Maureen & Joey

Chapter One

A fifteen year old girl named Adelyn laid her head against the inside of the cop car window. She was still in complete shock and couldn’t make sense of what was happening. One second she was enjoying her summer vacation with her parents and the next cops are bursting into her home with guns. It was the only home she had ever known. All her memories were in Paris and now the french police were taking her parents to jail and telling her that her real name was Maureen Esther Clark. She couldn’t understand the police very well through her tears and confusion but what she got out of their words was that she had been kidnapped when she was three by her nanny.

The people whom she had known as her parents were apparently frauds. They stole her from her real mom and dad and fled to Paris. Her parents had been looking for her all these years. It was mainly confusing because when the term parents came into her head she still only thought of Christophe and Jackie. Her whole world had been turned upside down in a matter of minuets. She had never left Paris and now was going back to the police station to meet whom had really brought her life and would be taken by them to the states. She knew english but she still didn’t know what she would do there and how she could love these people she had never known or atleast had no memories of knowing.

It was all so heartbreaking and confusing. Her head was hurting trying to sort things out. Her head and heart hurt so bad she began to sob unconsolably in the back seat of the cop car. The policemen felt sorry for her. They couldn’t even begin to imagine how she was feeling. It wasn’t like those people had her for a few months, they had gotten away with taking her for twelve years. Since she was only three she had forgotten all her past memories. They had even gone so far as to rename the girl.

When they arrived at the police station she was escorted to a room that looked like an old office. She sat down in one of the chairs and just stared out of the window into the main room. She saw the man and woman who had raised her being brought in and stood, nearly knocking her chair over. She ran out and they just stared at each other. “Est-il vrai? Is it true?” She asked in French. Jackie looked away, tears springing to her eyes.

“Oui.” Christophe answered and she felt her legs grow weak. She had hoped it would be a lie, a mistake, anything but her being a victim of kidnapping. Strong hands grabbed her shoulders and she was guided back to the office. An officer brought her a sprite, but she wasn’t thirsty. She didn’t feel anything but an overwhelming sorrow. There was a knock on the office door and it swung open, a man and woman she didn’t know were let in, followed by the police chief.

“Oh my god Maureen.” The woman said, her hand flying to her mouth as tears ran down her cheeks.

“Do you know who we are?” The man asked and she shook her head, unable to speak. She knew that they must be her birth parents, but she did not recognize their faces. She felt sick to her stomach and took long, deep breaths to keep from throwing up. She didn’t understand how her life had become so broken and twisted. Her heart ached and she wanted to scream until her vocal cords no longer worked.

They knew she wouldn’t know them but it still hurt. “we’re your parents, parents who love you so much Maureen. We’ve been looking for you ever since they stole you away. Do you remember your brother, Hunter Clark?” She hated to tel them no again but it was teh truth. She hated how sad these people looked, how much they obviously wanted to smother her in hugs but she wass till so overwhelemed and freaked out. She didn’t know how to take her life being a lie. She hated that name they were using, Maureen. It was a horrible name but she guessed she was just going to have to get used to it. The life she knew was over and now she was expected to just go back to the United States, a land she didn’t recall ever living in.

Jezelle asked through the tears she couldn’t fight back “can I hug you, please” Maureen walked over and allowed them both to give her a tight hug. Their hug felt very warm and familiar even though her mind couldn’t remember them. It was like her heart was remembering hugs from these people. They let her go, knowing hugs from them were probably strange. It was odd hearing her with an accent, theri little baby girl who was only barely speaking when they took her.Their little girl had become a woman without them and now spoke with a much different accent than them.

Jezelle spoke again “Your brother is waiting right outside and he really wants to hug you too.” Hunter was six when they took Maureen so he remembered all these years, cried nearly every night for his sisterfor the first few years she was gone. They had been close, he being a protective brother from the time she was brought home from the hospital. He had played with his sister every day until the day she wasn’t there any longer. Jezzel, Hunter, Cedric nore the police knew why they didn’t take both children. All they knew is that one day they came home from work to find their son all alone and crying.

