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Family Together

Guest shahhnun

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Story Title: Family Together

Genre: Drama

Type of story: Long fic

Main Characters: Kane, the Sutherlands

BTTB rating: T

Summary: Kirsty's family threatens to tear Kane's apart.

Chapter 1

Seven year old Emma tip-toed down the hall. The hands on the clock nearby both pointed to twelve. The house was dark and quiet. She stopped in the doorway of the kitchen, concealed by the shadows, just watching. The door out into the back garden was open, just the transparent screen closed to keep out any unwelcome bugs. She watched him in total silence. Sitting on the ground, back against the wall of the house, his knees drawn up and elbows resting on them. The coffee in the cup beside him must be stone cold by now. He stared off into the distance, lost in his thoughts.

This was a nightly routine. By day, he was their daddy: full of life, playing, laughing, kissing away tears, cleaning scrapped knees, telling stories. But when they were all in bed asleep he curled up, thinking of his loss.

The squeak from the screen hinges snapped him back from his thoughts. Kane smiled softly as his eldest daughter came outside and climbed onto his lap.

“Hey Princess! Shouldn’t you be asleep?” His smile told her he wasn’t scolding.

“Can’t sleep. Lynn’s snoring”

Kane laughed. Yup Lynn, one of his eighteen-month old twins did an excellent impression of a tractor in her sleep!!

“What were you and Uncle Karl fighting about earlier?”

Kane took in a deep breath. He hadn’t realised they’d been heard. Karl was his best mate, but they’d had quite a disagreement earlier that evening when the kids were in bed. In the end, Karl had stormed off home to his wife, Fiona, frustrated that Kane couldn’t see where he was coming from.

“Just silly grown-up stuff. You know, which footie game to watch, who’s turn it is to go to the fridge…!” Kane tried to keep his tone of voice light but he winced at lying to his daughter. But the truth was much too complicated. Emma seemed satisfied with his answer though and within minutes had dozed off in his arms. He carried her back inside out of the night air and to her room. He had to wake her slightly to get her into the top bunk of the bed. Beneath her, Lynn was snoring away, and kicking. She was an active little sleeper. Across the room in the other set of bunks, six year old Olivia and Lynn’s twin, Ruthie, were sound asleep. Kane kissed each of them softly and left the room. He crept in to check on his boys – Jamie and Daniel – in the next room and then made his way into his own empty room.

He sat quietly at the edge of the bed, staring at the wedding photo nearby. It hardly seemed like eight years ago when they had smiled into that camera. How things had changed. They had left Summer Bay to get married in secret, Kirsty had been almost three months pregnant at that time and they both knew that there was no way in the world they could bring up a child in that town. They had moved to another sea-side town about four hours away and set up home. Kane had got a job on a boat and Kirsty had started working for a local hairdresser, Fiona. Kirsty had rightly thought that Kane and Fiona’s then boyfriend, Karl, would get on really well and soon the four were inseparable. A year after Emma had been born, Olivia arrived. Eighteen months later came Jamie, then Daniel and finally their twin daughters Ruthie and Lynn.

Everything had been perfect until that evening, when the twins were just eight months old. They had run out of nappies – a disaster with two babies. Kirsty had gone out to the shops to buy some. She took the car to be faster. A careful driver, she had waited her turn at the junction until the lights went green. But the other driver, four times over the limit, wasn’t so careful. He had smashed into Kirsty’s car – she hadn’t stood a chance. Till the day he’d die, Kane would never forget that knock on the door.

Ten months later, the pain was still as strong as ever but the children kept him going. Tonight, though, it had all come back again with his and Karls’ argument. Karl and Fiona were the only two who knew the real reason Kirsty and Kane had run away from Summer Bay. But even they had never dreamt that Kane had kept her death a secret. Karl had been horrified to realise tonight that, ten months later, the Sutherland family had no idea of their daughter’s fate. One day, Kane would pluck up the courage to make that call!

* * *

Chapter 2


“Daddy…..!” the little voice sounded appalled.

Kane just smirked.

Mornings in the Phillips household were chaos! Emma and Olivia were both in school. Olivia was quite happy with any old ponytail. But today Emma wanted a plait. And not just any plait, but one with a bright pink ribbon running through it. How on earth?! Emma sat patiently. As he wondered how to convince his daughter to shave her head, Kane smiled as he looked around at his little group.

Emma was his Little Princess, a “girly-girl” big into Barbies and pretty things. She was also very quiet and sensitive and the last child he would have wanted overhearing his argument with Karl.

Olivia, six, was a tomboy. Everything had to be explored, climbed and investigated. Kane still broke out in a cold sweat when he remembered the evening looking frantically for his little girl only to find her perched on the roof of the house, her back resting against the chimney stack, oblivious to the dangers.

Jamie was four – a real little softy. A charmer! He’d have the girls queuing up in years to come.

Three year old Daniel was lively! A sweet little thing, although he could be temperamental and had a strong pair of lungs when he didn’t get his way.

Then came the twins – Lynn was the quieter of the two (apart from when asleep) and preferred to suss out her surroundings and company before joining in while Ruthie was inquisitive and a proper little “Daddy’s Girl”. Even Kane had to admit that Ruthie had him completely wrapped round her little finger.

“Right, we’re done.” Kane had done his best. Checking his watch, he piled them all into the car and drove to Mrs Henderson’s. She was Karl’s mother and she looked after the kids for him by day. He needed to be at the boat early in the mornings, too early for the girls going to school, so he dropped them all there. He kissed his kids goodbye and headed for work, oblivious to Emma hopping up on Mrs Henderson’s chair to get a decent plait put in. Emma just didn’t have the heart to tell her daddy that his attempts at hairdressing were shocking!

Several hours later, Kane called goodbye to Jack, his boss on the boat. It had been a long day but Kane loved the hours out at sea. This was so much better than the weekend job in a dark, crowded warehouse. But every cent was vital!

His phone beeped to say he had a message. Fiona – she’d collected the kids for him from her mother-in-law and was minding them back at his place. Kane smiled, he had been running late and hated over-imposing on Mrs Henderson. Not that the woman ever complained. Now he had the time to stop off at the supermarket and get a few things.

As he strolled casually up the wharf, he passed the section where visiting boats were tied up. He slowed. The third boat up was strangely familiar. As he neared, he caught his breath. The paint was fading but there was no mistaking the name that leapt out at him.


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Chapter 3

“This is terrible! I distinctly asked for a room with a view”

Scott Hunter rested his head against the cold tiles on the bathroom wall, exhausted. Please be quiet, just stop complaining for five minutes. He didn’t dare say it out loud. What had possessed him to bring her???

Scott had married Dani Sutherland three and a half years ago. She was a journalist now and her job regularly took her jetting around the country, often gone for days. Dani Hunter was a career woman. No time to be starting a family yet, she kept telling him that she had to get places first. They hadn’t even noticed they were growing apart. But the bad breakup of her sister, Jade’s, marriage had been something of a wake up call. So, Scott had suggested Dani come with him on his two day trip up the coast. It had taken a bit of convincing but in the end she had agreed, also aware that her marriage required a bit of effort right now.

