Elsa just swallowed another two ibuprofen for the headache she had from listening to the head banger music their current foster blasted from his room. She wished the summer was over already, except it had only just begun. Behavioral issues and horrid music aside, she really was happy with the opportunity to give these kids a home, even if it were temporary.
So far the couple served as short term stays, like a buffer between group homes and their adoptive parents while they waited for the process to complete or seventeen year-olds who were about to time out of the system. Jackson, their current guest, was one of the angriest they had yet and nothing they did for him helped.
When Jason arrived home from work, he could already tell that Jackson had been blasting his music all day long, from the look on Elsa’s face. He kissed Elsa in a way of a greeting and bounded up the stairs towards Jackson’s room. “Hey! Could you keep it down? We gave you headphones for a reason!”
Jackson didn’t hear the guy as he was using his headphones. Except instead of for music, he used them so that he could hear his television while he blasted the horrid sounds.
Jason pulled on the electricity chords and sighed when everything had gone quiet in the boy’s room. “Please, not so loud.”
“What are you talking ‘bout? It wasn’t that bad! I had it lower than last week,” the kid argued, not really caring because he was going to be on his own in a month. What did it matter if he did what they wanted?
“You’re not the only person in this house, now that it’s the Summer holiday, Elsa’s home too during the day. A little bit of consideration on your part is needed, if you’d do this while living on your own… I haven’t seen you looking for a job or a new apartment yet, but your neighbors will call the cops on you every time you do this. And eventually, even the cops will have enough of coming to your door.”
Jackson snorted. “Yeah, yeah,” he said. It was the same song and dance he heard since he turned sixteen. “You won’t have to worry about me then.” He started to put the plugs back into their sockets.
Downstairs Elsa swallowed the last two tablets and escaped into their bedroom to lay down. While the music was now off, but she still had the residual pounding in her head. “What the fuck were we thinking?” she asked herself aloud.
“Tomorrow, you and I are going to get you a job.” Jason said. “Even if it’s scrubbing the streets or weeding someone’s garden, but we’ll get you a summer job. Save you some money.”
“Yeah, okay,” Jackson replied rolling his eyes and going back to watching his show.
“I mean it, Jackson. I’ll also call child services tomorrow to see if there’s an apartment free for you anywhere, next month so you can get settled on your own. Probably won’t be here in Port Jackson, but until you leave this house, you’re mine.” Jason grinned, he already had asked a former marine if he would love to hang out with a disturbed teenager for a couple of days, in a way to ‘boot camp’ him, and Mike had agreed on taking the kid into the wilderness with him and his sons the coming weekend.
The kid didn’t say anything and continued to ignore his foster dad until he left. Besides, the girls in bikinis on the television were more fascinating.
Jason moved in front of the TV. “Did you hear anything I said?”
“Yeah!” he yelled at him. “Job hunting, tomorrow. I got it! Now can I just be left alone?”
“No, I want you to mow the grass. Come on.” Jason would probably have left him alone, but he didn’t like Jackson yelling at him. His attitude… well… he could deal with that, but no yelling.
“What?” he asked staring at him. “Now? It’s like a hundred degrees out there!”
“Yep, now.” Jason nodded. “It’s not that bad, I worked all day, I had to help towing a car, help to get yet another cat out of a tree and lots of more things. You, probably sat on your ass all day. So go downstairs, get the lawn mower… not the fancy one, but the normal one.”
Jackson just sat there staring at the guy in disbelief. He knew the mower that he was talking about but that would mean he’d be out there all night – literally. Because the Sayles had such a huge yard, front and back, the couple eventually invested in a small tractor style that you ride. “But…”
“But what? I want you to mow the lawn with the normal mower, at least until dinner. Then, if you’re good, I might help you with the big mower.”
“It’s still going to take forever to do!”
“Then get cracking.” Jason unplugged the chords from their sockets again and grinned. “I’ll work on dinner… I could possibly start it in an hour… so… “ he continued.
Jackson threw his headphones on the floor and stormed out of the room. Like a trampede down the stairs he looked for Elsa before finding her in her room. “Your husband is making me mow the lawn with the old piece of shit,” he complained.
She looked up at him. “What do you want me to do about it? Just get it done instead of bitching,” she said, wishing she had something stronger for her migraine.
“He’s your husband! YOU haven’t asked me to do anything ALL DAY and now HE’s MAKING me mow the lawn!” Jackson spluttered.
Jason walked after Jackson and pulled him out of the master bedroom. “Next time, knock first.” He gently pushed Jack towards the tool shed. “Go mow.”
The kid went and did what he was told, only because there was little choice he had. Elsa had already buried her head under the pillows to try to muffle out his screaming and cursing. “There are no more pain killers,” she announced.
Jason walked into the bedroom and softly kissed his wife. “I’d say that I’d get them for you, but I just know that Jackson would stop mowing.” He apologized. “Can you last until after dinner?”
She nodded. “Please, after he is on his own, maybe see if they will place a girl with us? Something? I’m trying, I really am…”
“Yeah.” He softly caressed Elsa’s hair. “This is one tough cookie, but I’ve arranged for him to be out in the wild this weekend, and probably a part of next week, with Mike. Maybe he can put some sense into the boy.”
Sighing, Elsa doubted that very much but she wouldn’t say it. “Can’t we just send him there tonight? I don’t know how much longer I can do this.”
“No, I’ve got plans for him tonight.” Jason apologized. “After dinner, he’s coming with me to do the groceries for the rest of the week, buy you some pain killers, and have him mow some more. He yelled and raised his voice at us, but not to worry, he will not be a bother to you tonight.”
