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No Place to Call Home


Red Ranger 1

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I am probably going to regret starting another fiction on here when I've got a number of other things on the go but I will do my best to update as often as possible.It's just an idea I had that was impossible to let go of.

Story Title: No Place to Call Home
Type of story: Short/Medium Fic
Main Characters: Maddy, Roo, Alf, Josh, Evelyn, Spencer, Oscar and others
BTTB rating: T
Genre: Drama/Angst
Does story include spoilers: UK Spoilers (Note: This storyline is different to in the show.)
Any warnings: Mild violence, otherwise nothing really.
Summary: When Roo finally loses patience with Maddy, it has unforeseen consequences.

CHAPTER ONE

Maddy sat at her seat in the Diner, arms folded.The plate in front of her had long since been emptied. She wasn’t really paying much attention to it.Instead, her gaze was focused on Josh and Evelyn sat a few tables away, her eyes narrowing every time one of them laughed at the other’s comments or they touched each other playfully.She didn’t think they were even aware she was there, despite the fact that the baby she was carrying might be Josh’s.It was as if she didn’t even exist, as if everything she and Josh had been through together had never happened.
Irene came over to the table and eyed the empty plate.“Do you want anything else, darl?”
Maddy gave a dismissive sniff.“I don’t think I could stomach it.”She got up and headed out onto the pier, bumping into Oscar as she did so.She managed to smile.At least when Oscar was around she felt valued.“Hey there.”
Oscar smiled back.“Hey yourself.How’s the bump doing?”
It seemed to Maddy that being pregnant meant people took even less interest in her than usual.If they wanted to make polite conversation, it was about the baby.No-one seemed to be bothered about how she was doing.“Fine,”she managed to say casually,“Do you want to go and see a movie?”
Oscar gestured towards the Diner.“Actually, I was just about to get something to eat.”
“I’ve already eaten.Come on, we can get something at the cinema.”Maddy put on her best pleading face.
Oscar stared hard at her for a few moment.“Are my evil twin and the boyfriend in there?”
Maddy shifted awkwardly, embarrassed at how easily read she was.“That’s got nothing to do with it.”
“Look, come on.I’ll sit with you, we can even make jokes about how sickening they are.”
Maddy glared at him stubbornly.The last thing she needed was Oscar treating her like a charity case and taking away what little dignity she had left after being dumped, cheated on, used and impregnated… possibly not in that order.“I don’t want to.”
Oscar sighed.“I guess I’ll see you later then,”he remarked and headed in the direction of the Diner.
If she couldn’t even convince Oscar to hang out with her, Maddy reflected, she really had hit rock bottom.

When Maddy arrived home, Roo was waiting.She noticed Maddy’s expression.“What’s with the sad face?”
Maddy sagged.“I saw Josh with Evie at the Diner.”
Roo’s expression was sympathetic.“I’m afraid you’re going to have to get used to that.”
Maddy could feel the tears and frustration welling up inside of her.“How could he do it, Roo?I thought we had something special and now he’s with her, treating her the way he used to treat me.”
Roo gave her a quick hug.“Oh, I know, honey, it’s hard.How about you dry your face and come down when you’re feeling a bit better, okay?”Maddy nodded and went upstairs.
Alf had entered the house during the conversation and now looked at Roo with disapproval.“You’re not doing that girl any favours by mollycoddling her, you know?”
“Mollycoddling?”Roo looked at him in astonishment.“I’m just making sure she knows she’s welcome here, that she’s loved.”
“Of course she’s welcome here but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have to face up to things.All she does is bang on about Josh and how badly she’s been treated.”
“She has been treated badly,”Roo argued.
“Oh and she’s done nothing to deserve it?You’re going to have to toughen up with how you treat her, Roo.Otherwise you’re just storing up a whole heap of trouble for the future.”

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Thank you so much for all your comments, I'm not quite sure I've got a firm grip on this story so it's reassuring to know you like it so far.Here's the next chapter.