The first sign of trouble was when he saw her laptop coming on board! The second was when Summer Bay was just a tiny speck on the horizon and she had realised that she hadn’t charged the battery up enough and the laptop had died. Then the complaining started – it was too hot, the seats were too hard, the boat rocked too much…… Finally they had arrived at the lovely little town. Then Dani had announced that they had better get a hotel room for the night. There was no way she was sleeping on those hard beds! And now the view wasn’t up to scratch…

“Scott, are you going to be in there all day? I need to have a shower before we go and get something to eat”

“Alright, I’m coming out now” Well, if she’s in the bathroom, then that’s the last place I want to be.

It was a nice, cozy little restaurant. There were quite a few people there but they were lucky enough to get a seat by the window. Silence as they studied the menus.

“Oh my God!”

Scott stared in stunned silence as, for no apparent reason, his wife suddenly dropped her menu and bolted out of the restaurant. He could feel the colour rising in his cheeks as he faced the other, intrigued, diners. Scott grabbed his jacket and Dani’s bag and hurried after her. She was standing across the street outside a supermarket staring as a distant car turned right at the junction.

“Kane! That was Kane Phillips.”

“Are you sure?” Scott was stunned.

Dani turned towards him, trembling. “Positive! Scott – have I found her? Is she near here?” Her eyes filled up at the possibility.

Scott’s face softened. “Who knows? Even if it was Kane, they could have split up ages ago. He mightn’t know where she is now.”

Dani shook her head, thinking back to that note.

“She was pregnant when she left. Even if they split, he’d have an address because of the child”.

Dani turned and stared in the direction of the car. Her voice was barely a whisper. “I’ve found her Scott. My little sister. At last, I’ve found her”

* * *

Chapter 4

“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Daddy!

Kane ran into the living room to see what had happened. Emma was staring furiously at Ruthie who had just started to cry.

“She squashed my dollies!”

Kane held back the smile as he picked Ruthie up. Emma had carefully prepared a tea party for her dolls! Ruthie, curious as ever, had tottered a little too close to have a look and had landed right in the middle. Kane bounced the crying child on his lap while helping Emma straighten up the mess.

“Look, Princess, Barbie’s still smiling.”

Emma was instantly consoled. Ruthie’s cries were fading now that she knew she wasn’t in any trouble – Daddy rarely got cross with her. Across the room Lynn and the boys went back to their game now that the drama was over. Kane scanned the room for Olivia and spotted her – sitting in the fireplace staring up the chimney, fascinated.

Great, the next place she’s going to climb.

A knock at the door distracted him. Still balancing Ruthie, he made his way out into the hallway and opened the door.

He froze! Two faces from his past were staring back at him.

“Hello Kane,” Scott broke the silence. Dani was just staring – the small girl in Kane’s arms had distracted her. Ruthie had her mother’s big brown eyes. So much for their hopes of a split unless it was very recent.

“C-come in” Kane stuttered. Oh no, what was he going to do? His argument with Karl two nights ago suddenly came back to haunt him. Did they know?

Kane led Scott and Dani into the kitchen, closing the living room door as they passed.

“How old is she?” Dani nodded in Ruthie’s direction.

“Eighteen months,” Kane replied. “Um, do you want a coffee or something?”

“OK, thanks.” They were all being so polite. Ruthie’s childish humming broke the silence for the few minutes while Kane made the coffee. He opened the biscuit tin. Darn, all plain and a bit broken. Oh well, they’d have to do now!

“Thanks,” Scott took his cup. Ruthie had now lost interest in the visitors and the laughs from the living room sounded like she might be missing something so she wandered off.

“Where’s Kirsty?” the dreaded question.

Kane gulped down some coffee, no idea what he was going to say. “Uh, well, she’s not here.”

“So when will she be back?” Dani asked, eager to see her sister again.

A yell which was followed by a crash came from the living room.

“Excuse me!” Kane was thrilled with the distraction. He ran to check what had happened.

Dani rose from her seat at the table, intrigued by a picture she had just spotted. She picked the photo up off the dresser and gasped. Kane and Kirsty were each holding a baby and were flanked by two little girls and two little boys. Six children! All of a sudden Dani slid the photo, frame and all, into her bag.

“Dani!” Scott exclaimed, trying to keep his voice down. But Kane returned to the kitchen, there was no time put it back.

“Panic over!” He said nervously nodding in the direction of the living room.

“Soooo, where’s my sister?” Dani asked again.

Kane’s gaze dropped. Now or never. “Dani, I don’t know how to tell you this but, Kirsty, well, she’s dead. There was a car crash, she didn’t make it. I’m so sorry, I meant to call…” He turned away slightly, he could feel his eyes filling up. Talking about it always intensified his pain.

Dani stared in stunned silence for a moment, trying to take in the shocking piece of news. “Ohmigod! When’s … when’s the funeral?” she eventually managed to stutter, obviously assuming that the terrible accident was recent.

Kane nervously played with a biscuit. “It’s been and gone,” he said.

The couple opposite him exchanged horrified glances. Then Scott spoke, narrowing his gaze suspiciously: “Kane, when exactly did Kirsty die?” Kane almost whispered back the fatal date.

“But – but that was nearly a year ago,” Scott cried out, in shock.

In a daze, Dani stood up slowly. She picked up her bag and began to walk towards the front door of the house. “Dani!” Scott called after her, concerned, but she just kept walking.

“You are unbelievable,” he spat at Kane and then tore off after his wife, almost knocking down the three-year old boy in the hallway. Kane just stared after them. He barely noticed Daniel climbing into his lap and reaching eagerly for a biscuit.

Scott followed.

After slowly making her way out of the house Dani suddenly began to run. She ran faster than she had ever run in all her life. She had her destination in mind. She had seen it earlier that day while they had wandered around town aimlessly, waiting for Kane to finish work so that they could follow him home. Dani stopped at the wrought-iron gates, gasping for breath. For a moment she just held the bars and stared through. Then she pushed the gate open and walked in. She ran up and down the rows of paths like a woman possessed until finally she came to a stop in front of a well-kept grave. She collapsed to her knees before it, reading the words carved into the stone over and over again. Scott paused a little distance away, uncertainly, until finally she broke into uncontrollable sobs. He rushed over and wrapped his arms around her.

“Oh God, Scott. All day, I really thought that I was about to find my sister. But I never dreamed it would be like this.”

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Chapter 5

Kane was still shaken from the visit as he ran the brush through Emma’s hair. The twins and the boys were all bathed and in bed. Just Emma and Olivia now. Olivia was ready for bed, she sat curled up in the nearby armchair waiting for her older sister. Once Emma’s hair was fully dry they’d be off too. Then, he’d be all alone with his thoughts again.

Emma stopped brushing Barbie’s hair, looking up at her dad all of a sudden, thoughtfully. “Who was that lady who was here today?” Olivia looked up interested in the answer. Obviously, the little girls had wondered this between them.

“She’s your Aunty Dani” Kane replied. He wasn’t going to lie to his girls.


