|Contest winner. It is a nice piece, and it was my first contest win *happy sob*|
Remnants: Chapter 7Remnants: Chapter 7 by SafyreSky
For My Sanity: I don't own Harry Potter, Dear Dumb Diary, Dork Diaries, any of the Fairy Tales mentioned, and I especially don't own Twilight. I also don't own Staples Business Depot. Any opinions expressed in the following part are sorely those of my characters, whom I do own, and any resemblance to any of the authoresses opinions may or may not be coincidental. I make no profit from the books mentioned in this part, or from mentioning Staples. That was easy. Enjoy!
Previously: Claire and Danica break for lunch, where Claire has a moment and when Danica offers her comfort, realizes that finally, everything will turn out right.
The tinkling of a shop bell welcomed them into the store. Although it was more of a very cozy living room, as anyone who walked into Splendora's thought. Weathered wooden shelves lined the walls, crammed with books of all shapes and sizes. A gas fire place warmed up the tidy shop, where people
Remnants: Chapter 6Remnants: Chapter 6 by SafyreSky
A comfortable silence followed the little girl and young woman after their interesting encounter with Derrick. It followed them through the parking lot, out onto Restaurant Lane—as it was so properly named, and towards a small orange brick cafe.
Round tables occupied the outside porch as jazz music played quietly in the background. The portico was filled with the quiet murmuring of hungry patrons, the clicks of glasses and forks and knives scratching the plates. Occasionally, a loud laugh would ring out from one of the tables, adding to the pleasant atmosphere.
“Hi there! How's it going?” the hostess asked, watching the two girls approach the doors.
“Oh, just peachy,” Stated Danica, a forced smile on her face. “Table for two, please.”
“Inside or out?”
“Ummm, outside,” she said, offering a weary smile.
“Excellent,” The hostess looked at Claire. “Would you like a kids menu?” she asked.
Glancing at D
Remnants: Chapter 5Remnants: Chapter 5 by SafyreSky
Claire stared out the window, watching the sights of the city speed by. The radio played low in the background, Danica chattering away about their plans, the stores and shops, occasionally pointing out an interesting landmark. As they merged onto the highway, Claire turned her head away from the window, pondering how big the city really was.
“How far away is Destiny Square?” Claire asked, looking out for the signs that stated what was coming up in the next exit and how far away it was.
“Not that far. Maybe a half hour or so away. I never really thought about it, but Swan Valley’s a pretty big place,” she said, frowning in thought. “If you were to ask someone, it would have to be one of the Swans.”
“But aren't all of the kids older?”
“Well, the twins are, but the triplets aren’t. They’re just kids, I think. Maybe around your age.”
“Yeah. Mayor Swan and his wife tried many times fo
Chapter IV: New Beginnings
Claire was excited. That jittery feeling and the constant goofy smile on her face—there was no other way to describe it. The atmosphere of her Aunt and Uncle's old Victorian house was wonderfully positive, a great change for the young girl. Standing beside her cousin in the kitchen, Claire passed Danica the dirty dishes and she loaded them up, pattering on about plans she had already made for the two of them the very next day.
“We definitely need to get you some books. I'm thinking fairy tales. Splendora has a lovely little book shop, she'll be able to help us out,” Danica said, taking a breather. She surveyed her cousin quietly, a thoughtful look crossing Claire’s face.
“I haven’t read in a long time,” she finally said.
“Oh?” Danica pried.
"My Momma taught me to read when I was younger. I used to go to school before…I liked the silent reading time the teacher gave us,” Claire finished.
"Well then, a reading corner for you is a must. That means we'll have to stop at Destiny Square, the local shopping district. We can get you those books, find a bookshelf while we're out—unless we have one downstairs. Maybe we’ll drive through Posh Heights! The houses there are huge and the gardens are amazing—”
"Maybe you should let the poor girl breathe, Danica," Victor stated. Just hearing his daughter chatter on about the plans she had already made exhausted him. The more he listened, the more appealing a nap on his favourite recliner sounded.
"Claire, dear, you look tired. It's only five o'clock—why don't you go take a quick nap before dinner?" Elaine asked, coming in with the rest of the dishes and handing them to Danica. Concern laced her voice, eyes staring at the small bags under Claire's eyes. Poor dear probably didn't get any sleep last night, thinking about meeting us, she thought.