CHAPTER TWO

It was the following morning when Maddy came downstairs. She sat down at the breakfast table and then just sat there, head in her hands. Alf, sat at his desk, glanced pointedly over at Roo, who was in the kitchen.
Roo came over.“So, Maddy, what are your plans for today?”
Maddy gave a dismissive shrug.“Just stick around here, I guess.”
“Right.Well, the kitchen and bathroom need cleaning, the sheets in Van 6 need changing, you can make a start on dinner and take a look at the accounts too.”
Maddy stared at her in shock.“You want me to do all that?”
“I’m going to be at the Diner all day, Dad’s got the bait shop to run.It’s time for you to start pulling your weight.”
“I’m pregnant!”
“That doesn’t make you an invalid.”
Maddy looked at her, pleading.“Roo…”
“Don’t give me that look.You’re staying here, the least you can do is help out.”
“I’m sorry to be such a burden.”Maddy’s tone was sarcastic, so much so that Roo didn’t realise she was only half-joking.
“Don’t,”Roo snapped,“I’m sick of you using this place like a hotel or a drop-in centre.You come in, you sit around feeling sorry for yourself, you leech off us like some sort of parasite.If you don’t pull yourself together then…”She left the sentence unfinished.
“Then what?”Maddy demanded.
“Then we might have to reconsider you living here.”Without saying anything else, Roo picked up her keys and walked out.
Maddy looked round, searching for an ally.“Mr.Stewart?”
Alf turned and looked at her coldly.“Don’t you try and get round me.”
“But…she didn’t mean that, did she?”
“I don’t know, maybe she’s sick and tired of being taken advantage of.Like I am.If you don’t want to find yourself shipped out of here, young lady, you’d better buck your ideas up.”
He looked away and so didn’t see how scared she looked.

Maddy paused and looked around her room.It had felt like home.More so than any place she’d ever been. She’d thought that Alf and Roo were her family, that they’d always have her back, look out for her.But she was wrong. They just wanted to control her, to turn her into their vision of a perfect daughter.And now it hadn’t worked, they wanted rid of her.
Maddy picked up her bag, containing the few clothes and possessions she’d considered essential, and headed downstairs.Alf and Roo had gone to work.No-one else was home.She stopped for a moment and placed the note she’d written on the table, propped up so they could see it.Then she walked out of the house and didn’t look back.

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Thank you for all your comments!Hope you like this.

CHAPTER THREE

“I don’t flaming believe it,”Alf snarled as he and Roo arrived back at the house,“I suppose I’ll have to take the new sheets out to the caravan now.I bet she hasn’t done anything about the cleaning or cooking either.”
“Did you really expect her to?”Roo sighed,“You know Maddy.Yell at her and all she does is dig her heels in.I don’t know why I…”She paused, noticing the letter propped up on the table.“Dad.”
Alf’s attention had been taken up in retrieving sheets from the laundry but he turned at Roo’s call. “What is it, love?”
Roo read out the letter.“Dear Roo and Mr.Stewart, I’m sorry I can’t be the person you want me to be. You’re going to end up kicking me out eventually so it’s best that I go now, before you end up hating me even more.Give my love to Spencer and Oscar.And thanks for making me feel like I had a home for a while.Maddy.
Alf looked shocked.“She…she hasn’t.”
“Yes, Dad, she has,”Roo snapped,“She’s gone.I should never have listened to you.”
Alf was flabbergasted. “I didn’t think this would happen.”
“Well what did you think would happen?That we’d yell at her, make her feel small, and that would make things better?She was on the edge and we pushed her over it.”
“Roo, I love that girl like she’s my granddaughter, you know that.”
“It doesn’t matter what I know, it’s what she knows.And what she knows is that you’ve been looking for any excuse to come down hard on her for months.Is it any wonder she felt unwanted?What do you think’s going to happen to her now?”

Maddy tensed up slightly as her bus neared its stop.She hefted her bag and checked her purse for a moment.She’d emptied out her bank account, which had turned out to have not very much money in it. It probably wouldn’t get her very far but she could only hope.
Maddy climbed down the steps from the bus and headed off down streets that had once been familiar until she reached the house she was looking for.She walked up to the door, braced herself and knocked.
The door swung open and Tanya Osborne regarded her daughter with a stern expression.
Maddy attempted a smile.“Hi, Mum.”

