Her Silent Cry (Detective Josie Quinn #6)- Lisa Regan
Their argument crashed in angry waves against the door between us, slamming against the wood, pooling on the floor and slipping underneath where I could hear every word. Most of the time, I didn’t understand what they were saying or even why they were fighting. I only understood that she was about to get hurt; the silent way, or the screaming way. I was never sure which was worse.
No matter how badly he hurt her, she always found her way back to our room eventually. She’d lower herself into our creaking bed, hissing her breaths through gritted teeth, and reach for me. I learned to be very careful when I moved under the covers. Sometimes even the slightest pressure would make her gasp with pain. As gently as I could, I would curl my back into her stomach and wait for the trembling fingers skittering over my scalp to eventually fall into a slow, soothing rhythm.
I had so many questions, but I didn’t ask them. I didn’t want the man to hear me, to remember I was there too. When the ragged edges of her breath smoothed out, she’d let out a soft sigh that meant that she had reached a point where her pain was bearable.
“It’s okay,” she’d say. “It will be okay.”
She was always a bad liar.
Little Harris Quinn’s shrieks carried across Denton City Park’s playground, piercing Josie’s ears. As she chased him from the swings to the slide, she looked around to see if any of the other adults were bothered by his high-pitched sounds of delight, but no one even noticed. All the other adults were similarly focused on their own children as they sprinted back and forth, calling out excitedly.
“Mom! Watch me!”
“You can’t catch me.”
“I want to go on the see-saw!”
Josie followed Harris over to the jungle gym in the center of the playground. It was shaped like a castle with a long, curved bridge that led from a set of low-slung steps to a large slide on the opposite side. Harris climbed up the steps and raced across the bridge.
“Careful,” Josie called after him, but he was already at the top of the slide. She narrowly missed bowling over two toddlers as she raced to the bottom of the slide before he flew off the shiny end into the dirt. She scooped him from mid-air at the base of the slide and he squealed. “JoJo!”
She planted a kiss on the top of his head before he began squirming. “JoJo, down! Again!”
Reluctantly, she set him back down and watched him run back to the steps. It was best to stay at the bottom of the slide, she thought, to catch him. For just a few seconds, while he was on the bridge, he was out of her eyeline. Her heart pounded in her chest until she saw the flash of his blond hair and bright blue dinosaur shirt at the top of the slide. As he sat down and pushed himself forward, a little girl pushed in front of Josie and started climbing up the slide. In her mind’s eye, Josie saw the disastrous collision about to take place. The little girl had to be six or seven years old based on her size—almost twice as large as Harris. She had on white sneakers, stretchy blue pants and a sparkly pink top decorated with a unicorn. On her back, she wore a small backpack in the shape of a butterfly. Her sandy hair, like corn silk, was tied back in a loose, messy ponytail. Josie opened her mouth to speak, to tell the little girl to stop going up the slide, or to tell Harris not to start down the slide, but the words lodged in her throat.
Moving closer to the slide, her hands reached out to grab Harris before he slid straight into the butterfly girl. A woman suddenly appeared on the other side of the slide. “Lucy,” she barked firmly. “You know you’re not supposed to go up the slide that way. Get down before someone gets hurt.”
Little Lucy kept climbing, but the woman’s hand shot out and gripped her arm, stopping her. “Look at me, Lucy,” she said. “What did I say?”
Lucy froze in place and looked up at the woman. Instantly, Josie saw the strong resemblance; the same heart-shaped face, periwinkle blue eyes and narrow nose neatly flared at the nostrils. The woman’s hair was perhaps two shades darker than the little girl’s, but they had to be mother and daughter.