Authors: Arlene Sachitano
Copyright ©2008 by Arlene Sachitano
First published in 2008, 2008
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons or events is purely coincidental.
All rights reserved. Except for use in review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means now known or hereafter invented, is prohibited without the written permission of the author or publisher.
I would like to thank the following people for their input, support and information while I was writing this book. First and foremost, my family: husband Jack, sister Donna, children Karen and Malakai, Annie and Alex, David and Tanya and Ken, Nikki and Kellen. Special thanks to my sister-in-law and brother in-law, Beth and Hank Bohne for everything from hosting me in their home to providing medical information to rambling around the country marketing my book. Thanks to my nephews Brett, Nathan, Jason and Chad, who have remained true believers.
In addition, I'd like to thank my critique group, Katy and Luann, as well as my local Sisters in Crime chapter. I would also like to thank Dr. Doug Lyle, who shares his knowledge of forensics freely with his fellow Sisters in Crime. The Portland Police Bureau's central precinct has been very helpful in providing information, particularly Sgt. Brian Schmautz, Sgt. George Weatheroy and Detective James Lawrence. Once again, thanks to Susan and Susan, my close friends and confidantes, who have to put up with my unwelcome absences at coffee when I'm writing and my endless rambling about my characters when I'm present. Many thanks go to in-laws Bob and Brenda for their unwavering support and down-home Texas cooking.
Last but never least, thanks to Liz at Zumaya, without whom none of this would happen.
"Tell me again why we have to go to a workshop with Lauren,” Harriet Truman said. “She blames me for her last quilt being ruined. And she's the one who's been copying TV cartoons for her images. You'd think she'd be thanking me for pointing it out—if I
pointed it out, which you may remember I didn't. Bertrand probably did her a favor when he destroyed her Kathy the Kurious Kitty knock-off. Now she won't be sued for plagiarism.” She brushed her hair away from her face.
"Now, honey,” Mavis Willis said and set her teacup down on the piecrust table in the sitting area of Harriet's long-arm quilting studio. “Lauren knows you didn't ruin her quilt. And she is trying to mend her ways. She was already in a two-year series in creative fiber design she's finishing this year. She's even signed up for the guild certification program. Her best work will be scrutinized by judges in London.
"We need to support that. Besides, it'll be fun, and heaven knows we could use a little fun. And most of the Loose Threads are going."
The Loose Threads was the quilting group Harriet's Aunt Beth had belonged to forever and that Harriet had joined upon her return to Foggy Point, Washington.
"I'm not signing up for two years of anything,” Harriet said and punched the stop button on her long-arm quilting machine. “Besides, if Kathy the Kurious Kitty was the best she could come up with after a year of training, I'm not impressed with her school."
"Oh, honey,” Mavis protested. “She made that cat quilt two years or more ago, before she started her schooling. She spent a lot of money making patterns before she knew better—she was hoping she could sell the patterns and get her money back. That's why she was so sensitive about her quilt. She knew what it was.
"And in any case, the school doesn't let students show their classwork outside the program until they graduate."
Harriet ran her hand over the stitching she'd just completed and decided it would do. She crossed the room and flung herself into the leather wingback chair opposite her older friend.
"And, honey, the great part is,” Mavis continued, “you don't need to sign up for a two-year program. The center has a set of week-long workshops they do a couple of times a year. They'll be bringing in teachers from all over the country. That's what we're going to. It'll be fun. You'll see."
"Do I have to send my work to London? Harriet asked.
"Of course not. That's just for the two-year program, and then only if you want that certificate."
"What kind of classes do they have?"
Mavis poured hot water from an electric pot sitting on the table over the used tea bag in her floral china teacup.
"They have all sorts.” She pulled a folder from the canvas tote that held her current hand-stitching project. “Let's see here.” She adjusted the tilt of her bifocals. “You could take hand piecing classes. There are several people teaching that. Marla Stevens is coming from Indiana to teach dye techniques."
"Don't you think it's a little soon for me to be taking time off from the business?” Harriet asked. “I mean, it's only been two months since I took over, and during those two months, Aiden's mom was murdered and my studio was trashed and I was held at gunpoint—let's not forget that part. I'm just now getting a normal routine going. I hate to upset the apple cart."
