Molly’s twin sister’s death four years ago hasn’t been the only hardship her family has endured. It’s been one hard knock after another.
Now she has not one, but three little brothers to deal with, and it doesn’t help that two of the boys are disabled. Her mom wants to try again for another girl – a replacement for her dead twin, Madeline – the shining star everyone idolized. Molly’s mother has no time for her these days, and Molly has begun to resent her dead sister’s ‘perfect’ memory.
When her family vacations in Florida, animal lover Molly is thrilled to spend her time at the animal park. It’s a chance to cast off her life-sucks attitude for a while.
When she receives an S.O.S. message from a gorilla behind the glass at the park, nobody believes her. Molly has no idea why or what she can do to help the Silverback, but she’s determined to figure it out.
It quickly becomes apparent doing so will change her family forever. What she doesn’t realize yet is, it might just change the world.
Previous Two Chapters: Molly has just rescued the baby gorilla, Jace, from the animal park. Capable of speech, Jace is in danger of being turned over for scientific experimentation. Against all odds, and with the help of her friend, Andre, Molly manages to get Jace home without incident, but when her father suffers a heart attack, her mother sees the baby gorilla, Jace moving around and talking. Molly is forced to choose between betraying her mother and allowing Jace to be discovered. Her mother is taken for a psychiatric evaluation, giving Molly a short window to breathe and figure out what to do with Jace. The police arrange for a family member to come care for the children. But when Andre arrives with the bad news that Molly has been identified on television as the person who has the missing baby gorilla, Andre, Jace and Molly flee her home, with the police, D.H.S. and other authorities in hot pursuit. Now, Molly must figure out how to make Jace ‘disappear’ before it is too late. She finds an unexpected ally in Andre’s mother.
NOW on with the story…
Silverback Chapter 10
There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.
Italian Theologian (1225-1274)
Molly’s feet echoed the rhythm of her heartbeat as she ran uphill across the grassy lawns separating her house from André’s two blocks away. Tears burned her cheeks as she took a shortcut through the thick leafy bushes bordering the sides of André’s parent’s home.
Molly leaned over, placing her hands on her knees as the sound of sirens filled the air a few blocks away.
André burst out of the side door and gestured wildly. “Get in here. Hurry.”
Molly stood. Sucking in a deep breath, she exhaled slowly, before following André into the house.
“Hello, Molly.” André’s mother stood in the living room, arms crossed.
Molly stopped short and stared. “Dr. Lyon, I can explain–”
“I have no doubt, but there probably isn’t time for that.” She nodded toward the front of the home. “I would estimate perhaps ten or fifteen minutes if you’re lucky.”
Molly followed her gaze. The spacious living room windows gave a panoramic view of the neighborhood. Molly swallowed past the lump in her throat when she noticed the flashing lights reflecting off the solar panels in the next house down. André’s parents had always welcomed her until now. Molly shook her head slowly. This situation couldn’t get much worse, could it?
André reached out and took her hand. “I already explained everything to Mom. Come on. Jace is safe.”
“Safe?” Molly followed André as he led her down the steps into the lower level of the home. “Are you sure?” she asked, turning to look at Dr. Lyon, who followed them.
“For now, anyway.” André let go of her hand and gestured at the beautifully decorated curio shelf that stood against the far wall of the entertainment area.
Molly looked across the room past the billiard table and the full-size screen where she and André played pool and watched cable movies on nights when his brothers were attending Tai Kwondo.
Dr. Lyon walked up to the cabinet and touched the blue platter.
Molly’s mouth fell open when the entire cabinet rotated to reveal a hidden room.
“Come on,” André said, as he stepped through.
Speechless, Molly followed them into a small but cozy room decorated in pastel colors.
Jace sat on a leather sofa, holding a stuffed toy gorilla, with a half-eaten orange on a plate beside him. His eyes widened, and dropping the toy, he scrambled down and ran to her.
Molly reached down and lifted him up, burying her face in his neck as he wrapped his arms around her.
“I’m sorry, little buddy,” she said, her voice muffled in his fur. “I’m so sorry.”
“Sit down, Molly,” Dr. Lyon said. “We don’t have a lot of time, and I want to make sure you understand what I’m about to say.”
Molly moved over to the couch and sank down into the soft leather.
André sat down beside her, and Jace reached out to grasp his hand without letting go of Molly.
Dr. Lyon cleared her throat. “Okay, here’s the way I see it.” She nodded toward Jace. “The authorities say you stole this little guy from the animal park, correct?”
“I didn’t steal him,” Molly said. “His father told me…” Her voice trailed off. Jace hadn’t spoken in front of André’s mother. How much did she know?
“No, you didn’t. You rescued a baby gorilla with the assistance of his obviously highly intelligent parents, capable of making a plan to save their children from being used for government experimentation.” She paused and raised an eyebrow. “How am I doing so far?”
Molly stared at her. “Um, that’s pretty much what happened.”
André grinned. “I filled Mom in when we got back from the park earlier today. She thought her favorite son had lost his marbles at first.” He winked at his mother, who rolled her eyes good-naturedly. “Until I ran through the door with Jace, and he pointed to the fruit bowl on the dining room table and politely asked her for an orange.”
Molly looked from André to his mother. “Now what? What can I do?”
Dr. Lyon’s warm smile sent tiny butterflies of hope fluttering through Molly’s heart.