“sure” Cedric walked back out to get Hunter. Hunter came in and Maureen was speechless as he hugged her. His hug made her feel like crying. This hug she knew much better than the ones of her parents. She remembered that soft blonde hair. She remebered this hug so well. She could finally believe it, she wasn’t being pranked. This was real and this was happening. Her heart knew this man too well for him not to really be her brother. Maureen began to cry into his shoulder and he held her closer. He thought he didn’t have any more tears to cry but he began again. “I love you Maureen. I’m sorry I was too small to protect you”

She didn’t know what to say so she just cried until her head hurt. A couple of police officers had packed her things and put them in boxes to be shipped over with the family. They were taken to the airport where Maureen suddenly felt a sense of loss. Once she was on the plane, she would be taken completely from everything she had ever known and thrown into a world she did not know. She sat next to Hunter on the plane and stared out the window, watching as the tarmac zoomed by and then began to shrink away as the plane took off. Tears stung her eyes and sorrow gripped her heart like a vice. She felt arms go around her shoulders as Hunter hugged her and she turned to cry into his shoulder.

“It’s not fair.” Was all she could say and he just rubbed her back. Jezelle and Cedric sat up front, their hearts breaking for their little girl. They had wanted her home so bad, but she seemed to want to stay in France. It hurt that she didn’t know their faces.

Maureen cried herself to sleep. She dreamed of blue eyes and a soft voice. She thought someone was singing to her, but she wasn’t sure. It was the eyes that drew her in, a beautiful shade of blue, twinkling with warmth. She knew those eyes, but neither Christophe nor Jackie had blue eyes.

Hunter just held his sister, silently crying again. He hated those people for doing this to their family. Maureen was sad and confused and it was all because of people that their parents had trusted to tend to them when they worked. He wondered how she would react when they got home and she saw her room. Jezelle and Cedric could never force themselves to change it. It was still the precise way it was left when they came home to realize they didn’t have a daughter any longer. They had plans to change it however Maureen wanted it but when she got home it would still be her room when she was three.

Hunter really hoped she would become ok with this and comfortable with everyone soon. He knew it woudl most likely take time but he had been longing to have a sister again and to be close like they were when they were small. He coudln’t even watch movies or enjoy books where a brother and sister were close because it hurt too much to think about his sister being somwhere out there with their nanny.

Marueen stayed sleeping until the plane began to descend. Hunter gently coaxed her awake. Maureen jumped and looked at her brother wide eyed. He smiled nervously and she sighed, giving him a sad look that about mangled his heart. They waited their turn to start walking out and exited the plane. Nobody said anything on the way to luggage claim, nobody knew what to say to eachother. Maureen went to grab her bag but Hunter stoppe dher “let me get it for you Maureen, please”

“You don’t have to do that Hunter, I’m very capable.”

“I don’t doubt that, but I want to help.”

“Alright, go ahead then.” He picked up her bag while her mother and father took her boxes. She didn’t have many, but it made her feel incredibly lazy that they were not letting her help. They headed out to the parking lot where Cedric put her boxes down to open the back of their van. She climbed into the back seat and waited patiently for them. Hunter climbed in next to her and she gave him a small smile.

“Just to warn you, you’re room is still an aweful shade of pink.” Hunter said in a joking tone.

“Well I am a girl so it makes sense it would have been painted pink. Am I allowed to repaint it?”

“It’s your room sweetie, you can do whatever you want with it.” Jezelle answered, just glad her daughter was talking to her.

“Joey’s going to be really happy to see you.” Hunter said and nudged her with his elbow.

“Joey?” Another name she did not know.

“You’ll see him tomorrow. He’s flying over from Florida. He and Hunter were your faithful bodyguards.” Cedric smiled at the memory of the two little boys keeping watch over her and never allowing her to go anywhere alone.

She said the name a few times in her head. It not really ringing any bells. The only person she felt a real connection with atall right now was Hunter. She guessed he must ahve hugged her all the time when they were little. Cedric saying him and Joey were always with her made perfect sense with how well her soul seemed to recognize Hunter when they embraced. She wondered if her parents were distant when she was little, maybe they worked a lot. There had to be some reason the wonderful people she grew up with had for thinking it the right thing to do to steal her. It saddened her to think of the people she thought were her parents so she did her best just to concentrate on what her new, well old home looked like.

Maureen also wondered if she’d feel a strong connection to Joey if he hugged her. “where will I sleep?’ Maureen asked. Hunter responded ‘In my bed, I’ll take the couch until we get a bed for your room. There’s only a toddler bed there still. Mom and dad are going to let you do whatever you want with the room. You’re going to pick the wall color, furniture, everything. “alright” maureen said with a smile then asked for the sake of not having silence “what do you two do for a living?”

