A total stranger on the subway platform whispers, “Take my baby.”
She places her child in your arms. She says your name.
Then she jumps...
In a split second, Morgan Kincaid’s life changes forever. She’s on her way home from work when a mother begs her to take her baby, then places the infant in her arms. Before Morgan can stop her, the distraught mother jumps in front of an oncoming train.
Morgan has never seen this woman before, and she can’t understand what would cause a person to give away her child and take her own life. She also can’t understand how this woman knew her name.
The police take Morgan in for questioning. She soon learns that the woman who jumped was Nicole Markham, prominent CEO of the athletic brand Breathe. She also learns that no witness can corroborate her version of events, which means she’s just become a murder suspect.
To prove her innocence, Morgan frantically retraces the last days of Nicole’s life. Was Nicole a new mother struggling with paranoia or was she in danger? When strange things start happening to Morgan, she suddenly realizes she might be in danger, too.
Woman on the Edge is a pulse-pounding, propulsive thriller about the lengths to which a woman will go to protect her baby—even if that means sacrificing her own life.
|Publisher:||Simon & Schuster|
|Sold by:||SIMON & SCHUSTER|
|File size:||5 MB|
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Chapter One: Morgan
CHAPTER ONE MORGAN
Monday, August 7
“Take my baby.”
I flinch at the brittle, scratchy voice. I’m standing on the subway platform as I do every day after work, waiting for the train to come. I used to try to smile at people, but I’m warier now. Ever since my husband, Ryan, died, no one knows how to act around me, and I don’t know how to act around them. I usually keep to myself, head down, which is why the voice surprises me.
I look up. I thought the woman was talking to a friend, but she’s not. She’s disheveled, wearing faded black yoga pants and a stained white T-shirt. She’s alone, and she’s talking to me.
She clutches a sleeping baby to her chest with one arm. She knows she has my attention now. She presses up against me, and my purse bangs into my side. Then she digs sharp nails into my bare wrist. “Please, take my baby.”
Icy fingers of fear run up my back despite the sweltering heat inside Grand/State station. The woman is on edge, and so am I—literally, at least. I always stand on the edge of the platform so I can be first on the train. One hard push is all it would take for me to fall onto the tracks. As bleak as the last eighteen months have been, no matter how ostracized I’ve become after Ryan’s suicide, I’ve made a new life for myself. I don’t want it to end here.
I gently extract my arm from her tight grip. “Sorry, could you ...”
She steps even closer to me, so close that I’m on the blue strip. Her eyes are wild, lips so bloody and raw, like she’s been chewing on them. She clearly needs help. I pull my long black hair around my face, lower my gaze to the gray speckled tiles, and say, “We should step back a bit. Here.” I put a hand out to guide her away from the edge, but she won’t move.
She’s making me so nervous. As a social worker, I recognize the signs of distress, signs I should have noticed in Ryan. If I hadn’t been the loyal, obtuse, willfully blind wife I never thought I’d become, my husband might have turned himself in and gotten help before it was too late. He might have realized that even though he’d be found guilty of embezzlement, there were worse things to lose. Like life itself. If I’d noticed anything ahead of time, I might not be paying for the crimes I didn’t even know he’d committed until he was dead.
I might even be a mother myself now, like this woman in front of me.
She looks awful. Clumps of matted dark curls stick out haphazardly from her scalp as though her hair has been hacked with a chain saw. I look away quickly.
“I’ve been watching you,” she says to me in a strangled voice.
She squeezes the sleeping baby so tightly, too tightly, and I fear for the safety of the child. The woman’s eyes—ringed with such dark circles it’s like she’s been punched—flick back and forth.
“Are you looking for someone? Is someone supposed to meet you here?” Then I curse myself for getting involved when I should just give her my boss Kate’s number at Haven House, the women’s shelter I work for. I’m not the lead counselor and head advocate at the shelter anymore. I’ve been demoted to office manager. I wish I’d never met Ryan. I wish I’d never fallen for his crooked smile and self-deprecating humor. And I have no recourse. I still have a job. I did nothing wrong, yet I lost so much, including everyone’s faith in me. My faith in myself.
She is not my client to counsel. Who am I to counsel anyone?
Her haunted eyes land back on me, and on her gaunt face is a look of pure terror. “Keep her safe.”
The baby is fast asleep, her tiny nose and mouth pressed too closely to her mother’s chest. She’s unaware of her mother’s suffering. I feel myself unwittingly absorbing this woman’s pain, even though I have enough of my own to contend with. I’m about to give her the shelter phone number when she speaks again.
“I’ve been watching you for a long time. You seem like a nice woman. Kind. Smart. Please, Morgan.”
My head jolts back in shock. Did she just say my name? It’s impossible. I’ve never seen her before in my life.
The woman kisses her baby’s tufts of hair, then stares at me again with those piercing blue eyes. “I know what you want. Don’t let anyone hurt her. Love her for me, Morgan.”
I know what you want?
“How can you possibly know anything about me?” I say, but my voice is drowned out by an announcement to stay back from the platform’s edge. The woman’s cracked lips move again, but I can’t hear her over the wind roaring through the tunnel.
I’m truly panicked now. Something about all of this just isn’t right. I feel it in my gut. I need to get away from this woman.
