I hand Emma the insulin pen and I watch how she injects herself.
''Sammy, will you read me a story tonight?''
''Of course, lovey. But first I have to talk to you about something.''
Emma gives me the pen back and she pulls her shirt down. I get up and I close the door of my room.
''A big talk,'' Emma mumbles.
I frown and I look at my little sister.
''A big talk?''
''Yes, because you always close the door when you want to have a big talk.''
I smile and I plop down next to Emma on the bed.
''Miss Eve called and she told me she is coming for a visit.''
''I like miss Eve, she always has sweets in her purse!''
''I know you like her, but she is not coming just to see us, Emma. She wants to know if you are happy here and what our plans are for the future.''
Emma looks at me for a moment and sighs. ''Are we moving again, Sammy?''
My heart aches when she says that. I knew she was happy here and so was I. This was the first real home we both ever had, but we still had to have this talk.
''Emma, do you know what a judge is?''
''Yes, that's the one with the hammer and the black dress! They listen and then tell you what to do!''
I smile and not.
''Exactly, very good! Well, miss Eve and I spoke with a judge before we moved here. Mom is was not able to take care of us, so we had to make some tough decisions.''
''Like what?'' Emma asks and I see a deep frown appear on her face.
''Like who would take care of you when she couldn't.''
''That's not a hard one! You take care of me, like you always do!''
''No, lovey. I didn't always take care of you. I was away a lot when you were born and after that. Boarding school and then I got into some trouble, so I had to deal with that.''
''But you were there in the hospital when I woke up and you never left again.'' Emma says in a soft voice, like she trying to sooth me. ''You are also not in trouble anymore, right?''
''That's right and that's why miss Eve wants to talk about our plans for the future. The judge said that I had to prove that I could stay out of trouble and prove that I'm able to take care of you, before he would consider making me your legal guardian.''
''A legal guardian?'' I ask and Emma nods.
''That is the person who takes care of you and is responsible for you, like a parent.''
''Like aunt Laurel and uncle Thomas!''
Again my heart aches and I try to remain calm.
''Yes, like aunt Laurel and uncle Thomas. They are your legal guardians right now, but I did everything that the judge asked of me. It means that I could become your legal guardian and I need to know how you feel about that.''
Emma looks at me and she shrugs her shoulders.
''Okay, how do you feel about just living with me?''
There is that deep frown again and I see Emma bite her bottom lip.
She is definitely my sister.
''Where would we live?''
''We could live anywhere, lovey. We could stay here in town or do you remember that beach house we stayed in?''
''We could live by the beach?'' Emma asks and she starts jumping on the bed.
''We could live anywhere you want, but do keep in mind that it will be us two then.''
Emma stops jumping and she frowns.
''They are not coming with us, Sammy?''
''No, Em. They will keep on living here, while we find a place of our own.''
''But we do get to see them every day, right? Aunt Laurel will still pick me up from school and I can still build forts with Mia.''
''That would depend on where we decide to live.''
I see Emma's lip start to tremble and I open my arms. She buries her face in the crook of my neck and she hugs me tightly.
''Emma, we don't have to move. Everything can stay the same if that's what you truly want. That's perfectly fine, lovey!''
''I just want to stay with you, Sammy!'' Emma sobs and I can feel her tears falling down on my skin. I rock her in my arms until she calms down and I then place her next to me.
''Story time?'' Emma asks and I nod.
''Once upon a time...'' I begin and I smile when Emma rest her head on my chest.
''Once upon a time, there was...''
A girl who has to make an impossible decision.
''I'm glad to see that everything seems to go well here,'' miss Eve says as she writes something down. ''Emma looks like the picture of health. Doing well in school and in sports. She told me all about her friends and she showed me her room. She is a very happy,talkative, smart and energetic child.''
''She is,'' aunt Laurel says with a warm smile.
Miss Eve nods and then she looks at me.
''How are you doing, Samantha?''
''Fine,'' I answer.
''Please, stop talking my ear off,'' miss Eve chuckles and she takes a sip of her tea.
''Your grades are good?''
''You stayed out of trouble?''
''Did you had an alcohol drink?''
''Did you use recreational drugs or abused any prescribed medicine?''
