Bobbie has just begun to overcome her reluctance to care for the baby when the nanny abducts the little girl and disappears. Norman re-enters her life as a friend, providing emotional support as the FBI searches for the missing child.
When the child is recovered at last, Norman and Bobbie are overjoyed, but now they must face the fears and regrets associated with their long-lost love.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.52(d)|
Read an Excerpt
The Educated Heart
By Janet Logan
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2010 Janet Logan
All right reserved.
Chapter OneApril Fool's Day 1994
Lunch was over at the Wayne Hobart Middle School in Delran, New Jersey. The world beyond the classroom windows-newborn green foliage and pale lemonade sunshine-promised a perfect afternoon for baseball after three o'clock.
Bobbie Bloom was reading an entry from The Diary of Anne Frank to her eighth grade class. It was her tenth year of teaching, and experience had taught her that reading aloud for the half hour following lunch kept her budding adolescents from gazing out the windows. The questions they asked about the story told her they were listening, and curious about the long-ago ordeal of that thirteen-year-old girl.
Suddenly she paused, sensing a disturbance near the back of the classroom. She looked up and saw Charles Hook standing in the doorway. He'd given her a few problems-correction: many problems-but she believed he had problems of his own.
"You may come in, Charles," she called. "Since you were not here this morning, I hope you stopped in the office to get a late pass from Mrs. Banks."
He did not reply. Instead, he slammed the door so hard she heard the glass panes rattle. As he began to walk toward her desk, she gasped. His face was bruised and both eyes were blackened; one was almost closed.
A sharp icicle of fear traced a path down her spine.
"Charlie, what happened to you?"
"My old man beat me up last night after he read that letter you mailed to my house." His words were muffled by his swollen jaw. "You know, the one where you say you're gonna hold me back if I don't start handing in my homework every day, and all that shit."
In three weeks Charles Hook would reach his fourteenth birthday, but he was nearly six feet tall. His indifference to the school curriculum and his lack of respect for the faculty were legendary. Bobbie was still determined that she would find the right means to motivate him, but she had never envisioned a situation like this one. Her heart was knocking on her ribs and she drew a deep breath before speaking.
"Charles, I want you to go immediately to the nurse's office. She will give you an ice bag for those bruises on your eyes. After school today, you and I will meet with Mr. Loomis to talk about how all three of us can work together to resolve your problems. I want to see you move up to the ninth grade as much as you do."
He moved a step closer, and the look on his face caused her hands to grip the edge of her desk. She reminded herself that she was in charge. Charles might be bigger than she was, but he was still a child.
"You can't help me with my problems, lady, because you're one of them." Adolescence tweaked his vocal cords, and one of the girls stifled a giggle.
Charles reached into his jacket, pulled out a handgun, and pointed it at Bobbie's face. Several students screamed and a few crawled under their desks. In the back of the classroom, a boy named Bud yelled, "April Fool!"
Ragged laughter, mostly male.
A click as Charles cocked the gun.
Bobbie sprang up from her desk just as the gun went off, a knee-jerk reaction to fear that saved her life. The bullet passed through her left arm and hit the blackboard behind her; she crumpled to the floor. Seeming shocked by what he had done, Charles sprinted from her desk and out the door amid shouts and shrieks from the rest of the class.
Several students crowded around her, and the smell of chalk dust mingled with the metallic odor of her blood. She said with as much authority as she could muster while lying on the floor, "Seth, use my classroom phone to call the principal's office and tell Mrs. Banks what has just happened. Make sure you tell her that Charles is running in the halls with a gun."
While Seth was making the call, Bud headed for the door at the back of the room. "I'm going after him, Miss Bloom! I'm sure I can get that gun away from him!" Bud was almost as big as Charles, and he was on the football team.
"You will not take one step out of this classroom!" Using her right arm, Bobbie struggled to a sitting position; the effort caused perspiration to blossom on her face. Her left arm, oozing blood, hung useless at her side. "You're my responsibility, Bud, and I will not let you put your life in danger!"
Her words stopped Bud with his hand on the doorknob, and that's when they heard the second shot. Bud opened the door and peered into the hall.
"Jesus Christ! He just shot Mr. Loomis!"
Mr. Loomis was the guidance counselor.
Bobbie's arm was bleeding profusely, but using her right hand again, she managed to stand up. When she tried to take a step, she staggered and would have fallen if Seth's arm had not steadied her and helped her to sit down behind her desk.
Twenty-three terrified faces stared back at her, and she heard muted sobbing. She plumbed her mind for the right words, calm words to reassure them, but her brain felt like a turtle that had retracted into its shell.
At that moment, the voice of Mr. Bullock, the principal, erupted from the loudspeaker above her head.
"Attention, all teachers! This building is in lockdown mode until further notice. Help is on the way."
The principal's voice seemed to restore Bobbie's ability to address the crisis. "Bud, you heard what Mr. Bullock said. Lock the classroom door right now."
They all heard the reassuring click.
