The first thing that Emily had asked that morning when they woke her up to get ready for her appointment with the therapist was if she really had to go in by herself. Both Franky and Bridget patiently explained again, as they had the night before, that yes, she did, but they would only be in the next room, and would be waiting for her when her session was done.
When they arrived, Emily insisted on holding Franky's hand while Bridget filled out paperwork, and checked in at the reception desk. "Remember what we talked about this morning, okay? He's just going to ask you some questions, you'll talk for a bit, and then you can come back out to us."
"I want you to come in with me." The tears had started to form in her eyes.
"No, bub. We talked about this too, okay?" Franky wiped a tear from the young girl's face. "Would it help if I told you I've done this before?"
"You have? Because you were sad?" Emily seemed to be a bit less anxious and more curious now.
"Kind of, yeah. That was part of it. But I had to go to a therapist, and go into their office by myself and talk to them." The brunette felt the girl's grip on her hand loosen a bit. "I was nervous too, but you know what?" Emily shook her head. "It was okay, and it helped me a lot. So it's okay that you're nervous about it, but you need to be brave too. Can you do that for me and Auntie?" Emily slowly nodded.
Bridget returned, and took her seat beside Emily. "Hey, love, Mr. Crosby is going to come get you in a couple of minutes."
"Did you know Franky had to do this too?" the young girl asked her Aunt.
"Mmm, I did." The blonde gave Franky a small smile.
"Hello, you must be Emily." The therapist stood a few feet in front of where Emily was sitting as he greeted her. She gave a shy nod. "My name is Brad. How are you today?" The girl shrugged. "I see you brought some friends with you. Can you tell me who they are?"
"My Auntie and Franky." Brad had to lean in a bit closer to hear her.
"Auntie...?" He looked from Bridget to Franky.
"Bridget," the blonde said, reaching out to shake his hand.
"Ah, Bridget, nice to meet you," he said, returning her handshake. "So you must be Franky then." He held out his hand to the brunette.
"Right, well, I'm going to ask you to come with me, Emily, and we'll have a chat in my office." Emily reluctantly stood up and began to follow him.
Bridget noticed Franky playing with her silver ring, and reached over to take her hand. "She'll be okay, baby."
"I know, it's just the whole therapy thing brings back some memories." Franky didn't like to admit that some things still bothered her as much as they did, but she knew Bridget could read her well, and there was no point in trying to hide it.
The blonde gave Franky's hand a gentle squeeze. "After he's done talking to her, he's going to want us to go in and talk with him for a few minutes. Are you okay with coming in?"
"Yeah I'm okay with it, but what are we going to talk about? Is he going to tell us what she said? I thought that was confidential." The brunette shifted in her chair.
"Yeah, of course it is. He'll just make recommendations for strategies we can use when she's upset, like when she doesn't want to leave us, or things we can do to help her."
Forty-five minutes later, they heard a door open down the hall, and Brad returned to the waiting room.
"I've left Emily in the counselling room. If you'd like to come to my office, we can talk for a minute." He led them back down the hallway, and held the door open to his office.
They sat down in the chairs in front of his desk. He took his seat, and typed something into his computer.
"Now as you can see," he said, turning his monitor around so they could all see what was displayed. It showed Emily sitting at a small table, playing with some blocks. "She made it through the session very well. She was a bit upset at first. You had mentioned that she's quite shy, and that she's having some separation anxiety at the moment, so I suspect that's what it was. I asked if she was okay with me sharing with you some of the things she and I had talked about, and she said that was okay." He leaned forward on his desk. "She talked about losing her mother some months ago, and her father just a few days ago. I have to say I think she's handling those two events quite well. She says you've both talked to her a bit about what happened with her Dad, and that she's comfortable talking to either of you about her feelings concerning that if she wants. I have no concerns that she's perfectly happy living with both of you. Now, I do have a couple of suggestions. She mentioned that since her father passed away, she's been sleeping with you in your bed at night. I would say that has to stop. Moving her back to her own room is a way to start to get her used to not being with you all of the time. I would say start this tonight as it will probably take a night or two before she's accepted that she has to stay in her own bed. If she gets up and comes to your room, just take her right back to her own bed."
