Finding Forever

By: Melody Anne

“I have a grandpa?” Ally almost squealed.

Yes, Whitney knew her loving niece would want to see these relations. She’d love them no matter who they were.

The decision really lay with Brayden. The two of them looked at each other, and she could see the emotion he was trying so desperately to keep inside. It was obvious that he too wanted to meet these people, but he was still so hurt, and not willing to give his trust too readily.

“I don’t really care about stupid relatives I’ve never met before,” Brayden said after a long silence. “But it would be kind of cool to travel somewhere, and at least get out of this place for a little while.”

On the plus side, the boy was showing some emotion other than anger, Whitney thought.

“Do you want to sleep on it before you decide?” she asked them both, almost wishing they’d decide not to go.

“You’d be coming with us, right?” Brayden said, apparently in a bit of a panic. Was he thinking that maybe his aunt was trying to ship them off and be rid of them? Did he care?

“Of course I would, Brayden. You know how much I love you and your sister. I’m in no way trying to abandon you guys.” She saw his shoulders relax. As much as he fought her, she knew he loved her as much as she loved him.

“Well, I really don’t want to be in this house for Christmas,” Brayden said. “Last year sucked, let me tell you.”

“Okay, I’ll call your uncle and let him know we’ll accept their kind offer,” Whitney told them. “I’m not sure when he and your grandfather will want us to go off on the big trip.”

“Is my grandpa nice?” Ally asked.

Whitney looked at this beautiful, innocent child, and even more grief filled her.

“I’m sure he’s a good man. And being around you would only bring out the best in him.” She had to hope that what she’d said was the truth.

“I can’t wait,” Ally said. She bounced from Whitney’s lap and leaped up the stairs.

“Remember, I said I don’t know how soon we’ll be going,” Whitney called after her, but it was too late. The little girl was most likely already packing a bag.

“Are you sure about this, Brayden?”

He stopped at the bottom of the stairs. “I’m not sure about them at all. But I’m more than sure I’d like to get out of this awful house.” And he too bounded up the stairs.

Would there be no end to fighting tears? Whitney pulled out the card Mr. Felton had left and dialed his number. He answered on the first ring, then told her the private jet would be ready to depart as soon as she was ready and had the children packed.

It was all moving way too fast.

Chapter Four

Kids, you have to hurry. The car is already waiting in the driveway.”

The last few days had gone by in a blur, what with getting assignments from the children’s schoolteachers, packing, and making sure the house was reasonably secure. And now they were off to the races. Too soon, way too soon.

“We’re coming,” Brayden said, rolling his eyes at his aunt as he emerged from his bedroom. His excitement was obvious, but he was determined to pretend that the trip was no big deal.

“I’m sorry. I’m just nervous, I guess,” Whitney told him.

“Is that all you’re bringing?” he asked, throwing a doubtful look at her one pathetic suitcase.

“I don’t need very much. You just worry about your own bags.” She ruffled his hair.

“Yeah, yeah,” he replied. He grabbed two of their bags without being asked and made his way downstairs, then rushed back up to get more.

Ally trailed behind Whitney as they followed the boy when all the luggage was collected. A new man was standing at her door.

“I apologize, but Mr. Liam had to fly back last night because of a business emergency. He asked that I escort you. I’m Mr. Smotter.”

“If he’s so busy that he can’t even accompany the kids to his father’s place, how is he going to spend any time with them?” she said, rethinking the entire journey.

“I assure you, Ms. Steele, that the kids are this family’s top priority. They are making time in their busy lives for the kids even as we speak.”

“I don’t know about this,” she hedged, but the kids rushed around her.

Mr. Smotter picked up a couple of the bags and began moving away from the house. There, sitting in the little driveway, was the largest limo Whitney had ever seen, and as they climbed inside, they all felt a bit intimidated.

“This is a really big car, Aunt Whitney,” Ally said with huge eyes. Even Brayden was far more subdued than normal.

“Yes it is,” Whitney answered, not knowing what else to add. She refrained from muttering the words freaking waste of money, but she was definitely thinking them. And she was also speculating on the size of the Felton’s “packages” — they must be compensating for something.

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