“The way I see this, Molly, no intelligent being should be enslaved, imprisoned, persecuted, or held in captivity. This is possibly the most amazing thing to happen on this planet in thousands of years, and here we are in the middle of it.” She grimaced. “Unfortunately, we have limited options, because you’ve already been identified as the suspect for the ‘theft’ of little Jace here.”
Molly stood. “I don’t want to get you guys into trouble. I can give myself up, but–“
“Mom and I have an idea.” André patted the stuffed animal Jace had recovered from the floor. He grimaced. “It’s not ideal, but it might work.”
André’s mother paced across the room. “André’s right. It’s not ideal, but we have to get Jace to safety. We also have to give you up.”
Molly nodded. “I can go home and turn myself in.”
“I think you should make a run for it from here. Take the toy, and toss it in the bushes beneath the pool. It has Jace’s scent on it now, so if they’re using tracker dogs, it may throw them off for a few moments at least. Head toward Porter Street and take the shortcut toward the mall.” She sighed. “Of course, they may catch up with you before you make it that far, but just tell them you don’t know where Jace is. The last time you saw him, he was playing with this toy. You won’t be lying. The moment you leave here, I’m leaving with Jace.”
“Where are you taking him?”
Dr. Lyon’s brow furrowed. “How much do you know about Dr. Fountain?”
Molly’s heart skipped a beat, and she chewed her lip. “He was my psychologist, but my mom didn’t think he was helping me.”
André sat forward. “Mom thinks he might be involved somehow. It has something to do with what the Silverback told us about the pin you got at his office.”
“I know Sebastian Fountain quite well,” Dr. Lyon said. “When I was in medical school, he did a couple of lectures for our class. We called him the Wizard, as in Wizard of Oz, because his wife’s name was Dorothy, and they had a dog named Toto.” She chucked. “We were young and silly. He’s very well-respected in the medical community. He also happens to be an animal rights advocate.” Her brow furrowed. “It’s a long shot, but nothing could surprise me more than you two have this afternoon.” She looked from André to Molly. “Unless either of you can come up with a better plan?”
Molly shook her head and looked down at her wrist where her silver FitBit revealed that only five minutes had passed since she arrived at André’s home. “I’d best get going, then.”
Dr. Lyon nodded and pushed a button that opened the doorway back into the entertainment room.
Jace scampered over to the sofa and picked up the toy. He ran to Molly and held it out.
Molly took the toy from Jace. “Thank you, sweetheart.”
“Bye, bye, Molly,” Jace said. “Love you.”
Molly leaned forward and caressed the top of his head. “Good luck, little guy. Bye for now. I love you, too.”
André pulled her into a tight embrace. “It will be okay. Mom’s going to make this work.”
“I hope so.” She turned to Dr. Lyon. “My dad was taken to the hospital and Mom too. Can you check on them for me, and on my brothers? When you get Jace somewhere safe, that is?”
“Of course. The ambulance crew took your dad to MercyHeart. It’s an excellent hospital.” She gave Molly a wan smile. “Your aunt is with the boys, but I’m not sure about your mom. Possibly Summer Springs?”
André’s mom and dad kept their scanner tuned to the emergency frequency. André’s father, an attorney, was also an emergency responder, so it wasn’t at all unusual for them to be privy to all the goings-on in the neighborhood before anyone else.
“What do you think they’ll do to me?” Molly whispered.
Dr. Lyon brow furrowed. “I’m not sure. But you’re a minor, so it won’t be anything more than probation I imagine.” She smiled, but it didn’t reach her eyes. “Ready?”
Molly and André nodded.
“Okay. Molly, go through the pool door and hit the lawn running. You could have easily come in that way and not seen any of us.” She turned to André. “Take my car and drive directly to the hospital. Park in my assigned parking place and wait until I call you.”
André and Molly ran from the room.
Jace walked over to Dr. Lyon and held out his arms.
She picked him up, and he rested his head on her shoulder. She waited for two minutes, then pulled out her cell phone.
“Hello, yes, this is Doctor Lyon. We live just a few blocks away from the young lady you were looking for. Molly Anderson …yes, that’s right. The gorilla girl.” She hesitated, listening to the operator. “I do have some information for you. I’m on my way out, but I did just see her leaving our pool room, and running across the back lawn… Yes, she did have something in her arms.” A moment later, she nodded. “You’re most welcome. No, thank you.” She slipped the phone back into the front pocket of her jacket.
Securing Jace on her hip, Dr. Lyon walked to the garage and unlocked André’s beat-up Malibu. The parking spot her own Mercedes usually occupied was empty, and she smiled as she placed Jace in a car seat traditionally reserved for visiting grandchildren and hoisted it into André’s back seat before fastening a large sunbonnet on Jace’s head.
“You are simply adorable, sweetheart,” she cooed.
Jace wiggled and grinned. “Orange?”
Dr. Lyon laughed and pulled an orange from her pocket. “Here you go. You have no idea how spoiled you are. Lucky for you, this is André’s car, and he eats in here all the time.”
Two minutes later, she waved to a police officer standing on the corner of their block. He smiled and waved back, as she headed down the street in the opposite direction she’d sent Molly.
Exhaling through pursed lips, Dr. Lyon glanced at Jace in the rearview mirror. The baby gorilla stared back at her with intelligent eyes. The hairs on her arms rose involuntarily. “You really are something miraculous, little one,” she whispered. “Let’s hope my hunch about Sebastian Fountain is right. We’re off to see the Wizard. Let’s hope he has some courage to spare. We’re going to need it.”