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Red Ranger 1

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Thank you for the comments, I hope you enjoy this one!

CHAPTER ELEVEN

Mason found a smile spreading across his face when he entered the Diner and saw Coco there.It was pretty much involuntary now:He saw her and he smiled.He hadn’t been in love that many times in his life. He’d had girlfriends of course, and he’d cared about them, but his family’s habit of moving around had meant he could never get too attached.But, maybe for the first time ever, it felt like he had a shot at a future with someone.If he could just muster up the courage to tell people.

  “Morning,”he greeted her as he came to stand by her at the counter.

  “Morning,”she echoed with a smile.

  “Are you coming round for a gym session later?”

  Coco flushed, recognising the euphemism.“I’ve got to do some studying but…maybe later.”

  Irene suddenly approached them, fixing Mason with her gaze.“Right.I’ve finally got you here.”

  Mason was rather confused by the greeting.“Did you want something?”

  “Didn’t Hunter tell you?Well, that’s typical of him.I need someone to book my car into the garage.I was hoping you could let your brother know.”

  Mason shrugged.“Well, I could take the car in myself if you want, explain it to Justin…”

  “That’d be great, darl.I’ll just get you the keys.”

  Coco gave Mason’s arm a quick squeeze, the most physical she could get without drawing attention.“I’ll see you later.”

***

Hunter emerged from Raffy’s bedroom and headed towards the kitchen.The girl herself followed him, pulling her t-shirt back on with a sulky expression on her face.“I don’t know why we have to get dressed,”she complained,“It just wastes time later.”

  Hunter gave her an amused look.“You’re very sure of yourself.”

  “Hey, we’ve already established I’m irresistible.”

  It had crossed Hunter’s mind that having sex with Raffy in her family home, when said family could come home any minute, was positively suicidal.The only explanation he could think of was that she actually was irresistible.“Your family coming home and finding us naked might be a bit hard to explain,” he pointed out.

  Raffy leaned against the surface in front of him.“They’re all at work.We’ve got the place to ourselves for hours.So…”She drew him down into a kiss and he responded to it, arms encircling her…

  …at which point they heard a noise at the front door and hastily sprang apart.Mason came in and stopped in surprise.“Hey, mate, what are you doing here?”

  “What are you doing here?”Raffy retorted,“You said you were going straight to the gym.”

  “Not until this afternoon.And I forgot my phone.”Mason looked expectantly at Hunter, his question still unanswered.

  “I came to see if you wanted to go for a drink,”Hunter supplied,“But Raffy told me you were at work so she’s been…keeping me entertained.”He did his best not to smirk.

  “Well, I’m about to take Irene’s car to the garage, but if you want to come with me, we can go for a drink after.”

  “Right, sure.”Hunter followed Mason out, shooting an apologetic look at Raffy as he did so.“See you later.”

***

As Hunter sat next to Mason on the drive, he wondered how his friend would react if he ever found out about him and Raffy.He suspected not very well.In truth, he had no idea what he was doing or where he was expecting the relationship, as it seemed to have become, to go.Raffy would be sixteen in a few months.Maybe then they could reveal they were together?

  “So, I haven’t seen you much lately,”Mason commented.

  “Well, I haven’t seen you much lately,”Hunter countered.

  “Yeah, fair point.I guess I’ve been a bit distracted.”

  “I was beginning to think you’d got a new girlfriend.”Hunter laughed then noticed the silence from Mason.“Really?”

  “We’re keeping it quiet,”Mason said at last.

  Hunter resisted the temptation to mention his own situation.The less Mason knew about that, the better. “Well, I’m pleased for you, I guess.”

  “Thanks.It seems to have happened a bit quickly.Sometimes I think we should slow down.”

  “Slow down.”

  Mason looked sideways at him.“You think?”

  “No, slow down!”Hunter repeated, pointing to the bend in the road ahead.

  Mason touched the brake pedal, lightly at first, then harder.The speed didn’t reduce.“I can’t!It must be that brake problem!”He swung the wheel, tried to put the handbrake on, but the car wheels hit the side of the road at speed.The car tipped over backwards, landing on its bonnet, then bounced up and righted itself. Both of its occupants slumped in their seats, showing no signs of life.

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Thanks for the comments, Summer's Bay, Kristen and Jarliefan!

CHAPTER TWELVE

Tori took a deep breath and steeled herself as she heard the patient trolleys approaching.She knew what was coming but she had to try and be professional about it.Then the doors opened and she heard the ambulance crews reeling off the details.

  “Mason Morgan, 22, driver in single car accident.Airway cleared at scene, spinal immobilisation performed…”

  “Hunter King, 19, front seat passenger in single car accident.Blunt head trauma, GCS of 5…”

  “Take Mason to ITU,”Tori instructed,“and have Hunter prepped for surgery.And I want CT scans on both of them as soon as possible.”