“Yes, she’s your mummy’s sister”

Olivia moved over to the sofa beside them, captivated now.

“Why don’t we know her?” Emma was curious.

Kane took a breath, trying to figure out how to explain this simply to his two children. “When I was a lot younger, long before the two of you were born, I did something bad that made your Aunty Dani and the rest of her family cross with me. They didn’t like me and your mummy being together so we left and moved here”.

“Is Aunty Dani still cross?” Olivia enquired

“She is now!” Kane sighed.

The girls went off to bed shortly after that, and he made his way into the kitchen. He had lunches to sort out for tomorrow. Kane paused by the dresser as he usually did.

Suddenly, he began rummaging, panic-striken, through all the drawers. Where was it? How could he have lost it? Of all the things to disappear, not that, not the very last photo ever taken of Kirsty!

Beth Sutherland filled up the kettle. Her husband, Rhys, was on the phone and had been for some time. She couldn’t hear the conversation but his tone of voice told her it was very serious. Beth smiled softly at her stepdaughter. Jade was sitting at the table just outside the back door, staring off into the distance. This was as far from the house as she’d venture these days. The Sutherlands had been thrilled the day she’d married Seb Miller. The ideal boyfriend was now her husband! The ideal husband who, behind their backs, hit her regularly in places where the bruises wouldn’t show. Five years she’d suffered in silence until finally, a horrifying beating cost her their unborn child and brought her to her senses.

“You alright, love?” Beth ached to make it all better. Jade smiled weakly as she nodded. She wasn’t really, but what could they do?

“OK Dan, we’ll see you two later. Safe journey. Bye!” the phone call was finally wrapped up.

“Who was that, love? You were on for ages?” Beth was curious.

Rhys approached his wife and daughter, clearly drained from the conversation.

“It was Dani,” he said, his voice weary and distressed.

Beth went pale. “Has something happened, are they alright?” She always worried when Scott was out on the boat, especially overnight.

Rhys nodded. “They’ve found Kirsty, sort of.” His voice trailed off.

Jade’s face lit up. Kirsty! Rhys ushered Beth into the chair beside Jade and his voice shook as he recounted Dani’s news. Jade and Beth looked at each other in horror, trying to take in what he was saying. Jade finally burst into tears as Rhys made his way to the phone to call his ex-wife in Perth and the rest of the family who lived in various homes around town.

It was very early in the morning, a week since they had heard the terrible news. Beth stood at the door of the lounge looking through the glass as her husband slowly looked through the pictures. He hadn’t slept properly in days.

Shortly after they had returned from their own wedding all those years ago and found Kirsty’s note, Rhys had gathered up every photo of his daughter and flung them all into a box. Family photos where Kirsty had stood at the edge of the group had been bent back to remove her image. Photos where she has stood in the middle were simply taken down completely. All evidence of her very existence had been removed in just a few hours.

Now he was unfolding them, opening that box, re-reading that note.

“Dear everyone,

I really don’t know what to say only that I have left to become Kane’s wife. I am pregnant with our child and I know it would be impossible to bring up our baby here. Please don’t hate me, I love you all very much and I hate that I am going to hurt you all so much. One day I’ll be back when hopefully you will be able to forgive me and accept the man I love.

Love Kirsty”

Short and sweet, and clearly written in a hurry! Now that he had unfolded the very last family photo, taken shortly after Henry and Matilda had moved in, he could see the sadness in his daughter’s eyes. She must have known then that she would soon be leaving this family behind to make a new one.

“Rhys.” Beth quietly entered the room and gently put her hand on his shoulder. “I can’t believe I’ll never get a chance to put things right with her,” he whispered. Once his rage had subsided, he had searched high and low for his lost daughter, but had eventually admitted defeat. But his hope that one day she would return had never faded – until now. It was dead now, along with her.

The side door swung open and Dani walked in. She had been lost in her thoughts all the way over from the Beach House where herself, Scott, Robbie and Tasha all lived.

“You’re up early, love,” Rhys said, trying to sound cheerful.

“Yeah, I couldn’t sleep.” Dani smiled sadly at the pictures spread out on the table in front of her dad. It was then that she remembered another photo, a stolen one. Dani opened her bag and pulled it out. She handed it to her Dad. He gasped softly as he looked at the group beaming into the camera. His daughter and his grandchildren!

And then he looked at another face smiling out at them – Kane Phillips! The boy who had stolen away his daughter. As he stared at the image before him, Rhys felt the anger building up.

I’m going to make him pay dearly for what he’s done.

* * *


Kane sank into the armchair, wearily. Olivia was sleeping restlessly in his arms, her newly broken wrist aggravating her. The rest of the kids had just gone to bed and he was exhausted.

What a week!

First, Olivia had fallen out of a tree at school and he’d spent all of Tuesday night at the hospital with her, comforting her over her latest mishap. Then, just today he’d taken Daniel to the supermarket with him and, while Kane was distracted for just a split-second, the little boy had wandered off. Thirty horrifying minutes had passed with Kane and the Security staff frantically searching for the child until finally he’d been found asleep in the window display.

Kane yawned softly as he looked around at the room. There were toys everywhere! There were discarded clothes everywhere! Never mind – he had a day off work tomorrow so he’d sort it all out then. He kissed the top of his daughter’s head, satisfied that she had finally gone to sleep and carried her to her room. Her injury had meant changing the sleeping arrangements slightly. Olivia was unable to climb to the top bunk (he hoped) so she was now in the bed below. This meant that Ruthie and Lynn had to share a bed. Lynn’s snoring and kicking was sure to mean that Ruthie would be cranky in the morning!

The following morning was no less chaotic than usual. They all had a day off school and work but it was raining out of the heavens spoiling all the little plans the kids had made. A baking exercise to occupy them had gone well, apart from the huge mess, and now Olivia had come up with the bright idea of giving Tiger, the family dog, a bath.

When the knock came at the front door, one very wet, unimpressed Golden Retriever was trying to escape from the bath while six children hovered around squealing in joy. To save on the laundry, Kane had earlier suggested that the kids bath the dog in their undies. He was pleased with that idea now – the children were getting even wetter than the dog!

Kane made his way to the door trying to dry his shirt and jeans. He found a very prim looking woman on the step. She had a name badge stuck to her jacket and a folder in her hand.

“Mr Phillips?”

“Yeah, can I help you?” Kane was very curious.

“I’m Agnes Jones. I work for the Department of Child Welfare. I wonder if I could come in please?”

Kane stood aside, his instincts telling him to be on his guard. The woman moved passed him into the house. He could sense her disapproval as she eyed up the untidy living room. Damn, he’d meant to clean it up but keeping six lively children out of mischief had taken all his time.

“Can I get you a coffee Mrs Jones?”

“Miss! No thank you.” The woman was already unimpressed.

At that moment there was a chorus of screams, squeals and barks. Kane excused himself and left the room to find the source. Tiger, covered in suds, raced passed him and straight into one of the bedrooms. He was followed closely by five drenched children. Ruthie, who was suffering the effects of a bad night’s sleep, had lost interest in the chase and instead wandered into the living room to see who was there.

