The blaring of alarms woke Hannah Connelly from a dream that scattered into pieces as soon as her eyes opened. It wasn’t the alarm to wake her up for school, though. She knew that almost instantly. It wasn’t coming from the clock beside her bed but deeper in the house. It didn’t go off too often, but it frightened her whenever it did.
“Just a false alarm,” she said, repeating what her father said was always the case every other time it went off. But, Uncle Casey had been really worried lately. And he’d brought that woman, Emelyn, with him. They seemed to yell at each other all the time.
What if it was different this time?
The tone of the alarm changed as it continued to go off, and she let out a little cry. She put her hands over her ears then called for her mother. “Shut it off, Daddy. Please, shut it off,” she whispered, burying her face in her pillow.
Then, the bed sank beside her and a soft hand ran over her back. “Hannah, it’s okay. You’re okay.”
Not her mom. The voice wasn’t right. It had to be Emelyn then. Hannah had liked the woman, except for when she’d yelled at Uncle Casey. She didn’t like that at all. But, she’d gotten down with Hannah to play with the new puppies the other day, and she’d been really nice. But, she still wasn’t her mother.
“I want my mommy.” she sobbed.
“It’s okay,” Emelyn said again, but it didn’t calm her down any more this time. “Casey and your dad went out to check what’s going on. I’m sure it will all be fine.”
Her mom was a deep sleeper. She said it all the time. That’s why she wasn’t coming. Emelyn shifted on the bed, but she didn’t get up. She kept her hand on Hannah’s back, stroking her until she started to drift back to sleep. “I’m sure your mom will come.”
But, she never did.
“I stayed with Hannah until the two of them came in, then Alex came in and said Sarah was missing.”
Hannah had woken up disoriented and alone in her parents’ bed. She’d walked out into the living room but had heard Uncle Casey, Emelyn, and another man speaking. She hadn’t meant to eavesdrop. She just wanted to find her mom. But, what they’d said…
“Mom’s missing?” she asked, stepping into the kitchen.
Uncle Casey turned toward her. “Han-” he started to say, his dark blue eyes looking so sad. Like they did when she overheard him and her dad talking about someone named Marie. The adults exchanged a glance. She might only be six, but even she noticed it.
“What’s going on, Uncle Casey? Where’s my mommy? Daddy?” she asked again.
“I’m right here, Hannah.” She spun around and saw her dad standing in the doorway. She ran straight into his arms, tears streaming down her cheeks. “Where’s Mommy? They said she’s missing. Where’d she go?”
She sobbed harder, and didn’t hear what her father said next, but she felt the words rumble through his chest as he held her tight. Then, he was turning away with her, picking her up and carrying her out of the room. He didn’t let her down until they were in her room. “Did you hear what I said, Hannah?”
She shook her head but still clung to him. “We’re going to find your mom, Hannah. I promise you. Whatever it takes, I’ll get her back.”
“Where is she?”
“I don’t know, sweetheart. But-” His voice broke off, and she looked up at him. Tears were running down his face as well. That made her tears fall harder. He just held her tighter until she fell asleep once more.
Note: This scene takes place about half way through Guarding the Heart. Alex’s wife is abducted by mistake(was supposed to be Emelyn). We only see that from Emelyn & Casey’s POV, though. I did change some of the dialogue from the original, because as read over that, I realized it didn’t seem like something a six year old would say, especially one who is frightened. This felt more true.