Voices swirled, and Emery felt herself being yanked to her feet. Puffy grayness clouded her vision as she tried to clear her head. "No," she murmured. She pulled in vain against the hands the held and tried again. "No!"
"Good heavens, officer!" The cultured woman's voice spoke again, and, through the fog in her own mind, Emery caught sight of satins and pearls. "Is such violence really necessary on the steps of the Carlysle Mansion?" The woman waved her hand. "Antrin, fetch my husband."
"Elizabeth!" Emery shouted the word like a plea or a password. Her vision cleared and she locked her gaze with the woman in satins just in time to see the woman turn deathly pale. Emery lowered her voice. "Elizabeth Carlysle. Or Beth, as she prefers."
The satin woman backed away, retreating into her house. "Take her away," she said, her voice croaking. "Antrin, close the door."
Emery felt like a knife had been stabbed into her heart and twisted. "How can you say that?" she burst out. "You're her mother!" In all the hardships Emery had faced in her life, this was one that was foreign to her. No matter how wretched life became, she could never doubt her parents' love. "She needs you! And you would walk away from her?"
The retreating figure stopped and for a moment every single person stood motionless and silent.
Then that cultured voice spoke again -- this time with tears choking the words.