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So, this is a bit of a departure from my other two fan fics and completely separate from them. In this story none of Blind Sided or Harmony took place.

It’s been a year since Josh was injured and he’s still blind (I have always thought that the show should have kept him blind and introduced their first permanently disabled character. It would have been very easy to do because it didn’t require any makeup or other paraphernalia like a wheelchair. He could just have been blind).

Tamara came back to the bay and ended up getting back together with Kyle (I always liked them together). Tamara and Kyle are now married and live together in the Braxton house, while Josh and Evie live in the annex.

Ricky ran off with Brax and is somewhere in hiding with him. Ricky signed over the businesses to Kyle (for ‘on the run’ money) so he now owns both Angelo’s and the gym.


Title of Story: THIRTEEN


Type of Fic: Long Fiction

Main Characters: Kyle & Tamara, Ash & Phoebe, Josh & Evie, Andy, Nate, Other main characters on occasion. Additional characters that don’t exist in the show: Jenny & David Summers.

Genre: Psychological Drama. Family, Romance & Friendship 

BTTB Rating:  T/A

Does it contain spoilers: No

Warnings:  Adult Themes, V/D.

Summary: Kyle and Tamara are married in the present day and expecting a baby, but events of Kyle’s past are about to catch up with him.




Thirteen years ago…

“Okay slugger! Why don’t you come with me and I’ll show you to your room?” said David, nodding at the small boy who was huddled on his couch. He picked the boy’s shabby backpack up off the floor, throwing it over his shoulder, and gestured with his head for him to follow him.  The boy continued to stare at his own shoes, refusing to make eye contact, but he got to his feet obediently and followed behind the older man.

Jenny watched her husband usher the young boy out of the room, leading him down the hallway, and into the room they’d made up for him. She turned and smiled in a slightly nervous way at Miss Blenheim, the social worker, as she sat on her own hands to try to hide how anxious she was. She just wished that David would hurry back soon. He was better at this stuff than her. This was going to be their first time fostering a child, and she didn’t want to do or say anything that might make the social worker think that she was out of her depth, or that she wouldn’t be able to cope. She was scared and excited at the same time. They had both wanted so much to have children, but life just hadn’t worked out that way for them. Their attempts at adoption had fallen through as well, so fostering had seemed like an easier way for them to get to be parents, even if it was only for a short time. It wasn’t ideal and they both knew that, but they were going to do everything in their power to make this work, and to create a family atmosphere in the house as best they could. They would both have preferred a much younger child, especially as they had no experience of dealing with teenagers, but this opportunity had come up unexpectedly and they’d decided to give it a go. How bad could it be? She had to admit it though, she was nervous about having a thirteen-year-old in the house and wasn’t really sure where to begin.

David walked back into the living-room and sat back down beside his wife, taking hold of her proffered hand, and giving the social worker as relaxed a smile as he could manage. “He’s a quiet one, isn’t he?” he said, looking a little concerned. “Haven’t heard a peep out of him.”

Miss Blenheim nodded a little solemnly and clasped her hands together on her knee. “Kyle hasn’t had an easy few years” she said, with a heavy sigh. She looked back and forth between the faces of this eager looking couple. She thought they looked like kind people and all initial interviews had seemed very positive. She’d been reassured by the fact that they hadn’t been put off when they’d been told that Kyle had behavioural problems and a very troubled past.  Normally the newbie foster parents just wanted cutesy toddlers and babies, and many of them ran for the hills as soon as they found out that the children were older and that they might have issues. Looking at this couple in front of her now, she just hoped that she might actually have found somewhere for Kyle that might be a little more permanent, and people who might be more willing to try to help him. He needed some stability more than anything.

She gave a slightly apologetic smile and said, “To be honest with you, Mr and Mrs Summers, I haven’t been working on Kyle’s case file for very long. I’ve only had him for the last couple of months and… well… there are a lot of missing details… big gaps in his file… so I don’t actually have a full case history for him.”

She lifted her cup of coffee off the table and took a small sip, before placing it gently back on the table in front of her. She could see that the Summers were listening eagerly and patiently waiting for her to continue. “What I can tell you is that Kyle’s father is in prison, and his mother passed away a little over two years ago when he was eleven. She was an alcoholic and she had a number of abusive partners…I’ve been told that there was a lot of domestic violence in the home. Kyle hadn’t been attending school for quite some time when she died… He’d just fallen through the net.  From the time of his mother’s death, until quite recently he was quite settled in a foster home just outside the city, but his case notes from that time seem to have gone missing. He was removed a few months ago, and he’s been bouncing around the system since then, from one placement to another. No-one’s quite sure how to deal with him because of his silence.” 

She could see that Jenny was looking significantly more nervous now and holding her husband’s hand that little bit tighter, but she’d found that it was better to put the parents fully in the picture, and not to sugar coat things. They’d find out the truth at some stage, and it was better that she hadn’t lied about things at the outset. Forewarned was forearmed, and all that… “He’s not talking at the moment.” she sighed, giving them both a sympathetic smile. “I haven’t ever heard him talk and I’ve been dealing with him for nearly three months… He’s been checked over by various doctors… It’s not autism or anything like that... They think he’s suffered some sort of trauma and this is what they call ‘selective mutism’. They think he can talk, but that he just doesn’t want to. It’s his way of taking back some control over his life.”

David cleared his throat, glancing at his wife’s worried face, and asked Miss Blenheim in a concerned tone, “Do you know what happened to him? I mean the trauma they’re talking about… Was it his mum dying? Or do they mean that something happened while he’s been in care?”

“We’re not sure. It’s difficult to say… I’ve been told that he wasn’t always mute… that he was talking until quite recently but then he stopped”. She was frustrated that she didn’t have the information to be able to give them, and sad that she’d never been able to get Kyle to speak to her. He wouldn’t even look at her, never mind confide in her what was bothering him. He seemed such a fragile child, so small and quiet for a boy of thirteen, that it was hard not to feel sorry for him. She looked at their anxious faces and asked “Are you sure you can cope with this? It’s probably a bit more than you’d bargained for, especially as first time foster parents...”

Jenny thought about the boy that had walked through their door twenty minutes earlier and felt a surge of motherly love towards him, especially now that she knew what a tough time he’d had. He’d just looked so small and so vulnerable. When they’d been told that they were getting a thirteen-year-old boy she’d been frightened that he’d turn out to be more of a man than a boy, and that they’d be trying to deal with a rebellious teen right from the get go. Kyle had looked more like a child than she’d been expecting. He was small for his age, and scruffy in an uncared for way, with cheap second hand clothes that were too big for him, and he was painfully shy to the point where he’d barely looked up from his shoes for even a moment. Knowing now that he was mute as well, made her want to take him in her arms and keep him safe. He was clearly greatly in need of some motherly affection. She just hoped that she was going to be up to the job. The last thing that that little boy needed was more rejection. She turned to look at her husband and began to nod as though she was trying to convince herself more than him.  “I’m willing to try if you are.” she said, smiling a little nervously, “That poor boy just looks so lost.” She turned to face the social worker and gave her a decisive nod. “You’d never imagine that he was thirteen either, he looks about ten! He could do with some feeding up”

David nodded in agreement and squeezed his wife’s hand. When he’d left Kyle sitting on the bed in his new room, he’d thought how frightened and lost he looked, staring at his feet in that defeated and broken way. He’d just followed him there like a lamb to the slaughter, and sat down on the bed when he was told. He was as obedient as a well-trained puppy. It had nearly broken his heart to look at him. He wanted to be able to help him more than anything. “I think Kyle needs somewhere to call home and people to look out for him. We’ll do our best for him.” he said, smiling sincerely.




Present day…

Kyle set the last glass in place on the large group table, getting ready for the hen party that was soon to arrive, and looked up at the doorway of the restaurant. He caught sight of Tamara as she waddled towards him and couldn’t help but smile. She was only a few weeks away from her due date but her belly was so big now that she looked like she could pop at any moment. She had that funny walk that heavily pregnant women get, which he thought was adorable especially because Tamara was so small, but he knew that she hated it and that she was incredibly uncomfortable. He headed over to the door to meet her, smiling from ear to ear, and with eyes shining like stars.

“You’re supposed to be resting!” he said, putting his arms around her waist as best he could and leaning in for a kiss. “Am I gonna have to drive you home and get one of the girls to keep you under house arrest?!” He said it in a teasing tone but the concern in his eyes gave him away.

“Kyle! I can’t stay in the house forever!” she whined. “I feel like I’m going mad… Besides, I want pizza… and lots of it… and ice cream… I want ice cream!”

He laughed, looking at her hot and bothered little face staring up at him with big brown eyes, and sighed, “Alright… but then I’m getting someone to take you home. You know what the doctors have said… You’re supposed to be on bed rest!”

He led her over to one of the tables and helped to lower her into the seat. She was having problems with her back and her blood pressure was higher than it should be. He was worried about her. He gave her a wink and went off to place the order for her favourite pizza before returning a moment later with a selection of ice cream. He knew that she’d want it first so he’d just gone and scooped it himself. Chocolate, Cookies and Cream, and Pistachio, always the same selection. She was never very predictable in her moods but he always knew exactly what she wanted to eat. He slid into the booth beside her and stuck a spare spoon in her bowl of ice cream to take a spoon for himself.

“Heyyyy!” she said, pulling the bowl away from him in an exaggerated and comical way. “You wouldn’t eat your other customers’ ice cream like that, would you?!”

“My other ‘customers’ pay for their food” he said, laughing as he dabbed some of the ice cream from his spoon onto the end of her nose.

She wiped it away, and grinned at him, before stuffing a massive spoonful of ice cream in her mouth. “What’s the point in marrying the owner of a restaurant if you can’t scab some free food?!” she teased, speaking with her mouth full, and deliberately trying to gross him out. “You know I only married you for the pizza?! Right?!”

He leaned across and started tickling her around her pregnant belly, and she squealed, pretending to try to get away. “Stop Kyle!” she giggled, squirming as he tickled her, “Stop, you’ll make me pee!”

He leaned in with a huge smile and kissed her instead, feeling the icy coldness of the ice cream on her lips. “I love you, Mrs Braxton” he said, and then he leant down and planted a kiss on her baby bump. Pressing his ear against her tummy he said, “Hello in there! Are you listening? It’s your daddy out here and I can’t wait to meet you!”

Tamara looked down at her husband and smiled at him in a bemused kind of way. He’d really surprised her over the last few months. She’d always known that he wanted a family, and she was sure that he was going to be a good dad, but it was like all his Christmases had come at once when she’d told him that she was pregnant. He hadn’t stopped smiling ever since. He was absolutely over the moon, and for someone who’d always tried to maintain a tough guy persona, he certainly didn’t mind acting like a soppy fool when it came to the baby. He’d tell anyone that would listen. Here he was, kissing her tummy and talking to his unborn baby, in full view of the restaurant and all of his staff. He just didn’t care who saw. She’d always known that he had a softer, more sensitive side, but it had really come to the fore with all this baby stuff. He was barely recognisable. She wondered what he’d be like when the baby finally got here.

One of the other waiters brought the pizza over and slid it onto the table in front of Tamara and Kyle, raising his eyebrows a little when he saw that Kyle still had his head pressed against her belly, and that he was singing softly with his eyes closed. She smiled at the waiter and rolled her eyes a little. She was embarrassed, even if he wasn’t! “Babe, I need to eat my pizza” she said, wriggling a little so she could reach the table, “Can you give the bub a little peace and quiet?”

He sat up again with a big dopey smile on his face and said, “I made sure there were no onions”. He stole a slice of her pizza and took a huge bite, smiling at her again with his mouth full. “I’m gonna call Pheebs to take you home after you finish. I want you curled up in bed when I get home or I’m telling Nate on you!”




Phoebe hung up the phone and rolled her eyes at Ash. “That was Kyle” she said, sitting up and handing the bowl of popcorn to him, “He needs me to go get Tamara and frogmarch her home to bed. She’s not taking this whole bedrest thing seriously.”

“Why can’t he take her home?” said Ash, looking a little annoyed. “The movie’s only started!”

“Uggghhh” she moaned, standing up from the couch and smoothing down her clothes. “Cos they have a hen party in tonight and the place is going to be jammed in about half an hour. Someone else called in sick so they’re understaffed… blah blah blah… long story short, he needs Super Pheebs to come to the rescue.” She peered at her reflection in the mirror on the wall by the door, and wiped away the black eyeliner under her eyes that was giving her a racoon look. Then she turned to face him with her head tilted apologetically. “We’ll watch it when I get back, okay? I’ll only be about half an hour.”

He shook his head, rolling his eyes and sighed loudly. She smiled at him and blew him a kiss as she skipped out to the hallway. “Okay… but I’m eating all the popcorn!” he shouted after her as he heard her leaving. He pressed stop on the remote control, and began flicking through the channels to waste time until she came back. He picked up his beer and took a swig, thinking how inconsiderate Kyle was sometimes, and wondering why Phoebe always felt the need to help him out. He wondered if somewhere, deep down, she still had feelings for Kyle.

Ash continued to flick through the channels, wondering how long she was going to be and if they were really going to get to watch the movie at all tonight. He knew that Phoebe was a talker, and could almost see her now, plonking herself down on Tamara’s couch to eat ice cream with her. God knows how long she’d be! He tutted loudly as he flicked from one rubbish TV show to the next. “Say Yes To The Dress? No thank you!” he huffed, flicking on to the next channel. He got excited for a second when he thought that Game Of Thrones was coming on, but quickly realised it was just a commercial for the new series. Flicking onto the news, he watched as aerial shots of a house in Melbourne were shown, but he’d just caught the tail end of the news story so he didn’t know what had happened. Back to the studio, the newsreader was looking very serious.  

“Police are appealing for information. Some twenty children are thought to have been fostered by Simon and Jessica Hames since 1999. If you or someone you know lived in the Hames foster home at any time from 1999 to the present, the police are asking that you get in touch with Melbourne police.”

 “Am I interrupting something?” laughed Kat, as she stood in the doorway of the living-room. She eyed the bowl of popcorn, the 6 pack of beer, the bottle of wine, and the lit tea light candles on the coffee table, and gave him a wry smile. “Looks like a romantic evening for one?” she asked teasingly. “Should I just leave you to it?”

“Pheebs had to do a favour for Kyle… Pregnant woman trouble apparently” he said, rolling his eyes in an exaggerated way. “She’ll be back in a bit.” he said, sounding unconvinced. He pulled one of the beers out of the cardboard holder and offered it to Kat. “Join me for one? Till Pheebs gets back?”

She took the bottle from him and slumped down in one of the armchairs with a heavy sigh. It had been a hard day and she was tired. She was grateful to see a friendly face and to have Ash to herself for a moment or two. She always felt at ease in Ash’s company but it was never the same with Phoebe around. “Thanks Ash” she said giving him a tired smile. “I needed this” she said taking a long drink from the bottle.

“Tough day?” he said, looking a little concerned. He could see that she looked more stressed than normal and he thought that she could probably do with a hug more than anything. “Wanna talk?” he asked, tilting his head at her sympathetically.

She shook her head and gave him a half-smile. “Not really… just happy to have a bit of company… What are you watching?!” she asked, glancing at the screen and raising her eyebrows at him in surprise. “Are you watching The Kardashians?!”

“What?! No!” he exclaimed, frantically looking for the remote control. “I was watching the news when you walked in! I wasn’t watching this!”

“Yeah right! Wait till I tell Andy and Kyle!” she snorted.  “A romantic evening in for one, complete with lit candles and an episode of the Kardashians!”  She was laughing loudly now, enjoying the growing look of embarrassment on Ash’s face and how red his face had gone.  “What’s become of you Martin Ashford?!  I thought I knew you!”

He began to laugh, and resigned himself to the embarrassment of it all. “What can I say Kat, it’s top class entertainment… I’ve been thinking of getting butt implants like Kim’s…” He stood up with his hands on his hips and stuck his bum out in a camp and ridiculous way. “I mean, what do you think? It could be bigger couldn’t it?”

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Thanks to Red Ranger 1, KittCatt, Kristen, and Suzza101 for your feedback. Much appreciated. Hope you like this chapter :P


Chapter 2



Present day…


“Seriously Phoebe! You don’t need to babysit me like this!” said Tamara, throwing her bag on the couch and lowering herself carefully into the seat. “Kyle is blowing this completely out of proportion!”

“Um, I don’t think so Tam” answered Phoebe, furrowing her brows at her in a disapproving way. “Kyle said the docs have put you on bedrest… you can’t take risks with the baby.” She flopped down on the couch beside her and kicked her boots off so she could pull her feet up onto the seat. “Not after what happened with us” she said with a sad sigh.

Tamara glanced at her friend, sitting on the couch beside her, and suddenly felt a pang of guilt. She wondered how she could have been so stupid and inconsiderate. She’d been so caught up in the excitement and the drama of her own pregnancy, that she hadn’t really given much thought to the fact that Phoebe and Kyle had lost their babies. The miscarriage was such a long time ago now, but she could see that Phoebe was still hurting, and she guessed that Kyle must be too. She could see now why Kyle was so nervous about things, and why he wanted her wrapped up in cotton wool all the time. She thought how frightened he must be, and wondered why he hadn’t just said something.

“Sorry Pheebs… I hadn’t thought” she said, looking shamefaced and tilting her head apologetically. “I’ll do as I’m told from now on.” She lifted her feet onto the coffee table and peered over her bump at how swollen her ankles were. “I’m so uncomfortable!” she sighed, rubbing her hand in circles on her belly, “I just want this baby out of me now… I’m too big!”

Phoebe looked at her bump and nodded slowly. She had to agree. Tamara was only a little over five feet tall but that baby bump was simply enormous. It looked so out of proportion, it was almost comical.

“Oh I love the crib!” said Phoebe, glancing across the room at the white baby cot. “It’s beautiful Tamara!” It was all made up and ready for the impending arrival of the newest Braxton, all whites and yellows.

“Kyle built it” said Tamara, smiling from ear to ear proudly. “He’s so excited, it’s almost embarrassing! Did you know that he sings to the baby?!”

Phoebe giggled and nodded her head. She wasn’t surprised. “I’ve never seen him look so happy.” she said, giving Tamara’s tummy a little pat, “I’m so happy for both of you… Really.”

Tamara turned to look at Phoebe, furrowing her brow a little. “Can I ask you something Pheebs?” she asked, sounding a little nervous. “Has Kyle ever told you anything about his childhood?”

