Many weeks after Aurora had moved back home, she and Jenni had settled into a regular routine. It was coming up to the summer holidays, so Aurora hadn't bothered to put Jenni into school, there was no point with only a few weeks left of the school year, Chloe and Chase on the other hand weren't so lucky.
"You'll be here, right, after school?" Chloe asked as Aurora helped her get ready. The young girl was happy to have her older sister back. Chloe was exceptionally close with both of her siblings, and loved the idea of having her eldest sibling back in her life. She had missed Aurora over the seven years she had been away.
Aurora smiled and plaited the last of Chloe's hair. "How many times have you asked me that since I've come back?" she asked.
Chloe smiled into the mirror.
"I promise, Petal, I'll be here."
Chloe's smile grew bigger at the name. Ever since she was a small child, Aurora had always called her 'petal'. The name came from the time that Chloe had visited Aurora in hospital after a bad seizure, and left her a single crimson flower for when she awoke. The petals had withered because it was a flower taken from the park rather than bought at a shop, but Aurora had loved it nonetheless.
"Jenni will be here too," Aurora promised. "We're here to stay."
Aurora leaned forward, wrapping her arms around Chloe and holding up her pinky finger. "Promise," she said.
Chloe wrapped her own pinky around her sisters and held it fast. Many found the idea of a 'pinky promise' to be childish, but the Randall siblings always made them to each other. It was a ritual that made their bond as siblings extra strong.
"Chloe, you're going to be late!" Jean shouted from downstairs. "You're bus is going to be here any minute."
Chloe sighed and looked up into the mirror. The reflection of her and her sister stared back and smiled again.
Aurora looked into her reflections eyes and then kissed her the side of her sister's head. "Come on," she said. "You don't want to be late."
"I know," Chloe said. "I just wish I didn't have to go. I want to stay home with you and Jenni."
"Tell you what," Aurora said. "How about Jenni and I pick you up from school today? We can go and get ice cream or something and hang out at the park?"
Chloe nodded enthusiastically and jumped from the chair. She hugged her sister tightly around the middle and only broke away when she heard the tooting of a horn outside.
"Chloe, you're bus is here!" Jean shouted again.
"We're coming, mum," Aurora called back, grabbing her sister's backpack from the bed and hurrying her downstairs. She pulled open the front door and handed Chloe the bag, watching her off down the drive and waving as she boarded the school bus and it drove away.
As her sister disappeared, Aurora leaned against the doorframe, watching the sun beat down onto an otherwise deserted street. She had to admit that she missed this. The hustle and bustle of a family home, and in that moment, she knew she had made the right choice in coming home.
Walking in from the living room, Jean stopped beside the door and put her hand on her daughter's shoulder. "You ok, princess?" she asked.
"Just thinking," Aurora replied with a smile. It had been a long time since anyone had called her by her nickname.
"Do I want to know what about?" Jean asked, dropping her hand and heading towards the kitchen. Aurora closed the front door and followed her, sitting at the kitchen table, eating a bowl of froot-loops, was Jenni and Chase.
"Probably not," Aurora said, opening the fridge and taking out a carton of Mango juice.
"Probably not what?" Chase asked through a mouthful of cereal. He dropped his head as a spray of milk escaped his lips and dribbled down his chin. Jenni giggled as Aurora rolled her eyes.
"Chew your food, you're an animal," Aurora said, pouring herself a glass and returning the carton to the fridge before sitting opposite Jenni, "and I was talking to mum, not you."
Chase furrowed his brow at his sister, and then shook his head. "I heard you telling Chloe you'd pick her up from school today," he said.
"Yeah, so?" Aurora asked, lowering her glass back to the table. "What, you want me to pick you up too?"
"No!" Chase said, hotly.
"But could you drop my skateboarding things off on your way?" Chase asked, sounding hopeful. "Me and some of the guys want to get out there straight away, and it would be easier to go straight from school - you don't mind, do you, mum?"
"As long as you promise to be careful," Jean said. "I don't need another visit from Officer Davidson again."
Aurora stared open-mouth at her younger brother and then scoffed. "Why am I not surprised that you're in trouble?" she asked. "What did you do this time?"
"It was nothing," Chase said.
"It doesn't sound like nothing," Aurora said.
"It was an accident," Chase defended. "One of the boys came off his board and went through the front window of a shop on the high street. We tried to - it's not funny! He could've done serious damage."
"I think the fact that the police were called, Chase, means he did do serious damage," Aurora said. "But that doesn't explain why you were brought home in a squad car."
"The shop owner decided to blame all of us, didn't he," It was more of a statement than a question. "So he called the police on us all. We're banned from skating on the high street."
Aurora shook her head and looked at Jenni. "This is why, when Chase offers to teach you to skateboard, you say no," she said, teasingly.
"Oi, I'm a decent teacher," Chase argued.
"I won't let you corrupt her to your daredevil ways."
"You're just afraid," Chase said, scooping up the last of his cereal and putting into his mouth.
Aurora frowned. "Afraid?" she asked. "About what?"
"Afraid that she might be a bigger daredevil than me," Chase said, checking his watch. He dropped his spoon into his bowl with a clang, jumped to his feet and grabbed his backpack from living room.
There was a toot from outside, and Aurora looked up, from where she sat she had a clear view of the living room window and could see a blue Citroen ds3 pull up outside the house.
"See you later, mum," Chase said, kissing his mother on the cheek. "Bye Aurora, bye Jenni."
"Have a nice day at school," Jean called after him.
Chase rolled his eyes and headed for the front door. "Aurora, don't forget my things," he called. "I'm counting on you."
"Yeah, yeah," Aurora said, distractedly.
The front door closed with a snap, leaving Jean, Aurora and Jenni in silence.
"So," Jean said, breaking the silence. "What's on the agenda for today?"
Aurora shrugged and lifted her glass to her lips again. "I need to call to see if my car has finally been shipped," she said. "They're taking their sweet time in getting it back to me, and the agency needs to see me about Molly - can you believe that in five years I'll need a new dog. It only feels like yesterday that I lost Spencer and got Molly."
"Molly go away?" Jenni asked.
"Hopefully not, sweets," Aurora said. "But after many years even the best dogs have to be retired. Spencer was old, I'd had him since I was your age, and I lost him when I was seventeen - twelve years is a long time for a dog, and Molly isn't getting any younger."
Jenni looked down at the chocolate lab lying under the table. "Can I keep her?" she asked. "When you get a new one?"
Aurora looked considerate and then nodded. "I don't see why not," she replied, reaching across the table to brush a strand of hair from Jenni's face. "Tell you what, why don't we all go in to town?" she asked, looking from Jenni to her mother. "I'll do what I need to do, and then we'll do something fun until 3, sound like a plan?"
Jenni nodded her eyes ablaze with excitement.
"But what are we going to do?" Jean asked.
Aurora shrugged and looked back at Jenni. "What's it going to be, boss?" she asked, making the little girl giggle and smile.
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