Agnes Jones gasped as the cute little girl with the blonde curls stood before her in worn underwear, soaked from head to toe.

But it was not just that. This little girl had several bruises up and down her legs.

“My dear, where did you get all those bruises?”

“The kicks!” Ruthie replied sullenly in her childish simplicity.

Agnes Jones wrote furiously in her notebook not noticing the little child glaring in the direction of her twin who was spying through the crack in the door.

At that moment, Kane reappeared. His eldest daughter, also wet and wearing just her underwear, lead Ruthie away. Kane had asked Emma to get the younger children sorted out for him as he had a visitor.

The visit lasted just a short while, Agnes Jones asking a number of specific questions about the family’s lifestyle, his job, his wages (the cheek of her!) to name but a few. Eventually she left, leaving Kane as confused at the end of her visit as he was at the start.

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Chapter 7

A satisfied, smug smile crossed Rhys Sutherland’s his face as he read a copy of the Department’s report on Kane Phillips. Rhys couldn’t stand Shelley’s new husband, David, but he had to admit that David had certainly used all his contacts. He had made sure that a specific Social Worker, Agnes Jones, was sent to visit the Phillips family. She was well known as a very difficult woman, her personality was not right for the job she was doing at all. David had known that before she ever got to the front door Agnes would have made up her mind about Kane, based on his past.

The report was just what Rhys wanted to see:

- an untidy house,

- children running around half naked, soaking wet

- at least one child covered in suspicious bruises

- another with a broken wrist, apparently not the first injury the child had had

- a tale of the three year old going missing just days earlier.

All perfect!

“Rhys, I can’t help feeling that you are going to make a terrible mistake” Beth said, her concern clear.

“Beth, how is saving those children from him a mistake? These are Kirsty’s kids and I am going to personally make sure they are brought up safely.”

Beth exchanged a concerned glance with her eldest daughter, Kit. Neither woman was happy with Rhys’ plans to separate a father from his children. But Rhys was in no mood to listen to reason. With the full support of Dani and Jade he was going full steam ahead with his plans to make Kane Phillips pay. Beth shuddered to think where it was all going to end.

Kit Lawson drove into the driveway and was relieved to finally get out of the car. She was over seven months pregnant and sitting in the one place for a long time was a nightmare. She loved the thought of having her first baby but there were definitely moments when she wished her pregnancy would just hurry up, and the end of a four hour drive was definitely one of those moments. Kit looked at the cute little cottage in front of her, with some of the wall freshly painted. She had set out early that morning after spending all of yesterday listening to Rhys and Jade talking animatedly about their plans. Jade had thrown herself into the mission to “rescue” her nieces and nephews as a distraction from her own troubles.

As she walked nearer the house, Kit heard the sound of children’s laughter coming from inside. They didn’t sound like a group of kids who needed to be rescued! Kit couldn’t help giggling. Suddenly she could see why the painting had come to a halt. Just near the front door lay an overturned tin of paint. Bright white paint had flowed across the path and was starting to dry. Two sets of white footprints lead into the house – a tiny, child’s set and an adult giving chase. Kit was still laughing as she knocked.

“Kit!” a barefoot Kane broke into a huge smile when he saw who was at the door. He hadn’t seen Kit in years, but he remembered her as one of the few people in Summer Bay who gave him the time of day. For that, she would always be welcome.

“Having fun???” Kit teased, nodding towards the pair of shoes (recently dyed white!) which were thrown in a corner of the hallway. “Loads!” Kane replied in friendly sarcasm. He laughed as he gave her a hug, awkwardly trying to reach around her tummy. “When are you due?”

“Oh, I’ve weeks left yet” Kit sighed dramatically but couldn’t help smiling as she patted the bump.

Kane insisted on making her a cup of tea and then led her towards the bathroom. On the way, they passed Emma coming along with a bucket of water to clean up the footprints on the floor-tiles before the paint dried. Kane patted her head instinctively as he passed her. He carried a chair into the bathroom and signalled at Kit to take a seat. A gorgeous little girl with blonde (and white) curls was laughing inside in the bath while another, older girl, was using her good arm to try and wash off the paint.

“Oh, what happened your arm?” Kit asked sympathetically.

Olivia beamed proudly. “I fell outta the tree at school,” she was getting loads of attention due to her injury. “You wanna to sign my cast?”

Kit nodded enthusiastically and Olivia raced off to find a pen.

“So, what brings you here?” Kane enquired as he continued to bath Ruthie. “Well, first of all, to return this,” Kit opened her bag and Kane’s eyes filled up as a precious photo appeared.

“How do you have that?” he almost whispered, clearly confused.

“Dani took it,” Kit explained bluntly.

Kane nodded. Of course. It had disappeared right after her and Scotts’ visit. “Thank you so much, Kit. This is the last photo taken of…” his voice trailed off.

Kit nodded, smiling softly. His pain was very clear. She was glad now that she had remembered to steal back the picture. “Kane, I really need to talk to you in a while.” Olivia had just returned with a pen and handed it eagerly to Kit. Kane nodded, understanding. It was clear that whatever Kit had come to tell him was not for the children to hear.

They sat near the kitchen door. Kane had earlier fixed some dinner for them all. After all the lighthearted conversations the kids were now playing with Tiger out in the garden. They were all within his line of vision so he happily remained inside with Kit.

“Any unusual visits lately?” Kit asked. She was clearly hinting at something.

“Apart from you?” Kane replied with a smirk. Then it was like a light-bulb went on in his head. “That Social Worker lady?”

Kit’s eyes dropped. How was she going to tell him? “Rhys is going to try and get custody of your kids. He set that up, and her report… well, lets just say he’s made sure that it didn’t do you any favours.”

Kane felt faint. He’d lost his wife less than a year ago. Was he about to loose his kids too? “My God! This can’t be happening. Don’t they realise that those little kids are the only reason I get out of bed in the morning?” He stood up and walked to the window, looking out at his little family.

“I don’t know what help it is to know this in advance, but I didn’t think giving you a heads-up could do any harm.” Kit smiled softly. She knew what Kane had done to Dani all those years ago was horrific. But that was not the same person as the griefstricken man before her now. The pair talked for ages, then Kit said her goodbyes and began the long journey back to the farm that her husband Noah had bought back for her as a wedding present.

It was 3am. The house was eerily still with everyone else sound asleep. It was still very warm from the heat of the previous day. Rhys sat in the living room silently, holding a half empty glass of brandy. He wasn’t normally a drinker, but needed it tonight to steady his nerves. He had been jolted out of his sleep by a disturbing dream. There was no image but the sound was haunting him still – a young woman sobbing uncontrollably. He didn’t know why it bothered him so much. Rhys was now lost in his thoughts, staring absentmindedly at one of the photographs on the mantelpiece. Himself and Kirsty. She would have been just twelve years old then, it was taken before they had left for a footie game.

It was 3am. The house was eerily still with the children all sound asleep. It was very warm but Kane was sitting cross-legged in the middle of his bed, shivering uncontrollably as if he was freezing. He was now lost in his thoughts, staring absentmindedly at a photograph on the table. Himself and Kirsty. Their wedding photo.

