Broken Promises

Silent Apologies

Chase stretched as he stepped off the plane in Amber Beach, California. He had been stuck in the air for close to twelve hours. Although he was thankful that Aurora was able to afford a direct flight between the two countries. He could only imagine what it would’ve been like to stop over in China or Hong Kong. It would’ve definitely taken longer.

LAX airport was busy for 02:10 in the afternoon. It was nothing compared to that of Auckland international. It had been five to eleven in the evening when they had left Auckland, having travelled all night just to catch the plane. For some reason Aurora preferred travelling from Auckland instead of Wellington.

“Oi, hot shot,”

Chase looked around as his sister’s voice reached his ears. She was standing near the luggage barrier struggling to get all of their bags off in one go. In her hand she also held Molly’s leash, and Jenni was hugging her leg rather tightly. The little girl had already been on a plane twice in the short amount of time she had been adopted. This new airport made her just as nervous as the last one.

“Where are we?” Jenni asked Aurora as Chase hurried over to help.

“California,” Chase answered his niece.


Chase looked to his sister. They hadn’t told Jenni, or their family for that matter, much about their decision to head to America. Aurora’s excuse to their parents was that she intended to treat Chase to a tour of America as an early birthday present. They had bought it without question. The only person who didn’t seem all too thrilled with the idea was Chloe.

“It’s only for the summer, sweat pea,” Aurora said, throwing her purse over her head and resting it on her shoulder. “Chase and I have been asked to help out a friend, that’s all.”

“Why isn’t Chloe here?” Jenni asked.

“Chloe has summer camp,” Chase answered. “Question: How are we getting to the museum?” he asked, looking up at Aurora.

“Kendall said she’d send someone to pick us up,” Aurora said, looking around. She couldn’t see anyone waiting for them; when she had arrived in Africa many years ago now, there had been someone with her name on a sign waiting for her. He was her escort to the hotel and her guide to navigate Africa without getting lost. There was also one waiting for her in Zandar, but it seemed here in America she was left to navigate the busy streets with only her brother and daughter for company.

“How come Kendall didn’t come back with us?” Jenni asked.

“That’s a good question,” Chase said. “I thought the plan was for all three of us to be together?”

“Kendall already had booked a round trip,” Aurora explained. “Besides, I couldn’t get next day flight times for us, which was partly the reason we had to travel to Auckland. Wellington was full.”

“Ahh,” Chase said. “I thought you chose Auckland because you didn’t like travelling from Wellington.”

“Usually I don’t,” Aurora said. “But I would’ve given the urgency of the situation. Anyway,” she dug into her pocket and pulled out her phone and tossed it to Chase. “Get directions for Amber Beach Museum. We’ll call a taxi.”

“Why do we need directions if we’re calling a taxi?” Chase asked. “Wouldn’t they know the route?”

Aurora sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose. “Yeah, you’re right,” she said, nodding. “Um, come on, help me with these bags and we’ll get a number from one of the customer service managers or something.”

“Are you tired?” Chase asked, grabbing the bags and following his sister towards one of the exits.

“It’s a combination of time difference,” Aurora said, making sure that she had a firm hold of Jenni and Molly, “and jet lag. You’ll get used to it.”

“I hope so,” Chase said, feeling the urge to sleep. “Hey, after we find and sort everything out with Kendall, can we book into a hotel or something? I feel like I can sleep for a month.”

Aurora rolled her eyes and glanced back at her brother. “I’ll sort something out later, alright?” she said.

“Cool,” Chase mumbled, setting the bags down and rubbing his eyes.

Aurora smiled and turned back to the customer service manager. “Hi, I’m heading to the Amber Beach Museum and was wondering if you had any taxi numbers available?” she asked.

“Of course,” the advisor said. “Just a second.”

