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Audition Piece

Guest Red Ranger 1

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Okay, this one could end up being either completely crazy or settling down too much but hopefully I'll manage to strike the balance.Hope you like it.

Story Title: Audition Piece

Type of story: Short/Medium

Main Characters: Aden, Belle, Geoff, Nicole, Annie, Jai

BTTB rating: T/A

Genre: Post-modern comedy or serious drama.Or both.Or neither.

Does story include spoilers: Don't think so

Any warnings: Sexual content: Mild to moderate.Violent: None.Language: None.Any similarities to real people living or dead is entirely coincidental.

Summary: Three pairings compete to be named Summer Bay's top couple!


Belle was woken up by the light streaming in through the caravan park house windows.She lay there for a moment, basking in the warmth, until it struck her.Light was streaming in through the windows.

Belle turned round to glance at the alarm clock before battering her husband with as much force as she thought was needed to drag him into the same wakefulness as herself.“Aden, it’s half past seven!”

“Um, what?”Aden asked indistinctly.

“Aden, it is half past seven.It’s a school day, we’re still in bed, goodness only knows where the kids are and it is half past seven.”

Aden stared at her for a moment as realisation dawned.“Oh.Whoops.”

They both dived out of bed.

A check of the other bedrooms having proved fruitless, the pair rocketed down the stairs.They skidded to a halt in the front room, breathing a sigh of relief as they saw their three foster children sat at the table, munching away at their breakfast.There was Ben, the oldest, a blonde-haired boy of sixteen.Megan, the middle one, was fourteen, a quiet, ordinary-looking girl with dark hair.Jamie was a little over a year younger than her at thirteen, small for his age with the same dark hair.

“Good kids,”Aden told them simply,“Would have been better if you’d woken us up as well but, hey, you got yourselves up, that’s the main thing.”

“Did you get yourselves breakfast as well?”asked Belle.

Ben shook his head, gesturing towards the kitchen table.“No.They did.”

Following his gaze, Aden and Belle noticed for the first time that Geoff and Nicole were standing in the kitchen, staring at them.“Oh, hi,”Belle greeted them, pulling the dressing gown she’d grabbed on the way down even tighter around her,“You just popped by then?”

“No,”Nicole replied slowly and deliberately,“We live here.”

“You don’t live with us,”Belle told her with equal deliberation.

“Right,”Geoff confirmed,“We live here and you don’t.”

“You do not live here,”Aden insisted,“We live here and we have done for…”He stopped and paused before turning to Belle.“Belle, how long have we lived here?”

“Since…”Belle trailed off.“I’m not sure.We woke up upstairs, I knew we had to get the kids up…before that I’m drawing a blank.”

Aden looked at Geoff and Nicole.“You?”

Geoff was looking equally confused.“We were down here, making breakfast for the kids.How we got here I don’t know.”

“Okay, this is seriously weird,”Nicole stated for all of them.

“Excuse me.”Jai had just wandered in through the kitchen door, Annie at his side.“What are you four doing in our house?”

“Yeah, what gives, guys?”echoed Annie,“We were just taking a walk before breakfast.”She waved at Ben, Megan and Jamie.“Hi, kids, get yourselves ready and we’ll give you a lift in to school.”

“Okay, this just went beyond weird,”Nicole decided.

“Excellent!Superb!Just what we wanted!”They all turned towards the door by the table, where a balding man with glasses, wearing a suit and carrying a clipboard, was standing.He turned to the three children. “Well done, kids, good job.You can pop outside for a moment but we might need you later.”They scurried past him out the door.

“Okay,”Aden said at last,“Who are you?”

“Steve.The producer.”

“The what?”repeated Annie confused.

“Erm, perhaps you should all take a seat.”Steve looked at Aden and Belle.“Ooh.Bed attire.Might bring in the ratings but not what we’re after for this scene.Pop upstairs and get changed first, will you?”

“So what’s this all about?”asked Geoff once they were all sat down around the table.

“Well, the thing is this,”Steve explained,“We need a new central couple for the show.I mean, Miles and Kirsty?A twenty-one-year-old playing mother to teenagers?Sally at twenty-five was bad enough.In four years, one of you three will be the central couple and by then even the youngest of you will be…how old will you be in four years, Annie?”


Steve paused for a moment and scribbled a note on his clipboard.“Age Annie up by three years.”

“That’d make her older than me,”Geoff pointed out.

Steve crossed out the note.“Two years.”

“So what?We’re twins now?”

“We can sort out the details later.The thing is we couldn’t decide which of you showed the most potential but then it hit us.You can audition!Show us the storyline that’ll put you in charge of this place, demonstrate the talents that make you the best this show has to offer!”

“Where do the kids come into it?”asked Jai.

“Well, we’re planning on introducing them as new characters over the course of the next four years, to live here with whichever one of you is successful, so we’d like you to wove them into your storyline.”

“You want us to tell you where we’re going to be in four years time?”asked Nicole.

“Excellent grasp of the situation, Nicole.Knew we could count on you.Now, Aden and Belle, you’re the oldest.Why don’t you go first?What’s your story?”

Aden glanced at Belle and grinned.“Well, I guess there’s only one place to start.”

They stood at the front of the church, their family and friends gathered behind them.The vicar read through the customary words of introduction.“We are gathered here today to witness the joining together of Aden and Belle in holy matrimony, to witness their love and to share in their joy.”

“I, Aden, take you, Belle, to be my lawful wedded wife…”

“I, Belle, take you, Aden, to be my lawful wedded husband…”

There were other words but those were the important ones.They stood there, smiling at each other, as the vicar turned to Geoff, the best man.“Do you have the rings?”

“Hang on!”Geoff interrupted,“Why am I best man?”

Aden sighed.“Come on, Geoff, who else is there?”

“Aden, I am not being your best friend for the day just because you haven’t got any male friends.”

