God, she loved these crazy Seattle streets that ran along the hillside, the frequent intersections with steep cross-streets. Tonight, every time she looked down one of those streets, she found herself searching for men in raincoats, wanting to glimpse another hunched-over shape.
Once she had the wash on the canvas, perhaps she'd go outside and walk, although it was already past midnight.
Impulsively, she turned off toward Magnolia Bluff.
She drove deeper into the peaceful, hilly residential area of Magnolia, enjoying the rain-swept emptiness of the streets. In daylight she would see a beautiful ocean view, but it was after midnight now and she saw only parked cars and lights streaming from house and apartment windows, diffusing the feeling of isolation.
As Jamie braked for a stop sign, something seemed to move on the street ahead. She started out slowly, eyes narrowed, searching for a rain-drenched pedestrian, or an animal.
Nothing, just the rain pounding as the heavens opened wider. The sidewalk ahead was empty, none of the cars showing taillights. Perhaps she'd seen a leaf, wind driven, tumbling across the road. The night was turning nasty, rain driven now by a twisting wind. A gust buffeted the side of her car as big wet spots splattered on her windshield. She switched the wipers to high speed and leaned forward to peer through the pounding rain.
Something moved behind one of the cars on her right, a flash of something dark, the shifting of shadow on shadow.
Jamie braked although she couldn't really see anything. Something had moved, something...
Nothing. Jamie eased off on the brake.
A dark shape flew out between two cars, then a flash of white as Jamie braked hard, her tires protesting on the pavement.
She felt a thump.
Oh, God! She'd hit something. A dog?
She threw the driver's door open and scrambled around the front of her car, squinting against the brilliance of her own headlights.
Oh, God, no! A child lying on the road, only inches from Jamie's front wheel. Jamie fell to her knees beside a little girl, dark hair, white face.
She mustn't move the child, she knew that much. Why had she never taken first aid? She needed to put on her four-way flashers, call for an ambulance, but the child was lying in the rain, eyes closed. Was she breathing? How could Jamie tell in the rain, with—
The girl's eyes opened, dark eyes.
"Lie very still," said Jamie, her voice hoarse as she placed one hand carefully on the girl's chest. She could be hurt anywhere, and Jamie had no way of knowing. Broken bones, internal damage. "Stay still," she repeated urgently. "I'm going to get help."
The child squirmed under Jamie's hand.
"Where's Squiggles?" Her voice was thin, urgent. "I have to find Squiggles."
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