Authors: Arlene Sachitano
Tags: #FIC022040/FICTION / Mystery & Detective / Women Sleuths, #FIC022070/FICTION / Mystery & Detective / Cozy
“Dr. Jalbert isn’t going anywhere,” said a deep voice from behind them.
Harriet started, dropping her purse. She looked over Aiden’s shoulder as he clutched her tighter. A bright light was shining in her face. She could see several dark forms beyond the light but couldn’t tell who or what they were.
“Ma’am, I need you to slowly move away from Dr. Jalbert. And both of you keep your hands where we can see them.”
She did as she was told, and as she moved out of the glare, she could see the man was a uniformed police officer, and he was holding a large gun pointed in her direction.
“There must be some mistake,” she protested, unable to stop herself from spouting the clché that most people in this situation said.
“No mistake, ma’am. You aren’t in any trouble. Move over to Officer Nguyen.” He pointed with his free hand.
Why is it always Officer Nguyen? she wondered. There must be two dozen officers on the Foggy Point Police department, but any time she crossed paths with the police it was Officer Nguyen.
She looked at Aiden.
“Do what he says,” he told her as he held his hands away from his sides and in the air where everyone could see them.
When Harriet reached Nguyen, the guy with the gun rushed up to Aiden and grabbed his right wrist, snapping a handcuff onto it in one smooth motion, quickly pulling his left hand down and back and cuffing it, too.
“What’s going on?” Harriet asked Nguyen.
He didn’t answer.
ALSO BY ARLENE SACHITANO
The Harriet Truman/Loose Threads Mysteries
Quilt As Desired
Quilt As You Go
Quilt by Association
The Quilt Before the Storm
Make Quilts Not War
A Quilt in Time
Crazy as a Quilt
The Harley Spring Mysteries
Chip and Die
To my favorite knitter
Spring had arrived in Foggy Point, Washington, and nowhere was it more apparent than at Pins and Needles, the town’s best and only quilt fabric store. Gone were the snowflake prints and snowman figurines. Easter bunnies, fuzzy chick candles, stuffed animals and ceramic figurines adorned the shelves. Pastel florals were on display in the front window in coordinated groupings with prints, stripes and solids.
The Loose Threads quilt group, in the larger of the two classrooms at the back of the store, sat around a table stacked with plastic-wrapped bolts of fabric.
“Does anyone need anything?” Harriet Truman called from the small kitchen next to the room. When no one answered, she joined her friends in their examination of the fabrics.
Lauren Sawyer stood and leaned to the center of the table, picking at the edge of the plastic on the nearest fabric bolt. The bundle appeared to be some sort of muslin backing fabric.
“This must be for the crazy quilt workshop.”
“That’s correct,” Marjory Swain, the store’s owner, said from the doorway. “They asked me to bring in backing fabric and some basic moiré colors.”
Carla Salter, the group’s youngest member, pulled the plastic off another bolt.
“That’s the watery-looking pattern on the colored fabric,” Harriet’s aunt Beth explained. “When they were first invented, moirés were all silk, but now they’re made from cotton and even synthetic blends.”
“Thank heaven,” Connie Escorcia added. “Cotton is a little more affordable and also much easier to work with.”
“Did they give you a supply list?” Marjory asked. “The organizers asked me to bring in the moiré and backing, but they didn’t tell me anything else about what you all might need. I assumed they’re supplying some of the fabrics.”
Harriet pulled a folded paper from her canvas project bag and handed it to Marjory.
“‘Assorted pieces of ten different fabrics—velvet, satin, silk, rayon, etc.—in a variety of colors and prints. One or more ten-inch squares of each fiber,’” she read, scanning the list. “‘Pieces of silk or satin ribbon and a variety of laces.’ Wow, they expect a lot.”
“I called the number at the bottom of the page to ask,” Robin McLeod, the group’s resident yoga teacher and a semi-retired lawyer told them. “The person who answered said some of the teachers will have kits available, and one of the ladies is bringing a lot of hand-dyed lace and ribbon for us to buy.”
Harriet took a sip of her tea.