“And how many do you have, Mr.Popular?”

“I…”Geoff floundered for a moment.“I’ve got Jai.”

Jai gave him a quizzical look.“You tried to split up me and Annie.”

“Yeah but…I’m sure I apologised for it.When no-one was looking.”

“Fine, fine!”Belle held up her hands in a gesture of surrender.“You don’t have to be best man, Geoff.”

Geoff sat back, satisfied.“Thanks.”

“You can be bridesmaid instead.”

The vicar turned to Roman, the best man.“Do you have the rings?”

Roman passed the rings to the vicar, who blessed them and then held them out to Aden and Belle.In turn, they each slotted a ring onto the other’s finger.

“I give you this ring as a sign of our marriage.”

“I give you this ring as a sign of our marriage.”

The vicar smiled at them.“I now pronounce that you are husband and wife.”

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Thank you so much for the comments, everyone.Me posting two chapters in a day is pretty unprecedented but I wrote the first one last night so I've had time.Hope I haven't shot myself in the foot by making the first one too funny...


“No way are you two going to get married,”Nicole complained.

“We’re the show’s top couple,”Aden insisted,“Ask anyone.”

“Please, everyone knows you only got together because there was no-one else left for her.”

“That’s not right,”Belle argued,“I could have ended up with Roman.”

“Making you my stepmum?Yeah, that’d work well.”

“I…could have ended up with Geoff.”

“Him?”asked Aden incredulously.

“Me?”asked Geoff incredulously.

“No-one in their right mind would ever put you and Geoff together,”Nicole concluded.

“Hey, the fans would have loved Gelle!”Belle protested.

Aden glanced over at Jai and Annie.“You two want to chip in with an opinion?”

“No, we’re fine, thanks,”Jai replied.

“Can you get on with the story?”asked Annie,“It was starting to get interesting.”

Aden looked at Steve, who gave a gesture of assent.“Please do.Getting lots of good material here.”

“Okay,”Aden began,“It was a few weeks later…”

“Post’s here,”Irene announced as they came out of the bedroom that morning,“I’ve put your letters on the side, maybe you’ll even have time to read them before work.What you’ve been getting up to in there till this time I don’t know.”She raised a hand to forestall any explanations.“And I don’t want to know, thank you very much.See you later.”

Belle picked up the letters Irene had indicated.“Well, there’s one for you, Mr.A.Jefferies.Guess someone’s finally cottoned on to the fact you’re living here now.And there’s one for a Mrs.B.Jefferies as well. Apparently she’s just started living here too.”

“A&B Jefferies,”Aden commented,“Doesn’t that just sound right?Must be fate.”

“Yes, Aden, I’m sure our parents gave us names that come next to each other alphabetically because they knew we were meant to be together.”She noticed the look on his face.“What is it?”

“Parents…”Aden held up the letter she’d passed him.“This is from the prison.”

“From your dad?Well, what does it say?”

“I don’t know.But if he’s writing to me it must be important.”

“If it’s that important, wouldn’t he tell you in person?”asked Annie.

“Suddenly everyone’s a critic,”Belle sighed.

“We thought about it,”Aden told her,“But we figured it’d be more economical if we found out this way.”

“Less scenes and less characters,”Belle put in.

“At least it would be if we didn’t keep getting interrupted,”Aden concluded.

“Oh, carry on,”Nicole sighed,“I’m certainly gripped so far.”

“We’re here to see Jenny Meadows,”Aden told the nurse.

“Ah yes.She’s been expecting you.”She gestured down the row of beds.“Third on the right.”

Belle gripped Aden’s hand as he led the way to the bed indicated.The woman was staring up at the ceiling, seemingly oblivious to their presence.“Jenny Meadows?”Aden asked,“I’m Aden.Larry’s son.”

Jenny turned to face him, a look of amazement on her features.“You look so much like him.”

“Like my dad?No-one’s said that before.”

“No, I didn’t mean Larry.”Aden nodded, understanding.“He said you’d help me.”

“That’s why we’re here.”Aden gestured to Belle.“This is Belle, my wife.”

“I’m pleased to meet you, Miss Meadows,”Belle said awkwardly.

“You have to understand,”Jenny told them,“I didn’t know he was married.When you’re self-destructing like that, you don’t really ask questions of the people who are joining you in oblivion.”

“He wasn’t married,”Aden replied,“My mum died before he met you.”

“Then…he left you on your own?”

“No, he left us with my grandad.Being left on our own would’ve been kinder.”Aden didn’t feel like giving an explanation.It was old ground.“Where is he?”

“I sent him to the canteen.”

“Do you want me to come with you?”asked Belle.

Aden shook his head.“No, I need to do this alone.”

Aden recognised Ben from the photo his dad had sent him.The boy was around twelve.He was sitting quietly at one of the tables on his own.Aden cautiously made his way over.“Ben?”

Ben looked up without interest.“Yeah?”

Aden waved to the chair opposite him.“Can I sit down?”Ben gave a disinterested shrug and Aden slid into the chair.“Do you know who I am?”

Ben nodded.“My new brother.”

“Yeah, that’s right.”

“My mum’s dying.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“She said you were going to look after me from now on.”

Aden sighed.“Yeah.That’s right too.”

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Thanks for more words of encouragement, folks.Hope you like this one.


“So she just hands her son over to you because you’ve got a few strands of DNA in common?”asked Jai.

“And why wouldn’t she?”asked Aden.

“Well, I’m assuming she didn’t do a check of your mental health histories or criminal records.”

Aden looked askance at Belle.“Have you got a criminal record?”

She shifted, embarassed.“Well, there was that unfortunate arson thing just after I moved here.But that was well-intentioned.”

Aden nodded, dismissing it, before turning back to Jai.“Look, this show has a history of reformed characters living happily ever after.Look at Nathan Roberts.Robbed the school and tried to frame Luke Cunningham for beating him up and he still got to walk off into the sunset with an Irish nurse.”

