Roger and Rachel walked together through all the various stalls set up at the festival. He held Riley in his arms, talking casually as they explored all the sights and different foods. Every single dish that fascinated Rachel, he bought for her. Her hands were soon full of various containers and packets, and they’d only visited half of the stalls! While she was enjoying herself, Rachel couldn’t help that she was starting to feel tired. She stifled a yawn behind her hand and rubbed her eyes. Roger immediately noticed her fatigue. He’d been paying close attention to her the entire time. He shifted Riley in his arms and leaned closer to speak to her so he’d be heard over the crowds. “We’ve been walking forever. I think it’s time we found somewhere to sit and rest. Don’t you?” Rachel swept her gaze through the milling crowds and nodded. Luckily for them, there was a rest stop every 10 stalls. It wasn’t long until they found one and settled down. Roger put Riley down so his arms could rest, then turned to speak to Rachel. He noticed her face was pale. “Are you tired?” he asked. “Because you look exhausted. I think we should rest here for a while and then I’ll drive you back home.” Rachel sipped at the orange juice in her hand and watched Riley. The child was looking around curiously, taking in all the different sights around her. Then she looked up at Roger. “When is Dr. Jimenez getting here?” Roger was right, she was tired. She felt like she needed a nap. Because of her pregnancy, she got tired easily and the smell of food sometimes made her feel sick. She had been fine at first, but the longer she’d stayed at the festival, the more difficult it had become for her to fight against her body. The only thing stopping her from leaving was Riley. She didn’t want to disappoint her. Again, she wondered when she had gotten so soft… It must be because she was pregnant. If it weren’t for that, she probably would have left already. 1 Roger’s cheeks flushed pink in embarrassment at her question. He dipped his hand into his pocket to brush his fingers against his phone. Right at that moment, it started to vibrate. Someone was calling him. Instead of answering the call, he felt along the side of the phone until his fingers ran over the button on the side. He held it down until his phone buzzed once and turned off. “My sister hasn’t called me yet. I think there might be an emergency at the hospital… My guess is that she’s going to be stuck there for a little while. I don’t think she will be joining us any time soon.” Roger removed his hand from his pocket and let his arm fall loosely to his side. “If you want to go home, I’ll take you back. Once you’re safe and resting, Riley and I
will come back here and carry on waiting,” he said to Rachel. “No, it’s alright. I said I’d leave once Dr. Jimenez gets here. I’m sure I can wait a little longer,” Rachel said pleasantly. Guilt panged painfully in Roger’s chest. He knew that phone call he’d just received was probably from his sister. But he also knew that Rachel would leave if she knew Clara and their parents had arrived. He wanted her to stay with him, just a little bit longer.
So he’d lied.
Just as the feelings of guilt began to overwhelm him, a vendor started shouting, “Whiskey heart chocolate bar! Get your whiskey heart chocolate bar!” 1 Roger turned his head in the direction of the sound. A smile spread across his face as an idea formed in his head. “Rachel,” he said slowly as he turned back to her, “would you mind watching Riley for a few minutes?” “What?” Rachel hadn’t even comprehended what he had said before he disappeared into the crowds. She was left staring at the empty space where he’d been standing. Rachel pouted in thought, but was quickly distracted from Roger’s odd behavior when Riley hopped off the chair and walked shyly up to her. Her little face was pinched in embarrassment, and she was fiddling with her fingers. “What’s the matter? Is there something wrong, Riley?” Rachel asked in a gentle, compassionate tone. She could see the little girl wanted to tell her something. “Pee…” Riley said in such a soft voice that Rachel didn’t hear her the first time. Rachel got off the chair and crouched down in front of her. “What did you say, Riley?” she asked calmly. Riley’s cheeks went red with embarrassment. She threw her little arms around Rachel’s neck and whispered into her ear, “Pee-pee…” Then she buried her head in Rachel’s neck. Rachel was confused for a moment, but then quickly realized what the little girl was asking. She giggled softly, smiled and then scooped her into her arms. “You want to go to the restroom?” Riley raised her head and looked shyly up at Rachel. She blinked her large, dollish eyes and nodded. Rachel gently pinched her cheek. “What are you so embarrassed about? There’s nothing wrong with that. Come on, I’ll take you to the restroom without a problem.” After Rachel walked two steps with Riley in her arms, she suddenly remembered that if Roger came back later and didn’t see them, he might be worried about them. Therefore, she went back to the original seat and left a note on it. She also made sure the note would not be blown away by wind by pressing something on it. Then she followed the signs and walking to the restroom.