Phoebe’s smile faded and she suddenly looked a lot more serious. “Not much.” she said, frowning a little. “He’s a bit of closed book. I never got much of an answer from him… Not about when he was little anyway. He talked a bit about the foster parents he lived with as a teenager, and about his dad… but he just clams up when you ask him about when he was little.” She could see that Tamara was nodding along with a worried expression on her little face. “Won’t talk to you either, huh?” she asked with a sympathetic tone.

“No… he just says there’s not much to know… or that he can’t remember much.” she said, looking a little hurt and disappointed. “It’s weird being married to someone and knowing so little about them… I didn’t really mind before… but now that we’re expecting…”

“You want to fill in the blanks?” said Phoebe. She could understand how frustrating Kyle could be, with all his evasive non-answers, and defensive attitude. He’d never wanted to talk about his childhood and she’d eventually come to accept that it was something that was off limits with Kyle. She didn’t know why. She shook her head a little sadly and said, “Good luck! …I don’t think Kyle’s ever gonna talk about that.”

“Do you think something really bad happened to him?” ventured Tamara, tearing up a little. She was a bit over-emotional these days so she cried very easily, but the not knowing was getting to her, and she couldn’t help being worried about him.

“I don’t know” said Phoebe, biting her bottom lip. “Maybe… but if it did, he’s not talking…”

They sat in silence for a moment, staring at the cot on the other side of the room, and sharing a mutual concern for Kyle.

“Right!” said Phoebe, jumping to her feet, and trying to break the tension. “What can I get you? Tea? Juice? Water? …A gallon of ice cream? …C’mon… you’ve got a willing slave here! It’s a one-time only offer!”

Tamara glanced up gratefully and looked a little embarrassed. “Actually Pheebs… Could you get me the two bags of frozen peas from the top section of the freezer? My feet are killing me!”

Phoebe raised her eyebrows and let out a surprised laugh. “Okaaaay… That has to be one of the weirder requests I’ve ever heard!” she said, skipping out to the kitchen.

Tamara shouted “I know it’s weird but it’s the only thing that helps!”  Phoebe pulled out the bags of peas and brought them back with a tea towel, into the living room, and held them out, one in each hand, in a questioning sort of way. Tamara nodded to her to set them on the coffee table, and lifted her feet, levering her shoes off on the edge of the table.

 “Aaaah” she sighed, placing her bare feet and ankles on the cold bags of peas. “Kyle teases me about this all the time!” she said, blushing a little with embarrassment. She leant back and closed her eyes, looking thoroughly exhausted, and said “Thanks Pheebs… I really appreciate you looking out for me like this. You’re a really good friend.”

Phoebe looked at her ex-boyfriend’s wife, sitting there all swollen and fit to burst, and she couldn’t help but smile at the thought that Kyle was finally going to be a dad. She knew how much he’d always wanted that. In a few weeks there would be a mini Braxton, screaming down this house, and Kyle would be over the moon. She hadn’t been able to give him that, and in truth she hadn’t really wanted to, but Tamara had given him that one thing that he wanted more than anything else. Phoebe loved Kyle, and it made her happy to think of the joy that being a father would bring to his life. She thought that he deserved a bit of happiness for once.

She could see that Tamara was beginning to fall asleep so she picked up a blanket at the end of the couch and draped it over her and her bump. She took out her phone and texted Kyle. “Package delivered. Ten little tootsies chilling on ice! :wink:





13 years ago…


“Nooooo! I’ll be good! I’ll be good!” screamed Kyle, “Please, no! I’ll be good!”. David woke with a start at the loud shouts coming from Kyle’s room, and shot into a sitting position, reaching for the bedside lamp. Jenny sat up too, with her heart thumping in her chest, and looked at her husband in fear. They could hear Kyle shouting from his bedroom down the hall. David jumped out of bed and ran out to the hallway and down the hall to Kyle’s room. He hesitated at the door, worried about what he would find inside, and unsure of how he would deal with it. He was feeling a little out of his depth and this was only the first night.

“Nooooo!” shouted Kyle again, from beyond the door. David took a deep breath and threw the door open. The bed was empty and unslept in! There was no sign of Kyle! He raced into the room, wide-eyed in fear and looked all around the room. He threw himself to his knees and peered under the bed, but he wasn’t there either!

Jenny was standing in the doorway now, with her hand held against her chest, aware of how fast her own heart was beating. “Where is he?!” she asked, with her eyes darting around the room wildly. How could he just have disappeared?

“Please no!” came another shout, and they both looked at the closet on the far side of the room. Kyle was inside! David got up, and glanced, with a worried expression, at his wife standing in the doorway of Kyle’s room. He walked over to the closet and slowly opened the door.

“Kyle” said David in a soft voice, as he looked down at the small boy curled up on the floor of the closet. He was clearly having a nightmare and was soaked in sweat. He crouched down beside him and touched him gently on the shoulder, “Kyle, wake up... Wake up, Kyle.” he said in as calm a voice as he could manage. “Nooooo!” cried Kyle, with a tone of anguish in his voice. David shook his shoulder a little harder to try to bring him round.

Kyle’s eyes shot open, wild-eyed with fear, and he gave a guttural cry of terror, like a wounded animal.  He clambered frantically across the floor on his back, away from David at enormous speed, and huddled into the corner of the closet, hugging his arms around his legs to make himself into a small ball. He started rocking back and forth and buried his face in his knees.

“It’s okay, Kyle… It was just a bad dream” said David, tilting his head at him in sympathy, and trying to keep his voice as low and calming as possible. “I need you to come out here, little man.” he said, reaching out his hand to the cowering child. “Can you give me your hand please, Kyle?”

Kyle looked up with pure terror in his eyes, but he slowly and obediently held out his hand, shaking like a leaf. David took his hand, and gently pulled him up onto his feet. “Come and sit on the bed, Kyle?” coaxed David, leading him out of the closet and across the room. He glanced at the small and pitiful child following behind him, with his head hanging low in defeat, and his eyes firmly fixed on his feet. Kyle sat down with his hands under him and stared at the floor. David sat down and tentatively tried to put his hand on Kyle’s shoulder, but he took it away again when he saw how much it had made him flinch. He clearly didn’t want to be touched.

“No-one’s going to hurt you, Kyle” said David, leaning down to try to look Kyle in the eye. “It was just a bad dream… You’re safe here.” Kyle nodded and hugged his own arms around himself. David looked at the bed that clearly hadn’t been slept in and tilted his head at the young boy beside him. “Are you sure you don’t want to sleep in this nice comfy bed? It has to be more comfortable than the floor of that closet.” He pulled back the covers and said, “Why don’t you get in?”

Kyle sighed a heavy sigh, and started, with shaking hands, to take off his pyjamas.

“No, Kyle!” said David, glancing with real concern at Jenny who was watching from the doorway. “You should keep your pyjamas on. Just get in and go to sleep.”

Kyle climbed into the bed and stared at the ceiling, still refusing to make eye contact with David, and pulled the covers up to his chin.

“That’s better, isn’t it, Kyle?” said David, brushing Kyle’s hair gently away from his eyes. “A nice comfy bed… We’ll see you in the morning, Kyle” he said, walking back towards his wife, and switching off the main light at the wall.

“Night, Kyle” said Jenny, giving him a worried smile as they closed the door. David grimaced at her out in the hallway and led her back quietly to their bedroom. Once in the door, he sat on the edge of the bed, running his hands through his hair, and blew out a big breath. “I don’t know what we’ve let ourselves in for” he whispered, “Who knows what that boy has been through!”




Present day…


“Hey guys!” said Kyle, smiling as he walked up the driveway to the door of the house. He could see Josh and Evie standing on the porch ahead of him, as Evie hunted in her bag for the keys to the annex. Josh turned to face him and smiled in his direction.

“Hey Kyle, how are you travelling?” asked Josh, as Kyle reached them at the door. “How’s Tamara doing?”

“Ah you know… she’s stubborn… Had to get Phoebe to bring her home tonight and make her go to bed.” he said, smiling from ear to ear. “Only a few weeks now though!”

Evie opened the door to the annex and set their grocery bags inside the door. Turning to face Kyle, she said, “I can keep her company tomorrow if you want? I don’t have Uni tomorrow so I can make sure she takes it easy if you like… maybe a girly day?”

“Ah yeah, that’d be great Evie! Thanks!” he said, giving her a grateful smile. “I don’t really like leaving her on her own at the moment. Not when we’re so close to her due date.”

He looked down at the box of pizza he’d brought home. “Do you guys want some pizza by the way? I just brought it home, rather than throw it out, but me and Tam already ate… so if you poor students want it…?” he teased, giving Evie a wink.

“Uh, yeah!” said Josh, eagerly accepting his offer. “Evie was going to cook… soooo yeah, cold pizza sounds good to me!” he said, with a mischievous smile.

“Heyyyyy!” said Evie, elbowing Josh in the ribs in a playful way and pretending to be offended. She really wasn’t a good cook and they both knew it. Smiling at Kyle, and rolling her eyes at him, she took the box of pizza from him and carried it quickly to the breakfast bar. “Thanks Kyle!” she shouted back at him as she started to put the groceries away.

Kyle put his hand on Josh’s shoulder and gave it a little squeeze. “How’s Uni going?” he asked, amazed at how well Josh was doing with things these days. Only a year and a half since his injury, and here he was, living with his girlfriend, and doing his course at University, and generally getting on with things.

“Yeah, good.” said Josh, nodding and smiling. He’d enrolled in an Occupational Therapy course to learn how to teach other blind people. “They’ve been pretty good about getting me some extra support and stuff… they even got me a new laptop… so yeah, I mean, it’s only been a couple of weeks but… I guess it’s going okay so far.”

“Glad to hear that!” said Kyle, genuinely pleased for him that things were going well. He thought how much harder starting Uni would be as a blind kid, and was impressed at Josh’s resilience. “I’d better get in here and see how Tam is” said Kyle, putting his key in the lock. “See you tomorrow” he said to Josh, patting his shoulder again as he turned away.

Walking into the living-room, he found Tamara snoring loudly on the couch with her mouth open, and her feet sitting in two packets of melted frozen peas. He looked at the outline of her swollen belly under the blanket, and felt a surge of love that he thought might burst his heart. The realisation that he was only days away from being a father hit him like a tidal wave, and he was so happy that he thought he might cry. He walked over to his sleeping wife, and put one arm under her legs and the other behind her back, and hoisted her up into his arms. This had become a habit of hers and it certainly wasn’t doing his back any favours! He carried her to their bedroom and gently placed her in the bed. She murmured something about carrots, and wriggled onto her side, as he pulled the covers up around her.

He lay down with his head on her tummy and tried to see if he could hear the baby’s heartbeat. He let out a big sigh and smiled. This baby was going to be the luckiest child on the planet, he thought to himself. His baby would be loved. They would be protected. And they would never want for anything. He’d make sure that he gave them the stability and the security that he had never had, and he knew that he’d kill anyone that ever laid a finger on them. He just couldn’t wait to meet him or her...


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Thanks everyone for the very kind comments :P Very much appreciated! Hope you enjoy this chapter!


Chapter 3


13 years ago…


Jenny watched with concern as the boy picked at his food with his fingers, darting small pieces into his mouth, and chewing them down with a nervousness like nothing she’d ever seen before. He sat with his arm on the table cradling his plate as though he thought that someone would take it away from him at any moment or that one of them might lean over and steal some of his food off his plate. Mealtimes were the only time that he looked up from the floor. His eyes would dart around the table, nervously making sure that no-one was coming near him or his food. He didn’t seem to know how to use cutlery or he didn’t want to. No matter what was served he would use his hands to eat it. She’d stopped serving food that wasn’t easily eaten with your fingers. Porridge had been a sight to behold.  David had tried to show him how to use his knife and fork, but having David lean around him like that had clearly made him frightened and uncomfortable, and he’d frozen to the spot with the result that he had simply stopped eating. For now, she wasn’t so worried about his table manners, she just wanted to fatten him up a bit.

She’d been shocked at how thin he was the first time she’d seen him without his shirt on. She wasn’t really sure what was normal for a thirteen-year-old boy but she was pretty sure that he was on the skinny side of normal. Very far on the skinny side. She’d been able to see all his ribs, and his pelvic bones were jutting out, so his little tummy was concave. He’d looked such a pitiful sight. There was something about the way he’d gotten undressed too, that had broken her heart. She’d led him to the bathroom to show him how to use the shower and as soon as they’d entered the small room he’d looked her in the eye for the first time since he’d been there. She could have sworn that he’d looked at her the way a dog does when you try to give them a bath. As though this was the ultimate betrayal and he would never forgive her for it. He gave a sad sigh that sounded like utter defeat. Looking at the floor again, and clearly blinking back tears, he’d begun to get undressed. He was only a little boy, and he looked more like a ten-year-old than a boy on the verge of his teenage years, but she felt uncomfortable letting him undress in front of her. The way he was doing it made her feel like she was some sort of voyeur and as though she was forcing him in some way. She’d had to stop him before he took his jeans off, and left in a hurry, closing the door behind her. Standing in the hallway outside, she wondered what had happened this poor little child that would make him behave this way. All the signs were there, clear as day, but she just didn’t want to think about it.

He still hadn’t spoken to either of them and he’d been there for over a week. The only time the boy had uttered anything was when he was having one of his nightmares. They’d gotten used to the shouts in the middle of the night and it had become something of a routine at this stage. No matter how many times they ushered him back to his bed, they’d always find him huddled on the floor of the closet, screaming his head off. He seemed to feel safer in there, with the door closed, and he sometimes went there during the day when they weren’t keeping a watchful eye on him. He’d simply disappear, and they’d find him huddled in the corner of the closet, hugging his knees in the dark. The social worker had said that he had behavioural problems but she certainly hadn’t impressed upon them just how severe they were. This was a lot more than they’d bargained for.

Jenny and David were both University lecturers, David a photographer, and Jenny a historian.  It was the summer holidays so they were off work for the next few months and had thought it would give them time to focus on Kyle and really give him the attention that he needed. They’d been trying everything they could think of to get through to him, but so far nothing seemed to be working. He didn’t seem to fare too well with excursions. He’d clearly been frightened by the crowds of people, and hidden behind David at all times, clutching at his hand as though his life depended on it. When Jenny had tried to take him clothes shopping he’d hidden under a railing of clothing and she’d had to enlist the help of the security guard to search the store and find him. He’d eventually been found curled in a small ball, rocking back and forth, with his face hidden in his knees. For now, they’d decided to work on building his confidence in the safe confines of the house.

David glanced at his wife across the dinner table and gave her a worried smile. They both felt thoroughly out of their depth but the thought of just handing Kyle back to Miss Blenheim and being done with him seemed like a truly terrible thing to do. It was clear now that something deeply traumatic had happened to this poor child, and they could only guess what that was. In any case, it seemed likely that the adults in Kyle’s life had betrayed him in the worst way possible, and that he had never been able to trust any of them not to hurt him. The fear in Kyle’s eyes any time they touched him was information enough. David wanted to help him see that there were good people in this world. People who would care for him and be there for him. He and his wife were more determined than ever that they were going to give Kyle a loving and stable home, and keep him safe from any more hurt. Surely with time, and a lot of love, he would come round? More than anything, he wanted to know what the real Kyle was like. Who was this little boy under all that fear and silence?

As he sat looking at this child, huddled over his plate of food, with his shaggy unkempt hair and his incredibly sad brown eyes, a thought slowly began to creep in. He wondered if music might be a way to get through to him. He knew that there were art and music therapists who worked with severely traumatised children, giving them other ways to express themselves. He’d had a lengthy discussion with one of the other lecturers at the university one day, probably a few years ago, but he’d talked about the healing power of music. He’d said that even the most shut down children had sometimes been drawn out of themselves by music and art. David wasn’t one for painting and drawing, but he did play a guitar, and had even been in a band in his younger years. The more he thought about it, the more he thought it might be worth a try.

He watched Kyle finish eating and leaned down to try to make eye contact with him. “Why don’t you come with me, Kyle?” he said, standing up and offering him his hand. Kyle took his hand obediently, as he always did, and got up from the chair to follow him. They walked out to the living-room and David nodded for Kyle to sit down on the couch. He went to the far side of the room and opened the cupboard, lifting out his dusty old guitar. He plonked himself down beside Kyle and began to strum the guitar, picking at the strings, and tightening and loosening the pegs to tune it. He glanced at Kyle and smiled as he realised that Kyle was watching what he was doing with interest. The guitar still sounded good, after years of being shoved in that cupboard, unloved and forgotten…

“Any requests?” he asked with a smile, knowing full well that Kyle wouldn’t answer. He wondered what to play. It had been a long time since he’d picked this old thing up and he wondered if he could still remember any of the songs that he and his mates used to play. He slowly began to strum the guitar and smiled as he drifted into ‘Basket Case’ by Green Day.


“Do you have the time

To listen to me whine

About nothing and everything

All at once

I am one of those

Melodramatic fools

Neurotic to the bone

No doubt about it…”


He glanced at Kyle who was watching intently and even nodding his head slightly to the music. Maybe this was working?


“Sometimes I give myself the creeps

Sometimes my mind plays tricks on me

It all keeps adding up

I think I'm cracking up

Am I just paranoid?

Am I just stoned?”


Kyle actually started to smile, and looking at his little face all lit up for the first time since he’d been here, he thought his heart would break.


“I went to a shrink

To analyze my dreams

She says it's lack of …

That's bringing me down

I went to a …

She said my life's a bore

So quit my whining cause

It's bringing her down”


He’d left out the rude words, thinking them inappropriate for Kyle, and laughed at himself. How ridiculous that would have seemed to his teenage self. Censoring the words for his foster son would have seemed unthinkable and so incredibly uncool. It was amazing how we all turn into our parents eventually. He looked again at Kyle and said “Do you want to help me sing the chorus?”


“Sometimes I give myself the creeps

Sometimes my mind plays tricks on me

It all keeps adding up

I think I'm cracking up

Am I just paranoid?

Am I just stoned?”


He was surprised to see that Kyle was following along and actually mouthing the words, staring at David’s fingers as they flitted about on the strings of the guitar. He decided to play the chorus a couple more times and see what Kyle would do. On the third go, he thought maybe Kyle was getting bored, and wondered if maybe he should pick a new song…


“Sometimes I give myself the creeps

Sometimes my mind plays tricks on me…”


Suddenly Kyle had started to sing along, very quietly, and in a soft and scratchy voice from disuse, but audibly following along with the chorus.


“It all keeps adding up

I think I'm cracking up

Am I just paranoid?