Tilting her head, Claire looked towards the staircase. Thoughts of her comfy mattress called to her, and she yawned, realizing that she was really tired.
Handing the dish in her hand to her cousin, she weaved through the kitchen, careful not to bump into her Uncle. Retracing their steps from earlier back up the stairs, Claire eventually found her way back to her room. Pushing the door open, she stood in the frame, surveying her room.
And they weren't in an attic, but a nice, cozy warm room. And with a beautiful window in one of the turrets—a beautiful big window. Smiling warmly, Claire plopped onto her mattress. Each blink was slower than the next until finally, sleep conquered her.
It was dark.
She saw her mother, breathing slower each minute. She tried to run, but the couch Sophia was lying on seemed to be getting farther and farther away. Suddenly, she stopped. A cloaked person came towards what once was her Mom’s breathing body, now a corpse. A hand reached out and her mother's body disappeared amidst hard, cold laughter. The cloaked figure pulled down its hood—
"You think you're safe. But you aren't, because no matter what, I'll always be right behind you..."
She screamed, because when the figure pulled down the hood, Melthore was staring right at her with cold green eyes. The walls started to close in on her, and melancholy laughter rang throughout her ears—
Claire awoke with a start, bathed in a cold sweat and breathing heavily. She looked around the darkening room, confused. There was a clock on her nightstand, a green 7:30 glaring at her.
"Claire, are you okay?" Said someone outside the door frantically, knocking loudly. In a rush, Claire remembered where she was. I’m okay, she thought. He’s not here it’s okay…
She breathed in, and out, and promptly burst into tears.
Danica opened the door, concern lacing her voice. "Hey, what happened?" She asked, slowly making her way to the edge of the bed. Claire was curled up by the headboard, her small body shaking with kept in sobs.
"I had...a really bad dream," Claire said, taking in a few deep breathes. "It was one of the bad bad ones too," she stated, sniffling.
“Oh dear, a nightmare?” Danica paused for a moment, unsure how to proceed. Tentatively, she scooted closer, opening and closing her mouth, trying to find the words.
"What was your nightmare was about?" Danica finally asked, patting Claire’s leg.
"The past. My past. And the bad things that happened."
Understanding dawned on Danica’s face. “You're having dreams of the past because you're probably still traumatized by what you went through. And right now, it probably seems like your whole life is scattered into a bunch of little pieces," Danica moved closer to Claire, hugging her.
"A bunch of remnants. Remnants of what you had to go through, remnants of your mother, all sorts of things. And I think that all you have to do is pick up these missing pieces and put them together—and, somehow, deal with them. The past is the past. Now it's time to go forward and start fresh," Danica said, smiling.
"But its so many little pieces," Claire murmured.
"That's okay. I'll help you pick them up. We'll do it together. You and me, Mom and Dad. We've got you," Danica said, a note of finality in her voice.
Hugging her cousin back tightly—it felt so nice to have a warm, nice smelling person hugging her—Claire nodded.
"Good. Now let's go eat? Your Aunt Elaine made steaks," Danica said.
Smiling, she led Claire out of her room, the two girls making their way downstairs for a nice dinner.
After dinner and what Victor liked to call 'family time', (which Claire learnt was when everyone sat in the living room and her Uncle promptly fell asleep on the couch), Claire was snuggled under her covers, looking at her mother's heart shaped necklace. She contemplated what Danica had said earlier. Her life was kind of like a bunch of scattered pieces. The only thing that really gave her strength was the memories she held dear of her mother.
Like the happy laugh. Her sparkling violet eyes, ones Claire saw in the mirror every day.
Her bright smile, warm hugs...
And most importantly, the silver necklace she held in her hands.
In under twenty-four hours, her life had done a complete turnaround. She was saved from her father's neglectful care, and had a family again. A nice family that didn't lock her in her room and fed her a lot and talked to her and were just so nice. Her mother had been right—things got better.
But those nightmares...when would they stop?
Claire slipped the necklace around her neck, deciding now to wear it forever. Happy with her decision she snuggled into the covers, ready for the first good night's sleep she'd have had in years.
After all, she needed all the rest she could get. By the looks on Danica's face this evening, she was in for a really busy day tomorrow.
