It hit me, the reality of it, in a way it hadn’t before like a sledgehammer straight to the chest. Laura was gone. She was never coming back. I’d never see her again; she’d never hum in the kitchen, she’d never pull Ruby onto her lap and tickle her tummy as she buried her face in the sweet curve of our daughter’s shoulder. Nathan West loved his wife Laura with all his heart. But now she’s gone, taken from him in a seemingly random act of violence. Laura was the glue that held their family together. And for Nathan, life without her feels almost meaningless. As he tries to find hope in the darkness, his three young daughters express their grief in different and challenging ways—with one set on a path of self-destruction that could devastate their family all over again. Desperate to understand his own heartbreak better, he reaches out to others who had known Laura. Including her new friend Maria, whose light and warmth are exactly what their grieving family needs, and who is soon helping out and providing emotional support for them all. But the picture Maria paints of Laura is unfamiliar to Nathan—of a wife who felt ignored, a mother who felt she couldn’t do enough—and he struggles to reconcile it with his own memories of the woman he loved. Is it possible he didn’t know his wife after all? And can he trust Maria? He can’t escape the feeling that she’s keeping something from him. Maria is hiding a secret with the power to rock Nathan’s family to its core. Because it is about what happened the day that Laura died… An insightful and powerful novel guaranteed to break your heart, about how the unthinkable can sometimes help us see the world in a powerful new way. Perfect for fans of Jodi Picoult, Diane Chamberlain, and Susan Lewis. Readers are loving No Time To Say Goodbye : “ All the feels… A beautiful story—a heartbreaking, breathless read that will leave you running for more tissues time and again… My reaction to the ending was visceral; it was both vivid and shocking. Absolutely brilliant. Powerful story that will haunt you. A must read. 5+ stars.” NetGalley reviewer, 5 stars “ A book has never had me cry so much through heartbreak and devastation. This author nailed it without a doubt.” NetGalley reviewer, 5 stars “If ever there was a story that reminds you how life can change in an instant, this is it… heart breaking and tender, it also offers up hope… A story that touched my heart and soul and makes me want to hug my loved ones that little bit tighter.” By the Letter Book Reviews, 5 stars “ Heartbreakingly sad… It’s a story of death, war and crime. However, this is also a story of family, love, and hope. The emotions ran the gamut with this one... sadness, grief, anger and hope. It’s a story that will stay with you.” Goodreads reviewer “ The storytelling was exquisite, full of understanding and empathy... This is women’s literature at its very best.” NetGalley reviewer, 5 stars “ A heart rendering journey… I read the book armed with a box of tissues… Left me shell-shocked… Kate Hewitt is an amazing storyteller. ” Book Reviews by Shalini, 5 stars “ Oh wow! This book just hit me and took me on this incredible journey of love, hate, passion, fear and more. You must read this book.” Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars “ An incredible read, so much emotion… Broke my heart and had me tearing up so frequently and yet smiling at the hope through the darkness… Beautiful yet painful.” Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars “ Beautifully written… So moving I was in tears… I loved every single character… Wonderful… Written with great compassion and sensitivity. It will stay in my thoughts for a long time.” NetGalley reviewer, 5 stars
Release date: September 27, 2019
Print pages: 365
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No Time to Say Goodbye
I’d never know, but the time of the call still haunted me—11:42. Just minutes after the moment of my wife’s death, according to witnesses. Apparently, someone was checking the time on their phone while a lunatic drew a gun and shot my wife.
I was in a meeting then, an important bid for a new build downtown; an eyesore of an office building from the 1960s was being demolished, and a European bank was moving their headquarters to Grand Street. They were shopping for an architectural firm, and they’d come to us—a smaller start-up, but with a handful of prestigious awards and a growing reputation for high-quality work.
I wanted that job. Badly. And so, when the blocked number came up on my phone, the buzzing faint but insistent, I swiftly swiped it to silence the call. Just a telemarketer, I thought, someone trying to sell me life insurance or window blinds. I shouldn’t have even brought my phone into the meeting, but like most people in the New York business world, I took it with me everywhere, just in case the next big deal was a ringtone away.
I smiled blandly at the bankers and I refocused on the presentation my partner was giving about how the building would be eco-friendly, sourced with sustainable wood and other environmental materials. We had this. We had to have this.
