"I don't really like strangers."
Shayla gazed open-mouthed at her now home "Is this really where you live?" She asked as she got out of the house.
"It's where you live now too." Ray said, taking her hand "Do you like it?"
"It's beautiful!" Shayla declared. It was the sort of place she'd always dreamed of living. It was a house even bigger than the orphanage.
"Let's go inside." Raven said, taking Shayla's other hand and lead them into the house.
"Can I see my room please?" Shayla asked, looking around the hallway in delight.
Ray nodded and the three of them went upstairs. They'd been decorating Shayla's room for the past two weeks. The walls were purple, her bed was white with purple bedding and there shelves everywhere with books and toys "Is all this for me?" Shayla was amazed.
"Of course it is." Raven told her "Now, everyone's coming over tonight to meet you. If you feel shy then that's okay. Just tell us if it all gets a bit too much, okay?"
"Thank you." Shayla smiled "What should I call you by the way? Do I call you Mommy and Daddy or Raven and Ray?"
"I'd prefer it if you called us Mommy and Daddy but if you'd feel more comfortable calling us Raven and Ray then that's fine." Ray said gently, stroking his daughters hair.
"I'll call you Mommy and Daddy." Shayla smiled "Because you're my Mommy and Daddy now."
Raven smiled at Ray "I'd better go start making dinner." Ray said "I'll see you all in a second."
Ray went downstairs and Shayla looked at Raven "Mommy, can you help me unpack please?"
"Of course I can Sweetheart." Raven picked them both up and put them on the bed "What if I unpack your clothes and you can unpack all your other stuff?"
"Okay." Shayla said happily, unzipping her other bag and starting to unpack the few possessions that she owned "Mommy, will I be safe here?" She asked suddenly.
Raven hung up one of Shayla's dresses, turned around and asked "What do you mean?"
Shayla didn't say anything for a long moment before whispering "It doesn't matter."
Raven wanted to know what she was talking about but knew that Shayla was uncomfortable so she dropped it and continued unpacking Shayla's clothes.
The first people to arrive were Frank, Penina, Mia and Izzy as usual. They always seemed to be on time no matter where they were going. Mia shrieked and wrapped her arms around Raven's waist "Is Shayla here?" She asked excitedly "Can we meet her?"
"She's kind of shy at the moment. If you just wait in the living room then maybe she'll come downstairs." Raven said.
"I wanna meet her... I wanna meet her..." Mia chanted, skipping into the living room and flopping down obdiently onto one of the sofas.
"Budge up and make some room." Frank laughed, walking in and lifting her up. He sat down and sat Mia onto his lap "Has she said anything about her real parents?" He asked Raven.
Raven swallowed "No, not yet." She sighed, remembering what Shayla had asked her about whether she'd be safe now. Had she been referring to whoever had murdered her parents?
"Is she nice?" Izzy asked, walking into the room with a tight hold on Penina's hand. Izzy was sort of shy around new people. Not as shy as Shayla though.
"She's extremely nice, you're gonna love her." Raven re-assured her.
"Of course you're gonna love her." Penina said, lifting Izzy up "Quit worrying."
"I'm not worrying." Izzy lied, leaning her head on Penina's shoulder as Penina sat down next to Frank.
"I'm gonna go see if Shayla's okay." Raven told them then left the room and went upstairs.
Shayla was sitting on her bed, hugging her knees and staring into space "Hey Beautiful," Raven smiled, sitting down next to her "Penina and Frank are here with their little girls Izzy and Mia. Do you wanna come downstairs and meet them?"
"I don't know." Shayla whispered.
"Well you don't need to if you don't want to."
"But the only reason they came over is to meet me. I don't want anyone to be mad at me."
"Nobody's mad at you. If you're too shy to come down then that's fine, honestly." Raven stroked Shayla's hair "I'll just bring your dinner up here if you don't wanna come down, okay?"
"Thank you Mommy." Shayla smiled.
"You're welcome Sweetie." Raven kissed her forehead and then the doorbell rang "I'd better go and answer that."
"Okay." Shayla smiled again as Raven went downstairs. Shayla sighed, wishing she could go downstairs and say hi to everyone but she was too scared.
Raven answered the door to Hozzie, Gerard and Ellie "Oh hey guys." Raven smiled "Just come into the living room."
"Is Shayla here?" Ellie asked.
Raven sighed and explained it to them. She explained it to Jennifer and Bob when they showed up and then again to Mikey and Callie "Can I use the bathroom please?" Mia asked.
Raven nodded and Mia leaped up then ran upstairs. She found a white door that had the letters 'S H A Y L A' in silver glitter stuck to the door. Mia couldn't help it. She shoved the door open and stepped inside. Shayla put down the book she was reading, her eyes wide at the sight of the stranger in her bedroom "Hi!" Mia smiled, not noticing how scared Shayla was "I'm Mia. Are you Shayla?"
"Y-Yeah." Shayla whispered.
"Wait there, I need to pee!" Mia cried. She ran into the bathroom, peed and then ran back "Hi! Do you wanna come downstairs now? Raven said you're shy but I'll look after you." Shayla shook her head and hugged her knees "Come on, my sister really wants to meet you."
"No!" Shayla cried "Mommy!"
Raven ran upstairs and saw Shayla shaking, near tears and Mia looking confused "Shayla, it's okay Honey, it's only Mia." Raven said gently "What don't you go downstairs Mia? Dinner's nearly ready."
"I'm sorry." Mia said, her bottom lip trembling as she ran off downstairs.
Raven sat down next to Shayla "Are you okay Sweetie?" Shayla shook her head "Come on, what's wrong?"
"I don't really like strangers." Shayla said quietly "I... I can't go downstairs."
"That's okay, Mia just wanted to say hi. She's not shy at all." Raven smiled and put her arm around her "Nobody would hurt you, I promise."
Shayla shuffled closer to Raven and wrapped her arms around her "I love you Mommy."
Raven was silent for a moment, processing what Shayla had just said before replying "I love you too."