She Just Couldn’t Believe It
Chloe Steward just stood there, unable to move as she listened to the police officer who was telling her the entire story. She couldn’t believe she got caught up in something so horrendous.
She was just a child, and now her legal guardian was getting arrested. And it was all because of her and the hunch she had when the baby was first given to her.
She Never Really Liked Him
Chloe never liked her stepfather, Robert Brady. From the moment her mother brought the man home, she knew he’d be trouble. But it wasn’t like she had any other choice but to stay with him.
After her mother died two years prior, Robert became her legal guardian, and they got stuck with each other. But she never thought things would get this bad.
No Other Choice
Chloe was only fourteen years old at the time of the incident, which meant she had to put up with Robert, his antics, and his ridiculous requests.
However, this time Robert’s request would push her limits. And even though she couldn’t leave, she could get even. And that was exactly what she planned on doing.
Only Four More Years
Chloe had always told herself that she just had to put up with Robert for four more years. Then she would be eighteen, and she could legally leave the house.
But things would take a drastic turn that year. And Chloe’s life would be turned upside down. All her plans would go up in flames, and she would not stand for it.
She Could Do It
Before all this happened, Chloe was convinced that she could make it through the next four years. All she had to do was keep quiet and comply.
But Robert’s next request would have her rethinking her life and the things she was doing. This time he was pushing things too far, and it was ruining everything.
One Unexpected Day
The day started like any other. But shortly after Chloe got home from school, Robert arrived. He was out of breath and paranoid. But most importantly, he was holding a baby.
Chloe looked at him with suspicion in her eyes, but before she could say anything, he shoved the newborn into her arms. “Take care of that,” Robert said before leaving once more.
Suddenly, It Was Her Problem
Chloe looked down at the baby as her suspicion changed to confusion. All she wanted to do was her homework, yet there she was with a stranger’s baby in her arms.
For the next few days, Chloe didn’t see Robert at all. And it didn’t take long for Chloe to realize that the little girl was her problem now.
What Was Going On?
A whole week had passed. Chloe had missed school, and she had spent her own money to take care of the little baby. But that didn’t mean she was just obeying orders.
The young Texan wasn’t as dumb as she pretended to be, and she was starting to wonder what the truth behind the situation really was.
Whose Kid Was It?
Chloe was starting to wonder whose baby it was. Where were her parents? And why was she stuck looking after their child?
She knew for a fact that it wasn’t Robert’s baby. So where did he get her? Those were the exact questions she asked him the next time he showed up at the house.
But Chloe didn’t get any answers. Robert was drunk when he arrived, and when she started questioning him, he became aggressive.
“It’s none of your business!” he said. “Just do what you were told to do!” His reaction confused Chloe even more, and it just had her digging deeper. One way or another, she’d find the answers.
A Few Days Pass
After a heated argument, Robert left again, and Chloe spent the next week alone with the baby. That was the one part of the situation that she didn’t mind.
Chloe preferred it when Robert wasn’t there, and the baby was good company. But that wasn’t the only problem the young girl faced. And that was where the problems began.
She Had To Give Up Everything
Chloe had to give everything up to take care of the baby. She couldn’t attend school. She had missed her final exams. She had to give up her part-time job. And she hadn’t seen her friends in weeks.
Those were the things that bothered her the most. How could she leave if she couldn’t even finish the school year?
Couldn’t Do It
After a month of taking care of the baby, Chloe realized that she couldn’t do it anymore. She had plans of her own. She needed to get money and experience so she could leave when she came of age.
But at that point in time, she couldn’t do any of that. And she was nowhere near ready to be a mother.
She Had Her Own Life
Chloe might’ve been young, but she still had a life of her own. She had dreams and aspirations of a bright future away from all this.
She had friends who wanted to help her achieve her goals. And she was well on her way to achieving them. But she couldn’t do that with a baby.
So the next time Robert came around, she started asking more questions. And this time, she wasn’t backing down.
She wanted to know what she was giving her life up for. And she wanted to determine whether or not it was worth it. That was when Robert said something that would change everything she thought she knew.
“I’ll get the ransom soon enough,” Robert mumbled before passing out. The hair on the back of Chloe’s neck stood up. What ransom was he talking about?
Chloe knew he was drunk, and he often spoke nonsense when he was. But his statement still raised her suspicions, and she decided to investigate the matter further.