“I’ma  cardiologist and your mother owns a bridal shop” Cedric answered. Maureen nodded then looked at Hunter “how old are you?”

“18, Joey is 17” Maureen nodded again. They arrived at their home not long later. Maureen was nervous about getting out and seeing it but she knew she couldn’t sit in the car forever. Hunter handed her out, he seemed incredibly sweet. Maureen froze, just staring at the house. This place, her heart also knew this place.

“Look familiar?” Hunter asked and she nodded. Her parents popped the trunk and lifted her things out with Hunter’s help. She followed them through the front gate, her heart stuttering when she saw the old swing set. I looked like it had not been used in years. For a moment an image of a little blonde headed boy calling to her flashed before her and then it was gone again. She followed them up the front steps, admiring the beautiful house and the warmth it exuded.

Crossing over the threshold made her heart skip a beat. She knew this place, the paint on the walls and the smell of cinnamon that seemed to forever hang in the air. She turned in a circle, just taking in this place and the way a piece of her heart seemed to be slipping back into place. She wanted to cry again seeing all of this. She followed them upstairs and into Hunter’s bedroom.

“The walls are different.” She said softly as he family put her things down.

“I repainted them when I was your age. The blue just wasn’t cutting it.” Hunter replied.

“He decided on sea foam green, said he liked the calming effect.” Jezelle chimed in.

“It’s very beautiful, I like it.” She had so many questions about this life and wanted to know most of all why Christophe and Jackie had taken her. She wasn’t going to ask yet, knowing that this experience must be just as overwhelming for her real parents as it was for her.

They then walked to her room. They waited for her to open the door so her seeing it wouldn’t happen until she was ready. Maureen took a deep breath, trying to brae herself before turning the knob and opening the door. It creaked really badly, probably from lack of use. Cedric made a pained noise. “I’ll put some WD40 on it.” he offered. She was speechless. This place more than the others was hitting her like a ton of bricks. She definitely knew this room. Hunter saw her lip quiver and grabbed her hand.She held back tightly then hugged him again.  Cedric and Jezelle both frowned. They were sad for their daughter and sad she didn’t seem to want to embrace them as much as Hunter.

When she could pull it together she wiped her face “I’m sorry”

“don’t be, this has to be mind blowing sis”

“when can I paint my room and make it mine?”

“we can start now if you’d like. We can shop online for furniture and maybe when Joey gets here tomorrow we can go look at some paint” Jezelle answered and Maureen responded “Ok” Hunter took her hand again ‘lets go get on my computer and look for furniture” They both went into his room while their parents went down to prepare dinner. “I’m so sorry if this is an ignorant question Maureen but do you read English well? I’ll help you online if you can’t” Maureen smiled “it isn’t ignorant, its a thoughtful question. I can read and speak English perfectly. Aside from this accent of course and how some words I say must sound strange to you with how I promounce them”

Hunter smiled “I like the way you talk. Much cooler than my plain voice”

“I like your voice, I can tell I know it. I know your hugs too…i wish I knew our parents hugs better” Hunter frowned “It’s not shocking you don’t. They worked alot when you were still here. They don’t nearly as much now but then we were mainly with Jackie. Occasionally her husband would tag along. You’ll like them alot. Our parents are very nice people. Now that I’m older I understand that they weren’t trying to be neglectful parents. Mom just had a lot on her shoulders starting her bridal shop and dad just got too wrapped up in the hospital”

“I will try to get to know them better. I seem to have been ignoring them.”

“They won’t hold it against you, they understand.” He booted up his computer and typed in his password then brought up a few different stores in different tabs so she would have a variety of things to choose from.

“How much am I allowed to spend?” She asked.

“Hold on.” Hunter went down the hall and downstairs. He came back up a minute later with a smile on his face. “Mom and dad said as much as you want.”

She picked out a bed she liked and a chest to go at the foot at it for blankets. She found a chair that she could set next to her window and then a bookshelf. She wanted to start her own personal little library. Next was a computer desk and a couple of lamps. Hunter pointed out some curtains he thought would match her chosen furniture and she bought them too along with a rug she really liked. “That’s not to much is it?” She asked and Hunter shook his head. He ran back downstairs and grabbed their dad’s credit card so she could type in the information and have everything shipped over.

“If you need anything else just ask dad for the card.”

“Okay, thank you. So what can you tell me about Joey?”