Maddy sat on the couch in the living room, feeling like she was waiting outside the principal’s office.But then that was what the place she’d once called home had often felt like.She’d vowed never to go back there again but in her current situation it had seemed like the best option she had.She glanced around and caught sight of a photo of her brother and sisters.There was no photo of her, she noted.She wondered what life was like for them now, having to pick up the slack now that the golden girl had let the family down.
Tanya came back in, her gaze resting on Maddy’s baby bump.“I suppose that’s the work of that Harrington boy?”
“I never slept with Spencer,”Maddy replied cusrtly,“We broke up last year.”She decided that mentioning that she didn’t actually know who the father was wouldn’t go down well, so settled for adding,“I was seeing someone else.”
Fortunately, Tanya didn’t seem interested in that part.“You left home because you couldn’t bear to be apart from Spencer and you didn’t even stay together?”
“It was more than that and you know it,”Maddy retorted,“It was about you controlling me, dictating how I spend every hour of the day.I couldn’t have friends, let alone a boyfriend, I had to spend all my time doing what I needed to have the life that you wanted for me.What I wanted never came into it.”
“What about your violin?”Tanya asked.
“I gave it up.”Maddy saw the anger on Tanya’s face and got in first.“Well, what did you expect?You and Dad between you managed to take all the enjoyment out of it.I used to love music and suddenly it wasn’t about me anymore, it was about you having a famous daughter, making me play for hours every day.You destroyed it for me.And before you ask, I left school without getting my HSC.”
Tanya looked at her with something approaching scorn.“So you’ve given up your music, you’re pregnant and you dropped out of school.Was it worth it?”
“For a taste of freedom?Yes.”Maddy sighed.“Look, Mum, I really need somewhere to stay.”
Tanya’s face softened.“Of course, Maddy.Your room’s still there, go and put your stuff in there and then freshen up.”
Tanya waited until her daughter was out of earshot before picking up the phone and dialling a number. “Highfields Clinic?I need to book an abortion.”

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Thank you for the comments!I hope you like this one.

CHAPTER FOUR

Maddy found herself beginning to relax.She’d been nervous about seeing her mother again, aware that there was a fairly good chance she’d shut the door on her.And she’d been dreading telling her just how far her life had drifted off the path her parents had laid out for her.But maybe Tanya was actually willing to make the effort, to accept her as she was.The fact she was currently driving her to a check-up, “just to make sure that everything’s okay”, was promising.
“I did get an ultrasound when I was in the Bay,”she pointed out,“They couldn’t be sure about my due date but there wasn’t anything wrong.”
Tanya didn’t look round, concentrating on the road.“We just need to make sure that everything goes smoothly.”
Maddy decided that it was obviously a touchy subject.Best to move to safer ground.“So where’s everyone else?You didn’t tell me.”
“Your dad’s taken your brother camping, your sisters are away on a school trip.”
Maddy hesitated before asking,“Have they said anything about me?”
Tanya was silent for a moment, considering her answer.“We don’t really talk about you much these days,”she admitted, before glancing across, making eye contact for a moment,“But that’ll all change now.”
Maddy smiled…a smile that lasted just a few seconds as Tanya turned the car into a driveway and she saw the sign next to it.“Mum, this is an abortion clinic.”
Tanya’s attention was focused on parking the car.“That’s right.”
“But I never said I wanted an abortion, I don’t want an abortion.”
Tanya put the handbrake on and looked at her.“It’s for the best, Maddy, you’ll see.It’ll only take a bit of practise to get you playing as well as you were before, and it doesn’t matter that you gave up the scholarship, we can send you to auditions.I’m sure there’s an orchestra somewhere that’ll snap you up.”
Maddy didn’t answer.She’d learnt a long time ago there was no point saying anything.

Roo was stood behind the Diner counter, pouring salt from one shaker into another.It was the ultimate in pointless tasks but she needed something to keep her hands busy and take her mind off things.It wasn’t a particularly good charade and Irene had quickly picked up on it.“You don’t need to be here,”she suggested,“If you want to go home…”
“And do what?”Roo asked,“The police aren’t going to do anything until Maddy’s been gone 24 hours. Dad’s driving up and down roads looking for her.And I’m just thinking, what if she’s hitch-hiked, what if she’s got lost in the bush, what if she’s lying with her neck broken in a ditch somewhere…”
“Now come on, Maddy’s smarter than that…”
“And you know the worst thing of all?I almost hope something has happened to her.Because if not, then this is her choice, she’s chosen not to be here with us.And I just can’t believe she’d do that, last time she ran away she ended up in hospital with meningitis from all that sleeping rough, would she really rather that than staying with us, are we really that bad?”
“Of course you’re not, love.You know what teenage girls are like.”
“I know what I was like.I was a mess.Dad kicked me out when I was her age and I can’t say I blame him.I always thought if I had a daughter I’d know what to do, I wouldn’t get it wrong.I lost Martha twice, once when I gave her up and then again when she went on the run.And now…now Maddy’s run away as well.”Roo shook her head, anger building up inside her.“I messed up, Irene.Dad and I, we messed up. She didn’t think she was safe with us, she didn’t think we loved her for who she was.And now she’s out there and goodness only knows what’s happening to her.”