Father and daughter smiled from the picture, clearly very happy. All that had mattered then was the footie game and stopping for a burger on the way home. Nothing could ever come between them.

Husband and wife smiled from the picture, clearly very happy. All that had mattered was that they were finally together. No one could ever come between them.

The crunch of the breaking glass brought him back from his thoughts. Rhys had put his brandy on the mantelpiece and accidentally knocked over the picture. The glass on the frame smashed, a large crack running right down the picture separating him from Kirsty.

The crunch of the breaking glass brought him back from his thoughts. For no apparent reason the picture had suddenly toppled off the table. The glass on the frame smashed, a large crack running right down the picture separating him from Kirsty.

Rhys saw the breakage as a nuisance. Kane saw it as a terrible warning from beyond the grave… His nightmare was only beginning.

* * *

Chapter 8

Rhys paused at the mirror in the hall and adjusted his tie. Today was the day! Many years ago Kane Phillips had stood by his hospital bed. He had told an injured Rhys how he looked forward to seeing Rhys’ face as he took away his daughter. How the tables had turned!

“Dad are you ready?” Jade interrupted his thoughts.

“Coming, love.” Rhys was pleased that this whole matter had given Jade a goal and made her stop mulling over the horrors of her marriage to Seb.

“Love, are you sure about this? I really think it’s a bad idea,” Beth desperately gave it one last shot. But it was in vain. Dani appeared in the doorway. She, Jade and Rhys said their goodbyes to Beth and Scott and piled into the car to make the journey to the courthouse. The Hunter part of the family looked at one another in silent dismay. They knew this was wrong.

Kane sat on a bench in the corridor, wringing his hands absentmindedly. Karl and Karl’s mother sat on one side. Fiona’s sister, Melissa, sat to his left. Melissa was a recently qualified lawyer and was here to help. This was just her second ever case. Kane had yet to pluck up the courage to ask how her first had gone. But he couldn’t afford anyone else.

The door at the end of the corridor swung open. Rhys, Dani and Jade walked through, followed by Shelley and another man, a familiar man. Oh yes, it was her partner – David. Kane vaguely remembered him from a previous courtroom encounter. The little group paused at a set of chairs down the corridor, away from Kane. That suited him just fine.

“That them?” Karl asked quietly. Kane just nodded. His friend took a deep breath. Karl’s wife, Fiona, was looking after the children on this occasion. They had all agreed that, as their regular minder, Mrs Henderson would be invaluable in describing truthfully how the kids were cared for.

“Phillips –v- Sutherland. Room 2.” A bored-sounding voice called out.

They all made their way into the assigned room. It was not like any of the courtrooms Kane had seen before. There was just a large, well polished table in the centre of the room. A large chair sat at the head of the table and five chairs were lined up at each side. The room had a very cold feeling to it. David and Melissa sat near the top of the table opposite one another. Beside them, Rhys and Kane ended up directly across from each other. So near and yet they never once looked at one another.

Kane took a deep breath. This is it. His family’s future was about to be decided.

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Chapter 9

A well-dressed woman, introduced herself as Maura Jackson, and sat at the head of the table. “I always find these cases difficult,” she said as an opener. So why do them? Kane was tempted to ask. But he kept quiet.

The next hour passed in a blur. Karl and his mother gave glowing accounts of how Kane was raising his children since the death of his wife. Kane smiled gratefully as he listened. But David quickly assessed that his opponent, Melissa, was a newcomer and used her uncertainty and nervousness to his full advantage.

Kane was made out to be the father-from-hell. While he was able to try and explain Daniel’s recent disappearance in the supermarket and Olivia’s injuries, he was at a loss to think of a reason behind Ruthie’s bruises. This was seen as a sign of guilt, that he had something to hide. As the afternoon moved on, Kane sensed that the situation slipping away from him.

Emotions were running high. Kane listened as his attack on Dani all those years ago got dragged up, then details of his family. “There is always the threat that Mr Phillip’s violent father and brother could turn up at any time and harm these children,” David was busy pointing out. Kane frowned. As if his family would even know where to look.

But it was when David brought up the abuse Kane himself had suffered as a child, that Kane could feel his temper rising. Who told them? Kirsty and Flynn were the only two who knew. She would never have told anyone so…. Flynn?

“It is statistically proven, that there is a risk of people who have been abused as children themselves in turn abuse their own kids,” David said, emphasising the later part of the statement.

That was it. Kane could take no more. He jumped up out of his seat, fuming. “You jumped-up creep! I love those children, they are my life. I wouldn’t harm a single hair on their heads.” His face was red, his fists clenched, his posture was that of a man about to loose control. He was about to say more, plenty more. But Melissa tugged desperately at Kane’s sleeve. The one thing she had told him over and over before this hearing had started was to keep his temper. To her relief, Kane sank back into his seat. As he did, he saw a look in Shelley’s eyes – guilt? Then it dawned on him. Before his attack on Dani she’d been his counsellor. He had just been starting to open up to her when he made that biggest mistake of his life. Shelley had obviously broken his confidence.

It was at this point that Maura Jackson decided to call an end to proceedings.

“Why don’t we all go stretch our legs. I need an hour to assess all the information that has been presented to me. Let’s meet back here at 4 o’clock and I will give my decision”

Rhys and David exchanged satisfied nods as everyone got up to leave the room.

The hour crawled by. But finally, at four o’clock the two sides took the same seats as they had earlier. Kane could hardly breath as Maura Jackson began to speak.

“I don’t doubt for a moment, Mr Phillips, that you love your children very much and want the very best for them” She was looking directly at him. Kane closed his eyes. There was a “but” coming, he just knew it. At the opposite side of the table, Dani and Jade were holding hands in anticipation of a favourable result.

“But” the woman who controlled his future continued, “I do feel, given all the information that has been provided, that the Sutherland family have the resources required to give these children the best in life. Therefore, I am going to award custody of Emma, Olivia, Jamie, Daniel, Lynn and Ruthie to their grandfather Mr Rhys Sutherland and his wife Beth.”

* * *

Chapter 10

Fiona Henderson sat quietly in the armchair. Her husband Karl paced the room. In the corner, her mother-in-law sat crying into her tissues and praying silently between sobs. None of them could speak.

They were all absorbed by what was going on in the middle of the room, which was just heartbreaking. Little bags were being stuffed with clothes and toys by a father who could barely concentrate. His six children surrounded him, confused by what was happening to them. The knock on the door filled them all with dread. “Who’s there?” called little Jamie. “The Devil!” spat Mrs Henderson from her corner. Kane threw her a look. Regardless of what was happening, he didn’t want the children to hate Rhys or be afraid of him, not now they had to live with him. The older man stood in the doorway, looking at his grandchildren for the very first time. Jade stood slightly behind him, instantly in love with her nieces and nephews. Dani had gone ahead back to Summer Bay to help Beth get organised for the childrens’ arrival.

