“So when will Terry and Larry get here?” Hallie asked Bobby as she took a mixing bowl from the cabinet.
“In a little bit.” He hesitated for a moment before adding, “Thanks for saying they could come over.”
“No problem,” she assured him with a smile. “I hope they like vegetable soup!”
“Oh, yeah, they’ll eat anything. They’re a lot like Mart that way.” Bobby grinned, but the mischievous expression did little to hide the worry and disappointment in his eyes. He took a deep breath. “Can I ask you something?”
She chuckled. “No, you can’t have any more cake right now!”
“No, it’s not that.” Bobby shook his head. “Hallie, do you think Trixie’s going to be all right?”
“Yes, she will,” she answered immediately. “She’s just got a lot on her mind right now, but she’ll be back to her old self before you know it!”
“I hope so,” he spoke quietly, his shaking voice betraying his fear. “But what if she’s not? What if something happens to her?”
Hallie put down the eggs she was holding and put her arm around her young cousin’s shoulders. “Bobby, nothing’s going to happen to Trixie. With everything she’s been through lately, I’d be more worried if she wasn’t having nightmares.”
“It’s not that, Hallie!” Bobby protested, pulling away from her. He wiped his eyes with the backs of his hands.
“Then what is it, Bobby?” she asked softly. “You know you can tell me.”
“What if…?” He swallowed hard trying to get past the lump in his throat. “What if something happens when the baby’s born? What if she dies, Hallie?”
She again put her arm around his shoulders. “Listen to me, Bobby. Your sister is a strong woman, and she’s already had two children with absolutely no problems. I promise you that she will be all right.”
“But Moms said…,” he stopped abruptly.
“What did your mother say?” Hallie asked, striving to keep her voice neutral.
He hesitated, but then spoke in a rush. “I wasn’t supposed to be listening, but I heard her talking to Aunt Eleanor, and she said that Trixie almost died when Bekah was born.”
“No, Bobby, that’s not quite what happened” Hallie quickly assured him. “Has Trixie ever told you the story of that night?”
He shook his head. “No.”
“Then I’ll let her tell you the whole story, but yes, Rebekah was born at home during a blizzard. You knew that much, right?”
He nodded. “That’s what Moms told your mother.”
“There was never any danger, Bobby. Dr. Ferris wouldn’t even take her to the hospital the next morning. That’s how well it went.”
He smiled then. “Do you really think she’ll be all right?”
“Yes,” Hallie answered, returning his smile. “I know she will.”
“Thanks, Hallie.” He quickly hugged her. “Want me to go see if Bekah and Billy are awake yet?”
“Please? Maybe you could read to them for a while if they are.”
“Okay.” He suddenly grinned. “Maybe I’ll have time to read them Peter Rabbit before Trixie and Regan get back. Bekah loves it, but for some reason, Trixie hates that book!”
“I wonder why?” Hallie mused aloud as she turned on the radio.
Bobby shrugged innocently, although he was pretty certain of the cause of Trixie’s dislike of Peter Rabbit. He left the room, shaking his head in disgust as his cousin started singing along with Anne Murray. “Could I have this dance for the rest of my life? Yuck!”
Suddenly, he heard something over her singing, a noise that sounded like footsteps on the back porch. Knowing that it was still too early to expect the twins, he turned around and went back into the kitchen, astonished to see a man’s face peering in the window.
His heart beating wildly, he tried to act calm as he said, “Hallie? I need you to come help me with Bekah.”
“What’s wrong, Bobby? Can it wait until I can turn loose?”
“No, it can’t,” he said, hoping against hope that the man wouldn’t notice that he’d been seen. “I really need you to check on her for me!”
“All right,” she said, her brow furrowed as she put the spoon down. “I’m coming.”
He managed to wait until she was in the hallway before whispering, “I think someone’s trying to break in!”
“What? What are you talking about?”
“I heard something on the porch, so I turned around to see what it was, and there was a man watching you through the kitchen window!”
