Chapter Eighteen JIM I’m the celebration at the end of Laurel’s day, the friendly face who’ll stride into her room and make her forget the dreariness of being confined to bed. Tonight, I will tell her how beautiful she is, how darling and dear. This is what I tell myself as...

There’s a bounce to Tully’s step as I follow him to the hallway. Rather than steering us to the comfy couches in the waiting area, he stops at a trash can across the nurses’ station. Mothers with their babies stroll around us. Tully drums his fingers against the glossy white...

Chapter Nineteen TRISH My whole body is electrified as I walk through the sunlit hospital lobby with Anne Elise under my coat. Everything is jittery and wonderful. No one gives me a second look. I know the difference between right and wrong, but I’m stunned how easy it is to steal...

Chapter Twenty LAUREL I’m no forget-me-not, no drip-dry girl to be left hanging from the shower-curtain rail, but this is how I feel, waiting for the doctors to examine me. Time is flippy-floppy. I’m feverish, and every time I open my eyes, it’s like ages have passed since...

Chapter Twenty-One JIM Simpkins’s entire office is about 150 square feet, not much bigger than the interior of the cargo vans parked in the parking garage just beyond the room’s hollow-core metal door. The decor is minimal—a coat rack, upon which hangs his sheepskin jacket;...

I grab the bottle and take a healthy, man-sized swig of the Macallan. Closing my eyes, I hold the Scotch in my mouth for a good five seconds, reveling in its taste. “So what’s this mean?” “You’re in a bidding war. That’s what this means. I can’t say for certain, but...

Chapter Twenty-Two TRISH Dusk falls. Ever since I finished my call with Simpkins an hour ago, I’ve been driving in circles with Anne Elise concealed beneath my jacket. The traffic light changes from green to a cautionary yellow, and after I coast to a stop at an intersection,...

Chapter Twenty-Three LAUREL I’m in my bed, still stunned the hospital let Zerena disappear. “Where is she?” I keep asking. No one has any answers. Lois Belcher comes to my side while the two men in suits speak into their walkie-talkies about a possible abduction. Zerena isn’t...

The two security officers look at each other, probably thinking they should’ve asked me to call Jimmy before making wild, horrible accusations about him. I punch Jimmy’s number into my phone, already feeling the satisfaction of being able to hand my phone over to one of these...

Chapter Twenty-Four TRISH James has his uses. He’s a whiz at lighting a crackling fire in the fireplace. He can strike a match and set fire to the dampest kindling, run a lighted cone of newsprint up the flue to warm up a damper and draw the smoke up the chimney once the main...