THE WOMEN'S MURDER
CLUB - AGAIN
ON A TUESDAY NIGHT, I found myself playing a game of crazy eights
with three residents of the Hope Street Teen House. I was loving
On the beat-up couch across from me sat Hector, a barrio kid two
days out of Juvenile; Alysha, quiet and pretty, but with a family
history you wouldn't want to know; and Michelle, who at fourteen
had already spent a year selling herself on the streets of San
"Hearts," I declared, flipping down an eight and changing the suit
just as Hector was about to lay out.
"Damn, badge lady," he whined. "How come each time I'm 'bout to go
down, you stick your knife in me?"
"Teach you to ever trust a cop, fool." Michelle laughed,
tossing a conspiratorial smile my way.
For the past month, I'd been spending a night or two a week at the
Hope Street House. For so long after the terrible bride and groom
case that summer, I'd felt completely lost. I took a month off from
Homicide, ran down by the marina, gazed out at the bay from the
safety of my Potrero Hill flat.
Nothing helped. Not counseling, not the total support of my
girls—Claire, Cindy, Jill. Not even going back to the job. I
had watched, unable to help, as the life leaked out of the person I
loved. I still felt responsible for my partner's death in the line
of duty. Nothing seemed to fill the void.
So I came here...to Hope Street.
And the good news was, it was working a little. I peered up from my
cards at Angela, a new arrival who sat in a metal chair across the
room cuddling her three-month- old daughter. The poor kid, maybe
sixteen, hadn't said much all night. I would try to talk to Angela
before I left.
The door opened and Dee Collins, one of the house's head
counselors, came in. She was followed by a stiff-looking black
woman in a conservative gray suit. She had Department of Children
and Families written all over her.
"Angela, your social worker's here." Dee knelt down beside
"I ain't blind," the teenager said.
"We're going to have to take the baby now," the social worker
interrupted, as if completing this assignment was all that kept her
from catching the next Caltrain.
"No!" Angela pulled the infant even closer. "You can keep me in
this hole, you can send me back to Claymore, but you're not taking
"Please, honey, only for a few days," Dee Collins tried to assure
The teenage girl drew her arms protectively around her baby, who,
sensing some harm, began to cry.
"Don't you make a scene, Angela," the social worker warned. "You
know how this is done."
As she came toward her, I watched as Angela jumped out of the
chair. She was clutching the baby in one arm and a glass of juice
she'd been drinking in the opposite hand.
In one swift motion, she cracked the glass against a table. It
created a jagged shard.
"Angela." I jumped up from the card table. "Put that down. No one's
going to take your baby anywhere unless you let her go."
"This bitch is trying to ruin my life." She glared. "First
she lets me sit in Claymore three days past my date, then she won't
let me go home to my mom. Now she's trying to take my baby
I nodded, peering into the teenager's eyes. "First, you gotta lay
down the glass," I said. "You know that, Angela."
The DCF worker took a step, but I held her back. I moved slowly
toward Angela. I took hold of the glass, then I gently eased the
child out of her arms.
"She's all I have," the girl whispered, and then she started to
"I know." I nodded. "That's why you'll change some things in
your life and get her back."
Dee Collins had her arms around Angela, a cloth wrapped around the
girl's bleeding hand. The DCF worker was trying unsuccessfully to
hush the crying infant.
I went up and said to her, "That baby gets placed somewhere nearby
with daily visitation rights. And by the way, I didn't see anything
going on here that was worth putting on file.... You?" The
caseworker gave me a disgruntled look and turned away.
Suddenly, my beeper sounded, three dissonant beeps punctuating the
tense air. I pulled it out and read the number. Jacobi, my
ex-partner in Homicide. What did he want?
I excused myself and moved into the staff office. I was able to
reach him in his car.
"Something bad's happened, Lindsay," he said glumly. "I thought
you'd want to know."
He clued me in about a horrible drive-by shooting at the La Salle
Heights Church. An eleven-year-old girl had been killed.
"Jesus..." I sighed as my heart sank. "I thought you might want in
on it," Jacobi said.
I took in a breath. It had been over three months since I'd been on
the scene at a homicide. Not since the day the bride and groom case
"So, I didn't hear," Jacobi pressed. "You want in,
Lieutenant?" It was the first time he had called me by my
I realized my honeymoon had come to an end. "Yeah," I muttered. "I
Excerpted from 2ND CHANCE © Copyright 2002 by James
Patterson. Reprinted with permission by Warner Books. All rights