Following Him Around
Chloe started following Robert around, thinking that she might uncover the truth that way. But sneaking around wasn’t as easy with a baby strapped to her chest.
People often stopped her to make comments, and because of that, she would lose track of Robert. But one night, she had him in her sights, and she felt that this would be the day she got her answers.
Couldn’t Find Anything
He went into a sleazy building, and Chloe followed. But she soon realized that it was the underbelly of the city. This was no place for a fourteen-year-old with a baby.
However, Chloe stuck to her decision and waited it out. Unfortunately, she just wasted her night because there was no sign of Robert doing anything but drinking.
What Was He Hiding?
In the early hours of the morning, Chloe stumbled home. She felt defeated and lost, thinking that she was on a wild goose chase with no end in sight. But that was where she was wrong.
But she had no idea that things were about to escalate the next morning when she woke up to the sound no one wanted to hear – the screaming of a baby.
When Chloe woke up later that day, she heard the baby screaming. She rushed to her bedside and saw that the child’s face was bright red.
When she tried to pick the baby up, she also felt that the child had a fever. She knew it must’ve been brought on by the cold.
But she also knew that fever could be deadly to a child that age. So she did the only thing she could. She called Robert.
The baby wasn’t hers, and it certainly wasn’t her stepdads. But she still felt responsible for the infant. She would never forgive herself if something happened to it while she was the caretaker.
She never asked for any of this, but nor did the child. But she was worried about it all the same. But would Robert even care?
Convincing him to take the child to the doctor was no easy feat. He was convinced that the illness would blow over without medical attention. But Chloe wasn’t so sure.
It was clear he didn’t care about the child, but she couldn’t deny that she was starting to get attached to the baby. But the mystery remained about who the child was and why Robert had brought it here.
In Dire Need
The baby was in dire need of a doctor, and Chloe tried to bring the fever down with a cool cloth which she placed on the baby’s forehead.
It seemed to have done the trick for the moment, but she still had to convince Robert to take them. In the meantime, she wanted to get to the bottom of the mystery of who exactly this baby was.
Rummaging Through His Belongings
Chloe couldn’t shake the feeling that Robert was hiding something crucial about the baby. While he was out, she decided to rummage through his belongings, hoping to find a clue.
In a drawer, she discovered a cryptic note with a series of numbers and a name she didn’t recognize. The numbers seemed like coordinates, but for what?
A Web of Deception
Her heart pounded as she tried to decipher the note’s meaning. It felt like she had stumbled upon a dark secret that linked Robert to something sinister.
Chloe’s suspicion grew, and she couldn’t simply sit back and accept the situation any longer. She reached out to a close friend, Josh, who had a knack for hacking and digging up information.
What Was Robert Involved In?
What exactly was Robert involved with? She knew he was always involved with shady deals ever since she had known him, but where did he get this baby?
Chloe’s mind raced, thinking about all the terrible things that Robert could have done to get this baby. The mother of the baby must be worried out of her mind.
Partnering with Josh
Chloe trusted Josh like no one else. He was tech-savvy and had helped her out of a few tricky situations before. When she showed him the cryptic note, he immediately got to work, trying to trace those coordinates and find any connection to the baby.
They huddled over Josh’s computer, following the digital breadcrumbs that could lead to the truth. As they dug deeper, they uncovered something they could never have anticipated – a vast network of illegal activities.
It seemed they had found everything that Robert was busy with. Everything was, of course, illegal, and Chloe could only imagine all the criminals he knew.
And she was living with him. If he had brought this baby to her out of nowhere, what could he do to her if she confronted him? Chloe didn’t even want to think about it.
The evidence they uncovered pointed to Robert’s involvement in an organized crime syndicate. It wasn’t just petty theft or fraud; it was something far more sinister.
Fear gripped Chloe’s heart as she realized the extent of the danger she was in. If Robert was capable of such criminal actions, who knew what he might do if he found out she was onto him?
Chloe knew she had to act quickly, not only to protect herself but also to save the baby from whatever dangerous circumstances it might have been born into. But she couldn’t do it alone, and Josh agreed to help her every step of the way.
As they delved deeper into the connections and operations of the syndicate, they realized they needed solid evidence to expose Robert’s criminal activities.
In A Deep Hole
As they read on, it seemed like Robert owed some people a lot of money. He had dug himself into such a deep hole that he was looking for a way to get thousands of dollars in a short amount of time.
