“I’m bored, Mommy.” Megan shoved her hands deep into her pant pockets, twisting from side to side.
“Daddy wants to buy a barbeque.” Sandy flipped her daughter’s pigtails. “So Mommy’s buying a new dress.”
“I don’t want to,” she whined, her lower lip protruding.
“Behave!” Sandy grabbed a yellow, pastel sundress and examined the bodice.
“She’s adorable. How old is she?” A tall blonde woman thumbed through the rack.
“Three and a half.” She scrutinized the floral pattern and design. “Maybe the green would be better.” She rummaged around, retrieving a pale green outfit.
“I like that cut, it helps hide my hips.” The lady laughed. “And the cute flowers. I bought one just like it the other day.” The stranger moved to another display.
“They’re cute, and on sale, too.” Sandy turned toward a mirror and held the dresses in front of her, alternating between the green and the yellow. “What more could I ask for?” She draped them over her forearm. “C’mon, Megan. Mommy needs to try these on.” She turned around. “Megan? Are you hiding, silly?”
Sandy walked amongst the clothing, searching. “Megan, this isn’t funny.” Distress wavered in her voice. “You better come here right now.”
“Is something wrong?” An elderly worker approached, smoothing her purple vest. “My name’s Tess.”
“My daughter was just here.” Sandy’s voice trembled. “I can’t find her.”
“Follow me.” Tess walked a short distance and pointed. “Tell that gentleman in the vest. That’s the manager, Bob.”
Sandy sprinted over and tapped the man on his arm. “My daughter’s missing.”
“What?” Bob turned to her, his eyes wide.
“My daughter’s gone.” Her voice near hysterical. “I was looking at the dresses over there and…” She gasped. “That blonde lady took my baby.”
“What is she wearing?” he asked.
“Oh my.” She ran her fingers through her curly brown hair. “A white milk-maid top with ruffled sleeves, and pink pedal pushers.” She released a nervous sigh. “Oh, and her hair was pulled in pig tails, tied with pink ribbons.”
“What color hair?”
“Blonde.” Her voice cracked.
“Code red. Lockdown,” the manager barked into his walkie-talkie. “Young girl, pink pants, white shirt and blonde hair in pig tails. Possibly with a blonde haired lady.”
A commotion spread through the store.
“We’ll try and find your child.” Bob’s voice remained calm. “Describe the other woman.”
“She was talking to me about the dresses.” Tears dragged streaks of mascara down her cheeks. “She must’ve waited ‘til I wasn’t looking and took my Megan.”
“Try and stay calm ma’am. What do you remember?”
“She was tall, blonde, ummm, wearing a blue outfit.” She shook her head. “Maybe it was black. Oh, please…”
“Sandy?” A familiar voice called from behind her. “What’s going on?”
“Dave, I’m so sorry.” Sandy fell into her husband’s arms.
“You both stay here.” Bob gestured toward the couple. “I’ll be back.” He turned and jogged away.
“Megan’s missing.” She sobbed without control.
“What?” Dave stepped back. “How could you let this happen?”
“I was looking at a dress. My back wasn’t turned…”
“A dress?” he bellowed. “You need another dress? What were you thinking?”
“This isn’t the time for this,” Tess interrupted. “You should be supporting each other.”
“And what are we supposed to do?” Dave snapped.
“You could pray.” Tess reached toward Sandy. “Hold my hand.”
“I haven’t been to church in years.” Sandy shied away.
“God will still listen.” Tess grasped Sandy’s trembling palm.
Dave rolled his eyes. “What can it help?”
“What can it hurt?” Tess queried
Sandy clutched her husband’s hand. “Do it for Megan…Please.”
Dave took Tess’ hand.
“Our Heavenly Father.” Tess’ quiet voice rang clear. “Please ease these precious souls. Bless them with your grace and deliver their beloved Megan unharmed.”
“I found her.” A voice chimed in the distance.
Dave and Sandy ran toward the call.
Bob walked toward them, hoisting Megan in his arms.
“Mommy,” the young girl whimpered.
“She was asleep under a clearance rack of coats.” Bob grinned.
“Baby.” Sandy retrieved her daughter from the manager. “You gave Mommy a scare.”
Dave embraced his wife and daughter. “Thank you.”
“I’m sorry to put you through this.” Sandy dried her eyes.
“I’m happy it turned out well,” Bob replied.
“If it weren’t for your employee, I don’t know what we would’ve done.” She kissed her daughter. “Tess is truly an angel.”
Bob gave a quizzical look. “We don’t have an employee named Tess.”
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