I completely forgot about the call until half an hour later, after the meeting and the backslapping and the refills of coffee, the handshakes and the promises to be in touch soon. I glanced at my phone again as I headed back to my office, and I saw I had another missed call and also a voicemail, not from the unknown caller who hadn’t left a message, but from The Garden School, Ruby’s preschool.
Like any father’s would, my heart lurched a little with alarm—not serious fear, nothing close to terror. Just that little needling of worry, closer to irritation than true panic, that Ruby might have got hurt, or had an allergic reaction. Perhaps she just needed Tylenol. They had to ask parents’ permission for everything these days, although Laura was usually the one they’d call. She was always the one they called.
I listened to the voicemail in the elevator, registering the suppressed yet calculated irritation of Miss Willis, the lead teacher. “Mr. West? I’m calling you because no one has picked Ruby up from school today, and it has now been…” An ostentatious pause to check the time. “Twenty-five minutes since pick-up time.” A carefully let out breath. “Could you please call me back as soon as possible? As you know, The Garden School has a policy of charging for every ten minutes after pick-up time.”
Yes, twenty bucks per. I knew. I’d signed the agreement, inwardly fuming that a preschool that cost eighteen grand a year still had the gall to charge per minute.
Still, twenty-five minutes was a long time. Laura was never that late, and if she had been, surely she would have let them know? Let me know, although perhaps she wouldn’t have, since I couldn’t have done anything anyway.
I checked my phone again, but I had no missed calls or texts from her. Briefly I thought of the missed call from the unknown number—but who could it have been? Surely not Laura, not from her own phone, anyway.
The doors of the elevator opened and I strode to my corner office, brushing aside the cheerful greeting of my assistant, Jenny, as well as the curious stares of the dozen employees in our open-plan office; West and Stein Architectural had two floors in a building on Thirty-Fourth and Madison Avenue that was a bit too expensive for us, but we agreed appearances mattered, especially in our business.
I shut the door behind me, the phone clamped to my ear as I called Laura. There was no answer. For the first time, I started to feel properly worried, and not just that little pinprick of doubt, the what if… or surely not… that we all feel, as parents, as people.
The moment when you lose sight of your toddler in Target, or your wife is half an hour late coming home. You’re worried, but you’re not really worried. You don’t actually believe that something bad is going to happen, or already has. Life is going to continue on the same, because it must. The alternative is impossible to contemplate, even as your heart rate speeds up just that little bit.
This felt different. This was an audible hitching of my breath, a frantic somersault of my heart, an icy plunging of my stomach. Twenty-five minutes.
I called The Garden School back, half hoping that Laura would have already come and collected Ruby, sure that she must have, but when Miss Willis came on the phone, she sounded alarmed rather than annoyed, which made me feel even more panicked, although I tried to keep myself from it. There was an explanation, a reasonable one. There had to be.
“No one has picked up Ruby, Mr. West, and it has now been nearly an hour.”
“I don’t know where my wife is.” I blurted the words, like a little boy, ashamed and afraid, needing someone else to sort it out, tell me what to do.
“Then can you send someone else?” Miss Wills’ alarm was seguing back into the more expected annoyance. This was the woman I knew—stern, a stickler for rules and details. “Your nanny?”
We didn’t have a nanny, unlike just about every other family at the school, or even on the whole Upper East Side. Laura had never wanted one, although I’d always said we could use an extra pair of hands on occasion. On a lot of occasions.
I blew out a breath, impatience creeping up on my fear, even now. If Laura had just spaced, or forgotten the time, I was going to be as annoyed as Miss Willis. But a whole hour…
“I’ll come,” I said reluctantly, because there was no one else. I didn’t know Laura’s mom friends, not well enough to call anyway, and we had no family in the city. The babysitter we’d used was a student at Columbia who only did evenings, although more recently we’d let our oldest daughter Alexa be in charge on the occasions when we went out together, not that we did very often. “I’ll be twenty minutes.” More like forty, but everyone in New York pretended it only took twenty minutes to get anywhere.
I had just disconnected the call when I saw Jenny in front of my office, gesturing to someone behind her. I frowned, putting my phone down, and then I saw the policewoman standing there, her navy uniform a stark contrast to the light colors of the office—blond wood, white walls, Jenny’s pink blouse. The policewoman looked like a streak of dark, a spill of ink. Wrong.
