Dawn Winchester is sure Dan didn’t mean to hurt their toddler son Noah…again.
With the media swarming her on the courthouse steps, her husband in jail, her teenage daughter already in foster care, and a determined case worker and vigilant court appointed guardian fighting to “protect Noah,” Dawn doesn’t know where to turn. Nobody cared last time Noah had an accident while in his father’s care…so why is everyone now set on destroying her family?
Dawn believes in loyalty. What kind of wife would she be if she didn’t stand by her husband?
But through the endless cycle of hearings, counseling sessions, and visitations, Dawn begins to fear she’s been fooling herself. What if she’d been wrong and put Noah in danger? What if this was all her fault? During his mandatory anger management therapy, even Dan starts to wonder if he might not be the man he thought he was.
Dawn has already lost one child—possibly for good—and can’t bear the thought of losing Noah too. But with the pieces of her life shattered all around her, can she put it all back together? Or should she salvage what she can and build a different life, broken heart and all?
The bonds of marriage and parenthood are strong.
But that doesn’t mean they can’t be broken…
To be released Sept 8 by Limitless Publishing!
Dawn Winchester stands on the courthouse steps holding her toddler son, Noah. The boy is shy and bruised. It’s the second time they’ve stood together like this after Noah’s father has “had an accident” while watching him. But this time, the media wants answers and a lynch mob is coming straight for Dawn – a self-described ‘good Christian’ woman now at risk of losing a second child. Dawn must decide whether or not to believe her husband and stand by him; despite the serious allegations against him. Scared and alone, she must ask herself: At what point is an accident only an accident and when is it time to step up and protect your child?
Unedited excerpt from "Wave to Papa" by Erin Lee:
She stands at the top of the courthouse
steps, clutching her toddler son to her ribs. His chubby fists form tight balls. He grabs her rope necklace, the one her
husband bought her for their first anniversary four years ago. From it, hangs a modest silver cross. She inhales, and begins her descent, trying
not to make eye contact with the reporters coming toward them. They hold cameras, microphones, pens,
notebooks, and determined expressions. They remind her of a lynch mob or of
hunters at the beginning of deer season.
She tells herself they are interested in someone else. She’s used to lying to herself. But there’s no use. She stops, right there, on the Northhampton
Superior Courthouse steps. Her words
leave her lips before she even has a chance to think about them; assemble them,
scan them for consequence.
“He’s okay. We’re okay,” she says, anticipating their
questions but not their assumptions or prior knowledge of the history here. “It’s just a little scrape. He just misses his Papa!”
A mustached man with a giant camera
comes closer, taking the steps two at a time. Behind him is a skinny woman with big glasses.
She carries a long stick with fuzz on
the end that Dawn can only assume is a microphone. It reminds Dawn of the oversized dusters her
grandmother used to have her clean the trailer with as a child. She holds baby Noah closer, pulling the
necklace from his grip. He doesn’t fight
her and instead begins to drool. She
looks to her left. She looks to her
right. The only way out is down the steps. She’s frozen.
“Why was your husband given a second
chance?” a petite, chubby blonde who has caught up to the skinny one is the
first to ask what everyone wants to know.
“…Do you believe you have battered wives syndrome? Has he ever hit you too? Or does he save that for kids?”
Dawn winces. The questions continue like rolling waves:
One after the other after the other.
They smack at her ears and she can barely make sense of them. She feels like she’s drowning in a tiny tidal
pool. She knows she can touch bottom --
if she chooses -- but doesn’t know how to find her footing. She never did learn to swim. Where
is Mom? And Dan. Why does he have to be in jail? Dan would have protected us. These people are vultures.
“…What are you going to do to
protect your son?”
“Why did you let your husband near
Noah after what he did before this?”
“How many times does it take?”
She swallows, wondering how to
navigate the steps safely. Let them go away! Make them disappear. Don’t listen to them. They don’t understand. They are monsters.
“How could you let him hurt the
More questions come faster than Dawn
can process them. She wants to run down
the stairs but is frozen. Move.
Do something! Where the hell is she?
Dawn scans the street in front of
the courthouse but can’t focus. People
move in the streets like they don’t have a care in the world: Like it’s an ordinary day. A woman counts out change for a lunchtime $1.75
“It was just an accident,” she
begins, trying to be polite and reminding herself that good Christian women
always stand by their men. She tells
herself Dan didn’t mean to hurt Noah. He just loses his temper. He’s a good father, really. Tell them that. Maybe they will understand that.
“A broken limb and a skull fracture?” And
“…How is that an accident?” And “…Who
was the caseworker that let your husband around your son? What is her name? Was it Kim?
Danielle? Which one?” Their words make her dizzy. They jumble together and she can hardly make
sense of the things the reporters are now yelling at her. I’m a
good person. A good mother. Dan always says so. How can this be happening to us? Why can’t they understand?
“Wait! Was her husband allowed near the kid? Who
was brilliant enough to allow that to fly?”
“What idiot judge made that ruling?”
“Brock. It was Brock.
Said so on the docket.”
Reporters, camera operators, and
more long microphones surround Dawn. In
her 38 years, she’d often fantasized of a chance at being in the limelight; the
ever-pined-for “fifteen minutes of fame.” But not like this. This wasn’t how she imagined it. She reaches for Noah’s right wrist, pulling
his thumb from his mouth. She’s careful
not to jostle his left arm; enclosed in a tiny baby blue cast.
“Wave at everyone, Pumpkin! Tell them you’re alright. You just had a fall! Tell them you just want to see your Papa! Say ‘hi’ to Papa, Baby!” she prompts, holding
his round hand toward the cameras. “Wave
Noah, a chubby cheeked brut of a
toddler, pulls his right wrist back and buries his face into his mother’s neck.
His mouth quickly reunites with his
thumb. He’s even less interested in
participating in the scene on the courthouse steps than his mother is.