Annie looked at Jai, confused.“Who’s Luke Cunningham?”she whispered.

Jai shrugged.

Steve was still taking notes.“Excellent material, guys, excellent material.Ben is Aden’s hitherto unknown half-brother.Got to use that.Maybe we could do a kidney transplant storyline where Ben gets an infection and Aden, the half-brother he’s never met, has to save his life.”He noticed the looks he was getting.“Or not. It’s just an idea.”

“I kinda like my kidneys where they are,”Aden told him,“In me.”

“Okay,”Geoff mused,“So Ben’s going to move in with you, except you haven’t got a place of your own, so…how’s that going to work?”

“We’re coming to that in a bit,”Belle told him,“Just hold in there, okay?”

Ben threw down his computer handset triumphantly.“I win again!”

“You’ve played this game before, haven’t you?”Aden asked accusingly.

“Of course I’ve played it before.It’s my game and I’m a kid.I’m supposed to play games.”

“Oh and what am I?Old?”

“Way old.”

Aden grinned wearily.“Ready for the scrap heap already, huh?”

Ben nodded.“Yep.”He paused for a moment.“Thanks for letting me stay here.”

“Well, I couldn’t let my little brother live on the streets, could I?”

“I always kinda wished I had a big brother.”

“They can be more trouble than they’re worth, trust me.”Aden realised he was killing the mood.“Except for me, of course.I’m brilliant.”

“You’re brilliant?”repeated Nicole,“Take it from someone who’s lived with you…”She saw the glare Aden was giving her.“Okay.You’re brilliant.Shutting up now.”

“I just wish my mum was here,”Ben continued.

“You miss her, huh?”Aden asked.

“Heaps.Do you miss your mum?”

“Sometimes, I guess.I suppose I’ve just got used to her not being around.”

“Are you sure it’s no problem me staying here?I mean, there seems to be a lot of people living in this house.”

“Trust me,”Aden told him,“It’s not a problem.”

“It’s starting to be a problem,”Irene told Aden and Belle, ignoring the hurt looks they were giving her,“I feel for what he’s going through, honestly.But we just don’t have the room here for him.”

“He’s all right sharing with Geoff,”Belle protested.

“Oh please, have you heard the noises coming from their room?If he touches Geoff’s Barbie dolls one more time, I swear he’s going to throttle him.”

“Touches my what?”Geoff spluttered.

“It was a placeholder example,”Aden told him.

“Well find a better one!”

“Okay,”Belle interceded,“What do you have that you’d throw a strop if Ben touched them?”

“Me?Er, nothing.”

Aden and Belle both looked at Nicole.“His footie boots,”she told them.

“If he touches Geoff’s footie boots one more time, I swear he’s going to throttle him.”

“If he leaves here, so do I,”Aden snapped.

“We both do,”Belle added.

Irene sighed.“Wouldn’t he be better off with someone who can take proper care of him?”

“We made a promise to Jenny,”Aden told her,“We’re going to take proper care of him.”

A thought struck Belle.“What about that money Jenny left?It’s come through now.Maybe there’s enough to buy a place of our own, just the three of us.”

Aden nodded.“Yeah, that’s an idea.Irene, do you know of any properties available?”

Irene shrugged.“Well, the caravan park’s up for auction soon.”

“She left you all her money?”asked Nicole.

“To look after Ben,”Aden explained.

“Wouldn’t it be better for her to have left it in trust until he’s eighteen or something?”

“Oh yes.That would be a good idea.‘As soon as you turn eighteen you’ll be rich but until then you can starve.’”

“And there’s enough to buy the caravan park?”asked Annie,“Wouldn’t that be really expensive or something?”

“It’s up for auction,”Belle reminded her,“That means we might be able to get it cheap.”

“All the same,”Nicole commented,“I think I’m gonna ask my dad if I’ve got any half-siblings lying around whose mothers might leave me a load of money.”

The auctioneer’s hammer fell.“Sold.”

Aden looked at Belle and Ben and grinned.“Looks like we’ve got ourselves a house.”

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Aden and Belle stood in the centre of the living area.It was completely empty of furniture and didn’t seem much to look at.But it was theirs.

“So what do you think of the new house, Mrs.Jefferies?”Aden asked.

“Needs a bit of work on it,”Belle replied smiling,“But I think it’ll do.”

“Hey, was I meant to carry you across the threshold?”

“You tried that when we arrived back from the honeymoon, remember?And it didn’t go so well.”

Aden looked sheepish.“Yeah, well, how was I to know Geoff had left his school bag in the way?”

“Why does it have to be my school bag?”Geoff complained,“Annie has a school bag as well, you know.”

“I don’t leave my school bag lying around,”Annie argued.

“Neither do I!”

“Face it, Geoff,”Aden told him,“You’ve been officially classified as our whipping boy.”

“Without the actual whips,”added Belle.

“I could have left my school bag lying around,”Jai suggested.

“Why would you have left your school bag lying around at my house?”Geoff asked,“Or rather, why would it be left lying around at my sister’s house?”

“Well, I…”

“Save it for your own story, Jai,”Nicole told him,“This is Aden and Belle’s turn.”

“Oh, I’m so glad someone’s remembered that,”Belle sighed.

Ben came bounding down the stairs and rushed in to join them.“My room is really big,”he told them.

“Oh, you already know which one is yours, do you?”Aden asked.

“Well…you said I could have any room I want.”

“Except for the main one.That’s for me and Belle.”

“Why do you have to have the main one?”

“Because there’s two of us,”Belle told him.

Ben tried to think up a counter-argument but in the end he just shrugged.“It doesn’t matter.The other rooms are pretty big as well.I’m going to start measuring up for where I’m going to put my comics!”He raced out again.

