So here it is... the sequel to Haven. Sorry it's taken me so long to post this... One of the longest I've ever written and I've spent a long time getting it ready to posting. I hope you enjoy it because this story has been a real labour of love for me... and it's a HUGE story.
It picks up partway through the last chapter of Haven.
"Uncle Derek, you managed to get here..." Abi said with a smile. Lauren span round to look at her sister in shock. Her hand gripped Joey's as she watched her uncle, his father, sweep into the room with Abi beside him. Lauren didn't miss the smug look on her sister's face.
"I did. Couldn't miss your lovely sister's art show now, could I? As head of the family, I should be here." Derek put his arm around his niece's shoulder and strode into the room, "Maxy..."
Max stood semi-frozen to the spot, Tanya at his side. Max glanced in Lauren and Joey's direction and Lauren could see the disbelief written across his face. Derek stopped walking as he saw a familiar face in the crowd that shouldn't be there. He frowned and glanced down at his niece, a look of pure innocence now on her face.
Max walked forward, "Derek, I thought you weren't due back until this evening?"
"Yes, well, your daughter told me about Lauren's show and I didn't want to miss it. She convinced me to surprise you all." He looked at his brother, "It's seems like it's me that's getting the surprise though, don't it? What's going on Max?"
"Abigail Branning, come here, right now." Tanya hissed at her youngest daughter, "How could you do this to your sister? Hasn't she been through enough?"
Lauren moved so she stood in front of Joey, his grip on her hand was vice-like and she was worried what the next few minutes were going to bring about. She glanced at Lesley and could see that Jack was beside her, his hand on her arm in comfort. Alice was the other side of Lesley and she was staring at her father, a look of love shining from her eyes. Lauren watched in horror as she saw the young girl move away from her mum, taking a few steps towards Derek. "Dad?" she whispered.
In that moment it was as if time stood still but pandemonium also broke out at the same time after Alice said that one word. Lauren felt Joey wrap his arm around her waist, his hand squeezing hers again, although not as tightly this time. She watched as she saw her mum drag her sister away from her uncle and she could see the two of them having a heated discussion, although it was like watching a silent movie because all Lauren could hear was the rushing sound of her blood in her ears.
A small hand slipped into hers and she looked down to see her baby brother. She crouched in front of him and could see the confusion and fear on his face. Letting go of Joey's hand she held her arm out towards Oscar and he moved into it, wrapping his arms around her neck and clinging to her. She rose back to her feet, lifting her brother in her arms. She brushed her hand up and down his back and felt him bury his face in her neck. She could feel the tension ease from his body as she comforted him and then she felt Joey wrap his arm back around her waist and press his lips against the back of her head. "Everything's going to be okay, Oscar…" she told her brother gently. "Laur's here and I'm going to make sure you're alright."
"What's going on, Laur?" he whispered to her.
"It's just grownup stuff, little man. Nothing for you to worry about, I promise."
"Is Uncle Derek angry with daddy?" he whispered to her.
"I think so, little man but it'll be okay. Daddy won't let anyone hurt him." She pressed her lips to his temple and then blew a raspberry, making him giggle like she'd intended it to.
"Who's he, Laur?" he whispered in her ear.
Lauren looked at his face, seeing him looking at Joey. "Little man, this is Joey. He's someone who's very special to me. I love him, just like mummy loves daddy. Do you understand?" Oscar nods his head, "Joey looks after me just like I look after you. So if I'm looking after you and he's looking after me, nothing bad can happen, can it?"
"Okay." He said, seemingly reassured by her logic.
Lauren turned to face Joey a little more, "Joe, this is my little man," she said, with a smile. Her fingers brushed through her brother's blonde hair and she watched as they both stared at each other.
"It's nice to finally meet you, Oscar," Joey said, "Your sister talks about you a lot." He said with a smile.
"She does?" he asked in wonder.
"Oh, yes." Joey reassures him.
The three of them are interrupted by a loud crash and Lauren turns to see Derek stalking towards her father, anger and hatred in his eyes. Lauren is petrified and although she wants to make sure nothing happens to her dad she knows she needs to remove Oscar from this situation… and there's a part of her that doesn't want to see what Derek is about to do.
Taking Joey's hand back in hers she begins to move the three of them towards the exit of the room. Fortunately they weren't too far away from the door and despite Joey having to move slowly they were soon out of the room without drawing any attention to their escape. "Where are we going, Laur?" Oscar whispered.
