Lily gasped in the thick airless room, her face slick with sweat, tendrils of hair sticking to her cheeks. Her clothes, the same ones she’d worn for two days and nights, were damp and rank with BO.
Remembering how scared I was of doing the wrong thing when my first baby was born, I tried to imagine how much worse it would feel if I were homeless and in hiding.
“Shh, Rosie, shh.” She crawled over to the baby box and patted the writhing, wailing human inside. “Quiet, please. Quiet.”
The baby’s mewling threaded through Lily, pulled on a nerve in her gut somewhere that made her feel panicked and strange. The crying also made her nipples leak and tingle.
Lily picked Rosie up and rocked back and forth, jogging the weeping, wet, tight-fisted infant. Shut up, shut up, shut up, she wanted to shout. If anyone heard them, if Riley King got fed up with them, where would they go? What would happen to them on the streets alone, even with Franco doing his best? How could she take care of a baby anywhere?
She understood, sometimes, after endless hours in this small, windowless room—no fresh air, no furniture, nothing to do except sleep and cry and sleep—how someone could leave their babies on doorsteps. Wasn’t there a law about it now? Places you could leave your baby in a box without them arresting you, without thinking of yourself as a monster.
Except she was a monster, wasn’t she? A monstrosity anyway. Someone sinful and tainted. Twisted. Someone who couldn’t imagine why any woman would want a hairy, grunting man fucking her. That couldn’t be what love was. Love was how she’d felt with Bella last summer. Love was the way her heart used to squeeze tight any time Jean whispered in her ear.