Am I just stoned?”


He played it a fourth time, and this time Kyle sang a little louder. He was surprised that Kyle had such a good singing voice, especially after not speaking for months, and that he’d picked the words up so quickly. “I didn’t know you could sing so well, Kyle! You have a beautiful voice!” said David, beaming at him with pride.

Kyle looked up at him in a startled way as though he’d only just realised that he’d been singing out loud. There was a look of fear in his eyes as though he’d been caught doing something that he shouldn’t. He drew his feet onto the couch and pulled himself into that defensive ball they’d become so familiar with.

“It’s okay Kyle!” said David, tentatively patting him on the shoulder, “It was so lovely to hear you sing. It made me really happy.” Kyle buried his face in his knees again so David went back to strumming the guitar feeling a little sad that the breakthrough had been so short-lived.

Slowly David began to sing a song by R.E.M., a much softer and slower song, thinking that it was quiet and soothing, and more like a lullaby.


“When your day is long

And the night, the night is yours alone

When you're sure you've had enough

Of this life, well hang on”


Kyle was peeping back over his knees and clearly listening again.


“Don't let yourself go

'Cause everybody cries

And everybody hurts sometimes


Sometimes everything is wrong

Now it's time to sing along

When your day is night alone

If you feel like letting go

If you think you've had too much

Of this life, well hang on


Well, everybody hurts sometimes

Everybody cries

Everybody hurts sometimes

And everybody hurts sometimes”


He glanced back at Kyle and suddenly realised that he was looking at him for the first time since he’d arrived. Really looking at him. Tears were streaming down his face and his little body was shuddering as he cried. David wasn’t sure what to do. He didn’t want to overstep the mark and scare him back into a world of isolation and silence but he couldn’t just leave him there crying like that either. He slowly set the guitar down on the coffee table and got down on his knees on the floor in front of Kyle. He looked up at him and said, “I’m never going to hurt you, Kyle… Not ever. Do you understand me?”

He put his hand out to Kyle and cocked his head at him sympathetically. “I’m never going to make you do anything you don’t want to do, Kyle. If you don’t want to hold my hand, you don’t have to… You can say ‘no’. You can always say ‘no’. If something makes you uncomfortable, or unhappy, or frightens you, I want you to use that voice of yours and I want you to say ‘NO’.

Kyle lifted his head and gave David a look full of suspicion. His eyes were wet with tears and his mouth was screwed up into a strange grimace as he tried not to cry. He looked at David’s hand held out to him expectantly and then he glanced back up at David. It was like he was sure that this was a test. “No” he said quietly, with his voice trembling, as he pushed David’s hand away. He flinched and put his hands up to protect himself when David shifted in his crouched position. He’d thought that David was going to hit him.

“No, it’s okay, Kyle!” said David, “Come on, tell me again! If you don’t want to do something, you say ‘no’.” Kyle peeked through his hands and looked surprised to see David smiling at him with kindness in his eyes. It was as though no-one had ever looked at him this way. “Say it again Kyle!” said David, in an encouraging way.

“No” said Kyle, suddenly smiling broadly. “No” he said again, as though he was feeling the shape of the word in his mouth for the first time. “No, no, no, no, no!” he suddenly shouted as he leapt to his feet. “Nooooooooo!” he roared at David as loudly as he could manage, sounding like he might tear his vocal chords. He’d gone from smiling like a maniac to clenched fists and a red face full of fury in about five seconds flat. Veins were bulging in his neck. “Nooooo!” he roared again, kicking the coffee table over and knocking the guitar onto the floor. “Noooooo!” he roared again through clenched teeth.

David stood up, catching sight of Jenny who’d come running when she’d heard Kyle shouting, and held his hand up to tell her to stay back. Kyle started to hit David in the chest with his little hands drawn into fists, and although it hurt, David decided to let him get it out of his system. He was howling and crying like a wounded animal and repeating ‘no’ as he hit David over and over. He was small for his age and he didn’t really know how to punch, so he wasn’t doing much damage. Tears were flooding down his face and his mouth was drawn into a pained snarl.

As though he had suddenly run out of steam, he collapsed to his knees on the floor, crying hysterically and hugging his arms around himself. David looked down at the pitiful little boy now huddled at his feet, and his own eyes welled up with tears. He crouched down beside him and nervously placed his arms around him. “It’s okay, Kyle… It’s okay” he said. He was surprised that Kyle let him pull him into a hug and he could feel the boys small body wracked with sobs as he cried. “No, it isn’t” said Kyle quietly.

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Thanks to Kristen, Red Ranger 1, JarlieFanEver, KittCatt, and Suzza101 for taking the time to comment. I really appreciate the feedback! I'm glad you're enjoying the story so far. Hope you like this chapter :P


Chapter 4


Present Day…

Kyle cradled his baby boy in his arms, smiling down at his fragile little face, with love and affection shining in his eyes. He’d never felt so much love for anyone in his life. His heart actually hurt just to look at him. It genuinely ached. He was red and wrinkly, and he’d been born with a funny little head of spiky dark hair, but as he looked at his tiny little hands and his perfect little finger nails, he thought he’d never seen anything so beautiful in his life. Glancing down at Tamara who was snoozing softly now, and looked absolutely exhausted, he felt his heart swell with overwhelming love for his little family. He’d never thought that this day would come. That he, Kyle Braxton, would actually have a family to call his own was nothing short of amazing, especially when he thought of where he’d come from. To have people who belonged to him, who needed him, and loved him, had seemed far beyond the realms of possibility for such a large part of his life. He hadn’t even dared hope for it. He wasn’t sure he had a right to this life. For as long as he could remember there had been a nagging doubt at the back of his mind, surfacing again and again, any time that he even approached a feeling of contentment. There was a voice somewhere deep inside him, that told him he was utterly worthless, and that he didn’t really deserve this kind of happiness. That feeling of worthlessness had been with him his whole life. It never really went away. But looking at his baby lying sleeping in his arms, and resting now against his chest, he did his best to push those thoughts away. He wasn’t going to allow anything to ruin this moment for him, not even his own insecurities. He was so happy that he thought he might burst. “Hello, Noah, I’m your daddy” he said, gently kissing the top of the baby’s head. “I’m never going to let anything bad happen to you… Not ever… I promise you that” he whispered softly.

Tamara had gone into labour while Kyle was at work. She’d been watching Dirty Dancing and having a girly day with Evie when her waters had suddenly broken. They hadn’t even got to the ‘I carried a watermelon’ part of the movie. Evie had been telling her about Oscar’s latest attempt to woo some girl at the surf club, and she’d laughed so hard, that she’d actually thought that she’d wet herself. It was only when the first contraction came that she’d realised what was happening. Evie had raised the alarm, and Kyle had made it home, flapping about the place within about ten minutes. She’d never seen Kyle in such a panic, he was normally so level headed. It had all happened so very quickly, especially for a first baby, and it had been very clear that the baby was in a big rush to get here. They’d only just managed to make it in the doors of the hospital before baby Noah arrived. They hadn’t even made it to the delivery suite. Noah had come into this world, kicking and screaming, in the reception area of the hospital. If they’d even been a few minutes later, Kyle might have had to pull over and deliver him by the roadside. They’d both been told stories of women being in labour for days, especially with a first pregnancy, so they’d thought they would have a bit more time. They’d imagined lengthy waits in the maternity wards, waiting for her to dilate, and even that she might need to be induced if the baby didn’t come of his own accord. She’d also wanted an epidural and talked it through with her obstetrician. They’d had a birth plan all worked out with clear directives on what they wanted and what they didn’t want. They’d had bags all packed and ready, complete with snacks, and things to keep them occupied if it was taking a long time and they were bored. But things certainly hadn’t worked out the way they’d planned! They’d ended up forgetting the bags in the panic to get her there in time, and the fact that it had all been such a rush had meant that Tamara had had to do it drug free. They were both feeling a little shell-shocked. But Noah was here, safe and healthy, and that was all that mattered now.

Kyle sat in the chair beside his wife’s bed, holding Noah in his arms, and gave a heavy sigh of happiness and relief. He reached over and took hold of Tamara’s hand. She stirred a little, opening her eyes for a moment and gave him a little smile. She looked tired, and very dishevelled, but he thought that she’d never looked more beautiful. “I love you Mrs Braxton” he said, smiling from ear to ear. He lifted Noah’s tiny little fist and waved it gently at Tamara. “I love you mummy” he said in a tiny baby voice. She smiled back at them in a tired way and closed her eyes again. “Love you too” she murmured. Looking back at baby Noah’s peaceful little face, he suddenly realised that he was crying. Tears were flooding down his face and he didn’t really know why. He just felt overwhelmed with emotion. He looked at his beautiful wife, dozing in the bed, and his gorgeous little baby boy nestled in his arms, and wondered how he’d got here. How had Kyle Braxton managed to achieve all this? He felt immensely proud. But there was a nervous feeling clawing at his stomach, and it wouldn’t go away. It was making him feel a little sick. He knew that he had the most precious thing in the world now, and that it was finally in his grasp, but the thought that he might lose it all again absolutely terrified him. What if someone just came and took them from him? What would he do then? He’d learnt from experience that things and people could be taken away from him just when he needed them the most. People had been taking things from him his whole life. It was safer to have nothing. If you have nothing, then they can’t take it from you.



“Hey guys!” exclaimed Tamara, as Evie and Josh walked through the door bearing gifts, “Have you come to meet Noah?”

Evie beamed at Tamara, and walked over with her hands held out, eager to hold him for the first time. She sat down on the couch beside Tamara and gazed at the tiny bundle in her friend’s arms. “Oh my god, Tam, he’s just gorgeous!” she squealed. “Look at his tiny little fingernails! Oh my god, I could just eat him!”

Josh felt his way around the arm of the couch and plonked himself down in one of the armchairs. “Don’t you think there’s something kinda weird about the way women always say that? I mean, you’re threatening cannibalism… that’s just weird!” laughed Josh, raising an eyebrow in Evie’s direction.

“I guess” said Evie, rolling her eyes at Tamara in an exaggerated way. “But seriously… Just look at these little fingeys…” She took his little hand and put it up to her mouth making ‘nom nom nom’ noises and pretending to eat it. “He’s just beautiful, Tam!”

“Do you want a hold?” asked Tamara, smiling at Evie.

Evie squealed and held her hands out, carefully taking the tiny little body in her hands. She placed him against her chest so his head was nestled in against her neck and rocked him gently back and forth. “Oh, that new baby smell!” she giggled.

Josh smiled and shook his head, amazed and a little nervous at how broody Evie got around babies. He was pleased for Kyle and Tamara, and he knew how excited they both were about being parents, but it was hard for him to imagine being a dad himself one day. He wondered how that would even work. Would he be of any use to Evie in looking after the baby if he couldn’t see? He didn’t even know what to say to Tamara and Kyle now. The baby ‘sounds’ cute?  He held out the gift bag in Tamara’s direction and said “We got you a few things for Noah. I’m really pleased for you both, by the way.”

Thanks guys, that’s really kind of you both!” said Tamara, as she took the bag. She turned and smiled at Evie who was totally in her element nursing the baby, and said, “Do you guys want to stay for dinner? Kyle is just getting us some pizza, I can text him and tell him to bring a couple more?”

“Are you sure you don’t… I don’t know… need a rest?” asked Evie, looking concerned. “We wouldn’t want to push in if you’re still trying to get this one into a routine.”

Tamara frowned at her in a mocking kind of way, “Evie, I’m suggesting a few slices of pizza, not an all-night party!”



“Look who I ran into at Angelo’s” said Kyle, as he opened the front door. “I brought them back so they could meet the little man!” He smiled at Evie who was still nursing Noah in her arms and then looked at Tamara to make sure she was okay with unexpected visitors. She smiled at him, and peered past him to see who was at the door.

“I just couldn’t wait to meet him!” said Phoebe, skipping into the living-room, and leaving Ash to carry the stack of pizzas they’d brought for dinner. She perched on the arm at the end of the couch beside Evie, and put her feet on the seat. “Noah is such a lovely name!” she said, tilting her head at the tiny baby in Evie’s arms. “He’s such a little cutie isn’t he?”

Ash carried a huge stack of pizzas over to the dining table and turned to look at the baby. “He’s a sturdy little fella isn’t he?!” said Ash, “What weight is he?”

“Oh, I think someone might need a change!” said Evie, screwing her nose up at the smell, and looking around for someone to take him from her.

Kyle walked over with a huge smile on his face and carefully lifted Noah out of Evie’s arms, cradling him gently against his chest. “He was 4.2Kgs! …and whoo, yeah, I think someone definitely does need a change!” He carried him over to the changing mat and knelt down, busily starting to get all the bits and pieces he needed out of the changing bag.

All the girls turned to look at Kyle, and watched admiringly as he expertly changed the baby’s tiny nappy. He’d had plenty of practice with Casey so this was nothing new. “He’s so good at that, isn’t he?” said Phoebe, giving Kyle a wink when he glanced at her over his shoulder.

Ash glanced at Phoebe, wondering if she’d still choose Kyle over him as father material. What if she did want to have kids some day? Would she always think he’d be rubbish as a dad?

Tamara watched as her husband gently dressed the baby again and lifted his little body carefully back into his arms. “Thanks babe…” she said, looking up at him as he passed Noah back to her. “I’m just so tired.”

He caressed the side of her face and bent down to kiss her. “You did the hard work, Tam… Love you!”

“Should I get some plates or what?” asked Ash, looking at the stack of pizzas that were getting cold. He wasn’t really sure what he was doing there. He and Phoebe were supposed to be getting pizzas and going home for a quiet night in, but then they’d run into Kyle, and Phoebe had jumped on the invitation to come see the baby. He felt a bit uncomfortable now that he was here. All the baby paraphernalia everywhere was making the place very cramped, and he was trying his best not to look at the breast pump and the packet of breast pads lying in plain view on the dining table, sitting beside the pizzas. The thought of it made him feel a bit queasy for some reason. He didn’t have much interest in babies either so he really hadn’t wanted to come meet the newest Braxton. New-borns gave him the creeps a little bit with their wrinkly skin and their floppy necks. He knew that was weird but he couldn’t help how he felt.

“Yeah, thanks Ash. You know where they are!” shouted Kyle as he tidied up the changing mat and went to put the dirty nappy in the bin.

“How’s fatherhood treating you so far?” asked Josh, scanning the room as he talked, trying to hear where Kyle had gone. “Is he keeping you awake at night?”

Kyle came back over and sat on the arm of Josh’s chair. “Yeah, it’s great Josh… Really… He’s sleeping pretty well so far but he’s only a couple of days old… we’ll see what he’s like in a few weeks I guess.”




Kyle finished washing the last of the plates and placed them in the drainer. He dried his hands and turned to look back at Tamara who was sitting in the living-room. She was breastfeeding Noah and flicking through the channels on the TV with the sound turned down low. He leaned against the wall and watched them together, thinking how beautiful this little scene was, his wife and his tiny new-born baby cuddling together on his couch. He wished that he could take a picture of this and go back in time to show it to his childhood self, to let him know that there was hope, and that there was a future worth hanging on for. He still couldn’t quite believe this was real.

He made them both a cup of tea, and carried the cups over to the couch, setting them down on the coffee table and sliding into the seat beside her. He put his arm around her shoulder and pulled her in beside him with a big smile on his face.

“God, I’m glad they’re gone!” he said, with a big sigh. “Just the three of us now… exactly how it should be.”

She turned to look at him and smirked at him, “You’re the one that invited half the town for a pizza party!”

“You invited Josh and Evie!” he said, looking down at Noah’s little face as he suckled hungrily. “Anyway, it got it out of the way for a day or two! We can have him to ourselves for a little while!”

She leaned over with a huge smile and kissed him. “It was nice to see everyone… but god I’m tired!” she said, with a heavy sigh. “All I want to do is sit here and veg. I don’t think I have the energy for anything else.”

“That’s why you’re going to put your feet up and let me look after you… both of you” he said, kissing her on the forehead, and then planting a light kiss on the top of Noah’s head. “I love you both so much.”

Kyle let out a happy sigh, as he sat back with his arm around Tamara, and she leant her head against his shoulder. He lifted the remote control and began to flick through the channels. Suddenly his heart gave a terrible jump as something caught his eye on the evening news. He was frozen to the spot with his heart thumping in his chest, and he felt like someone had just kicked him in the stomach. He turned the volume up, trying to hide his shaking hand from Tamara, and an icy chill ran down his spine as he listened to the newsreader.

“Exhumations continue at the Hames family home. Residents say they are shocked by these gruesome discoveries. They say that Mr and Mrs Hames had been seen as pillars of the community for many years, and that they were known for their generosity and kindness. Police are still working on identifying the bodies, and details will be released as they come in. Police released a statement a few hours ago saying that four bodies have been discovered so far. They are those of children ranging from approximately 8 to 14 years old but the number of the dead looks set to climb. Police are still appealing for any individuals who may have been fostered by the Hames’ to come forward and speak to the police urgently. The question on everyone’s lips is this: despite heavy involvement of DoCS for nearly 20 years, how was this allowed to happen?”

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Thanks everyone for the encouragement, it really does mean a lot to me :P This chapter is a bit dark but I hope you like it.



Chapter 5


Present Day…


It was over. For tonight anyway… he hoped. He wrapped his arms around his legs, pulling himself into the smallest ball that he could manage, and sunk his face into his knees. He wished that he could make himself invisible or simply disappear off the face of the planet. It was dark and cold down here, as always, but he felt a lot safer here in the darkness than up there in the dazzling brightness. Bright lights always meant that bad things were about to happen. In the darkness he knew that he was on his own, left to recover at least for a while, and maybe he could get some sleep if he could drown out the noises coming from upstairs. But then he wouldn’t be able to hear the footsteps approaching if they came for him again. He hoped they wouldn’t come again, not tonight. He wanted tonight to be over so badly! He hated having to listen to the others and desperately wanted to close his ears. He quietly hummed to himself some long forgotten lullaby, not even sure where he’d heard it the first time, and tried to forget what had just happened. He rocked his little body back and forth in an attempt to soothe himself, but it wasn’t really working. He felt sick.

“Kyle, wake up!” cried Tamara, shaking him by the shoulder, “Wake up, baby! It’s just a nightmare!”.

Kyle opened his eyes, and darted them around their dimly lit bedroom, looking more startled than she’d ever seen him. He was sitting in the bed beside her, curled up into a little ball, and he’d woken Tamara with his crying. He’d been sobbing in his sleep and she’d been shocked to see him this way. Kyle had very rarely cried in front of her.  “Babe, it’s okay” she said, lightly placing her hand on his shoulder again, “I’m here…. Are you okay?”

