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“Surprise!” the yell came as soon as Sammy walked into Brian’s house.

He recognised the four other Backstreet Boys from the CD Brian had shown him in the car. Now, all four of them were standing before him waving crackers. They’d put a few paper decorations up around Brian’s sitting room and the table had been filled with party food. There were plates of cakes, biscuits and bowls filled with crisps. A bright red jelly was wobbling in the centre of the table. One an armchair there was a pile of packages wrapped in brightly coloured paper.

Tyke bounded up to Sammy whining. He was pleased to see him again as well as everyone else.

“When did you guys do all this?” Brian asked, looking about the room in astonishment.

“While you were out picking Sammy up! Thought he deserved a little party!” the blond one said.

Brian grinned and Sammy scampered over to the table to have a better look at all of the cakes.

“You can have one if you like,” a dark haired man said. “It’s your party!”

“Thank you,” Sammy said, shyly taking a chocolate cake.

As soon as Sammy had a cake, everyone else dived into the food as well. Sammy found himself pulled into Brian’s arms and he hugged him back, knowing that this time he was here to stay.

“Aww,” the blond one said.

“Are you Nick?” Sammy asked, desperately trying to remember the names Brian had told him in the car.

“No, I’m AJ!” he said, with a twinkle in his blue eyes.

“No don’t listen to him, Sammy!” Brian said. “You got it right first time, that is Nick!”

Nick grinned and waved. “Yeah I am Nick. The guy with the hat is AJ,” he said, pointing to a man in a red hat.

“Hi,” AJ said. “It’s great to see you again, Sammy.”

“The guy with the long hair is Howie,” Brian said. “And this is my cousin, Kevin.” He pointed to the final man.

“Hello,” Sammy said, still sitting on Brian’s lap.

“Hey,” Howie said.

“Hi Sammy. Biscuit?” Kevin asked, holding out a plate.

Sammy took a cookie and nibbled it slowly. Tyke looked up at Kevin, hoping for a biscuit as well. Kevin tossed him half a cookie which Tyke caught expertly before crunching on it greedily.

“Pull a cracker!” Nick demanded, waving a bright yellow cracker in front of Sammy.

Sammy smiled and took hold of one end.

“Go on, Sammy!” AJ said.

“Pull!” Brian said, wrapping his arms about Sammy’s waist.

The cracker exploded with a bang and Tyke jumped about their feet, yapping hysterically. Nick retrieved a shiny hair slide from the floor before Tyke could eat it.

“Great!” he said. “Who’s going to use that?”

“Howie has the long hair!” AJ pointed out.

“But I’m not wearing that!” Howie argued.

“Oh well,” Nick said. “Let’s pull the rest and see if we get anything else more interesting!”

By the end of the evening, all of the food was gone and the floor was littered with the remains of crackers. Sammy had collected all of the little plastic toys into a pile and was playing with them and Rocky.

Nick yawned. “Time to be going soon, I think. Hey Sammy, you haven’t opened the presents yet!”

Sammy looked across the room and saw a small pile of presents wrapped in brightly coloured paper on an armchair. He hadn’t noticed them before. AJ scooped them all up into his arms and deposited them in front of Sammy.

“You bought me presents?” Sammy asked, excitedly.

“Sure we did!” AJ said. He held up a yellow parcel. “This one’s from me!”

Sammy tore the wrapper off and found a blue hat, similar to the one AJ was wearing. The other boys laughed.

“That was predictable!” Howie said.

“I thought it’d look cute!” AJ said, putting it on top of Sammy’s head.

Brian adjusted it slightly. “You look like AJ now!” he chuckled.

By the time he had unwrapped every present he had some felt tip pens, another toy dog to keep Rocky company, a teddy bear, and some crayons and a colouring book from Brian. AJ’s blue hat fit the Howie’s teddy perfectly. Sammy gave all of them a hug. He felt like crying he was that happy.

“We’d better be going now,” Kevin said. “Sammy looks as if he’s ready for bed.

Sammy yawned. He didn’t want to go to bed in case he waked up to find that everything had been a dream and that in fact he was still at the children’s home.

Brian let the others out of the front door and they all gave Sammy one last hug and promised to see him again soon. When they’d gone, Sammy yawned again and curled up on one of the armchairs.

“Time for bed, I think,” Brian said, gently picking him up. he smiled slightly. “You get to see your room!”

Slowly, Brian carried him up the stairs and turned the landing light on. Sammy was carried into another room and Brian turned a lamp on.

“This is your room,” Brian said, nervously.

Sammy opened his eyes and gasped. The room had been made to look like a beach. There was a sandy coloured carpet and some of the walls had been painted to look like the beach, while others looked like the sea with frothy waves. The ceiling was sky blue and had swirls of white on it for the clouds.

“You like it?” Brian asked hopefully. He placed Sammy down.

“It’s…” Sammy was speechless. He loved it! He’d never had a room like this before! His bedroom at the home had been plain yellow. He’d always wanted a proper decorated room.

“Me and Nick did it for you,” Brian said, smiling.

Sammy gave him a hug. “Thank you!”

Brian held him for a few moments and then broke away. “I’ll get you stuff from downstairs.”

Sammy sat on his new bed while he waited. The cover was blue, like the sea. He bounced on it for a few seconds and then investigated the cupboards. They were painted a sandy colour and were empty, but there was plenty of room for all of Sammy’s things.

Brian re-entered carrying Sammy’s rucksack and his new toys. He placed all of it on the desk and handed Sammy the rucksack. “Bathroom’s next door to your room,” he said. “There’s a new toothbrush and some toothpaste in there for you.”

Sammy nodded and scampered out of the room. The bathroom was clean and the walls were white and blue. Sammy pulled on his green pyjamas and then located the brand new toothbrush on the sink. It had a crocodile on the end of it.

When Sammy returned to his room, Brian had arranged all of his new toys neatly on the desk. He smiled at Sammy. “Okay?” he asked.

“Yes,” Sammy replied.

Brian hung the rucksack on the door while Sammy clambered into his clean, new bed. Brian handed Rocky to him and then tucked in the blanket around him.

“Goodnight,” Brian said.

“Night night,” Sammy said, closing his eyes.

He heard Brian turn the lamp off and shut the door quietly behind him. He opened his eyes again, still unable to believe everything that had happened. He was tired, but he didn’t know if he would be able to sleep because he was so excited about the rest of the days that he would be able to spend with Brian.


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