A military dad comes home unexpectedly from overseas duty to find his daughter sleeping on the floor while his wife and stepsons are away on a luxury vacation.
Peter couldn’t wait to get home. He’d been away for eight long months and he missed his family terribly. He was lucky to get an early discharge from his current tour, and he was coming home a whole two months early!
He’d said nothing to his wife, Linda, or his daughter Melissa. He wanted to surprise them. He walked towards his front door with a spring in his step and a big smile on his face. He had no idea what he was about to discover.
Peter opened the door and called out: “Linda, Melissa? Where are you? Jay and Kyle! I’m home!”
But his wife and his stepsons didn’t answer. The house was empty! It was a Saturday morning and they should all be home… “Melissa?” Peter called out one last time.
“Daddy!” cried a faint voice. “I’m here, in the kitchen!”
Peter ran to the kitchen door and was surprised to see that it was locked. He turned the key and opened the door. Melissa was standing there with tears in her eyes. “Daddy,” she sobbed. “I’ve missed you so much!”
Peter hugged his daughter tightly, then over her shoulder he saw a mattress! “Melissa!” he gasped. “Were you sleeping here? WHY? Where are Linda and the boys?”
Melissa looked frightened. “Please, daddy,” she said. “Please, it’s alright…”
“Tell me!” Peter said in a stern voice. “Were you locked up and sleeping in this kitchen?”
Melissa started sobbing. “I can’t tell you!” she cried. “Don’t you see, daddy? You’ll go away again and I’ll be all alone with THEM again!”
Peter put his arms around his daughter. “I promise you, Melissa, you have nothing to be afraid of, ever again. Now tell me what’s going on.”
“Six months ago, Linda said Jay and Kyle were too big to be sharing a bedroom,” she explained. “So she moved me out of my bedroom and Kyle moved in. I sleep in the kitchen on this mattress.”
Peter was furious! When he married Linda, he treated her two sons from a previous relationship as his own. He believed she’d done the same for his little orphaned daughter!
Where are they now?” Peter asked. “And why were you locked in?”
“Linda took the boys to Florida for the weekend to celebrate Kyle’s birthday,” Melissa said. “So she left me some sandwiches and locked me in here because she thinks I’d steal her things…”
Just then, someone knocked on the kitchen door. Peter looked through the window and saw a slim, sweet-faced woman with a covered plate in her hand. “Melissa? It’s Karen…” she said.
“Who is Karen?” Peter asked Melissa.
“She’s a new neighbor,” Melissa said. “She’s really sweet and kind. I think she suspects something because she always brings me treats.