Mavis folded back the cuff of her faded green-and-brown plaid flannel shirt. “That's all true, but with the Loose Threads going to the workshop, your workload will be reduced, and your aunt Beth is willing to come out of retirement and stitch anything that has to be done. I asked her. The Wal-Mart in Port Angeles has tablecloths on sale, so Beth and I went yesterday to get pastel cloths for the guild's mother-daughter tea. We were talking about the workshop, and she said since she's just back from her cruise and still getting settled into her new place, she was only going to come to the open house part. I asked her if she would be willing to cover any emergency stitching that needed doing, and she said of course she would, so there you have it. You're free to come."
Harriet wasn't sure she'd ever get used to having what felt like everyone in town not only knowing her business but planning her life. After having been raised by parents who only occasionally noticed she existed, she sometimes felt smothered by the attention of her aunt Beth, whom she'd lived with off and on during her childhood, and the Loose Threads. The fact that Foggy Point was a small town didn't help. With fewer than 10,000 people, it was also geographically isolated, exactly the feature that had caused Victorian sea captain and reputed pirate Cornelius Fogg to choose the area for his home base.
Located between Port Angeles and Sequim, Foggy Point itself was shaped like the head and front claw of a tyrannosaurus rex, which provided multiple lagoons and coves perfect for hiding the tall sailing ships that had plied the waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca laden with treasure more than a century earlier. Just one road connected it to the highway, which meant winter storms often left the community cut off from the rest of the state. So, the local citizenry kept its collective nose firmly planted in each other's business.
"But Aunt Beth has only been retired for a couple of weeks. And she's not even unpacked."
Aunt Beth had given Harriet the large Victorian home that housed her long-arm quilting business, Quilt As Desired, along with said business, two months earlier when Beth had decided on the advice of her doctor to retire and enjoy life. She had purchased a small cottage on the strait side of Foggy Point then promptly left for a month-long cruise of Europe.
"You can talk to Beth yourself, but she agrees it would be good for you to get out and have some fun. Besides, you might meet potential customers. Look at it as a business trip."
Harriet knew she didn't need to talk to her aunt. Mavis was one of Beth's oldest and dearest friends. If Mavis said Aunt Beth was willing, it was true.
She held out her hand for the brochure. “Let me look,” she said.
The next hour passed in a blur of class descriptions and tea, but in the end, and with help from Mavis, Harriet had chosen a selection of workshop activities that would fill up her week of attendance. She set the registration form on her desk.
"I'll fax this in the morning,” she said.
"Make sure to say you want to be with the other Loose Threads on the line where they ask for housing preferences, and note that they're at the quilting school,” Mavis began gathering up her stitching and stowed it in her bag. “The school is for arts and crafts, not just quilting, so there will be other workshops going on at the same time. You could end up bunking with the painters or potters if you don't specify.” She buttoned her shirt, which had belonged to her husband and doubled as her jacket, gathered her bag and purse and headed for the door. “I have to run. Look who's here."
Aiden Jalbert held the door as she stepped out.
Harriet tried unsuccessfully to change the fluttering in her stomach to anger. Aiden had no-showed for a dinner date three weeks before, and she hadn't heard from him since.
She reminded herself there was no reason she should have heard from him, given she had told him herself she was too old to date him. He was, after all, ten years her junior. Yet in spite of her logical self talk, her heart soared at the sight of him.
Strands of straight black hair fell over his forehead. He flicked a lock off his face, and she could see the dark circles under his odd white-blue eyes.
"Can I come in?” he asked and hesitated.
"Suit yourself,” she said and continued straightening papers on her desk.
He collapsed his tall frame into the leather chair and closed his eyes. “Feels good to sit,” he groaned, and her anger fled.
"Would you like a cup of tea?"
"What I'd like is to curl up with you and sleep for about a week,” he said without opening his eyes. “Since that's not likely, I'll take the tea."
She crossed the room and checked the electric kettle; there was enough water for one cup.
"You're darn right it's not likely."
"There's a good reason I didn't show up for dinner."
"You don't owe me any explanations. Jorge told me you'd called, and he fixed me a chile relleno with a new sauce he's working on and he ate dinner with me and it was fine."
"I would have called you myself, but I was in the middle of something."
"Look, it's okay. I understand—things come up.” She pulled a ceramic mug from a shelf on the wall behind the wingback chair. “Lots of things, apparently, since that was three weeks ago.” She put a teabag in the cup and poured water over it.
"Do you read the newspaper?” Aiden asked and straightened in his chair.
"Are you trying to change the subject?"
"I'll take that as a no.” He took the mug of steaming tea. “Because if you did read the paper or watch the local news, you'd know there's been an epidemic of tainted pet food. We've got cats and dogs both going into kidney failure. All of us have been working round the clock, and we've still lost eight dogs and four cats."