"No one comes much now," the youngster told him. "But it's a good place for a boy. My dad used to like it, my mom says."
Something leaped within Joe, quick, doomed, the way the sunny had snapped at the hook. He was an idiot. Blind and an idiot. He studied the child's features. He looked like a hundred little boys. A thousand little boys. Maybe a little bit older than Joe had first thought. But…long lashes fringed his bright blue eyes. Licorice juice blackened his lip. Brown hair, lighter at his temples the way new grass is less green, curled over his ears. The sun seized red highlights that glinted like rust through fire.
He sucked in a sharp breath, no longer able to deny the plain facts, even to himself. Pain, sudden, diffuse, confused, made it hard to take another. He wanted to run his thumb across the freckled nose, touch the golden skin of the child's bare arm, feel the silk of that russet hair with the smell of the sun still in it. And, most of all, the vigorous beat of the child's heart beneath his hand, beneath his cheek. A heavy weight crushed his chest. He wanted to snatch the little boy into his arms and envelop him. He didn’t have the right.