Claire was right. As soon as they finished breakfast that morning, Danica dragged her into the car and set out for Destiny Square, the shopping district Claire heard all about over breakfast. Their first stop was, of course, clothes shopping. Danica had insisted as apparently, shopping for clothes is what she did best. Claire looked out the window at the retreating view of her adoptive aunt and uncle and their lovely yellow house.
This was going to be one long day.
After watching the family van turn onto the bridge and disappear from sight, Victor and Elaine turned to go inside.
"Claire's in for a heck of a good time," Victor said, snickering.
"Hush, you. I feel like Claire should relax a bit more before getting back into the swing of things, poor dear. I certainly hope Danica doesn’t overexert her. You know how she gets when it comes to shopping," Elaine said, sitting down on the loveseat and turning on the food network.
"Oh, I know too well. And I thought it would get better once she got older." Victor shook his head, turning to the fireplace. It was a chillier day today, and a warm fire was just what they needed. As he attempted to start a fire, the phone rang. Elaine looked at her show—the cook was a nice looking young man and she loved his recipes. So did the family. The phone continued ringing—her shows would have to wait. Sighing, she got up and picked up the phone.
"Hi there, Elaine? It's Ashlee. From SVSS. I fear I have some bad news," she said, sadly.
"Bad news?" Elaine answered, catching Victor's attention. Being the sneak he was, the older man silently picked up the cordless phone, listening in on the conversation.
"Well, yesterday I tried to file everything and begin to get the papers in order. However, it seems you're going to have to wait about two weeks before you can legally adopt Claire," she stated.
Victor and Elaine exchanged worried looks. "What exactly is the problem? I thought we had everything in order," Elaine said sharply.
“There was an incident with a new recruit and some fresh coffee. It may sound harmless, but at the Police Station it's a disastrous situation. Luckily, you're daughter's criminal background check was saved from the coffee. However, you and your husband are going to have to go back to the police station to get yours redone, which shouldn’t be as much of a process as usual. Paperwork wise, aside from that, everything else looks good. Reference checks, funds…"
The couple shared a sigh of relief. Composing herself (her heart was racing), Elaine asked, “Am I to assume that’s all?”
"The big things, at least. Then there’s all these little things that will put us behind. The Courthouse is swamped in a few little cases, and it’ll take them about a week or so to clear it up, get organized and give us our date. Then there's Mayor Swan's unconventional ways—he prefers to give his official say on different adoptions as well... and he and his wife are out of town. Because of the Courthouse’s scheduling issues this week and Mayor Swan’s little trip, I can’t get a date that works for you, the courts and Mayor Swan. I'm very sorry for the inconvenience this has caused," she finished.
Grimacing, Elaine shook her head and turned her attention to her husband. He stood by the fireplace, gesturing wildly and at risk of falling in. She placed her hand on the mouthpiece of the phone.
"What?" Elaine mouthed.
"Ask if Claire can still stay here!" Victor mouthed back, hectically. Rolling her eyes, Elaine lifted her hand off the mouth piece.
"She can still stay here though, right?"
"Oh, of course! For starters, you signed the guardianship papers and those are stamped, approved and filed away. I rather not have it any other way as well, because I would like her to adjust to her new living conditions and your lovely family. She's in a fragile state of mind, and I was hoping that by getting used to the situation, she would heal.”
"Goodness, what a relief," Elaine sighed.
"Indeed. Oh! Before I leave you be, I'd like to schedule another meeting sometime next week, concerning Claire and some of her medical records. We also came across some interesting documents, concerning her mother's side of the family, which I'd prefer to address in person. What date works for you?"
"How about next Monday?"
"Yes, I think that works well," Elaine said, once she got Victor's thumbs up.
"Perfect, noon at The Petite Cafe. Is that okay with you?" she asked.
"Of course," Elaine replied, biting her bottom lip.
"Excellent. Thank you for your time, Elaine, and have a lovely day. Give my regards to Claire and your family."
"I will, I will. You have a lovely day too, Ashlee. Bye now," Elaine said, hanging up the phone.
Victor put the cordless phone down and looked at Elaine.
“Things just got a little more complex,” he said. His fire successful, he sat back down beside Elaine.
She sighed. “Don’t I know it.”