“The yelling doesn’t bother me as much as his ignorance,” she said. “Well…and the music. What was he doing up there?”
“Watching TV, listening to music AND playing on the game console… all at once,” he sighed. “Maybe… with our next kid, we should remove all but one of the technology and give something as a reward… not all at once.”
Elsa shrugged and turned on her side to hug his pillow closer to her. “We’ll see. I just think child services is deliberately trying to torture us. Behavioral issues aside, each and every one they sent us was a menace. Can’t they spare us just a little? I mean I know I was desperate to be a mother but come on.”
“We did say any type of kid, Elsa.” Jason chuckled.
“Yeah well, I am no so sure anymore about all of it,” she argued.
“We’re still trying, adjusting… I don’t think it would have been any different with a new born baby.”
“A baby doesn’t blast a radio, ignore you when you tell him to do his chores, or talk back.”
“But most of your students do.” Jason shrugged. “And babies cry all the time.”
Sitting up, she glared at him. “Babies are supposed to cry. At least we’d be able to teach it right from wrong from the beginning. And I don’t have to parent my students. I just give them more homework to deal with then they deal with their own parents.”
“And what do you do when they’re ignoring you?”
Jason chuckled. “I think Jackson is a bit too old for a reward system.” He nodded. “But I’ve had enough of his antics, this last month will be spent on trying to work some sense into him by keeping him busy and giving him chores like… mowing the lawn.”
Elsa continued to look at him before shaking her head. “I am really considering not doing this anymore and just come to terms with the fact that maybe parenthood isn’t for us.”
“You’re not a quitter. Go sleep some. I need to get changed, probably take a shower and then I’ll start dinner.” He quickly kissed her and grabbed some clothes out of his closet and a towel. “If you don’t hear him mow, call me.”
Just then the sounds of their gas mower started up. She looked at her husband with a raised eyebrow. “You were saying?”
“Well, I gave him some time.” He said sheepish. “Back in a bit.” Jason disappeared into the bathroom and undressed himself.
She bit her lip as she laid back down. It wouldn’t be right to go join her husband with Jackson outside like that, but they also say that sex was great for easing the pain from headaches. After that time that Jason’s mother walked in on them, she’d been paranoid about being intimate in the bathroom, or any where during the day like that. Reaching up to rub her neck, she looked towards the door and frowned.
He was done in just a couple of minutes and dried himself off before getting into his clothes. “Right, dinner.” Jason kissed Elsa. “Go nap.”
“Napping would be easier if my head wasn’t pounding,” she said.
“Have fun trying.” Jason smirked and closed the bedroom door behind him as he walked into the kitchen, making a coffee for himself first.
“I’d rather you were the one pounding me!” she called after him as he walked away before laying back down and covering herself with the blanket.
He grinned at that remark and looked at Jackson, who was already sweating from the little piece of yard that he had mowed. He didn’t look all too happy, but Jason was going to make sure that the kid would learn how to respect other people by giving him the worst chores to do whenever he’d yell or raise his voice, or even give him and Elsa attitude this last month.
Elsa rested for awhile but any sort of sleep would not come, she was sure of it. For one, it was still too early for her and she really wasn’t the napping type. After about twenty minutes, she gave up and made her way out into the kitchen, frowning at the mess in the sitting room from Jason’s work gear.
“You’re cleaning that up,” she said, pointing at the crap.
“No I’m not. I need to wear that tomorrow.”
“Put the dirt and mud covered stuff in the garage or something. I just had the rugs cleaned from the storm we had last month!”
“Honey, I’m cooking.”
Elsa narrowed her eyes at him. If she had to clean it up, he would not like what she would do with the stuff. Only problem she had was deciding whether to dump it in the marina or to let Jackson run over it with the mower.
He had deliberately left his old work boots in the living room, knowing that Elsa would be more comfortable with standing up to someone familiar rather than a snotty teenager who disrespected everyone around him. “Just ignore them for the moment.”
“Give me one good reason to,” she said, crossing her arms.
“Well you want me to put them away, but I’m cooking right now, and if I move away from the furnace, stuff can burn.”
She walked over to see what he was cooking. “Only you would burn water.”
“Whatever, I’m still not cleaning it up until after we’ve had dinner.”
“Dinner can wait another five minutes for you to walk your stuff outside,” she said, her mood souring even more.
“No buts! Unless you want me to butt your stuff out in the lawn and let Jackson mow the shit out of it. I’m sure then he would actually entertain me for a bit by being good for letting him do that!”
Jason smiled widely and walked towards his muddy shoes. “Good girl! I love you!”
“Uh huh,” she said as she went to get the left over spaghetti sauce from the fridge. “You keep saying that.”
“Now if you just use that attitude on Jackson, and keep persisting, you’ll be fine.” He said before tossing his boots on the porch.
She rolled her eyes as she pulled the box of pasta bows from the cabinet. “I don’t think that threatening to go without sex would work for him because that was next on my list.”
“You could threaten to take away his game console.” Jason nodded as he walked back in.
“Done and tried. You can finish cooking now,” Elsa replied as she whipped him in the rear end with the dish cloth as she walked out of the kitchen.
After dinner, Jason took Jackson to the store and made him carry all the groceries by himself, while the boy was sulking. Jason had bought extra painkillers for Elsa and other than that, food to last them the entire week.
“Can I go back to my room now?” Jackson said bored as they went home.
“Nope, you’re going to mow for a bit longer.”
“What? But it’s 8 pm!”
“Yes, I know, it’s cooler out now.”
“You’re a child abuser, aren’t you?”