The doctor picked up a card and looked around the waiting area.“Maddy Osborne?”
Tanya got up with Maddy but Maddy stopped her.“I need to do this on my own.”
Tanya looked at her suspiciously.“I think I should be with you.”
Maddy gave her a placating smile.“Just wait here.”Tanya gave a grudging nod and sat down again.
The doctor led Maddy into her office and sat down behind her desk, with Maddy on the other side.“I just need to go over a few questions with you.We have to make sure you’re not rushing into this and you really do want an abortion…”
“I don’t,”Maddy answered.
The doctor looked at her in confusion.“What?”
“I don’t want an abortion.I’m keeping this baby.”Maddy got to her feet.“Is there a back way out of here?”
The doctor was beginning to understand the situation but still looked concerned.“Maddy, you need to be sure either way.There is a cut-off point.”
“I’m sure,”Maddy said assertively.
“Have you got somewhere to go?”
Maddy considered the question.She’d burned all her bridges in Summer Bay, friends were in short supply, especially friends who could help her.Roo and her mother both wanted to turn her into something she wasn’t.And then there was the baby.She wasn’t sure when it happened, when she’d stopped being scared of the idea of motherhood, when the baby had stopped being a link to Josh or a problem with Oscar and become a person in its own right, but she had an overwhelming urge to be everything to this baby that her mother wasn’t to her, someone the child could rely on.And that started at that moment.She was going to be the person she wanted to be and the mother her child needed.“I’ll be all right,”she said simply.
The doctor nodded in acquiescence.“All right, come this way.”

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Thank you for the comments, Jarliefan, Romeo&IndiForever and JosieTash! Hope you like this one.

CHAPTER FIVE

Maddy woke up on a hard mattress.It was what she’d done for most of the last two months, at least when she was lucky.The hostel was one of the better options in the city, especially if you had no money.The cash she’d brought with her from Summer Bay was long gone.Her previous experience as a runaway had taught her the best ways to earn money without drawing attention to herself, which basically meant begging or doing small cash-in-hand jobs, except she now had the added disadvantage of being heavily pregnant.Her hands automatically went to her stomach at the memory, reassuring herself that everything was all right.
Maddy felt under the bed, making sure her bag was still there.She’d learned to keep her money under the sheets with her but there was nothing in her bag really worth stealing, just a few changes of clothes and other things to keep her warm.
A set of footsteps signalled the approach of Wesley, the hostel manager.He looked down at her sympathetically. “Sorry, Maddy, but you know the rules.You have to be out by nine.”
Maddy nodded in acceptance.She had kept her jeans and her jumper under the covers with her as well and pulled them on before emerging.“Know anywhere where I can get breakfast?”
“Soup kitchen’s open until ten.You got any ideas where you can go after that?”
Maddy gave a nonchalant shrug.“I’ve got a few ideas.”
“Well…good luck with that.”

Maddy knew the man at the housing agency as Mr.Amos.Knowing his first name, assuming he had one, probably wouldn’t have helped.The look he gave her when she came in was one of long-suffering exasperation.“Miss Osborne.What can I do for you today?”
“Have you found somewhere for me to live?”Maddy asked.There was no point wasting time with preamble.
Mr.Amos sighed.“You’re on our list,”he told her,“But according to our records, there are already two places where you could stay.Which means you’re not a priority.”
“I’m having a baby!”Maddy protested.
“Yes, I know that.Which is why I suggest you get in touch with your parents or other responsible adults…”
“My mum tried to make me have an abortion.”
Mr.Amos never had an answer to that one.Instead he moved on to the next topic of conversation. “And your, er…”
“The Stewarts were going to throw me out anyway.”
“Well, perhaps someone somewhere has changed their mind?”
“I haven’t.”Maddy turned to leave.
“There really is no point your coming in here every day,”Mr.Amos told her.
Maddy gave him a contemptuous look.“Well it’s not like you can write to me, is it?I don’t have an address.”

What followed was a long, and fairly uneventful day.Maddy earned enough money begging to buy herself a hot snack at lunchtime.She asked around about jobs but any casual work on offer seemed to involve heavy lifting, which her condition ruled her out of.The rest of her time was mostly spent wandering around by the harbour, taking in the sights until someone moved her on.
She checked her watch.Eight o’clock.Time to be heading back to the hostel.
As soon as she got there and saw Wesley by the door, she knew something was wrong.He looked at her apologetically.“Sorry, Maddy.Full house.Got three new girls in today.”
Maddy tried her best pleading look.“Can’t you squeeze me in somewhere?”
Wesley shrugged helplessly.“You know I would if I could but…regulations, health and safety…if this place gets closed down, then no-one’s got a bed for the night.”He gave her a look that was probably meant to be encouraging.“Maybe tomorrow night?”
Maddy had heard similar things before.She nodded and walked away, heading for the harbour bridge. She sat on the steps until most people had gone home, then pulled a blanket out of her bag and draped it over herself, settling down for the night.