He turned to look at her, wide-eyed and staring, and opened his mouth to speak, but before the words could leave his mouth, his face crumpled and he began to cry again. He reached out for her and pulled her into a desperate hug. She was shocked, but she held onto him tightly, as his body was wracked with violent sobs, and she wondered what on earth was going on. She’d never seen him like this and it was scaring her a little.

“I’m sorry” he said, barely getting the words out as he cried, “I’m… so… sorry!”

She rocked him from side to side and he hugged her so tightly that he was hurting her a little. “You have nothing to be sorry about” said Tamara, “Nothing, Kyle… You’re a good man.”

With that he started to cry even more and she wondered what to do. What on earth had he been dreaming about and where had this come from? He’d been a little quieter than usual when they’d gone to bed last night but it hadn’t seemed like anything to worry about. Kyle could just be quiet at times. This whole thing seemed as though it had come out of nowhere and she couldn’t understand it. Was he having some weird kind of male version of post-natal depression?!

She pulled back a little to look at his face and he looked at her with so much pain in his eyes that she thought her heart might break. He looked so shaken and vulnerable. She took his face in her hands and leaned in to kiss him softly. Then she pulled him over in the bed so he was lying with his head in her lap and she began to gently stroke his hair. She looked down at her husband as he lay there softly crying, and she began to hum Mockingbird, just like her mother had for her when she was little. He closed his eyes and slowly started to drift back off to sleep. She glanced at the tiny baby in the cot beside their bed, grateful that he hadn’t woken too, and wondered what on earth was going on in his daddy’s head. This seemed like so much more than a bad dream.



Tamara wandered out to the living-room with baby Noah in her arms, wiping the sleep away from her eyes, and rolling her shoulders to try to ease her aching back. She’d fallen asleep in a sitting position, nursing her crying husband, and woken to find that he wasn’t there. She was surprised to see him flitting about the kitchen, busily making them both breakfast. “Hey” she said, still sounding a little sleepy.

He spun around with a big smile on his face and said “Hey, sleepyhead! I was just about to come get you! I’ve made us a big breakfast… eggs, bacon, French toast… sit down and I’ll get you a plate!” He nodded to a chair for her to sit down and turned back to the frying pan where the bacon was still quietly sizzling.

She looked at Kyle with concern, and placed baby Noah in his bassinette, before sliding into the seat that he’d indicated. This wasn’t what she’d been expecting. She waited patiently while he plated up the food, and brought the plates to the table, before sitting down opposite her with a big dopey grin on his face. Looking up at him now, she began to wonder if she’d imagined the whole thing. Last night had seemed pretty strange.  “Are you okay this morning?” she ventured, sounding a little nervous, “I mean… after last night?”

He smiled at her and stuffed a heap of French toast in his mouth, “I’m fine, Tam… It was just a bad dream… sorry if I freaked you out.” he said, speaking with his mouth full. “Want some orange juice?” he asked, jumping up again to go to the fridge.

“Yeah, ok” she called after him. “Are you sure that’s all it was? It just seemed like something… more.”

He leaned with his back to her with his arms on the door of the fridge, hiding the fear on his face as he tried to push away the images and sensations from his dream last night, and grabbed the bottle of orange from the fridge door. Turning back to face her with as sincere a smile as he could plaster on, he said “Really Tam, it’s nothing to worry about.”

He re-joined her at the table and began to eat in an over enthusiastic way, ferociously choking down the food as though he was somehow angry at it. He jabbed piece after piece of French toast in his mouth and chewed them down quickly. She watched with concern etched on her face. “Kyle, I’m just worried about you” she said, tilting her head at him sympathetically. “You know I love you… You can tell me anything.”

He nodded as he stared at what was left of his plate of food, unable to meet her eyes, and mumbled, “I’m okay Tam, can we just leave it?” He reached for his glass and opened the bottle of orange but quickly set it down again when he realised how badly his hands were shaking. He glanced at Tamara, and blushed a little red, knowing that his shaking hands hadn’t gone unnoticed. He went to put another forkful of food in his mouth but his stomach suddenly felt like it was tied in knots. He set the fork down and gave a heavy sigh, wondering who he was trying to kid. He certainly hadn’t done a good job of convincing Tamara that he was okay, and all the cooked breakfasts in the world weren’t going to make him feel any better about things. He could feel her eyes on him and it was making him feel anxious. He knew that she just wanted to help, and that he probably owed her an explanation, but he just wasn’t ready to talk to her about it. He wasn’t sure he’d ever be ready. “I love you too” he said, glancing up at her worried eyes, before quickly looking away again.

He got up and went over to baby Noah, and smiled into the bassinette at him. “Come here little man” he said as he gently lifted the tiny little baby into his arms and rested him against his chest. “I think someone needs a fresh nappy” he said to him as he walked away towards the changing mat. He was grateful for something to take the attention off him and give him something else to focus on.

Tamara watched as Kyle kneeled on the floor to change Noah’s nappy and wondered what to do. There was clearly something more going on here than Kyle was willing to admit, and if it had upset him this much, then it was something that they were going to have to confront sooner or later. She couldn’t help worrying about what it was, but she knew that she couldn’t force the issue with him. One thing that she knew about Kyle was that he’d talk to her when he was ready, or not at all. She loved Kyle, and she knew that if she could get him to open up to her, then she’d be there for him no matter what. She just hoped it would be sooner rather than later.

When he brought Noah back, and placed him gently in the bassinette, she got to her feet and threw her arms around his waist. She looked up at him and stood on her tiptoes to give him a long slow kiss. “I love you, Kyle Braxton… Don’t you ever forget that!” she said, pulling in against him with her head against his chest. He gave a big sigh and kissed her on the top of the head. “I love you more than you’ll ever know” he said, with a sadness in his voice that she hadn’t heard before.



“Have you seen that red t-shirt of mine?” asked Kyle as he walked out into the living-room, shirtless and rubbing his hair with a towel. He smiled when he saw that Tamara was nearly nodding off as she nursed Noah on the couch. He walked over and leaned over the back of the couch to give her a kiss on the neck. “Hey babe, why don’t you go and have a lie down?” he asked, giving her a little smile.

She leaned back on the couch to look up at him and yawned as she spoke, “I’m just a little sleepy… Someone had me up half the night!”

He continued to smile, a little half-heartedly now, but she could see the flicker of hurt in his eyes. “Sorry Tam” he said, looking a little ashamed of himself, “I can take him for a while if you want to get some sleep?”

“I’m just kidding” said Tamara, regretting her attempt at humour. He clearly wasn’t ready to be teased about this. “Why don’t you sit down and we can have a cuddle with Mr Noah Braxton here?” she coaxed, reaching out for his hand. “C’mon, just the three of us?”

“Sounds good, Tam. Just need to grab a t-shirt first. Do you know where my red one is?” he asked, giving her a smile and kissing her on the top of the head.

“Um… I think it’s in the basket in the kitchen” she said, letting go of his hand again and turning her attention back to baby Noah.

He walked out to the kitchen and grabbed the t-shirt, slipping it over his head, and then turned the kettle on to make them both a cup of tea. He smiled as he glanced back through the doorway at his wife and baby on the couch, thinking that he needed to try to live in this moment, and do his best to forget the past, at least for today. He turned away and reached a couple of mugs off the shelf, and then rummaged through the cupboard to see if he could find that roll of chocolate biscuits that Tamara liked so much with her tea.

Suddenly he heard Tamara turn the TV on, and his heart skipped a beat when he heard the newsreader say the names that he’d been trying to forget all his life. “Simon and Jessica Hames…”. His blood ran cold and he thought that he might vomit on the spot. “Tam, can we keep the TV off? Please?!” he managed to shout from the kitchen, gripping onto the edge of the counter as his heart began to race in his chest. He didn’t dare to turn around and look at the TV screen. He leant against the counter in the kitchen, out of view of Tamara, and desperately tried to get his breathing under control and to slow his heart rate. He felt a wave of nausea crash over him as a long suppressed memory flashed through his mind…

“Get up!” said the voice above him, as he shielded his eyes from the torchlight with his hands. “On your feet boy!” said the voice again, before a large boot struck him in the ribs as he lay shivering on the floor. He coughed and wheezed and cradled his ribs, looking up at the bright light in fear. “I said ‘get up’” shouted the man, with a gravelly smoker’s voice, before reaching down and dragging him to his feet by his hair. He knew better than to cry or squeal, so he allowed himself to be dragged painfully to his feet without making a sound. The man shoved him out the door towards the stairs and gave him a dig in the back every few steps to make him move faster. He saw the other boy who’d arrived a few weeks ago, now curled up on the floor and crying, as he walked past. When they got to the stairs, the man went first, and left him to trail behind, dreading what lay ahead. He walked with his head down, staring at the ground and shaking like a leaf, as he trudged up towards the blinding light …

“Kyle!” exclaimed Tamara, as she stood in the doorway of the kitchen. “Baby! Are you okay?” she asked, as she ran to his side. He was slumped on the kitchen floor, hyperventilating and shaking, and clutching at his chest like he was having a heart attack. She didn’t know what to do. He was staring at her with the strangest look, as though he didn’t know who she was, and his eyes were desperately darting around the room as he struggled to breathe. “What should I do?!” she cried, taking his hand in hers and placing her other hand on his neck to check his pulse. She was shocked at how hard his heart was beating and wondered if he was having some sort of heart attack. She took her phone out and called Nate.


“Have you ever had a panic attack before?” asked Nate, holding his fingers on Kyle’s wrist to take his pulse. The worst of it was over now and Kyle’s breathing was nearly back to normal but he could see how shaken up both he and Tamara were.

“A few, yeah” said Kyle, glancing nervously at Nate. He just wanted him to leave him in peace. This whole thing was embarrassing enough without getting Nate involved and he didn’t want to have to answer more questions than was absolutely necessary. He’d spent his life evading questions from well-meaning types like Nate, but he still found it exhausting. He just wanted to curl up in a ball and hide away forever. He could see that Nate had his head tilted at him with a look of concern on his face now, so he knew that he’d have to provide a bit more information if he was going to get him off his case. “I had a few when I was a teenager… no big deal. I got over them.”

“And none since then?” asked Nate, starting to put his blood pressure cuff away.

“No” said Kyle, sounding a little annoyed. He could see Tamara rocking baby Noah back and forth in the living-room as he cried loudly. She was keeping a watchful eye on Kyle as Nate checked him over. “None” he said, shaking his head.

“Any idea what might have triggered it?” asked Nate, wondering if it had anything to do with the baby. Maybe becoming a dad and being responsible for another little life was just a bit overwhelming? It wouldn’t be that unusual for new parents to freak out when the reality of it all hit home.

“No… I don’t know” mumbled Kyle, hoping that Kyle would take him at his word and leave him alone. He looked up at Tamara who was standing beside Nate now, and shook his head at her, silently asking her not to tell Nate anything more.

“He had a really bad nightmare last night” she said, failing to pick up on Kyle’s discomfort. “I think it’s something to do with that.”

“Nightmare?” asked Nate, checking Kyle’s eyes again with his torch. Kyle pulled away and he could see how uncomfortable he was with being examined like this. He stood up and put his hand out to Kyle to pull him up onto his feet. Kyle ignored it and clambered shakily onto his feet, gripping onto the counter to regain his balance. “Come sit down” he said, as he led Kyle over to the couch and sat down beside him. “Are you having nightmares, Kyle?” he asked again.

“I had one bad dream, last night, yeah” he said, scowling at Tamara. “I think Tam is blowing this way out of proportion!”

“Kyle, you were crying!” she exclaimed, trying to get Noah to settle. His little face was bright red and he was roaring as loudly as his little body would let him. She ignored how angry Kyle now looked and turned to face Nate. “He won’t tell me what he dreamt about, but it had him pretty shaken… and now he’s having panic attacks!” Looking back at Kyle, she said, “I’m worried, Kyle… If this were me, you’d have me whisked away to every doctor you could find and you know it!”

“It’s different!” he said, getting to his feet, “I’m not ill… I just want to be left alone, okay?!” He walked over to Tamara, taking a screaming Noah out of her arms, and placed him gently on his chest. He began to rock him back and forth, humming softly, and slowly the baby’s crying began to calm.

“I don’t know how he does that” said Tamara, seeing the surprised look on Nate’s face. “He’s just really good with babies.”

“Okay, well Kyle, if you ever want to talk about anything, you know where I am” said Nate, picking up his medical bag and giving Tamara a half-smile. He could see that Kyle didn’t want to talk about what was bothering him and he’d learnt that the Braxtons could never be pushed into doing anything they didn’t want to. The ball was in his court now.

Kyle turned around and looked at Nate, feeling a little guilty for being so rude. He knew that Nate was only trying to help him and that he’d dropped everything and run over here because Tamara has asked him to. He felt a little ungrateful. “Thanks Nate” he muttered as Nate headed towards the door, “I appreciate you coming the whole way over here… but I’m okay… really.”

Tamara rolled her eyes at Nate while Kyle wasn’t looking and shook her head in an exasperated way. Kyle had really scared her today but he didn’t seem to understand that. She wished that he’d let her in a little more, and tell her what had him so rattled, but she guessed that she’d have to wait for him to come round of his own accord.  ”Thanks Nate” she said, giving him a wave and a grateful smile as he left.

Kyle sat down on the couch with a heavy sigh, and Tamara leaned in beside him and lifted Noah out of his arms again. “You scared me” she said to him, with her chin trembling and tears welling in her eyes.

He put his arm around her shoulder, pulling her in beside him, and sighed, “I’m sorry Tam, I didn’t mean to… I don’t know why that happened today.” He hated lying to her, but if it came to it, and he had to tell her the truth, then he had no idea where to even start. It was all so complicated, and hard to talk about, and he felt so deeply ashamed. What if she didn’t want him anymore when she knew the truth about him? What would he do then?

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Thanks everyone for the lovely comments! I really appreciate the encouragement :P  It's so nice of you all to take the time to write a comment and it really does mean a lot to me.  I hope you like this chapter! xxx

P.s. Present day is December 2017 for anyone doing the maths lol! So, we're in the future.


Chapter 6

Present day...


“Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday dear Ky-le, Happy Birthday to yoooouuuuuu!” sang the crowd as they gathered around an incredibly embarrassed and uncomfortable looking Kyle Braxton. A surprise party had been the last thing that he wanted. He’d hoped to spend a quiet evening with Tamara, and pretend that there was nothing special about this day, just like he did most years. He tried his best to plaster on a fake smile for the party guests, and looked around at the smiling faces of his friends, just wishing that they’d all go home. Birthdays weren’t something that he liked to celebrate. It wasn’t even like it was a big milestone, he was twenty-seven years old. “Thanks guys” he said, doing his best to hide his unease.

Tamara threw her arms around his waist and kissed him on the cheek. “Aren’t you going to blow out your candles?” she asked, looking up at him with a big smile stretching from ear to ear.

He glanced at the circle of grinning faces, hemming him in around a cake with 27 candles on it, and he felt an overwhelming urge to run away. He hated being the centre of attention and nothing made him squirm more than to know that everyone was looking at him. He looked back at Tamara and forced a half-smile. “C’mon then, let me see this cake!” he said, leaning down over the cake, and taking a big breath in to blow out the multitude of flames in front of him. As he took in a whiff of candle wax and the sickly sweet smell of the fondant icing, a memory suddenly came flooding back into his mind, and it was like he had been transported back there in an instant…


Kyle, would you come here for a moment?” called David, sitting at the dining table, hand in hand with Jenny, and smiling in his direction.

“No” said Kyle, looking up from the guitar and glancing quickly at his foster parents before looking away again.

David smirked and rolled his eyes at Jenny. Since that meltdown a few weeks ago, Kyle had been using that word more and more often. He had been refusing to do all sorts of things. For the first while he had said it so cautiously, shielding himself when David or Jenny made any sudden movements, as though he thought that they might reach out and hit him at any moment. As time had gone on though, he’d been growing in confidence, and he’d been known to roar the word ‘no’ at the top of his lungs when he really didn’t want to do something. David joked that they’d created a monster. He still wasn’t speaking much, but he’d asked a few questions, and spoken the odd sentence here and there. He just wasn’t ready for lengthy chats yet, and they hadn’t been able to get any information out of him about his past. When they asked him about where he’d been before, he would simply retreat into a world of silence. Any questions about his previous foster home and he would draw himself into that defensive ball and start to rock back and forth. They’d learnt that his past was off limits for now. Miss Blenheim had been next to useless when they’d tried to discuss it with her, and their GP had simply suggested getting him into counselling. They were still trying to find someone who would be willing to come to the house because Kyle seemed so terrified of the outside world.

“Kyle, I think you might like to hear what we have to say” coaxed David. “It involves cake!” he said in a slightly singing voice, smiling at Kyle, and rubbing his tummy in an exaggerated way. Sometimes it was easy to forget that Kyle was turning fourteen years old. He certainly didn’t look it, and because his behaviour was sometimes so childlike, it was difficult to view him as a teenager. David sometimes had to catch himself before he spoke, and rephrase in a slightly more adult way. He sometimes replayed what he had said, and felt embarrassed to have spoken to him in such a condescending way, as though he was speaking to a small child. Kyle didn’t seem to mind though, and he really didn’t seem to see it as patronising. 

Kyle set down the guitar, and walked over to them with his head hanging low, in that downtrodden way that they’d become so familiar with. He slid into the seat opposite them and reached for the salt cellar, pouring a large pile of salt out onto the table.

“So…” said David, watching as Kyle began tracing his finger through the pile of salt to make a spiral pattern. He did that a lot when they sat at the dining table. It allowed him to avoid eye contact and to distract himself from the conversation if he didn’t want to engage. “So, we know it’s your birthday tomorrow… and we were wondering if you’d like to have a party?”

Kyle stopped playing with the salt and looked up. He glanced from David, to Jenny, and then back to David, looking confused. He started to move his mouth, shaping words that never came, and then looked back at the table again. “Not my birthday” he eventually said, very quietly. So quietly, in fact, that David wasn’t sure that he’d heard him correctly.

“It says in your file that it’s your birthday...” said Jenny, looking at David quizzically.

“Tomorrow’s the 12th December… You’re going to be fourteen.” said David, gently placing a hand on Kyle’s shoulder.

Kyle shook his head and said, “Not my birthday.”  He started drawing lines in the salt again, and rocked back and forth slightly in the chair. They could both see that he was getting agitated.

