Blessing in Disguise

Scene 4

A few crazy days later, Molly finally found a breathing moment. Kenny was off for his first day in his new school, and Gracey went down for her nap with hardly a whimper. Outside, sunny skies with mid-70s had the doors open to fill her bedroom with fresh air and bird song; such a wonderful thing for the middle of November!

Beautiful, quiet times like this came so rarely. Molly sat in the middle of the huge 4-poster with her laptop balanced on her knees, trying to juggle her budget. Truly, it was an impossible task at the moment. She had no idea how long it would take to find a job, or what their expenses would be. Really, she was just juggling theories and wishes.

With a small sigh, she set aside her laptop and leaned back into the mount of impossibly soft pillows. Her eyes drifted closed as the muscles in her shoulders and back eased into the soft support of the most amazing bed she'd ever slept in. A quiet moment to relax, she'd forgotten how wonderful it could be. She smiled and snuggled in to the pillows, melding with the bed, listening to the crinkle of linen and the birds singing outside.

Just about to drift off to sleep, she heard whispering woven into the birdsong. Her eyes popped open and her body tensed as she listened.

It was definitely someone talking, although she couldn't hear the words. She sat up and cocked her head to the side, listening intently. It wasn't just Gracey playing after her nap, it sounded like multiple people. A laughing, light buzz of happy conversation. Molly scooted off the edge of the bed as quietly as possible. A thousand crazy thoughts ran in circles in her head, leaving her blinking and dizzy.

Was it the maid? It was only Thursday, but perhaps their charming realtor had gotten the day wrong. She really should read through that information packet.

Could burglars still get in a gated community? What was the point of the gates and guards, then? Maybe it was local teens who thought the place was still vacant.

She came into the hallway, getting ready to be worried but not yet committed to full-on freak-out. The whispering seemed a little louder, but not yet distinct words or voices. They still seemed to have a humorous tone. She peeked into the empty play room, and then looked in on her little sleeping angel, sweaty red curls plastered to her forehead.

The little hairs on the back of Molly's neck stood on end, and she came a little closer to panic. The dog wasn't in bed with Gracey. Where was Laz? Where was the damn dog?

She ran back into Kenny's room. The whispering seemed louder, more frantic, keeping time with her pounding heart, but no more distinct. The dog bed was empty, the room empty. Where was her dog? There were people in her house, but the dog was missing, silent. Had they done something to her dog? She'd kill them.

Anger and fear sharpened her perspective and churned her stomach sour. She raced, leaping down the stairs. "Laz?" she called. "Here, Laz."

As her feet hit the first floor, the whispers erupted in a burst of giggles, and then the house rocked with silence. Molly swayed in place, her pounding emotions flushed from her like a purge, leaving her dizzy and a little nauseous. She took a deep breath and held onto the newel post for support.

The abrupt silence faded, and she could hear the faintest snuffling and whining sound of her dog in the living room. She blinked and rushed forward. "Laz?"

Nose to the floor and tail wagging a hyper dance, he sniffled around a wet spot near the door to the patio.

"Oh, silly boy." She walked forward, all systems returning to normal. He'd probably awoken from napping with Gracey and needed to pee, but then got lost in the new house and had an accident.

Almost thrilled to have something she knew how to deal with, Molly hurried to him. "Aw, Laz. It's okay, sweet boy. No one's in trouble."

She bent over to scratch his ears, but paused mid-stretch. Instead of the doggy urine smell she'd expected, the wet spot reeked of chlorine. Not quite bleach strong, more like... she looked out the window of the sliding door... more like pool water. Almost like someone had come in from the pool, and stood there dripping. But there were no footprints from the pool, the patio was bone dry.

Laz gave a little whine and nudged her hand, so Molly shrugged and took a minute to finish his ear scratches. Then she got up to search the laundry room for towels and cleaner. However the wet spot happened, if it stained Linda would never let them hear the end of it.

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