People surround us, but they don’t seem to notice that something strange is going on here. They are commuters in their own world, as I was just a few minutes ago.
The woman’s eyes sweep the platform once again. Then her arms reach out. She launches her baby toward me; my hands catch the infant by instinct. I look down at the child in my arms, and I tear up. The yellow blanket she’s wrapped in is so soft against my skin, the baby’s face serene and content.
When I look back up at her mother a second later, the train is shrieking into the station.
And that’s when she jumps.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
you never know how people deal with handling additional responsibilities and their successes or failures. it's great to read about highly professional women who have everyday crossroads.
I can't say enough good things about this book. It kept me guessing until the end. The author is awesome. She knows how to write a story and pull you in.
a great mystery with twists and turns
Riveting from the beginning, Great characters and a great story!!
Kept me reading until the end. Great mystery . Loved the book.
Firstly, I have to say that I have a deep respect for anyone who puts pen to paper, embarking on the thankless task of writing a novel. I admire those who have the stamina and bravery to put something original out there - exposed and vulnerable to critics who cannot possibly understand how difficult it is to be truly original and expressive when so many wonderful things have already been written. I love reading, and appreciate that my own passion could not be fulfilled if others did not take this leap of faith to produce works for my consumption. Unfortunately, occasionally there are times however when I wish a writer had been told by a professional or friend that their output is a mess before releasing it out into the world. Woman on the Edge by Samantha M. Bailey is a debut novel that badly needed such a voice of reason. Although the premise is captivating and the novel starts out on a promising note, it quickly devolves into a tangle of unsympathetic characters engaged in improbable scenarios in which they make stupendously imbecilic decisions. Morgan Kincaid, a social worker on her way to work one day encounters a desperate woman with a baby in her arms. This stranger somehow knows her name and tosses the baby in her arms to her right before falling backwards onto the train tracks. It turns out that the mother is Nicole Markham, founder and CEO of a famous athleisure company who has been brought to this insane state due to a combination of past trauma, paranoia due to PPD and an insidious plot against her. Despite being in a crowded place, no one witnesses to the event can corroborate Morgan’s version of the tragedy. Morgan has her own storied past which involves a husband who committed suicide after being investigated for embezzlement. For some reason, the same irrationally vindictive detective that believed that Morgan was involved in those financial crimes also is on this case as well, and now suspects her of pushing Nicole to her death. The novel consists of alternating chapters describing Nicole’s unnecessary dissolution and Morgan’s harebrained attempts to clear her name by playing amateur detective while ignoring her lawyer’s advice. These are both women apparently bereft of friends, intuition, social skills-or even a shred of common sense. Any potential empathy or credibility is lost as the reader becomes increasing confused by how the plot unfolds; frustrated by the implausibility of the motives of the ancillary characters; and infuriated by the way Morgan and Nicole are repeated victims of their own bad choices. It is difficult to see all the women portrayed in the novel possessed with so few redeeming qualities, and the baby is the only female character left worth rooting for. What is truly unfortunate is that Woman on the Edge, with a bit more care and editing, might have been an interesting look into the insecurity of motherhood and the devastating effects of postpartum psychosis. Then, it might have had the potential to be mystery worth sinking into instead of one that must simply be endured. Thanks to the author, Simon and Schuster and NetGalley for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.
Morgan is a widow. Her husband took his life after being found out as a huge fraudster. No one really believed Morgan knew nothing about it and her job suffered because of it. She was desperate to have a child but knew that with her background she was unlikely to be approved for adopting a child. She was on her way home from work, waiting for the subway and a woman says her name, thrusts her baby into Morgan’s arms, and jumps onto the tracks. The police do not entirely believe Morgan who says she did not know the woman, Nicole, who turns out to be the head of a successful company and a new mother. The story is written in such a way that we see into Nicole’s background and gradually learn why she is such an overprotective mother. It certainly kept me reading for longer than I should have! I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
I read this book in 2 days if that tells you anything. After just one page I was hooked. It was very reminiscent of B.A. Paris's book 'The Breakdown' but I don't want to give anything away so I can't tell you exactly which parts. And I liked 'Woman On the Edge' better than 'The Breakdown' because it had a lot more plot movement, suspense, and a larger cast of characters. Bailey crafts a story with enough people and different pieces of the puzzle to create doubt and many plausible explanations to keep you grappling until the very end. I also liked the back and forth between Nicole (the deceased) in the past and Morgan in the present. In Nicole's chapters we see the situation escalate and the sequence of events slowly becomes clear. In Morgan's chapters we sort through the aftermath, trying to make sense of it all. It helped break up what could become monotonous and repetitive. It was a good move to have two women's lives connect rather than just following one person's psychological distress as 'The Breakdown' did. This book evokes a lot of what I'll call: 'mom-feelings' The stakes are high when a baby's well-being is hanging in the balance. Add in the grief, loss, and desire around having and losing a child and it will grip your heart in real ways. One teeny tiny criticism: there are infant well visits and post-partum doctor visits right after a birth to help combat the very things Nicole dealt with. I would imagine they would have changed the outcome of her life drastically- but as usual- then we wouldn't have a story! Especially for her debut book, this book is a win. The story is a win, the title is a win, and the cover is a win. I will be looking for her next book! **I received an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**