“Then, when is your birthday?” asked David, tilting his head at him.

Kyle shrugged his shoulders and wiped the salt onto the floor. “Don’t have one” he muttered quietly.

“Of course you do!” said Jenny, smiling at him now, with her head cocked to one side sympathetically. “Everyone has a birthday, Kyle… Your file says that yours is tomorrow… Have you never had a birthday cake?!” she asked, already fairly sure of the answer. Everything about this child just broke her heart. That he could have gotten to fourteen years old without anyone caring enough to celebrate his birthday was just unthinkable in her world. What on earth was wrong with these people?!

He looked up at Jenny and shook his head. A confused look came over his face and he glanced at David again. “What file?” he asked.

“Your case file, Kyle… Miss Blenheim gave us a copy of some of the documents so that we’d know some stuff about your background.” said David, trying to treat him like a teenager rather than the small child that he appeared. He looked at Jenny and shrugged his shoulders a little. He wasn’t sure if this was a good idea or not. “Do you want to see it, Kyle?” he asked.

Kyle nodded and David got up to go and get it from his desk in the study. He returned with a black folder and set it gently on the table beside Kyle. He pulled his chair closer to Kyle and sat with his arm on the back of Kyle’s chair. He could see that Kyle was staring at it with a certain trepidation. “Are you sure you want to?” he asked, leaning down to try to make eye contact with him.

Kyle nodded and reached out to open the file. On the first page was a photo of him, taken a few months before, and a list of basic information. “Kyle Ben-nett” he managed to make out. His reading wasn’t good, but that girl at the house had taught him as best she could, with a torch and an old encyclopaedia. She’d seemed to think it was important that he learnt to read and write, but then one day she’d just disappeared. He hadn’t progressed much after that. He knew how to sound out words but he just couldn’t read fluently. He scanned down the page with his index finger and silently mouthed the words as he went. “Moth-er… “Ssssa-rah Ben-nett” he sounded out quietly.

David glanced at Jenny with concern, as he realised how poor Kyle’s reading was, although he wasn’t actually that surprised given what they’d come to know about him. It was just sad.

“Fffa-ther… Dan-el… Bra… Bra?”, said Kyle, struggling with what to do with an ‘X’. He looked up at David and raised his shoulders at him in a questioning way. He looked embarrassed.

“Daniel Braxton” said David, tracing his finger over the word. “Brax-ton” he said again, enunciating clearly. “Sarah Bennett was your mother, and Daniel Braxton is your father” he said, nodding at him sadly. He assumed that he would have known their names, but then it occurred to him that small children often don’t know their parent’s first names, and given his mother’s alcohol issues, he supposed that she might never have told him. “See here?” he said pointing to the D.O.B section, “That’s your birthday… 12.12.1990… That’s the 12th December… tomorrow.”

Kyle turned the page and peered at the photo on the next page as though he’d never seen this woman before in his life. There was a photo of a woman with wavy auburn hair and soft brown eyes, smiling into the camera. She had long silver earrings that looked Indian and a solid silver necklace around her neck. She had a multitude of silver and turquoise bangles on her wrist, and was wearing a long flowing printed dress, which hinted at backpacking trips around Asia. This certainly didn’t look like someone suffering from addiction problems, but rather a beautiful young woman in the prime of her life. David pulled it off the page and turned it over, pointing at the handwritten name on the back. ”It says here, ‘Sarah Bennett, November 1989…” He handed it to Kyle and smiled at him, “This was your mother before she had you, Kyle.”

Kyle took the photo and stared at it. He couldn’t see anything that he recognised in this photo. He thought that she looked nice, and that he would have liked her to be his mother, but he felt an enormous sadness that this woman was a total stranger to him. He didn’t understand how he couldn’t remember her.

He handed the photo back to David and turned the page. There was a black and white mugshot photo of a man with a large 1980s moustache. He didn’t recognise this person either, that was for sure! He didn’t like the look of him though. He thought he looked like the type of men that waited in the rooms upstairs. The man was holding up a board with writing on it. Both words and numbers. He could see that word again, with the ‘x’. “Dan-el Braxton” he said, looking up at David for approval.

“Daniel” said David, correcting him, “Dan-i-el… but yes, ‘Braxton’… That’s your father.” He smiled at Kyle reassuringly and squeezed his shoulder. Jenny sat gazing at them, with her elbows on the table and her head resting in her hands. She was amazed at how good David was with him, especially with this stuff that was so difficult to deal with, and felt immensely proud to call him her husband. He’d shown her just how kind and sensitive he could be, and she was even more in love with him now than she’d ever been. She just felt terrible for poor little Kyle, that all he had left of his family was what was in that black file. No-one should have to lose all sense of who they are.

Kyle sighed and looked at David with a sadness in his big brown eyes. “Not my family” he said, shaking his head and closing the file. David tilted his head at him questioningly, wondering how he could have forgotten his birth family at such an advanced age. But thinking about the trauma that he’d been through, he supposed that it might be possible for him to have wiped everything and started again with a blank canvas. How sad it was that he didn’t even remember his own mother!

“That’s okay, Kyle… we’ll put this away” said David, pushing the file away across the table. “It is your birthday tomorrow though… how would you feel about a very small party? I’d really like my brother and his kids to meet you?”

Kyle shrugged, getting up, and wandering back over to the sofa. He picked up the guitar and began absently strumming at it. David was trying to teach him how to play, and he was picking it up quite quickly, especially considering how slow he seemed to be at everything else. “I’ll take that as a ‘yes’, will I Kyle?” called David, half-joking. He didn’t really expect a reply.

“Yes” said Kyle, quietly, much to Jenny and David’s surprise. That was the first time he’d said ‘yes’ to anything. David turned and smiled brightly at his wife, feeling like they were definitely making progress now…


“How old are you anyway?” asked Zac, slapping Kyle on the back, as Tamara whisked away the cake to portion it out to people. “You’re just a young buck still, aren’t you?” he said, laughing a little and feeling suddenly so much older.

“Twenty-seven” mumbled Kyle, trying to force a smile on his face. He really wasn’t in the mood for this party, or to have to make small talk with people. Zac was a nice guy, and in normal circumstances he’d have been more than happy to have a chat with him, but not tonight. He glanced around the room and gave a heavy sigh. He could see that half the bay had shown up for his birthday party and he knew that he should feel good about that. People clearly cared about him, and held him in high regard, and had taken the time to come and wish him well on his birthday… but he just wanted them out of his house and to go to his room and curl up in the darkness. This was all too much. What had Tamara been thinking?!

“Ah you’re just a baby!” said Zac, grinning and taking a swig of his beer. “Wait till you’re my age and you’ll start feeling all these aches and pains…”

“Yeah, cos he’s just ancient!” teased Leah, elbowing Zac in the side a little playfully. “Honestly, you’d think he was a hundred from the way he talks!”

Kyle smiled at them a little half-heartedly, and tried his best to laugh at the joke.

Leah touched him on the arm and gave him a sympathetic look. “You seem a bit tired, Kyle… Baby Noah keeping you up at night?” she asked.

“No, he’s as good as gold most nights!” said Kyle, shaking his head and smiling from ear to ear. The first sincere smile all night. Noah never failed to make him smile and he really couldn’t imagine his life without him now. “I’m fine, Leah, really!”

As he glanced across the room, he could see Phoebe gazing at him, and as they made eye contact she gave him a big smile and a wink. “Excuse me guys” he said, as he moved away towards Phoebe. She was standing with Ash, Andy, Evie, and Josh.

He sidled up to Phoebe, and she turned and threw her arms around him, nearly knocking him off his feet. “Happy Birthday, Kyle!!!” she squealed, hugging him so tightly that he could hardly breathe. “How come you never let me throw you a party like this?” she said, giving him a scolding look, as she let him go.

“Because I don’t like celebrating my birthday” he said, shaking his head and frowning. “Tam just took matters into her own hands this year… and…”

“…And you’re not happy are you?!” she exclaimed, rolling her eyes at him. “Braxton! C’mon! You need to let people be nice to you every now and then!  Honestly! …Your poor wife tries to do something nice for you and what thanks does she get?! Huh?!” she said, shaking him by the shoulders and giggling loudly. Ash took a swig of his beer, glancing at his girlfriend’s overly friendly attitude towards Kyle, and seethed a little on the inside.

“Happy Birthday!” said Evie, reaching out and hugging Kyle a little awkwardly. Josh smiled in his direction and tilted his beer bottle, as though he was making a toast, and said “Yeah, happy birthday, Kyle”. The other two boys muttered ‘Happy birthday’ too, and the two girls rolled their eyes and shook their heads at each other.

Kyle looked around the room and felt his heartrate rise as he counted nearly forty people in his living-room. He could see Tamara on the far side of the room handing out slices of cake to people, and laughing loudly with Chris and Hannah. Alf, Roo, and Irene were having a giggle over in another corner. Leah was sitting in Zac’s lap now, feeding him chocolate cake, and laughing that loud infectious laugh of hers. Even Kat and Nate seemed to be getting on really well. Everywhere he looked, all he could see were smiling happy faces, and he was finding it harder and harder to hide the fact that he felt like his world was falling to pieces. What would all these people think of him when they knew the truth about him? Would they think that he was ‘damaged goods’? How would he be able to look them in the face when they knew the things that he’d had to do?

Feeling like he was about to suffocate, Kyle made his excuses, saying that he needed the bathroom, and headed out to the hallway. He leaned against the wall and let out a shuddering breath as he fought a wave of anxiety that he’d been holding at bay since he’d walked in tonight. His heart was thumping ferociously in his chest now and he wanted more than anything to run away. His stomach was doing somersaults and he felt physically ill. He made a mad dash for the bathroom and only just made it to the toilet bowl before vomiting. Collapsing in a crouched position leaning on the toilet, he panted heavily, trying to get his breathing back under control, and wiped at his mouth, wondering what on earth to do. He didn’t want to go back out there.

“Kyle? Are you okay?” said Phoebe quietly, standing outside the bathroom door. “I heard you getting sick. Do you want me to go get Tamara?” she asked, sounding very concerned.

He didn’t answer at first. Part of him was hoping that she’d take the hint and leave him in peace, but another part of him desperately needed to talk to someone. He needed to talk to someone who wasn’t Tamara, and that he could trust not to tell her what he’d said. Deep inside him, gnawing away at his stomach, was a terrible fear that Tamara would leave him when she found out the terrible truth about him. More than that, he didn’t want her to start looking at him differently. What if she saw him as some pathetic weakling, or something disgusting that she couldn’t bring herself to touch again? What if she finally saw how worthless he really was? He needed Tamara, and that tiny little baby, more than anything else in the world, and he wasn’t ready to take the risk of losing them. He gave a heavy sigh and crawled across the bathroom floor to unlock the door. Phoebe heard the click and opened the door slowly, looking down at him in shock. He really didn’t look well.

“What’s wrong, Kyle?” she asked, crouching down to his level. “Is it something you ate? I didn’t think you’d drunk that much?!”

His chin began to tremble and his eyes filled up with tears. “Can you lock the door, Pheebs?” he whispered, as he pulled himself over to the shower cubicle and leaned his back against it. He hugged his arms around his knees, the way he’d done when he was younger, and gave in to his need to cry. Tears were streaming down his face now, and his whole body was shaking. Phoebe had never seen him this way and she couldn’t hide the shock on her face. “I need someone to talk to.” he said in a hushed tone for fear of anyone else hearing. Then he hid his face in his knees and began to quietly sob.

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Thanks everyone! Really appreciate all the feedback! :P This chapter is pretty dark, you have been warned,



Chapter 7


Phoebe and Kyle sat side by side, resting their backs against the shower cubicle, and with their heads leaned together. She really didn’t know what to say to him. What could she say that would make any of this any better?  She’d taken his hand and was stroking the skin in between his thumb and forefinger with small circular movements of her own thumb. She hoped that it might be helping to soothe him in some way, but she doubted it. He was still softly sobbing, and his body gave a shudder every now and then, as they sat in silence. She could hear the party still going on outside and worried that someone would come to use the toilet soon. She knew that Kyle was in no shape to face anyone out there, and she wanted more than anything to protect him, and stop anyone from asking him questions that he wasn’t ready to answer. Someone needed to look out for him.

She glanced sideways at his pain-ridden face, all puffy and tear-stained, and her heart truly ached for him. He just looked so small and vulnerable. She was still in shock. He had just put some truly terrible images in her head and she feared that she might not ever be able to get them out again. It made her feel sick to her stomach just to think of what he’d been through. Poor Kyle! She looked at him and she wondered what he’d looked like as a child when these terrible things had been happening to him. On second thoughts, she was glad that she didn’t know. She didn’t really want to be able to picture him being hurt like that.  As she looked at him now, she wished that there was some way to go back in time and change things for him. She wanted so badly for this not to have happened to him.

So many things suddenly made sense! He’d always been so closed when they were together, and in the end, it had gone a long way to causing their break up. She’d never been able to get him to talk to her about his childhood and she’d always felt that he was holding a lot of himself back. Being with someone but not knowing anything about their background meant that you were always being kept at arm’s length. She just wished that he would have opened up to her earlier. Maybe it would have saved their relationship.

“What are you gonna do about Melbourne?” asked Phoebe a little cautiously and turning to look at him. She tilted her head at him and gave him as reassuring a smile as she could manage. Giving his hand a little squeeze, she said, “I’ll come with you if you want?”

“I’m not going!” he blurted out, suddenly sitting up and letting go of her hand. “I can’t!” he said, with eyes wide with fear. He started to clamber to his feet and looked in the mirror at his red and puffy complexion. He turned the tap on and threw cold water in his face, in the hope that it might make him look vaguely presentable so he could go back out there without people knowing. Looking in the mirror again, he could see that that wouldn’t be possible. His eyes were red and bloodshot and his face was terribly blotchy. People would take one look at him and they’d know that he’d been crying. He’d have to get out of the house for a while, somehow.

“I have to get out!” said Kyle, breathing a little too heavily again. He spun around to face Phoebe and looked at her pleadingly. “Can you tell Tamara that an alarm went off at Angelo’s and I’ve gone to sort it out?” With that, he opened the door and charged through the hallway towards the front door, shielding his face with his hand as best he could.

Phoebe, leaned with her back against the sink, breathing out a shuddering sigh. She’d been trying not to show Kyle how much his story had affected her, but now that he was gone, her eyes filled up with tears and she began to sob. Poor Kyle! She just couldn’t get it out of her head! How could he have hidden this from everyone for so long?! He must have been hurting so much! She hated that he’d had to deal with this all on his own. She ran her fingers through her hair and turned to check her makeup in the mirror. She gave a nervous laugh out of shock, when she saw how much her mascara had run, and she began to wipe at her puffy panda eyes frantically in the mirror. She knew that she needed to hide this, for Kyle’s sake, more than her own.

“Pheebs?” said Ash, standing in the open doorway and looking at her with concern. He’d just seen Kyle run out the door, with his face all puffy and red as though he’d been crying, and now here was Phoebe, clearly very upset too. He wasn’t sure what to make of it.  He’d noticed that they’d gone missing some time ago, and he’d been trying to extricate himself from a conversation with Marilyn, to go and check where they were, but that woman just wouldn’t shut up! His every instinct had been telling him that Phoebe was cheating on him with Kyle, but seeing her upset like this, he wondered now if Kyle had done something to hurt her. Why had they been in the bathroom together?!

“What did he do?!” growled Ash, jumping to completely the wrong conclusion. “If he’s hurt you…”

She spun around and looked at him in shock. “Kyle didn’t do anything!” she snapped at him. She could see that he was a little hurt, and she felt bad, so she smiled a little and gave him an apologetic look. She walked over to him and put her arms around him, leaning her head against his chest as she began to cry again. “Sorry… Can you just hold me… please Ash?” she said, looking up at him all teary eyed and clearly shaking. “I just really need a hug.”

He looked at her tear-stained face and a rage began to build inside him. He was sure now that Kyle had hurt her. She just seemed so shaken and upset, and the way she was clinging to him was very out of character. Phoebe didn’t cry that easily, so he figured that something big must have happened in here to freak her out so much. A thought began to take shape, growing into more and more of a certainty in his mind, that Kyle had forced himself on her. He held her tightly in his arms with his chin resting on the top of her head, and decided that as soon as Phoebe was feeling a little better, he was going after Kyle. He was going to find him and kill him with his bare hands.

After a few minutes, he pulled away from her, and gently lifted her chin so he could look at her face again. “Are you sure you’re okay?” he asked, with love and concern in his eyes. He really hoped it wasn’t true. “I can go and get Nate…” he offered in a worried way, wiping gently at the tears on her face with his thumbs. Then he lowered his voice to not much more than a whisper, and said, “Or Hannah… if you want… you know… a woman?”

Phoebe furrowed her brow at him and pulled away from him a little violently. “I told you, Ash! Kyle didn’t do anything to hurt me! He would never hurt me!” She was angry now, partly at Ash for being such a Neanderthal, and partly at the injustice of this whole thing. If she was honest with herself, she was mostly angry that Kyle had had such a terrible childhood, and that people had done such appalling things to a person she truly loved and cared about. She hated this ugly world sometimes. She knew that she shouldn’t be taking her anger out on Ash, but in this moment, there was a fury burning inside her and she needed to let it out. He just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time… “That’s what it always comes down to with you, doesn’t it?!” she shouted at him. “Sex! It’s always about sex with you! …You know, some people have real problems, Ash! Some people are going through terrible things… terrible things! …Things that no-one should ever have to deal with!” She narrowed her eyes at him and shoved him hard in the middle of the chest. “But you wouldn’t understand that, would you?!” She stormed past him out into the hallway, and out the front door, forgetting that she was supposed to cover for Kyle with Tamara. She needed to find him.

Ash watched her go with a hurt and confused expression on his face. He didn’t understand what had just happened. All he’d been trying to do was protect her. He ran what she’d just said over in his head, and he felt his stomach begin to churn, as he landed on one particular sentence. ‘People are going through terrible things’? He wondered if she meant Kyle or herself. What if Phoebe was ill? Maybe that’s why Kyle had been so upset. He felt hurt that she would confide in Kyle, and not him, if that were the case. But mostly he was just worried now. He tried to think if there had been signs that he had missed in the last few weeks that would point to her being unwell. She’d complained of a headache a few nights before, and a stomach ache a few days before that, so his mind took him down all sorts of frightening avenues. What if Phoebe was really sick? What if she was dying?!

