Meeting the Family

Texts and Explanations

Aurora sighed as she lay on her bed, asleep beside her, squeezing her care bear was Jenni. The journey from Europe to New Zealand had really tuckered the child out, and Aurora couldn't blame her for wanting to do nothing but sleep. Aurora remembered the first time she had completed the journey, she had been really tired when she landed in Europe and almost fell asleep in the taxi on her way to her new home.

For the first two years of her life in Europe, Aurora had lived alone, it wasn't until she and Alexis became good friends and started to struggle with their respective landlords, did they decide to share a flat. They were lucky to have hit things off from the first time they had met each other, otherwise living together would've been a struggle. However, Aurora was thankful for Alexis, if it wasn't for her keeping a vigilant eye on her, Aurora didn't know what would've happened to her.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

Casting a glance to her left, Aurora picked up her phone and unlocked the screen to reveal a text message. It was from Philip. Shaking her head, Aurora deleted the message without even reading it, she wasn't in the mood to talk to him at that moment in time. No sooner had she deleted the message, did another one come through.

"Really?" Aurora murmured, opening the second message.

Please talk to me.

Aurora sighed and quickly typed out a reply.

There's nothing to say. You made your choice and so have I.

She pressed send and the message disappeared, leaving behind a delivery report to confirm it had been sent.

Taking a deep breath, Aurora checked the clock on her phone and then looked down at Jenni. She pressed a tender kiss to the little girl's head and slipped out of bed. It was only 6pm, and even though she felt tired herself, she just couldn't sleep.

Making sure that Jenni was safe and secured, Aurora then headed downstairs to find the rest of her family. Chase had gone out with his mates, Chloe was watching her documentary in the living room, while Jean and Nate sat around the kitchen table, talking amongst themselves.

They looked up as Aurora walked in and opened the fridge.

"You ready to tell us what's up?" Jean asked.

"Sure," Aurora said, taking a carton of milk from the fridge and pouring herself a glass. She put the carton back and sat opposite her parents. "What do you want to know?"

"Why don't you start with Jenni?"

"She's a survivor," Aurora said. "Her case came across my desk eight months ago. It was one of the worst cases of child abuse I had ever seen."

"Why didn't you let someone else take it?" Jean asked.

Aurora shrugged. "If I let everyone take over my cases, Mum, I may as well have found a new job," she replied.

"Maybe social working isn't the right job for you?" Nate suggested.

"I've been thinking that for a while now," Aurora agreed. "I don't know exactly what I am going to do, but I don't think I could handle it if another case like Jenni's came in. Guys, if you had seen her eight months ago, you wouldn't have believed it. She was... like a mouse. Timid and scared, and teeny, tiny little sound would set her off. It was hard getting her to open up... and when she did?"

Jean reached across the table and took Aurora's hand, squeezing it tightly.

"What made you want to adopt her?" Nate asked.

"We're not disregarding your decision," Jean added quickly. "You're old enough to make your own decisions, but we're just curious."

Aurora looked thoughtful. "I don't know," she replied. "I guess I just want to show her that not everyone is like her parents, you know? That you can have a family that does love you... Even if they are adopted," she added, meeting her step-father's eyes. "If it weren't for you, I don't know what would have happened to me and Mum."

Nate smiled and reached for his step-daughters free hand. "Taking you on as my own was never a debate, Aurora," he said. "From the minute I lay eyes on you, I fell in love. You were such a bright and bubbly child, I took pleasure in knowing that you were mine."

"That's what happened with Jenni," Aurora said. "I fell in love. The more time I spent with her, I didn't want to lose her. Her parents..." she paused, sighed and shook her head lightly. "Her parents were cruel. All she knew was beatings and terror. I wanted to show her that not everyone is like that. That there are people out there willing to sacrifice their lives for you. She needed someone who would love her, who will continue to love her."

"Like you?"

Aurora looked up at her mother and nodded slowly. "Like me," she repeated.

Jean and Nate sighed, each holding on to one of Aurora's hands.

"Being a parent isn't easy, you know that, right?" Jean said. "There'll be times where you'll doubt yourself, times where you'll think that you're not cut out for it, but you can't give up after one bad day."

Aurora shrugged. "No family is perfect," she said. "We argue, we fight, we even stop talking to each other at times. But in the end, family is family... we'll always love each other."

"No truer words have been spoken," Jean said, chuckling.

Aurora smiled and looked down at her glass of milk. In her pocket, her phone buzzed, alerting her to a new message. She knew it was Philip's reply, but she was in no hurry to see what he had to say. She had been clear when she had seen him before leaving. He had made his bed, now he had to lay in it.

"So," Aurora said, breaking the silence and changing the subject in one go. "What have I missed around here?"

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