Hush Little Baby, Don’t You Cry…
At thirty-nine, Peyton Somerset has an enviable life, with a thriving advertising career and a beautiful Manhattan apartment. And now she’s going to have the one thing she wants most—a baby. Peyton’s biological clock went off just as her fiancé took off, leaving her at the altar. So Peyton’s going it alone. Already, she’s making plans for the little one inside her…buying the layette, daydreaming, and worrying over the littlest things. That’s only natural. All mothers do. But Peyton has reason to worry. In fact, she has every reason to be terrified…
Mama Won’t Be Singing Any Lullabies.
As the months pass, Peyton can’t help feeling that something is terribly wrong. She’s certain that someone has been in her apartment, that she’s being followed, that someone is watching her. Maybe it’s just hormonal paranoia that makes her distrust everyone around her. Or maybe her maternal instincts are dead on. Maybe there’s someone close who doesn’t think she should give birth at all. Someone who would do anything to have a baby. Anything…
“If you like Mary Higgins Clark, you’ll love Wendy Corsi Staub.”—Lisa Jackson
Praise for the novels of Wendy Corsi Staub
“Keeps readers in the dark until the final pages…offers a challenging puzzle and some eerie chills.” —Publishers Weekly
“Bunker down for a great read!”—Lisa Gardner, New York Times bestselling author
“Please. Please don’t hurt me. I just want to have my
“Oh, you will.” The stranger’s lips curve upward to reveal
chalk-white, even teeth. “You’ll have your baby.”
Far from reassuring Heather, the words—and the smile—
strike her as sinister, sending a new wave of dread shuddering through her.
She struggles to keep full-blown panic at bay, her pregnancy-
swollen body tethered to the four posts of the bed. She can’t
possibly escape. Even if she were left alone long enough to
work the ropes free, even if she were in prime condition to
run, she wouldn’t get far. She has no idea what lies beyond
the door of this room. She was brought here blindfolded, at
gunpoint. The blindfold is off and the weapon now concealed,
but she senses its deadly presence nearby. She can’t take a
And so, physically helpless, she can only search wildly
for a mental way out, for some logical explanation to grasp.
The only rationale Heather’s fear-muddled brain can conjure is that she isn’t really here; this simply cannot be happening. She must be home in bed. This has to be another one of those crazy nightmares she’s been having these last few
weeks, between bouts of heartburn and frequent nocturnal
trips to the bathroom.
Squeezing her eyes closed, she promises herself that
when she counts to ten and opens them, she’ll see familiar
pink-and-white-striped wallpaper, her Beanie Baby collection, the bulletin board above her bed, still decorated with
pictures from the prom with Ryan and from cheerleading
camp last summer.
Mom made her go to camp. The year before, Heather had
begged to go and Mom said they couldn’t afford it. This
year, her mother somehow scraped the money together despite Heather’s protests. She wanted to stay home to be near
Ryan, who was lifeguarding at a borough pool.
Of course, Ryan was the very reason Mom wanted her to
get away from Staten Island for the summer. She thought
they were spending too much time together. She was worried
that what had happened to her would happen to Heather. No
amount of begging would change Mom’s mind about camp.
“You’re going, Heather. Period.”
Period. Ha. She didn’t even realize she had missed hers until she got home from camp. Overnight, she had become a
walking stereotype—the Roman Catholic schoolgirl who lost
her virginity on prom night and found herself pregnant. She
had become her mother’s worst nightmare.
No, she had become her mother.
There is no pink-and-white-striped wallpaper.
No Beanie Baby collection.
No bulletin board.
Renewed despair launches in Heather’s gut as she gazes
frantically around the nondescript box of a room. Painted white
walls. Dresser, chair, four-poster wooden bed. One window
with the blinds drawn and plain beige curtains hanging from
a metal rod.
Where the hell am I?
A wave of longing sweeps through her; longing for the
frilly white priscillas Mom bought on clearance at Kmart
last year. At the time, Heather complained that they were too
babyish for a fifteen-year-old. Now she’d give anything to
see them again. To see Mom again.