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Thank you for the comments, Romeo&Indi Forever, JosieTash and Jarliefan!

CHAPTER SIX

Maddy woke up in the same place where she’d gone to sleep.She didn’t bother moving.There wasn’t really anywhere to go.She’d hoped to be able to get some breakfast but it was too far to walk to the soup kitchen near the hostel before it closed.Instead, she’d have to have a big lunch.
She stayed huddled up on the steps until the lateness of the hour brought other people, people who’d had beds to get out of, onto the streets.And then she began the traditional beggar’s mantra, asking for money.
“Have you got any spare coins?”she asked a young couple, maybe five or ten years older than herself.
The man gave a friendly smile.“Yeah, sure.”His hand went into his pocket and took out a few cents.
His girlfriend gripped his hand to stop him handing it over to Maddy.“Don’t you dare give your money to her.”
The couple carried on walking, Maddy forgotten as a person, if not as a topic of conversation.“I was only trying to be nice,”the man protested.
“By giving our money to a scrounger?”his girlfriend retorted,“What, do you fancy her or something?She probably doesn’t even need it…”
Maddy continued to listen in until they were out of earshot.

Oscar was next in line at the Diner.“Muffin and a thick shake, please,”he requested of Roo.
Roo gave him his order and took his money.And he just stood there.She considered leaving him there but that was probably a bit cruel.“Was there something else you wanted?”she asked sharply.She might be feeling generous but not that generous.
Oscar hesitated.“Have you heard anything about Maddy?”he asked at last.
Roo instantly softened towards him.It was hard enough for her to keep everything together when she was worried about Maddy, it must be even worse for Oscar, with the heightened emotion of a teenager. Maddy had been his friend…possibly something more.“I haven’t heard anything from the police since Maddy ran away from her parents.”
“When do you think they’ll find her?”
Roo shrugged helplessly.“She hid herself pretty well last time.Her parents would probably have never found her if…”
“If she hadn’t come here?”Oscar supplied.He gave her a sympathetic look.“Her parents couldn’t give her what she needed.”
“I don’t know if that makes me feel better or worse.At least then she’d be looked after.”
“She’ll be due soon.”
“Halfway along.”
“When she first told me I might be the father, I thought my life was over.Now, I wish I’d been there for her more.”
“Don’t go blaming yourself,”Roo told him,“I’m doing enough of that for both of us.”
Oscar nodded.“So what can we do?”
“Just wait and pray, I guess.”

Maddy had moved a bit during the course of the day, scraping together enough money for one trip to the food stands.She’d considered going to see if there was any rooms available at the hostel, but with the number of people around in her position she suspected there wouldn’t be, and then she’d be left with a long walk back to her spot.
The evening was getting dark and Maddy was beginning to drop off when a rough hand shook her back into wakefulness and the voice of a girl about her age sneered,“You’re in our spot.”
Maddy looked up.There were four of them, all girls, all under twenty.“I’ll move,”she told them.
“First we teach you a lesson.”The girl slapped her round the face.
“Please don’t hit me,”Maddy whimpered,“I’m pregnant.”
She thought it might stop the girl but instead she just laughed.“Hear that?”she asked her friends,“The little skank’s got herself knocked up.”She turned back to Maddy.“There’s not enough room for us as it is, without you bringing another mouth onto the streets, skank.”
Maddy rolled herself into a ball, using her arms and knees to protect her stomach as best she could, as the girls rained down punches and kicks on her.There seemed no end, but suddenly she heard a screech of tyres and footsteps running away.
As the girls fled the scene, a young, blonde police officer helped Maddy to sit up.“Are you all right?”he asked.
“My baby…”Maddy managed.
The police officer looked at his partner.“She’s pregnant.We’d better get her to a hospital and get her checked over.”
The other man sighed.“Okay, Xavier.I’ll let Control know.”

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Thank you for the comments, Jarliefan, Romeo&IndiForever and JosieTash!

