Alright," she said.

There was an awkward pause as Aurora checked to make sure she had everything. Jenni stood at her side, one arm wound around Aurora's left leg, a nervous look on her face. Sitting at Jenni's side was Molly.

"Are you sure you want to do this?" Alexis asked.

Aurora nodded. "Yes, it's the best chance I have of giving Jenni the life she deserves," she said.

Alexis smiled and nodded. "I'm going to miss you," she said, holding her arms out for a hug.

Aurora melted into them, breathing in deeply as she hugged her best friend tightly. "If you're ever in New Zealand, look me up," she said, pulling out of the hug.

"Don't think I won't," Alexis said. "Things are going to be weird here without you. I'm going to have to come up with another reason for getting up at 3am."

Aurora chuckled. "At least your sleep won't be disturbed by loud barking," she teased.

"I liked the barking," Alexis said. "At least it assured me that you were alive."

Shaking her head, Aurora looked down at Jenni. "Hey, Jenni, can you say goodbye to Alexis?" she asked.

Jenni looked up, her blueish-green eyes shimmering with nervousness and excitement. She'd never been outside of Europe before, and she was excited to see a new place, but also nervous of everything that was out there.

"Bye," Jenni said, smiling somewhat.

Alexis smiled and crouched down in front of Jenni. She wasn't as close to the little girl as Aurora, and she understood Jenni's nervousness around strangers, but the little girl also knew that Alexis could be trusted. If Aurora trusted them, then why shouldn't she?

"Goodbye, Jenni," Alexis said. "Here, I got this for your flight." She reached into her bag and withdrew a stuffed pink care bear.

Jenni's eyes widened at the sight of it. "For me?" she asked, taking the offered bear and hugging it tightly.

"Yep, for you," Alexis said. "Will you promise to look after it?"

Jenni nodded and walked carefully into Alexis. She wrapped one arm around Alexis' neck and rested the other, which was still clutching the bear, on her shoulder.

Alexis smiled and hugged the little girl. It was the first time that Jenni had shown any physical contact to anyone that wasn't Aurora, and Alexis felt honored. "I'm going to miss you," she said, kissing the little girl's head as they pulled away. "Goodbye, Spence," she added, patting the dog behind the ear.

Straightening up, Alexis returned her attention to Aurora. "You should get going," she said. "Your flight should be coming in soon, and it's a long trip to New Zealand."

"Yeah," Aurora said. She was hesitating again. She did this all the time, especially when it came to leaving places that were her home. She had done it seven years ago when she had first left New Zealand for Europe.

"Just remember that you'll always have a home here," Alexis said. "If you do ever decide to come back."

"I know," Aurora said. "I don't think we ever will, but... it's nice to know. Goodbye, Alexis."

"Goodbye, Aurora."

With their final goodbyes given, Aurora smiled and turned to Jenni. She held her hand out to the little girl and walked her into Heathrow airport. Their flight was coming in at terminal 1, and they had less than five minutes to get there.

Alexis smiled and waved one last time as the two disappeared from view. She dropped her hand, sighed and turned her back on the airport. For her, life was never going to be the same. She just hoped that one day she'd meet Aurora, Jenni and Molly again.


More than a day later, Aurora and Jenni touched down in Auckland, New Zealand. They had been flying for no more than 26 hours, and it was enough to make little Jenni restless. It was late afternoon when they landed, the Auckland airport was crowded with enough people to outfit an entire city on the coast of California, to make sure they didn't get separated; Aurora lifted Jenni into her arms and carried her through the terminal.

"Are we going to see your mum and dad now?" Jenni asked, clutching the care bear that Alexis had given her close.

"Yes," Aurora replied. "First we need to get our stuff, but I called my dad before we left London, he should be here waiting for us."

Jenni nodded and then looked down.

Tilting her head to the side, Aurora smiled and brushed Jenni's hair out of her face. "What is it?" she asked.

"What if they don't like me?" Jenni asked.

"Are you kidding? They're going to love you," Aurora assured her.

Jenni looked hesitant.

Aurora pressed a kiss to the top of her head. "Listen, Jenni, I know this is still new to the both of us," she said. "But I promise you, you're safe here. There are people in my life that are going to treat you with the love and respect that you deserve, and my parents are just the tip of the iceberg."

"You have a brother and sister?" Jenni asked.

"Yeah, Chase and Chloe," Aurora replied. "But don't worry; they'll love you no matter what too. We have a motto, a kind of saying, and it's that we will always be there for one another. Chase and Chloe will always be there for you, just as I will."

"Promise?"

"Would I lie to you?"

Jenni shook her head.

"Good. Now, I think our luggage comes out over here," Aurora said, pointing at a conveyor belt. She carried Jenni through the crowds of people and set her down near the luggage. "Do you see your name?" she asked as a set of bags came around to them.

Jenni looked carefully at the assortment of bags and then pointed to a bright purple one. "That one," she said. She smiled as Aurora plucked the backpack from the pile and put it at her feet; she then returned her attention to the pile and finally plucked out her own.

Between them they had three bags - Jenni's backpack, Aurora's duffel and a shoulder purse that Aurora kept her money and phone. It wasn't a lot, but just enough to get themselves started in their new home.

"Okay then," Aurora said, holding her hand out to Jenni again. "Let's go home."

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