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A tear dribbled down Laura's cheek. Glancing in the rearview mirror, she brushed it away impatiently.
Of all the ridiculous If she'd wanted to fall apart, she'd had plenty of chances over the past year. When she was two months pregnant and filing for divorce from Peter, she hadn't cried. When she was eight months pregnant and simultaneously trying to move, buy a house and set up her business, she hadn't cried. When Mari had arrived two weeks early, she admitted to a few indelicate screams, but no blubbering. When, weak as a kitten, she'd brought the baby home, only to remember that no fairy godmother had stocked the house with food or unpacked the rest of her furniture, she hadn't cried.
At least on those occasions, she'd had good excuses. She certainly didn't have time to fall apart now. To make things worse, the welling tears were blinding her on a day already marked by poor visibility. Rain was too mild a description of the conditions outside. Deluge was more appropriate. Noah's ark time.
A sleek Austin-Healey pulled into the road in front of her, old, elegant, and in mint condition. Laura had nothing specifically against vintage Austins, but the driver was obviously determined to crawl along at a snail's pace. She cast a frantic glance at the baby.
The infant car seat was cushioned in pink angora. Mari was dressed in a spotless white bunny suit and covered with a hand-embroidered blanket in pink and white. From the soft fluff of blond hair to the perfect miniature fingers and toes, the baby was still a source of wonder for Laura. Mari was a little red-faced. She was always a little red-faced when she screamed bloody murder. The piercing wails shattered somewhere near Laura's eardrums like the sound of despair.
The louder the baby cried, the more tears sneaked down Laura's cheeks.
She had to get the baby to a doctor. She'd taken Mari's temperature four times that morning. The baby didn't have a fever; she was fed, warm, dry and, God knew, loved. There was nothing in the baby books about an infant who ate like a lumberjack, slept like a stone and screamed the rest of the time. Something had to be terribly wrong.
While trying to soothe the infant with one hand, Laura jammed a foot on the accelerator. Water spit behind the tires of her ancient Chevy. White oaks bordered both sides of the rolling country road, their bark shining, their leaves glistening like emeralds. Connecticut was wonderful. Especially in early summer. Woods and hills and history-it was the kind of place in which Laura had always wanted to live, the kind of home she wanted for Mari. The ravine behind her house was blanketed with wood hyacinths and wild lilacs, and at night the stars nestled down close to the treetops, almost touchable.
Last year had been hell, but at least it was over. Laura had everything she wanted and needed to put her life back togetherMari, a home and her work. Now, if the baby would stop crying
The green light in the distance turned amber, then red. Laura automatically started to brake, and then Mari let out a frantic muffled yell. Her tiny fists had been flailing; she'd managed to cover her face. When Laura leaned back to grab the blanket, her foot slipped from the brake to the accelerator. She caught less than a second's glimpse of the Austin looming in front of her.