Bridget knew that the therapist was probably sensing her hesitation. She knew he was right, but she also hated when Emily was upset, and she knew this would definitely upset her. As much as she missed talking with Franky while they were falling asleep, she was willing to give that up for a while if it made her niece feel more comfortable to be close to them.
"Now, I'm not saying that it can't happen once in awhile. There will be times when she's sick or has a nightmare, and it's perfectly fine to let her stay with you then, but as a regular thing, no. She won't get over her anxiety of being away from you if she's never made to be away from you." He waited, and getting no questions from either of them, continued. "The second thing is she needs to go back to school. It's important for her to get into a normal routine as soon as possible. My suggestion would be to start tonight with getting her to sleep in her own bed. That way, on Monday, she should be ready to go back to school. Do either of you have any questions right now?"
"No, I think we'll see how we do with those things for now." Bridget looked to Franky for confirmation, and the brunette gave a barely perceptible nod.
"Okay, good." Brad gave them a smile as he stood up to show them out. "I'd like to see her again in a week's time, but if there are any issues before that, just give us a call."
"Thank you," Bridget said, shaking his hand on her way out.
"I'll take you to get Emily." He led them a couple doors down the hallway.
Will had agreed to help them bring Emily's furniture to their house that afternoon. He offered to help put it back together as well, but Franky refused, saying that she needed something to keep her busy. Bridget knew that the brunette had been agitated since Emily's therapy appointment, and keeping busy was her way of dealing with it. She also knew that they needed to discuss how they were going to handle things before it was actually bedtime for the young girl.
"Baby." Bridget had just tucked Emily into their bed for a nap, and thought it would be a good chance to talk with Franky. "We need to talk about what the therapist said so we're ready when it's time to talk to Em tonight."
"I just know she's going to be upset when we tell her she's sleeping in here tonight." Franky moved the newly assembled bed into place and began putting on the sheets.
"I know. I don't like to see her upset either, but we need to get through this. I mean, everything he said was stuff I knew he was going to say, but it doesn't make it any easier to put it into practice." Bridget reached out and took the brunette's arm, making her stop what she was doing and look at her. "She'll be okay. She may not like it right now, and neither will we, but it'll work out. Besides, this room already looks amazing and you're not even done yet, so maybe she'll want to spend the night in here anyway."
"It does look pretty nice, huh?" Franky looked around, taking in all the changes they'd made. "The finishing touch will be these." She held up the fairy lights she'd bought.
The brunette wrapped them around the headboard of Emily's bed. When she finished, Bridget turned off the light, leaving just the glow of the painted stars and the single strand of small lights.
"It's beautiful." Bridget turned in a full circle as she took it all in.
Franky flopped down onto the bed. "Actually, I like it so much, maybe I'll make this my room and Em can take the other one."
"You mean make this our room," Bridget corrected.
"I don't know, Gidge, it's a pretty small bed." The brunette looked to either side of herself. "I don't think there's room for another person."
"There's not?" Bridget asked, and Franky shook her head. "Are you sure?" The blonde knelt on the bed, straddling her girlfriend's hips.
"I stand corrected." Franky let out a small laugh. "Come here." She reached up and gently pulled on Bridget's shirt to get the blonde to lay down on top of her.
Bridget gave the brunette a look, warning her to behave, but put up no resistance. She felt Franky's lips against the side of her neck, then felt her hands travel the length of her back and slip under her pants, coming to rest on her butt.
"Mmm." Bridget's small murmur turned into a giggle. "Franky."
"Mmhmm?" The brunette was still slowly working her way along the older woman's neck.
"We are not having sex on her bed."
"I know, babe," Franky said as she nipped at Bridget's earlobe.
"Do you?" The blonde pulled back, giving Franky a big smile.
"Yeah." The brunette gave her a quick kiss on the lips.
Bridget moved to lay on her side against Franky, arm draped across the younger woman's stomach. "I love you."
"I love you, too."
