Kathleen Gearhart made a final stop on her errand day, leaving her two young girls asleep in the van. She returned minutes later to find the van and her daughters gone. The search for her missing children leads her on an unforgettable journey full of questions, fear, and doubt. Suspicion is around every corner, as even her husband Keith's actions are called into question. Kathleen's faith is challenged as she endures many turns of events to the dramatic conclusion.
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Excerpt from Chapter 1
1:30 p.m. - Monday, Gallipolis, OH
Jabbering. The girls finally quieted shortly after buckling themselves in at the completion of the grocery store trip. The backseat was active with talk and giggling between each stop during their busy day of errands. At least their giggles had not given way to the bickering that sometimes happened when they grew weary of the day and each other.
Just one more stop - the dry cleaners on Third Avenue. They starched Keith's shirt collars just the right way to make them stiff without becoming too scratchy. Kathleen, early in their marriage, tried to imitate the ironing job in an attempt to save money, but she was unable to do it to her husband's specifications. In her eyes, it was well worth the money and lack of emotional stress to leave the job to the professionals.
Should I wake them? No. I only need to dash in, leave the shirts, and come right back out. After all, the rain was really coming down now. If she took the girls into the store with her, they would get soaked because they would be too groggy to hurry. But, if she left them in the van, she'd have to leave it unlocked and running because she did not have another key with her. It was too hot and muggy today to leave them even briefly in a vehicle without cool air circulating.
It was a small town. they would be safe, she decided.
She pulled into the parking spot closest to the front door of McVale's Cleaners. Even from inside, she'd be able to still clearly see the van. Putting it into park, she glanced over her shoulder to see if they had begun to stir. Nothing.
Sighing in uncertainty, she grabbed the plastic bag of shirts off the front seat and scurried into the cleaners, leaving the van running.
Wanting to hurry, but not wanting to appear rude, she hoisted the bag of shirts onto the counter to encourage the man to get down to the business at hand. Kathleen positioned her body to better see both the van with her sleeping girls and Mr. Grady.
Finally, Mr. Grady pulled out his receipt pad to record the items and give them a retrieval number.
"Here you are," he said tearing the bottom portion of the tag off for her.
It couldn't be soon enough for Kathleen. "Thanks, Mr. Grady," she called over her shoulder as she dashed into the pouring rain toward her van and sleeping children.
The streaming water pelted her face, blurring the view in front of her. To her amazement, there was nothing before her. Her van and children were nowhere to be found.