Andy walked out to the hallway and found Ash standing there, white as a sheet, and looking thoroughly dazed. “Mate, you right?!” asked Andy, putting his hand on his friend’s shoulder and tilting his head at him in concern. “You don’t look too good!”

“Gotta go!” said Ash, suddenly coming back to his senses and racing out the door. He needed answers and he wasn’t going to get them standing there in that hallway. Andy watched him leave and shook his head knowingly. That was the third person he’d seen race out that door in the last ten minutes. Something was obviously kicking off. He sighed and wondered what dramas were about to unfold now. ‘Why couldn’t people, including himself, just keep it in their pants?’ he thought to himself with a wry smile, as he headed to the bathroom.




Kyle sat huddled in the scrubby sand dunes just above the beach, hugging his arms around his knees, as he stared out into the distance at the blackened water. The moonlight was giving the water a blue sheen, and everything looked so peaceful… In sharp contrast to the utter turmoil in Kyle’s head.

He wondered what the police in Melbourne wanted to speak to him about. He had made it out of that hellhole alive, by some strange twist of fate, but he didn’t think that he’d be able to tell them anything useful. A cursory glance at the basement that he'd lived in would have told them everything that they needed to know. The rooms upstairs, with the recording and lighting equipment, would have answered any other questions that they might have had. The stacks of video tapes and DVDs, and folders upon folders of photos, lining the walls of the main bedroom, would have wiped away any remaining doubts. The house would speak for itself. The walls would echo with the misery and the suffering of all the children that had passed through its doors over the years. Its foundations were soaked in the blood and the tears of young and vulnerable children. And it appeared now that it had even served as a graveyard for a great many of them. They couldn’t look at that property and not have a pretty clear idea of how things had been. What did they need him for?

He couldn’t face talking to the police about it. He couldn’t face the thought of having to answer their questions, and having to talk about the things that had gone on within those walls. He didn’t think that he’d be able to get the words out, even if he wanted to. He’d spent years trying to forget the fact that that place even existed. Tonight had been the first time that he’d spoken to anyone about it, and putting it into words had been more painful than he’d ever imagined. The shame that he felt had been overwhelming. He’d thought that talking to Phoebe might help, but it had just made him feel so much worse, and he wished now that he could go back in time about an hour, and zip his own mouth closed. Phoebe had been kind and sympathetic, but he could see from the way that she’d looked at him after, that something had changed forever, and their relationship would never be the same again. She would always see him as a victim now, and that wasn’t the way that he wanted to be seen. He couldn’t stand to see the look of pity in her eyes, and he’d seen the disgust, so apparent on her face, when he’d told her some of the gorier details. In truth, what he’d told her hadn’t even scratched the surface, but he thought she’d been ashamed of him all the same… How could she not be?! He couldn’t blame her for reacting that way.

He knew now that he wouldn’t be able to bring himself to tell Tamara. He thought he’d probably lose Phoebe over this, but he wouldn’t be able to cope with losing Tamara and the baby too. Without them he’d have nothing worth living for.

He also knew that he wouldn’t be able to talk about it to total strangers. The thought of police officers listening to those details, and judging him, and pitying him, made him feel sick to his stomach. It was nobody else’s business but his, and he was going to take what he knew to the grave with him. It wasn’t like he could help anyone anyway.

He didn’t even know where the house was. He didn’t think that he’d ever even been outside the walls of the house until the day that they’d come to take him away. That had been the most terrifying experience of his entire life… and that was really saying something. It was like he’d been abducted by aliens. The man called Simon had dragged him upstairs into the blinding light of day, something that he wasn’t used to at all, and handed him over to total strangers. The car that they’d taken him away in might as well have been an alien spacecraft. He couldn’t remember ever having been in one before that day. The blur outside the window, and the unfamiliar motion of the car, had caused such intense nausea that he’d vomited all over the woman sitting beside him. Repeatedly.

That house that they were showing on the news now, had been the only thing that he had ever known, or that he could remember, but he didn’t think he’d ever seen it from the outside until that day. To be ripped away from everything that he knew, however bad it was, had felt like the worst thing to ever happen to him. He had suddenly been dragged out into a world so vast that he couldn’t begin to comprehend its size. Distances seemed so huge, and there were so many people everywhere, and things were moving at enormous speeds. He’d never felt more frightened or disoriented in his life. He’d looked at the people in the car, feeling almost certain that they were going to kill him. Kids had disappeared from the house all the time. One day they were there, and the next they weren’t. He’d felt sure that this must be what had happened to them. People had just come and taken them away, and they’d never got to come back again.

He’d pulled his feet up onto the seat and hugged his arms around his knees. He’d had so many questions but he’d lacked the courage to ask them. He’d learnt that silence was always safer. Adults were depraved, scary, and volatile creatures, who would often strike out without warning, and it was better to stay quiet and do what he was told. If they were going to kill him, then they were going to kill him, and there was little to nothing that he could do about it. So many questions whirred around his head with nowhere to go… ‘Where were the walls? Where was the dark and damp basement that he had called home for as long as he could remember? Who were these strange people, and what new tortures lay in wait for him in this enormous and scary world? If they were going to kill him, how were they going to do it… and was it going to hurt?’

That was the last time that he’d ever seen that house or anyone in it. He’d been loaded in a car and taken away, and that place that he’d called home, had gradually become a distant memory that he’d buried deep within himself. He’d tried to bury the memories too. The smells and sounds and sensations of that house of horrors. He’d tried with everything he had to erase it, but it had always been there, lurking in the background and festering like some sort of cancer in the back of his mind. Now all it had taken was one stupid news report to unearth it and bring it all back to him in vivid detail. With that police investigation underway, he was fairly sure that it wouldn’t be long before they tracked him down. What was he going to do then?



“Kyle Braxton!” said Alf, standing over him as he blinked in the bright sunshine. He was carrying his fishing gear and was on his way to his favourite spot when he’d spotted a body lying in the dunes. “What’s a respected businessman like you doing sleeping on the beach?!” asked Alf, in a teasing tone. “Bit too much to drink last night, eh?” He reached out a hand to Kyle and pulled him to his feet, dusting the sand off his back in an affectionate sort of way. “Well, I’d be lying if I said that we hadn’t all been there!” he chuckled.

“Thanks Alf” said Kyle, hiding his discomfort as best as he could, and pretending to be hungover for effect. He dusted down his clothes and squinted at the watch on his wrist. “Oh God! Alf! Tamara’s gonna kill me!” he said, taking off across the sand as fast as he could go.

Alf watched him run, shaking his head and rolling his eyes at him. “She’s got you well trained!” he shouted after him as he disappeared down the beach. “Ailsa would have had my guts for garters!” he muttered, chuckling to himself again as he went on his way.



“Oh my God, Kyle!” exclaimed Tamara, holding a screaming Noah in her arms and trying to manage a phone call at the same time. “It’s okay, Pheebs. He’s back… okay, bye” she said, dropping the phone on the couch. She looked at him with concern and said, “Kyle, are you okay?! What happened?! Do you have any idea how worried I’ve been?!”

“Sorry” said Kyle, fighting back the urge to start crying again. “I didn’t mean to frighten you, Tam… Really, I’m so sorry!” He came across the room and kissed her on the forehead, gently lifting Noah out of her arms, and placing him on his chest. “Hey, c’mon little man… what’s all this crying about?” he said to the tiny baby in his arms as he gently swayed him to and fro.

Her big brown eyes filled with tears and she said, “Kyle… I don’t know what’s going on with you… First the nightmare, and then the panic attack… and now you disappear overnight… Is it the baby? Are you having second thoughts or something? I mean… Is it too much responsibility?!” She wiped at her tears with the back of her hand and looked up at him with eyes full of hurt.

He looked at her in shock. “How could you even think that?!” he asked, feeling like he was under attack. “Noah means everything to me!” he said, looking at his baby’s fragile little body in his pale blue grow suit.

“What is it then, Kyle?” she asked, slumping on the arm of the couch in a defeated sort of way. “Please, baby, I love you, but I just feel like you won’t let me in… Sometimes I feel like I don’t really know who you are…” She tapped the side of her head with her index finger, “Not really… not in here”.

He turned away from her, cradling their baby in his arms, and blinked back the wave of tears that was threatening to break… Looking at his baby boy, he knew that Noah deserved parents with a strong marriage. He wanted him to have the perfect family life that you only see on TV. If he was going to come anywhere close to having that, then something was going to have to give. He was going to have to let Tamara in, even if it terrified him. What kind of marriage would it be if he couldn’t trust her? He couldn’t continue to hold her at arm’s length for the rest of their lives and expect for them to have a strong relationship. He was frightened to lose her but a relationship built on lies and omissions wasn’t much of a relationship at all.  He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, trying to quell the rising wave of anxiety in his chest. This was it. He was going to have to do it. He was going to have to tell Tamara…

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Thanks everyone for taking the time to comment. It really means a lot to me :P I hope you enjoy this chapter! xxx

It's all getting very dark now so you have been warned.




Chapter 8


Ash sat on the edge of the bed, and stared at the floor with a slightly dazed expression, wondering what to say. He was in shock. He didn’t know how he was going to face Kyle the next time he saw him, knowing now what he knew. He wished that Phoebe hadn’t told him. He knew that he was a pretty rubbish liar, and he really wasn’t good at controlling his facial expressions. Billie always joked that he’d make a terrible poker player and he knew that she was right. He knew that he was going to give himself away, and he didn’t want Kyle to feel betrayed, mainly for Phoebe’s sake.

“I don’t know what to say” said Ash, glancing across at Phoebe, who was sitting cross legged on the bed and sniffling badly. “The poor guy…” he said, shaking his head sadly.

“I shouldn’t have told you!” said Phoebe, shaking her head at herself angrily and wiping at her tears with her sleeve. She was annoyed with herself for betraying Kyle’s trust, but she’d been arguing with Ash and it had just slipped out. “Kyle told me that in confidence, and I shouldn’t have told anyone! You can’t let him know that you know! I mean it, Ash, please don’t say anything to anyone!”

“What’s he going to do?” asked Ash, “I mean… about the police in Melbourne?” He’d been watching all the news coverage for the last few weeks and knew most of the gory details. Everyone did. He couldn’t imagine what it must have been like to live through an ordeal like that. Kyle seemed so normal. Part of him wasn’t sure that he believed him.

“He says he’s not going” said Phoebe, “He can’t face it.” She didn’t blame Kyle for not wanting to go there. She’d seen how difficult it was for him to tell her, and she hadn’t pushed him for more details, or poked and prodded at him like the police would. She wasn’t sure that he’d cope with a police interview.

“So what?! He’s gonna let those sickos get away with it?!” exclaimed Ash, feeling angry on Kyle’s behalf. If it was true, Ash thought that he needed to come forward and speak to the police, whether he liked it or not. Those animals were out there somewhere, maybe hurting more kids, and maybe Kyle could help the police to track them down.

“It’s his choice!” said Phoebe, sounding a little panicked. She crawled across the bed and put her arms around Ash’s neck. “Please, Ash! He can’t know that I told you! It wasn’t my secret to tell…”  She leaned in against him from behind, with her arms stretched around him, and rested her head on his shoulder. She thought about how long Ash had kept Brax’s secret to himself, and how he hadn’t even told her when she’d pushed him for answers. Not for a while anyway. Ash had kept that secret for months and months in the most difficult of circumstances, and she hadn’t even lasted a full day! She felt a pang of guilt when she thought how scared Kyle had been to tell her, and how much he’d begged her not to tell anyone. Now she’d gone and told Ash. If Kyle found out, she knew that he’d never forgive her, and he’d be right not to. “I’m a really bad friend, aren’t I?!”



Tamara glanced at Kyle and bit her lip a little nervously. He’d been holding on to her hand so tightly since they’d started watching the news coverage that her fingers had gradually gone numb, but she didn’t have the heart to pull her hand away, no matter how much it hurt. He needed her.

“…the police hunt for Simon and Jessica Hames continues, after initial leads in the case have proved to a be a hoax.”

The images of two relatively pleasant looking people, if incredibly dated in their choice of clothing, flashed up on the screen. In the photo, Simon had mousy brown hair and a moustache that had gone out of fashion back in the eighties, along with a pair of rectangular wire frame glasses. He wore a grey knit sweater, with a white shirt and maroon tie underneath, looking as though his mother had just dressed him for church.  Jessica was smiling sweetly into the camera with her lips painted in that pearlescent pink lipstick that was so popular in the eighties. She had her hair bleached a peroxide blonde, where you could just see the dark roots beginning to re-emerge, and it was set in a sort of flicked out perm. She had a mustard coloured blouse on that had boxy shoulder pads, and she was wearing a large gold bangle on her wrist. It was clearly a professional portrait taken a long time ago, and it could easily have been any nice middle-class couple, and not the monsters that Kyle knew them to be. They looked every bit the happy respectable couple that you wouldn’t mind living next door to. Kyle remembered them all too well, and he knew that they didn’t look anything like that in real life. Yes, they were well presented, putting on a façade of respectability for the local community, but Kyle had never met two people with more cruelty and evil in their eyes. His blood ran cold just to look at them. Having to see their faces again after all this time was making him feel panicky and nauseous, and he thought that he might throw up.

“Exhumations have now concluded at the Hames’ residence and police have confirmed this afternoon that the number of bodies recovered from the property has risen to eleven. Among those, a number of very young infants. No details regarding their identities have yet been released. The house appears rather grand and well maintained from the outside, but has for many years concealed an interior that can only be described as a house of horrors.”

Kyle let out a gasp and gripped Tamara’s hand so hard that she thought he might break her fingers. They had just cut from the newsreader in the studio to video footage of the basement of the house.  He hadn’t seen that place in thirteen years, but seeing it again now, he was suddenly overwhelmed with long suppressed memories of smells and sounds and sensations, so vivid that he felt like his head was spinning. Some memories he could still physically feel. His heart was thumping ferociously now and he felt like he was slowly suffocating. The camera swept through the basement, lighting the way with the bright light on the top of the camera, illuminating small kennel-like rooms with bolt-able doors and unlocked padlocks. Children’s shabby clothing littered the floor. The place looked such a sad and squalid place for any creature to have to live, and emanated a misery that most people could never imagine. Kyle could remember it only too well. The cold had been unbearable at times, made all the worse by the muffled cries of other children, isolated in the darkness. He didn’t know how he’d survived it.

“The basement is made up of what appear to be numerous dark and dingy cells, where it seems children have been living and sleeping for many years. The raid on the property found four young children living in squalid conditions and sleeping on bare floors, with no blankets or any type of bedding. Their identities are as yet unknown. Based on materials discovered on the premises at the time of the raid, it is believed that Mr and Mrs Hames may have been operating as part of a paedophile ring for upwards of twenty years. Police are concerned for the whereabouts of a number of individuals and are again appealing for anyone that may have spent time as a child in the Hames’ household, to please get in touch with Melbourne police urgently...”

Kyle got up and began pacing the room, trying to get his breathing under control. He clasped his hands at the back of his head, closing his eyes and blowing out a big breath as slowly as he could manage, in the hope that it might help to slow his heartrate a little. He’d thought that maybe confronting it might help but this had all been too much, too soon.

 Suddenly he felt Tamara’s arms around his waist and it made him jump a mile high. “Jesus, Tam!” he exclaimed. The look of hurt on her face made him feel bad though, so he put his arms around her, and gave her an apologetic look. “Sorry, Tam… I’m just a bit jumpy.” he said.

She looked up at him with puffy tear-filled eyes and her chin trembled as she tried not to cry. “I can’t believe that that’s where they kept you, Kyle! …That’s where you lived?! When you were just a little boy?!”

“Home sweet home, eh?” he said with a sarcastic tone and nodded sadly. He pulled her into a hug again and rested his chin on top of her head. She could hear how fast his heart was beating now, even if he was doing his best to hide it.

“And they kept you down there like a prisoner, locked up in the dark?!” she asked, still not really able to comprehend it. She didn’t understand how he could have kept this to himself for so long and how he’d ended up so normal. How could anyone live a life like that and not have serious issues?!

“I liked it better down there” he mumbled, as memories of frightening bright lights flashed through his mind. “It was better than upstairs… believe me.” he said, shuddering at the unpleasant memories that were flooding back uninvited. He felt physically sick at the thought of walking up those stairs.

“How did you get away?” she asked, a little cautiously. She knew that telling her yesterday had been a huge ordeal for him, and she’d worried last night that he might never stop crying. It had been like a floodgate had suddenly opened, and all the pain and hurt that he’d been bottling up for years had suddenly come bubbling to the surface. He had seemed so totally broken. She’d always wanted to know about his childhood, but she’d never imagined anything like this, and she’d ended up getting a lot more than she’d ever bargained for. The pain and suffering that he had endured in his life was unimaginable to her, and she felt pitifully unprepared to deal with this level of trauma. She struggled to know what to say to him, but she was doing her best. She’d held him all through the night last night, cradling him in her arms, but he’d been very quiet and withdrawn this morning. He’d really only started to talk to her again this afternoon. He was clearly hurting, and she didn’t want to push him too much.

“DoCS came and got me” he said, letting her go, and throwing himself on the sofa in exhaustion. It was so hard talking about this stuff and he knew that this was only going to the be the start of it. Now that he’d let the cat out of the bag, Tamara would have endless questions, and he wasn’t sure that he could deal with having to answer them. Phoebe would be a nightmare to deal with too.  

He pulled his feet onto the couch and put his arms around his knees. He didn’t really know what had happened to make DoCS come and get him… not for sure anyway. He really only knew what he’d been told when he’d started digging into his past in the years that followed. But there were big gaping holes in his records and things that simply didn’t make sense. So many questions didn’t have an answer.  For years he hadn’t even asked the questions. Life had just changed for him overnight, without explanation. Suddenly people had wanted him to talk instead of staying silent, and to sleep upstairs in a bed, when he knew that that wasn’t what beds were for. Everything he knew had been turned on its head. It had taken him a very long time to understand that Jenny and David didn’t want him to do any of that stuff anymore. He’d assumed that that’s what all adults wanted from him. That had been true of every adult that he’d ever met before. He didn’t understand the new rules. He’d been suspicious for a long time when he’d seen David’s cameras in the house. He’d been convinced that sooner or later he’d be dragged out of bed in the middle of the night, to a room full of strange men, and made to do things that he didn’t like. He’d resigned himself to it and was simply waiting for it to happen. That had been his reality for as long as he could remember, and he’d never had a choice in the matter, so why would it be any different now? But that night never came. He couldn’t understand what these new people wanted from him, and he’d been frightened to trust them, in case they moved the goalposts on him again unexpectedly. But as time had gone on he’d come to realise that he was finally safe, and he’d gradually become a little more curious as to what had actually happened that day. What had led to him being rescued from the mouths of wolves, to being placed with kind and gentle people like the Summers? When he was sixteen he’d made an appointment with his case worker and asked to see his full case file.