***

Raffy and Coco dashed into the hospital, with Ben trailing them.Raffy had been at the Astonis’ when she’d got the call about the car crash;Ben had agreed to drive her in and Coco had insisted on coming along.She quickly pinpointed Justin, Brody and Ziggy standing outside a room.Joining them, she could see Mason lying in bed through the glass.“How is he?”she asked.

  “Tori said he’s got spinal damage,”Justin provided.

  “They’re not sure how bad it is,”Brody added,“They’re waiting for the swelling to go down.Given that he had all that trouble last year…”

  “He might not walk?”Coco asked.

  Ziggy looked at her, as if noticing her presence for the first time.“What are you doing here?”

  “I was worried about him…them,”Coco hastily amended,“And Raffy.”

  Ziggy didn’t seem moved.“Dad, take her home.”

  “Hey, I’ve tried,”Ben insisted.

  “I want to stay here,”Coco asserted.

  “How’s Hunter?”Raffy asked, interrupting the argument.

  “He’s down the hallway,”Justin provided,“It’s not good.”

  Raffy headed in the direction indicated.She saw Leah in a conversation with Tori.“The surgeons stopped the bleed into his brain,”Tori was saying,“But we’re not sure how much damage there was.The next few hours could be critical.”

  Raffy looked round, stricken…and caught sight of Coco standing outside Mason’s room, the distress on her face a mirror of Raffy’s own.And that was when she realised.

***

Raffy waited until she saw Coco entering one of the relatives rooms on her own, then gave her a moment alone before following her in.“Mason’s your boyfriend, isn’t he?”

  Coco, sitting down, glanced up at her, not even trying to deny it.“I’m sorry.”

  “No need to be sorry.Mason’s his own person, so are you.”

  “No, I mean…I wanted to tell you.”Coco hesitated, as though rethinking her statement.“Part of me wanted to, anyway.I guess I kind of liked having something that was just me.And him.”

  “Well, I guess he makes you happy, and I guess that makes him happy.”

  Coco nodded slowly.“If he doesn’t get through this, I don’t know what I’ll do.He told me he loved me. When we were at the motel.”

  Raffy slowly sat down next to her.“Wow.He must really like you.”

  “And I really like him.I love him.”

  Raffy managed a small smile.“Then I’m happy for you.”

  Coco smiled gratefully.“So, are you going to tell me who your boyfriend is?”

  Before Raffy could answer, an alarm went off.

***

Coco and Raffy ran down the corridor in the direction of the alarms.Raffy’s heart leapt as they neared Mason’s room but the sound was coming from further down.Then she realised who was further down and it leapt again.

  Leah was out in the corridor, Irene had arrived at some point and was holding her.Ben and Justin were standing nearby as well.And in the room, Tori and Jasmine were working desperately to keep Hunter alive, with Tori preparing to shock him.“Clear!”she called, applying the paddles, but they was no change. “Again!”

  “No, no, no, no, no!”Raffy screamed hysterically.She made to run into the room but Justin caught her and stopped her.

  Jasmine did a quick check, shining a light in Hunter’s eyes.“Pupils have blown.That bleed must have started again.”

  With an agonised look, Tori replaced the paddles on the machine.“Time of death, 1320.”

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Thank you for the comments, hope you like this one!

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

Raffy sat in the corridor, feeling disconnected from everything.Justin and Brody stood nearby, keeping an eye on her while giving her space.Leah was sat in a corner by herself, as upset as Raffy was.Olivia had turned up and was consoling Irene, who was wracked with guilt.“I should never have got those boys to drive my car, I knew there was a problem.And now Hunter’s dead and goodness know what’s going to happen to Mason…”

  “It’s okay, Renee,”Olivia told her gently,“We all know you cared about Hunter.”

  “Olivia’s right,”Leah said quietly,“There’s no point blaming anyone.”

  Justin and Brody came over to Raffy.“Do you want us to take you home?”Brody offered.

  Raffy shook her head.“No, I want to stay.”

  “Well, there’s not much you can do here,”Justin argued.

  Raffy didn’t know how to explain it to them.She just wanted to be near Hunter.There wasn’t anyone else left alive who knew what there had been between them and if she walked out, then it was over, forgotten. Plus Mason was close by, hurt, and she was the only one that knew what Coco was going through.“I want to stay,”she repeated.She got up, aiming to walk away from Justin, but a wave of dizziness hit her.Her knees buckled and she fell to the floor.

***

Coco was in Mason’s room.He remained unconscious as he had been ever since he’d come in.She knew she shouldn’t be too worried but after what had happened to Hunter…“Mason, come on,”she said urgently,“I need you back here.”

  Ben appeared in the doorway behind her.“Come on, we’d better give this lot some space.”

  Coco looked round in shock.“What?Dad, no, I can’t go!”

  “Coco…”

  “I can’t go, Dad,”she insisted,“I need to be here for Raffy.”She took a deep breath before adding,“I need to be here for Mason.”

