The next morning, Grace and Isabelle were setting the table for breakfast. Isabelle spread plates all around the table and Grace carried the pastries to the buffet counter.
“What’s today?” Isabelle asked, “Hopefully croissants. I’ll never get tired of those.”
“Yep,” Grace affirmed, “Kaya will be happy.” She smiled, picturing Kaya’s smiling face when she noticed her favorite pastries were for breakfast.
“Did you get the fruit yet?” Isabelle asked.
Grace shook her head. “Not yet. It’s in the kitchen.”
“Okay, I’ll get them.” Isabelle skipped into the kitchen, her hair bouncing, and back out with a carton of rinsed strawberries.
“Hey, next time you go to the store, be sure to pick up some granola bars.” Isabelle noted, setting the cardboard carton on the counter next to the pastries. “We seem to be out.”
“Out of granola bars?” Sarah repeated, strolling into the dining room. “I just picked some up a few days ago!”
Isabelle shrugged, “Well, I didn’t see any in the usual place they’re at.”
Grace was silent. She knew Lea had taken the granola bars, but she didn’t dare say anything. If she told Sarah anything, she might blurt out Lea’s secret. Sarah had a way of prying people to get information. So she stayed quiet.
One by one, the dolls entered the dining room which was becoming fuller by the minute.
“Alright, it’s time to eat,” Sarah called over the noise of her chatting sisters.
The dolls quieted down and gathered around the table to give thanks for their food. Before they could begin, Kaya said, “Where’s Lea?”
“That’s right! Where is Lea?” Sarah asked. The dolls looked around at each other, expecting someone to speak. No one did.
“She’s probably in her room. I’ll go tell her it’s time for breakfast.” Sarah headed towards the door. “I’ll be back in a jiffy.”
Jamie tried to look innocent as her arm reached for the strawberry carton. Only a few more inches…
“Jamie!” Kanani exclaimed.
Jamie jumped, and tucked her arm behind her as fast as she could. “What?”
“We haven’t prayed yet.” Kanani said, though Jamie should have known better.
Sarah appeared in the doorway. “She’s not there. I checked the bathroom too.”
“Come to think of it, I haven’t seen her at all today.” Isabelle said, not helping much.
“Is she outside?” Grace asked. She tried to act as if she didn’t know a thing.
Sarah shrugged. “I’ll go check.”
After she heard the front door open, then slam, Jamie hollered, “LEA!”
“Ouch!” Isabelle exclaimed, “Did you have to do that right in my ear?”
“Sorry,” Jamie said, “I was just checking to see if she was here.”
“Well, she certainly would have heard THAT!” Isabelle said.
Several minutes later, Sarah came back again. “She’s not outside. I wonder where she could be.”
“Maybe she’s been kidnapped!” Isabelle suggested.
Sarah looked skeptical. “Possibly…”
“Why don’t we pray so we can eat?” Kanani offered, “I’m sure Lea will turn up soon.”
So the dolls held hands and Sarah said grace. Throughout the meal, the dolls were unusually silent, and Sarah felt sick to her stomach. Somehow, she felt responsible for Lea’s disappearance.
“Um, Kaya, leave a croissant for Lea,” Grace said, “You know, in case she comes back.”
“Okay,” Kaya agreed, but Grace knew Lea wasn’t coming back. Her conscience was bothering her. Was this a secret she should be keeping? Yet she had given Lea her word.
After breakfast had been picked up, with the spare croissant still left out, Grace’s stomach was bothering her as Sarah urged Kanani to call the police.
“She’s missing!” Sarah exclaimed, “What better excuse do you want?” Then her head fell. “And it’s my fault.” She mumbled, devastated, “I didn’t make her feel welcome.”
Kanani put her arm around Sarah. “It’s not your fault. She must have decided to go. Maybe this wasn’t the place for her.”
After a moment, Kanani left the room to find the telephone. She found it in the wardrobe and firmly pressed the emergency numbers:
*Stay tuned for Part 12*