“Please...” she whimpers, succumbing to the realization
that this is no nightmare.
This is real.
As her captor looms over the bed, she’s certain that her
life—and her baby’s life—is in danger.
“What’s the matter? You’re afraid, aren’t you? Poor thing.”
The eyes that gaze down at her are oddly vacant, betraying no hint of human empathy. Gone is the cheerful voice
that asked if she needed a hand loading her packages into the
car, having given way to an eerily detached monotone.
“It’s almost over. Don’t worry.”
What’s almost over? Oh, God. Please help me.
Heather has been transformed into yet another stereotype:
the pretty teenaged girl who’s disappeared from a shopping
Once again, she has become her mother’s worst nightmare.
“You should calm yourself down. All that shaking isn’t
good for the baby, you know.”
Oh, please. Please.
I want my mommy.
I want to go home.
“Are you hungry? What am I thinking? Of course you’re
hungry. You’re eating for two, and it’s almost six. Time for
Only six o’clock?
Hours seem to have passed since she waddled out of the
mall and across the icy parking lot through freezing rain.
Heather automatically attempts to lift her left wrist to check
her watch, but it’s held fast by the twine that binds her hand
to the bedpost.
She whimpers in frustration, closing her eyes. A series of
images rush at her.
The shocked expression in Ryan’s beautiful blue-green
eyes when she told him the EPT was positive.
Bitter disappointment, etched with resignation, on her
A shapeless blob on an ultrasound screen, one she wished
would miraculously disappear so that Ryan would reappear
in her life.
But that was eight months ago.
That was before she ever heard her baby’s rapid heartbeat; before she felt the little flutters of life stirring beneath
her swelling belly; before the flutters gave way to kicks and
punches and sometimes, the staccato taps the doctor told her
are the baby’s hiccups. Somehow, the hiccups made the whole
thing seem real.
The pregnancy she once cursed has transformed into a
blessing; she now longs with anticipation for the date she
once dreaded. And it’s almost here.
Less than forty-eight hours until her due date.
She’s been so exhausted, and the weather was so crummy.
Why didn’t she just stay home? Why did she feel compelled
to make one last trip to Baby Gap and Gymboree?
Because she hated that her baby’s layette was so skimpy.
Because she convinced herself that the baby would need a few
more Onesies, a few more little knit caps and tiny socks...
And maybe, because some part of her longed for one last
trip to the mall; longed for that link to the carefree teenaged
days she’d left behind as her stomach ballooned and Ryan
and her girlfriends abandoned her.
“Hey!” A painful jab in her arm startles Heather back to
the horrific present. Her eyes snap open to face her tormentor once again. “You didn’t answer my question. Are you
Oh, God. Please. Please don’t let this sick lunatic hurt
“I want to go home.”
A surprisingly gentle hand strokes her head. “Hush.
Everything will be all right.”
Hush, little baby, don’t say a word...
The melody of the folk lullaby she’s been humming for
months, whenever she’s alone, drifts into Heather’s head.
“Please. Please let me go home.”
Please. I want to rock my baby and sing lullabies. Please.
“Sorry, that’s not possible.” Her captor’s smile has been
replaced by an all-business demeanor that strikes Heather as
even more chilling. It’s as though there is a specific agenda,
a purpose to her being here.
“What do you want to eat? Do you have any cravings?
Pickles and ice cream, maybe?”
The laughter that follows is maniacal, subsiding just as
rapidly as it began.
“Now, what can I make for you to eat?”
Maybe this is just a harmless crazy person, Heather tells
herself. Maybe the best thing to do is go along until somebody shows up here to save her.
Wherever here is.
She has no idea which way they traveled after she was
shoved into the back of a van that was parked close to her
mother’s car in the mall parking lot.
The van was so damned close. Why didn’t she notice
that? Why didn’t she carry her own damned packages?
Why didn’t she listen to Mom when she said never to talk
“I’m waiting,” the stranger says now, in almost a singsong voice. “Tell me what you want to eat.”