“She probably went with some friends to the bounce house. She loves those,” Bethany answered.
If his ex-wife spent more time with Grace and paid attention, she’d know Grace wouldn’t do that. “I told her not to go anywhere else.”
“Maybe she needed the bathroom and couldn’t wait to check in. I’ll go check.” Jessie headed for the temporary bathrooms set up behind the bandstand.
“I’m going to check the bounce houses. Stay here in case she comes back.” He couldn’t recall a single time Grace had disobeyed him on something like this but she was a kid surrounded by her friends. Kids followed their peers all the time.
When a search of both bounce houses and the craft table nearby turned up nothing he started back for their blanket hoping that Jessie had found her or she’d wandered back over. The sight of just Jessie and Bethany standing together froze the blood in his veins. His eyes continued to sweep the area as he walked and he reminded himself that this was North Salem not some huge city.
“I checked the bathrooms and asked some parents I passed by.” Jessie’s voice echoed his own worry.
“She has to be here. This town is like Hicksville. Everyone is either related to each other or knows everyone else. Nobody would take her.”
While Bethany maybe close to the truth he knew strangers did pass through town all the time and it only took one messed up person to snatch a little girl. Hard cold fear knotted inside his chest. As someone in law enforcement he’d seen time and time again both with the Boston Police and now with the FBI what could happen to a little girl like Grace.
He continued sweeping the area as she waited for his father, the police chief, to answer his phone. He may be jumping the gun. She may be playing with friends somewhere but he wasn’t taking any chances.