Little Voices by Vanessa Lillie

Little Voices by Vanessa Lillie

Author:Vanessa Lillie [Lillie, Vanessa]
Language: eng
Format: epub, azw3
ISBN: 9781542092265
Google: aHyAwQEACAAJ
Amazon: B07MQRGWXM
Goodreads: 40511233
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Published: 2019-10-01T23:00:00+00:00

Chapter 18

Monday, December 12

Ester’s midnight cries begin, and I’m almost relieved to have something simple to do. She was with Jack downstairs all day Sunday so I could go through the files Uncle Cal sent over. Doing my own research. I focus on her, calming us both as I bounce on the exercise ball.

What kind of mother ignores her child this long?

Ester is back asleep in her crib after only twenty minutes, a new record, as if she senses my change. The commitment I’ve made to Uncle Cal. The promise I’ve broken to Jack and Phillip. The person I’ve become again. Likely the person who was always there, reposed beneath the surface of my skin like Ester once was, protected by hard scars and the kind of anger that never goes away.

I slip out of her room and avoid the creaking floorboards on the way to my office. Standing in the dark, with only a sliver of moonlight and the glow of my phone, I smile. Back to work.

My phone buzzes because I didn’t put it on silent, hoping for this call. I may have left my brother behind, but he’s always come through for me. At least when I pay him.

“Hello there,” I answer.

“Hey, sis,” Derek says, slightly slurring his words.

This is your fault.

“Hey yourself,” I say. I estimate ten to thirteen minutes of lucidity from him. “How did the research go?”

“Pretty good,” he says. “I was wired most of the night.”

Likely speed or meth to start things off, then some kind of opioid to bring it all down. I hope it’s not heroin again. No one gets that many lives. But I don’t say anything because it’s all been said, all been tried, all failed. I doubt he likes many of my choices either, but here we are, breaking the law together again.

This is your fault.

“That Alec guy’s files were easy,” he says with the dramatic tap of his finger on the keyboard. “Just took some poking around in the banks and accounts to see who was sending the money. Nothing major.”

“Good,” I say, waiting for the file to come through. I hear at least ten of the dogs he’s collected yapping at something. Living in the country is good for his drug habit. Good for his fear of people and the anxiety that comes with having to interact with them. Good for his depression. It is also good for his inability to turn away a stray, from dogs to feral cats. “You doing okay?” I ask finally, unable to stand the quiet once the dogs settle.

“Yup, yup.” He pauses, and it’s as if I can hear the drugged-out gears clicking. “Oh,” he says. “You know Jack hasn’t called since the hospital. How are you . . . doing with everything?”

“Ester’s not sleeping at night,” I say. “But holding her feels like a second chance for the kind of life . . . you know, we didn’t have.”

“Huh,” Derek says. “Jack said you were pretty bad for a while.


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