There are towns in New Jersey where the houses sit along lagoons, instead of streets. The lagoons feed into the bay, which feeds into the Atlantic Ocean, which is why the lagoons are filled with fish and crabs, and sometimes, if you’re lucky, turtles. Neighbors’ backyards face one another, families separated by water and boats, but you’re close enough to know everyone’s business. Voices carry easily, and none were louder than the voices of the Ali-O’Connor family. Their house sat at the end of one such lagoon.
“Stop crying,” I say shortly, and grab Ettie’s hand. “Come on.”
“Where are we going?” she sniffles.
I smile. A smile that she should never trust.
“Somewhere he will not be able to find you,” I say, which is only partly a lie.
We rush down a tangle of back streets, keeping to the shadows.
She’s breathless and struggling along behind me, but at least she’s stopped crying.
She thinks I’m going to save her. When I’m sending her to a fate worse than the seven hells.
But sometimes we must pay a terrible price to protect the things we love.