Aden looked apologetically at Belle.“I know you weren’t planning on playing parent so soon…”

“Especially not to a twelve-year-old?Don’t worry, Aden, I can hack it.He’s a good kid.”

Aden smiled.“Yeah, he is.”

“We’re a family now.A weird, dysfunctional family but still…a family.”

“Perfect!Sums up what we’re looking for entirely!”Steve realised everyone was looking at him.“Just offering a little piece of appreciative commentary.”

“Well, I guess we’ll take appreciation,”Belle conceeded,“Precious little of it about.”

“I’m enjoying it,”Annie told her.

“Thanks, Ann.”

“So what happens next?”asked Nicole.

“Well,”Aden told them,“It was about a year later…”

“Woah, what’s the rush?”Belle asked as Ben almost bumped into her as she came in the door.

“Got to go to school,”Ben told her, still trying to make as rapid an exit as possible.

“You’ve got ages before you need to go as yet.”

“Yeah but I’ve got to meet some friends first.See ya!”He finally managed to scoot round her and out the house.

Belle watched him go before turning to Aden.“Is that really the quiet little boy who first moved in with us?”

“Yeah, so I gather.Quite a change, huh?”

“I’ll say.”

“Must be down to you being such a good mum.”

Belle gave him a mock glare.“I’m his sister-in-law, remember?Anyone starts calling me ‘Mum’ and I’m going to start filling out applications for the retirement home.”

“Well, I’m sure your kids would come and visit you.”

“What, are you including yourself in that category?”

Aden grinned at her and gave her a kiss on the cheek.“I’m heading into work.Can I give you a lift anywhere?”

“No, I need to clear out some of the empty vans.I’ll be around here for a bit.”

Belle slowly made her way around the caravan park, collecting up the bed linen from any vans that had recently been vacated.She made it to Van 6 and pushed open the door…to find three people in there.One was Ben.The other two were a boy and girl she didn’t recognise.“Ben?What…what is this?”

Ben looked at her with the air of someone who’d just been caught out.“I didn’t mean any harm.”

“Why, what’s going on?”

Ben sighed.“Belle, this is Megan and Jamie.I’m sorry but…they didn’t have anywhere else to go.”

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Thanks for the comments.


Aden hurried into the house, looking as if he’d been shot out of a cannon.“I got your call.What’s the..?”

He stopped at the sight of Megan and Jamie sitting on the sofa with Ben.All three of them were looking guilty and embarassed.“Seems we’ve had some extra guests,”Belle told him.

Aden came to stand by his wife, looking at the three youngsters as though waiting for an explanation. “Ben?”

“They didn’t have anywhere else to go,”Ben repeated at last.

“How long have they been staying in that van?”Belle asked.

“A couple of days.”

Belle knelt down by Megan and Jamie.“Look, we’re not angry with you but we need to know.Where are your parents?”

“Dead,”Jamie said simply.

“Then who’s been looking after you?”

“Our stepfather,”Megan replied,“But he’s mean.He hits us.Especially Jamie.”She turned to her brother. “Show him, Jamie.”

Jamie lifted up his jumper, revealing bruise marks all across his chest.Belle glanced back at Aden. “Maybe you’d better give Rachel a call.”

“So we ran away,”Megan finished.

Belle sighed.“Ben, perhaps you should show these two upstairs so they can have a lie down while we wait for the doctor.”

Ben gestured for his newfound friends to follow him but he paused as he left the room.“I just wanted to help them.Like you helped me.”

“It’s okay, mate,”Aden told him,“We’re not angry.”

As they left, Belle leaned heavily against Aden, letting him hug her.“How could anyone treat two kids like that?”

“Yeah, I know.We’ll give Human Services a call once Rachel’s seen them, get them to sort this stepfather out.”

“What then?”Belle leaned back slightly, looking Aden in the eye.“They don’t have anywhere else to go.”

It took Aden a moment to cotton on.“Oh, you’re not suggesting we keep them, are you?”

“Well, it’s worked out okay with Ben.And we’ve got the room.”

“Is it worth me asking about background checks again?”Jai sighed.

“Reformed character,”Aden stressed.

“Even so.”

“Look, you know how the social services work in this show,”Belle told him,“Anyone who happens to have a spare room is automatically considered a suitable foster parent.”

“How old would you be at this point?”asked Annie.


“Just asking.”

Aden noticed the way Nicole was looking at him.“Do you want to chime in with something?”

“No, I was just thinking…You’d actually make a pretty good long-suffering husband, always getting caught up in your wife’s crusades.”

“Thanks.I think.”

Geoff looked at her, crestfallen.“You think Aden would make a good husband?”

“Not for me, doofus!”Nicole gave a mischievous smile.“At least, not necessarily…”

“So is that the end of your presentation?”asked Steve.

“Not quite,”Aden replied,“It was a couple of years later…”

“Did you hear the kids get up?”Belle asked, as they headed down the stairs that morning.

“No,”Aden answered,“Guess it must have been pretty early.”He stopped and looked at her.“You don’t think..?”

“No, they wouldn’t…”

They headed through into the living area, to be greeted by the sight of Ben, Megan and Jamie grouped around the table.It was laid out for an extravagant breakfast.“Happy anniversary!”the three of them chorused.

Aden looked at Belle and grinned.“Three years.And people said it wouldn’t last six months.”

“I know I did,”Geoff agreed.

Aden and Belle glared at him for a moment.Then Belle threw a cushion at him.

Jamie came forward with a wrapped present.“We got this for you.”

Aden and Belle unwrapped it.It was a framed photo of the five of them.“Thanks, guys,”Aden told them, “We’ll give it pride of place.”

“Sit down,”Megan told them as she and Ben held the chairs out for them,“Food will be ready in a minute.”

“Thanks, kids,”Belle replied as she and Aden took their places,“I’ll try not to look in the direction of the kitchen until you’re done.”

