Mac is only beginning to accept and live with the results from a lightning strike; a feathered scar around her ankle and the sudden ability to hear a voice-the voice of a killer.
Added to that are the stories of Fairy Kisses, a budding romance, new friends, a mystical kitten and the excitement of the Christmas holidays.
And now she suddenly hears two voices; one filled with love and the other filled with fear.
With the kidnapping of little Tommy, in broad daylight at a beach-side playground, Mac realizes who the fearful voice belongs to.
But who belongs to the second voice; kidnapper or protector?
All clues lead to the waterfront as Mac and her boyfriend Peter race with the others to find the missing boy before it's too late.
Old friends are reunited, secrets revealed and Mac wonders if she isn't the only one to sense the mystic forces leading them to Tommy.
A mystery for the holidays! Get your copy now to find out what happens.
Release date: November 1, 2018
Publisher: Sun, Sand & Stories Publishing
Print pages: 150
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Victoria LK Williams
The sound of children’s laughter, mixed with their squeals of delight as they played in the surf, drew my attention away from the boring meeting I was conducting.
The subject of the meeting wasn't boring, it was the participants. They were so stuck in their same routine, I could almost quote verbatim what would be said next. The pretty, auburn-haired woman to my right noticed my lack of attention and gave me a sharp kick under the table. I looked back to her, and she winked at me and made a circle motion indicating the women around the table needed to have my attention. Moira was right, and they would get it, but not in a way I think they were expecting.
Getting to my feet, I stood and looked at the surrounding women that ranged from the mature well-dressed club member to the more casually dressed woman that was closer to my own age. I interrupted one of the committee members as she recited the same old details once again.
"Ladies, I understand that you need to go over this information, but I think we forgot the reason for this meeting. We need to plan this Christmas party for the children, and we need to make it outstanding. Do we really want to do the same old thing that we provide every year? These kids deserve better and it’s up to us to provide it."
There was a moment of astounded silence and I knew I had offended some older committee members. They had been putting this yearly party together for years and knew exactly what needed to be done. And, I was sure that they thought that if it was acceptable to them, then why wouldn’t it be the same for me? Some of the younger and more newer members, with children of their own, surprised me by clapping and nodding their heads vehemently in agreement
I thought the moment of silence from the older members would go on forever but was surprised, and very pleased when its oldest member stood up and reached for my hand. Shaking it vigorously, her words surprised me even more.
"Mac, you're absolutely right, it's time we shake things up. We've gotten too stuck in our ways, ladies. I, for one, think that this should be turned over to the younger women and the women who still have children and can understand the changes that are going on in our children's lives. Most of us that are beyond the grandparent's stage, and into great-great-grandparents stages, cannot quite comprehend these fast-moving changes."
"Mrs. Rock, please don't think we want to dismiss your experience and input. I just think we need to make it more about the children, and less for the glory of the committee,” I said.
Mrs. Rock looked at me and laughed before answering.
"Mac, I will happily turn this over to you younger women. The rest of us will be here in the background to offer any support and financial aid that your committee will need." Turning to look at the other women at the table, who were over the age of sixty-five, she shook her finger at them before continuing. "Ladies, that means the rest of us will be quiet during these meetings, involving ourselves only when we're asked, or when we feel it is absolutely necessary."
Mrs. Rock was a formidable force and she controlled the committee better than anyone else in the room. The other women knew not to cross her, and if this is what she deemed appropriate, then this is what would happen. I could see a few of the older women were put off and wanted to argue, but they knew better. Instead, they followed Mrs. Rock when she suggested they go to the clubhouse bar and enjoy an afternoon drink, leaving the dirty work, as she called it, to us younger women.
Those of us left at the table looked at each other in amazement, a few with their mouths hanging open. Then one young mother next to me gave a weak laugh.
"You're now my hero, Mac. I would never have the nerve to talk to Mrs. Rock like that, but you said exactly what they needed to hear." Making a show of pushing up the sleeves of her long-sleeved, lightweight sweater, she proclaimed that it was time to get to work.
To be honest, I had to admit, my knees were shaking slightly as I sat back down in my chair. My closest friend, who had given me the none too gentle kick under the table, smiled at me, her green eyes crinkling in the corners, pleased at the way the meeting turned.
From down the beach, there was a loud shout from the children and then a game of tag was on. I use them as a perfect example, pointing to the kids as we sat there.
"Now that we've stuck our necks out, let's get to work and make this something special. Every one of those kids needs to enjoy Christmas as much as we did when we were their age without the worries of where their next meal comes from, or how hard their parents are working. Let's let them be kids for at least one afternoon. So, ladies, do we throw out the old agenda and start anew?"
There was a resounding cry of yes and I made a show of ripping up the paper in front of me and pulling out a blank sheet of paper ready to write the thoughts and ideas that were sure to be generated.
