The Great Escape: A Novel by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

The Great Escape: A Novel by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Author:Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Language: eng
Format: mobi, epub
ISBN: 9780062106063
Publisher: William Morrow
Published: 2012-07-10T04:00:00+00:00

Chapter Sixteen

THE FIRST OF THE FIREWORKS exploded above them, an umbrel a of red and violet. Lucy rested her head against the back of the bench seat that ran across the stern of the boat.

Panda did the same, and they watched in surprisingly comfortable silence. “What you did today with little Sophie was pretty great,” Lucy eventual y said as a shel of stars withered above them.

She felt him shrug. “You’re a good swimmer. If I hadn’t been there, you’d have gone in.”

She liked how certain he sounded. She glanced over at him and watched a trio of silver comets shimmer in his eyes. “The surf was rough. I don’t think I could have pul ed her out.”

“You’d have done what you had to,” he said curtly, and then, “People need to watch their kids better.” The sharp edge to his voice seemed unwarranted.

“Children move fast,” she said. “Hard for any parent to watch them every second.” Sailboat spars jingled in the silence between booms, and water slapped the boat’s hul .

“You understand kids. I guess that surprised me.” He crossed his ankles. Purple palms dropped a trail of stars, and orange peonies unfolded. “You can’t be a cop and not deal with kids.”

“A lot of gang stuff?”

“Gangs. Neglect. Abuse. You name it.”

She’d seen a lot of troubled kids through her work, although she suspected not as many as he had. It was odd.

She was so accustomed to regarding Panda as an alien being that she’d never thought about what they might have in common. “Sophie didn’t want to let you go.” A silver weeping wil ow glittered against the dark night.

“Cute kid.”

Blame it on the night, the fireworks, the emotional aftermath from what could have been a terrible tragedy, because her next words came out unplanned. “You’l make a great dad someday.”

A short harsh laugh. “Never going to happen.”

“You’l change your mind when you find the right woman.” She was sounding too sentimental, and Viper came to her rescue. “You’l know her when you see her.

Opposable thumbs. Not too choosy.”

“Nope.” He smiled. “One of many good things about modern science.”

“What do you mean?”

“Vasectomy. The medical profession’s gift to guys like me.”

A fusil ade of explosions split the air. This was so wrong. She’d seen him today with the kids, witnessed what a natural he was. He should never have done something so permanent. “Don’t you think you’re too young to make that kind of decision?”

“When it comes to kids, I’m a hundred years old.” She’d been involved with child advocacy too long not to know what cops faced, and in the dim light she thought he looked haunted. “I saw too many dead bodies,” he said.

“Not just teens but infants—five-year-old kids who hadn’t lost their baby teeth. Kids blown up, missing limbs.” She cocked her head. “I saw parents on the worst day of their lives,” he went on, “and I’ve promised myself I’l never have to go through that. Best decision I ever made. It’s hard to do your job when you wake up every night in a cold sweat.


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