“I think you should wait until you see him before I tell you anything. I don’t want to influence you. I guess I can tell you he’s a good guy and my best friend. Oh and he dyes his hair blue. It actually looks good, he had it professionally done so it doesn’t look bad at all.”

“I bet it does, My ex boyfriend dyed his hair black and purple. I loved it”

“was he your only boyfriend?”

“Yes just the one. My…well Jackie told me to give him a chance. I could never find a man I really truly liked. Since John was attractive I did as Jackie asked but I hurt his feelings and he left me”

“How’d you hurt his feelings?”

“He wanted to kiss me and I wouldn’t let him. He said if he coudlnt even kiss me we were nothing more than glorified friends and left”

‘he sounds like a jerk, if you werent ready to kiss you werent ready” Maureen smiled “I suppose, I just, he wasn’t for me.” Hunter smiled, wondering if Joey was the one for her. Joey had never forgotten about her either. In fact he thelped anyway he knew how to help look for her. It was one of the very sites he helped set up that lead them to Maureen. Joey had become very smart when it came to computers, especially with the drive of finding Maureen.

At dinner Maureen made special effort to talk to her parents which seemed to delight them. She could tell fairly quickly how nice and loving they were. She could see Jackies pint in stealing her but she knew that still didn’t make it right. Jackie should have given them the chance to change and be good parents. It wasn’t like they were being abused. From what Maureen coudl tell of this house they obviously lived very well. When night came they exchanged hugs, Jezelle and Cedric overwhelemd with happiness when she gave them each a kiss on the cheek.

Hunter gave her a big squeeze and kissed her forehead. “Thanks for giving them a chance. They really do love you.” He said softly.

“I can tell, I wish I could have known them growing up.” He smiled and let her go and she headed upstairs. She closed Hunter’s bedroom door then opened her suitcase and pulled out some night clothes. She changed into them and crawled under the blankets, turning onto her back and staring up at the ceiling. Her eyelids became heavy and she drifted slowly off.

“Come on Maureen just jump, we’ll catch you.” Hunter said from the ground, his blue eyes twinkling with amusement.

“Yeah we promise.” A little boy with brown hair and blue eyes smiled up at her, a pair of glasses resting on his nose. She had climbed up on the jungle gym and was afraid. She gripped the edge tightly, unsure of what to do. The two boys below her held out their arms, their smiles helping her trust them. She jumped and jerked awake. It had been a dream. She sat up and pushed her hair away from her face. That other boy must have been Joey. She checked her phone, seeing it was five in the morning and sighing. She didn’t think there was anyway she was going to get back to sleep so she pulled open one of her boxes and grabbed a book.

Chapter Two

She read until she heard peopel mving around the house. She looked at the time again, seeing it was eight. Maureen wanted to shower. She knew she probably could but felt like asking anyway. She walked out and nervously said ‘dad?” He turned quickly with a happy smile at hearing Marueen call him that. “Yes?”

“Can I shower?”

“You can do whatever you want. Don’t be too long though. Your moms making breakfast”

“alright” Maureen went back upstairs and grabbed something to wear out of her bag and a hairbrush before entering the bathroom. She quickly washed, dried then dressed before brushing her hair and doing her makeup. Once she felt presentable she came down where breakfast was waiting. “Morning” They all said nearly simultaneously. “when will joey be here?” Maureen asked not to anyone in paritcular. “His plane is supposed to touch down at ten am. We’re going to the airport to pick him up when we’re done eating. His parents stayed on their vacation so it’s just him”

“ok” They ate then loaded up intot he car. Maureen felt nervous to meet him. She guessed it was still because this was sucha  mind boggling situation. She actually hoped she would feel a connection with Joey like she had Hunter when he hugged her. Once they were settled where Joey was supposed to get off the plane the wait began. Maureen felt increasingly nervous and began to plat with a small portion of her hair.

“Hey don’t be so nervous.” Hunter said with a big smile.

“What if he doesn’t like me?”

“Impossible, he always adored you.” Hunter suddenly stood and yelled, “Joey, over here.”

Maureen slowly stood and looked up, her blue eyes meeting those of a young man. He froze and just stared at her for a moment. Time seemed to slow and then speed up again as he ran to her, his arms going around her shoulders and pulling her into a tight hug. Her heart stuttered and her arms went around his waist, burying her face in his shirt. She felt him shudder and heard his soft sobs. “Joe Joe.” She said softly, feeling herself choking up.