Scowling at the pile of bills he had grabbed out of his mail box, Melthore Aerovl slammed the door, flipping through them and abandoning them on the table. The past two days hadn't gone very well for him, admittedly. One very minor concussion and appearance from a social worker, taking away the kid, had led to a very teary lover and a lot of explaining. Feigning sadness, he had dropped her soon after, heading to the local bar—where he met his latest fling.
"Melthore baby, why don't you come in here and join me?" The woman purred, walking out of the kitchen and towards the living room, two wine glasses in hand. He looked up; her fine buttocks swayed temptingly, her jacket thrown off revealing a very see through shirt and a lacy red bra underneath. Shoving off his jacket, he made his way towards the den, his hunger for her growing very fast.
As he thought of all the things they'd do together, his hands going towards his belt, his phone vibrated. Swearing loudly, he went to answer it. The caller ID read Scott Brisbane—his lawyer.
Fuck, I don't need another sermon on being an irresponsible adult again, he thought.
Ignoring the woman's husky voice, he stared at the caller screen, waiting for a bit. Scott wasn't giving up.
"What," he said rudely, answering the phone.
"Oh, Scott, how lovely it is to hear from you. Nice to talk to you again too, Melthore. I have interesting news," he said.
Rolling his eyes, Melthore growled. "And I have a hot chick in my house. So make it snappy—and it better be worthwhile. No lecturing bullshit.”
"It's about your daughter. It seems that the adoption has been prolonged."
"And I care because? She's out of my hair for good, even though she's not paying for ruining my life."
"Well, wait until you hear this..."
"Fine. I'm listening," Melthore said, moving towards the window.
She was getting impatient. Her shirt was abandoned on the couch, her skirt pushed up a fair bit. Grabbing a nearby throw blanket, she wrapped it around herself, searching for her lover.
"Mel," she groaned. "What's taking so long?"
Stopping in her tracks she watched as Mel came out of the kitchen, his eyes alight and a grin slowly spreading across his face. He stared around the deteriorating house, the pile of bills at the front door...
"Mel?" She asked, noticing he was on the phone.
"That is good news indeed," Melthore said, smirking.
He paused, listening to the person on the other line, smirking devilishly. "I knew that that affair was worth it. Thanks for the news Scott," he stated.
"Yes well just one mo—" Scott was cut off; Melthore had hung up the phone and thrown it on the counter."Babe, things are about to get a lot better," he said, grabbing her in a very heated kiss.
Chapter III: Firsts
The doorbell chimed, a lovely little tune that comforted Claire if only for a bit. She was beyond nervous. She looked back at Ashlee—the social worker checked her watch and smoothed her skirt down. She noticed Claire’s gaze and smiled.
“No fear. It’ll be okay, I’m right here for you, Claire.”
Comforted by Ashlee's presence, Claire nodded and turned back to the door. A short middle aged woman, black hair shot through with white, opened the door. She was well built and her somewhat bronzed skin tone suggested that she spent a lot of her time outdoors. The woman looked down at her, oval face smiling warmly and revealing slight dimples. The smile lit up her bright blue eyes—she wasn’t so scary, Claire thought. Shyly, Claire smiled back.
"Good Afternoon, Mrs. McCabe. I'm Ashlee Rodriguez, head of the SVSS. We talked on the phone earlier. It's a pleasure to meet you," Ashlee stated, shaking the woman's hand.
"Hello Ms. Rodriguez. Please, do call me Elaine. There's no need to be so formal," Elaine specified, smiling.
Laughing, Ashlee smiled. "Then you must call me Ashlee."
"Wonderful. And this lovely young lady—you're Claire, I assume?" She asked, smiling at Claire. Blushing, the young girl moved closer to Ashlee, looking at her expectantly.
"Go on, Claire,” Ashlee said. "Introduce yourself."
Claire looked up at the older lady—her great-aunt—and nodded.
"Well Claire, it's lovely to meet you. I'm your Great Aunt Elaine," she said, bending down and offering her hand. Taking it, Claire shook it, a small smile on her face.
"Please, come in you two! It's very chilly outside. Come, come! I made cake and coffee is brewing," Elaine said, opening the door wider and ushering them in.
Curiously, Claire looked around. The front door opened up right into the living room. The living room was simple, with a welcoming wood burning fireplace and soft white couches. To her right were a piano and two doors. A coffee table stood in between the couch and loveseat, a large vase of sunflowers adding a splash of colour to the room.
