Chapter One: The Child

31 Mar

Brenda

The little girl dashed from between two parked cars, heedless of the monster SUV bearing down on her. She was five years old, long blonde hair in neat curls, frilly silk dress, her legs pumping as fast as she could move them. The driver did not see her.

At first L C didn’t see her either. It was early in the morning. The time of day L C liked best, the sun breaking across a translucent blue sky. Three marshmallow clouds drifting gently to nowhere in particular. She took a deep breath of the crisp, cool air. She just finished shopping for her mother at her favorite store. Stanhouser’s Market, owned by Raymond Stanhouser, a pleasant man who inherited the store, free and clear, from his father. Divorced once, two children. Several times Raymond asked her out. He was older than she, but not much. He wanted a wife for himself and a mother for his children. As her mother pointed out, “You could do a lot worse.”

She was leaving the market, pushing a cart overladen with groceries in front of her, when she saw the little girl.

A woman ran two car lengths behind the child screaming for her to “Come back here and do it now.” The only effect her yelling had was to attract the attention of all the adults, including the attention of the driver of the car bearing down on the little girl. He was now looking at the screaming woman rather than were he was going.

L C let go of her shopping basket, allowing it roll down the sloped parking lot, and sprinted toward the speeding little girl. She dived like a defensive guard would tackle a quarterback. She grabbed the girl’s dress with one hand. It tore a little, but it slowed the child down. With her other hand L C grabbed a patent leather shoe. It slipped off. Pulling on the dress harder it tore even more but it brought the girl closer to her. Close enough so when she dropped the shoe she could swing her other arm around the child’s waist. She pulled the child into her clutching arms, spinning away from the advancing front tire.  The two of them spun as one in a half circle, their faces leaving the path of the tire just as it bore down upon them. L C’s leg sliding under the car, in the path of its rear wheel. The SUV’s front tire ran over the shoe, flattening it, leaving tire marks, stopping inches from the noses of L C and the girl frozen together on the asphalt. L C found herself staring at the valve stem.  The back tire was almost on top of L C’s foot just touching the heel of her own shoe. Her first thought was, “All those years of mom dragging me off to ballet and tumbling finally paid off.”

The driver stared out his window at them in horror, eyes round and popping, mouth squared and wide.

The shopping cart crashed into the trunk of an old green chevy that was backing out of its parking space, denting the trunk, tipping over, and scattering groceries across the parking lot.

L C stood up, shaking, clutching her small charge, whose eyes stared fixedly at the SUV as she clung to L C’s neck. The woman, who had been screaming incessantly, arrived. She was still screaming. Her black hair was styled as rigidly as her expression. Her dress was a straight, no nonsense cut. She exuded the confidence of a school principal about to excoriate a delinquent child.

“Give her to me.” The woman demanded. She reached for the little girl. “I am her nanny.”

Instinctively L C turned away. The girl’s hold on L C’s neck increased so tightly it choked her. The tiny hands were wrapped in L C’s hair, which was not blonde, and had never been bleached, but was the color of honey mustard which reached to her shoulder blades.

The driver of the green chevy launched out of his car, staring first at the mess, then at the dent in his trunk, and began yelling in their general direction, waving his arms vigorously.

“I said give her to me.” There was no friendliness in the woman’s voice, no thank you, and no concern for the child. There was simply the demand that she be turned over. Now.

The nanny was at a disadvantage. Though a little tall for an average woman, about five foot six inches, the height of a beauty queen, L C Was five foot ten, a few years younger and had been athletic in school.

When the man with the dented car realized no one was paying attention to him or his complaint, he began beating the trunk with his fist as though he were chairman of the parking lot determined to bring order to all chaos.

L C tried to see the girl’s face but could not. “Let her calm down. I think she’s scared.” She tried to make her voice soothing to both the woman and the child although she was angry. The girl looked at the woman who was grabbing at her and started to cry. The driver of the car rolled down his window and demanded, “What the hell is wrong with you two?”

A confident male voice asked, “Are you the child’s mother?”

Both women turned to look at him. His hair was black, cut in an almost, but not quite, military style. His expression was neither friendly nor unfriendly. His clothing was neither cheap, nor expensive. “Suitable,” L C’s mother would have said.

“Who I am is none of your business. My boss is an extremely important person in this town and if this woman doesn’t release this child to me immediately I am calling the police and having her arrested.” The woman’s intimidating stare was meant to put the newcomer in his place.

The man gave a formal, neutral smile, “Then you need look no further, Ma’m. I am here.”

(C) 2013 All rights reserved

4 Responses to “Chapter One: The Child”

  1. themapthinker 04/06/2013 at 9:52 PM #

    Please follow us and be sure to leave comments. We enjoy them all including the critical ones. Even those that point out typos. Thank you Shellie.

    Like

  2. Bonnie Guerra 04/06/2013 at 11:11 PM #

    I love the way the author has built up suspense from the beginning. I’m anxious to find out the connection between the characters.

    Like

    • themapthinker 04/07/2013 at 1:50 AM #

      Thank you, Bonnie.

      The first several chapters are intended to introduce not only characters pertinent to this first novel, but some characters that will feature in future novels.

      Like

  3. Brenda 05/26/2013 at 8:53 PM #

    Thank you Bonnie. Keep reading !!!!

    Like

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