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Authors: Chris Jordan


BOOK: Trapped
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With love to my wife, Lynn Harnett,

who gave me the stor y, and to my cousin

FBI Special Agent James McCar ty,

who could be Randall Shane

Thanks to Sandra Aitken and Peggy Ruggieri,

two of the best gown-makers in the

known universe, for helping Jane Garner

establish her business.


Kids Like Balloons

Ricky Lang dreams of his three children. Sometimes they

are dressed in white cotton nightshirts emblazoned with

cartoons from the Magic Kingdom. Goofy and Mickey and

various ducks. Sometimes the children appear to be wearing

garments made of light, glowing with an intensity that makes

his eyes hurt. Sometimes the two girls float above the ground,

grinning like mischievous angels while his son, four-year-old

Tyler, tugs at his sisters as if they are wayward balloons. Mak-

ing a game of pulling them down.

Sleeping or waking, it does not matter, he dreams of the

children. For instance at this very moment he’s wide-awake,

lounging in the hot, hushed shade of his tiki hut, staring at

the glistening blue water in his brand-new swimming pool.

Sipping on a tall iced tea and wondering why the water looks

like Ty-D-bowl, the same bright color, and all the while his

three children stand in a row on the far side of the pool.

Dressed in their bathing suits, of course. All three of them

waiting for his signal. His permission to enter the water. Wait-

ing so patiently.

The children can’t be there, he knows that.


Chris Jordan

“Myla!” he bellows. “Get out here!”

Myla hurries out of the house. Slim brown legs, wears

little white shorts low on her slender hips and a Victoria’s

Secret cami top he purchased online. She’s barefoot, balanc-

ing a tray laden with sandwiches and salsa chips.

They’ve been together for two months, more or less, and she

wants to please him. Nothing pleases Ricky, but she keeps


“Hurry up, woman!”

Myla is barely twenty, has little experience with powerful

men. Her big eyes always register a little fear at the sound of

his voice, which is just the way he likes it.

“Never mind the food,” he says. “Hit the pool.”


“Swim,” Ricky says. “In the water.”

“We’re going to swim?” asks Myla, confused. A few min -

utes ago he was demanding lunch at ten in the morning, not

exactly lunchtime.

“Not me. You. Go change.”

Myla carefully sets down the tray. Smiles at Ricky and then

licks a tiny daub of mayonnaise from the side of her hand, de-

licately, like a cat tonguing its pretty paw. “What should I wear?”

“Whatever,” Ricky says. “Use the cabana. Hurry.”

Without a word, Myla hurries away, heading for the

striped cabana. She looks pleased and hopeful, as if of the

true belief that obeying his command, this particular

command, will make him happy.

Ricky stares at the plate of sandwiches. Normally he’s a

man of vast appetites, but not this morning. The faintly salty

odor of albacore tuna and finely chopped celery makes him

feel slightly queasy.




“Coming, Ricky!”

A few minutes later she emerges from the cabana wearing

the latest itsy-bitsy-teeny bikini. Juicy, that’s what it says on her

butt, in big white letters. Ricky likes the idea that he gets to read

her ass—that’s why he selected this particular item—but at the

moment sex is the furthest thing from his mind. Normally he

can’t be around Myla for ten minutes without getting the urge,

but today he has other things rattling around inside his head.

Myla executes a lithe pirouette, showing off her new


“You like?”

“Yeah, baby. Get in the pool. Swim.”

Myla lowers herself to the edge of the swimming pool,

gingerly, because the tiles are hot. She’s not much of a

swimmer, and this is how she enters the pool, by slipping cau-

tiously into the chemical-blue water, no splashing. Ricky

likes to dive, belly flop, get things wet. Not Myla.

Very careful girl. Ricky isn’t sure if he really likes careful,

not for the long term, but for the moment she’ll do.

“Go on,” he urges. “Swim.”

She smiles, bright and nervous, and then begins to dog-

paddle. Carefully, so as not to wet her hair. Ricky waits until

she’s halfway through the first lap before checking to see if

the children have gone.

He sighs. The muscles in his shoulders and his gut unclench.

“Like this, Ricky?” Myla calls from the pool.

“Yeah, yeah,” he says. “Good.”

It worked. Myla pushed his children back into the dream.

Wherever dreams are supposed to go when you’re awake,

that’s where the children went. Which is good, because

seeing them there all in a row, ready to jump in the pool at

his command, it made him want to scream.


Chris Jordan

He picks up a triangle of sandwich, eats. Delicious. The

sense of relief pervades every fiber of his body. He begins to

think clearly, and among the thoughts is the nugget of a plan.