“That’s good, but it sounds like a field trip to Seattle is in order.”
Marjory handed the paper back to her.
“I don’t know if it will help, but some of you may remember that this shop was geared toward dressmaking when I bought it. I sold off as much of the old inventory as possible, but I had a fair bit of bridal and prom dress fabric left. It’s such nice material I couldn’t bear to get rid of it, so I stuck it up in the attic. You all must have seen it when you were up there during the storm. In any case, I could give you a real good deal on that if you think it would work.”
Harriet looked around the table at her fellow workshop-goers.
“That sounds good to me. Can we go up and look when we finish our meeting?”
“Sure. Carla, if you can watch the register a few minutes before everyone’s finished, I can go up and pull the bolts out onto the table up there.”
Lauren pulled a stack of fabric strips, a portable cutting mat, ruler and roller cutter from her bag and set them on the table.
“I’m a lot less worried about the crazy quilt supplies than I am about the out-of-town quilters we’re supposed to be hosting. Whose idea was that, anyway?”
Mavis Willis, the Loose Threads’ oldest member, got her hand-piecing project from her bag. She was stitching diamonds of Civil War fabric into Lemoyne Stars for an opportunity quilt at the Methodist church.
“I think the Small Stitches came up with that one.”
“I told them we didn’t have room,” DeAnn Gault said. “I gave up my sewing room when we adopted Kissa. I can’t imagine anyone would want to stay with a house full of kids, anyway.”
Lauren sighed. “I didn’t have a good excuse, so I’m going to have to put up with some stranger invading my space for a week.”
“You could have said no,” Aunt Beth pointed out.
“My landlord’s mother-in-law is a Small Stitch, so, no, I couldn’t. Edna is well aware that I have a three-bedroom apartment.”
Harriet pulled her own project from her bag. She was embroidering a Christmas wreath on a square of off-white flannel.
“It could be worse. I
the person who’s coming to stay with me.”
“How did you pull that off?” Lauren asked.
Harriet put her hands to her face then swept her short dark hair back.
“This is not a good thing. I’m telling you. My past is coming back to haunt me. The wife of my husband Steve’s best friend called and asked to stay with me.”
Carla looked up from the binding she was sewing onto a baby quilt.
“Does it make you sad to see people from before he died?” Her face turned pink as she finished speaking.
“No, no, it’s not that at all. It’s complicated.”
Carla looked down at her hands.
“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have asked.”
“No, sweetie, it’s okay. When my husband died, it turned out he’d been keeping a big secret about his health from me. The sad part is, he didn’t have to die. His condition was treatable. Since he chose to never tell me about it, I have no idea why he didn’t seek treatment or if I could have changed his mind about that decision.
“Since I’m not from California, and Steve was, most of our friends were his friends, and it turned out they all knew about his condition.”
DeAnn stirred a packet of sweetener into her coffee.
“Wow, that must have made you mad.”
“It did. Over time, I’ve accepted it was his decision, not his friends’. They were just respecting that decision.”
“Yeah, but still...” Lauren said.
“Exactly. Which is why I’m not looking forward to having Sharon in my house for a whole week. For a few days, I can avoid having to talk about ‘the subject,’ but a week? I think not.”
Lauren started measuring and cutting small squares.
“Hard to believe she’d want to stay with you. I mean, for that reason.”
“Yeah, that’s what I thought, but it is what it is.”
Aunt Beth uncovered a plate she’d pulled from a paper bag sitting on the table.
“This coffee cake is an experiment, so don’t be afraid to speak up if you don’t like it.” She pushed the plate to the middle of her end of the table. “All I know about my roommate is she’ll be able to climb stairs.”
“And mine won’t,” Mavis said. “I told them my place would be good for someone less mobile. My son even made a ramp I can put over the front porch step if I need to.”
Carla glanced up again from her binding.
“Aiden said we could host someone, but I don’t know who we’re getting.”
“Oh, honey, that’s nice,” Mavis said and patted Carla’s knee.
Connie went to the kitchen and came back with the hot water carafe.
“Anyone need a warm-up?”