  Ben suddenly seemed to take in exactly where Coco was.He looked at the unconscious body in the bed. “You and him..?”

  “He’s my boyfriend.”

  “You’re seeing each other?”Ben struggled to process this.“Are you…are you sleeping with him?”

  “I’m seventeen, Dad.If I want to, I can.”

  Not trusting himself to continue the conversation, Ben turned away and found Justin in the corridor.“Did you know about this?”

  Justin looked at him blankly.“What?”

  “Your brother and my daughter.”

  Justin continued to be confused.“Er, they’re married.”

  “Your other brother and my other daughter,”Ben stressed.

  Justin looked into Mason’s room as the penny dropped.“Mate, I had no idea…Look, Mason’s a good bloke, he’d treat her right.”

  Ben’s anger didn’t seem to fade.“I hope so, because the way I’m feeling at the moment, he’s really lucky he’s already in a hospital bed.”

***

Raffy had been placed in a side room, with Brody and Ziggy keeping her company.“I’m fine,”she insisted,“I just felt a bit dizzy for a moment.”

  “Let the doctors check you out anyway,”Brody said soothingly.

  “Tori’s right on it,”Ziggy agreed.

  “Is anything happening?”Raffy asked.

  Brody shook his head.“No, Mason’s still out and we still don’t know anything.They’re taking Hunter to the mortuary in a bit.”

  “Can I see him?”

  Brody looked confused.“Why would you want to do that?”

  Before Raffy could reply, Tori had returned.“I’ve got the results of your blood cultures here and…do you want me to read it out in front of everyone?”

  Raffy glanced at the door where Justin had just appeared.“Yeah, sure.”

  “It…says you’re pregnant.”

  “What?”Raffy could feel the panic rising inside her.“No, no, no, I can’t be!”

  “Raffy, is this possible?”Brody pressed.

  “Who did it?”Justin demanded.

  “It’s him!”Raffy replied tearfully,“It’s Hunter’s baby!”

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Thank you for the comments, Kristen and pembie, I hope you enjoy this one!

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

Coco was sitting in the corridor outside Mason’s hospital room.It was the day after the accident and, despite being made to go home overnight, she’d insisted on coming back as soon as it was possible.Ziggy suddenly came and sat down beside her. “So, you and Mason, hey?I’m impressed.”

  “I’m not sure Dad is.”

  “Well, he’ll come round.Probably.I mean, at least you’ve got the brother without the awkward history.I can definitely understand the appeal of older Morgan men.”She hesitated before adding,“I mean, he is a bit older though, isn’t he?Like, older than me.”

  “It’s the same age gap as between you and Brody,”Coco pointed out.

  “Mmm, true,”Ziggy acknowledged,“And I’ve hung out with Mason and I know he’s a decent guy so…if you want my approval, you’ve got it.”

  Coco managed a small smile.“Thanks.”

  Jasmine stuck her head out of the room.“He’s starting to wake up.”

  Coco rushed in, Ziggy just behind her.Mason was stirring and Coco rushed over to take his hand. “Mason, are you all right?Talk to me!”

  “What happened?”Mason asked groggily,“I remember the car…”He suddenly seemed to register Coco’s presence.“Um, hey.Shouldn’t we..?”

  “We’re kind of out and proud now.Sorry.”

  “You’re lucky Dad wasn’t here when you woke up,”Ziggy noted,“You might not have been awake for long.”

  “But what’s going on?”Mason asked,“Hunter?”

  Coco glanced back at Ziggy and sighed.“I guess there’s a lot we’ve got to tell you.”

***

Raffy sat in her room at home.She could hear the argument raging in the living area:Justin, Brody and Tori were all at home and she was the main topic of conversation.“Look, calm down, mate,”Brody was saying in a conciliatory tone.

  “How did we not see this happening?”Justin demanded,“Hunter was having his way with her for weeks.”

  “I’m not happy about it either but it doesn’t sound like it was one-sided.”

  “She’s just a kid, she shouldn’t have a side!”

  “We just need to stop and think about how we’re going to handle this pregnancy,”Tori suggested.

  “Nothing to think about,”Justin replied,“She’s getting rid of it.”

  “That’s for her to decide,”Tori corrected.

  “She’s right,”Brody confirmed.

  Justin didn’t seem deterred.“Then…we just have to make sure she makes the right choice.”

  Raffy moved away from the door where she’d been listening and headed towards the window.

***

Mason had slowly listened as Coco had filled him in on events.“Hunter’s dead?”he repeated once she was finished.

  Coco nodded.“I saw it happen.Raffy too, she’s really cut up.From what your family were saying, apparently they were seeing each other.”

  “Hunter and Raffy?”Mason looked pained.“If only I could have controlled the car better…”

  “It wasn’t your fault,”Coco promised him,“The car was faulty.”

  “Did you know about them?”

  “I knew she was seeing someone.Just like she knew I was.We didn’t know who until this happened.”

  “And now everyone knows about us?How are your parents taking it?”