“We haven’t made a mess, Mum,”Ben sighed.

“Not your mum!”

“Sorry, Belle.”

Aden looked at Belle and spoke quietly.“We did a good job, didn’t we?”

“I think we did.”

“And they all lived happily ever after?”Nicole asked drily.

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Thanks for the comments, hope you like this one.


“That’s got to be the winner,”Aden insisted.

“Well, you’ve certainly set the bar for the others,”Steve agreed.

“No but seriously, if you’re looking for someone to take over as your central characters, it’s got to be us.I mean, who else are you going to give it to?The Odd Couple or Dull and Duller?”

“Come on, Aden,”Belle chided him,“Let the others have a go.”

Aden looked disgruntled.“Might as well bring Brad Armstrong back and have done with it.”

“Who’s Brad Armstrong?”asked Annie.

Geoff gave her a curious look.“He was one of the teachers at Summer Bay High when we first came here. You met him.”

“I did?”

“As the saying goes,”Steve interceeded,“we were impressed with your story but we do have other candidates to see.”

“Us next?”asked Jai.

“Well, if we’re going by age order, I think that puts Geoff and Nicole next in line.”

Nicole grinned.“Well, I know where I want to start…”

Geoff clambered into bed with his new wife.“You sure you don’t want to check the guests have left first?” he asked jokingly.

Nicole shot him an annoyed look.“Geoff, I have been waiting a long time for you to make an honest woman of me.Especially since you refused to make a dishonest woman of me.”

“Except for that one time,”Geoff reminded her, grinning slightly at the memory.

“Except for the one time,”Nicole conceeded,“So come on, lawfully wedded husband, how about a re-enactment?”

Geoff kissed her softly, moving on top of her.His hand moved to undo her corset, caressing her bare flesh…

“And you’re going to cut it there, right?”Aden interrupted hastily.

Geoff and Nicole both looked put out.“Why do we have to cut it there?”Geoff asked.

“Because some of us can do without the mental images,”Belle told him,“Including your sister.”

Geoff looked across at Annie, who seemed to have turned slightly green.“Oh.Yeah.Sorry, Annie.”

Annie had a worried gaze fixed on him.“That’s what you dream of doing?”

“And another thing,”Aden continued,“Are we really supposed to believe you two don’t sleep together again until you’re married?”

“Some of us have to stay true to our established character traits,”Geoff told him,“We can’t all just turn around and decide that we actually really, really like having sex now.”

“You maybe but her?No way would she hold out.She’d have an affair with Tony or something.”

“Eww!”exclaimed Nicole in protest.

“Who’s Tony?”asked Annie.Everyone looked at her.“Only joking.”

“Maybe you could skip to a later point?”Jai suggested.

Nicole sighed.“Okay.Well the next important part is this…”

Nicole stroked Geoff’s hair gently as he drove along.He pulled away slightly but the smile on his face showed he didn’t really mind.“Nic, I’m trying to drive here.”

“Well, I can’t wait until we get home.When you suggested a holiday, a religious retreat wasn’t what I had in mind.”

“It’s an important experience designed to promote spiritual fulfilment.”

“Yeah but seriously, males and females in separate dorms?Including married couples?Next time we go on holiday we’re going to Barbados, right?”

Geoff smiled indulgently at her.“All right, Nicole.”

Which was when a dog ran out into the road in front of them.Geoff spun the wheel hard to the left, veering off the road, missing the dog but colliding with a tree.Geoff breathed deeply, trying to control his nerves. “You all right, Nic?”He waited for the answer but none came.“Nic?”

He looked round and realised the passenger side had taken most of the impact.There was a slight gash on Nicole’s forehead which probably explained why she was unconscious.The car had caved in in front of her, crushing her abdomen and pinning her to her seat.Geoff checked she was breathing before getting out his phone and hurriedly dialling the number.“Ambulance, quickly.It’s my wife.”

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Well, hope this one answers all your questions.


When Nicole next opened her eyes, she was in a hospital bed.Geoff was holding onto her hand, an anxious look on his face.“What happened?”she asked him.

“You were in a car accident,”he told her,“Don’t you remember?”

Images started flooding back to her.“I remember, something ran out in front of us.Are you all right?”

“Just a few bruises.”

“Am I all right?”

“You had to go into theatre, you had internal bleeding.The doctors managed to stabilise you, you’re going to be all right.Doctor Bentos said he’d be around later to explain everything.”He noticed that Nicole had started shaking.“Hey, are you all right?”

“I’m just thinking about how much worse it could have been, an accident like that.I guess I’m remembering what happened to Aden and Belle.”

Geoff nodded.“Hard to believe it’s been two years now.”

“Hang on a minute!”Aden interrupted,“Are you saying I’m dead?”

“I think what he meant to say,”added Belle,“was ‘Hang on a minute, are you saying we’re dead?’”

“Yeah, that too.”

Nicole sighed.“Come on, guys, it’s the only way.Aden’s obviously the love of my life.”She paused, looking confused, and turned to Geoff.“Or is he the love of your life?I can never remember.Anyway, we’re obviously not going to be happy together while we’re both still in love with Aden so he’s got to go.”

“And what about me?”Belle asked,“Since it would apparently be impossible for Geoff to fall in love with me.Or is there something you want to share with us?”

“Sorry, Belle, but once you’ve been part of a super couple they’re never going to accept you on your own. Does anyone remember what Angel did after Shane died?Did Sally ever have a successful relationship after Flynn?”

“She’s got a point,”Steve agreed,“It’s not as though we kept Leah around without Vinnie.”

There was an uncertain pause as they all looked at him.“Leah’s still in the show,”Annie ventured at last.

Steve looked confused and started checking his notes.“She is?”

“Look, what I want to know,”cut in Aden,“is are they allowed to do that?”

“Well, it’s their story, I suppose they can have anything they want happen.”

