“Well, you reap what you sow.” Her mother disconnected the call.
After trying to talk to Seth one more time, Vickie headed to the refrigerator and pulled out the Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream.
Before she could settle in, the phone rang again. Moaning, she threw back her head. Really, couldn’t she have just one hour of uninterrupted misery? She decided the answering machine was her friend. Maybe even her only friend.
“Hello, Vickie? Are you there?”
John Levi’s voice had her reaching for the phone. All the reasons the pastor might be calling so late darted through her head. “Hello, Pastor John. What can I do for you?”
“Hey Vickie, I’m looking for Rachel.” He paused. “We think she might be with Seth.”
Vickie’s stomached tightened. Why would he think his daughter would be with Seth? “No, he’s in his room. I just spoke with him. Why is Rachel out so late? I thought Lorrie Ann was babysitting the girls for you.” Vickie shook her head. Lorrie Ann had been Vickie’s nemesis in high school, but now she was getting all friendly with Jake and Pastor John. How could they not see through her?
“Vickie, would you please check and see if he knows where she is?” His usually calm, soothing voice sounded strained.
“Sure.” She walked to his door and knocked once before forcing it open, pushing past piles of clothes. “Seth?”
She froze as she scanned the room again. Clothes and notebooks covered his floor and bed. He had to be here. “Seth, where are you?” Dread made her limbs heavy as she noticed the open window.
She tripped over something on the floor, trying to reach the small opening. “Oh, no. He’s gone! I can’t believe he left. We had a fight.” She leaned out the window. “Seth! Seth! They’re going to get lost or hurt.”
“Vickie, calm down. Do you know where he might have gone?”
“His father called, and we fought.” Her fingers clenched the windowsill. “Seth heard us and got mad at me. I said something I shouldn’t. He hates me. He hates me so much right now.” She heard herself babbling but couldn’t stop.
“Maggie’s already started the phone chain. People from the church are meeting here at my place to walk the area.”
Vickie closed her eyes and nodded. She needed to focus and stay calm. Kids sneak out all the time. Overreacting would not help. “What do you need me to do?”
“I’ll call Jake and have him take a group to your place. We’ll start walking. They should be somewhere between our houses.”
Her son’s angry threat popped into her mind. “He wants to go to Miami.” She headed to the front door, not knowing where she was going, but the need to do something—anything— overwhelmed her.
“Florida? Why would he try to–?”
She didn’t let him finish. “His dad, Tommy’s in Florida. Would Seth take Rachel to Florida with him?”
“Vickie, don’t worry.” His voice became stronger. “Rachel wouldn’t run away to Florida, but she would probably try to stop him from going. They’ve been gone from here less than . . . twenty minutes. We’ll find them. Call your parents. I’ll touch base with you in a little bit.”
Part Two of Three will be posted Tuesday