  “Well, it was a surprise,”Maggie noted as she and Ben entered.

  “To put it mildly,”Ben added, seeming far less relaxed than his wife.

  “Dad, we love each other!”Coco protested.

  “We do,”Mason agreed.

  “And we recognise that,”Maggie confirmed,“But it’s not good that you hid this from us.”

  “We were just trying to work it out for ourselves,”Mason explained.

  “I’ve had it pointed out to me that you’re a decent kid,”Ben admitted,“So, okay, no opposition from me. As long as you’re honest from now on.”

  Coco smiled.“We will be.”

  Jasmine stuck her head round the door.“Sorry to interrupt but, Mason, the doctor needs to speak to you.”

***

“Are you sure you’re all right to be on your own, love?”Irene asked as she and Leah reached the bottom of the drive that led up to the caravan park house.

  Leah nodded.“Yeah, I’ve got Alf and Roo here.I spoke to Zac last night, he and Evie are planning to travel back tomorrow once they’ve got cover sorted out.”

  “Okay, well…just as long as you know we’re here for you if you need us.”

  Leah gave a small smile and nodded.Irene hugged her and then Leah headed up the drive.

  She’d almost reached the house when she heard someone whispering her name.Looking round, she saw Raffy standing behind a bush.“Raff?What are you doing here?”

  “I’m sorry,”Raffy said quietly,“I didn’t know where else to go.I thought of John and Marilyn but they’d probably think the same as Justin…”

  “It’s okay, what’s wrong?”

  Raffy looked as though she was fighting back tears.“I’m pregnant with Hunter’s baby.And my family want me to get rid of it.”

***

Ryder and Ty were on the sofa when Leah and Raffy entered the house.“Raffy!”Ryder exclaimed,“How you doing?”

  Raffy shrugged.“I don’t know.I’m getting there.”

  “We’ve got a new house guest for a bit,”Leah explained,“Can you help her settle in?”

  Ryder looked uncertain.“There’s not a lot of room here.”

  “She can bunk in with me.”Leah turned back to Raffy.“The boys will look after you.I’ll just go and get your things.”

  Raffy joined the pair on the couch.“We were just thinking about helping with a playlist for the funeral,” Ty explained,“If you wanted to help…”

  Raffy nodded.“That would be nice.”

  “Were you and him really together?”

  “You think I could make up something like that?Got the unplanned teenage pregnancy to prove it.”

  “Well, I guess all that times you’ve bossed me about is practise for being a mum,”Ryder suggested.

  “There is that,”Raffy agreed.

  “Have you seen Coco today?”

  “I think she’s with Mason.”

  “And there’s another one,”Ryder complained,“When did I get too young for you guys to date?”

  “Anyway,”Ty interrupted, showing Raffy his phone,“here’s what we’ve got so far.”

***

Dr.Genner had been roped in to deliver the news to Mason.Coco was by his side with Ben, Maggie and Ziggy also in the room.“There’s been a few fractures of your spine,”she explained,“The spinal cord is intact so there’s still a chance of recovery…”

  “I don’t know if you remember, doctor, but I’ve been here before,”Mason pointed out.

  “Then you know how it works.If you’re going to walk again, you need to put the effort in with physio.”

  “And you killed that last time,”Ziggy interjected helpfully.

  Maggie nodded.“If there’s anyone that can help you, it’s the doctors here.”

  “But having to go through it all again,”Mason complained.

  “Like I did?All those bouts of chemo?But it was worth it in the end.”

  Coco help Mason’s hand tightly.“We’re all here for you, okay?Every step of the way.Me and…and this lot and your family.”

  “And where are they right now?”Mason asked.

***

Justin flung open the door when he heard the knock to find Leah standing there.“Raffy’s round at my place,”she explained.

  Justin breathed a sigh of relief.“Thank goodness for that, we were going spare.Should I come and pick her up..?”

  “Actually, I was going to pick up some of her things.”

  Justin looked confused and a bit suspicious.“What’s going on?”

  “She said she’s pregnant and you were going to force her to get rid of the baby.”

  Brody shot his brother an annoyed look.“Oh, nice one, mate.”

  “I wasn’t…I didn’t…”Justin struggled for the words.“I wouldn’t have dragged her down there kicking and screaming!”

  “Well, you made Raffy feel unsafe,”Leah explained.

  “And why are you involved?”Justin demanded,“Because that baby’s all that’s left of Hunter?”He cringed as the words came out of his mouth.“Sorry, I didn’t mean…”

  “Maybe there’s a bit of that,”Leah agreed,“But it’s Raffy baby as well and at the moment I just want to make sure she’s okay. I’m not saying it’s forever.”

  “It might be for the best, Justin,”Tori agreed.

  Justin waved Leah towards the bedrooms.“Tori will help you get Raffy’s things.”As the two women left, he saw Brody’s angry gaze directed at him.“We’ll get her back, okay?”he promised.