“Listen, kid, when I was your age, well even younger, I had to do chores in the house. Whether it was doing the dishes or mowing the lawn, I had to do my chores. I am sick and tired of your attitude and have decided that from now on, whenever you do something that’s disrespectful to me or Elsa, you’ll get to do a chore that neither of us like.” Jason said in his cop voice, looking Jackson straight in the eyes. “It doesn’t matter if you’re still with us for a month, or longer, from today, you’ll be in big trouble if you give us any more lip, got that?”
“Fine.” Jackson muttered.
“Now, go mow the lawn for another hour.”
Two months after Jackson left the Sayles, Maurice, their usual contact with Child Services had stopped by with the file of a new teen that he wanted to place with them. Elsa was hesitant after all they been through already that she was teetering on the edge of saying no. Her patience was beyond shot and as much as she wanted to do good by these kids, they could only take so much abuse by them.
“Breanne Jessop is a very nice little girl, 11 years old, almost 12. Lived with her grandmother until she was 5, but on the street for about two years after she was picked up by child services when she was 7.” Maurice said. “Once she trusts you, she’s a great kid. Her previous foster homes were… uhm… a mistake on our part. She wasn’t really treated that well.” Maurice handed over a picture of a cute little girl with a lot of hair, brown and wavy, and big brown eyes.
Elsa looked at the picture that Jason took from him. The girl was certainly adorable but she still found enormous reservations. “I don’t know. I know we did say that we would take anyone but the last few have put us through the ringer so much that I just can’t go through it again. I’m sorry,” she said, getting up and walking out of the room.
“I realize that the first few children I sent to you were… hard.” Maurice said and took a moment to find the right words. “They just really needed to be placed asap and you guys did a fantastic job with them. Jeffrey, for instance, is now working on Vancouver Island and has a great apartment. Bree won’t be as hard, I promise. She’s 11 years old, very tiny, and she hasn’t got the same problems as the boys had. Her biggest issue is trust, and she needs to learn to control her anger.”
“I’ll let you know.” Jason replied.
“If it helps, Bree feels safe around women. She’s a bit wary of men.”
He chuckled. “I’ll let you know, thanks Maurice.”
Elsa had gone upstairs and started to finally clean up the bedrooms, even going as far as to throw out things they normally saved for new placements with them. She could hear the front door close and Jason coming up the stairs but she just continued with her purging.
“Well, at least he didn’t come with another boy.” Jason said, leaning against the doorpost, looking at Elsa moving about in the bedroom.
“I don’t care,” she said, picking up a book before tossing it on the bed. There were some CDs and movies that were scattered on the floor that she threw in the bag without second glance. “I’m done.”
Jason nodded. “Okay.”
“You going to just stand there or are you planning on helping?” she asked before picking up the pile of linen to throw over the balcony to the living room to wash.
“I’m not going to help.” Jason shrugged. “I’ll only get in your way and you’ll be throwing me off the balcony.”
She looked at him before pausing. “You are seriously considering this girl.”
“No, I’m not.” Jason said sheepish. “You know that I leave those decisions to you.”
“Do not lie to me,” she growled. “What makes you think that it will be any different?”
“What harm could a little girl do? I mean… I had my reservations about the boys because they’re almost fully grown and in their last phase of leaving the system and thus obviously quite impossible to communicate with, but an 11 year old girl?”
Elsa sat on the bed and shook her head. “I don’t know, I just don’t know.”
“I could ask Maurice if we could meet her first?” Jason suggested. “He knows he put us up with challenging cases, and he assured me that Bree isn’t that bad.”
“You want to do this? Because if she doesn’t work out, I am honestly through,” she said.
“I’m leaving it up to you.”
She looked at him, unsure. “If she doesn’t work out,” she repeated. “This is the last time. Okay?”
He walked towards her and sat down on the bed next to her. “Honey, we don’t have to take her. We could end this, right here, right now.”
And give up on trying to have a family, she thought. Elsa turned her head to face him. “Last try,” she said in a weak voice.
“Alright, last try.” He nodded and put his arms around her. “Don’t worry so much, okay?” Jason kissed the top of her head.
“Call Maurice and set up a meeting,” she sighed. “That way I can get an idea for what we should go buy to set up her room.”
“Maurice can wait.” Jason smiled and got off the bed. He lifted Elsa off the bed and carried her downstairs. “We are going to do absolutely nothing tonight but relax.”
“You have no intention of resting,” she said looking at him. “I know that look…”
“Oh no, I’m not going to do anything but give you a massage.” Jason promised.
She smirked and shook her head. “Yeah, and we both know how that always ends.”
“Well… if the massage would turn into something more… intense… and deep tissue… sure, I have no objection to that. But I’m a guy. I always want more.”
“As long as it is only me you get that more with,” Elsa pointed out. “Otherwise I will break both your legs and go Lorena Bobbitt on you.”
“Always you.” Jason kissed her tenderly. “You’re stuck with me, forever.”
The meeting with Bree and Maurice had gone as expected. Elsa so far was okay with taking her on, and tried to talk to her but didn’t get much of a response. When it was time for them to bring her home from the group facility, she hoped that the girl liked the way her room was decorated. While it was feminine, it was also not very girly with a lot of browns and greens. Elsa was pleased with how it came out, while Jason really thought she was going overboard.
“Your house is huge!” Bree said as they got out of the car. While Bree appeared to be excited, Jason soon saw her face change into sadness. “Where’s your shed?”
“In the backyard, why?”
“Okay.” Bree started to walk around the back but Jason stopped her. “You don’t want me in your house, do you?”
“You’re not staying in the shed.”
