Years ago, I was sitting on the beach with my son who was six at the time. We were enjoying the sand, the waves, and the warm sunshine. A very observant child, my son was the first to notice the little girl who was walking all alone, lost and frightened. That day ended happily, I’m very relieved to say, and we were able to help the girl find her parents. But the experience made the writer in me begin to wonder, “What if?” What if I witnessed someone try to abduct a child from the beach? What would I do? Would I have the courage to act? These questions spurred the opening scene of TAKE ME, I’M YOURS, my contribution to the HEARTS AND KISSES boxed set.
Sunlight reflected on the ocean, turning the undulating surface of the water a glittering electric blue. The single puffy cloud hovering high overhead was too small to mar the cerulean sky. A flock of gulls soared and swooped in the air while a family of sandpipers dodged the shallow, rhythmic waves in search of tasty crustaceans living beneath the wet sand. Salt tinged the breeze that fluttered through the newly sprouted grass, setting it dancing on the dunes.
Lainey Adams closed her eyes, lifted her face toward warm sunshine, and dug her toes into the silky sand. Nothing could spoil this perfect day.
Brian's shout jerked her to attention.
Her six-year-old son ran toward her, frantically gesturing. "That little girl is lost."
Lainey shaded her eyes from the sun and gazed down the beach where Brian pointed. Sure enough, a child ambled along the water's edge, her long, blond hair tangled by the wind. She was small, a couple of years younger than Brian, by Lainey's estimation.
Tourist season in Ocean City, Maryland wouldn't officially begin for weeks yet when Memorial Day would attract the snow-birds, the vacationers, and day-trippers to the seashore like a magnet to steel. Today, the beach was relatively bare of people, save for the few sun-worshipers enjoying the unusually warm spring day.
"Honey, there's a family right up there," Lainey told her son. Brian was such a worrier. "I'm certain that little girl belongs with them and she's simply walked too far away, is all."
Brian's tiny frown grew as it planted itself firmly between his brows. "Nope. She's lost," he stated emphatically. "I've been watchin' her. She passed that family. And they didn't even look at her. Yes, sir-ree!" His little head bobbed up and down. "She is lost!"
Lainey tried not to grin at his insistent tone of voice. She was just about to suggest that they ask the girl if they could help her when Lainey caught sight of a man running from the direction of the street. He called out to the little girl, but whatever he said was carried away by the salty breeze.
"There," Lainey said. "There's her daddy. She's okay now. You can relax." She patted his arm and was about to turn her gaze back to the blue horizon, but something in the pit of her gut kept her from it. Something she couldn't name.
Brian's eyes remained riveted to the girl. "That's not her daddy."
Donna Fasano is a USA Today bestselling author who has written over 30 romance and women’s fiction novels. Learn more about her on her blog, or connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. She loves to hear from readers! Donna’s latest release is FOLLOWING HIS HEART, book 1 of The Ocean City Boardwalk series available in paperback, and for Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and iBook.