“Mama, Mama, where’s Pawbear?” the child whispered softly.
“Shush baby, your stuffed animal is here. He’s between us.”
“No Mama, he’s gone.” She knelt and leaned against the hospital bed railing, toward the empty recliner. “He’s gone.”
Struggling to sit, Avie remembered there was a button she could push to raise the head of the bed. Running her hand along the railing she found what she was searching for. She needed to get stronger. What if they came back?
"Mama, why’d he go? I didn’t talk. I didn’t. Did I do something else bad? He said he’d stay. He promised.” LilyMae sniffled, trying to hold back the tears.
The wall sconce snapped on. Deke stood silhouetted on the opposite side of the bed. He opened his arms to her daughter. Avie watched in fear as her child clambered into the arms of the man called Deke, the man her daughter believed was the living, breathing Pawbear from her book.
"You did nothing wrong little Boo, and I didn’t leave. I was here watching over you and your mom. I keep my promises. And I keep secrets," Deke replied.