Authors: Arlene Sachitano
"Start with your search of the buildings with Aiden,” Mavis prompted.
Harriet had just started when Aiden and Tom arrived. They had been searching for her and Lauren, and had just gotten word the women had been found.
"I didn't know who had taken me until Lauren and I had escaped,” she concluded after describing her kidnapping from the restroom and escape from the attic. “Has anyone heard how Lauren's doing?” she asked, suddenly aware she'd been so wrapped up in her own rescue she'd forgotten to worry about Lauren.
"I called the hospital a few minutes ago,” Robin reported. “She's conscious, but they're running tests. The nurse said she's dehydrated and had lost some blood from her head wounds, so she'll probably be in the hospital a few days. They also suspect she has a concussion."
"I don't get it,” Sarah said. “Why on earth would that little mouse kidnap Lauren and Harriet? Didn't she tell us she's a partner in the school? It seems a little counterproductive to kidnap students. Who'd want to come back after that?"
"She wasn't a partner,” Tom said, a little louder than was necessary. “I'm sorry, but that witch spread a pack of lies about me and my mother. My mom did have dementia, Patience wasn't a partner and I'm not a botanist.” He looked at Harriet when he said the last bit.
"But why did she target Lauren?” Robin asked.
"I think I can answer that,” Detective Ruiz said. No one had noticed him come in. “What do I need to do to get a drink around here?"
"We've got tea,” Mavis said and got up to get a cup.
"Here, sit down,” Connie said and offered him the twig rocker. Mavis brought him tea and a small plate of cookies.
"Thank you.” He nodded at Mavis. He sipped his tea and closed his eyes briefly. “My mother always made us tea when we were sick,” he said with an embarrassed smile.
Aiden crossed the room and wedged himself in between Sarah and Harriet on the sofa. Tom sat on the floor in front of the river-rock fireplace.
"Lauren was targeted by Patience for two reasons,” Detective Ruiz began. “First, it seems that with, to quote Patience, ‘that meddling Harriet Truman's help,’ Lauren had figured out that her work had been copied and the copy was being sold in Europe. It seems that Patience had been copying and selling student work for years, and no one was the wiser.
"But the main reason she went after Lauren is that Patience had drawn up a new will for Selestina and had tricked her into signing it. After she set the poisoning in motion—that is, she laid out the poisoned thimble and waited for Selestina to use it—she put the new will in a file of employee benefits documents and left it on top of the victim's desk where it could be easily found. The files disappeared, and Patience came to believe that Lauren had them."
"She did,” Harriet said. “She just didn't know what she had. Her brother took the files off Selestina's desk. He was in her office and heard someone coming so he just took the whole pile. He and Lauren were searching for evidence of the quilt copying. When Lauren became a suspect, they shredded the files, not realizing they had shredded the fake will."
"I talked to Les,” Tom said. “Patience had figured out he must have known something or seen something or at least would have access to something, and she was blackmailing him for reasons I won't go into. When he realized she was targeting Lauren, he tried to get his sister out of here, but Lauren wouldn't stay where he'd put her, and when she went back to his apartment, Patience found her. Les got rid of the files because he didn't want to be implicated in whatever scam Patience was running."
"So, in the end, it was about money and status,” Mavis said.
"I'm embarrassed to say I never looked at the teacher payroll until my mother died,” Tom said. “I feel partly responsible for all this.” He hung his head and took a deep breath. “When I did look at the finances I was shocked to see how little my mother paid Patience. And I guess it's no secret that my mom was difficult to work with. She could have driven anyone over the edge. When I saw what my mom had been doing, I had planned to give Patience a big raise, and then, when my mom no longer was able, I was going to let her run the place.” He sighed again.
"I guess she had the same idea,” Harriet said. “Only she couldn't wait."
"It's all so senseless,” Tom said, and rubbed his hands over his face.
"Oh, honey, you can't blame yourself,” Mavis said. “Being difficult is not a reason to kill someone."
"What will happen to her?” Carla asked, and blushed at the sound of her own voice.
"She'll be tried for the murder of Selestina Bainbridge,” Detective Ruiz said. “And the attempted murder of Cammi Johnson and Aiden Jalbert.
"We'll investigate the fire in the workshop and see if we've got any evidence to tie her to that. And, of course, the kidnapping and holding of two people against their will. She won't be going anywhere for a long while when we get done with her."
"It's all so senseless,” Robin said.
"Crime generally is,” Detective Ruiz said. He stood up. “Thank you for the tea and cookies.” He looked at Harriet. “If you can come by the station tomorrow we can take your statement then. There's no reason to keep you up tonight.” He looked at his watch. “If you hurry, you can get some sleep before then."
"Oh, my goodness, look how late it is,” Connie said, looking around the room.
Tom took the hint. “Thank you for everything,” he said. He went to Harriet and clasped her hands. “Patience might have gotten away with this if you hadn't put the pressure on her. If you ever want to come back to the school, you've got a lifetime scholarship."
He let go of her hands. Aiden stood up, and a look passed between the two men. What started as a handshake became a bear hug.
"I'll see you next week,” Aiden said.
Tom turned away without saying anything, but Harriet could see tears glistening in his eyes. He raised his hand in a wave to the rest of the group and continued out the door.
"You two certainly seem chummy all of a sudden,” she said.
"We had a lot of time to talk when we were searching the grounds.” He sat back down. “We realized we share a rather exclusive club that no son ever imagines qualifying for."
Harriet rubbed his muscular back with one hand.
The Loose Threads made a show of leaving the great room, with the exception of Sarah, who only left when Connie pulled her to her feet and pushed her toward the stairs. Aiden told Carla he had a business proposition to discuss with her and asked if they could talk the following day during lunch. The young woman looked at Harriet, who nodded encouragement, and then said yes before hurrying away.
"Alone at last,” Aiden said, and put his arms around Harriet, pulling her to him. She started to speak, but he kissed her, ending all thoughts of conversation.
Attempted murder, theft, drug rings, battered women, death threats and more sordid affairs than she could count were the more exciting experiences from Arlene Sachitano's nearly thirty years in the high-tech industry.
Prior to writing her first novel,
Chip and Die
(Zumaya 2003), Arlene wrote the story half of the popular Block of the Month quilting patterns “Seams Like Murder,” “Seams Like Halloween” and “Nothing's What it Seams” for Storyquilts.com, Inc.
is the second book in the Harriet Truman/Loose Threads quilting mystery series. Arlene also has written a scintillating proprietary tome on electronics assembly.
April Martinez was born in the Philippines and raised in San Diego, California, daughter to a US Navy chef and a US postal worker, sibling to one younger sister. From as far back as she can remember, she has always doodled and loved art, but her parents never encouraged her to consider it as a career path, suggesting instead that she work for the county. So, she attended the University of California in San Diego, earned a cum laude bachelor's degree in literature/writing and entered the workplace as a regular office worker.
For years, she went from job to job, dissatisfied that she couldn't make use of her creative tendencies, until she started working as an imaging specialist for a big book and magazine publishing house in Irvine and began learning the trade of graphic design. From that point on, she worked as a graphic designer and webmaster at subsequent day jobs while doing freelance art and illustration at night.
In 2003, April discovered the e-publishing industry. She responded to an ad looking for e-book cover artists and was soon in the business of cover art and art direction. Since then, she has created hundreds of book covers, both electronic and print, for several publishing houses, earning awards and recognition in the process. Two years into it, she was able to give up the day job and work from home. April Martinez now lives with her cat in Orange County, California, as a full-time freelance artist/illustrator and graphic designer.