Jason suddenly realized how tiny and fragile Bree looked, nowhere near 11 years old. “Elsa’s worked hard on your room, come on, let’s go inside.” Jason smiled. “Knowing Elsa, she probably has made a few sandwiches already, we’ve been in the car for so long, you must be hungry, I know I am!”
Jason gently guided Bree inside the house, but the little girl stopped dead in her tracks by just seeing the living room. “You are certain I’m not staying in the shed or basement or something?” she asked, looking around. “What if I accidentally stain something?!”
“You’re a kid. You’re allowed to stain something.” Jason replied. “Just come to me if you do that way I can cover it up. Living room, kitchen is that way, Elsa and my room is over there. Your room is upstairs. Come on.”
Bree looked at Jason in shock. “You’re not sleeping on the same floor as me? I’m upstairs? Dear Lord, I’ve died.”
He laughed and offered to carry her bag. “Let’s get you settled in and find out what Elsa wants to do for dinner.”
Jason saw how afraid Bree was to touch anything in her room. She kept asking if they were messing with her mind and for how long they’d play nice before putting her in the shed anyway. He then took her to the kitchen, where Elsa had made a platter of turkey and ham sandwiches with coffee for her and Jason and lemonade for Bree.
“I’m not going to take one before you do, Bree.” Jason said as he sat down and took a sip of his coffee.
“Can I?” She eyed the plate hungrily and only grabbed a sandwich or three when both Jason and Elsa nodded. “Ohmygod this is delicious!” She said with a full mouth.
Elsa looked over at Jason and raised an eyebrow. She already didn’t like what she was seeing. “I’m glad you like it,” she smiled. “Can we get you anything or do you want to do something?”
Bree quickly shook her head. “I’m good.” she said, wolfing down another sandwich.
“Take it easy,” she said. “I don’t want you getting sick or something. You need new clothes? We can go shopping, just you and me.”
“I’ve got clothes, what’s wrong with my clothes?” Bree looked down on herself; an adult sized t-shirt and tight jeans.
Elsa shook her head. “They are fine, but I thought you might like some new things that are your own, and fit…”
“But you already are putting me in a big room! With a swimming pool as a bed! I… “ She emptied her glass of lemonade. “I can’t…”
“There are two other rooms up there that you can choose from. They all have the same size bed,” Elsa pointed out. “We just want you to be comfortable.”
“My head’s spinning, Miss.” Bree admitted. “Maybe, if you want to be seen with me, tomorrow?”
“First its Elsa, and Jason,” he spoke up, smiling. “And we both would love to be seen with you.”
“Now you do…” Bree sulked.
Jason could tell that their new foster kid, their foster daughter was tired, there were a lot of new impressions for her today and he had the feeling that he and Elsa really needed to read Bree’s file about the last homes she was in. If it was the truth in her file anyway. “Well, there’s a new notebook on your desk, and a couple of pens if you want to write, Maurice said you like to write, how about you go and make your room really you? Or take a nap? Elsa and I will be right here.”
“You can do whatever you want,” Elsa added, glancing at Jason. “Feel free to explore the house to your heart’s content. You will find there is nothing to be afraid of.”
Jason saw how Bree walked up the stairs to her room, leaving the door wide open. “Wow.” he said, looking at Elsa.
She nodded. “This is going to be a rocky road. In a different way than the boys.”
“At least she’s able to have a normal conversation, and she’s respectful.” Jason chuckled and finally grabbed a sandwich off the plate.
“At what cost? She is terrified.”
“She’ll be fine, just give it time.” Jason softly caressed Elsa’s cheek. “She’ll realize she has nothing to be afraid of.”
She sighed and went to sit on his lap. “That is why I said she can go look around for herself. She doesn’t need us looking over her shoulder.”
“I know.” Jason smiled widely and put his arms around her, resting his chin on her shoulder. “She’s certainly someone to treat with kitten gloves for a while.”
“Just from today, and I mean this is just something to consider for the future, but maybe we can do more for her…”
“And we will, but I think she’ll have to come with her own wants too.” He nodded. “You hear that?”
“Nothing, absolutely nothing. No loud music.” He grinned.
“Yet,” Elsa corrected.
“I’ll go to the store to get stuff for dinner, what do you want?”
She thought about it and shrugged. “How about we just order pizza?”
“Good plan.” Jason nodded.
“Take the money from the house jar for it. I’ll go ask what she likes,” Elsa said pushing herself off him to go upstairs. When she got to Bree’s room, she knocked on the door even though the girl had left it open.
Bree had wrapped herself up in the duvet on the bed and looked at Elsa. “I’m awake, do you have a chore for me?” She asked sleepily.
“No,” she replied, shaking her head. “May I come in?”
“This is your house.” Bree nodded and sat up, unwrapping herself from the duvet.
“And this is your room. I came to see what kind of pizza you like. We thought we would order in tonight,” she said as she walked in to sit on the bed next to her.
“Whatever you’re having is fine, Miss… Elsa.”
She sat there and looked at Bree for a moment with a smile. “That’s not how we work around here. You have just as much input as Jason does when it comes to dinner. Unless of course if you are allergic to something, but we work together. We share the chores, and take turns on everything.”
“I don’t know if I’m allergic to something.” Bree said. “I like pineapples on a pizza and bananas.”
“Different,” she nodded. “Okay, well I know Johnny’s has pineapple but if you want banana on it, there is in the kitchen we can add later. I doubt you would like what Jason does so he usually ends up with a pie for himself with everything spicy under the sun.”
“Pineapple with something hot and spicy is great too! Or even steak on a pizza… or pasta on a pizza or pizza dipped in custard…”
Elsa couldn’t help but laugh. “Let’s try just pineapple tonight and do something different next time. How does that sound?”