From that point on, the normally demure meeting turned into a lively exchange of ideas and laughter. I caught the eye of more than one of the country club patrons looking at us and wondered if they would approve. I hated to admit it, but it didn't matter if they did or not. I was on the board of enough charities in town, as well as the country club itself. I knew I had more power and that they would not cross me; not that I wanted to lord over the women, but my family had more money than most of the women in this room and I kept it quiet not wanting to let others know. My primary job was to raise money to help the less fortunate in our community. And there were plenty in the small southern town sitting along the Florida coast, just a tad south of Palm Beach.
The six women who had remained at the table with me spent the next half hour brainstorming, and by the time we were finished, we had a very impressive list of work ahead of us. As we pushed our chairs away from the table, Peggy Lewis, the young mother who called me her hero, pointed out the window to the beach below.
"Mac, I think it's a great idea to take the party and hold it down at the playground on the beach. Personally, I think having it up here at the country club by the pool is a little intimidating for some of these kids. Why not let them play at the beach and have fun?"
Several other women joined in and agreed with Peggy. Then one of the other women, Kayla Jones, chimed in that she needed to get down to the beach area and relieve her teenage daughter of babysitting duties.
"My daughter is great about helping the other mothers with the younger kids, but even she has her limits. And, spending a couple of hours at the beach with these rambunctious kids is testing her limits. Babysitting money is great, but she needs to have time to be with her friends. If you all don't mind, why don't we walk down to the beach and look at the playground from the logistic side, so that we can have a better idea of what we're up against?"
We all agreed with Kayla’s suggestion. The six of us packed up our notebooks and tote bags and followed Kayla out the side door and down the private pathway to the beach. Here the laughter of children was even louder than it had been through the open windows of the country club. It was hard not to smile along with them, as even the youngest ones got involved in running out to the waves and running back in, trying not to get wet. It was a long-standing game every child that comes to beach plays. And when the child loses they erupt with squeals of laughter as the cold salty water splashes up against their legs.
We headed over to the playground area and I saw Kayla signal her daughter that she could go. Blowing her mother a kiss, the teenager left quickly, not wanting to take the chance of her mother changing her mind. As we wandered across the playground, it was easy to see that we would have plenty of space to set up both tables and games for the kids. I was pleased with the decision we made. As we talked, one by one the families left to go home. Finally, it was just Moira and me sitting on a bench, watching the few remaining kids play.
I don't know when the wind picked up, but I noticed that the sky was getting dimmer as clouds raced across and covered the bright sun. The other mothers gathering their kids and supplies getting ready to leave before the afternoon rain started. But not everybody was leaving, there were still a few taking the chances of letting the kids play. And I knew why. A child who played on the beach all day would go home tired and be sure to take a good nap. Moira and I were just getting ready to leave when the first bolt of lightning raced across the sky. That was the signal for everyone to leave, and there was a mad dash for the parking area and the country club, as people left.
But, as we started to walk across the playground to head back up the pathway to the country club, a closer bolt of lightning flashed and I felt a sensation in my ankle that I hadn't felt in months. I'd almost forgotten what it was like and I gasped out loud. A moment later I heard the voice of a young woman. There was so much love and pride in her voice that it stunned me.
"He’s my little boy. Oh, I'm going to love you so much."
As quickly as I had tensed up, I felt relief. There was no menacing meaning to the voice. No hidden undertones. Only the pure love of a mother. Silently, I scolded myself; maybe not every voice that I alone could hear had an alternative or evil meaning.
I had no time to think about the voice; the storm clouds were gathering. A real threat of rain hung heavy in the air, and the last of the parents were gathering their children and all their beach toys and towels to make a hurried exit to safety.
The raindrops were starting when one mother from my committee, Peggy Lewis, came up. By her side was another mother in obvious distress. Before anyone could say a word, the mother blurted out, "Has anybody seen my little boy, Tommy? He has red hair and lots of freckles. He was wearing—oh God, what was he wearing?"
Moira took over the situation; her instincts as a healer kicking in. She could see the woman was hyperventilating and in panic mode. Using her soft voice, Moira calmed the woman down and I think she deliberately let her Scottish brogue be heard. It always calmed me down, I knew.
"Okay, it's all right. Take a deep breath, that's it. I’m Moira and this is Mackenzie. Now, tell us about Tommy. Think about what he was wearing and where you last saw him. Was he with other kids?"
Between Moira's soft voice and common-sense questions, the woman quickly calmed down enough to answer.
"Sorry, I’m Renée Clifton. Tommy's four years old and he loves everybody. I have to keep my eye on him constantly because he wanders off to meet new friends. That's why I bring him here to the country club beach where I know everyone. Now, nobody’s seen him." Taking a deep breath she looked around frantically, hoping to see her young son, but there were no four-year-old boys to be seen. Gently, Moira urged her to describe her son. Nodding as if she was getting her senses back, the woman answered Moira’s questions.