“Fine, then I want to amend our story and include a subplot where Geoff and Nicole buy a farm and have an unfortunate accident with a combine harvester.”

“You can’t do that!”Geoff protested,“You’ve finished your story!”

“Well, I didn’t realise literary homicide was on the agenda!”

“Guys!”Nicole interceded,“Isn’t anyone interested in my life or death struggle here?”

“You mean you might die?”asked Annie, eyes wide.

“Of course she’s not going to die,”Jai replied,“It’s their story.”He looked at the pair.“Right?”

“Well, maybe not die,”Geoff confirmed,“But there was something more to come.”

Doctor Bentos stuck his head around the door.“Nicole, glad to see you’re awake at last.You’re looking well.”

“Thanks, Doc,”Nicole answered,“Guess I’ve got you to thank for that.”

Bentos came awkwardly into the room.“Do you feel up to having a little talk?”

“I guess so…”

“What’s wrong, Doctor?”asked Geoff,“I thought Nicole was out of danger.”

“Your injuries are no longer life-threatening,”Bentos confirmed,“But there is something you need to know.”He sighed.“Nicole, you had some very severe internal injuries as a result of the impact.We did our best but in the end the only way to halt the bleeding was to perform a hysterectomy.I’m afraid that means you’ll no longer be able to have children.”

Geoff paused, distracted by a noise from one of his audience.“Annie, why are you crying?”

“It’s just so sad,”Annie sobbed,“I’m never going to have any little nephews or nieces.”

“It’s just a story, Annie.It hasn’t actually happened.”

“And with Belle and Aden gone too…”

Belle looked at Aden, bewildered.“Did we just become invisible or something?”

Jai patted Annie’s hand awkwardly.“We can have them all alive in our story if you like.”

Annie looked up hopefully.“Really?When can we do that?”

“When you’ve let us finish our story,”Nicole told her testily.

Geoff led Nicole back into their flat.She was still a bit stiff after the accident and walking slowly.“Take a seat,”he told her, guiding her towards the sofa,“How are you feeling?”

“Confused,”Nicole replied,“Like I’ve just had this big news and I really don’t know how I feel about it.”

“Me neither,”Geoff agreed, sitting down beside her,“Nic, I’m so sorry.”

“Why are you sorry?”

“The accident, if I hadn’t swerved like that…”

“Geoff, I know you’d never want to hit an animal.”

“Yeah but if I’d done it better, made sure you weren’t hurt, then this wouldn’t have happened.I’m not even sure what it means for us.I mean, we’ve never really talked about having kids.”

“Did you want to be a father?”

“I think I’d have wanted to be one day.To have talked about it at least.”

“I’ve never really thought about it.I knew that I didn’t want to be a parent any time soon.But now, now that I know it’s not going to happen, I just feel this kind of emptiness.”

Geoff put his arms around her and held her.

Geoff paused again and glared at his sister.“Annie, stopcrying.”

Geoff had arrived at the church early to help with the setting up.He was placing the hymn books and service sheets in all the pews when the vicar approached him.“Geoffrey, can I talk to you for a minute?”

“Of course, Reverend, what’s up?”

“Have you noticed a girl?She always sits in the back pew on the left hand side.Always comes on her own.If anyone goes and sits with her, she never talks to them.Disappears as soon as she can at the end of the service.About twelve years old, I would say.I’ve tried to talk to her a few times but she always makes some excuse and leaves.”

“You think she’s got some sort of problem?”

“I’m not sure.I was wondering if perhaps a younger face might have more luck with her.If you and your wife could try and talk to her for instance…”

“Sure thing, Reverend.We’ll give it a try.”

Geoff had noticed the girl as soon as she’d taken her usual place but he’d waited until the end of the service before making a move.As everyone filed out for an after service cup of coffee, he motioned to Nicole and they went over to the girl.“Is someone coming to collect you?”

The girl looked at him with sad eyes.“No, I make my own way home.”

“Well, maybe we could give you a lift.I’m Geoff, this is my wife Nicole.”He paused.“What’s your name?”

“Megan,”she replied reluctantly.

Nicole held out a hand to the girl.“How about you come and have a cup of coffee with us first?”

Megan got to her feet, dodging past them.“No, I…I have to go.”She left the church at speed, leaving them in no doubt she didn’t want to be followed.

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“What would she be doing in church?”asked Aden.

“I was supporting my husband,”Nicole replied,“Respecting his beliefs.”

“Oh, come on, that’d be like me going with Belle to one of her photography seminars.”

“And what would be wrong with that?”Belle asked him.

“Nothing, it’s just…it’s not something we do.”

“I’ve been to church with Geoff before,”Nicole reminded him.

“Yeah, because I’d bet you you’d never get him to go to bed with you and you were trying to convince him you were Mother Theresa.”

Geoff looked at Nicole with an air of amusement.“You mean you’re not?”

“Ancient history, Geoff.”

Annie looked sideways at Jai.“How come you never come to church with me?”

“Well…I can do if you want.”

“Hello!”Nicole held up her hand for attention.“Still in the chair here!”

Geoff was flicking through the morning post when one of the envelopes caught his attention.He checked the return address printed on it before looking at Nicole quizzically.“What have you got?”she asked.

“It’s from Pop’s old solicitor,”Geoff replied,“I haven’t heard from him in years.”

“Well, yeah, I’m not surprised, it’s over three years since your grandfather died.So what’s he got to say?”

“Oh, yeah.”Geoff slid the envelope open.“Mr.Campbell, we invite you to visit our office to discuss the settling of your grandfather’s affairs, please make an appointment at your earliest convenience.”

“That’s all?They don’t say what affairs?”

“No, I didn’t even know there were any.I assumed it’d all been settled at the time.”

Nicole gestured to the phone.“Guess you’d better go in and ask them then.”

