Beneath Winter Sand(4)

By: Vickie McKeehan


But one night after supper, the answer came from Tina, who was packing up her suitcase to leave the Tollerson home for another more permanent foster family elsewhere.

“You keep asking about your brother, Micah. It’s been all over the television—something about a baby going missing. The cops think Micah Lambert was abducted…kidnapped.”

“It’s not true,” Hannah proclaimed. “He’s in the hospital, maybe even dead. That’s why they won’t talk about him or tell me anything.”

“You’re wrong. They won’t tell you because they screwed up. They let this lady take him out of the house and then disappear. They thought she was the social worker. These guys don’t ever like admitting they made a mistake, otherwise you’d have reason to sue their asses off. They’d have a big, fat lawsuit on their hands. They don’t want that.”

Hannah began to cry. And after Tina walked out of her life there was no one to talk to that she could trust. She began to have trouble sleeping. The nightmares came and wouldn’t leave for a long time. Whenever she asked about her baby brother someone would always change the subject. The secrecy she felt were lies that kept her angry and made her feel like she needed to do something to find him herself.

A month went by without knowing anything. One day a detective showed up to ask her questions. It soon became clear that law enforcement couldn’t locate the “social worker” who’d showed up that chaotic afternoon at the Lambert house and whisked Micah off for his hospital checkup. The police and other authorities seemed embarrassed about relinquishing a baby to a total stranger without having been shown proper credentials, a woman who had no affiliation to Child Services at all. And if the people in charge couldn’t locate the lady who’d taken the baby, it finally dawned on Hannah that they couldn’t very well tell her or anyone else where Micah had ended up.

As the weeks turned into months and the months turned into years, Hannah made a pact with herself. She’d never stop looking until she found her little brother. Not ever.

Because for Hannah, one thing was forever. After that one hideous day, she would never again get to cuddle little Micah in her arms, or put him to bed, or play with him in his crib.

It wasn’t enough that she’d lost her parents that awful day. It didn’t matter that her father had gone crazy and done something stupid. That was the official story. Robert Lambert had killed his wife and then himself. And afterward, some horrible woman had stolen Micah, taken him in broad daylight while the police watched her drive away. Even a young girl knew that was bold and daring, maybe even desperate. And it didn’t make sense.

Hannah’s world had turned upside down in a way that could never be fixed. And as Hannah fought the fear she felt over the years, she vowed she wouldn’t rest until she found out the reason why. It was the only thing that kept her going through the turmoil.

Micah Lambert was out there somewhere. And she intended to find him or die trying.





One





Present Day

Pelican Pointe, California





New Year’s Eve at The Shipwreck brought in the biggest crowd since its grand opening two weeks earlier. The pub was elbow to elbow, three deep, at the long mahogany bar and people were waiting to place their orders. From one end to the other, the main room reverberated with a lively mood that went along with the loud music. The classic rock mingled with country tunes was courtesy of the local band, Blue Skies, who’d been on stage now going on three hours.

People sat or hovered around the small tables toe-tapping and listening, or watching the fast and furious game of darts play out between Zach Dennison and Archer Gates. Others hung out near the back room, a small area with two pool tables, looking on while Fischer Robbins and Cooper Richmond squared off in a not-so-affable game of cutthroat. Losing a few bucks between friends, it seemed, was a good way to cap off the old year.

Across the room, Hannah Summers was one of two waitresses covering the entire bar, and she had her hands full. The other server was Jill Campbell’s little sister, Geniece Darrow, down from Portland who’d decided to stay on in town permanently. Both women had been slinging drinks for eight straight hours and didn’t have much time to socialize with the customers other than keeping a steady flow of drinks coming.