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Thanks for the comment, Kristen

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

Brody and Coco stood nervously in the doorway, keeping their distance.Jasmine was setting up the wheelchair next to Mason’s bed.Like his brother and girlfriend, Mason had dressed in dark, formal clothes.Jasmine finished her job and turned to the patient.“You know how to do the next bit?”

  “Yeah, I remember,”Mason confirmed.He slid himself across the bed and into the chair.Jasmine quickly replaced the other chair arm.

  “Are you sure about doing this?”Coco asked,“Don’t you want to wait until you’re stronger?”

  “Yeah, man, people would understand,”Brody agreed.

  Mason shook his head.“I’m still here and Hunter isn’t.Going to pay my respects is the least I can do.”

  “Well, you’re all set to go,”Jasmine told him.

  Mason hesitated.“I’ve never been too good at this bit.”

  Coco went and stood behind the wheelchair, taking the handles.“You want a hand?”

  Mason smiled at her gratefully.“Please.”

***

Raffy came downstairs already changed into her funeral clothes.Leah, Ryder and Ty were waiting for her, while Alf and Roo hung back in the kitchen.“How are you feeling?”Ryder asked, then he winced.“Dumb question, right?”

  “Kind of,”Raffy agreed,“But thanks for asking it anyway.”

  Leah came forward and gave her a quick hug.“You know we’re all here for you, right?”

  “Yeah, big time,”Ty agreed.

  Raffy smiled.“Thanks, all of you.”

  Zac and Evelyn came in from outside.“Cars are all set,”Zac told them.He seemed to notice there was someone else present.“Raffy.Wish I could have seen you again in better circumstances.”

  “Ellie sends her love,”Evelyn added,“She and Matt would like to be here but we couldn’t really take her out of school, she’s only just catching up.”

  Raffy nodded.“Tell her thanks.”

  Alf cleared his throat.“Right.Are we all here?”

  “You got room for two more?”Mason asked as Coco helped him wheel his way in.

  “We weren’t expecting you,”Roo noted in surprise, before realising she was being indiscreet,“I mean, I’m not saying you’re not welcome…”

  “Brody and the others are making their own way,”Mason explained.

  “Mum and Dad too,”Coco added.

  “But I kind of wanted to go in with Raffy.”

  “You’re okay with everything?”Raffy asked.

  “Well, after twenty years of being the baby of the family, I wasn’t expecting my little sister to be first one to make me a cool uncle but I’ll do my best to be up to the task.”

  Raffy smiled then turned to the others.“I think we’re ready.”

***

The mourners had gathered in the cemetery by the coffin.Raffy was sat with her friends-Coco, Ryder and Ty-along with Alf, Leah and Roo.Mason was nearby in his wheelchair.She’d seen Tori, Justin, Brody and Ziggy when they’d arrived but hadn’t approached them.John and Marilyn had come over to say a brief hello before taking their places with Irene, Olivia and Jasmine.

  Zac had been called up the front to deliver the eulogy.“I think you all know that Hunter wasn’t really my son.And I didn’t really know him that long.But he was family.He was family to a lot of people here.We all know he wasn’t perfect but he was trying.I was looking forward to seeing the man he’d become and it feels wrong that we were robbed of that.It is wrong and for him to be taken from us so soon…that’s not fair.”He looked back at the coffin.“I’ll miss you, mate.”

  Raffy let the tears flow and felt Coco put an arm round her.She leaned against her friend’s shoulder, taking comfort.She watched as the coffin was lowered out of sight.The party began to break up and her friends helped her to her feet.

  “Brody’s laid on a spread in Salt,”Leah explained,“We can skip it if you want…”

  “No, no, I’ll go,”Raffy agreed.

  Leah nodded before spotting Irene waving to her.“I’ll be back in a minute.”

  Raffy spotted Zac chatting to and shaking hands with an older blonde man.“Who’s that?”she asked.

  Ryder, Ty and Coco all shrugged but Olivia was within earshot.“That’s Wally,”she explained,“Hunter’s father.His other father, I mean.”

  “Give me a minute,”Raffy told her friends.She hurried over to where Wally was leaving.“Mr.Burns?”she asked.He turned round and looked at her quizzically.“I’m Raffy,”she explained,“I’m Hunter’s girlfriend.” She took a deep breath.“I’m having his baby.”

  Wally nodded politely.“Congratulations.”He sighed.“Look, I didn’t really know Hunter and he didn’t really know me and both of us were happy with that.But I did tell him that if he ever needed anything he should call me.So…”He handed her a card with his number on it.“Let me know when I’m a grandfather and…we’ll see what happens after that.”

***

Tori, Justin and Brody stood in a corner of Salt, Mason with them.They glanced across to the table where Raffy was sat with Coco, Ryder, Ty and Olivia.“Do you think we should go and talk to her?”Justin asked.

  “Might be best to leave it for now,”Brody suggested.Mason nodded in agreement.

