Go Back to The Beginning of Chapter One
From Formula for Murder
Chapter One Continued…
I absently looked around for my purse. For the first time since the
accident I saw my car. It was completely totaled. My trunk was
smashed in and the hood looked like an accordion.
How had I walked away from that?
What about Laurie . . . could she really be all right?
Tears flooded my eyes. “I don’t know where my purse is. I can give
you my number . . . Can you call my husband?”
The officer jotted down my home number. “I’ll tell him to pick you
up at the hospital.” He looked at me for approval.
I nodded. “Thank you.”
“I’ll be in touch, ma’am. I hope your baby is all right.” Anger flashed
across his face and his jaw tightened. “Don’t worry: I’m gonna get the
guy who hit you.”
I thanked him, then jumped into the ambulance, anxious to be
with Laurie. She was still crying. Not knowing how to best channel
my distress, I broke down and began to sob also, my brain trying to
process the fact that this was the second time in Laurie’s short life that
we’d shared an ambulance ride together. The fact that this time was
not my fault did little to settle my nerves.
Why had the driver left the scene? Sure, he was probably scared, but
didn’t he know a hit-and-run was a criminal act?
The EMT attending to Laurie put a small blanket over her and
glanced at me. “Are you in pain, ma’am?”
I searched my pockets in a useless effort to find a pacifier for
Laurie and shrugged at the EMT. “I want to hold her.”
“I know,” he said, almost in a whisper. “It’s hard to listen to them
cry. Did you know just the sound of a baby’s cry makes your blood
pressure go up?”
I shook my head.
He continued, “Yeah, in all mammals except for rats.”
We rounded a corner and arrived at the hospital. Laurie and I were
unloaded and ushered to a small room. A nurse freed Laurie from the
car seat, before I could protest, and laid her on a table to take her
Someone in green medical scrubs was asking me if I had any cuts
or abrasions. I shook my head and felt a blood pressure cuff go
around my arm. My eyes locked on Laurie, I didn’t even bother to
look at him.
The nurse hovering over her asked, “How old is the baby?”
“Three months,” I answered.
“When’s the last time she ate?” she asked, stripping Laurie of her
beautiful little holiday dress.
“A few hours ago.”
The nurse attached small metal pads to Laurie’s chest. Laurie let
out a sharp cry.
“I’m so sorry they’re cold, sweetie,” she said.
The man attending me dropped my arm. “Normal,” he said.
I glanced at him in disbelief, then read the digital display: 120
I closed my eyes. Did this mean I was a rat?
Surely if I were any kind of decent mother my blood pressure would be
through the roof.
“Can you take it again?” I asked.
The man frowned. “You’re fine.”
I didn’t feel fine. I felt like a failure.
How could my blood pressure be fine? I’m a total and complete failure as
“Do you want to see a doctor?” the man asked me.
Again, I shook my head. “No. Just a pediatrician for Laurie.”
He nodded and left the room. The other nurse turned to me. “Are
She handed Laurie to me. “Why don’t you nurse her now and see if
she calms down a bit. All her vital signs are very good. Do you still
want a pediatrician to look at her?”
“Yes, of course!” I answered.
The nurse nodded in understanding and left the room, promising
to send the pediatrician on call.
I squeezed Laurie and fresh tears ran down my cheeks.
“Littlest! Please be okay. Please don’t be hurt,” I sobbed.
Laurie’s hand entangled itself in my hair and she yanked at it,
letting out a howl.
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I laughed and let her tug at my hair. “If you’re mad at missing a
meal, then you’re probably okay, huh?”
I bundled her in a blanket, nursed her, and waited for the doctor
while replaying the accident in my mind. Was there anything I could
have done differently? Why did he take off? I know he was just a kid,
probably only recently got his license. But how could he abandon us
The door to the room opened and my husband, Jim, appeared. I
leapt out of the chair, still holding Laurie, and fell into him. His strong
arms engulfed us and made me feel safe for the first time since the
In a rush of words I told him about the hit-and-run. He listened to
me while he watched Laurie.
There was a soft rap at the door, followed by the creak of it open‐
ing. The pediatrician, a tall man with smooth olive skin and dark hair,
stepped in. He had me place Laurie on the exam table, which caused
me to go into full sob mode again.
He peppered Jim with questions regarding Laurie’s health, as he
examined her. After a bit, he subjected me to the same battery of
He finally said, “I think she’s fine. Of course, we’ll have to monitor
her for signs of distress for the next forty-eight hours or so. But
newborns are mostly cartilage; it’s probably you, Mom, who’s going to
He handed me a checklist of symptoms to watch for, including:
vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy, and then left the room.
I rebundled Laurie. “What did the police tell you?” I asked Jim.
“Not much. He said the guy in the car in front of you followed the
assailant. He ended up losing him, but was pretty sure it was a vehicle
from the French consulate’s fleet.”
A vehicle from the French consulate?
What did that mean? Why did he speed off? Why not stop?
“Was the car stolen?” I asked.
Jim shrugged. “I don’t know, the cop barely gave me the time of
day. Told me to file an insurance claim and gave me an incident
number.” Jim stared at me with a dumbfounded expression—one I’m
sure matched my own.
After a moment, he said, “Of course, I didn’t press him much. I
only wanted to find out about you and Laurie and how you guys were
“Why’d you ask if the car was stolen?” Jim asked.
“It was a teenager driving it.”
Jim exhaled. “So it’s some diplomat’s kid.”
“Maybe,” I agreed.
He squinted at me. “Let’s go there.”
“Let’s track down the snot nose that hit you and Laurie.”
“Shouldn’t we let the police do that?”
Jim clenched a fist. “They already know it’s a car from the
consulate. You think they’re itching to get involved with some diplo‐
mat’s pinhead son? If they were, they’d already be over there, right?”
I pulled Laurie close to me and pressed my nose into her soft
cheek. She was asleep but my squeeze caused her little hand to reach
out. I placed my finger in her palm and felt her small hand wrap
“You know the police aren’t going to do a darn thing,” Jim contin‐
ued. “They want us to open an insurance claim. Let us take the hit.”
Anger surged inside of me. “We already took the hit. Literally!
Laurie and I.”
Oh God, please let my baby be all right.
The doctor had said to watch for signs of distress.
Didn’t I always?
I would be even more vigilant now.
“What about Laurie? I want to get her home. Make sure she’s okay.
I want her to be warm and fed and content . . .” My voice caught as a
sob bubbled in my throat. “I want her to be okay.”
Jim pulled Laurie and me into an embrace. “She’s okay, honey.
She’s gonna be fine,” he said, his voice full of emotion “You heard the
doctor: She’s all cartilage.”
“She not all cartilage. She’s a person! A tiny defenseless little
person, with a heart and soul and . . .” Tears rolled down my face.
He tightened his grasp around me. Laurie squirmed between us.
“It happened so fast, Jim. One minute you’re there, stopped at a
light, and then the next . . . what if . . .”
“I love you guys so much. I can’t stand the thought. All I can do is
fight, Kate. I want to find the guy who ran into you. Accidents happen,
I know. But you can’t just leave a mother and child in the middle of
the road after smashing their car to smithereens.”
I nodded, swallowing back my fears. I picked up Laurie’s discarded
dress and handed it to Jim. “Let’s go.”
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