Chloe could only imagine who the people that he owed money to were.
She Realized Something
Then she realized something. It all made sense now why he brought the little innocent baby for her to take care of. This was all part of the greater scheme of things.
At this point, she felt like she was truly living in a Hollywood movie. She needed to find a way for her and the baby to escape this hell before it was too late.
The Price Of Debts
Robert needed money, so he kidnapped the baby for ransom. This was how he was going to pay off his debts. And Chloe was in the middle of this whole mess.
She felt so sorry for the baby and its mother, for that matter. The hell Robert had all put them through, all because he had debts to pay off.
The Great Escape
With the gravity of the situation weighing on Chloe’s shoulders, she knew she had to act swiftly. She couldn’t allow the innocent baby to become a pawn in Robert’s dangerous game. Chloe and Josh devised a plan to escape the clutches of the crime syndicate and keep the baby safe.
As usual, Robert wasn’t home, and they saw this as the perfect opportunity. But then Chloe looked at the baby.
Too much At Stake
“We can’t leave just yet,” she said to Josh. “This baby is sick, and we can’t just go into the night with an unknown baby. We could get into big trouble.”
Josh realized the weight of the situation and reluctantly agreed with Chloe. There was too much at stake to just take a sick baby and run away.
Nothing He Could Do
Josh decided to leave the house before Robert eventually came back and saw him. He would surely ask a lot of questions about why he was there.
He didn’t want Chloe to be in any more trouble than she already was. Chloe thanked him for his help and promised to keep him updated on the situation. Then she heard Robert step through the door.
The Baby Was Still Sick
As usual, he was drunk, and Chloe didn’t have the strength to get into another argument with him. But the baby was still sick. She needed to get to a doctor urgently.
The damp cloths were no longer helping to break the fever, and she needed to do something. “The baby needs a doctor immediately, she said. But Robert just shrugged as he took another beer from the fridge.
The two of them got into a heated argument, with Chloe acting like a ferocious bear that was trying to protect her cub. But then she thought of something that was sure to change his mind.
She was about to appeal to his selfish reasoning. She told him something that would immediately grab his attention. But it had a price.
He Finally Gave In
“If this child dies, you won’t be getting any ransom!” Chloe snapped. The blood drained from Robert’s face as she said the words. But they instantly calmed him down.
“Where did you hear that from?” He said in a voice of dread. He clearly didn’t remember what he had said while he was drunk. Chloe stepped back, scared of the confrontation with her father.
Full Of Fear
“You said it while you were drunk!” She said before she could stop herself. She knew he hated it when she mentioned his drinking. Anger seemed to rise up from inside of him as he stepped towards her.
“Fine!” he scoffed. “We’ll take the thing to a doctor.” Chloe felt a sense of relief wash over her. But she had no idea what this trip would ultimately end up costing her.
On The Way
It was only when they were on the road that Chloe realized her mistake. The doctor will want information. Information that she didn’t have.
Anxiety shot through her. She didn’t want to be incriminated and her father’s scheme was definitely enough to hold her accountable. But her father was about to give her a clue about everything.
“What name do we give the doctor?” she asked, feeling ashamed. “Just tell them her name is Shauna Steward. Tell them it’s your kid,” Robert mumbled, not knowing that he had just piqued Chloe’s interest.
It seemed like a helpful clue as to what was going on. He came up with the name a little too quickly, he definitely didn’t just make it up.
A Unique Opportunity
Chloe sat with the baby on her lap while Robert drove them to the hospital. She was nervous about what was going to happen to them when they arrived, but something else would happen before that.
Thankfully, Robert wouldn’t be able to go all the way to the hospital, he would have to make a stop off. That’s when Chloe had a unique opportunity.
Stopping For Gas
They were about halfway through their journey across the state when Robert decided to stop for gas. And that was when everything changed.
For once, Chloe was glad that her step dad was irresponsible and didn’t fill up the tank when he had the chance. Now she could do something she never had the chance to before.
Accessing His Car
The one place Chloe never had access to was his car. And she was sure that she would find the answers she was looking for in it. Was she right? And what would she find?
She never trusted Robert from the moment he married her mother years ago. Now that he was the only person in his life, she knew that he was rotten to the core. But she never expected to find something so terrible in his car.
