We've all seen the film- everyone knows what happened at the wedding.

"You're the first boy I kissed, Jake, and I want you to be the last." Oh so cute. Emma was

glad just to be in trousers again. Understandably, Andrew was upset, but went home

confident that his mother would find him a better girl. Everyone was overjoyed. It was a

well known fact that Jake and Mel were made for each other and things had turned out

perfectly. Things quickly settled down and Emma felt as though the seven years in New

York had never happened. People were busy playing happy families; friends and

neighbours laughed, chatted and sometimes cried together, but all was well in their little


Emma was enrolled in the local high school and quickly found a best mate in the

Sheriff's niece, Cassie. She was a bright and hard-working kid, willing to give anything a

go; pleasant enough in class and fairly popular with both teachers and pupils. Her easy

going nature meant she settled in fast, much to her mother's delight. Mel had been

worried that the kids would tease her because of the things that had happened- coming

from New York for a start. But Emma was very much her father's daughter and it was

soon impossible to tell that she was born and brought up anywhere other than Alabama.

Cassie and Emma became very close, although Emma was nearly two years older

than her friend. Cassie looked up to Emma- she was cool. She was pretty, smart and

funny, she was popular because people respected the fact that she respected them, all

things that Cassie had never been. She had been quite sheltered, an only child, and Sheriff

Wade had probably been the biggest male influence in her life. Understandably, she was

shy and quiet, a littler timid and not particularly adventurous. She was willing to do

anything that Emma asked her too, grateful that someone like Emma wanted to be friends

with her. Emma was good with Cassie; she encouraged her and helped her out, she

stopped other kids laughing at her. Admittedly, she felt a little sorry for the younger girl

and occasionally found her a little irritating, but was very patient and was a good friend

to her.

The two went everywhere together, much to the amusement of the adults. Sheriff

Wade and his mouse-like sister were ecstatic that their timid little Cassie had found

someone like Emma to take care of her and spoilt Emma rotten every time she came

within hugging distance. Emma didn't mind; she was naturally protective of her friend-

there was something about Cassie that made you want to take her home and mother her.

Also, it felt good to have someone that looks up to you instead of being bullied by some

of the kids in New York because she was a 'redneck'. Emma liked the girl as well; despite

her introvert appearance, she was sweet and kind.

Things at home were good as well. There was nothing Emma liked to see more

than her momma resting in her daddy's arms, or the sly little kisses when they thought she

wasn't looking. The past was quickly forgotten and, even during the rare arguments, was

never dragged up. Emma felt safe and contented with her parents; the house was full of

love and laughter. Sure, it sounded soft like that, but a child values a secure home more

than anything and Emma was one of the lucky ones who had it. She was happy here,

surrounded by good friends and family, all of whom she loved and who loved her back.