In that moment, those few awful, suspended seconds, it felt as if everything inside me had frozen—my blood, my heart, my brain. I simply stood there and stared, unable to move. To think. Not wanting to, because I knew any thoughts I had would not be good ones; they would propel me into the next moment, and then the next, and I wanted to stay right there, in a state of paralysed ignorance. If I didn’t move, I didn’t know. And I didn’t want to know. Already, I realized that, with a bone-deep certainty.
Jenny knocked on the door, a matter of form, and then edged into my office. She was only twenty-three, fresh out of college, with aspirations to be a graphic designer. This was her first “real” job. She looked terrified.
“Nathan… there’s a policewoman here.” Her voice was soft as she bit her lip. “She… she wants to talk to you.”
I think I nodded. I might have said something. Everything felt as if it were happening in slow motion, or underwater. There was a buzzing in my ears that made everything else sound muted, as if it were happening far away, to someone else. Please, to someone else.
The policewoman came in, looking far too serious.
“Nathan, please.” The words came out sounding oddly jocular, the verbal equivalent of a manly handshake. My professional voice that I used as a matter of instinct, or perhaps self-protection. This is just a business meeting. That’s all it is. “What can I do for you?” I asked in that same tone, even though it sounded ridiculous. I knew it did, and yet I couldn’t keep myself from it.
Jenny closed the door behind her, her expression still anxious, eyebrows drawn together in a crinkle. The moment spun out, suspended, endless, which was fine by me because I knew, I knew I didn’t want to hear what this woman had to say, and as long as I could keep her from saying it…
I had a sudden urge to put my fingers in my ears, or throw my arms in front of my face. Anything to keep from hearing whatever came next.
“Mr. West, Nathan. I’m very sorry, but I have some difficult news to give you. Some very difficult news.”
No. I didn’t speak; I couldn’t. I just stared at her, my body completely still and tense, my hands flexing into fists at my sides. I felt poised for action, as if I could start to sprint, but there was nowhere to go.
“Would you like to sit down?’
“No thank you.” I sounded weirdly polite.
The policewoman nodded slowly, then spoke again, even though I didn’t want her to. “I’m afraid your wife was involved in an incident on the subway this morning.”
An incident? What did that mean? “The subway?” I repeated blankly. I shook my head. Laura never took the subway, or at least very rarely. She stayed on the Upper East Side, where our apartment was, as well as the girls’ schools, the upscale supermarkets where she bought freshly ground coffee and organic everything, the gym, the library, the hair salons and nail bars—everything she could possibly want or need. She’d joked once that she hadn’t been south of Seventy-Second Street in over three months.
“Yes, on the J Train, between the Bowery and Canal Street Stations.”
A seemingly small detail, but such a crucial one. “Then it can’t be Laura.” I almost laughed with the sheer relief of it; I felt giddy with sudden, sure knowledge. “There’s no way my wife would travel that far downtown.” The Bowery? That was practically as far down as you could get, below Manhattan’s grid of numbered streets and avenues, heading towards Wall Street, miles from our home. No way had Laura been on that train.
Yet even as I said the words, I felt their futility. Here was a policewoman, saying Laura had been in an incident, and only moments ago I had talked to Miss Willis, who had told me Laura hadn’t come to pick up Ruby as usual. Two and two usually made an understandable four, but not this time. Not this time.
“I’m afraid we’re quite certain it was your wife, Mr. West,” the policewoman said. She was surprisingly slight for a law officer, with dark hair and gentle eyes. Had she been sent specially? She had the look of someone who knew how to break bad news, who would do it softly yet firmly… as she was now.
“How are you certain?” I sounded aggressive, but I couldn’t help it. Laura could not have been on the J train in lower Manhattan. It was simply not possible. She didn’t go downtown. She would have told me if she was doing something so different today.
In fact, she hadn’t said she was going anywhere this morning, when I’d taken the girls to school… she’d mentioned no plans beyond the usual preschool run. Those precious three hours she had by herself. What did she do during those hours? I’d never really given much thought to them—or any other part of Laura’s day—but I was as sure as hell that she didn’t go all the way downtown.
“She had identification on her person that matched her appearance,” the policewoman said, “and your details were on her phone.”
I swallowed hard, said nothing.
“You are Nathan West, and your wife is Laura West?”
“Yes.” Even this came out unwillingly.
“And this is your wife?” The woman’s face was filled with compassion as she handed me Laura’s driver’s license. I stared at it disbelievingly.
