“What time is it?” Brown hair framed the scowl on Penny’s slightly freckled face as she sat across from him at the glass-topped table. “I’m worried about Mom and Dad.”
Joe swallowed. Tangy mustard taste lingered on his dry tongue.
“They’re probably fine,” he choked out. He dropped what was left of his bun on his plate and ran over to see if a friend peeped at them. At first, Joe’s tan face, thick mop of black hair, and frightened brown eyes reflected in the window. He leaned closer. A bald head he’d never seen before glistened. Huge eyes glared from the other side of the glass. The man’s drooping jowls jiggled as a hand tried to push the window open.
“Get out of here!” Joe yelled blood and panic pulsing through him as he flipped the blind shut and pulled his cell from his pocket. He dialed 911.
The man was now kicking the door. He motioned for Penny to follow him into their parents’ bedroom. Listening for police sirens, he mentally repeated the Shaws’ number. He slammed the door, flipped open his cell phone again, and punched. As he waited for the answer, Penny’s wet eyes, instead of her mouth, screamed for help.
“Faulkner here,” a deep voice answered.
“Mom and Pop aren’t here, and a man is banging on the door. Do you know where our parents are?” Joe’s jaw twitched.
“Pardon?” demanded Uncle Faulkner. “Slow down and run that by me again. Is this Joe? You should identify yourself!”
Joe slowly repeated, “Do you or Aunt Anna know where my parents are?”
“Haven’t heard a thing,” Faulkner said. “Answer the door. And shut your dog up while you’re trying to talk on the phone!”
“But this dude peeked in—” The dial tone buzzed.
A loud BAAAAM echoed, and Joe grabbed Penny. “Into Mom and Dad’s closet!”
Just as they closed themselves into the closet, the front door crashed open. The burglar alarm screamed. Hefley snarled.
About fifty miles away, two big hairy men shoved Darin and Rose Baker across the drawbridge into Sir Henry’s castle.
They stumbled up a wide marble-tiled stairway, hands tied behind their backs.
“We got ‘im,” said the beast who pushed Darin into the room. “But his wife was with ‘im. Couldn’t leave a witness.”
Darin’s eyes adjusted to the dimly lit room. Rose seemed to be in shock. Then he turned his gaze so he could see what his wife stared at.
It couldn’t be true!
“Untie these folks,” Kermesis told the goons.
“Kermesis! You’re involved in this? I thought when you turned the business over to Caleb—” Darin’s voice echoed in the chamber-like room.
“That I forgot you have a computer software design I want?”
“It’s mine.” Darin watched as the big thug released the bonds.
“Now listen here, Darin. I was paying you good money when you created that design.”
“I created the program at home on my own time. It’s not yours.”
“Where is it?”
Over in a corner, Darin recognized several leaders of local churches and a priest. Apparently they had been abducted, too.
“I want that software design, Darin. If you don’t tell us where it is, we’ll get your children.”
“No!” Rose screamed. Her high-pitched shrieks continued until the monster who had nabbed her in the parking lot put his pillow-sized hand over her nose and mouth. She pulled at the massive fingers as she struggled for air, her face turning red, then bluish.