“Take your time,” Aurora said, leaning back. She glanced around the busy airport, taking in the sight of people hustling past one another in their haste to board planes, find their boarding passes, round up their family, collecting luggage, arriving and leaving the airport. It reminded her of home on a school day. Chloe and Chase rushing around making sure that they had everything they needed for the day, her father bustling about preparing for work and her mother just going with the flow to make sure that everything was ready on time.

“Um... can I just give you this?” Aurora asked, leaning forward and handing the driver a copy of the address she had scribbled down. She had messaged Kendall to say that they had landed more than an hour ago, and the young scientist had explained that she was swamped at the museum, meaning she couldn’t take them to their new apartment building. She had given Aurora the address and explained that the doorman would be expecting them.

The taxi driver nodded and read the slip. He glanced back at Aurora and smiled. “Don’t worry, love, I got you,” he said, turning the key in the ignition. “Your first time in America?” he asked.

“How could you tell?” Aurora asked, glancing to the left. Jenni was slumped between her and Chase, her head resting against Chase’s side whilst the boy in question was leaning against the window. Both of them looked like they were sleeping.

“The accent, for starts,” the driver said. “Australian, right?”

“New Zealand, actually,” Aurora corrected. “We’re here to help out a friend.”

“And you’re friend’s putting up room and board?” the driver asked.

“Apparently it’s the least she could do,” Aurora said. She shrugged and leaned back in her seat. It was going to take a while to get used to the streets of Amber Beach, but then again she had spent many years in Europe, she had managed to memorize those streets, it shouldn’t have been that big of a deal to do the same in California.

The driver seemed to be watching Aurora through his mirror. “I wouldn’t dwell too much on it, love,” he said, startling Aurora. “Navigating the city becomes easier the more you do it. Besides, these days we have so much technological help, it’s pretty difficult to get lost, plus, you could always just call a car. You here for a while?”

“We don’t have a set time, if that’s what you mean,” Aurora said.

“I’m sure your friend will be able to show you the sights,” the driver said. “He won’t leave you high and dry.”

“She,” Aurora corrected. The driver looked confused. “My friend, it’s a she.”

“Oh, my apologies, love.”

Aurora shook her head. She wished he would stop calling her ‘love’ it was creeping her out. She wouldn’t have minded if he had asked her name or if he just called her ‘miss’ at least it was less personal that ‘love’.

“Not far now,” the driver said, turning onto a side street. The car had been driving for less than 20 minutes, and Aurora couldn’t wait to get out. Not only was she feeling uncomfortable with the driver, but she was also starting to feel the effects of being in the air for twelve hours. Finally the car pulled to a stop outside of an apartment complex. “Do you need help inside?”

“No thanks,” Aurora said, almost immediately. The idea of this man knowing her exact home number wasn’t an idea she wished to entertain. She didn’t mind him knowing the street and apartment complex, there had to be a hundred or more residents living there, plus she could always warn the doorman about him. He wouldn’t get in, even if he did try. “Chase, Jenni, wake up,” she added, shaking her daughter and brother awake.

Chase gave a start, bolted up in his seat and cracked his head on the handle above him. He howled in agony and clutched the top of his head.

Aurora rolled her eyes. “Idiot,” she muttered, unbuckling Jenni. “Just grab her, will you?” she asked her brother.

Chase rubbed his head and slid out of the taxi. He reached back in for Jenni, scooping the youngster up into his arms and carrying her around the back of the taxi. He helped Aurora as best he could with the luggage and was thankful when a man in a green suit and hat came to his aid. The older gentleman took the two suitcases and carried them up to the doors whilst Aurora paid the taxi driver.

“So, you single?” the driver asked, grinning.

Aurora forced a smile and shook her head. “No,” she said, even though it was a lie. If this guy thought she had a boyfriend, maybe he’d leave her alone.

“Shame,” the driver said. “Well, if you change your mind, or you just need help navigating the city, my name’s Johnathan. Just call the taxi company and ask for me, I’ll come pick you up. You never know, you may find a reason to dump that boyfriend of yours and give a real man a chance.”

