Chapter 54 Loss

Lauren’s  POV

Chad, Lance, and I have a lovely lunch after playing outside this morning.  I clean the baby up and take him upstairs for a nap. I give him a quick snuggle and put him in the crib. “Sleep well, my sweet boy!”, I say to him.

I go back downstairs and help Chad clean up the kitchen.  He has already finished it all and pulls me to him and kisses me. Oh my, I love being a newlywed! Chad has been so happy since I told him about the baby this morning.  I was kinda wanting to wait a while before adding to our family, but this little surprise will be welcomed so happily.  I pull Chad up the stairs and we giggle and quietly make our way to the bedroom, I shut the door so we don’t wake Lance.

We’ve got at least 2 hours till Lance wakes up and I plan on making the most of them.  A little later, we fall asleep  and wake much later than expected.

I jump up, “Chad, it’s been 31/2 hours. Lance hasn’t woken up yet.”, I run out of the room and everything feels off balance.  The crib is empty!  Chad is already on the phone with the police.  They are on the way, then he calls Mom and Dad over.

I run in all the rooms upstairs hoping he’s just learned to crawl out of the crib and maybe hiding. “Lance, Lance, baby where are you?”, I yell. “Don’t hide from Mommy!”. He’s not anywhere upstairs, he couldn’t have made it down the steps. OH, what if he fell down the stairs. “Chad, what about the stairs? He must have fallen down the steps.  I can’t look!”, I say. “It’s ok, Lauren. I’ll go check.”, he says as he walks down the stairs.  He yells up the stairs, “Baby, he’s not down here.  He isn’t anywhere!”. I run downstairs and look around, behind the furniture, anywhere a baby could hide.  I start to go out the back door and notice something,”Chad, I locked this door when we came in this morning.  I double checked when I took Lance up stairs.  It’s unlocked, it looks like someone has messed with the lock! OH my God, It’s Moe. He’s taken my baby!”, I start to hyperventilate, I can’t breathe.  Everything goes black.

I wake up and feel disoriented.  It’s dark and I’m in bed. Oh, thank God. It was just a dream. I jump up from my bed and walk into the hall.  The crib is still empty.  I walk downstairs and see my living room filled with people. Mom comes running toward me and pulls me into her arms.  Chad is sitting on the couch with his head in his hands.  Dad is talking to some police officers.  Merri and Robin are here, so are the boys and the twins.

It wasn’t a dream. My baby is gone!  “My baby! Where is Lance? I want my baby back now!”, I scream. I collapse and pound my fists on the floor. I hear a scream from somewhere and realize it’s from me. The pain in my chest is unreal. “Bring me my baby, Please… please… Lance… Ohhhh, Lance!!”, I cry. Chad comes to me and picks me up, he sits on the couch with me on his lap.

“Shhh, baby. We’re doing everything we can.  The police have already posted the Missing Child alert. Everyone in Lucky Palms and BB is looking for him.”, he says.  I can’t do anything but sob.  Mom comes and sits next to me and hold my hand. “We will find him, Lauren. We have too!”, she says. Slowly, almost everyone leaves.  They leave a small task force and set up a station in my small living room.

They wait for a phone call from the kidnapper, but I know Moe took him. He won’t call.  He has exactly what he wants.  Mom and Dad are still here, Mom does what she does best and is in the kitchen cooking. She makes sandwiches for everyone and bakes some cookies. I know she’s just trying to stay busy.

Finally, I think to ask about the girls, “Mom, are the girls ok? He didn’t get them too, did he?”  “No, sweetheart. They are safe, the boys took them home and the police have left 2 officers stationed inside and outside.  They are fine. Would you like something to eat or drink? I’ll make you whatever you want.”, she says softly.  “No, I’m not hungry. I can’t eat anything with my baby gone.”, I cry. I’m obviously not thinking straight, I seen both girls earlier here.

For the next several hours, I just lay on the couch replaying the events of the day.  If only I had left the bedroom door open, if I’d just waited a little while longer before going upstairs.  I know I checked the back door. It was locked, wasn’t it?

Everyone keeps hovering over me and trying to get me to eat or sleep.  I refuse. I want to feel hungry, what if Lance is hungry.  I want to feel tired, what if Lance can’t sleep without me.  Suddenly, I have a thought. I run up the stairs and check his crib,”His bear and blanket are gone!” I scream.  I run back downstairs, “His diaper bag is gone too! A stranger wouldn’t bother to take his bear or blanket. This proves it’s Moe!”