A crescendo of sirens began to surround the school. Shouts and running footsteps echoed in the halls, but inside Bobbie's classroom there was silence-as though she and her students were holding their collective breath.
Several minutes later they heard pounding on the door, and a man's voice bellowed, "Police! You can open up now!"
"Shall I unlock it?" asked Bud. He moved eagerly toward the door.
Bobbie shook her head. She would follow the prescribed protocol for teachers.
"No. The door stays locked until Mr. Bullock unlocks it with his master key."
A minute later they heard the master key bite into the lock; Mr. Bullock strode into the room, followed by the vice-principal and two emergency medical technicians. The technicians applied a tourniquet to stem the blood flowing from Bobbie's left arm and started a saline IV. The vice-principal took charge of her class as Bobbie rode out of the classroom on a gurney. Mr. Bullock walked down the hall beside her.
"Is there anyone you want me to call, Roberta?" he asked.
"Yes, please call my aunt. Her name is Patricia Griffith; she's a teacher at the Randolph Brookman Middle School in Mount Holly. I know the number but I can't think of it right now."
"Don't worry, honey, I'll look it up and give her a call," said Mr. Bullock. The gurney rolled down a wheelchair ramp beside the main entrance. "Looks like the cops have things under control," he added.
As her gurney was lifted into an ambulance, Bobbie turned her head in time to see four police officers shoving Charles Hook, now disarmed and handcuffed, into the back of a waiting police car.
The doors of the ambulance slammed shut, and the vehicle sped out of the parking lot, followed by a second ambulance which carried Robert Loomis, the other victim.
* * *
A teacher's aide was in her classroom when news of the school shooting reached Tricia Griffith via cell phone. She asked the woman to take charge of the class for a few minutes while she hurried to the teacher's lounge to call her older sister Donna in Florida. Donna, a court stenographer, had just concluded her duties at a hearing when her cell phone warbled.
"Okay, what's wrong?" she demanded. She'd heard the wobble in Tricia's hello.
"There was a shooting this afternoon at Bobbie's school."
A harsh intake of breath reached Tricia's ear.
"Was Bobbie hurt?"
"A bullet passed through her left arm, but she's on her way to the hospital now."
"Donna, please don't panic. The principal was the one who called me, and he told me positively that Bobbie is okay, really okay. He saw her and talked with her."
"What hospital did they take her to?"
"Give me the number! I won't be able to sleep tonight until I talk to her myself and hear her voice."
"Hold on." Tricia looked up the number and recited it, but counseled her sister again not to worry.
* * *
Donna, always passionately protective of her only child, realized her hands were shaking as she dialed the number for Riverview Hospital in Burlington County and asked to be connected to the emergency room.
"I'm calling to find out the condition of Roberta Bloom. She was a victim of the shooting at the Hobart Middle School," she said, raising her voice to compete with the cacophony of voices she heard in the background.
"There's a lot of noise here. Could you repeat that name again?"
"Roberta Bloom!" Donna was almost shouting.
"Did you say Robert Loomis?" The deafening din in the emergency room smothered her words, like shouting into a bale of cotton.
"Yes, that's right! Roberta Bloom!" Donna shrilled.
"Oh, my God! That patient just died in front of my desk!"
At the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Donna's left hand clawed at her chest-and the cell phone fell to the floor from the flaccid fingers of her other hand.
Chapter Two"I called the administrator of that hospital in New Jersey."
Judge Ben Gross was escorting his stepdaughter, Bobbie Bloom, and his sister-in-law, Tricia Griffith, from the elevator to his wife's private room in Royal Palms Hospital. "I thought they ought to know that one of their nurses caused my wife to suffer a heart attack."
"What did he say?" asked Bobbie.
"He told me what I already knew-that their hospital, and every hospital, has an iron-clad policy that questions about critical patients be referred to a doctor or a family member, and the identity of a deceased patient must be confirmed before it is reported."
He scowled and added, "She was a student nurse who was filling in temporarily because the regular nurse on the ER desk had gone home sick. After learning of this incident, he told me the girl has been dropped from their nursing program."
He opened the door and stepped back to admit the visitors, his scowl replaced by an indulgent smile as he watched his wife, her daughter, and her sister embrace, laugh, cry, and talk, all at the same time.
When Donna leaned back at last against her pillows, Tricia and Bobbie seated themselves in visitors' chairs beside the bed and looked around the room. Flowers were everywhere, colorful symbols of Donna's one-man fan club.
"You look terrific, Mom," Bobbie said.
"Now that you're here, I think I could leap tall buildings at a single bound," joked Donna. Her eyes focused on the sling supporting her daughter's left arm. "But what about you, sweetheart? What did the doctors do for you?"
"They put a metal rod in my arm, that's all. I'm fine." She did not mention that the metal rod had replaced a shattered bone, because she knew it would upset her mother.
"She got a tetanus shot, too, and she's taking antibiotics to prevent infection," Tricia volunteered. "And the surgeon removed a vein from her leg and put it in her arm to replace the one that was damaged by the bullet."