"I thought you might like to see where I do my work?" she told him gently, reassured by presence of Joey's hand at the base of her back. "Is that okay with you, little man?" He nodded his head, resting it against her shoulder. They made slow progress through the college towards a room that held so many memories for Lauren, both good and bad. Mainly though they were good ones. Like the first time she'd made love to Joey and the many hours she'd spent here working on her art. She opened the door and Oscar gasped when he saw the paintings by some of the other students. Like her, he loved to draw. She lowered him to the floor and took his hand again, "Would you like to do some painting, little man?" He nodded his head and she led him over to where she used to work.
Joey watched with a smile as she pulled out a sheet of paper from a store cupboard and placed it on the stand. She lowered the easel so it was a height he could work on and then went to prepare some paints for him to use. Joey saw at the side of the room there were some paint covered shirts hanging on some hooks and he grabbed one and walked over to where Oscar stood, "Hey, Oscar, how about we put this on you so you don't get paint all over your clothes, yeah?"
"Okay." Oscar said as he let Joey put the shirt on him, Joey rolling up the sleeves so they didn't hang past his hands and then doing up the front of it.
"How's that?" Joey asked him softly once he was done.
"Cool…" Oscar said with a smile.
Lauren walked up a couple of minutes later with a palette of paints and a brush for her brother to use. "Don't you look like a proper artist, little man?" she said. She gave him the palette and a paint brush.
"Joey helped me put the shirt on, Laur."
"He did? That was nice of him wasn't it?" She said, glancing at her boyfriend. "Now then, little man, why don't you paint a masterpiece and maybe mum will let you put it up when we get home." He turns to the easel and starts to merrily splash paint over the paper. Lauren walked over to Joey and leant against him as he leant against the wall behind him. "You okay?" she asked him quietly.
"I think so."
"Sorry my dad ruined your show."
"It wasn't him that ruined it, was it? It was Abi. I can't believe she would do that to me."
His hand brushed her back gently and he pressed his lips against her forehead. "Your parents seemed pretty upset with her."
"They told her that Derek was not to be told. Obviously she didn't tell him everything because he didn't know your mum was going to be here. And he didn't see you." She lifted her head and kissed him softly on the lips, "How did it feel seeing him after all these years?"
"Not what I was expecting…" he told her softly.
"Sorry, I'm not thinking… do you need to sit down? I don't want you to get too tired out."
"I'm okay, babe."
"Well, let me know if you do." She whispered to him. They stood for a few minutes, watching Oscar as he painted quietly.
"I got interrupted earlier." Joey told her in a whisper.
"You did." She said as she watched her brother.
Joey's hand brushed the side of her face and he lifted her chin so she was looking at him. Slowly he placed his lips on hers and he kissed her. It was a kiss that deepened naturally between them. "I love you, babe." He told her gently.
"I love you too, Joe." She told him in a whisper.
"I'm sorry the day hasn't ended the way you planned," he told her.
"Oh, you're wrong, Joe. It's ended exactly how I hoped it would."
"It has? With our dad's at each other's throats?"
"No… here in your arms. What more could a girl want? What more could I want?"
"I can think of something…" he whispered in her ear.
She slapped his chest lightly with her hand, "Joey, my little man is over the other side of the room… you can't say things like that. He might hear you."
"And your big man is right here." He told her with a smile.
"Joe…" she hissed.
"I'm just teasing, babe."
"Yeah… well not here. Not now."
"What time is the presentation this evening?" Joey asked her gently a little while later.
"Six o'clock." Lauren said.
"Well, it's only two now… do you think we can do something till then?"
"We're doing something now… aren't we?"
"Well, I thought maybe Oscar would like some lunch and I'm pretty sure I know this perfect place that's close to here and I think your little man would love their food."
"You may be right…" she said with a smile, "Little man, do you want to go for something to eat?"
"Are mummy, daddy and Abi coming too?" He asked her.
"I'll send daddy a text message and let him know where we are. He can call us once they're done so we can meet up with them again."
"I am hungry…" he told her. He turned back to his easel. "What about my picture?"
"I can pick it up this evening and bring it home, is that okay? It'll give it some time to dry then, won't it?"
Lauren walked over to her brother, "Let's get you cleaned up then, shall we? It's just as well Joey put that shirt on you, isn't it? Mummy would've killed us both if you'd got all this paint over your nice clothes." She ushered him over to the sink, the palette and brush in her hand. Joey watched with a smile on his face as he saw the brother and sister interact with each other. Eventually the two younger Branning's are ready and he pushed himself away from the wall and carefully walked over to them. Lauren moved to his side and put her arm around his waist, her other hand clutching Oscar's. "You still okay?" she asked him gently. He nodded and they started the slow walk to Maggie's.
A/N: Hope you liked it. Back tomorrow!