Excerpt from

Circus Day

Her husband has gone on a business trip. He's not alone, Kate is sure of it. To cheer herself and her children on a rainy day, she takes them to Circus Day at the mall. Meanwhile, a nearby bank has been robbed. . . .

They bought ice-cream cones at Baskin-Robbins and watched the redheaded clown give another magic show.

"Have we seen enough?" She sensed that Darren was tired, and she wanted to get home. There was still a chance that Ted might call when the meetings ended that afternoon.

Candy muttered a regretful "I guess so." She turned for a last look at the clown and his enviable daughter. The blond girl smiled at her. Candy smiled back. Kate took her hand and they went out through the nearby exit, which was closest to their car.

They stood under a marquee, assessing the rain, while she disentangled the umbrella from her purse handle. She was only vaguely aware of a man standing next to her, another refugee from the weather.

"I don't want my hat to get wet," said Candy.

"Then you'd better put it inside your jacket."

The man commented, "That's a pretty hat."

Kate glanced at him. He was young, and not bad looking, from what she could see. His eyes were a clear blue, lighter than Ted's. His coat collar was turned up, covering the lower part of his face. A lock of dark blond hair trailed down his forehead from under a black knitted cap.

"Some lousy weather," he said. "Are you here by yourself?"

"Well, with my children." She held the umbrella away from them and pressed the button that made it open.

"You had to drive here by yourself in the rain? What happened, your husband couldn't bring you?"

"He's in Chicago. And I consider myself a perfectly competent driver."

"Glad to hear that. Where's your car?"

"It's over—"

Too late, she realized that he had no business asking.

It was too late now to say that she was waiting for someone to pick her up. And she had given away the car's location by raising her face when she started to speak.

He nudged them forward. "Let's get moving."

The children stared. It was a real gun. They had never seen a real one before.

Run, she wanted to tell them. Run inside.

It was too late.

She looked back toward the door, but no one was there to help them.

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