Meeting the Family

Welcome Home

With her husband out, Jean Randall was left to tag-team her youngest children - eighteen-year-old Chase and ten-year-old Chloe. The two had just returned home from school and were already fighting over the TV remote. Chase had insisted that they watch what he wanted because he wouldn't be home long and was heading out with his mates, whilst Chloe argued that she needed to watch an animal documentary for a school project.

"Record it, you can watch it later," Chase said, taking the remote and aiming it at the TV.

Chloe jumped in front of the box, her arms crossed over her stomach.

"Chloe, move!" Chase yelled.

"No! This is important," Chloe said. "I need to watch this programme. You can watch your shows later."

"I'm not here later; I'm off with my mates."

Jean sighed and walked into the living room. "Guys, please, we don't need this right now," she said. "Your father's gone to pick Aurora up from the airport, she's going to be exhausted after a long flight and will need her rest, not to mention jetlagged, the last thing she will want is to come home to you pair fighting."

"How long is she going to be?" Chase asked. He was hopeful that he would get to see his sister before his mates arrived.

"Dad's just picked them up from the airport," Jean said. "So, another hour or so. Please, try not to kill each other before then."

Chloe pointed at her brother. "Mum, I need to watch the documentary, it's for school," she said. "But Chase is being a big meanie and won't let me."

"It's one documentary," Chase exclaimed. "I'm sure you could find it on Netflix if you actually looked for it."

"You can watch your shows on Netflix too," Chloe said. "You do every other night."

Jean pinched the bridge of her nose and reached over to snatch the remote away from Chase. "Enough, both of you," she said. "This is exactly what I meant about trying to kill each other. Seriously, guys, I mean it, Aurora's going to be tired, she needs quiet when she comes home. Now, in the meantime, since you can't get along in here, both of you can do your homework in the kitchen."

"What?" Chase and Chloe yelled.

"But we never do homework straight after school," Chase grumbled.

"Today you are," Jean said. She put the remote up out of reach and turned back to her children. "Come on, chop chop, before I implement rule number three - No leaving the house unless homework is finished."

Chase and Chloe grumbled each one glaring at the other, as they grabbed their book bags from the bottom of the stairs and walked into the kitchen. Jean sighed, listening to them mutter between them and set up on the kitchen table. Ever since Aurora had left five years ago, Jean had implemented rules to help corral her youngest two. Chase and Chloe were good kids, but something about Aurora's departure had unfurled them. Sometimes Jean used to think that Aurora leaving was a bad idea, she seemed to have a necessary calm over people, and there were times were Jean needed that ability.


An hour later, Chase and Chloe were finishing up their last pieces of homework, over seen by their mother, when the sound of a car breaking at the front of the house caught their attention. The three occupants looked up as muffled voices could also be heard. They recognised the deeper over the two as their father, Nate.

"She's here," Jean said, setting her tea cup down on the kitchen counter and hurrying to the front door. Chase and Chloe followed her, each one eager to see their older sister again. Even though Aurora had made the promise to come home every Christmas since her leaving, she hadn't been able to make it for the year just gone. Her excuse had been work, and unknown to her family, that had been partly true.

Jean pulled open the front door and was immediately ambushed by a chocolate brown Labrador.

"Molly!" Chase yelled, dropping to his knees and hugging the dog. Even though he knew that Molly was not a family pet, still didn't mean she wasn't treated as one. Molly had a strong bond with each of Aurora's family members, and she had missed seeing them for the last year.

Jean chuckled as Chloe and Chase made a fuss of Spencer, but her attention was captured by her eldest daughter. "Aurora," she said, pulling the adult into a tight hug the minute she stepped into the house. "Oh, I've missed you."

"I missed you too, mum," Aurora said, pulling back.

"What made you want to come home early?" Jean asked. "Not that I'm complaining."

Aurora chuckled and stepped out of her mother's arms. "I was hoping you'd ask that, it makes what I am about to tell you a lot easier," she said.

Jean looked confused.

"There is someone I'd like you to meet."

"Oh?" Jean asked.

Aurora stepped aside to reveal Jenni standing behind her. The young girl stood nervously on the front doorstep, clutching her care bear to her chest. She wrapped one tiny arm around Aurora's leg as she realised that she was now the centre of everyone's attention. Even Chase and Chloe had stopped playing with Molly to take notice.

"Who's that?" Chloe asked.

"Guys', this is Jenni," Aurora said, scooping up the little girl. Jenni wound her tiny arms around Aurora's neck. "She's part of our family now."

"I'm confused," Chase said. "You had a child and didn't tell us?"

Aurora rolled her eyes. "No, idiot, I adopted her," she said. "It's a long and complicated story and I'll tell you all soon, but she's one of us now. So, Mum, Dad," she looked from her mother to her father. "Meet your first grandchild. Jenni," she kissed the top of Jenni's head. "Meet your new family."

Chase and Chloe stood, silent as Jean stared at her daughter. Nate had already had the pleasure of meeting Jenni at the airport and had had the conversation with Aurora on the way home; he knew the basics of Aurora's decision to adopt Jenni.

"Jean, say something," Nate said, nudging his wife. Her silence was causing both Aurora and Jenni to become uncomfortable. Jenni was anxious. Aurora had promised her that her parents would accept her, but her supposed-to-be new grandmother had yet to say anything to her.

Tears appeared in Jenni's eyes as she started to think she wasn't welcome.

Upon seeing the tears, Jean snapped out of her reverie surprise and reached over to wipe one from Jenni's face. The little girl flinched in surprise and Jean pulled back. She eyed Aurora suspiciously, and the look on her daughter's face told her there was more to Jenni than met the eye.

"Hi, Jenni," Jean said, stepping closer to her daughter and granddaughter. "Welcome home."

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