Elaine gestured towards the bright dining room, where a glass table was set, topped with a luscious chocolate cake. Claire admired the cake, standing by the windows—which, she noticed, just so happened to be the windows of one of the turrets. Timidly, she moved closer to the windows. Her small pointed face was pressed against the glass, admiring the view.
"It's nice to see her so excited," Ashlee told Elaine. "Did you do the gardens outside? They're lovely."
"I did, indeed." Elaine mumbled, deciding to not make a comment on how the young girl looked very scared and not at all excited.
"Claire was admiring them as we walked up the path. I think she liked them. I know I did!"
"Gardening is a pastime of mine. One of my favourite hobbies to be honest! I find it very therapeutic," Elaine said.
"I couldn't agree more. Now then, let's get down to business, shall we? Ah...Your husband is around, I believe? Because I need to conference with you both if you're going to adopt Claire," Ashlee said.
Right on cue a tall, lean man rounded the corner. His white hair was thinning, blue eyes inquisitive as he stared at the people in the room. Noticing young Claire by the window, he smiled, his eyes wrinkling at the edges.
Behind him, a younger woman with mid-length brown waves followed. Her lightly bronzed skin tone made Claire wonder if she, too, liked to stay out in the gardens. The slim brunette observed Elaine and who must've been Mr. McCabe, talk to Ashlee with a curious expression. Turning to the table, the lady saw Claire. A look of realization dawned on her face—this must be her cousin.
Her cousin smiled at her, blue eyes lighting up. Claire smiled back, watching the brunette as she made her way to her parent's side.
"This is my husband Victor and our daughter, Danica," Elaine told Ashlee, as they all sat at the table. Once more looking at Claire, Danica smiled, gesturing at the open seat next to her. Shyly, Claire plopped down in the chair, her feet a little ways off the ground.
"Want some cake? Its chocolate—my favourite," Danica asked Claire, holding a plate of cake in her hand. Claire nodded.
"Your Aunt decided to go overkill with coffee time today. I told her not to worry, but she's such a perfectionist..." Danica mumbled, looking at Elaine while giving Claire a slice.
"My name's Danica," she said, smiling at Claire.
"I'm Claire," she said shyly, accepting her slice of cake. Claire grabbed the fork and took a bite of the cake. It was delicious. The last bit of unease she had felt slowly left her, as she happily dug into the cake. Satisfied that her little cousin seemed relatively comfortable, Danica proceeded to cut a piece of cake for herself.
"So, how does this sort of thing work?" Victor asked, taking the piece of cake Danica cut for him and sipping his coffee.
"Well normally when a willing couple calls to adopt we schedule a meeting at SVSS headquarters, to learn more about the parents and why they want to adopt. We inform them of how the process works and answer any questions," she stated, taking the piece of cake from Danica's hand and adding two spoons of sugar in her coffee.
"This is usually followed by us sending you the application forms to fill out if you're still interested. You fill that out, and send it back where we schedule a few more meetings, which can be quite numerous.”
"Numerous? Exactly how many more is numerous?" Victor interrupted.
"Around five. We want to make sure that every couple is fully able to support their adoptive child, and that the child is safe. We'll check on things like marital status, supporting documentation—including police records, medical references and five character reference letters. Along with this, we check up on your financial status."
Unnoticed by the social worker, a veil of silent tension settled over the McCabe's after those words. Claire noticed—her quiet humming had ceased; now she stared at her relatives, wondering why they had gotten so quiet.
"And then what?" Danica asked, snapping Victor and Elaine out of their trance.
"Well, once you're cleared we set up a final home study—you know, someone to come in and make sure the house is suitable for a growing child. Then we bring a profile of some of the children we think best suit the couple. Finally you fill out the final forms and in a week, you can officially adopt your child," Ashlee finished, crossing her legs and sipping her coffee. She peered over her cup and looked at Claire who was happily munching on her food; barely noticing the tense stares the McCabe's shared with each other once again.
This time, Danica broke the silence. "So in a situation like this, where you contacted us, what would happen?"
Placing her coffee down, she looked thoughtfully at each of the McCabe's. "This is a rare occurrence, though I’ve seen it before. Since we contacted you, no home study is needed. We will have to look into all your files, and criminal background checks are still required, but we can begin the adopting process right away. Now, if I could just have a word with you two…your daughter is welcome to stay, of course, though I’m not quite sure Claire would enjoy this business-y portion.”