Aurora wanted to laugh. If the guy had any idea of what a real man was like, he’d stop flirting with her. “Doubtful,” she said. “Philip can be pretty jealous when he wants to be. Thanks for getting us here safely, keep the change.” She walked around the back of the taxi and approached her brother at the doors to the apartment. She couldn’t believe she had used Philip as an excuse to get out of a date offer, especially since she had spoken to him in the last month and a half. But she also guessed that Philip wouldn’t have minded especially if it meant keeping her safe from creeps.

Chase smiled tiredly at his sister. “Can we sleep yet?” he asked.

“Nearly,” Aurora said, squeezing his arm. She looked up at the doorman, smiled sweetly and said, “Aurora Randall. Kendall Morgan sent us from the Amber Beach Museum. She said you were expecting us.”

The doorman nodded and ushered them inside. A young woman was waiting for them, a set of keys with the number 103 written on them. She handed them to Aurora and then pointed the family of three to the elevators that would take them to the first floor.

The apartments were almost immaculate. They were well furnished, complete with all the furniture required to make a home comfortable. Even the kitchen was well stocked.

“I wonder if it’s like this is in all the apartments.” Chase asked. “Or did Kendall go out of her way to make sure that we had everything we needed?”

“I dunno,” Aurora said, setting her overhead bag down on the table. It was a small and rounded, standing near a set of double doors leading out on to a balcony. The view of the city from here was amazing, and Aurora was sure it was something she and her brother would get used to. “I’m pretty sure this place is for employees of the museum only. Maybe that’s Kendall’s pitch: if you come work for me, I’ll provide room and board.”

Chase shrugged and wandered into the hall. He was so tired that he could’ve slumped to the floor and slept there, despite its possible uncomfortableness, but he wanted to check out the bedrooms before he even considered sleeping. At the far end of the hall, behind door number one was a small bedroom with a single bed in the corner, beneath the window. It seemed just big enough for a young girl, so Chase was sure that Aurora would make this Jenni’s room. Behind door number two, was a much larger room, not that much bigger than the last room, it was facing away from the city and out onto a long deserted, yet secluded part of the beach. Instantly, Chase knew he wanted this room. It was just the right size for him.

Deciding to check out his sister’s room, Chase pushed open door number three and smiled faintly. The bedroom was perfect for Aurora, it had enough space for her to keep all her things, and it even had a bathroom of its own. An ensuite bathroom was perfect for Aurora giving the medication she was taking to help control her epilepsy, at least with her own bathroom; Aurora didn’t run the risk of Jenni mistaking her medication for sweets.

“Aurora,” Chase called out quietly. He knew Jenni was sleeping on the sofa and he didn’t want to wake her. “I’ve chosen my room, and I’m sure you’ll agree that the smaller one can go to Jenni.”

Aurora nodded. She’d look at the bedrooms later.

“You have an ensuite bathroom in your room,” Chase said, sitting down on one of the chairs. He leaned back against it, resting his head against the soft backrest. He closed his eyes and was instantly asleep, his breathing laboring out as he fell deeper into submission.

Aurora chuckled lightly and turned to look out of the balcony windows. She couldn’t believe she was actually in California, especially after she had promised Chloe that she would be around for a lot longer than she had actually been.

Aurora felt her heart ache as she thought of Chloe. She sighed and looked down at her table, in front of her lay her bag. Carefully, Aurora reached into the front pocket and pulled out a glittering necklace with two rings attached.

“I’m sorry, Chloe,” Aurora murmured, holding up the rings and carefully slotting them together. “I never meant to hurt you...” she reached back into the bag and pulled out a folded slip of paper that, once opened, revealed a picture of four-year-old Aurora with her father. A single tear rolled down Aurora’s cheek.

The rings and the picture each held a significant meaning to Aurora.

Each one signified a promise that had been made, and then later broken.

“But some promises aren’t meant to be kept.”

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