CHAPTER SEVEN

Maddy knew she must look a mess, wearing the same clothes she’d had on for the past two days, not having washed in the same amount of time…Fortunately, the nurse doing the ultrasound didn’t seem bothered by that and had simply delivered the good news.“Everything’s really fine?”Maddy asked.
The nurse nodded.“Babies are quite resilent, Maddy.Nature’s learned to protect the unborn child from quite a few things.But you still need to look after yourself.”
“I will,”Maddy said quickly…perhaps a bit too quickly, but there wasn’t much the nurse could do about it.
“I’ll get a doctor to discharge you,”she decided, before making her exit.
No sooner had she gone than Xavier came in.“Everything all right?”he asked.
Maddy nodded.“I’ll be able to go in a bit.”
“I’ll sit with you until then.”Xavier sat down awkwardly next to her bed.
Maddy hadn’t been sure whether or not to say anything but it seemed a good moment.“You’re Mrs.Palmer’s son, right?I saw you at the funeral.”
Xavier stared at her for a moment, then clicked his fingers.“You’re the girl that played the violin.”
Maddy gave an awkward smile.“That’s me.”
“You keep it up?”
“No.”
“Shame, you were good.”
“I was.”Maddy sighed.“But it kind of lost its appeal.”
Xavier tried to piece things together.“So you’re from Summer Bay?”
“I was.”
“How’d you end up here?”
“Basically by having no-one I could go to.”
“What about the father?”
Maddy grimaced.“It’s either a guy that cheated on me or the brother of the girl he cheated on me with.”
Xavier laughed.It was the most natural response she’d had from anyone in a long time.“Okay, yeah, I can see how that would be awkward.But I’m really not keen on the idea of just letting you walk back onto the streets.”
Maddy shrugged.“What else can you do?”
Xavier thought for a moment.“Let me make some calls.”

Xavier waited until he was out of earshot of anyone who might take an interest in the conversation before taking out his mobile and typing in the number.He waited and was rewarded with a “Yeah?”
“Hey, Jett.Do you know a girl called Maddy Osborne?”
Xavier could imagine the perplexed look on Jett’s face.“Bit random.”
“Come on, Jett, it’s important.”
“Yeah, I know Maddy.John used to train the two of us together.She’s cool.Bit crazy sometimes but she’s okay.”
“She’s here, in the city.”
“Seriously?She didn’t get very far.”
Xavier had the feeling he wasn’t getting the whole story.“What do you know about her?”
“Well, she ran away, months ago.Roo and Mr.Stewart have been looking for her.Oh, and she’s pregnant, do you know that?”
“Yeah, yeah, the baby’s fine, but she’s been sleeping rough.If I gave Roo a call, do you think that’d help?”
Jett tutted uncertainly.“Thing is, when Maddy came here, she was always running away.It took her a while to trust people.So if she’s run away again and then what she’s run away from turns up…”
“You think she’d head for the hills.Okay, we’ll keep Roo and Mr.Stewart out of it.But you think I should help her?”
“Yeah, I think you should go for it.”

Xavier re-entered Maddy’s cubicle.“I’ve been asking people about you,”he remarked,“Seems Alf and Roo have reported you missing.”
Maddy bit her lip.“I’m eighteen.You can’t tell them where I am if I don’t want you to.”
“Don’t you think they’d want to see you?”
Maddy shook her head.“Uh-uh.They don’t want me, they just want to make themselves feel better.If they try and take me back there and try and control me again, I’ll run away.”
Xavier couldn’t help glancing at her bump and raising his eyebrows.“Run?”
Maddy looked defiant.“I’ll hide then.”
Xavier sighed.“You know, you have actually got friends back there.”
Maddy’s self-assurance disappeared.“I don’t know why.”
“Do you really care for that baby?”
“More than anything.That’s why I’m going to make sure that he or she gets the life she wants, doesn’t get pushed around by people that think they know what’s best like I’ve been.”
“Okay, well, don’t think I’m pushing you around or anything but…I think there’s a way I can help you.”

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Thank you for the comments, Jarliefan, JosieTash and Romeo&IndiForever! Hope you like this.

CHAPTER EIGHT

Maddy looked nervously across at Xavier in the driver’s seat as they approached the building.“Are you sure this woman’s going to help?”
Xavier gave her a reassuring look.“I told you, she used to live in Summer Bay too.And she set this place up to help single mothers.”
“Why?”
Xavier seemed to be debating how much to tell her.“She got in a bit of trouble herself not so long ago. Guess some people helped her out of it and she wants to give back.”He brought the car to a halt and helped Maddy out, before turning to the woman emerging from the building.“Nicole, this is Maddy.The one I told you about.”
Nicole offered Maddy a smile and a handshake.“Pleased to meet you, Maddy.You got any things with you?”
Maddy nodded towards her bag, which had somehow ended up being brought along with her despite not having much in it.“A few.”
“Great!Bring it along, will you, Xavier?”Nicole linked arms with Maddy and led her inside.“I’ve put you on the floor above the ground, hope that’s all right.”
Maddy nodded.“I think I can still manage the stairs.”
“Great!Let’s go then.”

