“Jack! Lunch is ready!” Lucy called through the open kitchen door. “Hurry, it’s your favourite!”
Wiping her hands on a tea-towel, she stepped through the door into the bright sunshine and looked at Jack’s toys strewn across the lawn. “Jack…” she shouted again, “Come out, come out, wherever you are…!”
She scanned quickly around the large garden expecting to see her son’s cheeky face emerging from under one of the pretty shrubs that grew all around the borders. Lucy loved the garden even though she wasn’t much of a gardener herself.
Marcus had chosen this house a few years ago and he’d driven Lucy down to see it on a glorious day in July and then proposed on this very lawn.
They’d been married the week before Christmas and Jack had looked adorable in a hand-made suit as he’d grinned in every photograph. He had turned three in June and was a boisterous, mischievous little boy whom everyone loved.
Lucy had been barely sixteen when he was born. She’d gone into labour about twenty five minutes before the end of her French GCSE!
He father had collected her to take her to the hospital but she was a little alarmed to see a strange, very expensive-looking car parked outside the school gates. “What’s Marcus doing here?” she’d asked.
Marcus was a junior partner at her fathers’ law practise – a good-looking, athletic man in his early forties. “I was in a meeting when you rang and I got a little flustered so Marcus offered to come and collect you and take us both to the hospital.” Her father had explained.
Jack was born just five hours later, he was a healthy baby and the birth had been straightforward so Lucy was home after just two days. Jacks’ father never visited and, indeed, Lucy hadn’t expected him to. A mechanic called Aiden; he’d stolen Lucy’s tender, young heart when she was just fourteen and her virginity just a year later. They had already split by the time Lucy discovered she was pregnant and he had moved in with a girl from Tesco’s.
Lucy’s father was keen for Lucy to continue her education and he had willingly paid for a Nanny to look after Jack whilst Lucy went back to school. At eighteen though Lucy had to decide where she wanted to go with her life, she didn’t want to continue living at home with her father – much as she loved him dearly! She knew she needed to move on and make a life for Jack and herself.
She found a job with a construction firm preparing their quotes and generally taking care of the office. She enjoyed the work and got on well with the owners and the staff.
One afternoon, a few months after she had started, she was kneeling on the floor filing some paperwork in the bottom drawer of the filing cabinet.
“Hi Lucy, your father mentioned you worked here but I didn’t know you cleaned the floors!” Lucy jumped to her feet quickly and turned around, blushing furiously. “Marcus, you startled me, I was just, um, doing some filing!” Lucy stammered and brushed at her skirt.
“I know, I was only teasing!” Marcus smiled and the corners of his eyes crinkled in a very sexy way – Lucy found herself blushing again! “Have you come to see Mr Clegg?” she asked, trying to bring the conversation to a more business-like level.
Marcus became a regular caller over the next few weeks until one day he invited Lucy to come for some lunch. “I hate to eat alone” he’d explained.
The rest, as the saying goes, is history and Lucy was very happily married despite all the protestations from her father and her friends regarding the age difference.
As she stood, heavily pregnant now in the hot sunshine she thought about her unborn child and patted her stomach whilst saying “Now, where is your big brother hiding?”
It was at this moment that she noticed the heavy, garden gate was standing open and she felt her heart do a little somersault as her brain jumped into overdrive.
“Jack,” she called out again “Come out now, mummy doesn’t feel like hide and seek today!” Still no rustling from the bushes, Lucy started to tremble and she walked quickly to the gate and looked up and down the path outside. There was no sign of Jack or anyone else for that matter, she turned back to the garden and looked frantically around again “JACK!” she shouted at the top of her voice now!
She stumbled over to the gardens’ edge and started pulling the shrubs aside, all the time whispering to herself “Jack, Jack where are you?” Her breath was coming in ragged gasps and her fingers were green and black from the bushes, she felt dizzy and sick and then, nothing.
“Lucy, Lucy love” a soft voice was drifting through her mind “Lucy, can you hear me?”
Lucy opened her eyes and saw the kind face of her next door neighbour looking at her worriedly, “Lucy are you OK? Is it the baby? Should I call an ambulance?”
Lucy looked at the kind face of Mrs Carter and tried to think what it was that was troubling her, her brow furrowed as she tried to remember then it all came back in a rush “Oh my God!” She exclaimed as she tried to sit up, “Jack, someone’s taken Jack!”
“Hush, lovely, Jack’s fine – he came around to my back door earlier with a bunch of daisies. I knew you would be concerned so I thanked him and asked him if mummy knew he was here. He was so excited because he wanted to surprise me, the love. Anyway, he’s here and very worried about you!”
“Mummy!” Jack flung his arms around her neck and hugged her breath away “Jack, darling, you’re strangling me!” Lucy gasped through her tears, now of joy, and she hugged him like she never had before.