Broken Promise

Broken Promise by Linwood Barclay Read Free Book Online

Book: Broken Promise by Linwood Barclay Read Free Book Online
Authors: Linwood Barclay
Tags: Fiction, General, Suspense, Thrillers, Mystery & Detective
you don’t really know what’s going on. For all you know, Marla’s just babysitting for someone, with their permission.”
    “I asked Marla that. She says no.”
    “But it’s possible! Maybe she’s babysitting, and while she’s looking after this child, she’s imagining that he’s her own baby. When you think of what she’s been through—”
    The shower stopped. “I gotta go, Mom. I’ll keep you posted. Get Agnes over here.”
    I slipped the phone back into my jacket.
    “David?” Marla called from behind the closed door. I moved to within a foot of it.
    “Yeah?”
    “Did you say something?”
    “No.”
    “Were you on the phone?”
    “I had to take a call.”
    “You weren’t talking to my mom, were you?”
    “No,” I said honestly.
    “Because I do not want her coming over. She’s just going to make a big deal about this.”
    I didn’t want to lie, or even mislead her. “I called my mom, but I told her to call Agnes. You could use your mom’s help. She knows all about babies. She was a midwife before she went into nursing, right?”
    The second I’d said it, I regretted it, thinking it might remind Marla of the day she lost her child. Agnes had been present not only because she was Marla’s mother, but because she had expertise in delivering a child.
    Not that it did any good.
    “You had no right!” Marla shouted. She threw open the door, wrapped in a towel. “I don’t want to be here when she shows up.” She stomped into her bedroom and slammed the door.
    “Marla,” I said weakly. “You need to—”
    “I’m getting dressed. And I have to get Matthew into something. We’ll go look for a crib.”
    I had no safety seat for an infant. It had been several years since I’d needed any version of one for Ethan. But at this moment, that seemed a minor problem compared to everything else. If Marla was determined to leave the house, but still willing to be in my company, then I’d put her and the baby in the car, ostensibly to go looking for a crib, drive like I had a bowl of goldfish on the front seat, but head for the Gaynor home instead of a furniture store.
    See how Marla reacted.
    “Five minutes!” Marla said.
    She was out in four, dressed in jeans and a ratty pullover sweater, her hair still wet. She had the baby in her arms. It was hard to see what he was wearing, she had him wrapped up in so many blankets.
    “Grab the stroller,” she said. “I don’t want to have to carry him when we’re shopping. Oh, and let me get another bottle from the fridge.”
    I didn’t feel I could call my mother back in front of Marla to tell her we were on the move. I figured the moment Agnes arrived and found no one here, my cell would start ringing. I folded the stroller, and as we stepped outside and Marla put her key in the door to lock it, I took another look at the bloody smudge on the door frame.
    Maybe it wasn’t blood. It could be dirt. Someone who’d had their hand in the garden. Except Marla wasn’t much of a gardener.
    “I think you should sit in the back,” I told her. “If the air bag went off in the front and crushed the baby into you, well, that wouldn’t be a good thing.”
    “Just drive real careful,” Marla said.
    “That’s what I’ll do.”
    I got her settled into the backseat, behind the front passenger seat, with Matthew in her arms. I opened the back hatch, tossed in the stroller, then got behind the wheel.
    “Where are we going to look?” she asked. “Walmart? Or maybe the Sears at Promise Falls Mall?”
    “I’m not sure,” I said, heading west. Even though I’d grown up in this town, it wasn’t until I was a reporter for the Standard that I really got to know all corners of it. I could find Breckonwood without the help of a navigation system. “Walmart might be a good place to start.”
    “Okay,” she said placidly.
    It didn’t take long to reach the Gaynors’ neighborhood. Breckonwood was in one of the town’s tonier enclaves. Houses here cost much

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