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With a growing certainty, she had come to realize that the paychecks and ego fulfillment were holding her captive from what was truly the most important thing in her life: an amazing two-year-old boy with blond hair, curious eyes and fast feet. A son named Tim.
Over the years, Dennis had done his best to sidestep his wife's coworkers and she didn't really blame him. They were a knot of high-strung, high-maintenance women-not a male in sight-who dug into every detail of their work with a life-or-death importance. They mainly knew Dennis from the pleasant voice that answered the phone at home. They probably didn't know that he often told them she wasn't there-out shopping-when in reality, she was reading a bedtime story to Tim, or bathing him, or just holding him in the big family room chair, watching his soft face drift off to sleep. She didn't mind when Dennis did this. But she always called back. And when she did, it almost always guaranteed that the next few hours belonged to Digital Learnings.
Dennis already seemed happier with the new arrangement. Tonight at dinner he was more talkative than usual, even charming to her coworkers. At 32, he had retained a youthful handsomeness and stayed in shape, even as his face sagged a little, drooped even, and his fabulous head of hair thinned with slow motion menace. His new glasses gave him the look of a thoughtful professor-she had picked them out and convinced him they were hip. Originally, he wasn't looking for hip-he wanted something similar to the wide frames he had worn ever since high school.
Anita knew he was nervous about his new responsibilities as Sole Provider. She knew it would cut into his CD shopping sprees and box seats at Pac Bell Park. But he would be getting a lot more in return.
Anita looked forward to cooking real dinners, surprising Dennis with exotic recipes-no more carryout, microwave meals or frozen pizzas. She would make sure he appreciated her stay-at-home status, even if her coworkers made her feel guilty.
Tim always made her day. His little reactions to her-the way Anita could bring out a smile, the giggles, the wide-eyed wonder. She wanted to be the center of his universe again, like the weeks she had stayed home with him after he was born.
In recent months, Anita had become worried that Tim was growing up thinking the nanny, Pam, was his mommy. He certainly saw more of Pam than anyone else. Lately, Anita had been more like an occasional visitor, some lady who shared time with him on the weekends, but otherwise appeared as a sporadic glimpse in the morning or at bedtime.
On some nights, being careful not to wake him, Anita brought Tim into her bed in a feeble effort to spend more time with him. Now more that ever, she wanted to be part of his days. His personality was developing, his curiosity was expanding, his vocabulary was growing. He wasn't the passive, anonymous sleep/cry/poop machine anymore. He was quickly becoming a little person.
It still hurt Anita that Tim's first steps took place in front of Pam. Pam had sent a text message via cell phone. When Anita glanced at it during a meeting, she almost broke down in tears in front of everybody.
TIM HAS A SURPRISE FOR YOU, said the message. HE WALKED! HE TOOK FOUR STEPS IN THE LIVING ROOM. HE IS SO PROUD.
Anita felt crushing guilt and the ball began rolling that would lead to her decision to quit.
When the Jeep Liberty finished crossing the Bay and reached solid ground, the departure from Digital Learnings somehow became permanent. Anita felt no regret in the pit of her stomach. No anxiety. No sadness. Just a warm, light feeling. And stronger affirmation that this was the right thing to do. Maybe in a few years, when Tim was in preschool, she would do some part-time consulting.
Maybe. And maybe not.
Anita had grown up with all the benefits and baggage of a stay-at-home mom, and she couldn't imagine anything less for Tim. There was a strong, invisible bond with her mother that always maintained a presence, no matter how far apart they lived or how much time separated phone calls or visits. She wanted that for her relationship with her own child.
Sweet, shy and incredibly devoted Pam. Two days after submitting her resignation, Anita delicately broke the news to her. Dennis stood nearby, silent. Pam, a quiet and homely woman in her late thirties, took it hard. She didn't respond for several minutes. Anita could tell that Pam was holding back a cracked voice and tears.
Anita had felt awful-but then again, why should she? They both loved Tim. And this was best for Tim.
Pam didn't appear to have much of a life outside of her nanny routine. She was obviously someone who never quite figured out what she wanted to do. Or perhaps she was waiting for someone to hand her the answer. In any case, her love for children had defaulted into a career. Pam's simplicity and sweetness seemed more suited to dealing with children than other adults. And she was great with Tim. Tim loved her. It was a perfect match.
Upset, but swallowing back the hurt, Pam had said she understood. Anita and Dennis promised her that babysitting opportunities would come up. They didn't want Pam to feel cut off from Tim's life. And they didn't want Tim to face an abrupt separation from Pam.