“Damn, I hoped you’d out grown that.” He said, half laughing and half crying. He pulled back to look at her, wiping his face.

“What do you mean?” She asked.

“Joe Joe, wait for me Joe Joe.” He pulled her back into him and kissed her cheek. “I can’t believe the princess is back.”

Hunter laughed and wrapped his arms around both of them. “Yes, our little princess.”

“What is the Joe Joe and princess thing?” Maureen asked when they were finally able to make it out to Hunter’s car.

“When you were little Hunter and I made you this little crown. You wore it everywhere and we told you we were your loyal knights. We would walk around with you, making sure you didn’t step in any puddles or get hurt and if I would get to far ahead you’d say Joe Joe, wait for me Joe Joe.” She blushed and he smiled as he opened the passenger side door for her. He climbed in back, sitting his satchel on the seat next to him.

“You were an adorable little girl.” Hunter said. “So Joe Joe we were going to go look for paint, want to come?”

“Of course, I need to get to know this new Maureen with the super cool accent.”

“Want to drop your bag off?”

“Nah, it’s just my laptop and iPad so I’ll take it.”

They drove to Lowes and went straight to the paint section. Joey was doing his best not to stare and to keep his eyes dry. He had waited twelve years for Maureen to come back, had tried so hard to do all he could to help the police find her and now there she was. She looked so beautiful and he really did love the way she spoke. She seemed just as sweet as she did when they were kids and it made his heart flutter when he hugged her. Joey was glad she let him give her a kiss on the cheek.

When they stopped at teh paint a man came up and asked Maureen “can i help you?”

“No thank you, I have my brother and our friend” He walke doff and they gazed at the paint. “I think with the furniture you ordered a dark purple would look best on your walls” Hunter suggested. Maureen seemed to keep thinking and she grabbed the darkest purple they had “I think so too. I’m guessing since I wasn’t allowed to carry my own things into our maison I can’t ecarry the paint, oh merde. I meant to say house”

“Maison is house in french?”

“Yes, it will take some adjusting to always speak english. I spoke it so rarely in France”

“what was Merde?” Hunter asked. Maureen paused, actually not sure at first what it would be for them  “ah, I said damn. It is the only curse word I say. The others are just so vulgar to me. Jackie said damn all the time which is why I guess its the only one I’m comfortable with. I even hate when others curse” Joey chimed in “then we wont, I wont anyway. Your brother can have a pretty foul mouth at times”

“Hunter, really?” Maureen said shocked and Hunter blushed making Maureen smile “you are a grown man. You dont have to control your tongue for me”

“I don’t always curse, just when I’m frustrated or excited or playing Call of Duty.” Hunter replied, rubbing his neck.

“Boys and their games.” She smiled sweetly.

“You’ll need primer too.” Joey said and grabbed a can.

“Thank you.” They grabbed rollers and a few stir sticks then went and checked out. “So Hunter says you are good with computers.”

“Makes me sound like a big nerd doesn’t it?”

“Garçon idiot, I like your nerdiness.”

Joey arched an eyebrow at her as they put her painting supplies in the trunk. “Did you just call me an idiot?”

She covered her mouth in shock. “I’m sorry, in French it means silly. I called you a silly boy. Forgive me.” Her face turned red and he started laughing.

“You really  are adorable.” He sighed and hugged her. “Garçon idiot, I like it.” He laughed some more then let her go so they could get in the car. “Hey we should take Maureen out for lunch then we can get to your place and start painting.”

“Sounds good. Pizza okay Maureen?” Hunter asked as he pulled out of the parking lot.

“I love pizza.” Hunter took them to Figaro’s. Their crust was fresh made so it always tasted delicious. Maureen made a satisfied sound after her first bite and smiled at them. “This is the best.” She said happily. She took a sip of Pepsi and looked at Joey who was sitting next to her. “I love your hair.”

“Oh, thanks. You should have seen my grandma’s face when she saw it. It’s not like it’s electric blue, but I thought she was going to have a heart attack.” He ran his fingers through it. “I’m glad you like it.”

“I remember little bits about you. I had a dream about you two catching me when I jumped from a jungle gym.”

“That was one of my favorite days. You were so scared, but we finally coaxed you down. You were so adorable and you knocked me and Hunter on our butts, but we caught you.”