  Justin sighed.“You know I didn’t mean for it to be like this, right?”

  “We know,”Tori assured him,“We know you care about Raffy, just like we all do.You were just…being you.”

  “Thank you,”Justin replied testily, not sure whether to take it as an insult or a compliment.

  Jasmine came over to them.“Okay, Mason, I think your day pass has expired.The ambulance has arrived downstairs.”

  Mason nodded.“I’ll just say goodbye to Coco and Raffy first.Wish me luck.”He wheeled himself over to the teens’ table.“I’ll see you both later, okay?I’m needed back in the gulag.”They both nodded goodbyes to him.He turned to Olivia.“I hear you’re leaving soon?Make sure you say goodbye before you go.”

  “What’s this?”Coco asked once he’d gone.

  Olivia shrugged.“I just figure it was time.I’ve put my career on hold for a while but with VJ having left town and now Hunter gone, it feels like I need to move forward.My life’s been down a few too many dead ends the last few years.”She looked at Raffy.“Do you mind if I ask…are you keeping the baby?”

  Raffy thought for a moment.She’d been so worried about the decision being taken away from her she hadn’t really thought to make the decision herself.She’d just kind of fallen into it.But now…“Yeah, I guess I am.”

  “Then I suppose I should say:You’re brave and…good luck.”

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Thank you for the comment, Kristen, hope everyone likes this one!

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

Mason was in the exercise room at the hospital, his hands gripping on a walking frame.Coco’s hands were gripping onto his, as she stood facing him.“A bit further,”she urged.

  Mason shot her a mock resentful look.“Slave driver.”

  “You’re not going to get anywhere by flattering me.Come on.”

  Agonisingly, with pain going through his back as the damage fought to correct itself, Mason forced his foot to rise, move forward and go down again.He did the same thing with his other foot, forcing it to move alongside the other one.He repeated the process a few more times until he slumped, exhausted.

  Coco smiled at him.“Well done.”

  Mason leaned forward and kissed her passionately.She responded until the kiss broke.“There are a few other things I can manage to do,”he pointed out.

  “Mmm, I’ve noticed.”

  “You want to go somewhere for exercise of a different kind?”He kissed her again.

  Raffy coughed pointedly as she entered the room.“Do you want me to come back?”

  “If you would,”Mason agreed before turning and smiling at her,“Good to see you, Raff.I haven’t done a lot of that in a while.”

  “I’ve been busy at Leah’s and at school,”Raffy said awkwardly.

  “What about the rest of the family?Have they seen you?”

  “I’m meeting them later.”

  “That’s good.”

  “Do you want to head back to town together?”Coco asked.

  “That’d be nice,”Raffy agreed.

  Mason looked at them worriedly.“Hey, who’s going to help me?”

  Sighing theatrically, the two girls took his arms and helped him towards the exit.

***

Justin, Tori and Brody were preparing to leave the house.Brody gave Justin a warning look.“You remember the rules?”

  Justin sighed.“Don’t mention her lying to us.Don’t mention having an abortion.Don’t mention wishing Hunter was still alive so I could kill him.”

  “Yeah, I think you’re about there.”

  “The main purpose of this meeting is building bridges,”Tori reminded them,“Anything else can wait.”

  “You mean like Raffy moving back in with us?”Justin asked.

  “Yes, like that.This isn’t just about Raffy now, it’s about the baby too.They’re both part of this family and we need her to know that.”

  Justin noticed he was getting a warning look from Brody again.“Okay, okay!”he agreed,“I’ll behave.”

***

“Do you want me to stay?”Coco asked.She and Raffy were back at the caravan park house with Leah.

  Raffy thought for a moment.“No,”she said at last,“We’ll be okay.”

  “Ryder and Ty are outside,”Leah offered,“Why don’t you go wait with them?”

  Coco nodded and gave Raffy a quick hug.“Good luck.”As she went to leave, she passed Justin, Brody and Tori, giving them a polite smile as she left.

  “Sit down,”Leah invited,“Do you want tea?”

  Justin seemed to be trying his best to be polite, encouraged by warning glares from Tori and Brody. “Please,”he accepted.They sat at the table, Raffy joining them, as Leah brought a teapot over.

  “I think Justin has something he wants to say,”Brody prompted.

  Justin looked pained.“I’m sorry,”he offered,“You’ve got to understand, all this came as a huge shock to us.”

  “It came as a shock to me too,”Raffy pointed out.

  “Yeah, I get that.But you knew you were dating Hunter, right?The rest of us, not a clue.So we get him dying, then we get you pregnant, then we get him being your boyfriend, on top of Mason being hurt.So I might not have been in the best place.”

  “It did take us by surprise,”Brody agreed.

  “But you’re our sister,”Tori said kindly,“and we love you.”

  “I love you too,”Raffy confirmed.

  “So…I take it you’re keeping the baby?”Justin enquired awkwardly.

  Raffy glanced at Leah.“That’s what she’s decided,”Leah confirmed.