A plan of action. Something that must be done. Something

long overdue.

After a while Myla calls out from the pool. “Ricky? Can

I stop now, Ricky?”

“Nah,” he says, not looking. “Keep swimming.”

Part I

Island Girls

1. The Girl On The Crotch Rocket

It all starts to go wrong one perfect, early summer evening

on the Hempstead Turnpike. That’s when something pulls on

the secret thread that holds my life together, and starts the

great unraveling.

I don’t know it at the time, of course. I think all is well,

that I’m holding things together, as always. Okay, Kelly and

I have been fighting a lot lately, but that’s what happens with

teenagers, right? All I have to do is stick to my guns, keep

on being an involved parent, paying attention to my willful

daughter, and everything will come out fine. Right?

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Normally I try to avoid the turnpike at peak traffic hours,

but this time there’d been no choice. Mrs. Haley Tanner

wanted a third fitting for the wedding party, and when Haley

calls, you drop whatever and respond. She and her new hus-

band are hosting her stepdaughter’s very lavish wedding—

nine tents, two bands, three caterers—at their Oyster Bay

estate, and she’s worried the bridesmaids may have put on a

pound or two. Despite her obnoxious habit of summoning

people at the very last possible moment, Haley is actually sort


Chris Jordan

of likable, in a nervous, insecure, please-help-me way. So

worried she’s going to do the wrong thing, make a mistake,

and demonstrate to Stanley J. Tanner that he chose the wrong

trophy wife. Turns out she’s his second trophy wife. Stanley,

CEO of Tanner Holdings, ditched the original trophy wife not

long after Haley served him broiled cashew halibut at Scali-

cious, a trendy little fish café in Montauk. At the time Haley

was “staying with friends” while she waited tables, which

meant she was paying two hundred a week to sleep on the

floor. So nabbing Stanley Tanner was a very big deal. Haven’t

had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Tanner in person myself—

he seems to live in his Lear—but just looking at Haley, you

know he’s a breast man. Which is fine. A man has to focus

on something, right? Why not something that reminds him,

however unconsciously, of his mother? As my friend Fern

always says, what’s the harm?

Anyhow, poor Haley was melting down about the gowns

not fitting and had summoned all five bridesmaids. Turns out

two of them had actually lost weight and the very slight al-

terations were, to everyone’s relief, no problem. An hour

later I’m thinking, as traffic inches along, that for all that

money I wouldn’t trade places with Haley Tanner. I’d rather

work my butt off as a single mom with a mortgage. Don’t

get me wrong, it’s gorgeous, the newest Tanner mansion,

tastefully furnished—one of five homes they own, by the

way—but Haley never seems to have an unnervous moment

or a peaceful thought. And no children, not yet. Maybe never,

unless Stanley gets DNA approval.

Second trophy wives aren’t about kids, they’re about


Nope, I’ll stay plain Jane Garner, Kelly’s mom, the wed-

ding lady. The go-to woman for custom gowns. The one driv-



ing the very nicely detailed, seven-year-old Mercedes station

wagon. Classy but reasonably priced, if you let the first owner

take the depreciation. Anyhow, I’m cool with being a

working mom who balances her own checkbook, who is

socking college money away for her daughter, and who

thinks she has, at this precise moment, no regrets, no regrets

at all.

Lying to myself, of course. Lying big-time. I’ve been lying

for sixteen years, not that I’m counting.

Thing about living a lie, if you do it really well, you sort

of forget you’re lying.

I forgot.

That’s when the crotch rocket went by, scudding dirt and

pebbles in the brake-down lane. Actually beyond the brake-

down lane, right up on the grass. I know it’s the type of sleek

Japanese motorcycle called a “crotch rocket” because Kelly

told me. Pointed one out as it shot by us in, where was it,

somewhere around Greenwich? Greenwich or Westport, one

of those towns.
See how they bend low over the fuel tank,

Mom? That’s to reduce air resistance.
And how did my dar-

ling daughter know this, exactly?
Everybody knows, Mom.

That’s her answer lately. Everybody always knows but you,


It’s not like I’m ancient. I’m thirty-four. Kelly thinks I’m

thirty-four going on fifty or sixty. Which drives me nuts, but

there it is.

What catches my eye isn’t the motorcycle—motorcycles

cut and weave through traffic all the time—it’s the girl on the

back, barely hanging on. One hand clutching the waist of the

slim-hipped driver, the other hand waving like she’s riding a

bucking bronco in the rodeo, showing off her balance. The

girl on the back has no helmet, which is against the law in


Chris Jordan

BOOK: Trapped
10.14Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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