Maureen giggled, filling both boys with happiness. Her giggle was almost like the one she had when she was small. They ate pizza and told stories. Eventually Hunter asked “so do you have Facebook or anything like that?”

“No, I wasn’t allowed to get online. Especially not social networks. They said it was dangerous for a young girl” Joey scoffed angrily and nearly rolled his eyes “yeah, thats why” Maureen kissed his cheek, making him blush “yes, I see now that wasn’t their real reason for not wanting me on the internet. I was home-schooled too. It’s why I’ve never had many friends.”

“I’m just glad we finally managed to find you” Hunter said and Joey agreed. “how did you come about finding me?” Maureen asked. “Aside from mom and dad Joey was pushing to find you the hardest. No matter how many years passed he kept trying and made a few sites that our father paid for to help find you. He’d practically spam them and he was always searching. On one of his sites he had pictures of Jackie and Christophe, as many as we had. He put it on face book again and asked people to share. Sure enough his last efforts paid off. A man named  Acelet called Joey. He was putting his own personal cell number on the sites. You can only imagine how many fake calls we got but this man really seemed to know what he was talking about. He swore that you looked precisely like the age progression picture Joey posted and that he knew the two people with you were Christophe and Jackie. So things got going and the cops there found you. They had us come and then they went to your home to collect you and arrest them”

Joey looked slightly embarresed and Maureen just looked touched “thank you guys for not forgetting about me” She said softly and Joey grabbed her hand “how coudl anyone forget about you. You were and are our princess Maureen.” She smiled, actually liking her real name when Joey said it.

When they were done with lunch they headed home, Joey was excited to help paint Maureen’s room. He wanted as much time with her as possible. Hunter pulled into their driveway and he and Joey retrieved the painting supplies before following Maureen in. “Hey guys, Joey nice to see you again. How was Florida?” Cedric asked when they walked in.

“Sunny sir and warm.”

“Good, Maureen some of your things arrived while you were gone. Your bed and computer desk. I had them put everything in the garage.”

“Thank you.” She said with a warm smile. “We’re going to go up and paint, we already had lunch so don’t worry about us.”

“Okay sweetie, you kids have fun.”

Joey and Hunter sat down what they had in their hands and started moving things out and down to the garage. Maureen was only allowed to move lighter stuff and she rolled her eyes as she carried stuffed animals downstairs making the boys laugh. They then laid out one of Cedric’s tarps and grabbed a couple of paint pans and roller frames. They poured primer into the pans and started painting. It was fast drying so by the time they finished with it they could put the first coat of paint on. It was a beautiful color and Maureen was glad her brother had suggested it. She got some purple on her face and Joey laughed, using his t-shirt to wipe it off.

“You’ll ruin your shirt.” Maureen said.

“It’s old so no worries. You’re just to cute you know that.” He tucked her hair behind her ear and she blushed. He realized he must look goofy just staring and turned red as well, looking away and grabbing a paint brush to do the edging. In his nervousness he got paint on the trim more than once and had to wipe it off.

“Let me help.” Maureen grabbed his hand and made him slow down. “There is no need to rush. Take your time.” Hunter just shook his head, trying his hardest not to laugh.

At dinner that night Joey asked Cedric and Jezelle “I have a key to my house but I was really hoping I could sleep over here” Cedric smiled and Hunter let out a light laugh. Joey slept over quite a bit but he knew tonight he just didn’t want to leave Maureen. He had been falling all over himself this whole day with her. “Of course you can, sleep in the living room with Hunter”

“Thanks” They talked late into the night. Cedric and Jezelle were relieved to see how at ease Maureen was. They had a feeling seeing Joey again would help her become ok and realize this was her true family and where she really belonged. As she did last night Maureen hugged everyone and gave them each a kiss on the cheek. Joey was tempted to catch her lips with his but knew everything was already so overwhelming that he needed to wait. He was head over heels for her and just wanted to proclaim his love but he felt it may be too much just yet.

He had loved her when they were small without knowing it. He knew full well just how much he loved her as he spent so much time trying to find her once he got old enough to. They all settled into bed. Joey and Maureen were the only ones up. They were wide awake, just staring at the ceilings above them.

“Your room is going to look really nice once we get everything in there.” Joey said for the sake of conversation.

“Thank you for staying and helping.” Maureen replied with a smile.

They sat there in silence for a few minutes, both of them trying to think of something. Joey got a good idea and swiveled around so he was sitting facing Maureen. “Teach me French.” He said.

