Rescue: A Novel
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Peter Webster is a rookie paramedic when he pulls a young woman out of a car wreck that should have killed her. Sheila Arsenault haunts his thoughts, and despite his misgivings Peter is soon embroiled in an intense love affair--and in Sheila's troubled world.
Eighteen years later, Sheila is long gone and Peter is raising their daughter, Rowan, alone. But Rowan is veering dangerously off course, and for the first time in their quiet life together Peter fears for her future. He seeks out the only person who may be able to help Rowan, although Sheila's return is sure to unleash all the questions he has carefully been keeping at bay: Why did a mother leave her family? How did the marriage of two people so deeply in love unravel?
A story about trespass and forgiveness, secrets and the seismic force of the truth, Rescue is a masterful portrayal of a family trying to understand its fractured past and begin again.
The word stunned him. Pregnancy had never crossed his mind. “You sure?” he asked. She brushed the hair off her face and turned to look at him. “Very.” “How far along?” “Ten weeks.” “Have you seen a doctor?” “Yes.” A dialogue repeated, he imagined, thousands of times between thousands of couples. Only this time it was unique, as if he were the first man ever knocked out by a single word. Under the .9 moon, he’d asked her if she was on the pill, and she’d nodded. Then later, she said she
“The guy stroked out again. And then a third time with the wife watching.” “How is he?” “Bad shape. Real bad. Cognitively, he’s got nothing. I wanted to stay with him. I knew if you got a call, you’d come get me.” “Poor bastard,” Webster said. “One minute he’s reading the Hartstone Herald and having his Nescafé, and the next he’s a veg.” “Seen it plenty of times before,” Burrows said. “You think it gets easier?” Burrows sat back. “Yeah, I do. But every once in a while, it hits you. That
feet from him. The kids are used to his car. Even the uniform won’t bother anyone. He checks his watch. He has maybe a half hour before he has to report to Rescue. During the season, he tries to get to as many games as he can. Today, he feels the need to see something normal taking place—something so far removed from what he does for a living and his visit to Sheila that he might as well be in Kansas. At some point, he’ll have to tell Rowan about his trip to Chelsea. What the hell will he say? I
nature of the swelling inside his daughter’s head. Webster holds Rowan’s hand. The low beeps from the IV, the steady signal from the monitor, and the crackling from the blood pressure cuff—all of it make a symphony both horrific and comforting. Proof that she’s still alive, waiting, as he is, for a moment of recognition. He pictures the long fall in the night, the unseen rock protruding, the black water. A boy, standing in his underwear, calling out and begging. Amid the low laughter, the
odd haircut and in Sheila’s presence. And wouldn’t Webster then be obliged to ask Sheila and Rowan to pose together, a request riddled with mines? He’ll get Rowan after the ceremony, in her gown and in her dress. “That’s clever,” Sheila says, noticing the silver box on the windowsill over the sink. “It really tells the weather?” “It was my birthday present to Dad,” Rowan says, lifting it from the sill. She explains its various features. She gives it a little shake and sets the cube on the