Chapter 1, Section 1

Homebred: Chapter 1, Section 1

“Daddy! It’s me, Katie! Come get me!”

Anna McAllister held the phone a tad bit away from her ear. “Honey, you have the wrong number.”  The sniffles of a child and music in the background beat into her ear?  “Hang up and call your daddy.”

“I don’t have any more money.”

The cries grew louder. “I’ll tell you what.  You give me the number, and I’ll call him for you.

“It is . . . 555-2897.”  The line went dead.

Anna hung up and repeated the number as she dialed.   The father would know where he’d left his child, she reasoned, punching in the last digit.

The phone rang and rang. Finally a man answered. “Agnes Tillman residence, may I help you?”

The low baritone voice sent slow warmth through her.  For a moment, she forgot she was standing in her den, gripping the phone.  Clearing her throat, she searched for words.  “Uh, yes . . . sir, your daughter called me by mistake.  She wants you to pick her up.”

She repeated, “Sir, did you hear me?”

“I heard you, lady.  My child has been gone for over a year.  The police think she’s de-a-d.”  The catch in his voice vibrated into the receiver.

Anna glanced at her watch.  “I’m sorry, mister. I didn’t mean to upset you.  I thought I was helping. I have to go.”

“Wait! Tell me about the call.  Did she give you an address?”

“She said, Daddy! It’s me, Katie! Come get me!  The only other thing she said was that she didn’t have any more money. There was music in the background.  As soon as she gave me your number, she hung up.  I wish I could help more, but I’ve got to go.”

“Please, don’t hang up!  My little girl’s name was Katie.”

The panic in his voice stopped Anna. “Sir, I don’t know what else I can tell you.”

“Tell me who you are?”

Anna McAllister, the Prosecuting Attorney here in Ranklin.”

“Who’re you?”

“My name is Steve Morris and my little girl was kidnapped over a year ago.  It could’ve been her.”

“And it could’ve been just another one with the same name.  Maybe she gave me your number by mistake.  It stands to reason if she was so unsure the first time, she could’ve gotten it wrong the second time.”

“Ms. McAllister, since you’re the prosecuting attorney,   you might be able to help me. Could we meet?”

Anna glanced at her watch.  “It’s Saturday, but I could met you at my office in forty-five minutes.  The address is 1070 Rutland Street.”

“I’ll be there.”

She dropped the receiver in its cradle and ran her fingers through her short auburn curls.  That voice, so sad, had stirred something in her that had never happened in her thirty years.

Tune in next Tuesday for the next episode of Homebred!

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