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An Excerpt from Keepsake

An Excerpt from Keepsake

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Published by WilliamMorrowBooks

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Published by: WilliamMorrowBooks on Apr 30, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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09/29/2013

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Chapter 1
T
he stranger gave me an empty smile. It was fat and mechani-cal: the orced grin o someone who delivers bad news all daylong. She was holding out a business card, and I was reusingto take it.Ayana Reese, the card said. What kind o name is Ayana? On herlet hand, which was clutching her notepad, I saw no wedding ring. Icould bet every shingle on my roo that this girl was barely out o col-lege and had no children. She would have a pamphlet and a workbookand seminars, but she’d never pushed a child into the world and elt what I elt both times I did it: that our bond was powerul and perectand would not be broken. By anyone.Yet here she was, this tiny black woman with a huge messenger bag,holding out a business card with the words
Child Protective Ser vices
asi my child needed protecting. From me.I made to close the door but she stepped orward. I stopped thedoor only an inch rom her ace. She finched, and I was glad.“I don’t want to come back here with the police, Mrs. Dietrich,” shesaid. I detected in her voice a drawl she was trying to hide.I considered Jack’s reaction to the police pulling up here, knockingon this door.I reminded mysel that no one could love a child more than I love
 
2 Kristina Riggle
mine. So there would be nothing to hide. No matter what that busy-body Urgent Care doctor must have thought when he looked at Jack’sshoulder last night.I swung open the door and stood aside to let Ayana pass. I slammedit hard behind her, but she did not react.The empty smile, however, was gone.“I didn’t know you were coming,” I said.“That’s exactly the point,” she replied. “We received a report aboutyour sons injury and came to investigate his living environment.“The doctor, huh? And I thought he was just making conversation.I should have known. As a cop’s daughter I know what a “mandatedreporter” is. But a broken collarbone rom an accident at home? Wor-thy o a report?“We’re not allowed to say.”I Ayana was disgusted by my messy house, she didn’t show it. Sheprobably dealt all the time with meth heads and gangbangers who hadloaded guns on the coee table and shit on the walls. Some clutter wasnt going to aze anyone with an ounce o sense.“Mama? Who’s . . .” Jack appeared rom his room, where he’d beenreading. He stopped in midstep, one oot trailing behind him. “Oh.Miss Ayana.”“You know her?” I asked him, my palms slicking with sweat.Ayana, still looking around and taking notes, said mildly, “Wetalked at school today.”“How dare you!” I exclaimed, then bit my lip:
Pull back, Trish. Don’t frighten Jack
. I patted his head, told him it was ne, told him toreturn to his reading. He glanced back over his shoulder with widened,curious eyes beore retreating to his room.Ayana wound her way through my living room, jotting notes on ayellow pad.“I don’t know what you think you’ll nd,” I said.“Show me your son’s room, please.”

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