“Aaron, call me back the moment you get this! DSS just called with a placement.” Emily paced around the living room as she left her boyfriend a voicemail.
Pacing with the phone in her hand didn’t make Aaron return her call any faster. Her time would be better spent getting ready to meet Jennifer, a young girl who was 15. Based on her records, she was a good student. The social worker, Julianna, would be coming by tomorrow morning at ten o’clock to drop off her foster daughter.
She pulled her long dark hair to the top of her head and tied it into a messy bun, glancing around the house. It was tidy, but it could use a good dusting, and she needed to prepare the guest room for Jennifer. Perhaps she preferred to be called Jenny or Jen. Was she a sophomore or a junior in high school? Is she already attending a school nearby or will she be starting a new school. And food, she didn’t have much in the fridge. The pantry held a few boxes of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese for Jack, apparently Velveeta Shells and Cheese was too high brow for the four year old.
Teens like unhealthy snacks like Doritos and soda. Do they still like Dr Pepper, or is it Mountain Dew now? Oh God, it’s Red Bull, isn’t it, the choice of teens?
The ringing and vibrations of her mobile phone startled her. She had been standing frozen in place trying to determine where to start.
“Aaron! Did you get my voicemail?”
Supervisory Special Agent Aaron Hotchner’s deep voice came through the phone, “Yes, a placement. Do you know anything about the child?”
Speaking faster than normal, Emily filled in her boyfriend (and boss), “Jennifer is her name, she is 15, and lost her mother to a car accident. Julianna said that her older sister had killed herself a few years ago. There are risk factors for situational depression, and they are recommending therapy. She’s been a group home for the last three months. She is a good student. There is no history of criminal behavior. Basically, she’s a good kid in bad situation. Oh, and they are going to be here in the morning, and I need to get her room ready, and go shopping, and figure out school. I think I need to take the week off, oh Aaron, there is so much to do. Then I will need to be on desk duty, no traveling for awhile.”
“Oh and grocery shopping, what kinds of food should I get? I know we can always order in pizza, all teens like…”
Aaron interrupted her mid sentence, “Emily, I am on my way over. We will get everything ready, and if there anything we miss, I can run to the store tomorrow as well. I also know your boss, I’m sure he can be convinced to give you time off and restrict your field time.”
“Hmmm, how ever will I convince him? He’s such a hard ass.”
“Very amusing, Prentiss!” Aaron replied dryly, “Now, what is your next concern?”.
“And Jack, how are we going to explain this to Jack. He won’t understand what foster child means; will he?”
A rich laugh came through the phone, “We can explain it plainly enough for a four year old to understand. Do you want Jack and I to do the grocery shopping on our way or should we come straight there and make a list?”
After agreeing that Aaron and Jack would handle the groceries, Emily put fresh linens in the guest room and en suite bathroom. She ran the vacuum and dusted the plain room. She would take Jennifer to buy some items to dress up her room.
She dragged the vacuum down the stairs of her townhouse, yelping as she bumped her knee.
The main level was pretty simple, a living room, kitchen with eat in area, her home office, and a bathroom / laundry room combination. There were two bedrooms with en suites upstairs. It was perfect size home for a couple or small family.
Rubbing her knee and sighing, Emily thought of her foster child. Wait, a teenager. A foster teenager. She finished vacuuming the main level as Jack burst through the front door carrying a package of paper towels almost his size.
“Emily, Daddy and I gots ice cream and juice boxes!”
The little boy dropped the paper towels as he hugged Emily’s legs. Crouching down, she gave him a big hug as his father came through the open door.
Tall, dark, and handsome in his black suit, Aaron Hotchner entered the townhouse carrying a large brown bag in the crook of his arm, and three or four plastic grocery bags in each hand.
Emily rushed forward to help, taking the brown bag from his arms and kissing his cheek. “Did you buy the whole store?”
Following her into the kitchen, he dropped the bags on the counter. He returned to the front entry way to secure his gun in the hall table, inside the faux drawer that hid a gun safe.
“Can I have a juice box, Daddy? Please, please, please?”
They put away groceries, stopping to hand the four year old a juice, and a cheese stick.
“Your terror on the phone was quite infectious, so I bought everything a teenage might ever want.”
Laughing, Emily held up the Hot Pockets and Pop Tarts.
Emily chopped up the leftover grilled chicken and dropped it into the mixed green salad Aaron had put together. Jack was shaking the dressing enthusiastically. They ate at round table in the kitchen. Emily kept gazing over to the fourth and empty seat trying to imagine this Jennifer sitting there.
“Do you want us to come over tomorrow or shall we give you time to get settled?”
“How about we play it by ear? I want her to meet you but I don’t want to overwhelm her with a new place and new people. Should we talk about this now?” Emily tilted her head towards Jack.
Aaron smiled, “Might as well! Jack, Emily has some news.”
She was flustered for a moment, “Yes, Jack. Tomorrow, a girl named Jennifer is going to come live here.”
“Is she your friend? Will she be my friend?”
Oh, those little dimples, she thought, “I will meet her tomorrow. I am sure we will all be friends.”
“Does she like Spiderman? Or Hot Wheels?”
“I can ask her tomorrow. Do you have any other questions?” Emily asked him.
Jack looked perplexed, his eyebrows knitting together. The boy was a smaller version of his father, mirroring the expression Aaron has when looking at new case.
“Nope, can I go play?”
Aaron helped Jack out of the his chair, “Well, that was easy!”
Emily cleaned up after dinner as the Hotchner’s played in the living room. She finished loading the dishwasher and stepped into the doorway to watch her boys.
Smiling, she saw an accomplished driven man sitting in his expensive suit pants on the floor. His sleeves were rolled up and his tie was throw over his shoulder as he built Legos with his son.
This was the man she had been in love with for years. He was intense, serious, and devoted to everything in his life. He was single minded and focused. His son, his job, and now her.
She still couldn’t believe they were here together. After everything that happened in the last few years. After the tragedy, lies, and deception. Aaron had survived a horrific attack by a serial killer, only to lose his wife to the same man. He had kept the team together after she had “died”, and welcomed her back ensuring Doyle would never see the light of day.
They were three months into a serious relationship. Jack had known Miss Emily his whole life, and they grown closer after Aaron and Emily’s dates turned into family outings. She transitioned from Miss Emily to Emily in the last few weeks. Jack loved it when Emily visited them at his house; she told the best bedtime stories.
And now, they were adding a new dynamic to their life, a foster child.