Laura. Light brown hair, smiling eyes, freckles across her nose, a slightly crooked front tooth. “Yes,” I said, and my voice sounded as if it were coming from a distance, from somewhere outside of myself, tinny and small. “Yes, this is my wife.” I looked up, reality slamming into me hard as my mind suddenly sped up. “What’s happened? Where is she? What kind of incident? What does that even mean?” The questions fired out of me like bullets, and I was too anxious, too terrified, to wait for any answers. “Well?” I shouted. “Can you please tell me what the fuck is going on here?’
The woman blinked, taking my anger in stride. “I’m very sorry, Mr. West, but your wife was involved in an incident—”
“You’ve said that already.”
“She was shot by an unknown assailant in the subway car,” the woman continued steadily, softly. Each word fell on me like a hammer blow. Shot. No.
“But she’s all right…” I began, before trailing off. “Is she in the hospital?” I tried again. “Where was she shot? How bad is it?” But I knew. I knew from the look on her face, from the fact that she’d already said this was very difficult news, the details she’d given without any assurance that Laura was okay, the complete lack of urgency about her, no need to get to the hospital quickly, no frightening addendum—she was taken by ambulance or even she’s in surgery now. No more to the story.
Two and two made four again, and I couldn’t stand it.
“Don’t,” I said abruptly, wheeling away from her. A pointless reaction, but I couldn’t help it. I didn’t want to hear. I wasn’t ready.
The woman stayed silent, waiting for me to catch up.
I took a deep breath, staring out the floor-to-ceiling windows that covered two walls of my office. Far below, people scurried up and down Madison Avenue, phones clamped to ears, paper coffee cups in hand, shouldering their way through the ever-present stream of humanity. Everyone was so busy and important. No one knew what was happening up here. No one realized this was the end of everything for me. I was trying not to realize it myself. If I could just stay in this moment of ignorance forever…
The policewoman cleared her throat.
“Well?” I turned around, bracing myself, everything in me tense and expectant, knowing what came next.
“I’m afraid she is dead, Mr. West,” the woman said quietly.
I knew it was coming, but I couldn’t keep myself from crying out—a small, stifled sound—as I reached with one hand to grasp my chair and steady myself as if I might stagger. From the corner of my eye, I saw Jenny at her desk, looking pale and scared, her hands covering her mouth.
I realized the whole office was silent, everyone watching and waiting, my grief played out as if on a silent screen, from behind the floor-to-ceiling window. Could they guess what was happening? Did they know?
All I could think about was Laura, the fact that she was gone, just gone, a reality impossible to take in. My brain kept rejecting it, like a crumpled dollar bill from a soda machine. No. That didn’t happen. That simply didn’t happen.
“What…” The word came out in a breath, but then I stopped because I didn’t even know what questions to ask, or if any of them mattered. Who shot her? Why? Why was she on the J train in the first place? What was somebody doing with a gun on the subway? Where were they now? Had they been caught? How had this happened?
No, none of it mattered. All that mattered was that Laura was dead. Dead.
“Do you have someone you can call?” the woman asked. “To support you…?”
I stared at her dumbly. Who was I meant to call? Laura’s parents, so particular and polite, in Boston? We didn’t get along at the best of times. My hippy-dippy mother, out in Arizona, “living her best life” now? Our few couple-friends, the kind of people we had dinner with on occasion, drinking too much wine and promising to do it again soon, but then it was always another six months before we did? Who?
My head was buzzing and I suddenly felt sick, my stomach cramping so hard and fast I had to double over.
“Mr. West…” Clumsily the woman patted my shoulder, and I shrugged her off. She stepped back, waiting for me to get hold of myself.
Slowly, with painstaking effort, I straightened. I was bathed in an icy sweat and I had to keep myself from shaking. Shock, I realized distantly. I was in shock.
“May I call someone for you, Mr. West?”
I shook my head. There was no one to call, no one to help me in this moment. My brain still felt frozen, each thought like an air bubble slowly surfacing up through the ice. It was hard to grasp any of them; they popped before I could even try.
“I need to get my daughter from preschool,” I finally said.
“Look at that.”
Selma nodded at the television suspended from the ceiling in the corner of the room; on the screen, a news reporter with a somber look was standing on a busy street. A handful of people were sitting around, watching the news with only mild interest as they waited for their English class to begin.