Hallie paled, but kept walking toward the little girl’s room. “Come on, let’s make sure they’re all right.”
Bobby followed her, feeling like his heart would stop when he heard the front door creak open. Heavy footsteps sounded in the living room, and a gruff voice called out, “Anyone home?”
Very softly, Hallie whispered, “Get the kids, Bobby, as quietly as you can. Try to get through the basement and make a run for it.”
Trying to sound braver than he really felt, he shook his head. “You take them, Hallie. I’ll try to distract him.”
“No!” she hissed, grabbing a pacifier and doll from the dresser and shoving them at Bobby. “He’s already seen me, remember? I’ll be right behind you, but hurry!”
He nodded gravely, wondering yet again how Trixie had managed to survive several kidnappings. He was terrified just knowing someone was in the house! Still, he managed to pick up Rebekah, thankful that the Bert doll was keeping her quiet.
Somehow, they made it to the basement door with both children while the intruder stalked through the living room and kitchen. To their dismay, they heard him entering the hallway right as Hallie handed Billy to Bobby. She quickly shut the door, leaving Bobby alone with his niece and nephew.
Rebekah looked up at Bobby, and he realized she was about to start crying. He gently brushed her forehead with a kiss, and whispered, “We’re going to play a game, you two. We’re going to see who can be the quietest until we get to Uncle Andrew’s house. Bekah, think you can do it?”
She nodded, her blue eyes wide as she clutched her toy. Billy nodded as well, although the pacifier was firmly in his mouth. Bobby whispered again. “Remember, shh! No noise at all!”
“Well, what have we here?” the intruder spoke as he found Hallie standing in front of the basement door. “Who else is in the house?”
“No one,” Hallie lied smoothly, and Bobby felt guilty as he breathed a sigh of relief. He couldn’t believe that he was actually going to leave her alone, but he realized that the sooner he could get help the better off she would be.
“Are you sure of that?” Bobby heard as he quickly walked down the steps.
“What do you want?” Hallie snapped.
“My life back? The fortune that should have been mine? But I’ll settle for the brats I know are in here.”
“I’m telling you there’s no one else here,” she insisted as Bobby reached the outside door. He set Rebekah down long enough to unlock and open it, then quickly picked her back up and started running.
He had no idea where he should go, but he realized that his first impulse to run to his Uncle Andrew’s house was too risky. So he decided to stick to the edge of the woods – close enough to see help approaching, but still far enough so that he could dart deep into the game preserve if necessary.
To Bobby, it felt like years, but it was only a matter of minutes before he spotted the Lynch limousine creeping up the road. He clutched both children even tighter to him, and with tears in his eyes, he stepped out on the side of the road. “Wave your arms, Bekah, I’ve got you!”
“I’ll fall, Bobby!” she protested, forgetting about the “game” of silence.
“No you won’t, Bekah,” he assured her. “I’m holding you.”
Slowly, she began to wave her arms in the air, with Billy following suit. Bobby didn’t even care what a sight they made as the car stopped and Larry threw open the door. He ran over, thrusting first Billy and then Rebekah into Larry and Terry’s laps. “Harrison! You’ve got to take us to the police station!”
The butler looked at him with askance, but Bobby insisted. “Someone broke in the house, and Hallie’s still in there!”
Without another word, Harrison carefully turned the car around and headed back towards Sleepyside. The twins insisted on knowing what was going on, but Bobby found himself unable to answer as he realized that while his ordeal may have seemed over, Hallie’s certainly wasn’t.
Back at the house…
“I’m telling you there’s no one else here,” Hallie insisted, praying that Bobby had managed to get away with the children.
“I don’t quite seem able to believe that,” he replied, his eyes glinting dangerously. “Especially since I’ve been watching the house for quite some time now and Trixiewas alone with the redhead when they left here this afternoon.”
Hallie couldn’t help but notice the way he almost spat her cousin’s name. “Well, they’re not here,” she repeated. “And even if they were, what are they to you?”