“I don’t mind eating leftovers, you don’t have to order me a pizza.”
“Again, not how we do things. Leftovers are for Jason to take to work. I refuse to cook special for his lunches. You on the other hand, maybe.”
“Oh I can cook, if you want me to!”
She smiled as she looked at the girl. “Maybe we can cook together. Bree…or do you want me to call you Breanne? Whatever you like or are more comfortable with…”
“Everyone calls me Bree… or shortie, or midget, or hey you, or whatever really.”
“Then we’ll work with Bree. I wanted to just tell you that you can come to me, or Jason, if you want to talk. Or, if you want to share something, even if it is just one of us, you can write it down in a specific notebook or journal that you are okay with one of us to read. We won’t have to talk about what you write unless you want to. Just – something that could help us become friends, or a family?” Elsa said carefully, unsure if she was being too forward.
“Sure, I could do that.” Bree nodded. “If you want me to do that, I could do that.” Bree crossed her legs. “Jason’s tall.” She made a face.
“Only if you want to,” she repeated, making sure that was understood. “And yes, he is. But his hair makes him look taller than he really is. It does have a life of its own.”
Bree giggled. “That’s funny.”
“Yeah, I think so too. Do you want to lay back down for awhile or come look around? You don’t have to stay in here all day.”
“Okay.” The girl replied. “Do you want me to do anything?”
“Nope, I’m making Jason do everything tonight. Come on,” Elsa said standing up, holding her hand out invitingly.
Bree hesitated a little, but took Elsa’s hand nonetheless. “How many other children do you have?”
She hesitated before looking at her. “None. Um, I’ll be honest with you. Jason and I did try for a long time to have a baby ourselves but we just couldn’t. It was his idea to try and help kids like you, give you a home that isn’t like the others. Try to give you what he and I had growing up.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.” Bree said quietly. “I’ve been told that my dad’s in prison and my mom… well… she was a streetwalker.” She continued. “Both addicted to drugs and alcohol. Grams wasn’t much better.”
Jason and Elsa both knew that part of her history. Smiling, she patted her hand softly. “You are here, with us now. Let me show you around.” She led them to the balcony that overlooked the front door and living room where Jason could still hear them from the kitchen.
“Oh wonderful husband of mine. Bree and I have our dinner orders for you!”
“Oh yeah? What is it? Oreo pizza?” Jason smiled up to the two ladies.
“Oh… that sounds good.” Bree replied.
Elsa rolled her eyes. “No you junk food junkie. Bree would like pineapple, and I’ll have my usual plain. And pick up stuff for sundaes on your way back. Dark chocolate syrup, not the regular, and get a pint of whipping cream. I’ll make it fresh instead of the canned crap.”
“Anything else?” Jason grinned as he walked towards the coat rack to get his coat.
She made a face as she thought about it before looking at Bree for her opinion. “Anything you want?”
“No I’m good, thank you.”
Elsa looked down at Jason and shrugged. “Boss here said nothing else.”
“I’m so whipped.” Jason shook his head laughing as he exited the house.
“Yep, he’s my personal slave. You don’t have worry about a thing,” she winked at Bree. “Alright. Tour?”
“Sounds good.” Bree nodded.
Bree was sent to bed around 9pm as the little girl looked really tired. Jason was sitting on the couch with a beer and Bree’s file and as expected, whatever bad experience the little girl had, it wasn’t in the file.
“I don’t get it, Maurice said Child Services screwed up with her previous foster homes, but it’s not in her file.” Jason took a sip of his beer and looked at Elsa. “She’s adorable, who in their right mind would hurt her?”
“I don’t know. They probably left the information out to cover their asses or whoever’s ass that placed her with them. I think she’ll come around. She did good today considering everything that we threw at her,” she smiled as she leaned over the back of the couch to kiss his neck.
He chuckled and pulled her on the couch with him. “Yes, she did and you were awesome too.”
Elsa yelped as she fell down over the back of the furniture into his lap. “I just want to make her happy and feel safe. I did manage to get the entire week off from work so that I can stay with her while she settles in. I thought maybe we could hire a private instructor for her, just for this year before throwing her to the wolves of the Port Jackson school system.”
“Honey, we both work full time…” Jason said as he kissed the top of her head. “I don’t want her to think we got her just to abandon her while she stays at home to get tutored or with a nanny.”
“Then she and the tutor would come with me to the high school. The drama room is pretty much empty until sixth period. I just don’t want her alone with all those kids if she freaks out over something. Not until she truly knows nothing will happen to her, that we won’t hurt her.”
“Alright.” Jason caressed Elsa’s hair. “So you’re going to take her into town tomorrow then?”
She sat up dramatically like a teenager herself. “My god yes! She needs new clothes, that fit her. Not someone else’s hand me downs that are stained and a mile big on her. Oh! And a cell phone or something. In case she needs us, or to call for help. No arguing that she is too young. We can get one of those child ones where it can be restricted to parents and emergency numbers.”
Jason chuckled and reached for the drawer of the side table where he fumbled out a pink cellphone with a chord attached to it. “Something like this?”
“You evil evil man, I love you,” Elsa grinned as she kissed him. Taking it, she couldn’t help but to open and play with it herself. “Why have you never gotten me one as nice as this? It has an mp3 player!”
“They don’t make pink I-phones.”
“Yes they do. Well, cases for it.”
“Well then buy one,’ he laughed.
“I will,” she said hugging the phone to herself as she scrambled off the couch to grab the phone’s charger before running up the stairs.
Jason turned to watch her and shook his head. “She’s asleep!”
