The Waiting Room
By Emily Bleeker
Lake Union Publishing; hardcover, $24.95; paperback, $10.99; ebook $3.99
Emily Bleeker, the bestselling author of When I'm Gone and Working Fire, is back with a gripping novel about a mother, her missing daughter, and the dark secrets that surround them in The Waiting Room.
Veronica Shelton has suffered from postpartum depression ever since her husband's death collided with the birth of her daughter. She has trouble sleeping, can't go to work, and can't bear to touch her beautiful baby girl.
Her emotional state is feeding Veronica lies, such as "You're a bad mother" and "Your baby would be better off without you." Can everything be reasoned away by her despair?
The break-in at her house happened and the disturbing sketches she found in her studio are real. The fear that overcomes her about her daughter's safety is also real, especially when Veronica comes home to a cold, silent nursery and a missing baby.
Eventually, Veronica goes from being a victim to the primary suspect, and she realizes that only she can find her daughter.
Authorities are no help to her, as they're only watching.
Reailty is waiting for Veronica in a dark place because someone's mind games have only just begun.
Here's an excerpt to illustrate what's going through Veronica's mind, "'Nick, the baby is crying again.' Veronica half turned over in her bed and slapped to the left, trying to wake her husband. 'Nick,' she called again, this time a little louder.
"The room was dark, and colder than usual for November in North Carolina. Half-awake, she sat up and checked the alarm clock on her side of the bed, her e-book reader falling to the floor with a thump. 12:23 a.m. Her eyes burned, and the invisible arms of sleep pulled her back toward the bed. She patted his spot just in case her eyes deceived her. The bed was cold and empty. Where the hell was he?
"Veronica closed her eyes tightly and then opened them again, one, two times, trying to clear the cloud of sleepiness, feeling as if she were on sleeping pills. Even though they had an agreement that Nick would take the night shift and Veronica the day shift, she wasn't just going to sit there while Sophie screamed her head off.
"But wait. The baby wasn't crying anymore.
"The haze finally clear, Veronica hefted the covers off her legs. The floor was uncarpeted and cool against her bare feet, and goose bumps ran up her exposed arms. Nick must've fallen asleep on the couch, watching TV. She'd gone to bed early, right after they had put Sophie down with a fresh diaper, a tight swaddle, and a pink Binky. As Veronica had changed into her pajamas, Nick had pulled on a sweatshirt and said he'd run to the store for some milk and gas drops for the baby and then join her in bed. Maybe he'd decided to watch the end of the baseball game.
"'Nick,' she whispered, this time trying to sound like a loving wife rather than the annoyed one who had been calling him with a nagging edge to her voice just moments before. She was lucky to have such a hands-on husband. Nick did it all - nighttime diaper changes, runs to the store for supplies, endless rocking when Sophie couldn't calm herself. She and Sophie were two lucky ladies, and Veronica knew it.
"'Babe, you okay? I was getting worried.' Veronica padded silently down the hall, wrapping her arms around her midsection to retain some heat. She passed the open door to her art studio and the nearly closed door to the hall bathroom. Sophie's door was open. Veronica peeked in. The rocking chair where Nick usually comforted Baby Sophie or fed her a bottle of expressed milk was empty. Shuffling her feet so she didn't wake the baby, Veronica crept up to the edge of the white crib and peered inside, hoping to get a glimpse of the sleeping infant. She was so beautiful when she slept - Cupid's bow lips, delicate eyelashes against her cheeks, the light dusting of blond hair always slightly out of place on the top of her head, as if she'd had a hard day at the office. the child was perfect, absolutely perfect. But tonight, Veronica didn't get to bask in the beauty of the tiny human she and Nick had created together, because the crib was empty.
"An unfamiliar panic dropped into Veronica's stomach, heavy, as if she'd swallowed lead. With trembling fingers, she ran her hand over the mattress and soft, pink fitted sheet. It was cold, just like Nick's spot a few moments earlier. It should have been warm. She'd just heard her crying, right? The video monitor - did she even look at the monitor?
"She'd envisioned becoming a mother as this instinctual nirvana where her hormones would whisper the answer to every parenting secret into her ear. It took one diaper change and trying to nurse without a lactation consultant nearby to prove that fantasy wrong. Mostly, being a new mother was filled with moments of confusion followed very quickly by moments of panic when, instead of whispering helpful hints, her hormones told her what a failure she was."
The Waiting Room will keep you on the edge of your seat as you follow the twists and turns of this gripping story.
About the author: Emily Bleeker is a former educatot who learned to love writing while teaching a writer's workshop. After surviving a battle with cancer, she found the courage to share her stories, starting with her debut novel, Wreckage, followed by the Wall Street Journal bestseller When I'm Gone. She currently lives with her family in Chicago and you can find out more about his amazing author at www.emilybleeker.com.