“My case worker told me that dad’s sister had been campaigning for a while to get custody of me …and she finally got some judge to grant her trial custody… That’s when they came to get me… Apparently when she finally had me, I wouldn’t talk to her, and she thought I was more trouble than I was worth… so she dumped me back in the system…”

“Kyle, that’s awful!” said Tamara, slipping back into the seat beside him and taking his hand again. “I can’t believe she’d just abandon you like that!”

He shrugged and shook his head a little sadly. “I don’t remember her.” he said, with a heavy sigh, “I guess I was pretty messed up… and she didn’t know how to deal with me… I don’t really blame her…”

He stared at the floor in a dazed sort of way, thinking about the bodies of the children that they’d discovered at the house. “She did get me out of there… so I suppose I owe her my life.” he said quietly.

He realised now that his silence had allowed so many more children to be hurt, and he wondered if he could have prevented it. His stomach began to tie itself in knots. He felt guilty at the thought that if he’d spoken up sooner, then maybe some of those kids wouldn’t have been killed. He thought about the four children they’d found living in the basement, when they’d raided the house, and wondered if they’d blame him. He was the only one that could have put a stop to it. He was the one that got away! He wondered why he’d never gone to the authorities about it, and got them to look for that house. Why had he never told the Summers about it? Deep inside him, he’d known that other children were bound to be suffering his same fate, but he’d felt powerless to do anything. He may have started speaking eventually, but he’d never really stopped being that mute child, afraid to open his mouth and tell people what had happened. Admitting it to himself had been hard enough. He suddenly felt an intense guilt and was ashamed at his own cowardice. How many children had suffered over the last thirteen years because he’d stayed silent?! All of this was his fault!




Kat walked in the door carrying a pizza from Angelo’s, and started to head straight down the hallway, having decided to bypass the living-room and go eat on her bed. She was tired from a long day at work and all she wanted was to get into her pyjamas and veg out for the rest of the evening. She hoped that Ash and Phoebe wouldn’t be fighting again this evening. She was sick of hearing all the shouting. Couldn’t they just get along for one night?!

She’d just passed the living-room door when she heard Ash call her name. She rolled her eyes and gave a heavy sigh. She just wanted to go to her room! She took a few steps back and peeked in the door of the living-room expecting to see Phoebe and Ash on the couch. She was surprised to see Ash lying on the sofa with a bottle of beer in his hand, and no sign of Phoebe anywhere. “Yep?” she said, leaning against the doorframe and giving him a warm smile.

“Hey!” said Ash, looking bleary-eyed and grinning for ear to ear. She figured that he must have been drinking for a while, given the graveyard of beer bottles arranged on the coffee table, and the sleepy expression on his face. “Want a beer?” he asked, holding one of the bottles out to her and waving it slightly back and forth in a way that was supposed to be enticing.

She glanced down the hall towards her room and thought how nice it would be to just slip into bed and forget about this crappy day, but then she looked at Ash, and she couldn’t help smiling. He was an idiot sometimes, but she liked him, and she enjoyed his company even when he was drunk. “Yeah, go on then” she said, throwing herself into the armchair beside him and chucking her feet up on the coffee table. She was still wearing her work boots but she didn’t think Ash would mind somehow. She opened her box of pizza and smiled at him when she saw him eyeing her pepperoni pizza hungrily. “Want a slice?” she asked.

They sat in comfortable silence munching their way through her pizza and drinking beer, and she thought that Phoebe was a lucky girl to have Ash in her life. He was so easy to be around. “Where’s Pheebs?” she asked, looking around the room as though she might be hiding somewhere.

“Gone to see Kyle” he slurred, frowning a little and lying back on the couch with his eyes closed. “She’s over there being his shoulder to cry on…”

Ash was clearly pretty drunk and she could see that he was close to nodding off.  She leaned over and took the bottle out of his hand, thinking that he’d spill it if she left him with it. “What’s wrong with Kyle?” she asked, vaguely curious. She thought that he’d been acting a little strangely at the party the other night.

Ash rolled over on the couch and drew his knees up into a foetal position to go to sleep. He mumbled something that she couldn’t quite hear, and she strained her ears to make him out. Her eyes widened as one word jumped out at her. The only word that she could make out was ‘paedophile’. Kneeling down beside him, she shook his shoulder, and asked again, “Ash, what’s wrong with Kyle?!”

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Thanks to Kristen, KittCatt, JarlieFanEver, Red Ranger 1, and ZacxLeah for all the kind comments. Again, this chapter is very dark, but I hope you enjoy it.



Chapter 9


Kyle woke with a start to the loud crash on the floorboards above his head. Something very heavy had fallen to the floor with great force and broken, sounding almost like it would come through the floorboards and crush him. His heart began to race and he wondered what was going on. He’d fallen asleep eventually, despite the raging hunger in his stomach, and the chill rising from the damp floor that had had his teeth chattering most of the day. It was dark. There was no light coming in from under the door now so he figured that it must be night-time. Normally they’d be coming to get him soon but the argument that was going on upstairs told him that something was different tonight. The shouting was getting louder and he strained to make out the words. Jessica was clearly furious about something, and Simon was shouting too, but he sounded more apologetic in his tone. “What are we going to do now?!” roared Jessica, and another loud crash followed. He realised that she must have thrown something. He heard Simon reply but his voice was much quieter and he couldn’t make him out. Jessica shouted again but this time it was too muffled and all he heard was “…such a mess!” He was incredibly frightened. Jessica and Simon didn’t often fight like this, but the last time that they’d had a big argument no-one had come to unlock their cells or give them anything to eat for three whole days. He’d been sure that he was going to die in there. When they’d finally brought the food, he’d almost been too weak to eat, and Jessica had forced some in his mouth and nearly choked him. He wondered if it was going to happen again. “You shouldn’t have done a foster!!!” bellowed Jessica, and then there was an enormously loud thud directly above him, followed by growling noises and scuffling. He couldn’t be sure, but he thought that maybe they were fighting and rolling about on the floor. After what seemed like an eternity, things began to quieten down, and the voices became a lot more muffled and moved away towards what he knew to be the living-room. He sat and waited, sure now that they would come to get him for the evening’s entertainment. He shuddered at the thought, and pulled his knees in as tightly as he could against his chest, wishing he could just disappear and cease to be.

Suddenly his door flung open and Simon grabbed him by his hair and dragged him out of his cell on his knees. He’d been asleep but he wasn’t sure for how long. He could see through the bars on the half-windows up high that it was bright outside so he realised that he must have slept through the night. They hadn’t come for him! Simon liked to drag the kids about by their hair, enjoying their squeals, but Kyle wouldn’t cry out at the pain and give him the satisfaction. Simon pulled him up onto his feet and dragged him across the floor and up the stairs. It was blindingly bright up there for someone not used to seeing daylight, so he tried to shield his eyes with his hands and blinked to adjust them to the light. Simon shoved him into the living-room towards Jessica, and a man that he didn’t know, and said “Well, do you think he’ll do?”. Jessica grabbed his face and turned it roughly from side to side, staring at him intently. Simon looked at the man beside him and said “What do you think? He’s a bit small, isn’t he?”  The man looked Kyle up and down and said “We don’t have much of a choice do we? Are you sure he won’t talk?” Simon nodded at the man and grinned a sadistic smile. “This one hasn’t made a peep in years.” Jessica gripped the back of Kyle’s neck digging her fingers into his flesh and said, “He won’t if he knows what’s good for him… S’pose we’d better get him cleaned up then.” She steered him, with an iron grip hold of the back of his neck, towards the bathroom, and he began to panic with the knowledge of what normally went on in there. She brought him in and began to claw at his clothing, ripping them off him roughly, and then she shoved him inside the cubicle. She turned the water on and freezing cold water cascaded on top of his head. He let out a squeal which made her smile, so he closed his eyes and tried to pretend that the water was warm. She scrubbed his skin raw under the cold water with a scrubbing brush and got soap in his eyes when she washed his filthy hair.

Jessica dried him with a towel and pointed to a pile of clothes for him to dress himself. Shivering and shaking, he pulled on the new clothes, surprised at how much nicer they were than anything he’d ever had to wear before, but also that they were so big. They really didn’t fit him well. Jessica began to brush his hair, standing him in front of the mirror, but he kept his eyes fixed to the floor. He didn’t like to look at himself. Suddenly he felt Simon’s hand on his shoulder and he gave a startled jump. Simon leaned down beside him to look in the mirror and put his head right in against his. He could feel the stubble on Simon’s cheek and the heat of his damp breath in his ear as he spoke. “You know what happens to little boys who talk too much, don’t you Kyle?” said Simon, sneering at him in the mirror. “You want to keep that pretty pink tongue of yours, don’t you? You remember what happened to Tom, don’t you? …Yeah you do! …See, Tom never knew when to shut up, and that’s not good for business, Kyle! You remember, don’t you? …If you ever tell anyone about me or Jess, I’ll come and find you and I’ll cut that tongue of yours out of your mouth and feed it to you! You got that?!”  

Swamped in clothes that were far too big for him, he was led back into the living-room and shoved towards the man. The man reached out his hand and nodded for Kyle to take it. Kyle obediently took the hand that was offered to him, expecting to be led back towards one of the bedrooms, but his heart skipped a beat as he realised that they were heading for the front door. He began to drag his feet and pull away when they got closer to it. He was terrified and his heart was beating so fast now that he thought it would burst. The door opened and a light, so bright it was hard for him to fathom, streamed in from outside. He stopped short and the man began to pull on his hand a bit more insistently. Kyle looked back at Jessica and Simon pleadingly and held on to the doorframe. He’d never been more terrified. The man put his arm around him and lifted him under his arm to carry him down the steps. Kyle began to scream and cry as he was carried out the door into blinding white light…

“Kyle! Kyle! It’s just a nightmare!” cried Tamara, crouching down beside him and reaching for his hand. He was huddled on the floor in the corner of their bedroom, staring like a madman in all directions, and making the strangest noise she’d ever heard. It was more of a howl than anything. She tried to take his hand but he pulled it away and let out another anguished cry. Noah woke up and started to wail too. “Kyle! Wake up, Kyle!” she shouted, as she frantically shook his shoulder. Suddenly, the vacancy in his eyes disappeared and he looked at her properly.

“Sorry!” he said, looking shocked and dazed. He was still breathing heavily, with his heart thumping in his chest, but looking at Tamara’s worried face, he felt ashamed and embarrassed. “Sorry for frightening you” he said, pulling himself to his feet and moving across the room to sit on the side of the bed. She could see how badly he was shaking.

“You have nothing to apologise for!” said Tamara, caressing the side of his face. He put his arms around her waist and his head against her stomach and she began to gently stroke his hair. “It was just a nightmare, Kyle” she said, smiling down at him sympathetically, “You’re safe here with me. It wasn’t real”.

“That’s the thing, Tam” he said, giving her a pained smile. ”My nightmares are real… Growing up, I didn’t have monsters under the bed… the monsters were very very real, and they were all around me.”




“I need to speak to the detective in charge of the Hames investigation” said Kat, speaking on the phone while scrolling through the limited available details on one of the station computers. There wasn’t a great deal of information available to her on the system without further authorisation. Most of what she knew, she’d gleaned from Google. She’d been shocked when Ash had told her that Kyle was one of the victims in this horrific case of child abuse that everyone had been talking about, and she’d spent the rest of her evening poring over news stories in her room. Trawling through one awful report after another, and getting a clearer and clearer idea of the suffering that he must have endured, she was feeling more and more sorry for Kyle. The basement photos, full of dark and squalid cells, were truly shocking. No child should ever have had to live through something like that. She felt terribly sad to think that someone that she knew personally had been held there when they were just a vulnerable child. What terrible things must have happened to him!

“Okay… Well I have some information for him regarding one of the victims and I’d appreciate it if he could give me a call back… Yes, that’s right, Constable Katarina Chapman, Yabbie Creek Police” said Kat.

She put down the phone and sat back in her chair with a heavy sigh. She thought about Kyle’s sometimes volatile temper, and numerous run-ins with the law in the past, and somehow things made a bit more sense to her now. Kyle had always been a bit of a troubled soul, and if what Ash had said was true, then there was certainly a reasonable explanation for it. Looking at his file, she could see now that he was very easily led, which fit the profile of someone with a background of physical and sexual abuse. It looked like all of the things he’d done had been out of some misguided loyalty to either his father or his brothers, and what seemed like a desperate need to be part of a family. He’d just been unfortunate that that family had been the Braxtons. Without his brothers to steer him wrong in recent times, he’d become a very different man. He’d settled down a lot, keeping out of trouble since Brax had died, and getting together with Tamara had turned him into every inch the family man. He’d been beaming with excitement over the impending arrival of his baby and she’d never seen anyone more devoted to his wife. When she thought about the Kyle Braxton that she’d met a few years ago, and what she’d thought of him then, she was genuinely surprised at how much he’d gone up in her estimation, especially over the last year. She actually thought of him as a friend now. To find out that he’d been abused in this way was not only shocking, it actually hurt her to think about it, and she wanted to reach out to him and offer him her support.

First things first though. She wanted to find out what the Melbourne police wanted from him and whether, from a police point of view, she needed to do anything. Knowing what she knew now, and how closed Kyle was as a person, she wasn’t sure that he’d cope with police questioning. She thought that maybe she could find out what they wanted, and if it was only an interview, then maybe she could conduct it herself. She thought it might be less traumatic for him to speak to someone he knew rather than having to go to Melbourne and be interviewed by strangers. She thought how hard it had been for her to speak up about the domestic abuse that she had suffered, and how much harder it would be for Kyle to talk about what had happened to him. She didn’t know how he had lived with this secret for so long.




Ash sat at one of the tables outside Angelo’s waiting for Billie to get there. He hadn’t seen her in a couple of days and he was looking forward to a bit of a catch-up. They’d said they’d have dinner together and a few drinks. Much as he was looking forward to some quality brother-sister time, he was a bit pre-occupied with the mess that he’d made of things and dreading when it would inevitably blow up in his face. He knew that he shouldn’t have told Kat and that being drunk wasn’t much of an excuse. Phoebe was going to kill him when she found out. He felt bad for Kyle too. He knew that Kyle really didn’t want anyone to know, but now that he’d gone and blabbed to Kat, he knew that she wouldn’t be able to resist going all ‘police investigation’ on it. Sometimes he hated how much of a big mouth he had. He took out his phone and scrolled to a message from Peter Jackson. “All good. Keep an eye on him for me. We’ll be in touch” it said.

He saw Billie arrive and give him one of those beautiful smiles of hers as she walked towards him. He’d never understand why Billie had such bad luck with guys. She was such a beautiful girl, both inside and out. No-one had a bigger heart than her and he thought she was one of the best people he knew.

“Hey!” said Billie, slipping onto the stool opposite him. She reached over, lifting his bottle of beer, and took a big swig out of it. “Gonna shout me a beer?” she asked, grinning from ear to ear.

“Well, now that you’ve drunk most of mine… Yeah, you want the same thing?” he asked, smiling from ear to ear. She nodded, so he went to the bar to get the drinks.

He left his phone unlocked on the table and sitting open at the text message from Peter Jackson. Billie glanced at it a little suspiciously.

He returned to the table and set the beers down. “I ordered you that nasty pizza you like so much.” said Ash, in a teasing tone. “I figured you wouldn’t want to eat any of the normal stuff that, y’know, normal people eat!”

She laughed and said “You’re missing out… I’m telling you! It’s a taste sensation! Mmmm mmmm mmmm!”

He wrinkled up his nose and made a noise like he was vomiting. “I think I’ll take your word for it!” he said, chuckling and taking a gulp of beer.

Billie pointed to Ash’s phone and said, “I didn’t know you and Peter Jackson were besties? Didn’t have you down as much of a Lord Of The Rings fan?”

He forced what was meant to look like a smirk and swiped his phone off the table and into his pocket. “Yeah, me and Frodo, we’re like that” he said, crossing his fingers together. “Nah, different Peter. He’s an old mate from lock up.”

She tilted her head at him and raised her eyebrows, making it very clear that she didn’t believe him. “It’s Brax, isn’t it?” she whispered quietly.

“Shhh!” he said, looking around him to check that no-one was listening. “Peter’s just worried about his brother, that’s all. He wants me to keep an eye on him for him.”

Billie nodded and smiled as she took another swig of her beer. She knew that Ash was fiercely loyal to Brax and that he’d do anything for him. “Might want to think of a name that isn’t a famous director!” she laughed, “and I don’t think your Peter is much of a Lord of the Rings fan either, come to think of it!”

The pizzas arrived and they began to eat. Ash pretended to be disgusted by Billie’s weird choice of toppings, as he had always done since they were kids. It was an established and comfortable joke that they never really got tired of, and that they both really enjoyed. Billie noticed that Ash was a bit quieter than normal though.

“You okay?” she asked, noticing that he’d drifted off into silence and was staring at the remains of his half-eaten pizza with a slightly dazed expression. It wasn’t like him to pick at his food. Normally he’d have had that pizza wolfed down in minutes and he’d be complaining about how weird her toppings were and how it meant he couldn’t steal some of hers. She knew that something wasn’t right. “I know you, Marty” she said, tilting her head at him and leaning across to put her hand on his shoulder. “What’s going on?”

He knew that he’d made a mess of things by telling Kat about Kyle, and he was worried that Phoebe would break up with him over it. Their relationship was already on pretty shaky ground without this added complication. Phoebe was also pretty unreasonable most of the time, and would be furious with him for breaking her trust, while simultaneously forgiving herself for breaking Kyle’s. She was often a bit of a hypocrite but he loved her anyway and he always forgave her for it. But now his stomach was a ball of anxiety and he needed to talk to someone about it. He needed advice about what to do. He really couldn’t be sure what was for the best. He thought that Brax would want to know about what was going on with Kyle, and that he’d be angry with him for keeping it from him. After all, he’d specifically asked him to keep an eye out for Kyle, and to let him know if anything was wrong. Well, something was definitely wrong! But then, it wasn’t his secret to tell, and Kyle had obviously kept it from his brothers for a reason. Blabbing to Brax seemed like a terrible betrayal. It was all so complicated.