“So? I’m just going to leave it on her end table for when she wakes up then I’ll come to bed myself,” she called back, before knocking lightly on the slightly open door. Smiling, she tiptoed into the room and set up the phone for Bree before grabbing a piece of paper to leave a small note from the Sayles for her.
As promised, she didn’t stay in the room long, just watched her for a minute before heading back downstairs. “Jason?” she called, as he wasn’t in the living room anymore.
“Bedroom.” He said as he turned down their bed. “Did you have fun?”
“Yes,” she said sauntering in with a grin. “Thank you my love.”
“Don’t you look gorgeous.” Jason grabbed Elsa and pushed down on the bed. “All mine.” He said as he sat down on top of her.
“Not tonight,” Elsa said looking up at him. “I want to leave the door open in case she needs us.”
“I can be quiet.” He grinned and began to kiss her down her neck. “Can you?”
To that, she laughed loudly. “The only time you were quiet was when I gagged you and tied you up to the bed.”
“Alright, you win.” He got off her and the bed and went into the bathroom. “I’ll just entertain myself in here.”
Sighing, Elsa laid there for a moment, trying not to think about her husband and what he could be doing. “Bastard,” she groaned as she pushed herself up and ran into the bathroom behind him, locking the door.
Jason woke up around 6 am, and quietly left the bed as he had to get ready for work but wanted to let Elsa sleep. He got dressed and went to the kitchen to make a pot of coffee. He was surprised to find Bree sitting on one of the dining room chairs. “Good morning,” Jason said surprised.
“I’m sorry for being awake.”
“Ahh, no reason to be sorry. You did crash a bit early,” he said as he went about his usual routine. “Hungry?”
“Yes please.” Bree answered. “I cleaned out the cupboards that I could reach. I removed everything, cleaned, and put them back in, I will clean the toilet too.”
“You don’t have to do that. Believe me, Elsa has her own way of doing things when it comes to cleaning,” he replied with a wince as he remembered her OCD streak before they started the fostering. “You just hang out, watch television, play video games or something that kids do. I think we still have the nintendo system somewhere. I’ll have to ask Elsa what she did with it.”
“Oh it’s okay, I don’t like playing video games.”
Jason looked at her and sighed. “Okay…just relax then. Cleaning is not your responsibility unless we ask you to help, please?”
“I don’t know what to do then.” Bree replied. “Can I have some coffee too?”
To that he couldn’t help but laugh. “Sure, you can have some but don’t tell Elsa. She’d kill me and bring me back just to kill me again.”
Bree looked at him with big eyes. “Why?” She asked shocked.
“She has this idea that kids shouldn’t be drinking it until they are at least sixteen. Don’t ask me why, I haven’t a clue myself. She teaches literature and drama at the high school but took off for the week to help you settle in, show you around. I unfortunately need to work otherwise she would be making me do all the not fun stuff like mow the lawn that we pay the kids across the street to do as a summer job.”
“I’ll do it.” Bree hopped off the chair. “Where’s the mower? In the shed?”
“Bree, you don’t have to do anything.” Jason handed her a turkey sandwich and watched how she gobbled it down. “Just take it easy for a while. And breathe when you eat. There is plenty of food in the house. We won’t let you starve.”
The little girl looked at him and nodded. “That’s what you say now, I need some new reserves.”
“No, I mean it. You can take food whenever you want to. That doesn’t mean you have to eat it all, but whenever you’re hungry, you can take something.”
“Stop saying that.” She took another sandwich and ran up the stairs to her room.
Jason rolled his eyes and continued packing his lunch while he drank his coffee. Whatever it was, Bree seemed not to be used to simple kindness.
Elsa walked in sleepily and confused, passing the hurried girl. “What just happened?”
“I told her that there’s plenty of food in the house and stuff like that.” Jason shrugged. “She didn’t like what I said. Oh, and she cleaned out the cupboards during the night.”
Sighing, she went to sit at the island. “It is going to be seriously hard to break her from all that. Coffee?”
He poured Elsa a cup with her creamer and sugar. “Sorry for waking you.” He kissed her.
“I woke on my own,” she smiled. “What time are you off today?”
“Three or Four…”
She nodded as she sipped her drink. “It’s too early,” she whined about being awake. “She looked like she just downed a pot of coffee with how fast she ran out of here.”
“I swear, I didn’t give her anything. She asked for a cup and I was just about to pour it but then she stormed off.”
“Jason! You don’t give children coffee! Are you crazy?!”
“Why not? She asked for it.”
“She asked for it? While I’m more than willing to give her almost anything she wants right now, coffee is not one of them. If I asked you to let me – ahh ‘help’ you in your office at the station, would you let me? No. You don’t give kids coffee.”
“Well.. maybe… if I was alone at the station…” Jason mused. “I’m sorry, I won’t give her coffee.”
“You perv!” she laughed shaking her head. “Thank you. Now, get to work. I’ll go change and talk to her. If we leave soon, we can get to Vancouver to shop and be back in time for dinner.”
“I love you.” He smiled widely and kissed her. “Have fun today.”
Elsa grinned as she took her mug and headed off to change. After he left, she went up the stairs to find Bree. Knocking on the door, which was still open, she waited for permission to enter.
Bree peeked out from her hiding space, her closet. “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to upset you by cleaning your cupboard! I just thought you’d like me doing it!” She sobbed.
“Come here,” Elsa said softly as she went to sit on the bed. She waited until the girl got closer before talking, and kept her hands in her lap where she could see. “I am not mad at you. Thank you for doing it, but you do not have to clean everything.”
