****** Before starting this story I wanted to Thank You all for the many kind messages that have been sent my way regarding my surgery. I'm feeling MUCH better and I hope to be able to write quite a bit while I'm off work and recovering. Here is Chapter 1, I hope you'll let me know what you think! ******
Danny and Gracie had finished up a fun-filled day of shopping, mini golf and a barbeque at Uncle Steve's.
They entered the small house that Danny had rented three months ago as he was finishing up listening to a voice mail from Rachel. Hanging up his cellphone he set it onto a small end table next to the couch. It was a little after nine o'clock and their hands were filled with numerous bags of new clothes, shoes and school supplies for the excited seven year old.
It happened so fast that Danny didn't have a chance to defend himself. As his back was turned from the entry to the kitchen and he was setting the bags onto the couch Gracie screamed out, "DADDY!" a split second before the butt of the gun came crashing down onto the side of his head. The little girl cried out as she watched him fall face first onto the couch, blood streaming onto the bags from the large gash on his temple.
"DADDY, NO NO DADDY!"
Three men had come from the kitchen and one of them was hollering, "YOU TWO GET HIM TO THE VAN, HURRY!" He then grabbed the distraught child into his arms and covering her mouth he said firmly, "You be quiet now Grace and I won't hurt you"
She was terrified and she stopped struggling in his arms. He took her into her bedroom and setting her onto her bed, he backed away.
The evil man stared at her saying, "You stay right here Grace until morning. If you don't…..I'll come back and hurt your Uncle Steve. Do you understand me?"
Gracie was shaking and sobbing uncontrollably as she whispered, "Yes…..please don't hurt my Daddy"
The evil man said nothing, he simply turned and left the room closing the door behind him.
Gracie laid down onto her bed pulling her pillow up to her chest as she sobbed for her Danno. She heard the van as it pulled from the driveway and she knew what she had to do. She ran from her bedroom and straight to the living room, grabbing her Daddy's cellphone. She sat on the floor with her back against the couch as she pressed speed-dial number one.
Steve was sipping on a beer on his deck as his phone rang. Looking at the screen as it lit up 'DANNO' he grinned and answered,
"Hey buddy, what's up?" He heard the soft, tortured sobs coming from the other end of the phone, "Gracie….Gracie is that you?"
"Gracie, honey talk to me….where are you?" Hearing only continued sobs he asked, "Gracie, are you at home?"
Steve was racing to his truck as he asked, "Sweetheart where's Danno?"
At the mention of her Daddy's name the little girl became hysterical crying out, "DANNO…..DANNO…DANNO"
"Gracie ssshhhhhhhh…I'm on my way baby. Can you tell me, is Danno hurt?"
"They took DDanno Uncle SSteve...…the bad men ttook him"
Steve's head was spinning as he processed her words, 'they took him"…..who in the hell took him? He then asked softly, "Gracie, are you hurt?"
"Nnno…..I'm sss….scared Uncle Steeve"
"You stay on the phone with me baby, I'll be there in a few minutes"
At that moment a breeze outside knocked a tree branch against the window directly above the couch causing the little girl to cry out in fear.
Steve's jaw was tight with fear and his foot pushed the accelerator pedal to the floor as he said, "Gracie…..Gracie"
"I'm sscared….I want mmy Danno"
Steve spoke gently, trying to calm the child even though his heart was beating frantically in his chest as his fears rose, 'was someone still in the house?' "Gracie I need you to listen to me….can you hear me?"
"I need you to hide until I get there. I need you to go into the laundry room and crawl into that little space between the dryer and the wall okay baby…can you do that?"
She was sobbing hysterically as Steve added, "Don't hang up the phone Gracie….go now….run"
The little girl did as she was told and in moments she was hiding in the tiny space having pulled a laundry basket in front of her as well.
"Gracie, are you hidden?"