“So, what do you think of her?”asked Nicole once she and Xavier were alone in the refuge’s kitchen.
Xavier shrugged.“Typical Summer Bay lost soul.”
“Yeah, that’s what I thought.”Nicole sighed.“I think we might have our work cut out.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Do you remember what we were like when we first rocked up in Summer Bay?”
Xavier thought for a moment.“I remember what I was like.”
“Right.Wannabee rebel thumbing your nose at authority.”
Xavier looked slightly affronted.“I wasn’t that bad.”
“You trashed Mr.Bartlett’s car.”
“That was an accident.”
“You girlfriend got you beaten up by a drug dealer!”
“You kissed her.”
“She kissed me and that’s not the point!”Nicole sighed.“The point is…do we think Maddy’s like that?”
“Like Freya?”
“Like us.”
Xavier shrugged.“I spoke to Jett and he said she doesn’t like being ordered around.”
“Well, that’s going to make helping her a bit difficult.I suppose we’ll just have to give it our best shot.”

Maddy had put her things into the room Nicole had set aside for her.It hadn’t taken long:Just a couple of photos on the side and a few clothes in the wardrobe.After that, she sat down on the bed and waited.
It was a few minutes later that Nicole stuck her head round the door.“How are you feeling?”
Maddy managed a smile.“Okay.”
“Xavier tells me you were staying with Roo and Mr.Stewart.”
“That’s right.”
“And they didn’t support you?Because they were both pretty good to me when I was in your situation.”
“It wasn’t the pregnancy they had a problem with, it was…it was me.They couldn’t support me.I pushed them, they pushed me, and in the end I was the one that ran.”
“Must have been tough.”
“Yeah, it was.Especially when I ran to my mum and she reminded me why I went to Roo and Mr.Stewart in the first place.”Maddy looked at Nicole curiously.“So how did you end up doing this, if you don’t mind me asking?”
Nicole let out a deep sigh and sat down at the other end of the bed.“Well, it’s a long story.But basically, I ended up pregnant when I wasn’t much older than you, by someone who wouldn’t have been much of a father even if he’d had the chance, and I didn’t think I could cope, and I made a lot of mistakes before people convinced me I could.In the end, my boyfriend stood by me and we’ve managed to raise him together.But I wanted to make sure no-one else ended up like I did, so I sold a house my dad had given me and bought this place.Somewhere girls could stay when they felt they had nowhere else to go.”
“I can’t exactly pay you.I mean, I’d like to, but I can’t exactly work.”
“Could you work sitting down?”
Maddy was confused.“I guess so.”
“Because someone’s willing to give you a chance to do just that, if you’re willing.”
“Of course, thanks!”
Nicole gave a wry smile.“You might not be thanking me once you’ve met Morag.”

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Thank you for the comments, Jarliefan, Romeo&Indi Forever and JosieTash! Sorry there's been a bit of a delay, hope you like this one.

CHAPTER NINE

Maddy was beginning to understand the truth of Nicole’s words.She was sitting down, but the woman standing over her was one of the most intimidating people she’d ever met.Strangely, though, she wanted the woman to like her, something she’d pretty much given up on with her mother.
Morag stared hard at her.“So, Madeleine.We didn’t exactly get the chance to get acquainted last time we met.You turned up at the caravan park with your brother?”
Maddy recalled the night she and Spencer had first gone to Summer Bay, and the crowd of faces gathered in the kitchen.She’d understood later on that Alf’s sisters had been visiting.“He wasn’t actually my brother.He was my boyfriend at the time.”She saw Morag’s gaze flick downwards.“No, he’s not the father, that was…later on.”
Morag nodded.“My niece and my brother have spoken a lot about you these past couple of months. They’re very worried about you.Perhaps you should…”
Maddy shook her head.“If I call them, things will go back to the way they were before, with them thinking they know what’s best for me all the time.”
“Well, I strongly urge you to get in touch with them.But I understand about confidentiality, so they won’t hear anything from me.I believe that the best thing I can do to help them is to help you.I suspect they’d want someone to.”
Maddy’s face lit up.“You mean you’re giving me a job?”
“Yes, but I trust you’ll earn it.You’ll be treated like any other employee and expected to do a good job.”
Maddy nodded eagerly.“I will.”
“Well then.You’ll be employed to do filing and paperwork, you’ll have no contact with clients except in the capacity of receptionist.I hope you don’t find this too demeaning.”
Maddy shook her head.“I’ll take anything.”
“And I thought you’d chosen me especially.Ruby!”At Morag’s call, a brown-haired young woman a few years older than Maddy entered.“My granddaughter here is my first assistant, which I suppose makes you my second assistant.Ruby, show Madeleine to her desk, will you?”
Ruby led Maddy into the reception area.“How are you getting on at the refuge?”she asked.Maddy looked at her with surprise and a little suspicion.“Nicole told me about you.”
“You two are friends?”
“Yeah, surprisingly enough.”
“Don’t tell me you’re another refugee from Summer Bay?”
Ruby grinned.“Guilty as charged.Which I’ve kind of got used to saying…I got into a bit of trouble a while back and Morag and a few others helped me out the other side.”She saw Maddy’s questioning look. “Oh, not the sort of trouble you’re in.That would have been too simple.This sort of trouble involved police and court appearances.But hey, still smiling.”
Maddy smiled back.“I guess I should learn some lessons from you.”
“Well, I guess someone has to.”