“Kids, this is your Granddad and your Aunty Jade,” Kane tried to control his voice. “We’d better be going,” Rhys announced looking at his watch. “Then give me a moment, please” Kane pleaded. Everyone except himself and the children left the room. Mrs Henderson patted his shoulder softly as she passed.

Kane sat on the floor by the sofa. Ruthie climbed into his lap, Lynn knelt on the floor leaning against him and the rest of the children sat on the sofa. “Daddy, what’s going on?” Emma whispered. He could tell she was worrying.

He took a deep breath. “You’re going to be living with your Granddad for a while,” Kane thought the words would choke him.

“Are you coming too, Daddy?” Olivia asked innocently. Kane just shook his head. “No Livvie, but I’ll call to visit really soon,” he promised. And he meant it. If Rhys thought he was going to keep him away he had another think coming.

“Daddy, don’t you love us anymore?” Olivia wanted to know. Kane thought he could actually feel his heart shattering. “Have we been bad?” Jamie’s voice shook, his eyes were wide with fear. Kane took a deep breath. He knew he had to hold it together, somehow. “Of course you haven’t been bad, mate. Its just ... well … some people think that it’ll be better for you all if you live with your Granddad now.” Then he turned to Olivia, put his arms around her and hugged her tightly. “Of course I love you, sweetheart. I love you all so, so much and I’ll never stop”.

“I don’t wanna go” Olivia sobbed, stamping her foot in defiance. Kane sighed. “You have to sweetheart. You have to do as you’re told and let them see what a good little girl you are. But remember, I’ll visit really soon. I love you all with all my heart.” He kissed the top of her head and playfully pulled her ponytail. That got a giggle out of her.

The twins and Daniel were quiet, a little bit too young to understand but sensing that something wasn’t right. Emma was just staring at her father in silence. Kane desperately wanted to know what was going through her mind. He knew how much his eldest child worried about stuff, this must have her terrified.

But they were interrupted by the knock at the door. Rhys popped his head into the room. Kane wanted to scream. “We really need to be going. It’s a long drive,” Rhys informed him. “I’m not going” Daniel was crying now and looked like he was about to throw a major tantrum. Kane pulled him into a huge hug and whispered softly into his ear about how much he loved him. His words seemed to be calming the child so he brought them all outside with their bags before chaos broke out.

“You’re Kirsty’s twin, aren’t you?” Karl asked quietly, as he strolled over beside Jade who was standing next to the car. She nodded. Karl looked at her coldly. “Your sister must be turning in her grave to see what you’re doing to her family”. He walked away. Jade fought back the tears.

The children got into Rhys’ car, confused. Suddenly all hell broke loose. Six little children crying and screaming hysterically as they were packed into this strange car by strange people. Their hands stretched out the window desperately trying to grab at their father. Kane, in a daze, passed Lynn’s teddy bear in through the window to her. Without a word, Rhys and Jade climbed into the front.

“Look after them for me,” Kane said, his voice shaking terribly. “You need to leave a small light on at night for Lynn, she doesn’t like the dark. And Jamie, he, he can’t eat anything with nuts in it. It makes him sick” Kane was in a panic all of a sudden. All the little things he needed to tell Rhys so that the children would be OK. But Rhys started up the engine.

Kane watched helplessly as the little tear-stained faces were pressed against the car window calling out to him. Eventually, the car turned the corner out of sight. Karl and Fiona rushed to his side as he collapsed to the ground.

* * *

Phew, caught up to where I was now :) I-Love-Music: please, please, pleeeeeeeeease say you had "Promises to Keep" saved somewhere..... :unsure:

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Aw, thanks :wink:

Chapter 11

Beth smiled sadly as the six beautiful, sorrowful, children entered her house. Their little eyes were swollen from their tears, they had cried the entire journey. They cowered in the corner of the living room, the younger children clinging to Emma and Olivia for comfort. Max, Matilda and Henry had arrived to meet them. Dani and Scott were also there. Shelley and David had called but would soon be leaving to catch their flight home. Robbie was on his way. Kit and Noah were not going to arrive. Kit had said she was too tired with the pregnancy but Beth suspected this was her daughter’s way of protesting.

Beth herself had been horrified when she had heard the outcome of the custody hearing. She had been so tempted to race upstairs, pack her bags and be gone by the time Rhys and Jade got home. But Scott and Kit had reminded her that, given Rhys’ current frame of mind, the six little children would need her around more than ever.

“This is Beth,” Jade started the introductions. “She’s married to your Granddad.” “Who?” Jamie was confused. Olivia just pointed at Rhys. “Ohhhhhhh, the Devil-Man” Jamie remembered what Mrs Henderson had earlier said.

“They need to be changed,” Emma spoke up, nodding at the twins. “Of course, why don’t you come with me and I’ll look after them,” Beth offered kindly. “I can manage,” Emma’s tone was dull. If this family thought they’d win her around, they were wrong. “OK love, I’ll just show you where everything is,” Beth’s heart went out to the devastated little girl as she led her and the twins upstairs.

Olivia looked around, uncertain now that her big sister had left the room. The boys hid behind her. “Oh dear, what happened?” Dani squatted down to her niece’s height and tried to break the ice, sympathetically pointing to the cast. “It broke!” Olivia answered through clenched teeth. She moved away and pulled her brothers up onto the sofa beside her. They sat there silently until Emma reappeared shortly after with Lynn and Ruthie and joined them. The adults looked at one another, suddenly unsure of what to do next.

At that moment, the backdoor swung open. “Sorry we’re late. We were, uh, busy,” Robbie burst in. His wife, Tasha, followed behind. The children were suddenly beside themselves with excitement. “Aunty Tasha, Uncle Robbie” they raced over to them, thrilled to see familiar, friendly faces. Tasha bent down greeting the children excitedly, giving each a big hug which she could tell they needed. Then she suddenly stopped, realising her mistake and glanced up at the others in the room.

“They know you?” Rhys said, controlling his voice as best he could. “It was a secret!” Tasha explained. Rhys made an exasperated sound. After all these years Tasha was still totally unpredictable. Tasha looked at Robbie in confusion. That explanation should have been enough. Robbie just smiled helplessly.

“These children are exhausted” Beth announced and began getting them fed and ready for bed, trying to distract from Tasha and Robbie. The twins were put in the smaller room, Jamie and Daniel had Jade and Kirsty’s old room. Emma and Olivia were in Dani’s. Eventually, the length of the day took hold and all, except Olivia, fell asleep. The little girl crept out onto the landing and listened at the door of the next bedroom.

“Rhys, I honestly can’t believe you went ahead with this. I really thought you’d come to your senses. How can you do this to those poor little children?” Beth was trying to keep her voice low so that she wouldn’t wake the house. “Beth, these children belong here with us. You should’ve seen his face. Now he knows what it feels like.” Rhys grinned, still buzzing from the victory. Beth just shook her head in despair. “Rhys, you and Kane are not a couple of kids in the schoolyard arguing over who stole who’s toy first. These are not toys, they’re children. Six scared little children.” But it was no use, Rhys began to explain in detail how they’d won the case. He told her how Daniel going missing in the supermarket and Olivia falling out of the tree had been a big help in proving that Kane was an unfit father.

