Status: Completed, after eleven months and four days. XD

Baby Just Say Yes

Chapter Fourteen

Rayleigh sighed nervously as she stood outside the Haner residence. It had been three years since she'd stepped through the door into this house. Would it still be the same as it had been? Would she still feel like she was truly home when she went inside? There was only one way to find out, she resolved. She knocked on the door, and waited for someone to answer. A few minutes later, she saw Suzie's head through the door, and smiled warmly.
"Ray! Come in, come in!" She said welcomingly, pulling Rayleigh into the house. She smiled when she realized that it did indeed still feel like home to her.

"Hi, Suzie." She said, hugging the woman.

"Hi." She replied, pulling Ray in for a hug. Rayleigh hugged the woman back, feeling as if she was her mother. That brought back a pang of guilt. Just when her mother had finally stood up for her, she'd abandoned her to the wrath of her father. Would she be okay? Rayleigh pushed back the feelings, not wanting them to ruin this long awaited visit with Brian's parents.

"So how have you been, dear?" Suzie asked her. Rayleigh shrugged.

"Okay, I guess. I'm not going back." Rayleigh announced. She saw a flash of worry in Suzie's eyes, but she didn't say anything to her. Suzie could come to her own conclusion, because she knew if she told the Haner's about what her father was about to do to her, they'd personally kill him. She saw Papa Gates walk into the room, and went in for a hug.

"How's my favorite adopted daughter been?" He asked kindly, giving her a bear hug. He'd always been like this. To him, Rayleigh was his daughter. She hugged him back.

"Not bad, Papa Gates. I decided I'm not going to stay there anymore, though."

"Then you're staying here." He said, definitively. "I'm sure Kenna won't mind if you use her room."

"I could stay in Brian's room." She replied, not wanting to intrude on Brian's younger sister's bedroom. He thought about it for a minute, then nodded.

"You'd probably be more at home in there anyway. It's where you always hung out as a kid." He agreed. She smiled.

"So how is McKenna? And Brent?" She asked, honestly curious. They'd always treated her as their sibling, as well. She got along with the entire family.

"Not bad. McKenna's got a new boyfriend, and Brent is doing well." Papa Gates told her.

"I'm sorry about Brian." She whispered guiltily. "And Matt."

"It's okay, for the last time, Ray." They told her at the same time.

"Really, Ray. It's not your fault he's there." Suzie said. "He's happy to be in jail if it meant seeing you again. It killed him not to talk to you."

"It did?" She asked, her voice breaking. She hadn't thought that it would be hard for Brian not to talk to her. After all, he was now Synyster Gates. He was tough. He could do anything. Or, it seemed like he could.

"Yes. He called you every couple of months. You know, to see how you were doing and stuff. But he'd hang up before you answered."

"That's who all the restricted calls were?" She asked. She'd just thought it was Jimmy or Johnny pulling pranks on her.

"Yeah. I know, it's hard to believe. But he really did miss you, Ray. He'd cry himself to sleep at night sometimes. He never went anywhere without a picture of you." Papa Gates said quietly. "It tore him apart, being away from you."

"And then Matt told him that your father had gone off the deep end." Suzie continued. "That time last year, when he checked you into a psych ward."

"That really made him angry. He was going to go break you out." Papa Gates said. "It took both Matt and Jimmy holding him inside the house and about an hour before he would listen to reason."

"Why would he do that?" Ray asked, more to herself than Papa Gates and Suzie.

"Because..." Suzie started. Then she stopped the sentence. "That's better left for Brian to tell you himself."

"I understand." Rayleigh told them, nodding. "Brian and I obviously have to talk. But we can't talk while he's in jail."

"That's what this is for." Papa Gates said, handing her a small tape. On it was written 'Rayleigh's Freedom.' She teared up a little bit, but Suzie wiped them away, and then hugged her.

"I can't believe he did this for me." She whimpered, losing it.

"Come on, let's get you to bed. You look like you've had a long day."

"Where'd that black eye come from?" Suzie asked her, suspicious. Rayleigh hadn't realized that when her father had hit her, it had left a bruise. Until now, she hadn't felt it. She didn't answer right away, but Suzie knew what had happened. Her eyes narrowed in anger, and she tightened her grip on Rayleigh.

"We'll make sure he never touches you again, honey." Papa Gates promised her. She just hugged Suzie back.
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