"Georgie, come away from the window."
Alyssa gently lifted the small girl down from the window ledge, setting her carefully on the floor. "You'll catch a chill - it's cold out."
"Let me go. Let me go!" Georgia wriggled out of her sister's grasp. "I'm waitin' for Mummy to come home!"
"Mummy isn't coming home." Alyssa said softly, tears in her own eyes at this. "George, please listen to me. Mummy's gone with the angels to Heaven. You know that. Daddy told you so. She's being looked after by them now. She isn't coming back here."
"Mummy wouldn't leave me." Georgia folded her arms, pouting her lips, but there were tears in the blue eyes. "You're lying. You're a liar! I'll tell Daddy on you."
From her corner armchair, Sadie flung down her book, glaring at both of her sisters. "Stop it, both of you! Mum's dead, do you have to keep on about it? Do you have to keep talking about her? And George, grow up. She's dead, you idiot. Dead! She's not coming back. Not ever. She's dead!"
"Sadie, calm down!" Alyssa's eyes opened wide with concern. "We all miss her, you know. George is only five - she doesn't understand how final death is yet."
"I'm not a baby." Georgia's pout deepened. "I'm a big girl. Mummy calls me a big girl."
"Well she won't call you it any more, because she's in a big box in the ground and you're never going to see her again." Sadie lashed out, tears filling her own eyes at this. "She won't play for you, sing for you, read to you or play with you any more, so get used to it, huh? There's just us now. Us and Dad."
"Sadie, please!" Alyssa begged. "You're not helping anything! Dad said that Mark and I were in charge while he was with the police and it's getting late - why don't you go set the table for dinner? He said he'd bring food in with him..." She paused, glancing at the clock, and sighing. "He said he'd be in by nine, he hoped, and it's half past. George, you should be in bed, and so should James."
"I'm not going to bed till Mummy comes home." Georgia shot her sister a defiant glare. "So there."
"If you mention Mum one more time, I'm gonna..." Sadie began.
"Sadie, shut up!" Alyssa exclaimed. "I told you! Mark and me are in charge! Mark has gone to collect the post from next door, and I'm looking after you guys. I'm fifteen and you're ten, so you can do as I tell you just as much as Georgia can! And George, Mum won't be coming home tonight. I wish she was, kid - we all wish she was. But...but we have to carry on without her. Be a good girl, huh, and help Sadie with the table?"
"I'm not doing the table." Sadie shook her head, tears spilling down her cheeks. "I'm sick of you all trying to be happy and calm and nice over things! You don't care that she's not coming back! I think you're glad...glad because you can boss us about and I don't want to be bossed by you!"
She grabbed her book off the floor, getting to her feet.
"I'm going to my room." She added. "And I'm not coming down till Dad comes home with food. You want the table laid? You do it."
With that she stormed out of the room, but, as she reached the stairs her tears overwhelmed her and she sank down on the bottom step, sobbing bitterly. The book fell from her grasp onto the carpet, unnoticed as the small girl gave in to her grief.
"It's not fair." She choked, pushing her hair out of her face. "It's not fair! Why did they have to take our Mummy?"
Alyssa's voice came from the doorway of the living room, and, startled, Sadie glanced up. Alyssa bit her lip.
"Sadie, we all love Mum a whole lot." She said gently, coming to hug her sister tightly. "I'm not trying to boss you - it hurts me as much as it hurts you. We all lost someone very special and it's gonna take a while before the wounds heal. I'm sorry if us talking about her upset you. I didn't mean that to happen."
"It's just so unfair!" Sadie allowed herself to be comforted, raising a tearstained face to her sister's. "Why did it happen, Aly? And why are the police spending so much time talking to Daddy about it? He wasn't even there. We were there. Why don't they talk to us?"
"They will, and they have - to Mark and I at least." Alyssa responded. "They will want to talk to you too, but Dad said you were too upset, and it's true. Sadie, we all loved Mom, but you...you always had a special bond with her, didn't you?"
"My music." Sadie whispered. "Mummy loved to play music and so did I."
"Did? Don't you mean, do?"
"No." Sadie shook her head. "Did. I don't wanna play my guitar ever again, Aly. I don't want to play it if Mummy can't hear me."
"Sadie, she wouldn't want that."
"She wouldn't want to be dead either." A flash of anger sparked in Sadie's dark blue eyes, and she pulled away from her sister's embrace. "And I mean it, Aly! I'm never playing that stupid guitar ever again! Not ever! Mum's dead and I wish I was too!"
Prologue: Flashback - Sadie's
Chapter One: Los Angeles, 2015
Chapter Two: Enter The Stray
Chapter Three: Flashback - Sadie's Song
Chapter Four: Nerves
Chapter Five: The Dean Stacey Show
Chapter Six: Flashback - School Concert
Chapter Seven: Sandra Bray
Chapter Eight: The Dean Problem
Chapter Nine: Cursed
Chapter Ten: Flashback - Stir
Chapter Eleven: Secrets
Chapter Twelve: Robin Vs Nancy
Chapter Thirteen: In The Line Of Duty
Chapter Fourteen: Flashback - Griefstruck
Chapter Fifteen: Aftermath
Chapter Sixteen: Jewel Consult
Chapter Seventeen: Forever Changed