Selma and I were doing our usual Tuesday volunteering at the Global Rescue Refugee Center in the Bowery, sorting clothing donations into piles—men, women, children, and those too worn or stained to be used. The last pile was by far the biggest.
“What is it?” I glanced at the ticker tape at the bottom of the screen: Woman Shot on Subway. Assailant has not been found. I looked away.
“Isn’t that near here?” Selma said, sounding more curious than worried, and I turned back to the screen.
On the J train between the Bowery and Canal Street Stations… a single gunshot… assailant fled.
“It’s right around the corner,” she remarked, and I felt a fluttering inside that I didn’t understand.
“Yes…” It was almost as if I knew, as if some old sense in me had awakened, attuned to tragedy, acquainted with grief. “Yes, it’s very close.”
I stared at the screen, waiting for more. Then a picture flashed up—a close-up of a driving license photo, blurry yet distinct.
Selma gave a soft gasp. “Don’t we know her? Doesn’t she volunteer here?”
I stared at the familiar face, the light brown hair, the smiling eyes, even though her mouth wasn’t smiling, not for a license photograph. If it had been, I would have seen that crooked front tooth that somehow seemed friendly, in this world of straight, overly white teeth. Laura West’s slight snaggle tooth had felt like a knowing wink, an arm around the shoulder. See? We’re alike, you and me. Even though I knew we weren’t.
“Yes,” I said softly, as I resisted that sweep of loss, like an empty echo reverberating through me—old, yet familiar. So familiar. “We know her.”
And I knew her best of all the volunteers, although I didn’t fool myself into thinking that Laura West would count me as a good friend, or perhaps even as a friend at all. Conversations over coffee, the odd joke or shared confidence did not make a friendship, not really. It just meant more to me, because I had so little.
“She taught English, didn’t she?” Selma asked.
“Yes.” She’d been here just this morning. I’d bumped into her at the door as she’d left and we’d done an awkward little dance before she’d held me fast by the shoulders, making me tense just a little as she firmly maneuvered me to the side. Sorry, she’d said breathlessly. I’m late for Ruby. I’d nodded in understanding, still a little nonplussed, and she’d given me a smile of apology.
Take care, Maria, she’d said before hurrying away.
She always called me by name; she was that sort of person. We’d chatted frequently, nearly every week, although about nothing too important. I remember the first time she came up to me: Where are you from? Bosnia, Sarajevo. Oh, I’m sorry. A hand on my arm, a compassionate look. It was almost as if she knew.
“Laura West.” Selma stared at the screen, her eyes wide. “To think she was here, alive, a few hours ago.”
The thought made me want to shiver. Just a few hours ago, we’d been chatting.
“Poor woman.” Selma shook her head. “She had children, too, didn’t she?”
“Yes.” I felt cold inside, numb and frozen. “Three girls.”
One of the staff called those waiting into the English class, and after they’d filed out, I went over to turn off the TV.
Before I hit the button, I stared at the screen again; they’d moved onto a report about some business crisis, but in my mind I still saw the photo on the driver’s license. Laura West. When we’d met, I’d noticed she’d had kind eyes. She’d asked me if I was married, if I had children—no to both, of course. She’d shown me a photo of her three daughters. The littlest one had reddish-gold hair and a gap-toothed grin. She’d been worried about them, about their little troubles, the love and fondness evident in her voice even when she spoke about their defiance and difficulties. Listening to her had felt like glimpsing another kind of life, one where warmth and love and family all loomed large. It was like listening to a fairy tale, but one that was real, and wonderful because of it.
The news program segued into an advert for rejuvenating skin cream, some sort of miracle cure. I watched the smooth, smiling face of a woman meant to be in her sixties, silver hair swinging jauntily as she strolled along a garden path, and for a second I saw my mother, her face as wrinkled as an old prune, wasting away. I turned the television off.
“It’s very sad,” I said to Selma. “Everyone here will miss her.”
And so I told myself that would be the end of it. I’d put this little grief away with all the others, shut it all up and try not to think of it again. That was the only way forward—to exist. Walking through the wasteland one slow step at a time. For the last twenty-six years that had been how I’d lived; it was the only way I knew how anymore. But even as I told myself this, I pictured Laura West, how her nose crinkled when she laughed, how she’d always ask if I wanted a coffee, and again I felt that wave of grief. Put it away, Maria, I instructed myself. Just put it away.