"Can we just stay here like this for awhile?" The blonde hadn't realized until just now how much she was missing being held, and how safe and protected it made her feel.
"Sure, babe. She'll come find us when she wakes up." Franky ran her fingers over the arm Bridget had rested on her. "Are you tired? Do you want to sleep?"
"No, I just want to lie here with you." The blonde was quiet for a moment. "I'm pretty sure I fell in love with you the very first time I saw you."
Franky didn’t say anything for a moment, but just looked into Bridget’s blue eyes. “I knew you were different from everyone else right away. If I had to pick the moment I knew I was in love with you though, it would be when I opened the door and saw you standing there the night you came over for dinner.”
The blonde gave her a kiss, and rested her head back down on the younger woman’s shoulder. “Tonight is going to be hard.” Bridget said quietly. “For both us, and her.”
“I know. I’m not looking forward to it.”
The next thing Bridget remembered was looking at her watch, and realizing that they must have fallen asleep, because over an hour had passed. She glanced up, and saw that Franky was still sleeping peacefully, so she moved away from her slowly so as not to wake her. Her first thought was to check to see if Emily was still asleep. She peeked in their bedroom door, and saw that the bed was empty. She eventually found Emily colouring in the living room.
“Hey, love, when did you wake up?” Bridget sat down on the couch. She had hoped that the fact Emily had gotten up and came out here on her own meant that she was starting to feel more relaxed.
“Not very long ago. I saw you sleeping. Franky said not to wake you up the other day, so I didn’t today.”
“That was nice of you to let us sleep. You know if you ever need one of us, or if you’re sick or need help, you can wake us, right?” The blonde knew what Franky had meant when she had told Emily that, but she didn’t want the girl to think that she was never allowed to wake them anymore. Emily nodded, indicating that she understood.
“Hey guys.” Franky walked into the kitchen, rubbing her eyes.
“Em woke up before us and came out here on her own,” Bridget said, as the brunette sat down beside her.
“Oh, that’s great! What are you working on?” Franky leaned over to see the picture that the young girl was colouring. “That’s pretty. I’m going to start cooking supper, if you’d like to help.”
Emily put her things away and joined the brunette in the kitchen. Franky and Bridget had decided that they would talk to the young girl while they were eating supper about her sleeping in her own room that night. They didn’t want to just surprise her with the idea at bedtime and have to put her to bed upset. The blonde thought that maybe by giving her time to let it sink in and talk to them about it, it might make it easier on everyone.
The three of them had just started eating when Bridget decided it was time to start the conversation. “Em, Franky and I want to talk to you about something.” The blonde looked at her girlfriend, who gave her a nod of encouragement. “How did you like talking to Brad this morning?”
“It was okay,” Emily shrugged.
“Remember how you said last night you were scared, and we said that was one of the things he was going to help you with?” Bridget waited until Emily gave her a small nod. “Did you talk about that with him?”
“Yeah, a bit.” Emily had stopped eating, and was pushing the food around on her plate.
“Did he tell you anything that made you feel better?” The blonde waited again while Emily just nodded. She wasn’t going to make the young girl go into details if she didn’t want to. “Okay. So tonight, we want you to sleep in your own room. Franky finished everything in there this afternoon, so it’s all nice and pretty.”
“I want to sleep in your bed, with you.” Bridget could see the tears forming in her niece’s eyes.
“Hey, bub, you can do this. It’s just like how we were asleep in your room earlier and you were in ours, and everything was okay.” Franky knew that logic probably wasn’t going to help in this situation but she figured it was worth a try.
“But at night I want to sleep with you.” The tears were fully streaming down her face now.
“Love, listen.” Bridget reached across beside her and put her hand on the young girl’s. “I know you want to sleep with us, but you have to go back to sleeping in your own bed. One of us will still come in and read you a story if you want, and we’ll both say goodnight. We’ll be right across the hall, I promise we would never leave you here in the house alone.”
Franky spoke up. “Remember this morning how I said that it was okay to be scared or nervous about going to see the therapist? It’s the same thing with this. It’s okay to feel that way, but you have to trust us when we tell you it’ll be alright.”
