“Feeling better?” Elliot asked in a deep voice.
The head-rush that made Anastasia sway on her feet was ebbing, but it was then that she suddenly realized Elliot was holding her in his arms. She quickly stepped backward to create some distance between them, only to bump into the table behind her.
“Ow!” she exclaimed. The next second, she was pulled back into Elliot’s embrace, even though she had burrowed out of it mere moments ago.
When her face collided against the muscled planes of his chest, she heard a thud followed by a dull ache that spread over her cheekbone.
However, before she could fully register the pain, she felt a large palm clasp over her wrist. She was in a stupor as she was pulled to the car that was parked by the curb. When the door on the passenger’s side opened, Elliot pressed her firmly into the seat.
As soon as she sat down, she fished out her phone and called her father’s number, only to hear Francis’ panicked cry on the other line. “Anastasia, Jared hasn’t been found yet.”
“Don’t worry, Dad. Jared is just fine. He’s safe, and I’m on my way to pick him up right now.”
“What? Where’s Jared? Where is he?”
“A kind shopkeeper is watching over him now and I’m heading over to pick him up.”
“Give me the address and I’ll be right there as well.
Erica is supposed to be with Dad this evening, and because Erica is a dangerous person, there is no way I’ll let her near Jared. With that in mind, Anastasia responded hastily, “Dad, I’m sure you’re tired, so you should get some rest. I’ll go and pick up Jared myself.”
“No, I need to make sure that Jared is alright,” Francis insisted; he was so beside himself with worry that he thought his stomach might turn inside out.
“I know, but I’ll be right over to see you after I have picked Jared up,” she placated. She could get to the bottom of how Jared had gone missing by the end of the night since she suspected that Erica had something to do with it.
She hung up the phone and next to her was Elliot already driving over to the location of the store. As the car sped through the streets, Anastasia kept her eyes closed while she tried to recompose herself. Only heaven knew how terrified she had been earlier; she nearly lost her wits.
This was the first time since Jared’s birth that she had found herself at the mercy of fear.
At last, they pulled up outside a boutique. Anastasia saw her son sitting on the couch as soon as she walked through the door and she broke down in tears of relief as she cried, “Jared!”
“Mommy, Mommy, you’re here!” The little one ran up to her and threw his arms around her. She crouched low as well and pulled him into her embrace, her tears silently streaming down her face.
Meanwhile, the shopkeeper who had been watching over Jared noticed the man standing behind Anastasia, after which she immediately thought in surprise, Wow, what a catch! This has to be the kid’s father. They look exactly like each other!
With his handsome features and tailored suit, Elliot looked dazzling where he stood tall and straight beneath the lights. There was no mistaking the grace and elegance that he emanated. Although he didn’t say anything, he seemed relieved as his gaze fell upon the embracing pair of mother and son.
Anastasia straightened her posture and unclasped the necklace she was wearing, which was the only valuable thing she had on her person at the moment. She took the female shopkeeper’s hand and thanked, “I don’t have my purse with me, but take this necklace of mine as a reward for your kindness; the necklace is worth twenty thousand.”
“Oh, no, there’s no need for that. Anyone else would have done the same thing. The kid is precious. Make sure you keep an eye on him next time,” the shopkeeper gently responded as she nudged Anastasia’s hand away in her refusal to accept the reward.
“Thank you so much. You’re my son’s lifesaver. Could we at least get your number?” Anastasia gazed upon the shopkeeper, the gratitude pooling in her eyes.
The girl seemed a little flustered as she urged, “There’s no need to be so formal with me. Take your child home now and get some rest.”
Upon seeing how the girl had so adamantly turned down the reward, Anastasia had no choice other than to profusely thank her. The little one next to her looked up at: Elliot at that moment and asked, “Mr. Handsome, were you the one who drove my
mommy over here?”
“That’s right, buddy. Do you know how terrified your mom was? You gave her quite the fright,” Elliot said as he crouched down and pulled the boy into his arms.
“I’m sorry, Mommy. It was my fault; I never should have run off on my own,” Jared apologized guiltily, realizing the gravity of the situation.
After thanking the shopkeeper, Anastasia turned to him and asked, “Jared, can you tell me how you got lost?”
“Grandpa was parking the car when Aunt Erica told me she was going to buy me yummy snacks, but she went and never came back. I wanted to look for her, but I got lost,” the little boy answered frankly.
Burning rage filled Anastasia when she heard this. Gritting her teeth, she thought, You were trying to abandon my son on purpose, weren’t you, Erica?
next chapter 58