It was seven years later when Paige was twelve, the twins seven and Sophie six that everything changed, whether for better or for worse will never be known. Their father was away on business in York and their mother had been suffering with a dreadful migraine so she was lying in her darkened bedroom with strict requests not to be disturbed, no matter what was happening. She had informed them that it hurt to think and she didn’t know how long it would last for so it was best to just leave her alone for the night.
Ryan and Rose were getting ready to go to bed and Sophie was asleep in the bedroom she shared with Paige. Paige was reading Jane Eyre. It had been a quiet and fairly uneventful evening. They had eaten tomato pasta for dinner and then watched Frozen before going onto watching CBBC repeats. Everything seemed perfect. But maybe that was the problem.
When the phone began to ring Paige considered ignoring it but something told her it was important. Her instincts were often right so she decided to trust them. Picking the receiver up with a sigh Paige answered, "Hello?"
"Hello. I have some bad news. There has been an accident. A red fiesta has overturned at the edge of the motorway on the return from York. A Mr. Nathan Peterson was driving that car and he is being rushed to the nearest hospital by air ambulance at this very moment," the voice paused for a second before continuing, "If necessary he will need operating on. Will that be acceptable? Can we have your consent please?"
Paige looked at the door to her mother's bedroom, trying to weigh up the benefits of going in and disturbing her mother when she had specifically said not to. Eventually she decided against it, it was better to avoid any arguments afterwards.
"Yes. That will be fine as long as it keeps him safe and is in his best interests. Do we need to come down to see him?" Paige forced herself to find out some more information; when her mother woke up she would ask questions and Paige would need to know as much information as possible so her mother could deduce what needed to be done and what course of action should be taken regarding the matter.
* * *
It was twelve hours later when Rose came out to find Paige sitting in exactly the same position as the night before with the phone in her hand and her feet tucked up beneath her on the sofa.
"Paige, what's wrong?"
"Oh Rose!" Paige gave Rose a hug, "Daddy is hurt and has been taken to a hospital near York. I think he’s dreadfully injured."
"No! This can't be happening. Daddy’s so amazing, how can we lose him? We need to tell Ryan and Sophie, and then we’ll wake Mummy." Rose looked very shocked and her mouth hung open, rendering her momentarily speechless.
"I'll go and tell Mummy," Paige said "and you go wake the others up. It's alright. Honestly, Rose. We’re just imagining the worst because we’re frightened."
* * *
As Mummy spoke to the women at the reception desk Paige watched Mummy's face fall. Mummy wandered back over in a daze.
"Nathan ... your Daddy ... he's dead. He didn't make it. The injuries ... too serious ... never likely to survive ... A full on hit … No chance … Barely a chance anyway ... Horrific... At least he's not suffering any more ... We'll wait ... speak to a doctor..."
Mummy trailed off and slumped into a plastic waiting seat and closed her eyes. Ryan and Rose soon fell asleep and so did Sophie. Paige sat staring into space. Her dear Daddy had gone. He wouldn’t ever be coming home. The thought raced round her head continuously as tears seeped through her eyelids and glided down her pale cheeks.
The intensity of these thoughts prevented Paige from noticing when Mummy got up and headed for the hospital exit. The first time Paige noticed that her Mummy had gone was when the doctor appeared and shook her gently awake, asking to speak to Mrs. Tamara Peterson.
After the death of their father and the disappearance of their mother the four children were put into short term foster care until Tamara Peterson could be found or located.
Ryan and Rose, being twins, were allowed to stay together in a small cottage with a few other foster children. There were lots of bedrooms and a large kitchen which made it the perfect place for Ryan and Rose to be housed there. Max and Talia were a lovely couple and they were skilled at looking after confused and scared children at very short notice as was the case with Ryan and Rose. The other children currently staying at the cottage were of a similar age so the twins made friends with the other children immediately. When Paige and Sophie went round to visit they found Ryan in the garden playing badminton with a tall, slim, sporty girl called Ayesha who had a similar personality to Ryan and was a bit of a tomboy. Rose was in the kitchen helping Talia to make cakes with a five year old named Leia. They were happy in their foster home which made Paige and Sophie feel slightly better. At least half of them were happy with their new strange surroundings. They did want their siblings to be happy, especially in such a distressing time but Paige wished things were easier and more relaxed for her and Sophie too. But not everything can be the way you want it to be.
Paige and Sophie were staying with an old retired couple called Jason and Samantha. They were good people but had old fashioned ideas about bringing children up and wanted to provide protection which neither Paige or Sophie had properly experienced before. Samantha insisted that they call her Auntie Sami which annoyed Sophie as she wanted to just call her Sam, she wasn’t any relation to their family. There were two little babies staying there too who made Paige and Sophie feel more welcome than Jason and Samantha did. Paige loved helping look after them; she felt the chubby baby, Natasha, had taken a fancy to her whilst the other baby, Louis, often gurgled at Sophie whenever she came over to him and started playing with his toys.
The local police visited regularly to keep them informed about the search for their mother but it had, so far, been unsuccessful with no leads turning up. The four of them attended a funeral for their father but their mother did not turn up. The police force involved in the case began to make enquiries into getting the children permanently fostered or adopted. It seemed like the only sensible way to rebuild their lives until their mother was found. If she was ever going to be found. This thought often crossed Paige’s mind; her mother had been very self-assured and determined. Maybe, Paige thought, just maybe, Tamara Peterson had had her children’s best interests at heart when she escaped and left them all alone in the world.