The Burning Girl

The Burning Girl by Lisa Unger Read Free Book Online

Book: The Burning Girl by Lisa Unger Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lisa Unger
Tags: Fiction, Suspense, Psychological, Thrillers, supernatural
was never angry, never distraught, never afraid. She hated it. Agatha didn’t believe in the voice in Eloise’s head. Agatha herself didn’t have one. She thought it was a trick of Eloise’s subconscious. Her brain struggling to tell a story that Eloise could understand.
    “The brain is a very great mystery,” Agatha had said. “And it does so seek to help us get by.”
    We all live and die in our time. We all have our design and our reason. Don’t judge.
    Eloise pulled herself to her feet, overcome by grief and anger. She must have gotten up too fast because she found herself wobbling and then taking a fall. She knocked her forehead hard against the corner of the sink. She felt the warm gush of blood as she lay on the floor. She remembered what Agatha had to say
    Don’t let them take it all from you, Eloise. Don’t let them have everything.
    • • •
    It was ten that night when she came back to herself, which meant that she had lain unconscious on the bathroom floor for several hours. That was probably not a good thing. She did have some instinct for self-preservation. So she called Ray, and then, still reeling with sadness and anger, she drove herself (probably not advisably) to the emergency room.
    There were questions. Because there was another gash on her forehead from the last fall in the bathtub. She had neglected to get that one stitched up, and it didn’t look very good though it had healed. Was someone hurting her? Was she afraid of anyone? Would she submit to further testing to address the falling issue, which might indicate an underlying condition?
    The ER nurse was young and very competent and didn’t seem to know who Eloise was, which was always a good thing. Eloise answered the questions, declined further testing. Agatha told Eloise that her own mentor had taken to wearing a helmet around the house, he’d hit his head so many times. Eloise would consider it—if it didn’t seem so silly.
    She could still hear the baby crying as the nurse stitched up the gash on her head. She started crying herself, which she didn’t do much anymore. Why hadn’t she done more to help?
    “Am I hurting you?” the nurse asked. She looked at Eloise with such sincere concern that Eloise had to look away. “I can get more topical anesthetic.”
    “No,” said Eloise. “I’m okay.”
    “Let me get some more,” said the nurse. “No reason to suffer if you don’t have to.”
    Good point.
    • • •
    Ray was waiting for her when she got out.
    “I went to the house,” he said. “I thought you were going to wait for me.”
    “Did I say that?”
    “No, Eloise,” he said, a little annoyed. “But common sense dictates that you wouldn’t drive yourself to the hospital after being unconscious for a couple of hours.”
    She offered a shrug, conceding that he was probably right. She did have a concussion, a minor one. And four stitches in the cut over her eyebrow.
    “That doesn’t look too bad,” he said. He gingerly touched the fresh bandage and then gave her a hug.
    But it did look bad. She looked like someone was granny bashing her. She was hideous—older than her years, too thin, battered. She needed to make some changes in her life. Maybe Agatha would let her take a swim.
    Ray ushered her out to the lot with one possessive hand on her back, the other on her arm as if she were a crippled old lady. She had the urge to squirm away from him. But she leaned on him instead; she needed him in that moment.
    It was almost like a dream when she saw the ambulance pull up. No lights. No sirens. She heard, just faintly through the thick walls, a desperate shrieking from inside the vehicle. Then, in his big pickup truck, Nick pulled up from behind, looking pale and shattered. Mercifully, he didn’t see Eloise as Ray shuttled her away.
    “Aw, hell,” Ray said. “I heard it on the scanner. A baby—SIDS.”
    She nearly buckled in his arms, but he held on tight.
    “It’s okay,” he said. “You’re

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