The morning passed pretty well.It hadn’t involved much talking to people, but Maddy thought she’d done a decent job with the clerical work and Morag had even made a few grunts and “hmm”s of approval in her direction.She checked her watch and saw it was time for her lunch break.That was something of a new experience, since it had been a while since lunch was scheduled for a specific time rather than when she got hungry enough.
With the timing of someone who could only have known in advance what her schedule was, Xavier chose that moment to stick his head round the door.“How’s the morning been?”
Maddy managed a little smile.“It’s actually been okay.”
“Should I shout you lunch?”
“You don’t have to, Morag’s given me a bit of money in advance.”
“No, I mean…would you like to have lunch together?”
Maddy sighed.“Xavier, you’re a really nice guy but the way things are at the moment…”
“And I’m not trying to chat up the pregnant girl either!I just thought you…might need a friend.”
Maddy smiled.“You know what?I probably do.Let’s do lunch.”

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Thank you for the comments! I was worried that all these past characters turning up was a bit indulgent so I'm glad people like it.

CHAPTER TEN

Alf reached out and gently touched the photo on the mantelpiece.A smiling Maddy in a school uniform. He remembered it being taken her first day at Summer Bay High, when the future seemed to hold such promise.
Roo entered and saw him.“You all right there, Dad?”
Alf sighed.“I just can’t believe how long she’s been gone.Nearly six months now?”
Roo nodded.“The baby’ll be due soon.She’ll be lost and alone.I really wanted to be there with her. Thought it was my best chance of being a grandmother.”
“I am sorry at the way things turned out.I thought she needed discipline.I guess what she really needed was a family.”
Roo shook her head.“It’s not your fault, Dad.We both made mistakes with her.And she made a few mistakes herself.None of us made it easy for each other.”
Alf gave a sad smile.“I just miss her, that’s all.”
“Me too, Dad.I just hope wherever she is, she’s all right.”

Maddy laughed.It was a quiet moment in the office and they were letting off steam.Ruby was sat at the desk opposite hers, regaling her with stories from her time in Summer Bay.Xavier was perched on the desk, offering his own interjections.“You really broke into someone’s house and had a party?”Maddy asked.
“Well, it was more the garden,”Ruby suggested,“And the pool.It was only a summer house, it wasn’t like they were living there.We probably would have got away with it if Heath hadn’t brought his sound system.”She nudged Xavier.“Back me up here, you were there with April.”
“I wasn’t there with April, I just left with her,”Xavier corrected,“I was there with Miranda.”
“Oh yeah, that’s right.The older woman you somehow managed to convince you were a life saving, philosophy studying, uni student.”
“Hey, I got further with her than any of the older guys you had a crush on.”
Maddy laughed again.The pair had the easy banter of long-term friends.Being a part of it made her feel normal for once.Even if she did have to ignore the fact she could barely get up from her desk because of her expanding womb.Then she paused as she felt something.“Er…guys?I think my waters just broke.”
They both got up and came over to her.“You didn’t feel anything?”Ruby asked.
“Well, I had a few twinges but I’ve been getting them for days.I just thought it was another false alarm.”
Xavier looked at the puddle under her desk.“No, I’d say this is definitely for real.”
“What do we do?”asked Ruby,“Call an ambulance?”
“It’ll be quicker to take her in my car, I can put the siren on.Give me a hand getting her downstairs.”

They were greeted by a midwife on arrival and Maddy was taken into a delivery room and settled.Xavier hovered in the doorway.“Is there anyone you want me to call for you?”
Maddy shook her head.“Nicole will be busy.”
“I meant from back in Summer Bay.”
Maddy gave a scowl.“Especially not from there.”
“Well, I thought you might want someone with you.”
Maddy started at that.“You’re staying, aren’t you?”
“Me?Sorry but I’ve got to get back on patrol.”Xavier paused, expecting more.When he didn’t get it, he sighed.“I’ll call back later.”
Maddy waited until he’d turned before calling out “Wait!”He turned back expectantly.“Okay.You can call someone.”

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