Excerpt of Night Whispers by Judith McNaught
(Page 3 of 4)
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"Your teacher was being very kind," Sloan said as she picked up the kite
string lying on the grass and began winding it into a spool on her fingers. Emma's mother
had been another classmate of Sloan's, and as she glanced from Kenny to Emma, Sloan
couldn't decide which child was more adorable. She'd gone to school with most of these
children's parents, and as she smiled at the circle of small faces, she saw poignant
reminders of former classmates in the fascinated faces looking back at her.
Surrounded by the offspring of her classmates and friends, Sloan felt a sharp pang of
longing for a child of her own. In the last year, this desire for a little boy or little
girl of her own to hold and love and take to school had grown from a wish to a need, and
it was gaining strength with alarming speed and force. She wanted a little Emma or a
little Kenny of her own to cuddle and love and teach. Unfortunately her desire to
surrender her life to a husband had not increased at all. Just the opposite, in fact.
The other children were eyeing Sloan with open awe, but Butch Ingersoll was determined
not to be impressed. His father and his grandfather had been high school football stars.
At six years old, Butch not only had their stocky build, but had also inherited their
square chin and macho swagger. His grandfather was the chief of police and Sloan's boss.
He stuck out his chin in a way that forcibly reminded Sloan of Chief Ingersoll. "My
grandpa said any cop could have rescued that little kid, just like you did, but the TV
guys made a bid deal out of it cause you're a girl cop."
A week before, Sloan had gone out on a call about a missing toddler and had ended up
going down a well to rescue it. The local television stations had picked up the story of
the missing child, and then the Florida media had picked up the story of the rescue. Three
hours after she climbed down into the well and spent the most terror-filled time of her
life, Sloan had emerged a "heroine." Filthy and exhausted, Sloan had been
greeted with deafening cheers from Bell Harbor's citizens who'd gathered to pray for the
child's safety and with shouts from the reporters who'd gathered to pray for something
newsworthy enough to raise their ratings.
After a week, the furor and notoriety was finally beginning to cool down, but not fast
enough to suit Sloan. She found the role of media star and local hero not only comically
unsuitable but thoroughly disconcerting. On one side of the spectrum, she had to contend
with the citizens of Bell Harbor who now regarded her as a heroine, an icon, a role model
for women. On the other side, she had to deal with Captain Ingersoll, Butch's
fifty-five-year-old male-chauvinist grandfather, who regarded Sloan's unwitting heroics as
"deliberate grandstanding" and her presence on his police force as an affront to
his dignity, a challenge to his authority, and a burden he was forced to bear until he
could find a way to get rid of her.
Sloan's best friend, Sara Gibbon, arrived on the scene just as Sloan finished winding
the last bit of kite string into a makeshift spool, which she presented to Kenny with a
"I heard cheering and clapping," Sara said, looking at Sloan and then at the
little group of children and then at the kite-falcon with the broken yellow-tipped wing.
"What happened to your kite, Kenny?" Sara asked. She smiled at him and he lit
up. Sara had that effect on males of all ages. With her shiny, short-cropped auburn hair,
sparkling green eyes, and exquisite features, Sara could stop men in their tracks with a
single, beckoning glance.
"It got stuck in the tree."
Excerpted from Night Whispers , by Judith McNaught.
© 1997 by Judith McNaught, used by permission of the publisher.