  Justin nodded.“Well, hey, I was a teenage parent myself.It worked out for me.”

  “And if you want to come back and live with us,”Tori ventured,“we’d support you.”

  Raffy again looked to Leah for support but Leah turned the question back on her.“It’s up to you.”

  “I think I’ll stay here for now,”Raffy decided,“I feel like I need to be close to Hunter, and Leah knew him better than anyone else in the Bay.But I’m not leaving you, okay?We’ll still see each other loads.”

  Justin smiled.“We’d like that.”

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Thank you for the comments, Summer's Bay, Kristen and pembie! Here's a short chapter for you.

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

Raffy’s face lit up as Coco and Mason appeared in the doorway to the house.“Look at you!”she exclaimed at the sight of Mason,“No crutches!”

  Mason was using a stick for support, although he raised it and held it up at Raffy’s comment.“Yeah.Still got this though, but I guess you can’t have everything.”

  “The doctors think you’ll be able to do without it in a few weeks though,”Coco pointed out.

  “Hey, I am a doctor, almost!”Mason protested,“And…yeah, they’re probably right.”

  Coco turned back to Raffy.“You still okay to go to the beach?”

  Raffy hesitated, rubbing her expanding stomach.“You sure it’ll be okay?”

  “Well, it’s not like it’s a secret.Everyone at school’s seen you.”

  Raffy looked over at Leah, who’d been keeping a discreet distance in the kitchen.“What do you think?”

  Leah was somewhat non-commital.“I think you should do whatever you feel comfortable with.”

  Raffy turned back to her brother and her friend.“Okay, let’s do this!”

***

It was not long after that the three of them were sat on the beach.“You sure you don’t want to come in?” Coco asked.

  “I’m not exactly in swimming costume shape,”Raffy replied.

  Mason tapped his stick.“And I’d probably sink.”

  “Okay, I’ll see you both in a bit!”Coco stripped down to her bathers and ran into the water.

  Raffy reflected on how much more confident Coco seemed these days.Then she looked over at Mason and saw the adoring look he was giving her friend.“You really like her, don’t you?”

  Mason looked slightly embarrassed.“Does it show?”

  “Only to a trained observer.”

  “Did Hunter ever look at you like that?”Mason saw Raffy looked uncomfortable and went on hurriedly. “I mean, I actually do want to know.I never saw the two of you together like that.I don’t know what it was like.”

  “Sometimes he did,”Raffy replied quietly,“I think a lot of the time he was guilty about being with me.I hope he’d have got over it.”

  Brody and Ziggy came over.“I hope you’re not neglecting my sister,”Ziggy said warningly.

  “We’re keeping an eye on her,”Mason promised, gesturing to Coco in the water.

  Ziggy’s eyes lit up.“Want to join her?”she asked Brody.

  “I’ll keep an eye on your towel.”

  Ziggy quickly stripped off and went to join her sister.Brody watched her adoringly.Mason and Raffy exchanged amused looks.“I guess it’s genetic,”Raffy commented.

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Thank you for the comments, Kristen, sallyandflynnfan and pembie! Hope you like this one!

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

Raffy let out a yell of labour pain as another contraction hit her.Leah held tightly onto her hand.“It’s okay, I’m here.”

  “You’re doing good, Raffy,”Jasmine agreed,“I’ll just get the doctor to check in on you.”

  As they were left alone, Raffy looked back at Leah.“You’re sure you’re okay with being here?”

  Leah nodded.“I never had a daughter and I wasn’t there when Billie gave birth.I’m not going to miss out on this.”

  “I don’t miss my mum that often,”Raffy commented,“But I really wish she was here now.And Hunter.”

  “I know, but…your baby’s going to be here soon and when that happens, you’re going to be the best mum ever.”

  Raffy smiled and then winced at another pain.“Yeah.Really soon.”

***

Mason and Coco were among the group in the waiting area.Coco shot Mason a look.“Are you sure your leg’s all right?”

  “It’s fine,”Mason promised her,“I’m walking on my own now, remember?”

  Coco gripped his hand fondly.

  Ben, Maggie and Ziggy weren’t too far away and Ben shot the young couple a look that suggested mild panic.“Something on your mind, Dad?”asked Ziggy wearily.

  “I just thought…those two were seeing each other at the same time as Raffy and Hunter and we didn’t know about it.It could be her having a baby in there if they hadn’t been careful.”

  “I think that’s the sort of thought you have if you want to drive yourself crazy,”Maggie suggested.

  Justin was complaining to Brody and Tori again.“Why’s Leah in there with her?Why not…you?”He gestured to Tori.

  “It’s what she wanted, mate,”Brody pointed out.

  “The important thing is she feels safe and secure,”Tori agreed.

  Justin didn’t argue but didn’t look happy.

***

Raffy was gently rocking her baby, Leah sitting near her.“What are you going to call him?”Leah asked.

