Piece of My Heart by Mary Higgins Clark

Prologue





Five Years Ago


“If I only could, I’d make a deal with God.”

Roseanne Robinson heard that old song lyric playing at the back of her mind as she tried to do precisely that—make a deal with God. Please, I’ll be a better wife. I’ll be a better person. I’ll do good deeds every single day for the rest of my life. Anything if you spare my husband. Let me be with him again.

She raised her head from her ongoing prayers when she spotted a doctor in surgical scrubs emerge through the double doors into the hospital waiting room. She held her breath expectantly, but her hopes fell when he locked eyes with an older woman in the corner who had been wiping away intermittent tears since Roseanne arrived. A sorrowful wail followed only seconds later.

That poor woman, Roseanne thought. Please don’t let that be me.

Roseanne was only thirty-one years old but could not imagine life without her husband. They had started dating during college, and then remained serious while he launched his architectural career and she added accounts to her digital marketing agency’s growing roster of clients. He had bought the motorcycle three years earlier, two weeks after their second wedding anniversary.

That stupid motorcycle. That’s what brought us here.

She had made her disapproval clear. She even appealed to his older brother, Charlie, thinking a police officer would talk some sense into him. But instead, she had gotten a lecture from her brother-in-law about “letting a man be happy.”

Despite the risks, part of her had been relieved at the time by the purchase. For months, her husband had seemed distracted. Inattentive. Bored. She wondered if he disapproved of her decision to go back to the agency, if only part-time. She wondered if he enjoyed being a father. Worst of all, she wondered if maybe their marriage was fundamentally broken. But once he had that motorcycle, he seemed more like his usual happy, charming, and hilarious self. Apparently whatever early midlife crisis her husband had experienced had been fixed by a shiny new two-wheeled gadget. It could be worse, she had told herself.

But now here she was, waiting to hear how his surgery had gone.

The police officer who called her had reported the news with icy detachment. There had been an accident, he explained. A delivery truck had blown through a red light. The motorcyclist—her thrill-seeking husband—was unconscious, even though he had been wearing a helmet, as she had implored him to do, so many times.

She looked at her watch. 11:55 A.M. Bella would be out of preschool in five minutes. Their neighbor, Sarah, would be picking her up along with Sarah’s own daughter, Jenna. Bella would enjoy an afternoon playdate with her best friend, but at some point, she’d want to know where her mother and father were.

Please, God. How can I possibly explain to my daughter that Daddy won’t be coming home?

Another doctor emerged through the double doors—this time a woman, her hair still covered by a blue surgical cap. “Roseanne Robinson?” she called out.

This was it. Her and Bella’s futures would turn on whatever news was about to be delivered. They’d either keep rolling down the path that was their current life, or find themselves on an entirely different route. Door Number One or Door Number Two.

She rose from her chair. “I’m Roseanne Robinson.”

Or Ro-Ro, as most of her friends called her. That nickname had been the primary reason she kept her maiden name when they married. If you live, my love, I’ll even change my last name, the way you always wanted me to.

“Please, just tell me,” Roseanne pleaded. She squeezed her eyes shut, bracing for the impact of a pronouncement that would change her life forever.

“Your husband’s alive.”

The hug that followed was automatic, a pure display of the gratitude Roseanne felt in that moment.

The doctor outlined the treatments that would follow—additional skin grafts, physical therapy, rehabilitation. As Roseanne absorbed every last piece of data and envisioned every single medical appointment, she could not stop thinking about how lucky she felt. Her family had been spared.

But as the weeks and months passed, reality would set in. The rehab. The recovery. The resentment. Life would not go on, at least not as they had once known it. Every day would bring another domino, toppling forward.

Then one day, five years later, she’d get a phone call to learn that all the dominoes that had fallen would end with a little boy named Johnny Buckley.





Wednesday, July 15


Day One





Chapter 1




Laurie Moran flinched at the sound of yet another horn honking, this time from the pickup truck behind them.

From the driver’s seat, Charlotte Pierce glanced in the rearview mirror and threw up a frustrated hand. “I don’t know where he expects me to go.”

Laurie held her breath momentarily while the delivery truck in front of them blasted out a dark cloud of exhaust.

It wasn’t even noon yet on a Wednesday, but the Long Island Expressway was at a standstill as city dwellers lined up in search of a beach respite from the sweltering streets of Manhattan. The two-hour drive to the Hamptons would be three for them today and creep up to a four- or five-hour commute by Friday evening.

Unfazed by the surrounding snarl, Charlotte sang along blissfully to the Janis Joplin song that was playing on the radio. “Take another little piece of my heart now, baby—”