Tonight, Pam was at the house with Tim, her last official day as Tim's nanny. Earlier in the evening, when Anita and Dennis were backing out of the driveway on the way to dinner, Dennis had suddenly stopped the Jeep, swearing, realizing that he had forgotten his wallet inside the house. When Dennis returned, he had unsettling news.
Dennis told Anita how he entered the house and caught Pam off guard. She was picking up some of Tim's toys in the kitchen. And she was crying.
"She seems distraught," Dennis told Anita. "Now I feel like crap."
"You shouldn't," Anita said.
"She just loves Tim, that's all," said Anita. "I don't blame her. They've spent so much time together ..."
"I think he's her best friend," Dennis remarked. It sounded like a joke. But in a way, it wasn't.
Soon, Pam would have to leave the house for her apartment with the new sensation that she would not return the following morning. Oh God, thought Anita to herself. I hope Pam doesn't fall apart in front of us.
Now in Rockridge, the Jeep pulled onto tree-lined Vernon Road, just moments away from their split-level house in one of Oakland's most desirable neighborhoods. The homes, shingle-sided bungalows with wide lawns, were mostly dark and blank with occasional windows illuminated like restless eyes.
Anita felt a sudden surge of joy. This is really it. The future is here.
She couldn't wait to slip upstairs, peek in on Tim, touch his hair, adjust his blanket, and kiss his delicate face.
Mommy's here. I'm home for good.
At 11:15, Dennis pulled the Jeep into the driveway. Anita saw a troubling look cross his face. Then she felt something, too-something was strange, something was out of place.
Pam's Toyota was gone from its traditional spot alongside the curb in front of the house.
"Where's her car?" asked Dennis.
The first sensation, Anita would remember over and over in the years to come, was nothing more than curiosity.
And then her world came crashing down.
Anita and Dennis opened the front door and entered stillness. Usually, Pam showed up with a greeting. There would be the traditional exchange of "How's Tim?," "Tim's great," "Did he give you any trouble?," "Oh, no, not Tim." Even if Tim gave her trouble, they doubted Pam would say anything-it would encourage too much conversation. Pam didn't like to make waves. She didn't like to make ripples. If the hour was early, Tim would run to the door at the sound of the latch. There would be the pitter-patter of tiny feet followed by a delighted squeal.
Tonight: silence. Without taking off his coat, Dennis turned left and headed down the short corridor that led to the family room. When Tim was asleep in his crib, Pam would typically perch herself in front of the television, watching miscellaneous sitcoms with eyes glued but no laughter. But tonight the set was off. The family room was empty, undisturbed.
"Hello? Pam?" called Dennis. It sounded weird-as if he was calling somebody out of hiding.
Anita dropped her coat on a chair. She headed upstairs, picking up the pace with every step. She hurried through a dark corridor-not stopping for a light switch-and entered Tim's bedroom.
"Dennis, he's gone!"
Excerpted from Abducted by Brian Pinkerton Copyright © 2004 by Dorchester Publishing. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted October 8, 2006
I had to pick a book for a school project and when I read the back cover it already had my attention. Pinkerton has the ability to grab your attention from the beginning and keep it throughout the whole book. It's full of twists and surprises, so it keeps you guessing. You're never sure where he's taking it next.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 2, 2005
Brian Pinkerton's ABDUCTED may have passed under your radar due to its low profile release, but if you are fortunate enough to discover this title, you will be rewarded with a reading experience far superior to many recent thrillers on the New York Times bestsellers list. Though there have been many novels involving the disappearance of a child, in Mr. Pinkerton's hands the concept is fresh and full of completely unexpected plot twists. You WILL gasp audibly at at least one point. You WILL read this novel in one sitting...even if the house is on fire. Judging from this novel, and his most recent one VENGEANCE, Brian Pinkerton is a name to remember. His work is already superior those of well-known names such as James Patterson and James Siegel.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 5, 2004
I read this book on a glowing recommendation from my aunt and I was so impressed, I had to write a review here. I started this book and literally could not put it down until I finished it. It draws you in from the first page and never lets go. What a twist at the end, you will be completely surprised! This author has a gift for writing this type of book and I cannot wait for future books. They should be fighting for film rights for this book, its that good! What a perfect summer beach read, I promise you will not be disappointed! The plotting and characterization in this book are absolutely superb!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 29, 2011
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