Yet I could not stop thinking of her as I left Global Rescue and walked to the Bowery station where I would take the J train home, in the opposite direction as she would have, to Astoria, in Queens. I volunteered at the refugee center twice a week, during my days off, but the rest of the time I stayed in Astoria, working at a local hairdressing salon, run by a fellow Bosniak, Neriha.
When I got to the station, I saw it was closed; it must have been quite a few hours since Laura’s death, but there were still no trains running in either direction. Bright yellow tape blocked off the entrance and a bored-looking policeman was guarding it, just in case. I stepped back quickly.
People were milling around, trying to figure out what had happened, or simply annoyed that the train service was disrupted. I heard a man swearing into his phone, complaining how he was going to be late “and all because some saddo probably threw himself in front of the train”.
I walked away blindly, unsure where to go. I felt disorientated, as if I no longer knew my way, when I’ve lived in this city for nearly twenty years. For a moment, it was as if the streets I’d walked so many times were unfamiliar; the buildings rising so high above me felt as if they were closing me in, pressing down. I pictured Laura near here, walking towards her death, her bag swinging jauntily, having no idea. It all must have happened so quickly. I’d seen it too many times… it was nothing but the matter of a moment. Here, then gone.
Standing there on the sidewalk, people pushing past, twenty years fell away and I didn’t know where I was. I struggled to breathe.
Someone grabbed my elbow, and I let out a little cry.
“Are you all right, madam? You looked faint.”
I stared into the kindly face of a strange man, his dark face creased into a worried smile. I stepped back, pulling my arm away.
A deep breath, and once again I pushed it all down. Down, down, as far as it could go. “I’m fine, thank you,” I said, and I walked on.
I would have to take the bus. I stopped again in the street, trying to remember where the bus picked up passengers. The bus system of the city had always seemed so inexplicable to me, a complex crisscross of routes that felt impenetrable but now must be navigated. I could figure it out, I told myself. I’d got all the way to America by myself, I could certainly get home to Queens.
In the end, it took nearly two hours and three bus transfers before I made my way to my apartment on 31st Road—a small studio I’d lived in by myself for the last six years.
When I’d first come to America, I had shared an apartment with four other refugees—two Bosniaks, a Serb, and a Croat, all put together by the state department’s resettlement program, all fleeing the Bosnian War and its devastation on our lives. All of us from different cities, some of us speaking different languages, with different memories we needed to forget. Before the war, none of it would have mattered. Back then I couldn’t have even told the difference between a Serb or a Croat, a Muslim or a Catholic, and no one I knew would have cared anyway. But after—and life feels as if it has always been an after—I spoke to none of those girls. I hardened my heart against all of them, because I did not know how else to be.
Now, in my little studio, I reheated some leftover stew—I always made a pot for the whole week and ate it every night. It was easier, when it was just for one. Usually I would sit at the tiny table, reading a book from the library—I preferred romance novels, fairy-tale froth my father would have despaired of—while I ate. Even now I could picture the glass case of books in our old sitting room, velvet drapes drawn against the night, and how he’d have me sit on his lap as he told me how precious they were. If you can read, Maria, you will never be alone. How little he knew.
Tonight, however, I felt too restless to read, memories darting in and out of my mind like shadows I tried to dodge… the crackle of my father turning the pages of his newspaper, my brother’s face, filled with fear. Maria, did they…? My mother’s fluttering fingers, holding onto my wrist. Promise me…
To block it all out, I turned the television on, even though part of me didn’t want to. I turned to the news and took my bowl of beef stew out of the microwave as I half-listened to a report on the economy, the reporter’s voice a drone in the background.
Then, as I sat at the table, a woman faced the camera with another story, her expression appropriately sober.
“A woman was shot by an unknown assailant on a subway train today. The woman has been identified as Laura West, a mother of three who lived in New York and had been volunteering at a local refugee center.” A terrible, telling pause. “It is not currently known whether she knew her attacker.”
They flashed another picture of her on the screen, this one some sort of family snap, probably culled from Facebook. She was laughing on a beach, her arms around two children, their faces blurred out for legal reasons. I stared at the photo, her head thrown back, her smile wide as she embraced all life had to offer. So much joy.
Laura West. How many times had we laughed and chatted over the last year? We’d talked almost every week; she’d bring me a coffee during one of our breaks, milky and sweet as she knew I’d liked it. We’d sit at one of the little tables in th. . .
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