The police officer comes over to me, “We documented everything that is missing, Ma’m.  We are working hard and doing everything we can to get your baby back.  We found a fingerprint on the back door knob, the print matches  this person named Moe. He has several alias’ though.  We have alerted all the surrounding towns. I promise you, we will not rest till he is found.”, he says.  I cry softly and dad comes over and  hugs me.  Chad  insists that I sit down and try to eat something.  He warms up some soup and I try to take a few bites, I immediatly feel sick and run to the bathroom to vomit.

Chad follows me and helps me back to the couch.  We sit and hold hands and wait for a phone call that I know is not coming.  I fall asleep on the couch with my head on Chad’s shoulder.  I try to stay awake, but just can’t.  I dream of my baby and holding him close.  I can smell his sweet baby smell and feel his hands on my face. I don’t want to ever wake up.

I wake up, again in my bed. Chad has got to quit doing that. I don’t want to be in here. I feel so bad, everything hurts.  I walk down the stairs and Mom walks over to me.  I feel so weak.  Mom puts her hand on my shoulder, “Lay back down Sweetheart. You need to get some rest and need to eat something.”, she says.

“I can’t! I want my baby!”, I cry.  “Lauren, you have to think about yourself and this new baby too.”, she says and places her hand on my belly.  “How did you know? I just found out and only told Chad yesterday.”, I ask.  ” A mother knows these things.  You know, I’ve been through this too.  Moe took Merri and was gone for weeks.  I know you don’t want to eat or do anything, but when we find Lance you have to be strong enough to take care of him. Just think that you are doing this for Lance. You have to stay strong for him.”, she says.  I nod my head, “Ok, I can do that.”, I say.  She sits me at the table and brings me some soup and crackers. I manage to keep some of it down.  Chad has called the doctor to the house to check me and the baby out.  He gives me a bottle of a mild sedatives to help me sleep and to help keep me calm.

Weeks pass and I couldn’t tell you what day it was or even what month.  I’ve become somewhat of a Zombie.  I eat when people put food in front of me, I drink when someone hands me a glass.  I bathe when Chad helps me to the bathroom. I just sit in the tub and relive every moment spent with my baby.

I answer questions directed to me, but can’t hold up a conversation.  The doctor has come several times to check the baby and it seems to be doing fine, even with all the stress I’m feeling. The police team is still here, they are still working nonstop on finding him. They have set up a telephone hotline and have had thousands of calls, none that pan out.  All I want to do is sleep, so I can dream of my baby again.  Every night, I dream of him and I feel happy for a little while, although the pain I feel in the morning is intense when I realize it was only a dream. I’ll take what I can get.

Chad  works with the police team day and night. I’m not sure when he sleeps or eats.  I can’t think of anything but Lance and how much I want him home.  He stays busy monitoring the phone lines, searching the computer, and talking with the police.  You would never know that Chad is not Lance’s biological father, he is suffering as much as I am. He’s always there to support me though, he is strong for me.

Robin and Merri come over every few days and try to get me to go outside, just to take a walk or anything to get me out of the house.  I decide to go out with them today.  We walk up the street and I’m exhausted by the time we get back.  It was nice to have some fresh air and get away even if was only for an hour. Dad buys me a new lounge chair to put outside.  I spend lots of time sitting outside and daydreaming of Lance.

I flip through Lance’s baby pictures and hold his toys that are here.  Sometimes, I can hear him crying. It’s been so long now, I’m sure Lance has had his birthday.  I celebrate the day by not leaving my room and crying all day.

Chad joins me in the evening and we cry as we lay and talk about how sweet Lance is and what we will do when he comes home. He tries to always be postive, never saying IF he comes home but When he comes home.

Late the next afternoon, the room starts buzzing with excitement.  They have received a call on the hotline from a girl on a secluded island several hundred miles away from Lucky Palms.

The girl has called several times and each time she gives a little more information.  Finally, they have enough to pinpoint where they are and more of the story. The girl wouldn’t give her name, but says that she met a guy online and helped him move to Sunlit Tides with his toddler son.  She says they have gotten married and she’s now pregnant with his child.  She started getting suscpicious of him after he started becoming violent towards her and seeing the news reports about Lance being kidnapped.  She thought Lance looked like the little boy.  She refused to give her name, but sent a picture of the boy.  He’s now a child, but he looks exactly like Lance.

Chad hugs me, “We are getting our boy back, I just know it!”, he says. I’m afraid to get my hopes up, but he certainly looks like Lance.

We talk the police into letting us go with them to meet her. Chad and I throw some clothes in a bag and run out the door with the police team.  On the way to the airport, the lead investigator calls the Police station in Sunlit Tides and tells him what we are planning. Chad and I hold hands as we make our way to the airport. We may have our baby back soon!

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