“Okay, how about you finish your supper, and then we can talk about it more if you want?” Bridget felt like they had pushed her enough for now.
“I’m not hungry.” Emily pushed her plate away.
“Em, you’re going to be hungry later if you don’t eat.” Franky got no response.
“Okay, if you’re done eating then I want you to go shower.” Bridget went back to eating her meal.
“I don’t want to go to bed early.” Emily’s tears started all over again.
Bridget pushed out her chair, and turned to sit sideways. “Come here, love.” She pointed to the spot on the floor in front of her. When the young girl stood there, the blonde reached up and wiped her tears. “I didn’t say you had to go to bed early. If you want to finish your supper then you can stay and do that, then shower after. If you’re not going to eat then I want you to go shower now. You can come back out with us after that until your normal bedtime. Okay?” Emily sighed. “Would you like a hug?” The young girl nodded, and Bridget reached out and hugged her. “Now, which is it? Are you going to finish eating, or go shower?”
“Eating,” the young girl said quietly.
“Okay.” Bridget rubbed her back one last time as Emily went back to her seat.
Once they had all finished eating, Emily had quietly gone to the shower, and Bridget and Franky were cleaning up the dishes in the kitchen.
“This is going to be harder than I thought, Gidge.” Franky said, placing the dirty plates into the dishwasher. “And what was with the mini-breakdown at the table? She’s never done that before.”
“It’s the first time we’ve told her she couldn’t have something she really wanted. We’re not all fun for her anymore.” Bridget sighed as she put the last of the leftovers away. “Do you want me to read her the story tonight or do you want to?”
“I’m fine with either. Let’s let her choose.” Bridget nodded her agreement, and the brunette gave her a quick kiss just as Emily was returning from her shower.
“Hey, do you want to play a game or something before bed?” the blonde asked.
“Monopoly?” Emily suggested quietly.
“Sure. Set it up and we’ll be right over.”
“I’m not paying for that damn movie this time until I know which one it is,” Franky said with so much seriousness it made Bridget laugh.
“What?! I think it should be a new house rule.” She pushed start on the dishwasher and went to take her spot on the floor by the coffee table.
After a half hour the game had come to an end, with Bridget actually winning this time.
“It’s ‘cause you owned all the expensive stores.” Franky gave her a hard time as they packed up the game.
“Maybe if you’re nice I’ll let you shop there for free.” Bridget gave her a small wink. She glanced at the clock. “Em, it’s time for bed. Who do you want to read your story tonight?”
“No,” she said quietly.
“No, what?” Bridget asked.
“I want both.”
“Okay, but still just one story, alright? Go brush your teeth and we’ll be in.” Bridget watched her walk down the hall.
“You alright?” Franky put her arm around the blonde.
Franky and Bridget each took one of the small chairs from Emily’s miniature table and chairs set, and sat beside her bed.
“Auntie Bridge, can you lay with me while you read the story?” Emily looked up at her with tears already in her eyes.
“No, love, we’re going to sit right here.” Bridget picked up the book of short stories for kids that Emily had brought with her that first night that Franky had brought her home.
“Franky?” The young girl reached out towards the brunette.
“No, bub. I’m going to sit right here though, okay?” The brunette picked up the teddy bear that was sitting on the bed behind the girl, and gave it to her to hold onto.
They took turns reading the story, and by the time they were finished, it looked like Emily had fallen asleep. They carefully stood up, and returned the chairs back to their spots by the small table. They closed her door, and went to the living room to watch some tv before they went to bed themselves.
Almost an hour into their show, they heard Emily’s bedroom door open.
“Remember, we just take her back to bed.” Bridget whispered.
“Can I sit with you?” Emily gave them her best version of puppy dog eyes.
“No, love, go back to bed.” When the girl didn’t move, Bridget calmly got up, took her hand, and led her back to her bed.
The next time they heard from her was when they were in the bathroom brushing their teeth. Franky had just turned off the water when she heard the bedroom door open again.
“Are you going to bed now?” Emily asked.
