Jake, Simon and Lauren were all being fostered by Mrs. Henderson, a kind, yet formidable widow in her late fifties. The children had found themselves with Mrs. Henderson for various reasons.
Jake, who was now approaching fifteen, had been orphaned a few years previously, and for a while he had lived with an uncle. However, his uncle had been unable to give him the affection, time and care needed for him to flourish. As a result Jake spent more and more time with his tearaway cousin. And although Jake was academically bright, his school work began to suffer. His cousin awakened in him an interest in cars, which eventually led to them stealing vehicles, and joy riding around in them. When the boys were eventually caught, the police were only lenient with Jake because they considered his older cousin to be largely responsible. As a result he was put into the care of the widow. Under Betty Henderson's gentle, but firm influence his school grades rapidly improved, and a far more well adjusted boy soon emerged.
Lauren, who was fourteen, had been raised by her mother, the father having deserted the family when she was just a baby. When her mother went into hospital with a serious, life threatening condition, no one was left to look after her, and so she too had found herself in Mrs. Henderson's care. When the widow had first taken her under her wing, Lauren had been just about scared of everything. After a year with Betty Henderson, the shy, withdrawn girl, had slowly began to feel less fearful and more relaxed.
Simon, who was the youngest at just thirteen, had been a difficult child. His parents had been unable to cope with his wayward behaviour. At first the local authorities had sent him to a children's home, then after six months or so, he too was sent to live with the tough, but kindly matriarch. Within months Simon's behaviour improved, and he too began to thrive.
All three children were extremely happy and well settled in the rambling, large, rather shabby looking house which overlooked the sea on the outskirts of Brighton in East Sussex. For a long time their lives proceeded in much the same way as always. Nothing extraordinary ever seemed to happen. Their lives were comfortable, cosy, and for want of a better word, ordinary. All of this was, however, was about to change. Something new, and amazing was about to enter their lives.
One evening in late autumn Jake and the other children were sitting at the dining table, tucking into one of Mrs. Henderson's hearty meals, when she made a casual remark.
"You know that mystery boy they found wandering about on the beach a week ago?" she began.
"Yes," Jake and the others replied in unison.
"There was a big report in The Evening Argus about him. They said he was found aimlessly walking along the beach near Hove Lagoon," the children's foster mother continued.
"Didn't they say he was soaking wet, as if he had just come out of the sea?" Jake added.
"Wasn't he wearing really old fashioned clothes, or something?" Lauren asked.
"Yes, he was. Apparently, the boy was completely disorientated, and suffering from amnesia. He couldn't even remember his name," Mrs. Henderson replied.
"I've got a feeling this is leading up to something, Auntie Betty," Jake smiled at the woman, he had learned to call 'auntie'.
"It is leading up to something. The mystery boy is coming to stay with us. I'm going to be fostering him for a while. At least until the authorities find out who he is," Betty Henderson smiled back at her eldest foster child.
Jake stared at his companions. After a pause he announced. "It should be good fun having someone new around."
Secretly though, he was unsure about the prospect of a new foster child coming into their already tightly knit family circle. Jake and the other children did not have long to wait for the arrival of the mystery boy. Two days after Mrs. Henderson's announcement, he arrived at the house in the company of a social worker.
Jake observed him from the hallway. He watched as their new guest sat quietly on the sofa. Jake thought he seemed rather unwell. He was listless, and appeared exhausted. Jake took in the boy's general appearance. He was fair haired. Jake thought his hair style was curiously out of date. It was cut short at the back and sides, and it had a neat side parting. His clothes too were odd. The boy wore neatly pressed, grey flannel trousers, a grey shirt, a v-neck, sleeveless, woollen jumper, black lace up shoes, and a duffle coat. Jake sighed, their new house-mate was decidedly uncool. Lauren and Simon too had been observing the new arrival from a discreet distance.
"Look at his clothes and hair!" Jake lamented.
"I think he's rather handsome despite his clothes and hair," Lauren said in defence of the mysterious new boy.
"Have you noticed, he's got very strange eyes?" Simon commented.
"How do you mean?" Lauren asked.
"Well, they're a really odd colour. They're honey coloured, but sometimes when the light catches them, they almost look golden," Simon explained.
"I hadn't noticed. I thought he had nice eyes," Lauren replied.
"You fancy him!" Simon exclaimed.
"I don't!" Lauren retorted defensively.
"Well, I think I'm going to reserve judgement until we've got to know him a bit better." Jake interrupted, slightly irritated by what he considered to be Lauren and Simon's childish banter.
The teenager's conversation was cut short by the sound of the social worker standing up and announcing his departure. Mrs. Henderson showed him to the door, and returned back to the living room. She told her new foster child to stand up, lean on her arm, and then she slowly led him to his room. As she passed Jake, Lauren and Simon in the hallway, she briefly introduced her other charges to him.
"This is Jake, Lauren and Simon, my other foster children," she smiled gently at the boy.
A faint glimmer of a smile appeared on the boy's face before he was led away to his room.
"I don't think we'll be getting to know him any better today," Jake said, staring at the fair haired boy ascending the stairs with Mrs. Henderson.