“C’mon… Let’s go for a walk” he said, throwing the money for the food on the table and getting up from his stool. “I need your advice” he said, as he put his arm around her shoulder and led her out of the restaurant.


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Thanks again everyone for the lovely comments :P Very much appreciated. Hope you enjoy this one!



Chapter 10


Tamara rolled over in the bed and put her arm out to cuddle in against Kyle, like she normally did, but his side of the bed was cold and empty. She sat up, a little startled, and tried to see in the dimly lit room if he was anywhere around. He’d been having a lot of nightmares over the last few days and she’d found him numerous times huddled in a corner of the room. This time he was nowhere to be seen! She turned to look in the cot beside the bed and saw that it was empty too. She got up, wiping the sleep from her eyes, and went to find Kyle out in the living-room.  He was sitting on the couch with his feet up on the coffee table and he had a sleeping Noah cradled in his arms. Kyle’s head was hanging down, as he slept, and he was making a soft snoring noise. She was glad to see Kyle getting some much needed rest, even if he didn’t look that comfortable. She was pretty sure he was going to have a sore neck in the morning but at least he was actually getting some sleep! Looking at her two boys, comforting each other and snoozing together like that, she felt her heart swell with love. Kyle was such a good dad.

She picked up the blanket from the back of the armchair and slipped in beside him on the couch, leaning in against his shoulder and pulling the blanket around her little family. Kyle stirred a little, and repositioned Noah, so he was lying on his chest with his head nestled in against his neck. He put his arm around Tamara and mumbled, “He was fussing a little, I didn’t want him to wake you.”  She gave Kyle a peck on the cheek and kissed the top of Noah’s head. She looked at Kyle’s sleeping face and wondered how, with everything that had happened in his life, he’d become this beautiful kind-natured man. How was he not a bitter and twisted wreck? Glancing at Noah, with his tiny little chest rising and falling, she couldn’t imagine someone taking him and hurting him in the way that Kyle had been hurt as a child. That someone could do something like that to an innocent little boy was beyond her comprehension. Kyle had lived through so much trauma but he’d made it out the other side a man who was kind, and gentle, and incredibly loyal.  She looked at him now and she felt immensely proud to call him her husband. She didn’t think she’d ever met someone with more strength or courage. With a heavy sigh, she cuddled in beside him, closing her eyes, and listened to the slow and steady rhythm of his breathing.  “I love you so much” she whispered, as she drifted off to sleep.



“Are you sure that’s a good idea?” asked Tamara, looking at him with concern. “I mean, are you ready for that?”

“I’m not ill, Tam” said Kyle, drinking down the last of his orange juice and pushing his chair back in against the table. He was dressed and ready for work and it was going to be his first day back since Noah was born. He’d taken a couple of weeks to spend time with Tamara and Noah, and get them settled in, and then when all the stuff with the Hames’ had come up, he’d extended his leave another a couple of days.  “It’s time to go back.”

“Yeah, but Kyle, you haven’t been sleeping well …and you’re still… ‘processing’ things…” said Tamara, slipping her arms around his waist and looking up at him with worried eyes.

He laughed a little at her choice of words. “I can ‘process things’ while I’m working.” he said in a sarcastic tone, making the inverted commas sign with one hand. “Really, Tam, you don’t have to worry about me! It’s not like anything has really changed… I just need to get on with things and try to get things back to normal... I need this.”

She stood on her tiptoes and gave him a long slow kiss. “I love you” she said, smiling and tilting her head at him in concern. “Just don’t push yourself too hard.” she warned, putting her head against his chest and pulling him into a tight hug.

He smiled a little mischievously, and lifted her off the floor in a bear hug, spinning her round with her feet dangling. “Don’t Kyle!!!” she laughed and squealed, “You’re gonna make me pee!”

He set her down again and he leaned in and gave her a kiss on the forehead. “I love you.” he said with a gentle smile. “Bring Noah to see me after lunch, yeah?”



Ash had been desperately trying to avoid eye contact with Kyle throughout his shift, because he was certain that if he actually had to look at him, he’d give himself away. He was kneeling on the floor behind the bar, restocking the fridges after the lunchtime rush, when Kyle appeared beside him.

“Have you had a look at the roster?” asked Kyle, running his finger down the A4 page that was normally pinned on the wall just inside the kitchen door. “It doesn’t look right to me. I think we’ve got too many on at lunch and not enough for dinner… Who made this?”

“It was me” said Ash, glancing up at him quickly and then looking back inside the fridge. “If you think it’s wrong, go ahead and change it” he said, trying to sound as though he wasn’t bothered, but there was a hint of anxiety in his voice that made it sound like he was offended.

Kyle looked down at Ash as he tore at the packaging of a box of mixers and slotted them into the fridge, and felt like he’d been a bit ungrateful for Ash’s support over the last few weeks. He’d really stepped up and taken care of things while he’d been out on ‘paternity leave’.  “Sorry mate, it wasn’t a criticism…” he said in an apologetic tone. “I appreciate you looking after the place while I’ve been out… and I think you’ve done a good job”

“It’s fine” said Ash, turning to smile up at him. “No offence taken” he said. Looking up at Kyle now, he thought it was nothing short of amazing that he was trying to just get on with things. To have been through something like that as a child, and to have it all stirred up and thrown in your face so many years later, would have crushed the spirit of a lot of other people. To have the courage to get up and dust himself off like this was pretty impressive. He realised that he was staring at him with what must have looked like some kind of dewy-eyed admiration, and he looked away again, flushing red in the face and feeling a little embarrassed.

It hadn’t gone unnoticed. Kyle thought Ash had been acting pretty strangely all day and this was just the latest in what had been some fairly strange interactions. He started to get a nervous feeling in the pit of his stomach and wondered if Phoebe had told him. ‘Surely she wouldn’t have done that?’ he thought to himself, trying to tell himself that he was just being paranoid. He trusted Phoebe and he thought that she was a better person that that.

He sat down on one of the stools and started to look over the roster again, crossing out names and writing them in elsewhere. He had another sheet of paper and started to rule it out to re-write the roster again once he’d sorted out who was on and when.

Today hadn’t gone so badly, he thought. He’d managed to get through the lunch rush without any major mishaps and was settling back in quite nicely. He was glad to have the restaurant accounts to distract himself with, and the rosters to sort out. Being back at work was what he needed right now. It had been the first time in days that he’d been able to concentrate on something else.

He had his head down and was busily scribbling names of employees into time slots on his new roster when he felt a presence behind him. Someone was hovering nearby in a way that suggested that they were unsure of themselves. He looked up in surprise to see that Kat had just slipped onto the stool beside him, and was looking at him in the strangest way. She put her hand on his shoulder, and said, “Kyle, I need a word in private.” He opened his mouth to speak but fell silent when he saw the expression on her face. She looked very serious and was tilting her head at him in a way that was supposed to convey sympathy and concern. He recognised that look. It was the way she had looked when she came to tell them that Brax had drowned. It was her ‘I’m so sorry, but I have bad news’ face. His heart gave a terrible thump, and his stomach started to churn with nerves, as he began to worry that something had happened to Tamara or Noah.

“What’s happened?!” he finally managed to stammer, jumping to his feet with his eyes jumping out of his head. “Is Tamara okay?! Is it Noah?!”

“No Kyle!” said Kat, holding her hands up towards him with her palms out. “It’s okay… There’s nothing wrong!” she said, trying to calm his nerves. “I just want to speak to you about something, okay?”

“Then why are you looking at me like that?!” he said, beginning to put two and two together. From the pitying look on her face he was nearly sure that she knew. He didn’t know how she knew, but she knew. He’d known since the moment that he’d seen that news story that this day was coming, but now that it was here, he wasn’t sure that he could cope. He didn’t want to talk to the police or anyone else about this. Didn’t they understand how hard it was to say those words out loud? How disgusting and pathetic it made him feel?! Why couldn’t people just leave him alone?!

“I don’t want to do this here, Kyle. I just need to talk to you…” she said, looking at the panic stricken expression on his face, with concern. “I need to talk to you about Melbourne.”

His heart was racing and he was finding it hard to breathe, let alone speak. Recognising the early signs of a panic attack, he put his hand on his chest, and tried to calm his breathing. ‘Get it together, Kyle!’ he silently told himself. He was embarrassed, and he didn’t want Kat or anyone else in the restaurant to see what a mess he was, but he couldn’t stop shaking.

“Kyle, I didn’t mean to freak you out!” said Kat, realising that this might not have been the best approach. He was clearly deeply traumatised and this excessively panicked reaction was part and parcel of that. “Can we go somewhere to talk privately?” she tried again.

He nodded and led her outside onto the veranda. It was after the lunchtime rush and the place was basically empty so he knew that there was no-one left out there. He sat down on one of the chairs and nodded for Kat to take the chair opposite. Now that he knew what this was about, he couldn’t stop his mind from racing. He wondered what Kat wanted from him.

She sat down and gave him a sympathetic smile. She was feeling nervous about broaching this subject with him and really wasn’t sure how he was going to react. “I know about the Melbourne investigation” she said, watching him carefully to try to gauge his reaction. “I know that lots of young children were abused by some people called Hames. I know that they posed as foster parents and that they did some truly terrible things…”

He looked at the ground, as his whole body began to shake violently. He wanted nothing more than to run away and not have her look at him like this.  He hated the sympathetic head tilting but he hated the pity in her voice even more.

“I know that you were one of the children” continued Kat, not sure how far to push this. He hadn’t flown into a rage or thrown a table at her, so it seemed to be going pretty well so far. “The Melbourne police would really like to speak to you, Kyle… They need your help to track down the people who did this to you… and they’re trying to figure some other things out… They want us to do a DNA test, if you’re willing... I want you to know that I’m here to help you… if I can.” He still hadn’t said anything and he hadn’t taken his eyes off his shoes since she’d started speaking. She reached out and patted him gently on the knee. “I’m so sorry that this happened to you” she said softly, feeling genuinely sorry for him. “I’m so sorry, Kyle.”

He sat in the chair opposite Kat and felt like the ground had suddenly opened up below him. It wasn’t even really panic anymore, but a heavy sensation of impending doom. He’d been found out, and now it wouldn’t be long before everyone knew!  He felt his stomach give a terrible lurch and he knew that he was going to vomit. He stood up and tried to stagger off towards the toilet but he only got a few steps before he threw up. Ash suddenly appeared beside him, looking at Kat with concern, and started to pat him on the back as he continued to retch.

“Kat, he’s not ready for this!” said Ash, leading Kyle back to a chair and shouting to one of the other waitresses to get him a glass of water. “He needs time” he said to Kat, kneeling down in front of Kyle with his head tilted in concern. “It’ll be okay, mate” said Ash, patting him on the arm in a way that was supposed to be comforting. “Do you want me to call Tam?” he asked, taking out his phone.

Kyle looked at Ash, wide-eyed with horror, as the realisation sunk in. Phoebe had told him! His mind began to race as he re-ran all the conversations that he’d had today and tried to figure out if everyone knew. If she’d told Ash, how many other people had she told?! Was everyone in on it?! Did the whole town know?! Was he the laughing stock of the whole Bay?! Everyone would be laughing at him now, telling jokes about ‘kiddie fiddlers’, and whispering about him behind his back. How was he ever going to face people again now that they knew?!

He got to his feet, feeling like he was suffocating, and pushed Ash away from him as he headed for the door. He needed to get out. He needed more than anything to get away. He charged out the door and down the stairs.

Outside the surf-club, he became painfully aware of the number of people just standing around in small groups, laughing and chatting amongst themselves. Their laughter sounded cruel and full of ridicule, and their smiles looked like sadistic grins. Every one of them seemed to be enjoying the joke that was his miserable life. As he looked around him, he felt a chill run down his back, as he became convinced that everyone knew and that they were talking about him. Not just talking, they were laughing at him! He needed to get home and lock himself away from all these prying eyes, and then maybe he’d never leave the house again. A small dark cupboard, with a door that he could lock, seemed very appealing right now. His mind travelled back to the last time he had been the subject of public ridicule and he felt a fury building inside him.


Kyle stood shivering in nothing but his underwear, listening to the squeals of laughter, and looking around the playground at the gleeful faces of all the other children taking pleasure in his total humiliation. He really didn’t like school, and this was only day two!

Kyle’s first day at school had not gone well either. He’d been introduced to the class, and then told to sit at a desk about halfway down the room, beside a girl with red frizzy hair and pink plastic framed glasses. He was in a class with twelve year olds despite the fact that he was fourteen. Even so, he knew that he wasn’t going to be able to keep up with the others in the class, and they’d already arranged a special tutor and remedial lessons for him to help him catch up. The class had been told in advance that there was a new kid starting who was a little bit special and that they were to be very kind to him. They might as well have put a target on his back as far as the class bully was concerned. Jason Blackmore had been out for his blood from the moment that he’d set foot in the classroom. He was at the desk behind Kyle and had started by flicking Kyle’s ears every time the teacher wasn’t looking. After that he’d started prodding him in the back pretty insistently, but Kyle was no stranger to physical discomfort, so he’d done his best to tune it out and pretend it wasn’t happening. He didn’t want to do anything wrong in case he got in trouble and they sent him back to Simon and Jessica. At lunch, Jason had come over and started punching him in the arm, over and over again, looking for a reaction. He didn’t get one. It was only when he’d reached over Kyle’s shoulder and taken his sandwich from him that Kyle had seen red. Suddenly they were on the floor and Kyle had sunk his teeth into Jason’s arm. The teachers broke up the fight and frogmarched them both to the principal’s office. The parents had been called in and the Summers had been warned that this kind of behaviour would not be tolerated.

Kyle had found it hard to explain. He couldn’t tell them the truth because that would have meant telling them about that house… The truth was, that for as long as he could remember, he’d never been sure when or if he’d get another meal. Sometimes days would go by and he’d be marched up and down those stairs, feeling weak and dizzy, and with a stomach so empty it felt like it was devouring itself. When Jessica would finally bring the bucket down, there’d be a feeding frenzy, and the kids would nearly rip each other limb from limb to get a handful of whatever was going. He’d often crawled the floor to pick up whatever scraps the others had missed. Sometimes when he’d been brought upstairs there’d been lots of food sitting around on the coffee table, but he’d never been allowed to eat it. The worst beating that he’d ever got was when he’d stolen a bar of chocolate off the table and tried to hide it to eat later. Food was not something he took for granted. He had hidden stashes of it all around his bedroom at the Summers’ house, hidden in his underwear drawer, and in his shoes in the closet. Jenny kept finding his hiding spots, and had taken his stashes away from him, telling him that it wasn’t hygienic to keep half-eaten food in his room. When he’d kept doing it, they’d agreed that he could keep a shelf of food in his closet. Every evening he would run his fingers over the unopened packets of biscuits and potato chips sitting on the shelf in the closet in his room, and he’d breathe a sigh of relief as he went to bed. But he’d sometimes wake, terrified that someone might have taken it, and have to go and check. Food was no laughing matter!

The next day, Jason and his mates had been waiting for him and they’d got him in the playground at lunchtime. They’d held him down and stripped him of his clothes, leaving him feeling an intense humiliation that sadly was nothing new. It wasn’t the first time that he’d had to stand in front of people feeling naked and vulnerable, but it was the first time it had been at the hands of other kids. He’d never felt humiliation so intense. Their laughter rang in his ears and he went home that day and hid in the closet again for the first time in over a month…


He’d never forgotten that feeling. He saw a group of teenagers up ahead of him, and as he drew nearer, he could hear that they were laughing hysterically. He saw one of the boys look at him as he got closer, and then whisper in one of the girls’ ears, before collapsing into fits of giggles. The thought that everyone was laughing at something so deeply personal to him was more than he could take, and the hurt and humiliation that he felt was overwhelming. He couldn’t take it anymore. He looked at their smug insensitive faces and his blood began to boil. They’d never understand what he’d been through in his life and the fact that they could find it funny just showed what spoilt and over privileged little brats they all were. Someone needed to teach them a lesson!

He grabbed the ringleader by the front of his shirt and pulled him up onto his tiptoes so his face was only inches from his own. “You think rape is funny?!” he roared in his face. “You think that’s funny?! Do you?! You little creep!”

“Let him go!” shouted Ash, as he grabbed Kyle’s arm, and pulled him away from a thoroughly terrified looking teenage boy.  “What are you doing mate? He’d just a kid!” said Ash, putting himself between Kyle and the group of startled kids.

“He’s laughing at me! They all are!” yelled Kyle, pointing at the frightened group of teenagers. “Everyone knows now… and they think it’s funny”. His voice broke on the last word and he began to cry. “They think what those monsters did to me is funny. They think it’s funny that they stole my childhood!” He fell to his knees, weeping inconsolably, and hid his face as his whole body began to shudder. “They think it’s funny…” he sobbed.

Ash knelt down beside him, motioning for the kids to move away and give them space. “He doesn’t know anything, Kyle! No-one knows anything!” he said, putting his arm around his shoulder. “And no-one thinks it’s funny, mate… There’s nothing funny about any of this.”

Kyle looked at Ash, with eyes full of pain and sadness, and said “I don’t want people to know… I don’t want anyone to know!”

Ash pulled him into a hug and held him tightly. He nodded apologetically to the worried looking teen, who was still watching from a distance. He was clearly still reeling from what he had seen as a clear threat of sexual violence on Kyle’s part. Ash mouthed the word ‘sorry’ to him and shook his head a little sadly as he walked away.



“I’ll be okay, Ash!” said Kyle, looking embarrassed as they made their way towards his front door. “You don’t need to escort me home” he said, laughing a little nervously in an effort to make light of things.

“I’m not leaving you on your own, mate!” said Ash, still looking concerned. “I just want to make sure that Tam is here and that you’re not gonna be alone this evening.”

“Tam’s home” said Kyle, shaking his head at Ash in a slightly exasperated way, as he took his keys out. He was embarrassed that Ash had seen him have such a public meltdown and he was mortified at the thought of running into any of those kids again. He’d really made a show of himself today! All he really wanted was to get inside and hide his face from the world for as long as possible. He was hoping that he could get Ash to leave pretty sharpish. “We have a baby who’s only a month old… where else would she be?” he reasoned.

He opened the door, and stepped into the living-room, with Ash following close behind him. His mouth fell open when he saw that Tamara wasn’t alone. “What are you doing here?!” exclaimed Kyle, looking at the man sitting on his couch.

“Nice!” he replied, “What kind of way is that to greet your brother?!”

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