Claire giggled, finishing her chocolate cake. Danica smiled.
“Not to worry, Ashlee. I’ll hear from them later. Somebody has chocolate all over their face and needs to wash it off! Once she’s clean, we’ll take a nice walk round the house,” Danica said, grinning at Claire. The girl giggled, wiping her face and only succeeding in smearing the chocolate even more.
"Alright. Be good Claire, okay?”
Claire nodded, following Danica out of the room and into the living room. Smiling, Ashlee ate more of her cake, turning to Elaine.
“This cake is delicious, Elaine. I must have the recipe later, if that’s alright with you. For now, I think we should get down to business, shall we?” she said, placing her fork down and taking out her briefcase.
Elaine and Victor shared a look and nodded.
“Business time indeed,” Victor mumbled, pulling out his glasses. “Now what have you got for us?”
“Well, let’s start here…”
Claire skipped out of the dining room, following Danica into the living room. She opened the door towards the left of the piano.
"So, here's the downstairs bathroom," she began. “Get your body in there and let’s wash that face, come on now.”
Danica ushered her into the bathroom, lifting her up to the high porcelain sink. Claire started the water, lathering her hands and splashing her face. Rinsing, she stared at Danica in the mirror; satisfied with her cleanliness, her cousin put her down and grabbed the towel off the rack, drying her face.
“Much better. Now how about a little tour?” Danica asked.
“Yes please,” Claire said, having taken in the downstairs bathroom already.
“Then let’s go!”
Leading the way, Danica exited the bathroom, Claire close by. “That’s the living room, it’s very small and cozy…in fact, the whole house is…but it’s nice and manageable. What’re you looking at, Claire bear?” She asked. Claire’s gaze was drawn to the piano by the windows, admiring it with wide eyes.
"Do you like music?" Danica asked.
"When I lived with my Momma in Swim City, I used to hear all types of fast music. We used to dance to it all silly together," she said, smiling. Danica put her hand on the top of the piano fondly.
"Well, it's not the same as fast music, I'll admit. But the melodies Mom plays on this thing are amazing. Anywho, this door leads into the master bedroom. They like being on the main floor."
"Why?" Claire asked.
"Close to the kitchen, front door, living room, bathroom...the stairs are a bit steep, and the older they get the less they want to go up them. We're still young, though. Stairs are no problem. Shall we?"
Nodding, Claire trailed behind Danica, who led her up the steep steps and down the hall to the far right, opening the far door.
"My room. Its practical and I like it," Danica said, letting Claire walk in.
Claire walked in, admiring the neutral Earthy tones in Danica’s room. She stared out the windows, walking by Danica’s seat this morning. She stopped and stared at the sketch, smiling.
“That’s a pretty drawing,” Claire said, pointing at the book.
"Well, thanks. It's supposed to be my dad raking the leaves this morning at the side of the house. It was such a lovely moment, I just had to draw it," she said, leaning on her door frame.
Claire continued walking around, taking in the basic furniture and warm feeling of comfort the room gave off. Her cousin was very plain—and her taste in art was much better than the showy paintings of girls her father had had around the house. Shoving the thought aside, Claire walked out of her cousin's room, pausing in the tight hallway. Danica walked ahead, opening the middle door.
"Upstairs bathroom," she said, letting Claire glance in. Excitedly closing the door once Claire popped out, Danica nearly ran to the door at the end.
"And now for the grand finale!" she said, dramatically opening the door.
Claire was awestruck. The walls were a light purple with dark hardwood flooring. A small black night table stood on the left and right of the black bed frame, the smooth purple and lilac sheets accenting the wooden furnishings. The bed was positioned by the far left of the room, in front of three long windows looking out at the backyard. A dark wooden desk sat across the door, a slim vase of sunflowers on top, a cozy chair tucked neatly in.
Looking to the right, she saw a small table with various coloured pens and pencils in a small container. A warm, comfy looking chair identical to the one at the desk was pushed in beside it. Right behind the door was a tall dresser, and soft white throw rugs were dotted around the room. Some adorable posters were on the walls, (courtesy of Danica) and as Claire looked back at the table with the chair, she noticed the most amazing thing.
