"You can help me change the sheets," she said, with more sternness than was usual for her.
"Are you mad at me, Mom?" Missy asked humbly, as the two of them worked together to strip the wet sheets from the bed. Louise's heart smote her. Missy was so very little, after all. And she was small for her age. She'd been born six weeks premature, and Louise had often thought that her early arrival might account for some of Missy's problems. Her body had just not yet matured as much as that of most seven-year-olds. Brock, of course, said that was nonsense.
"No, baby, I'm not mad at you." Her task made easier by the vinyl cover that saved the mattress from total ruin, Louise carefully tucked in the corners of the clean sheets that were kept, along with spare blankets, in a trunk at the foot of Missy's bed. She smoothed a pink wool blanket over the sheets and pulled back a corner. "Hop in."
"Don't tell Daddy," Missy said, obeying.
"I won't." It was a ritual, these words. Some part of Louise felt it was wrong to promise to keep something a secret from Missy's father, but the larger, practical part didn't want to listen to Brock's lectures if he discovered that Missy had wet the bed again. She didn't want Missy to have to listen to them, either. No matter whether Brock was the expert or not.
Louise tucked the clean, dry bedclothes around her daughter as Missy snuggled onto her side, a small smile curving her lips as her cheek burrowed deep into the pillow with its tiny white hearts on a deep pink background.
"Good night, baby." Louise brushed her lips across the warmth of her daughter's exposed cheek, and straightened.
"I love you, Mommy." Missy's voice was already sleepy, and her eyelashes were beginning to droop.
"I love you, too, Miss Mouse. Now go back to sleep." Louise gathered up the wet bedding and nightgown.
"Leave the bathroom light on."
"I will," Louise promised.
Excerpted from Ghost Moon by Karen Robards Copyright© 2000 by Karen Robards. Excerpted by permission of Delacorte, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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