“Why?”

“Because you can’t help but speak it so if I learn it, it’ll be like our secret language. So teach me.” She smiled and turned to face him.

“Comment etes-vous?” She said. He repeated it as best as he could and she giggled. She said it again, slower. “It means how are you. Okay next is merci. It means thank you.” They sat there for a long time, her teaching him a few common phrases and giggling when he pronounced them funny.

“How do you say I love you?” Joey asked.

“Je t’aime.” She answered.

He looked her straight in the eye and softly repeated, “Je t’aime.” She blushed and he cleared his throat. “French is very beautiful, thanks for teaching me a little bit.”

“You’re welcome. I should be getting to bed.”

“Me too, big day tomorrow helping you move things into your room. I’ve got to get my rest or I won’t be tough and strong Joey, I’ll be weak exhausted Joey.” She laughed softly and kissed his cheek before getting up.

“Goodnight Joe Joe.” He sighed as she walked away, damning himself for saying he loved her. He hoped she thought it was just him wanting to learn. He grabbed himself some blankets and took Cedric’s recliner.

“Stop being a moron and just tell her.” Hunter said, making him jump. “Yeah I’m awake, not dreaming of your idiocy, so stop being a pansy and say something.”

“She just got back. I don’t want to overwhelm her.”

“If you don’t tell her how you feel soon, you may never tell her and she’ll think you only want to be friends then she’ll marry some ass hat and you’ll regret not saying something. So grow a pair and tell her.” With that Hunter turned over and went back to sleep.

Joey sat there and sighed again. He knew she couldn’t have already fallen asleep and he’d rather tell her when it could just be them two so he forced himself to stand and walk up the stairs. It was a little harder to make himself lightly tap on her door but he managed and whispered “Maureen” She opened the door and he asked “May I come in, I have somthing to tell you that I should have told you already”

“alright, come in” He stood in front of her, obviously wracked with nervousness. “what is it?”

“Je’taime” Maureen smiled as she blushed again, loving how he said it “yes, you say it perfectly”

“I mean it…I specifically asked how to say that because I was too much of a coward to tell you I loved you…that way you thought I was just repeating to learn. I love you Maureen. I did when i was little and its what made me try so hard to find you. I love you and I hope you feel the same” He couldn’t look at her, he was too afraid. Suddenly she was hugging him. “Je t’aime mon amour” He breathed shakily in relief “what does mon amour mean?” he asked in a gentle, happy tone. “My sweetheart” she whispered back. He held her tighter. “I want to work really hard to learn French. I learn quickly.”

“It makes me happy you want to. It makes me especially happy you love me. Thank you so much for finding me so I could be with you”

“Nothing in the world could have made me give up on my princess. I will love you forever and protect you from anything you need protecting from.”

“If we were older I’d ask you to stay in here tonight.” Joey smiled and kissed her head “I would like to hold you, so much. I’ll hold you every night when we’re old enough to have a house of our own.”

“I look forward to it.” His eyes grew softer and he asked “before I go to sleep, could I please kiss you for real. I want your lips on mine so badly.” Maureen blushed a deep crimson then nodded. He gently took her face in his hands “don’t be nervous mon amour” The way he said those words gave her goosebumps. His lips tenderly made contact with hers. Their eyes closed and they just held their sweet locking of lips for a while. When Joey pulled back he was blushing too. “I really love you. We need to do more of that when it isn’t so late at night.”

“I’d like that” He rubbed her cheek with two of his fingers “goodnight, you are and always will be my world”

“goodnight” Maureen said as Joey had to force himself to move again. It wasn’t fair he had to leave but he didn’t want her parents angry the next morning if they caught them holding eachother in Hunters bed. As he settled into bed he dreamed of his future home and life with Marueen. He could see it all, wanted it all badly. Marueen laid in bed with the largest smile on her face. This life that had seemed so scary, that had been nothing she wanted was now everything she wanted. She was now happy they found her and brought her here. Now she realized that she could never connect with another man because she had already found her soulmate when she was young. He had been searching and waiting for her and finally found her. Now her tears were ones of happiness. She only had three years of school, years that were sure to pass by quickly in this new life. After three years they could get a house or apartment and be together all the time. Marueen took her happy thoughts and tears with her into her dreams that night. It sent her into a deep, much needed rest.

~ The End ~

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