Hello hello hello! Welcome (yet again) to my new story! As I have finished 'To Be A Father', 'A Sort of Fairytale' and 'Even Angels Cry', here it is. Love to hear some feedback! R&R,

Rhyleigh xoxox


Kelsea Jean Barton was the epitome of perfection, in the eyes of her parents. Eyes as blue as the summer sky, honey blonde ringlets that danced on her shoulders, a grin that could brighten anyone's day. The first and only child for Jake Barton and Rachel Rafter (despite her love for the man, she refused to change her name), they had gone through a lot to get their little girl. She was their princess, and that was the way they were going to keep it.

"Good morning, chicken", Rachel chuckled, as Kelsea sleepily shuffled into the lounge room.

"Hi Mummy", Kelsea yawned, throwing herself onto the coffee coloured couch. "Where's Daddy?"

"He's already gone to work, Kels. Are you alright? You slept pretty late". Rachel glanced at the clock- very unlike her mother; Kelsea Jean was an early bird.

"I'm okay, Mummy", Kelsea giggled, throwing her arms around her unsuspecting mother and squeezing tight.

It was moments like this that Rachel loved the best- the spontaneous love that only a three year old could provide. Tickling the cheeky blonde and making her shriek with laughter, peppered her daughter with hundreds of tiny kisses. She knew that they didn't stay little for very long (her baby sister Ruby, already five years old, was her proof), so her plan was to make the most of it while she could.

"What do you want to do this morning?" Rachel wanted to know, questioning the still squirming little girl.

And much the same as any day, the list was endless. Clutching her favourite Billie doll (a present from Uncle Nathan and Aunty Sammy when Kelsea was a little non-sleeping newborn), Kelsea danced around the house, full of energy for the new day.

It started with breakfast with her mother- two Weetbix in her favourite bowl (the one with Dora and Boots on the bottom) and orange cordial in her favourite cup (the one with Snow White on it). Abandoning her pink Dora pyjamas, Kelsea changed into tights and a skirt, a pink vest and her tiny boots pulling it together. She moved from the dollhouse her great granddad Ted built for her birthday to the scooter Aunty Retta and Uncle Carbo bought for Christmas, pausing her game to tackle the dog (Rachel and Jake had to wonder how on earth Roxy managed not to throw the little girl over the fence- quite often, the three year old had ended up riding the placid beagle).

"Mummy, come play!" Kelsea enthused.

"One moment, alright baby?" Rachel tried.

"I love you!" Kelsea blew her a kiss and Rachel pressed it to her heart, before watching her daughter scoot off once more.

Packing away her laptop in a high place (too low to the ground and Kelsea would take it out, in an effort to get to the dog faster) and moving the cup of cordial Kelsea had yet to drink (if she left it there, it would no doubt go flying in a sticky mess), Rachel paused to quickly wipe the table.

But the sound of their dog barking made Rachel's ears perk up- the only time the beagle ever barked when there was someone near her Kelsea Jean. She was fiercely protective of the little girl, and would howl no end if someone even looked at her funny.

But the hysterical barking was not something Rachel was used to.

"Roxy!" Rachel called, rushing out of the house through the back door.

She noticed what was wrong straight away. The side gate was open.

Ever since Kelsea was a baby, they had been drilling into her not to open the side gate. It was opened only when Jake arrived home from work, to park his car in the driveway beside his wife's. While their road wasn't entirely busy, one wrong move on a scooter, and the unknowing wheels of a moving car could result in an accident that no one wanted. So the side gate being open sent warning bells.

"Kelsea?" Rachel's voice rose, as she hurried out to the front yard, expecting to see her three year old daughter.

But Kelsea was nowhere to be seen.

What were to be seen, though, were her Billie doll and her little pink scooter, lying in the middle of the driveway.

"Kelsea?" Rachel raised her voice once more, panic having set in.

She rushed around their property- not a huge once, just big enough for their family of three- in search of the tiny blonde, not caring how much trouble she ought to be in. all she wanted was to cuddle her in her arms.

And when she didn't find her, she had no other choice but to call the police.

Her younger brother Ben had done that once before, while babysitting Ruby. She had been the same age as Kelsea was- only three- and the two were playing hide and seek in the backyard of the house Ben shared with his wife and mates. He was counting on the veranda, and sometime between hiding and Ben coming to find her, their tiny little sister had fallen asleep. And when she didn't respond to Ben calling her, he found it necessary to alert the police.

(Needless to say, he had some explaining to do when their parents arrived at home.)

But this wasn't a game of hide and seek. This wasn't even a game.

Her daughter was missing.

Kelsea Jean was missing.

After alerting the police, Rachel sunk down onto the kitchen tiles, knowing she had at least one more person to call.

"Jake?" she said shakily, tears falling freely down her face.

"Baby, what's the matter?" Jake said immediately, hearing the lump in his wife's throat. "What happened?"

"It's Kelsea".

He felt his stomach drop- his whole life was that little girl. "What happened to Kelsea, baby?"

"She's gone, Jake, Kelsea's gone!"

And Rachel dissolved into tears, falling to the kitchen floor, sobbing.