“You should punish me, I didn’t know about that rule.” Bree said and looked around, seeing the phone. She grabbed it and put it in Elsa’s hands. “Here.”
She shook her head and set it down on the bed closer to her. “That is yours. It has my cell phone, Jason’s, and all emergency numbers that you need. Keep it with you, please?”
“Because if Jason or I can’t be there to help you, we want you to be able to get help any way that you can,” she said slowly. “If you want to get changed, we can go for a ride and buy some stuff. Jason just paid my credit card off and I am itching to use it again.”
“I can take care of myself if I need to,” Bree said, holding up her fists. “These hurt.” She nodded and pulled on her jeans. “I’m ready.”
Elsa bit on her lower lips and nodded, trying not to let herself get upset. She knew that Bree needed her own space and struggled not to reach out and hug her. “Alright then, come on,” she said.
After she had to talk Bree out of riding in the trunk, and that it was okay in the front seat with her, they finally set out on the road. Along the way, Elsa stopped for hot chocolate and donuts to share and again fought her feelings when the girl pretty much horded what she was given. Something about it seemed familiar to her and let her think of a way of getting her comfortable when it came to food at least.
“Stop the car… please…” Bree groaned as she held her stomach. “I think I need to throw up…”
Elsa quickly pulled over to the shoulder and threw her seat belt off before running around the truck to open the passenger door. “Was it the hot chocolate? I have to admit its not quite agreeing with me either.”
Bree rushed to the bushes and started to vomit. “I guess… it’s all black and brown.”
She went over to help her out by holding her hair back and rubbing her back. “We will get some real food as soon as we hit the city if you want,” she said. “I’d say we’d go back home but we are almost there already.”
“No… no food…” Bree shook her head. “And not going home either, you want to shop.” She spat out some residual stuff and wiped her mouth with her sleeve. “All better.”
When they eventually arrived in Vancouver, Elsa was a little surprised that Bree was clinging to her the moment they walked into a busy shopping street. “Alright,” she said, wrapping an arm around her shoulders to hold her close. “Let’s stop at that store there first. Get you something fresh to change into after throwing up like you did.”
She led them into the store and smiled around at the quiet atmosphere as it was still early for that particular shop. Elsa pulled her over to look at some of the fitted shirts and jeans that were certainly more appropriate for Bree’s age. “What do you think? See anything you like?”
Bree’s eyes grew big when she was looking at all of the clothes, and then looked at the labels. She then picked up the worst looking pair of jeans with a label 75% off. “This one?”
“Ahh, no. Sorry. You don’t need to get the cheapest things, especially if I am the one wanting to pay. With your own money, sure, not today,” she said as she held up some designer jeans to look at. “These are pretty.”
“Fifty bucks for a pair of jeans? For me? What do I need to do for that?”
“Nothing,” Elsa said as she added them to the basket. “I love shopping. Especially for other people. I’ll show you Jason’s closet when we get home and you’ll understand. This is the first time I get to actually shop for a girl…all of our fosters before were boys so I’m just a little bit excited.”
“Okay…” Bree said slowly. “Okay… okay.” She said a bit more sure of herself. “Just no dresses or skirts.”
Having had just caught sight of a really cute dress just then, Elsa pouted. “Fine,” she said as she frowned walking past it. “I guess I can compromise there if you are okay with everything else.” Sighing she started to look through a rack of dress pants to substitute for dresses.
Bree walked to Elsa with a purple shirt with long sleeves. “I’m done.” She smiled.
“I’m not,” she said with a smile back. “We have a big closet in your room we need to fill.”
“But… why? I mean… you probably start hating me and tell those people that you don’t want me anymore… and I haven’t done anything to get stuff.”
“And that is the reason why I want to do this. Like hell I would chance you being placed with one of those houses again,” Elsa said as she pretty much just cleared a display shelf of assorted shirts into their basket. “You will realize that there are times, and people, you don’t have to do anything for in order for them to do something nice.”
Bree got rid of the white shirts in the basket as she made a face. “White gets dirty… I don’t want these pretty shirts to be dirty.”
“We’ve got a washing machine.” Elsa laughed.
“You should leave something on the shelves, Miss Elsa.” Bree grinned. “I doubt the shop will have to stay open once you’ve brought the basket to the register.”
Looking around, she sighed. “Maybe you’re right. We still have a bunch of other stores to check out also. Alright, that’s it here then,” she said and went over to the counter. By the time the total was rang up, she handed her credit card over without blinking at the near $300 bill.
“Holy shit!” Bree exclaimed.
“Language,” Elsa replied instantly with her teacher voice. “I said I liked shopping, didn’t I?” Turning back to the clerk, she asked, “Where is your dressing room?”
“In the back to the left,” the girl said as she folded the clothes into the bags.
Elsa reached over and grabbed a pair of jeans and a bright blue shirt, “Thank you! We’ll be right back for the rest.” She took Bree’s hand and followed the way to the small rooms, setting the clothes on the bench after pulling the tags off. “I’ll be right out here if you need me, okay?”
Bree got changed in a wink of an eye. “This is tight.” Bree made a face as she opened the curtain.
She looked it over on her and shook her head. “You look great and it fits you just right,” she said. “Have you ever had clothes that actually fit you? Not someone else’s?”
“Uhm… I guess, when I was little?” Bree shrugged and put her hair back in the rubber band it was holding. “No one took me shopping, mostly because they thought I was too tiny and was okay with clothes from the older and bigger kids.”
“Well, not anymore. These are yours and yours alone. Now lets go across the street for some new shoes.”
Bree impulsively hugged Elsa tightly. “Thank you.”