“Mr.Campbell,”the solicitor greeted him slowly as he entered the office with his file,“I’m sorry it’s taken us so long to get back to you but your grandfather’s finances were in something of a muddle.We’ve had quite a job sorting it all out.”

Geoff grinned despite himself.“Pop never was much good at the paperwork.”

“Now, as you know, in his will your grandfather left his entire estate to yourself and your sister.It has taken us some time to ascertain exactly what that estate comprised.It appears that your grandfather made certain investments prior to his death, the details of which were subsequently lost and have only recently come to light.Whatever his handling of his other finances, it appears the investments were made wisely. With the addition of interest, the dividend has amounted to over two hundred thousand dollars.”

Geoff gaped at him in astonishment.“But…Pop left nothing but debts.”

“Which the sale of the farm adequately covered.This new bequest is entirely yours.”

“I don’t buy that,”Aden declared,“If your grandfather left you a load of money, it would have come out way before now.”

“These things take time,”Geoff protested.

“They take weeks, Geoff,”Belle told him,“Months at the most.They don’t take three years.”

“You didn’t know my pop.Sometimes it took him three years to pay the electricity bill.”

Aden looked at Steve beseechingly.“Seriously, can they do that?”

Steve shrugged.“Their story, their rules.I think the metatextual context of the narrative calls for a certain suspension of real-world logic.”

Aden stared hard at him for a moment before turning to Belle.“What did he say?”

“That they can do whatever they like.”

Annie had been thinking.“So, if you’re rich, does that mean I’m rich too?”

“Yes, Annie,”Geoff confirmed,“We’re both rich.”

“Yes!”Annie hugged Jai enthusiastically.“I think that’s worth Belle and Aden being dead and not getting to be an aunt.”

Belle gave Aden an amused look.“It’s always the quiet ones…”

“Do any of you actually want to hear the rest of the story?”Nicole asked them.

“Please,”Annie agreed,“I’m looking forward to more Megan.”

“Then you’re in luck…”

“Are you sure this is a good idea?”Nicole asked as they both poked their heads round the corner, being careful to keep Megan in sight.

“Well we need to find out more about her,”Geoff reminded her.

“Yeah but still.Following someone home is bad enough.Following someone home from church?Isn’t that sacrilege or something?”

“God moves in mysterious ways.I’m sure He’d want us to follow her.”

“Well, you’re the expert.There!”Nicole pointed.

“She’s heading up that driveway,”Geoff realised,“Come on.”

The two of them scurried off down the street until they reached the house where they’d last seen Megan. She was nowhere in sight.“Do you think this is where she lives?”asked Nicole.

“Well, only one way to find out.”

“What’s that?”

“Knock on the door and ask.”

“Oh, very scientific.”

“If it works, use it.”

Geoff’s knocking was rewarded by the door being opened to reveal a nervous-looking Megan standing there.“What do you want?”

“We just wanted to see if you were all right.”

“Well, I am so…you can go now.”

“Can we come in?”

“No,”Megan replied hurriedly,“Just go.”

“Sorry, not going to happen.”Nicole pushed past both of them into the house, leaving Geoff and Megan with no choice but to follow her.She stood looking around the living room.There were half-finished meals left in several places, clothes strewn everywhere, a thick layer of dust coating most of the visible surfaces. “Wow.I thought my room was messy.”

“Where are your parents?”asked Geoff.

“They’re dead, all right?”Megan tried to make it sound angry but the tears rolling down her cheeks gave her away.“They’re both dead.”She sank down on the sofa.Nicole sat next to her, putting an arm around her.

“Have…have you been living on your own?”Geoff asked.Megan nodded.“How?”

“Mum and Dad went on a trip to Europe.They didn’t want me to miss school so they left me with a neighbour.They were killed in a car accident the day they were supposed to fly back.I went home to meet them and…a policeman turned up instead.I told the police that an aunt was going to come and look after me, I told the neighbours Mum and Dad had come home.I know it was wrong but I didn’t know what else to do.I didn’t want to be put in care.I’ve got nowhere else to go.”

“And guess what happens next,”Aden sighed.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've neglected this one a bit lately while I've been focusing on Family Matters so hope you enjoy this one.


Geoff and Nicole sat uncomfortably in the office, holding each other’s hands supportively, until the social worker came back.“I’ve spoken with Megan and her case worker,”she told them,“And they’re both happy for her to come and live with you.In theory.However, your living arrangements are cause for concern.”

“It’s just the two of us there,”Nicole protested, bewildered.

“Yes but it is rather a small flat.We’re not convinced there’s really enough room for the two of you and a teenage girl.”

“We’re thinking of getting something bigger.”

“I came into some money recently,”Geoff added.

The social worker nodded and closed the file.“ Well, subject to your finding suitable accomodation, your application has been approved.”

Once they’d been left alone, Geoff turned to Nicole.“We’re thinking of getting something bigger?”

“We are now.”

“Why are you two suddenly becoming her guardians?”asked Aden.

Nicole sighed.“Because we found her and because…it’s what people do on this show.”

“Still a bit out of the blue though,”argued Belle.

“We’re just being good Christians,”Geoff told her.

Nicole noticed the looks she was getting.“Good Christian and wife,”she amended.

“You’ve got to have a criminal record too,”Aden reminded her.

“Oh yes, driving without a license.That’s bound to have me declared an unfit parent.”

“Anyway, this is what we were told to do,”Geoff pointed out.

“It was one of the stipulations,”Steve confirmed.

Aden glanced at Belle.“He means they had to do it, right?”She nodded.He shook his head in bemusement. “I’m actually starting to understand him.”

Geoff threw the paper down in despair.“This is hopeless.”

“We don’t know that,”Nicole replied soothingly.

“We’re never going to get Megan here.”

“The custody has already been approved, remember?We just need to find somewhere big enough for her.”

“And where are we going to find that?It’s not as though Summer Bay is bursting with big properties.”