To her horror, he drew a gun from a pocket on his faded jacket. “Mrs. Regan and Miss Wheeler cost me a fortune a few years ago. In a way, it’s too bad that she didn’t marry into the Frayne fortune, but I still think they can be persuaded to come up with some ransom money, don’t you?”
“So you’re after revenge? Is that it?” Hallie asked, trying desperately to appear that she hadn’t noticed the gun he had trained on her chest.
“Not quite,” he answered, taking a step towards her. She realized too late the danger of shielding the basement door as she found herself unable to get away from him. “You see, revenge and forty cents will still get you only a pack of gum these days. I’m after what is rightfully mine. Meiser protected that miser as if it were his child, and it has made him a rich man. Those girls took that away from me, so now I’m taking her children, and they will make me a rich man. Vengeance, not revenge.”
He had lowered the gun as he approached, and suddenly he had his fingers in her hair. She began to struggle against him, and his light touch became a painful hold as he caressed her cheek with the point of the gun. “On second thought, you may serve just as well.”
She fought against a wave of nausea, trying desperately to blot out the horrifying feel of his hands on her body, his mouth roughly plundering hers. Suddenly, he stopped, holding the gun against her temple as he pulled her through the house. Petrified, she stumbled as they crossed the threshold into the kitchen.
He angrily jerked her back to her feet, stopping only long enough to toss a pink paper from his pocket on the table before he dragged her out the back door and through the yard. With his hand tightly over her mouth, she was unable to call for the help she so desperately needed. “Oh, Dan! Will I ever see you again?” she thought in despair, mercifully blacking out as her captor tossed her in the back of an old dirty green van.
At the Police Station…
The limousine pulled to a stop in the parking lot of the police station, and Bobby sighed with relief as he recognized Sergeant Molinson stepping out of a squad car. He quickly handed Billy back to Larry, and with a quick reminder to watch them, he jumped out of the car. “Sergeant!”
The policeman whirled around. “Is something wrong?”
“Yes!” Bobby insisted, completely unaware of how much he resembled his sister in that moment. “You’ve got to come! Someone broke into our house, and Hallie helped me get the kids out, but she couldn’t get out, and he caught her, and I don’t know what’s happened to her!”
“Slow down, Bobby!” Sgt. Molinson snapped. “You’re telling me someone entered your house?”
He nodded, and the tears he had fought so valiantly to hold back began to course down his cheeks. “And Hallie couldn’t get out.”
“Did you see anything else? Do you know who he was?”
“No.” He shook his head. “I’d seen him looking in the window, and told Hallie. She made me take Bekah and Billy and run. Terry and Larry were on their way over, and Harrison stopped when he saw me on the side of the road.”
“All right, Bobby,” Sgt. Molinson spoke calmly. “Do you think you were seen getting in the Lynch’s car?”
“I don’t think so,” he answered doubtfully, glancing at Harrison who was walking towards them.
The sergeant turned to the older man. “Will you take responsibility for the youngsters until this is straightened out?”
“Yes, sir,” the butler agreed. “They should be safe enough at the Lynch estate.”
“No!” Bobby protested to the policeman. “I need to go back with you! I can help!”
“Bobby,” Sergeant Molinson spoke softly, laying a hand on the teenager’s shoulder. “Right now, you have two very frightened children in that car waiting for you. They need you right now.”
Bobby swallowed hard, seeing again the fright in Rebekah’s blue eyes and the confusion on Billy’s face during their trek through the woods and remembering Hallie’s words as she had entrusted him with their care. He nodded slowly. “Please take care of Hallie, Sergeant!”
“I will, son,” Sergeant Molinson assured him. He sprinted into the police station, returning with two uniformed men before Bobby and Harrison even made it back to the limousine.
Safely inside the car, holding tight to his niece and nephew, Bobby made no apologies as the sobs finally wracked his body.
Go on to the Conclusion