"Like I said, he has red hair and he's about this high." She held her hands to her side to show how tall her son was before she proceeded. "He had on bright blue swim shorts, and…which character was it today?" She thought for a second before continuing. "Oh, it was Scooby-Doo—that's it, he had on a Scooby-Doo t-shirt. And his beach shoes were lime green."
All I could picture in my mind from the woman’s words were colors, from the red hair down to the lime green shoes. I wondered how anybody could miss a child dressed like that. She must've seen the look on my face because she returned my smile while telling us that Tommy loved to dress himself and had a tendency to grab bright colors.
"It sounds ridiculous, I know, but Tommy loves bright colors and it always worked out well for me, making it easier for me to spot him. But, today I can't."
I could hear the panic beginning in her voice again and I quickly took charge. I turned to Peggy, who seemed at a loss, and told her to run and get a hold of the lifeguards on duty. I left Moira in charge of the young mother, knowing Moira would stay calm while trying to get as much information from her as possible.
I started doing a quick search of the area on my own. Working fast, I tried to take in as much area as possible as quickly as possible. I was getting ready to leave the playground area when the lifeguard on duty showed up and I was relieved to see my friend Karen. I knew she sometimes filled in at the country club’s beach and I was happy to have her here to help with the search. She was a bright woman with the training needed to get things organized quickly. She took everything in and looked at me, asking where I had searched so far.
"I searched every piece of playground equipment, behind the lockers, and over where I know the older kids play. I haven’t made it down to the beach area yet.” I said my last few words softly, not wanting to upset the young mother with the possibility that her son may have wandered down towards the ocean.
With a curt nod, Karen headed off in that direction, yelling at me to go towards the staff area of the country club and check there. By the time I had finished checking the remaining areas, Karen had made a thorough search of the immediate beach area. Neither one of us turned up anything by this time, but our movements had caught the attention of the security guard for the country club and the clubhouse manager. I knew the manager, Louise, well and without words, she seemed to read the look on my face and pulled out her cell phone to call 911. Karen and I followed her signal as she dialed and walked a little farther away from Moira and the mother.
"This is going too far. We need to get a search unit to take over. A young boy can travel quickly in a short time,” Louise White said as she dialed, taking control.
Karen and I nodded in agreement, but there was an unspoken fear in the back of our minds the boy may not have wandered off on his own. We didn't want to say anything about our fears in front of the mother. Not until the police were here.
By the time the police arrived, so had more members of the club, coming out to find out what was going on. They quickly became involved in the search for Tommy. By now it was clear Tommy was not on the property or in the nearby area.
Police were already spreading their search to nearby neighborhoods, and someone had brought in the lead detective to oversee what was going on. The country club would make sure they helped it in any way they could. The first order of business was to make sure the proper police were in place. I looked up as I saw the lead detective heading our way, his figure familiar. Detective Byrd and I had a tenuous relationship. It started out on a bad foot when he suspected my boyfriend of being a murderer. We'd gotten on an easier footing as time went by, but we still weren't sure of each other. I’d held things back from the detective in the past, and I think he was aware of that as well.
I looked up to see a group of volunteers working their way down the clubhouse steps. In the lead was a man I would know anywhere. His hair was bleached blond from the sun and salt, and his muscles were toned from hours on the water, surfing, or swimming. He had been my best friend for years and now we were in a serious romantic relationship together. Behind Peter was a group of young men, surfboards in hand, and I knew what their intention was. They would go out into the ocean and search. I hated that thought, but it was something that had to be done. I pointed for the guys to meet me on the beach further away from where the worried mother sat. I didn't want to impose any more duress on her with what she was already under. Racing down to the beach I met the guys at the shore’s edge. Peter held me in his arms for a moment and then looked down at me to make sure I was okay.
"The Coast Guard’s gonna be here soon. They’ll be working the search from the boats. We thought we'd paddle out past the shore break and just explore all possibilities. I hope we find nothing."
"I know what you mean, Peter. Its great you guys are all jumping in to help with the search. I'm going to convince the mother to head back up to the clubhouse. I think Detective Byrd will agree with me. She doesn't need to be down here by the water while the search is going on."
Giving him a quick kiss and a wave, I headed back to meet Detective Byrd as he lumbered across the beach, his dress shoes taking a beating as they sunk into the loose sand from his weight. I offered my suggestion of taking the mother back up to the clubhouse and he agreed with me. He had to realize what was going on down by the shore as well, and it was important to keep the mother calm and focused. I motioned to Moira to head to the clubhouse. Gently she helped the mother to her feet, murmuring soothing words. Between her and the manager, they guided the mother towards the clubhouse.
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