“We’ll find somewhere.”Nicole picked up the paper and flicked through to the property section.“In fact, I think I’ve already found somewhere.”She handed the paper to Geoff, pointing to the advert in question.

Geoff looked up at her in astonishment.“The caravan park?”

“Plenty of room there.”

“And it just happened to be available at that time?”asked Aden.

“Did we query it being up for sale at just the right time for you?”demanded Nicole.

“No, you just said we didn’t have enough money to buy it.”

“Um, actually that was me,”Annie admitted.

“We’ve got the money from Pop,”Geoff reminded them.

“We had the money from Ben’s mum,”Belle fired back.

“It’s a lot of money.

“I can lend you some of my money if you want,”Annie suggested.

“Don’t,”Jai told her,“We might need it.”

Nicole kept going to the caravan park door, listening for a moment, and then heading back into the sitting area.Geoff kept shooting her amused looks every time she did so.“They’ll get here when they get here, Nic,” he told her at last.

“What if they’ve changed their mind?”Nicole asked,“What if they’ve decided ‘Oh, that girl dresses like a street walker, we’re not going to let her have custody of someone’?”

“You don’t dress like a street walker, Nicole.”

“Have you ever seen a street walker, Geoff?”

“No…but if I did she wouldn’t be dressed like you.”

Nicole was about to fire off a retort when she heard the sound of a car outside.“They’re here!”she realised, smoothing down her clothes while Geoff scrambled to his feet and came to stand by her.She thought for a moment.“Should I maybe have worn something a bit more mumsy?”

The social worker entered, with her arm round Megan’s shoulders.“Well, Megan,”the woman announced, “This is your new home.”

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Thanks for your comments.Hope you like this one.


Nicole was halfway through the cooking when Megan came home.“Dinner’ll be about fifteen minutes, okay?”she called out.

“Okay,”Megan replied, sounding a bit sullen.She slumped down onto the sofa.

Nicole made her way over to her.“Okay, I’m thinking this isn’t about dinner.”

“Melissa got the lead role in the school play.”

“Ah.”Nicole sat down next to her.“The part you wanted.”

“The part that means she gets to kiss Darren!”

“And you want to kiss him, right?”

Megan looked a bit embarassed.“Maybe…”

“Well then, why don’t you?”Nicole noticed the shocked look on her foster daughter’s face.“I’m not saying just go up to him in the playground and plant one on him.But maybe you should let him know you like him.”

“What if he doesn’t like me?”Nicole began to answer but Megan interrupted her.“And don’t say that it’ll be his loss because it won’t.”

“Actually, I was going to suggest you go out with his best mate.That always confuses them.”She saw Megan’s smile and patted her on the shoulder.“Go on, go upstairs and get changed.”

As Megan headed out, she passed Geoff standing in the doorway.He smiled at Nicole.“Not sure if that’s the advice I’d have given.”

“If it works, use it.How much did you hear?”

“Enough to know what a good mum you are.”

“Good.”Nicole got to her feet.“Because there’s something I wanted to talk to you about.I mean, I’ve loved having Megan here, even more than I expected, and there are a lot of rooms in this place and the Bay does have a reputation for providing places for foster children…”

“You want us to have more?”

“Well…maybe we should talk about being put on a list of some sort.”

Nicole noticed Aden about to speak and glared at him.“If you’re about to make any sort of comment about my maternal skills, you can button it right now.”

Aden held up his hands in a gesture of innocence.

“Hold on a minute, I’ll just ask her.”Geoff turned away from the phone and looked at Nicole.“Carol says she’s actually got two boys that are looking for a placement now.Ben and Jamie.”

“How old are they?”Nicole asked.

“Ben’s fifteen and Jamie’s twelve.Ben’s parents died in a house fire about six months ago, he’s been in a home ever since.Jamie’s been living with his nan since he was six but she’s had a stroke and had to go into a nursing home.”

“What do you think?”

“It’s up to you.”

Nicole thought for a moment, then nodded.

“Why’s Aden’s brother coming to live with you?”asked Annie.

“What?”Nicole asked bewildered.

“Ben’s Aden’s brother, right?”

Geoff sighed.“Jai, can you tell her?”

“He was only Aden’s brother in Aden and Belle’s story,”Jai explained,“In Geoff and Nicole’s story, he’s someone else.And he’ll be someone else in our story too.”

“Oh.So is Geoff still my brother in our story or is he someone else?”

“No, he’s already your brother so that’s kind of fixed,”Belle told her.

Annie thought about this for a moment.“Because if he doesn’t have to be my brother…”

“Finish that sentence and I’ll be investigating sibling emancipation,”Geoff cut in.

“I sense your story’s coming to an end here,”Steve observed.

“Almost,”Nicole agreed,“Just one little bit more.”

Geoff and Nicole were showing Ben and Jamie into their room.“You think you’re going to be all right deciding who gets which bed?”Nicole asked.

Ben looked at Jamie and gestured silently to one of the beds.Jamie nodded and went over to the other one.

“Good,”Geoff decided,“You two settle in, we’ll call you when dinner’s ready.”

As they left, Megan came past them into the room.“Hi,”she greeted the two boys,“I’m Megan.”

“Jamie.That’s Ben.”

“How long you been here?”Ben asked her.

“About a year.”

“What are they like?”asked Jamie.

Megan shrugged.“Bit weird but…they’re okay.”

In the corridor outside, Nicole grinned at Geoff.“Hear that?We’re okay.”

“Ours was much better,”Aden complained,“We had the whole long lost relative storyline.”

“We had the car crash drama,”Nicole reminded him.

“Well, it’s not too late to include the combine harvester…”

“Perhaps before we come to a final decision we should hear the last couple,”Steve suggested.

The other four turned and looked at Jai and Annie, who both gave their sweetest smiles.

“Well, this should be interesting,”Aden commented.

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