He Went To The Store
While filling up the car, Robert decided to get something to eat. This was Chloe’s chance. She could search the car while he was away.
If she didn’t take her chance now, then she would never find out the truth behind everything. She needed to know what he was doing with the child, and she needed to know now.
Searching The Car
She started in the cabby holder and swiftly made her way to the trunk. That was where she hit the jackpot. It was the place Robert used to store all his secrets.
She had always suspected that her step dad had kept everything from her inside of his car. Why else wouldn’t he normally let her near it?
She Saw Something
The moment Chloe opened the trunk, she saw something. Files upon files of information were stored back there. Was this the evidence that she needed?
And the name Shauna popped up once more. That was the same name that Robert had told her. It couldn’t have been a coincidence. But this time, it was accompanied by a surname.
“Shauna Lancaster,” Chloe mumbled to herself. That was the baby’s real name. And Chloe had the evidence to prove it.
But what could she do with the information she had? She could probably turn him in, but she was scared of what he would do if he found out what she was plotting.
Before getting back into the passenger seat, Chloe checked up on the baby. Or at least that was what it looked like. But she had an ulterior motive for doing what she did.
Robert got back in, and they hit the road once more. But Chloe didn’t say anything. There was no point in talking to the man. She’d have to find another way to expose him.
The visit to the doctor was a success. They got the medication they needed to treat the baby and made their way back home.
Chloe spent the trip examining her options. She was completely unaware of the fact that an opportunity was waiting for her around the next bend. Would she take it? Or just let it slip? Then Robert did something she would never forgive.
Robert looked over at Chloe holding young Shauna. He watched as she gave the baby the medication she desperately needed. But that’s when a switch flipped in his head.
“Now that she’s all better, it’s too risky to keep her inside the car,” Robert said. “What do you mean?” An alarmed Chloe replied. But what he was plotting was beyond cruel.
“I don’t want that baby inside the car, okay? Put her in the trunk.” Robert coldly replied. She wouldn’t stand for something this cruel. “She could die in there!” She screamed back at Robert.
Her mind was now made up. If she had the opportunity, she wouldn’t hesitate to turn him in, even if she was scared to the bone of what he would do to her.
Chloe finally put her foot down. “She doesn’t go in the trunk, and you can’t make me do it.” But Robert didn’t like rebellion. He took a swig from a hip flask he always kept with him and gripped the steering wheel tighter.
She knew he was beyond furious, but he wasn’t going to punish her now. He was going to wait until they got home. But thankfully, an angel must have been looking out for Chloe.
Robert had already started drinking, and he was speeding down the road. But this time, he wouldn’t get away with it. He got flagged down by a police officer and had no choice but to stop.
Chloe felt her heart beating against the walls of her chest as the officer approached. This was the best thing she could’ve asked for.
Her Only Chance
“License and registration, please,” the officer said when he got to the car. But Chloe wasn’t going to miss her window of opportunity. “I think you should check the trunk, officer,” she said before glancing at Robert.
Robert was pale as a sheet, and the officer was confused. But he did follow her advice. “Please pop the trunk, sir.”
“You don’t need to. She’s just a loudmouth kid.” Robert tried making up excuses, but the trained police officer knew something was up. He saw the terrified look on Chloe’s face.
“It’s not a question, sir. I’d like to see what you have in your trunk, and I have probably cause now, so do as I say.” The officer coldly told Robert. But what he did next surprised everyone.
Reaching For Something
Chloe watched as an already tipsy Robert reached down in front of his seat. She could only guess what he was reaching for, so she had to act fast.
“Stop!” She shouted at Robert. And for once in her life, he really did. He stopped what he was doing and stared at her with a look of betrayal. But it wasn’t over yet.
Robert exploded with emotion right then and there. He spilled everything he had been keeping from Chloe, including the syndicate that he was involved with. The child that he had kidnapped was, in fact, partly his.
The mother had told him that he’d never be able to see her again, and for good reason. He was a terrible father. It was the first time Chloe saw him cry, but the system wouldn’t be lenient.
Even though he just wanted to see his child, he did it by kidnapping them. The woman he was with that he never told Chloe about, testified against him and managed to get the judge to give him ten years in jail.
Chloe noticed that the woman had more in common with her than she thought, and she had already grown attached to Shauna. The woman offered to become her new legal guardian, and she never looked back.
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.