''Good. Lets move on to the next part. You gave Dr. Gray permission to keep me informed on your progress. I have to say that you came a very long way, Samantha. I'm proud and impressed, but also curious. You said that you would never talk about your past again, but according to the transcripts you changed your mind. Why is that?''
''Because everything changed,'' I say with a sigh. ''I wasn't used to normal and I didn't know how to handle normal. A normal life was actually what put me over the edge. Because I was realising that what happened to me was so not normal. I had a complete meltdown and I even had to check myself in, but that was a good thing.''
I smile and I look at my aunt and uncle.
''It gave me the courage to tell my aunt and uncle the truth about my past. I thought that they would be disappointed in me or that they would treat me differently, but all of that didn't happen. It's because of them that I started to open up.''
''So you told more people about your past?'' miss Eve asks.
''I told my boyfriend, my cousin and my best friend. Millie cried a lot when I told her. Tyler punched a wall, before trying to hug me to death and Alexander had to walk a way a few times.''
''Why was that?''
''Because we just painted my room and he wanted to hit something, so he went to Tyler's room to punch the wall,'' I answer with grin.
''So that's why he moved that poster!'' I hear my aunt say. ''Told you that he did that for a reason and you said he was getting interested in interior design!''
''Well, it was a possibility,'' uncle Thomas responds.
Both me and my aunt stare at uncle Thomas and he holds his hands op.
''Okay, it was a dumb assumption. I admit it, happy now?''
''I don't know about them, but I can say that I'm very happy at the moment, Mr. Reed,'' miss Eve says with big smile on her face. ''The girls are both doing great, which leaves us with one last thing to discuss.''
My mouth feels suddenly very dry and it feels like there is a big lump in my throat. I know what miss Eve wants to discuss.
''Samantha is emancipated, but the judge didn't grand her custody of Emma. For that to happen, Samantha had to fulfil certain conditions. Maintain her sobriety and staying out of trouble. Another condition was that Samantha had to prove that she is emotional stable and ready for the responsibility. Dr. Gray says she is and I agree with him.''
Miss Eve looks through some papers and nods.
''Emma is too young to fully understand the situation, but I did spoke with her about it. First of all, she loves all of you very much. She loves building forts with Mia. She loves dancing with Tyler in the living room. She loves the princess tea parties where uncle Thomas wears a tiara and a tutu. She loves her aunt Laurel for always being there and for making her favourite fairy tale character come to live on her walls.''
Miss Eve looks at my aunt and uncle. ''Emma had many more reasons, but they all came down on the same thing. She loves all of you. But she did said that no matter what, she wanted to stay with Samantha. Therefore Samantha will be appointed as Emma legal guardian. The paperwork will take some time, but...''
''No,'' I finally manage to get out.
Miss Eve looks at me confused and I get it. This is what I always said that I wanted. It's why I did everything in my power to meet the conditions that the judge set for me. Everything I did was for Emma, as I promised her.
''You don't want to be appointed as Emma's legal guardian?''
''What I want is for Emma to be healthy, safe and happy. I want her to have a stable home and a family that loves her. Right now, she has everything that I want for her. What kind of guardian would I be if I took all of that away from her?''
Tears are rolling down my face and I clench my fists.
''I could go to college or get a job and take Emma with me, but that would be so selfish of me. Taking her away from the first real home we ever had. Taking her away from everyone she loves, her family and friends. It would mean that history repeats itself and that I'm no better then her!''
It stays quiet for a while and then I feel my aunt arms around me. She hugs me so tight that I literally can't breath. Aunt Laurel then lifts my chin up and she looks me straight in the eyes.
''You, Samantha Elizabeth Jones, are nothing like your mother! Do you hear me? You are nothing like her! You are kind and loving. You worked your ass off for everything, never taking anything for granted! But the one thing that everyone knows about you, is that you love Emma more then anything else in the world.''
Aunt Laurel wipes away my tears and she holds my head between her hands. ''You love Emma so much, that you are willing to do this. Even when it breaks your heart and that's how I know that you are nothing like her!''
I feel another pair of arms wrap around me and when I look up, I see tears in my uncle eyes. The lump in my throat grows bigger and I nod at miss Eve.
I knew this was the right thing to do, but that didn't make it any easier. It was like my aunt said, breaking my heart into a million shattered little pieces.''