The return to Summer Bay was a quiet one, no one knew of the Buckton family returning, not even Ruby or Aden. The return was on their own terms; Charlie had a revelation of sorts the previous night. She knew this was a chance to prove herself once and for all to Joey and this time she had no intention of ever going back on her word.

As they passed the Summer Bay sign, Joey reached for Charlie's knee. A gentle gesture of reassurance and belief that everything would be okay. Both women wanted to do the right thing for their family. Driving into their driveway, the peace and tranquility was broken by Ruby's squealing of excitement as she bounded down to meet the twins.

"Why didn't you tell me you were coming back? I could have organized a party, a welcome home dinner, anything" Ruby exclaimed.

"I think a quiet return would be better given the circumstances don't you Rubz", her mother asked.

Looking from Joey to Charlie and back again, Ruby realized Charlie was referring to the risk of retaliation by the Braxton's or their crew. "Mum, you wouldn't put your family at risk would you by returning early?"

"We got Brax's word, he promised there would be no revenge or payback or anything else. We are safe and so are the kids."

"Well ok, if his word can be trusted" Ruby replied hesitantly.
All three women looked at each other. A seed of doubt was planted and to remain for some time. No promise could completely assure them given that Brax was never one to keep his word in the past.

The twins were bought inside, and an exhausted Charlie collapsed on the sofa, closing her eyes for a brief moment. Joey quickly settled back into routine of making coffee and something to eat. Ruby entertained the twins while Joey looked after the meal preparation. She had so many questions for Joey but the most important one would have to wait until Charlie was awake again.

"So are you okay Jo?"

"I'm tired Ruby, not physically, but emotionally I'm exhausted. The whole time we were away I kept thinking the kids weren't safe, and that Brax would come bursting through that door."

"Now you're back in Summer Bay, are you still worried?"

"Of course I am Rubz, but you know your mother, she will do everything she can to protect us… all of us."

Ruby pondered her thoughts for a moment. "Have you ever wanted to leave Jo?"

"Leave?" Joey questioned as she looked in Ruby's direction.

"Yeah, like escape this life, take off with the twins and never be found?"

"You're asking me if I'm in it for the long haul with Charlie aren't you?"

"Well yeah, in a way."

Sitting down with the coffees for herself and Ruby, Joey slowly sat down. She knew that Ruby was looking for some security in her answer but she didn't believe she could give her the answer she was seeking. Shaking away the bad thoughts in her mind, Joey replied… "I gave Charlie an ultimatum, just yesterday. I told her I would leave with the kids if she didn't resolve this business with Brax. She knew I was tired of looking over our shoulder. We couldn't give the twins the life they truly deserved if we stayed away from Sumer Bay. We had given so much up when we left. Our own happiness as a couple was sacrificed too. I couldn't live with myself if I didn't force Charlie's hand."

"Well you're back home, so something must have worked."

"If you call forcing someone's hand 'worked' then yes" Joey replied sadly.

Ruby reached out for Joey's hand, knowing she was the cause of the sadness Joey was feeling. She never meant to upset her. "Joey…. Mum loves you, she would turn this world upside down to find you if you left, and she will protect you and the kids at any cost, you know that don't you?"

"yeah I know…but I always thought if I came back that all our troubles would be over, but they're not are they. Every decision we make is often because of something bad occurring. We both want to protect the kids but I'm not sure it will be enough."

"Joey, if I know only one thing for sure, it is that since you came back Charlie is a different person. You have given her something to fight for. I'm not talking just about the love you both share but the kids, the family life. Charlie won't give it up without a fight. She would be lost without you by her side. You believe in that don't you?"

Joey took in every word Ruby spoke. Everything she said was true. For every step they had taken as a couple, Charlie's feelings were true and genuine. They had blurred the lines a little with Brax's presence in their lives, but even he couldn't stop Charlie fighting for Joey. Ruby was right, Charlie had changed and the kids had changed both of them.

"Thanks Rubz"

"For what?" She asked.

"For not letting me forget"

"What are daughters for?" Ruby laughed as she realized Joey wasn't going anywhere.

….

Charlie had woken up from a light slumber, still exhausted she began making her way towards the kitchen for a much needed coffee. She stopped in the hallway, listening to Ruby and Joey discuss the past and the future. Goose bumps came up on her arms and a shiver went down her spine as she heard Ruby ask if Joey wanted to leave. Fear had set in at the realization that her world could come down around her in a split second.

She waited a little longer, still listening. She sighed in relief as she heard Ruby's laughter, daring herself to walk in. She gave Joey a light kiss on the shoulder as she walked towards the coffee machine. Joey lightly grabbed her hand and pulled her towards a chair getting up to organize the coffee herself.

"So Charlie, you're going to be on your best behavior from now on."

"Who is the parent here Rubz?"

"I second that question" Joey retorted as she pulled her chair closer to Charlie.

"Come on guys, you know what I mean. You've been away for some time, without eyes to stare and question your behavior. Charlie, you know your track records needs improvement."

"Why thank you! My own daughter has no faith in me, my partner has questioned me time and time again, what will the twins say when they start babbling?" Charlie exclaimed in a high pitch voice.

Both Ruby and Joey started laughing as they knew they had hit a spot that Charlie would react to.

"Rubz, you know the time Joey and I were away was not easy, having twins, sleep deprived and thinking of Brax and what he will do next, it doesn't create the most romantic setting in the world does it?" Charlie replied seriously.

"I know…. But you're back home now with family and friends surrounding you. You can create new dreams now."

Charlie and Joey smiled, happy and content to be back in Summer Bay. Would they finally get the happy ever after they have wished for so long?