Outside the bedroom door, hot tears rolled down Olivia’ cheeks.

This is all my fault

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Chapter 12

Karl Henderson woke and rubbed the back of his neck. Fiona had been too worried to leave Kane in the house on his own last night and Kane had refused to go stay at their’s, so Karl had spent the night on the sofa. Kane mate, you need a new one, he thought as his neck ached.

At that moment the door from Kane’s bedroom burst open. Kane stormed out and began gathering various items off the back of chairs, tables. His demeanour was determined, in sharp contrast to the heart-broken man from last night.

“Mate, what are you doing?” Karl asked, still sleepy. He had had a long night comforting his friend.

“Packing!” Kane said heading back into the bedroom and stuffing the items he’d gathered into a bag.


“Because, I’m going to Summer Bay and I am not coming back without my family.”

Karl beamed. This is the Kane Phillips I know. “Anything I can do to help?” he offered. Kane paused, trying to think. “You could look after Tiger and this place while I’m gone. I don’t know how long I’ll be.” Karl nodded and then went to phone Fiona to let her know.

Kane continued packing. He hadn’t slept a wink, he’d been so distraught. But as the night had worn on his grief had given way to anger. How dare Rhys Sutherland come in here and take away his kids. At first light, Kane had phoned Kit to see if he could stay at her place. She had agreed, although she had sounded so sleepy on the phone he doubted she’d remember! But he didn’t care. This was his family, his and Kirsty’s, and no one was going to split them up.

Little Jamie squealed with joy as he chased the plastic football along the sand. Dani and Jade had taken the children to the beach to play. The boys and the twins had quickly got stuck into a game of footie, but Olivia and Emma were sitting together away from the group.

Dani and Jade exchanged concerned glances. The two girls were going to take some time to adjust to their new environment. Dani strolled towards them. “Hey, why don’t you two join in? We could do with a couple more team members.”

“No thank you,” Emma’s sullen tone was enough to tell Dani to kill the conversation for now. With a sigh, she turned and walked back towards Jade and the younger children.

Now!” Olivia whispered. While no one was looking, the two little girls got up and ran up the path away from the beach. Early that morning Olivia had told her big sister what she’d heard last night.

Now they had a plan.

Rhys rubbed his temples, his head was just pounding. This couldn’t be happening. He was standing in the surf club after ten o’clock that night surrounded by anxious people. Less than twenty four hours after arriving in Summer Bay, two of his grandchildren had disappeared.

Earlier that evening, Dani and Jade had burst into the house in a terrible panic after they had searched the beach and surrounding areas for ages. Eventually they had had to give in and admit that there was a serious problem – Emma and Olivia were missing. Rhys had phoned Jesse McGregor. Now that Alf Stewart was too old, Jesse and Flynn co-ordinated searches when required. Before long, people were combing the area calling out for the two sisters.

“Flynn, you have to keep looking,” Rhys pleaded. He was getting desperate. These were Kirsty’s children!

“Rhys, it’s too dark. We’ll start up the search again at first light,” Flynn tried to comfort Rhys, but he was unable to hide the fact that he was very worried. They were only six and seven years old and they didn’t know the town at all. Anything could happen.

Kit put her feet up on the chair and sighed. Noah rubbed her back gently. He felt a little bit guilty. By rights, he should be out searching like everyone else. But his wife was heavily pregnant so he had made his excuses and stayed at home with her. His five year old daughter, Rachel from his brief marriage to Hayley Smith, was in bed. The house was now quiet.

The urgent knocking on the door shattered the silence. “That’ll be Kane” Kit said, worried. How would he react when he heard the news.

Noah got up to answer the door. He stretched out his hand to Kane and the other man shook it warmly.

“Hey, Kane” Kit called out from the living room. Guest or not, she wasn’t budging now that she had managed to get into a comfortable position on the sofa. Kane came in and smiled as much as he could.

“Hey yourself! Still waiting?” he teased nodding at the bump. Kit just smiled. “How are my kids? Have you seen them? Are they looking after them OK?” Kane instantly bombared them with questions, glaring as he said the word “they”.

Kit and Noah looked uncomfortable. “Mate, there’s a bit of a problem.”

Kane’s car screeched to a halt in front of the surf-club. It was a much bigger building than he remembered, the whole new upper floor given over entirely to the Gym – Jesse’s pride and joy! But Kane was too preoccupied to be admiring architecture. He raced in the doors to find the people inside packing up their equipment.

“Kane!” Flynn Saunders was the first to see him.

“Have you found them?” Kane was frantic.

Flynn shook his head. “We have to stop for the night, it’s too dark.” Kane looked horrified. Then he spotted Rhys. “You had my kids for one day and this happens,” he yelled. The older man just turned away.

Kane began to walk back out of the building, his hands to his head. He was so concerned. The ocean was nearby, what if they had decided to go for a swim. Olivia was so adventurous, she had no sense of danger. And Emma was so protective of her. If Olivia had got into trouble, Emma would have tried to help. Please let them be safe.

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Chapter 13

“I’m tired and this tree’s scratchy,” Emma complained, trying unsuccessfully to get comfortable. “I know!” Olivia had to agree.

The two little girls had found the biggest, greenest tree. Emma had looked uncertainly at the height but Olivia had been instantly convinced. They could hide up there for hours and no one would see them, not even people directly below. Emma didn’t think Olivia could possibly climb it with her arm in a cast, but not for the first time her younger sister had proved her wrong. Emma had to admit, it had been fun at first. Watching all the people running around in a panic, calling out their names. And they were so nearby all the time. Silly grown-ups!

This was all part of their plan. If Daniel going missing in the shop got Daddy into trouble, then this would surely get The Devil-Man into trouble. Then they could go home. But hours had passed, and the tree’s branches weren’t getting any softer. Emma and Olivia were hungry, tired and there were noises in the night-time that the little girls didn’t like.

“Lets go down. We can give them another fright tomorrow,” Emma suggested. They already had lots of frights planned for their grandfather. The sisters carefully climbed down, Emma had to help Olivia who had suddenly realised that going up the tree with a broken arm was much easier than coming back down.

When they finally reached the ground, their little legs were shaky from the hours they were cramped up in the tree. As they stood waiting to feel better Olivia saw a very familiar man coming out of a nearby doorway.

“Daddy!” The little girl squealed with delight and the two sisters raced towards him full of excitement, their wobbly legs instantly recovered. “Are you here to take us home?” Emma wanted to know. Kane wrapped his arms around his girls, crying tears of relief. Flynn and Jesse appeared at the door having heard the commotion. Jesse went back inside to announce that the missing children had turned up.

“I can’t take you home, Princess, not yet. You have to stay with your Granddad for a little while longer.” He stroked their tear-stained faced gently. “Are you having fun there?” He got back a chorus of “no’s”.

Rhys appeared behind Kane, relieved to see his granddaughters safe and sound. It was now well past midnight. “I’d better get them home,” Rhys said. Kane straightened up. “I’ll bring them. Don’t worry, we’ll go straight there”. It was too late to get into an argument, especially with Emma and Olivia present, so Rhys grudgingly agreed.