“Yeah, bub. Go on back to bed. We’ll see you for breakfast.” The brunette wiped her face with the towel. Once again, Emily had to be taken by the hand and led back to her bed.
“Mmm,” Bridget sighed as Franky laid down behind her, and wrapped her in her arms.
“Feels good?” The brunette gave her a small kiss on the shoulder.
“Mmhmm.” Bridget loved falling asleep in Franky’s arms, with those small kisses. Even though it had only been a few nights without them, she had missed them more than she thought.
The blonde was almost asleep when she heard the door across the hall open. She hoped that if Emily came in and saw them asleep, then maybe she would go back to her own room. Maybe she just needed confirmation that they were still there and okay.
“Auntie Bridge?” Emily whispered quietly. Getting no reaction from the blonde, the young girl started to climb onto the bed.
Bridget couldn’t ignore it any longer. “Em, baby, go back to your own bed.” She felt Emily stop moving, but could feel that she was still on the bed. “Come on.” Bridget sat up, got out of bed, and walked her back to her own bed for the third time that night. When she laid down again beside the brunette, Franky pulled her close and gave her a small kiss.
Franky was normally a fairly deep sleeper, but the next time when Emily came into their room, it was her who woke when their door opened.
“Franky?” The brunette felt a small hand tug at the back of her shirt. “Franky?!” This time the girl spoke a little louder, and tugged a bit harder.
The brunette turned over onto her back. “You have to go back to bed Em.”
“No!” She started to climb onto the bed, looking to take advantage of the space between Franky and her aunt that the brunette had created when she turned over.
She was about to climb over Franky when the brunette put her arm up gently to stop her.
“No, bub. You have to go back to your own bed.” Emily started to cry.
Franky didn’t say anything more, but just got up out of bed, picked Emily up, and took her back across the hall.
“Stay here the rest of the night, okay?” She gave her a kiss on the forehead as she laid her in bed and covered her with a blanket.
As soon as Franky shut the door, Emily began yelling. “Franky! Franky, don’t go!”
The brunette stood in the hallway outside the door. She’d never heard Emily that upset. When she looked up, she saw that Bridget had gotten out of bed and was standing in their doorway.
“Auntie Bridge! Franky!” Emily was in a full on hysterical cry by this point.
It was breaking Franky’s heart, and when she met Bridget’s eyes, she knew the blonde was feeling the same way.
“Gidge, I don’t like this. Listen to her.” Franky sniffed and wiped her eyes with the back of her hand.
“Me either, baby. He said it might be hard though. We have to at least try, or we’re for sure not going to get anywhere.”
Franky let out a long breath, as she placed both her hands on the top of her head, and paced up and down the hallway.
“Auntie Bridge!!” Emily yelled so loud that her voice cracked, then turned to sobs. “Franky?” It was quiet compared to how she had been yelling just a moment before, but the brunette heard her loud and clear.
“Come on, baby, let’s at least go back in here so she doesn’t keep hearing us in the hallway.” Bridget reached out and took Franky’s hand, leading her back to the bed.
They laid there awake in silence, except for the occasional sound of crying from Emily’s room. It wasn’t long before Franky noticed the first rays of sunlight outside the window. She thought she must have drifted off for a bit without realizing it. She looked to her left, and saw only Bridget in the bed beside her. The brunette decided that she needed to check on Emily, or at least listen at her door to see if she was still upset.
She heard no noise in the hallway, and nothing when she moved her ear close to the door. Quietly she turned the knob and peeked into the room. Emily had turned on the strip of fairy lights around her bed, and surrounded herself with all of her stuffed animals, but she was most definitely asleep now. Franky quietly closed the door and went back to their bedroom.
“She asleep?” Bridget asked as she felt the brunette lay down beside her again. She knew as soon as she felt Franky get up that she was going to check on Emily.
“Yeah, babe, she’s asleep.” Franky pulled the blonde close, and wrapped the blankets around them. Tonight might be another long night, so they needed to take advantage of sleep whenever they could get it, and it looked like Emily was settled in for at least another hour or so.