Excerpt: 'Dying for Mercy' by Mary Jane Clark

She'd hired a security company and it was reassuring to see the car parked out front. The guard inside was watching—and armed. The local police also patrolled the street more often these days.

Still, Eliza knew that no amount of security could absolutely guarantee that something wouldn't happen to her child. She had to live with the fact and try not to dwell on it.

"Mrs. Garcia," called Eliza as she saw her driver pull up, "I'm leaving."

The housekeeper came out of the kitchen and put her arm around Janie's shoulders as Eliza uttered yet another silent prayer of gratitude that Mrs. Garcia had survived the kidnapping as well. That the FBI had found both before it was too late was a miracle.

"We are going to have a good time while your mommy is out, aren't we, niña?" Mrs. Garcia asked Janie. "I think we make some brownies."

"I won't be late," said Eliza as she started for the door.

Janie reached out and grabbed her mother's dress.

"What, Janie? What is it, sweetheart?" asked Eliza, fearing she had been wrong to accept the invitation. Yet Valentina Wheelock had been so insistent that Eliza come to the party, and the Wheelocks' house in Tuxedo Park was only twenty minutes away from Ho-Ho-Kus. Now, as she looked down at her daughter holding onto the red fabric of her dress, Eliza doubted she'd made the right decision to go to this party.

"What's wrong, Janie?" Eliza asked again as she bent to look directly into her daughter's eyes.

"What does 'repentance' mean?"

"What?" asked Eliza.

"You said St. Francis taught repentance," said Janie. "What is that?" "Basically it means being sorry for things you've done," Eliza answered with relief that Janie was focused only on a definition.

"What kinds of things?" asked Janie.

"Sins," said Eliza. "The kinds of things nobody should ever do."

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