"Oh my gosh, It's one of the castle towers! My room has one of the castle towers in it! Yay!" squealing excitedly, she ran to the windows and looked out, practically hopping up and down. Her eyes were shining with excitement as she ran all around her room. Smiling, Danica plopped down on the bed, thinking of how much Claire would probably like fairy tales. Making a mental note to take the poor girl shopping, she watched Claire dash around her room.
Finally calm, Claire flopped onto the bed, a happy smile on her face.
"I can’t believe how nice this is. And my own bed! It’s so soft and cozy…” She yawned, her eyes drifting shut.
For a little bit, Danica watched her cousin. She was so happy and energetic—but looked so skinny and frail. Of course, Danica was sure that in no time at all, Elaine would make sure that Claire was a healthy size again—her cooking did that to you. Danica checker her watch; deciding that enough time had passed for the official side of things to be taken care of, she gently tapped her cousin on the shoulder.
“I think by now they're done talking. Let's go back downstairs?"
“Okay,” Claire said, sliding off the bed. Claire followed Danica down the stairs, her earlier nervous mood now one of happiness, anticipation, and especially excitement. Her own room that was warm and nice and smelt good, actual good food, people who already seemed to care about her…
For once, Claire was content.
"Anything else you need to know?" Elaine was asking when Danica peered into the dining room.
“I believe that that covers everything, for the time being. Now these aren’t the official adoption papers, but merely guardianship forms,” Ashlee replied, reaching into her bag once more and handing the forms to Victor and Elaine. “You may look them over, if you’d like.”
With Ashlee's say so, Elaine skimmed through the papers. She handed them to her husband, waiting for Victor to scan the documents more thoroughly. With a nod of approval from her husband (if her lawyer of a husband said they were alright, then they were alright), Elaine grabbed the pen and signed the papers where Ashlee pointed.
“And initial there, and finally both of you sign right there. Perfect.” Taking the forms the couple had signed and filing them away, Ashlee smiled at them. “Everything checks out perfectly to me. In fact, if it was just my opinion then I’d hand you the rest of the papers right here right now. Unfortunately there are a lot of third parties involved. I’ll have to run these by the SVPD and get those background checks in order, file these with the judge and get you a court date, run them by my colleagues and Mayor Swan as well. Peculiar, I know, but Mayor Swan takes pride in the city and wants the best for every person living in it. Especially the children.”
“Understandable,” Victor murmured, standing up before the women.
“For now, Claire is all set to stay here. As for me, I have a six o’clock meeting so I must be off. I hate to eat and run,” Ashlee said, leaving the dining room. Victor and Elaine followed behind her, walking her to the door.
“Not to worry, I’m sure we’ll be seeing you again,” Elaine said, pressing a piece of paper into the social workers hand. “The cake recipe,” she said.
“Thank you, Elaine! I’ll have to try it tonight.” Sliding the recipe in her small personal purse that sat inside her work bag, Ashlee made her way to the door, eyes searching for Claire. The young girl sat cross legged on the couch, happily looking around—a sight that did Ashlee’s heart good.
“Hey Claire dear. Your Aunt and Uncle have officially started all the paperwork needed to keep you with them safe and sound, okay? In a few more days, you’ll officially be Claire McCabe. I’m going to leave now, alright?”
“Okay. I get to stay here, right?”
“Yup! We took care of that just now, Claire.” Ashlee squeezed the girl’s shoulder. “You’re very brave, Claire. Don’t forget that, alright? I’ll see you and your family Monday, probably. I’ll call,” she added offhand, directing the last bit to the adults.
Claire nodded, hugging the social worker quickly.
“Thank you Ashlee,” she whispered.
“It’s what I do. Take care, Claire. Bye now,” Ashlee said, making her way to the door.
"Bye, Ashlee!” Said Claire, watching as Ashlee said a few words to the family at the door and left. With a cheery wave the door shut; her cousin, aunt and uncle headed back to the kitchen and dining area to tidy up.
Claire watched them leave, wondering what she should do next. She wasn’t sure if they needed her help, or where she should go if they didn’t. Reaching under her shirt she pulled out the silver locket, rubbing the faded front.
I promise...those all too familiar words rang in her head.
Her mother had promised. And for the most part, it finally seemed like things were looking up.