As soon as Rachel and Riley had disappeared into the crowd, a man wearing a cap detached himself from all the other shoppers and came over to the bench where Rachel had left the note. He walked past the bench, then merged in with the crowds again. But the note was gone with him. Rachel and Riley were just exiting the restroom now. Rachel had just helped Riley to wash her hands and was about to head back to the bench, when a woman bumped right into them. The milk tea the woman had been carrying was knocked out of her hand and spilt all the way down the front of Rachel’s sweater. Rachel hadn’t seen the woman in time to dodge, so the best she could do now was take a few steps back She didn’t even get the chance to say anything before the woman started talking. “I’m so sorry! I wasn’t watching where I was going! This is such a mess! Here, let me help you clean the stain.” As she prattled on her hurried apologies, the woman reached into her bag and pulled out a packet of tissues. She took one out and reached forward to clean the stains off Rachel’s sweater. But Rachel didn’t let her. She stepped back with a frown. “No, thank you. It’s alright. I’ll do it myself,” she said in a voice that was a little colder than it should have been. The woman looked guiltily up at her and pursed her lips. “I’m really, really sorry… I-” “It’s alright. It’s really nothing,” Rachel cut her off. She just had the slightest feeling that the entire incident hadn’t been an accident. Rachel quickly studied the woman’s face, but didn’t find anything in her expression to suggest she had malicious intent. Perhaps she was overthinking this… The woman apologized again before she turned and left the restroom, muttering to herself the entire time. Riley was now looking up at Rachel in concern. Rachel glanced down at her sweater. Not a lot of the tea had spilt onto it, but it was still enough to ruin the fabric if she didn’t do something about it soon. She had to take it off anyway. She couldn’t go out in public like this. “Riley, can you wait here for me?” she asked sweetly. Riley gave an obedient nod. Rachel tenderly rested her hand on the little girl’s head and said, “Don’t move. Stay right here and wait for me. I’m just quickly going to take this sweater off.”
Luckily, Rachel was wearing a nice thick coat, so she wouldn’t get cold without her sweater.
Rachel left Riley waiting for her in the main area of the restroom. As she went towards a stall, she glanced over her shoulder multiple times to make sure Riley was alright. Once she was convinced Riley was okay, she closed the stall door and pulled her sweater off. The entire changing process took less than 2 minutes. She walked out the stall and immediately called, “Riley?” 1 She looked towards where the little girl had been standing, she wasn’t there. She glanced frantically around the restroom, looking for any sign of the child. She checked every corner, and aside from the cleaning tools piled up on the far side of the room, there was nothing. Riley was gone. Rachel felt her heart start pounding in her chest. The first thing her mind went back to was the woman from earlier… Was she a human trafficker? Sudden panic pulsed through Rachel’s body at the thought. She sprinted out the restroom and looked around the immediate area, desperately searching for Riley. Rachel pursed her lips in though. She could feel her mind spinning out of control, and her blood rushing through her veins. If that woman was a trafficker, Rachel doubted she’d be able to get far with Riley in such a crowded space. She had to be around here somewhere. Rachel took a deep breath, closed her eyes for a moment and calmed herself. Then she opened her eyes and stepped forward. Suddenly, she stopped and stared around her. She didn’t even know where to start looking. Which direction would a trafficker have taken to steal a child? What if she went the wrong way and never found Riley? If she chose the wrong way, she was giving the traffickers plenty of time to get away. Rachel steadied her breathing again before she started to panic. She just had to think. She turned back to the restroom. This was the starting location, the best place to start. It was at that moment that she saw the security camera above the door. She narrowed her eyes and her expression darkened. She pulled her phone out of her pocket and started tapping away at the screen. Within a matter of seconds, she managed to pull up the video footage from two minutes ago. She stared intently down at her phone, watching for any suspicious activity. But to her surprise, she saw Riley step out the restroom alone. Rachel’s eyes widened in shock. So Riley had left on her own? The woman hadn’t taken her? “Rachel, you are here. I finally find you.” Roger’s voice carried over the noise of the crowds. And with every word he said, Rachel could tell he was getting closer…
Captivation: Want Nothing But You, Chapter 109 Riley Is Missing