"Don't tell me you're going to have a scar, Bobbie!" Donna sounded horrified.
"I'll settle for a scar any day, Mom. Hey, I'm here, aren't I?"
The judge, standing by the window, asked about the boy who did the shooting.
"He's not yet fourteen," Bobbie told him, trying to keep her voice from trembling, "but they're talking about trying him as an adult. The death penalty is not an option, of course, but he will probably spend the rest of his life in prison."
"Sounds about right to me." Ben studied his stepdaughter's face. "What's the matter, kiddo? Don't tell me you feel sorry for him!"
"A little sorry. I can't help it! He had problems at home; quite often he came to school with bruises. That day-the day he came to school with a gun-he had two black eyes because his father had beaten him the night before." A soft sigh. "I wish I could've helped him."
"I can't right all the wrongs in the world, Bobbie," said Ben, "and neither can you. People who kill other people need to be locked up."
* * *
As they drove back to the Gross's house in Boca Raton, Ben asked about her job.
"They've hired a substitute teacher to finish out the rest of the year," she told him.
"And after that? Are you going back in September?"
"I don't know." The stains left by her blood had certainly been scrubbed off the floor by now but every time she tried to imagine herself going back into that classroom, her mind refused to develop the picture. "The doctor says I may need more surgery on my arm in the next three to six months, depending on how it heals."
"How would you feel about spending those three to six months down here in Florida, staying in your old room at home?" asked Ben, glancing in the rear view mirror at his stepdaughter. "I think it would help your mom to get well faster if she could see you every day."
"I guess my doctor could get in touch with some orthopedist down here to take over my case." A spring and summer in Florida with her family sounded tempting. "You know what? I think I'd like to come home for a while."
"Good, that's settled, then."
Bobbie wondered how her Aunt Tricia would react to this idea. Since her graduation from college ten years ago, Bobbie had been a boarder in the Griffith's house, and her aunt seemed more like a second mother. An only child, she'd enjoyed the experience of living with her aunt, uncle, and two cousins. From the front seat, Aunt Tricia said, "Don't worry, darling, I'll send your clothes and books to you by UPS."
* * *
Three days later, Ben drove Tricia to the airport in the morning, and brought Donna home from the hospital in the afternoon. Bobbie was glad their sprawling white stucco house was all on one floor, so her mother had no steps to climb. Ben had wanted to hire a nurse for the first week, but Donna vetoed the idea.
"The doctor told me just to exercise moderately and stick to a high protein, low fat diet," Donna argued, as she reclined on her lavender velvet chaise longue in the bedroom she shared with Ben. "We already have a housekeeper. A nurse would have nothing to do but eat cookies and read the newspaper."
"Do you think you'll be well enough to go to the Stone's house for the first night of Passover?" Ben asked. "That's a week from this coming Friday, you know."
"Of course I'll be well enough!" Donna looked at Bobbie and winked. "I bought a new dress to wear for the seder."
Ben rolled his eyes. "God forbid my wife shouldn't get to wear her new dress!"
"Who're the Stones?" asked Bobbie.
"Abe and Sylvia Stone. I don't think you've met them," said Ben. "Abe and I went to law school together. They moved from Jacksonville to Boca about a year ago."
"What about Mickey? Is she coming home for Passover?" Bobbie asked.
Nearly fifteen years ago she and Mickey Gross, fellow students and best friends at the private prep school they'd attended, had schemed to introduce their parents-both widowed-after the graduation ceremonies. A year later, Donna Bloom and Judge Ben Gross were married, and the "best friends" had become stepsisters. Mickey, an attorney, now worked for a prominent law firm in Boston.
"Yes, darling, she'll be flying in that same day."
Ben noted Donna's half-closed eyes and nudged Bobbie gently. "Maybe we should let your mom take a little nap now."
* * *
The following afternoon the telephone rang while Ben was at work, the housekeeper was out food shopping, and Donna was napping. Bobbie, in the kitchen sipping a cup of herbal tea, grabbed the phone before it rang a second time and woke up her mother.
"I say, who's this?" asked a deep, dark-chocolate voice.
"I live here. I think you'd better rephrase your question."
"Oh, sorry, that sounded frightfully rude, didn't it?"
Her ear picked up on the British inflection.
"If that was your question, I guess I'd have to agree."
A rumbling laugh, like French-roast coffee in a percolator, tickled Bobbie's ear.
"May we begin again? Good afternoon! My name is Norman Stone."
Bobbie was smiling; his laughter was infectious. "And I'm Roberta Bloom."
"It's entirely possible I dialed a wrong number, Miss Bloom. I was trying to reach Mrs. Gross, Mrs. Benjamin Gross."
Bobbie was beginning to enjoy this conversation. The owner of the magnificent voice must be a member of the Stone family Ben had mentioned. Their conversation thus far had created a delightful sensation just north of her knees.
Excerpted from The Educated Heart by Janet Logan Copyright © 2010 by Janet Logan. 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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A must read!!! Very touching and heartfelt book. Once you start reading this book, you won't be able to put it down.