Elsa stood there shocked, surprised, with every emotion possible flooding though her. Smiling slowly, she hugged her back. “You’re welcome,” she said softly and just held her as a mother should.
Jason came home to a huge pile of clothes laying on the couch and table in the living room and a very happy looking Elsa. “Good afternoon, ladies.”
“How was work?” she asked distractedly as she sat there going through everything to pull the shopping tags from and refold the things that would be going into the dresser and putting others on hangers.
“Fine, quiet. How was shopping? What’s the damage?”
She pursed her lips together innocently and looked up at him. Bree had just walked back into the living room with a glass of water for herself and looked at them nervously. “You know I love you my husband, right?”
“What’s the damage?” Jason said again, putting his gun in the locked safe next to the door and taking off his boots after that.
“We still have enough for the mortgage payment,” she replied innocently and snipped another price tag off before sliding it into the garbage bag next to her.
“Well… I have no idea what clothes cost… but I’d say… at least 300 bucks?” Jason glared at Elsa. “Are you nuts?”
She looked up at Bree and shrugged. “No?” Yeah, $300 wasn’t even close but she wouldn’t tell him that.
“Right, I guess I’ll call my boss and ask for more hours… again.”
“We got you something,” Elsa announced as she scrambled to her feet to get a huge bag that was hidden behind the love-seat that she had been leaning against. She handed it to him and a sweet smile and flirty eyes that hinted only to one thing that would make him happy later.
He peeked into the bag and gasped at his wife. “You bought this while having Bree with you? What did you do? Leave her outside when you bought this?”
“No,” she said smacking him. “Look under…And besides, she’s a young lady, she’ll have to go into the underwear department herself eventually.”
“So you took her inside when you bought this? Baby, I do have cuffs of my own…”
“Cuffs?” Bree slowly walked backwards towards the stairs.
Elsa turned and threw the bag into their bedroom. “No honey, not ever for you. Its a game that Jason and I play, alone. Ehm…” she was now lost on what to say about the topic of sex with an eleven year old child. “Jason has a big mouth,” she said with a glare. “Go upstairs and we’ll talk in a minute. I promise you are fine.”
Jason saw how Bree darted upstairs. “I fucked up.” He groaned.
“It’s okay. I’ll talk to her. She seemed to really open up after awhile and even began to enjoy being out. But you need to learn to keep your mouth shut. Bree’s a lot younger than the others they sent to us.”
Jason sighed. “I know.” He kissed Elsa. “But I did like the power drill in that bag, I’m sure I can use it tonight.”
“Actually, more like this weekend. I also ordered a bike for her that will be delivered on Saturday. I’m going to go talk to her now. I’ll clean this up,” she sighed.
“Tell her I’m sorry.” Jason chuckled. “I’ll behave from now on.”
“Uh huh,” Elsa teased on her way up the stairs and stopped at the girl’s door. “Bree?”
“I knew it…” Bree looked at Elsa from under her bed. “You took me shopping and had fun and now you’re going to lock me up, aren’t you?”
“No honey,” she said as she got down on her knees on the floor. “Come on out so that I can try to explain that goof up.”
Bree seemed to think for a moment and then crawled away further underneath her bed. “No… I think I know you’ll be using the cuffs for if you’re not going to use them on me.”
“Okay, um…You are a very bright girl, and very smart. You know how babies are made?” Elsa asked, feeling that usual pain at the thought of her dream.
“Of course.” Bree replied easily. “I once shared a room with some older foster kids who couldn’t keep their hands off of each other… or I was underneath the bed for punishment while… well.” She shrugged. “So don’t worry, I know all about it.”
“Okay,” she repeated with a nod and tried not to react to hearing that but failed. “Well, Jason and I very much ehm, enjoy that time we have with each other. Never would we ever, and I mean that, ever, do that to you. Oh lord this is a talk that is much harder for me than you can imagine.”
“You shouldn’t be embarrassed talking about something you like to do.” Bree said, crawling out from her hiding space. “If it makes you feel any better, I know exactly what it’s like.”
“You’re 11 years old!”
“So?” Bree shrugged. “You gotta do what you gotta do to survive. No big deal.”
“I really don’t want to think about you going through that. You are much too young,” she said holding her arms out for her, hoping. “If we can do anything to stop it from happening again, believe me, we will.”
Bree hesitantly walked into Elsa’s arms and gently patted her on the back. “You’ll keep me safe, right?”
“With everything I have,” she said, caressing her hair. She stayed there just holding her for so long that she didn’t care what time it was. At some point, Jason had called up with some hesitancy in his voice that he had gotten dinner ready. “You okay? I am sorry.”
“I’m fine, are you okay?” Bree grinned. “I should stop shocking you, it’s not shocking to me, but I realize that it’s something different for you.”
“Are you sure you are only eleven? Because I could swear you are twenty something!”
“Yep, I’m eleven… well nearly twelve!”
“Right. Just – maybe, try to be like an eleven, almost twelve year old?” she asked.
“I can do that.” Bree nodded. “I’m hungry, I promise I won’t vomit.”
Helping her up, Elsa held her hand tightly as they went to dinner together. She made a mental note to plan alternative ways to talk to one another about those kind of things, especially when around Bree, but didn’t think it would be a good idea to tell him just how much their girl was scarred. Last thing she wanted was her husband to go on a rampage through social services.
Jason wondered if he should get a second job with the amount Elsa had spent in a day and then chuckled. They were basically living off Elsa’s salary anyway, and he knew that it was okay for her to spend money every once in a while. He just hoped that in the next month nothing would break. He was glad that Elsa seemed to be bonding with Bree. It had only been two days since Bree came into their lives, but for some reason, it felt good.