  Raffy considered the question.“I thought about calling him Hunter but…”

  “But what?”

  “It’s a bit silly?”Raffy offered.

  Leah gave a small smile.“Yeah, okay, fair enough.”

  “I thought maybe Zak, after Mr.MacGuire?With a K, to make him different.”

  “I think Zac would like that.”

  “And…can you tell everyone?”

  Leah gave her a supportive look then headed out into the corridor.“Everyone, Raffy’s had a baby boy.”

  “Is she all right?”Justin asked,“Are they both all right?”

  “They’re both going to be fine.”

***

Ryder and Ty were standing by Raffy’s bedside with Coco, both of the boys holding large balloons.“You realise you’ve got to let us teach him the facts of life?”Ryder asked.

  Raffy looked at him sceptically.“You?”

  “Hey, if you need male role models, they don’t get any better.”

  “I think she’s got quite a few brothers that can do that,”Coco pointed out.

  “You have to say that, you’re dating one of them.”

  At that moment, Justin, Mason, Tori and Leah entered.“I’m breaking the rules on visitor numbers again,” Tori pointed out,“Just so you know.”

  Raffy looked hard at them, as if building up the courage to say something, then blurted out “Can I move back in with you?”

  Her three siblings’ expressions were a mixture of surprise and pleasure.“Of course, yeah,”Justin agreed eagerly,“If that’s what you want.”

  “It is.And I want Mason and Coco as godparents.”

  Mason exchanged a glance at Coco, who nodded.“We’d be glad to.”

  Raffy noticed the disappointed look on Leah’s face.“Leah, I appreciate everything you’ve done for me but I didn’t get to grow up with my family, so I want my baby to.But we’re still family too.I mean, if that’s okay?”

  Leah smiled.“It’s okay with me.”

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Thank you for the comment, Kristen. Here's the last chapter, I hope people enjoy it!

CHAPTER NINETEEN

Salt was playing host to a celebration:The end of exams.Coco, Raffy, Ryder and Ty sat along one side of a long table, with Mason next to Coco.Also on the table were Justin, Tori, Brody, Ziggy, Ben, Maggie, Leah, John and Marilyn.

  Justin cleared his throat and raised his glass.“Well, here’s to you lot.”

  Tori shot him a bemused look.“That’s it?”

  “I was kind of hoping I’d think of something else to say afterwards.”

  “You’ve all had a hard year,”Leah attempted,“but you’ve made it through to the end.”

  “And we’re so proud of you,”Marilyn gushed.

  Ryder preened himself in an exaggerated fashion.“Well, I don’t like to boast…”

  “I hadn’t noticed that,”Ty quipped.Ryder glared at him.

  Raffy was cradling Zak.“Well, I want to thank you all for being here.There’s people that I wish were that aren’t, so it means a lot.”

  “Have you given any thought about uni?”Coco asked her.

  “I mean, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t,”Mason agreed,“There’s plenty of people here to help look out for you and Zak.”

  Raffy smiled.“Well, I guess I’ve got my options open.It’d be nice if Zak could be proud of his mum.”

  Ryder nudged her fondly.“I think that’s pretty much a given anyway.”

***

The meal was winding down and people were starting to move away.Leah and Ryder both gave Raffy hugs.“See you in the Diner tomorrow?”Leah asked.

  “Of course,”Raffy agreed.

  “And I’ll text you about hanging out afterwards,”Ryder added.

  John, Marilyn and Ty were also on their way out.“You look so grown-up,”Marilyn gushed.

  “Yeah, good on you,”John echoed.

  Ty gave her a smile.“See you, Raff.”

  “Right, well, I need a hand closing up!”Brody announced.

  “Before that, there’s something I need to do,”Mason told them.

  “Why do I have a bad feeling about this?”Justin grumbled.

  Mason got down on one knee in front of Coco and produced a jewellery box, opening it to reveal an engagement ring.“Coco, we’ve been through a lot since we got together and we’re out here on the other side and I love you a lot more than I thought possible so…Coco Astoni, would you marry me?”

  Coco gaped.“Yes!”she cried, delighted.

  Mason stood up, put the ring on her finger and hugged her.Then he turned to Ben and Maggie.“This is okay, right?”

  “Looks like it’ll have to be,”Maggie commented.

  “Way to go, sis!”Ziggy exclaimed.

  “And way to go, bruv!”Tori agreed.

  Ben was trying hard not to glower.“How long’s this engagement going to last?”

  “Ooh, really long time,”Mason told him.He looked at Coco.“Three months?”

  “About that,”she agreed.She smiled sweetly at Ben.“Hey, at least I’m not rushing it as much as Ziggy did.”

  “I heard that,”Ziggy grumbled,“But fair enough.”

  “And definitely congratulations,”Raffy agreed,“Now you really will be Zak’s Auntie Coco!”

  Coco put an arm round Mason’s shoulder.“I guess there’s a lot to be said for older guys.”

 

 

 

 

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