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100 17 ~ Gina Well, here goes nothing, Gina thought, peering through the windshield at Pippa’s three-story stucco house. It was set way back on its lot compared to the triple-family buildings on either side, aloof from the life of the street. In the yard next door, a white-haired man leaned on the business end of a rake, the handle planted in a pile of snow-frosted leaves. A camera, black against the hunter orange of his parka, hung on a leather strap around his neck. “Looks like snow,” he called across the yard. His words were mild, but something prickly in his voice made Gina turn her head and look at him. He stared back. Gina nodded, then hurried up the front stairs. She knocked on the door and waited for Pippa. Even though it crowded her day, Gina relished the opportunity to meet the cult girl in person. Maybe then she’d understand why Emily was acting so out of character. The door opened. “Good morning. I’m—” “You must be Gina,” the young woman interrupted. “I’m Pippa. Emily said you would come.” She pulled the heavy door and stood back to let Gina enter. Two cats wove in and out between their legs. Following Pippa into the living room, Gina stared at the thick wool socks below the border of her denim skirt, but couldn’t see any evidence of the ankle monitor. Gina arranged the paper towels and computer on the coffee table. She tried not to gawk at the painting over the fireplace. Soft and round with spiky hair and pointy glasses, Pippa sat cross-legged on the couch flanked by her cats. “Any problems since last week?” Gina asked. “Cramping? Spotting?” “I feel fine,” Pippa said. “Have you heard from Emily?” Gina shook her head. “How about digestive problems—heartburn, nausea, constipation ?” “No. Nothing. When do you think she’ll be back?” Ellen Meeropol ~ 101 “The funeral is this morning.” Gina read the notes in the computer file. “What about the cat box? Is someone else cleaning it?” “Liz is doing it.” “And the herb teas? Are you avoiding the ones that can trigger labor too early?” Pippa looked confused for a moment, then shrugged. “I’m doing everything just like Emily said.” “How’s the rash under your ankle monitor?” Lifting her skirt, Pippa leaned down and pushed the gray wool sock down from her right ankle, exposing the small black device. “It rashes up and itches after my shower,” she said. “But as long as I tuck this thin sock under the strap, the blotches and itching go away pretty quick.” Gina nodded and typed Pippa’s responses into the file. Looking up, she said, “Let’s check your weight, blood pressure, and urine, okay?” “Emily said she would tell me the results of my blood tests. From last Friday?” “I don’t see them. It takes a few days to show up in the computer record. When Emily comes back, she’ll track them down.” Gina finished typing, rummaged in the bag, and then held out a small plastic cup. While Pippa was in the bathroom, Gina allowed herself to finally stare at the painting. Why hadn’t Emily mentioned that awful bird-woman with her bare breasts and fierce eyes? Pippa handed the cup to Gina, who took it in a gloved hand and set it on a folded paper towel. She dipped the plastic strip into the urine, and held it against the small squares on the bottle label, matching each color at the precise number of seconds for accurate results. Gina knew that other people weren’t as careful, but the details were important to her. “Everything’s normal.” She smiled at Pippa. Pippa’s weight and blood pressure were normal too, and Gina folded up the supplies and fit everything neatly into the rolling back pack. That wasn’t so bad, and she had plenty of time to check on Mr. Stanisewski before her regular Wednesday morning patients. Then Pippa walked back into the living room carrying a tray with a nut-brown teapot and two mugs. “Spearmint tea. Specialty of the house.” “I’m not sure I have time.” “Please sit for a spell,” Pippa said, her voice slipping into a southern cadence. “I could sure use the company.” She poured tea into both cups. Gina checked her watch. She could spare the time, but didn’t like Pippa calling all the...


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Related ISBN
MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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