"I'm just a few minutes away sweetheart. Good girl, you're being so brave Gracie. I love you and I'll be there real soon"
While keeping the cell phone to his ear he dialed Chin on his car phone. "Chin, I need you to call Kono and meet me at Danny's right away" He then said to Gracie, "Gracie stay strong baby, I'm almost there"
Hearing Steve's conversation with Gracie, Chin responded "We're on our way brah"
Minutes later Steve was pushing open the front door of his partner's house.
His eyes instantly fell on the light tan couch and the bags of clothes covered with blood. Glancing down at his feet he saw the trail of blood that he believed was his partner's leading from the couch and out the door. He moved quickly through the house, room by room, with his gun drawn. Finding the rooms vacant, he moved swiftly back through the living room and kitchen to the tiny laundry room.
As he entered the room he called out, "Gracie…..it's Uncle Steve, I'm here baby"
The terrified child began to cry louder as Steve pulled the laundry basket out of the way and lifted her up into his strong arms.
He cradled her tightly to his chest while whispering to her softly, "I've got you baby….ssshhhhhh….…..I've got you"
She didn't say anything as her tiny body shook in his strong embrace. He stroked her hair and planted light, tender kisses onto her head and forehead. He rocked with her as he continued to try to soothe her, "It's okay Gracie, I've got you…..ssshhhhhhhhhh"
Steve stayed where he was, comforting the little girl he had grown to love so much until he heard Chin and Kono enter the house several minutes later. He moved into the kitchen and as his teammates entered the room he continued to talk quietly to Gracie, "Gracie, Chin and Kono are here now...…are you ready to tell me what happened?"
"NO…NO DANNO….they hurt Danno"
She clung tightly to Steve's neck and he continued, "Baby, we need to find Danno and we need your help"
"I can't…no, no I'm sorry…..I'm so sorry Uncle Steve" Steve moved over to the kitchen table setting her down. As he tried to pull away, she clung to him with a vice grip, "NO, NO UNCLE SSTEVE…..I'M SORRY"
Steve continued to talk softly, "Gracie ssssshhhhhhhh…I need you to look at me baby"
She was whimpering as she loosened her grip on his collar and looked into his eyes. The sheer terror in the child's eyes cut through Steve's heart, "Gracie, I'm here…you're safe baby. Uncle Chin and Auntie Kono are here, see….can you tell us what happened?"
Chin moved to the fridge and grabbed a juice box and brought it to the child.
She took the juice and after taking a sip she handed it back to Chin. After several moments of silence she began to talk, her voice cracking with emotion, "They were hiding in the kitchen when we came home"
Steve asked, "How many men were there?"
"Three….Daddy's back was turned and they hit him on the back of the head with a big gun. He was bleeding really bad Uncle Steve"
He hugged her again and pulling away he said, "You're doing great baby girl, you're being very brave…..now tell me more"
He wiped the tears gently from her cheeks as she continued, "I screamed and the bad man grabbed me and covered my mouth. He told the other two men to take Daddy out to the van and then he took me into my bedroom" She again began to sob saying over and over, "I'm so sorry Uncle Steve"
Steve placed a hand on her face and brushed back her hair, "Sweetheart what are you sorry about?"
"He's going to hurt you Uncle Steve"
Steve glanced over Gracie's shoulder at Kono and Chin, "Why do you say that Gracie?"
"The bad man put me on my bed and he told me to stay there until morning or he would hurt you….I called you though 'cause I got scared…I'm so sorry"
The SEAL placed his hand on her chin, lifting her eyes to meet his "Gracie Williams you did EXACTLY the right thing by calling me. NOTHING is going to happen to me and I promise you that WE WILL find your Danno…I PROMISE YOU"
The little girl threw her tiny arms around the man's neck as she said, "I love you Uncle Steve"
He held her tightly and rubbing his hand in circles across her back he responded tenderly, "I love you too honey"
******* MUCH MORE TO FOLLOW – I'd love to hear your initial thoughts! ********