Kane held their hands as he walked his daughters up to the front door of the house. He wasn’t welcome enough to go to the side door like everyone else. His daughters chattered away excitedly. They pointed out their bedroom window, then the old mattresses beside the steps up the front door. New ones had been bought especially for the kids, Uncle Robbie was supposed to have taken away the old ones but he had forgotten. Kane knocked on the door. Beth answered, clearly relieved to see Emma and Olivia.

“Where are the rest of my children?” Kane wasted no time asking. “Upstairs, asleep.”

“I won’t be a minute”. He brazenly walked past Beth and up the stairs. Not that she would have attempted to stop him.

First, he entered the twins’ room. Both sleeping soundly, unaware of his presence. Little Lynn was, as usual, snoring and kicking. Of course, Kane suddenly thought. Ruthie’s bruises were from sharing a bed with Lynn. How much trouble had come from something so innocent.

Next he wandered into the boys’ room. Again, both asleep. But as he bent to kiss Jamie’s head the little boy’s arm wrapped around him. Kane looked down through his tears. Jamie was still sound asleep, it was purely a habit.

Kane slowly went back downstairs. Now in their pj’s, Emma and Olivia were having a quick snack before bed.

“Right, you can leave now” Rhys was in no mood to be friendly and held the door open for Kane, giving him a very clear hint. The little girls’ eyes filled up as their daddy kissed them goodnight and left the house. As they closed their bedroom door behind them, they gave each other a knowing look.

“Tomorrow, we’ll give them another fright” whispered Olivia.

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Thanks for the reviews :)

Chapter 14

Kane arrived back at the Lawson’s farm to an empty house. A quickly scribbled note told him that Kit had gone into labour, Rachel was at Scott and Dani’s and to help himself to the contents of the fridge! Kane sat at the table wearily and eventually fell asleep.

The sun beamed as Emma and Olivia leaned out of the bedroom window.

“You’ll get hurt,” Emma worried.

“No I won’t. Remember? This didn’t hurt a bit, Em” Olivia tapped her cast completely forgetting the night at the hospital when she had clung to her Daddy in tears. Emma swallowed hard. Today’s fright had seemed like a good idea - until now.

It was simple really. Olivia was going to fall off the roof!

Then they’d have to give them back to Daddy because he looked after them so much better. It was early morning, the Devil-Man and Beth were still in bed. This was the perfect time.

Olivia crept carefully to the edge of the roof and then stood up straight. Drama Queen, thought Emma. But she had to admit, her little sister was brilliant at this. Olivia glanced back at her sister and Emma gave her an encouraging ‘thumbs-up’. Then, with a bloodcurdling scream Olivia disappeared from Emma’s sight.

Emma drew her head back in the window to hear the commotion.

Yes, success! “What the hell was that” People were being shocked out of their sleep. Panicked movement could be heard from the next room and then hurried footsteps on the stairs.

Emma popped her head back out the window, and heard a frustrated cry from somewhere below. She carefully eased herself out of the window, to the edge of the roof and peered over to see what was wrong.

She just had to giggle. Olivia sat completely uninjured on the pile of mattresses Uncle Robbie had forgotten to move. Emma ducked back as the front door opened and Beth raced out. “Oh sweetheart! Are you OK? What happened?”

“I fell off the roof,” Olivia burst into tears. Beth scooped her up off the mattresses, more grateful for the soft landing than little Olivia was.

“They’re a handful” Rhys exclaimed. Then he added, so softly that no one else heard “just like their mother”. Emma heard the door below closing. It was safe to move now. She carefully turned around and began to climb back to the open window.

But her foot caught a loose roof tile. Suddenly she felt herself falling. She grabbed desperately at thin air. Too shocked to even scream, the seven year old fell from the roof, missing the pile of mattresses by just inches.

She lay there, silent and still.

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Chapter 15

“You’d better call Flynn, just in case” Beth instructed her husband. She was busy checking Olivia everywhere. Rhys picked up the phone. Olivia was still crying but her sobs were quietening down now. Beth had brought out a tub of ice-cream! Jamie and Daniel appeared in the doorway to see what all the fuss was about, Lynn and Ruthie could be heard crying upstairs. Jade arrived in from her caravan at that moment and hurried to sort them out.

“Congrats, mate. A little boy,” Kane mustered up as much excitement as he could for Noah who had just arrived back from the hospital on a high with his news. “How’s Kit?”

“Tired. And I’m shattered. But I better go over to tell Beth. I tried ringing a minute ago but the line was engaged”. Kane followed along. He had six good reasons to call to that house too.

Noah and Kane approached the house from the caravan park path and headed in the side door. The house was bedlam. Jade was struggling to keep the twins quiet, the boys were noisily playing with their toy cars and getting under everyone’s feet. Flynn was there checking Olivia who had started crying again to make sure she had his full attention.

“Livvie, what happened?” Kane raced to his daughter’s side full of genuine concern. Rhys rolled his eyes. Brilliant!

“Daddy, I fell off the roof," the little girl whimpered. Then, seeing her father's horrified expression, she hurried to reassure him: "but it’s OK coz I landed in a bed.”

Confused, Kane looked towards the adults for an explanation. “Kane, she’s fine. Not a scratch. Just a bit of a shock, that’s all” Flynn said calmly.

That’s all!” Kane was incredulous. “They’ve been here two days and so far, you’ve needed a search party into the night to find them and now she’s fallen from the roof.” He looked around the room, taking note of which of his children were present. “Where’s Emma?” he demanded to know.

“Upstairs, I’ll go get her” Beth left the room quickly before things got any worse.

Rhys straightened up and approached Kane. “Look, clearly these kids have had very little discipline in their lives. It’s a very good thing they’ve come to live here with us now.” Flynn instinctively stepped between Rhys and Kane.

Robbie, Tasha and Matilda arrived through the back door just as Beth returned from upstairs, a little concerned. “Um, Emma’s not there. Have any of you seen her?” Rhys shut his eyes for a moment, this couldn’t be happening. These children were impossible! He caught Robbie’s eye, suddenly remembering something else. “Young man, there are mattresses that need shifting. NOW.” Robbie scooted. He knew when not to argue with his stepfather. Tasha followed quickly.

“Emma must be around here somewhere,” Rhys continued. “Did you check the other bedrooms, the bathroom?” Beth was just about to respond when they heard Tasha scream for Flynn.

Kane was the last person to round the corner of the house, Olivia up in his arms. Jade and Matilda were inside with the younger children. All of a sudden, he felt as if everything was going in slow motion. For a split second, he was seeing a flash-back to the night two policemen called to his door to tell him he’d lost his wife.

His eldest child was lying very still on the grass. Flynn was kneeling at her side on his mobile phone requesting an ambulance urgently, his face was ashen. Rhys and Beth were standing in shocked silence on the steps, Beth with her hands to her face in horror. Robbie had his arms around Tasha who was crying.

“Yay Emma,” Olivia cheered, very impressed that her sister had avoided the stupid beds!

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