“Honey, where’s Kristi?” Brad glanced up from the paper he was reading.
Amy poured a cup of coffee and glanced at her cell phone as it vibrated, “Um, I think she stayed over at Donna’s to go over her lines for the play.”
Just then, the living room phone rang. They looked at each other in surprise. No one ever called that phone. Amy strode over to look at the caller ID. “It’s not anybody that I know. Let the machine get it.”
The machine kicked on and the caller started to leave a message in a heavy Irish brogue. “I have your lassie. I’ll be callin’ back with me demands. Don’t be after gettin’ the coppers involved.”
The silence in the room was deafening as they just sat there frozen, not knowing what to say or do.
The paper dropped from his lifeless fingers. “We have to call the police; our daughter’s been kidnapped!”
Amy raced over, grabbing his hand away from the phone. “No. You heard what he said. We can’t call the police, he might harm her. Let’s wait until he calls back, so we know what he wants.“
Together they sat on the couch in the living room, holding hands, waiting.
Brad hung his head. “I’m an awful father. I didn’t even realize that she was in a play. I’ve been so wrapped up in work, that I hardly ever see her.”
He took in a deep breath and exhaled. “Now, some madman has kidnapped her and is doing God knows what to her.”
Amy squeezed his hand. “Brad, don’t beat yourself up. Both of us have been pretty self-absorbed parents. We’re just trying to make a good life for her, so she doesn’t want for anything.”
Twisting his hand away from hers, he punched the couch. “But, above all, we should’ve been protecting her from monsters like that.”
She got a distant look in her eyes and sighed. “Remember the time she was a lamb in the Christmas play at church. All she had to do was say ‘bah-bah’, instead she decided she was going to sing happy birthday to Jesus!”
Brad jumped up and strode across the floor, running his hand through his hair. “That’s just my point. I wasn’t there. I watched it on video later.”
He covered his face with his hands. “What kind of father am I? Always at work, never around when my precious daughter needs me!”
Amy scooted off the couch, reached up to pull his hands away from his tear- streaked face and searched his eyes. “Sweetheart, I haven’t exactly been ‘mother of the year’. We’re both at fault here. If---no--when we get her back, we need to make some changes. Like making our family a priority and showing her we love her.”
Brad nodded in agreement. “The first thing we can do together is pray for our little girl.”
They held each other’s hands and bowed their heads. “Heavenly Father, we know that we’ve messed up at being the kind of parents that you’ve called us to be. Now, our daughter has been snatched by a madman. Please, Lord, protect her and bring her back to us safely, so that we can have another chance.”
A small voice from across the room penetrated their prayer, “Mommy, Daddy?”
Their heads snapped up to see Kristi, with tears streaming down her cheeks standing at the bottom of the steps.
"Where did you come from?” They questioned in unison.
“I, um, was upstairs. I was watching on the webcam I set up.” Kristi wiped away the tears.
“I’m sorry, I was mad because of your lack of enthusiasm about my part in the play. I didn’t think you would even care if I was gone.” Kristi looked down and shuffled her feet back and forth.
Her Dad stepped toe to toe with her and pushed her chin up with his hand until he could look into her eyes. “Okay, we get that you were feeling neglected, and rightfully so. But who was the guy with the Irish accent?”
“Oh, I got that off YouTube, and I borrowed a friend’s cellphone to make the call. Pretty convincing, eh?”
Shaking his finger in her face, he spoke in his sternest Daddy-voice. “Young lady, we’ll have to come up with a punishment for this escapade.”
He ended with a pitiful attempt at an Irish accent. “But wee lassie, no more shenanigans, don’t you know
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