Read For the Love of Sami Online

Authors: Fayrene Preston

For the Love of Sami

For the Love of Sami

 

By
Fayrene Preston

 

First published in paperback by Loveswept, 1984.
Electronic Edition Copyright 2011 Fayrene Preston
www.FayrenePreston.com
Cover Design:
www.TammySeidickDesign.com

 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photography, recording or any information storage and retrieval system without written permission of the author.

 

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

"Lady, do you really want to wear a dead animal around your shoulders?"

Lying on her back as she was, blocking the front door of the exclusive St. Paul furriers, Sami Adkinson had an exceptional view of the woman to whom she was speaking. However, the woman, amply proportioned to the extent that she could barely see her own feet, hadn’t noticed Sami.

She stepped back, startled. "I beg your pardon!"

Sami raised herself on her elbows, and her long, honey-colored hair trailed to the hot sidewalk beneath her. "Did you know that the owner of this store is associated with a chain of international furriers who actually condone the killing of baby seals so they can sell their pelts?"

"My dear young lady," the woman intoned righteously, "I don’t see what that has to do with me. I assure you I would never buy the furs of any animals that are on the endangered-species list."

Sami sat up. Her great golden eyes were framed by a double thickness of dark brown lashes. "Don’t you see? It’s a matter of principle. People should boycott this man’s store until he agrees to disassociate himself from those terrible people. We’ve all got to try to help stop the senseless killings of those defenseless animals."

Just then, the door behind Sami burst open, forcing her five-foot six-inch frame backward, until she was scrunched between the door and the wall of the building. The owner of the store stepped out. "What’s going on here? . . . Oh, Mrs. Thornbruster! Do come in. It’s much too hot for you to be standing out here."

Indecision shone in the lady’s thoroughly made-up features. "I don’t know if I should, Mr. Strucely. She’s saying that you’re involved in killing baby seals."

The man’s face, which bore more than a passing resemblance to a weasel’s, turned beet-red. "I’ve never heard of anything so preposterous in my life." He craned his neck around the door to glare at Sami. "I’ve warned you before, miss. If you don’t leave the premises, I’ll have to call the police. You’re interfering with my business."

Sami stood up, brushing the dust and dirt from her white lace camisole and turquoise cotton tiered skirt. The summer heat was beginning to get to her, causing her soft, wispy bangs to stick damply against her forehead. "Go right ahead, Mr. Strucely." She picked up her sign that read Save the Baby Seals! and waved it. "I’m more than willing to tell the police all about your illegal activities."

"They’re not illegal," the man bellowed, "but what you’re doing is!" He drew a deep breath and then turned to smile at the perplexed matron, who stood between them. "Mrs. Thornbruster, please forgive this little disturbance. Let me show you into the store and get you something cool to drink. The riffraff on the streets these days is simply deplorable, and sometimes we just have to ignore it."

With philosophical resignation, Sami watched as they retreated into the cool interior of the store. She reached up to straighten her copper-and-gilt headband of twisted cord; iridescent black feathers dripped from one side of it, and she flung them, along with about half of her hair, behind her shoulders. Just because the owner of the store wouldn’t take her seriously was no reason to give up.

"Sir?" she called to a rather prosperous-looking, gray-haired man who was approaching. "Wouldn’t you like to help save the baby seals?"

"Sure," he answered rather too easily, running an appreciative glance over Sami and at the same time whipping out his wallet. "How much?"

"Oh, I’m not collecting money. I’d just like you and your friends to help in boycotting this furrier. He’s associated with people in Europe who are involved in killing baby seals."

"Why don’t we talk about it over dinner?" he suggested, running the palm of his hand up her bare arm. "I’m sure if we put our heads together, we can find a lot of interesting things to talk about."

Sami backed hastily away from his unwelcomed familiarity. "No, thank you. The only thing I’m soliciting is help to save the baby seals."

The man shrugged good-naturedly and walked off at about the same time that Mr. Strucely came marching back out of his store. "Now, look here, miss, you simply must leave. You’re disturbing my customers inside as well as out. One of my assistants has called the police, but if you leave right now, there won’t be any trouble."

"I’m not an unreasonable person, Mr. Strucely. All I want is for you to say that you’ll stop trading with those people overseas who are in the wholesale slaughter business."

"Those people are my suppliers, and very reliable ones, too, I might add. Now, do go away. Here comes Mrs. Rolph." Turning toward the approaching lady, his lips turned up in an eager smile.

He started toward his new customer, who even in August had a fox stole draped around her shoulders with fox heads hanging off it. Sami, however, had no intention of being ignored, and took hold of his arm, tugging him back. As she did, the picket sign she had been holding slipped and hit him on top of his nearly bald head.

"You assaulted me!" he screeched wildly. "She assaulted me! Did you see that?" he asked the lady wearing the fox.

"I certainly did," Mrs. Rolph proclaimed indignantly. "My poor Mr. Strucely, you’re bleeding."

"What?" His fingers came off his head with a small smear of blood. "Oh, my God! I’ll have to go to the hospital and have it stitched."

"For heaven’s sake"—Sami sniffed with disgust—"it’s only a scratch. Here, let me show you." She reached toward the place on his shiny head, which had already stopped bleeding, but the gesture only seemed to upset the man even more.

Yelling, "You stay away from me!" he began to back away from her. Unfortunately, in his hurry his feet became entangled, and he fell just as the police arrived. "Arrest her, arrest her," he began screaming hysterically. "She’s trying to kill me!"

Sami threw up her arms, totally out of patience with him. "I will if you don’t stop yelling!"

The two patrolmen approached just in time to hear Sami’s remark. "Okay. That’s enough. Break it up." The older of the two policemen turned to the customer. "Did you see what happened?"

Mrs. Rolph was more than willing to give her version. "It’s just as Mr. Strucely said. This vicious young woman assaulted him for no reason."

"Oh, really!" Sami appealed to the younger of the two policemen. "How can you believe a woman who has fox heads dripping off her bosom?"

Even though he appeared to be inclined to agree, the younger officer stayed silent. It was Sergeant Johnson, if his name tag was to be believed, who asked, "Do you want to press charges, sir?"

"Yes, absolutely. Yes. My name’s Strucely. I own Strucely Furs. And I’m sure I should go to the hospital."

"The scratch on your head doesn’t look serious. Do you have reason to believe that she might have inflicted other injuries on you?"

"You can never be too careful," the lady with the fox heads broke in with encouragement.

"You’re so right," Mr. Strucely agreed, mollified that someone seemed to see the seriousness of the situation.

Sergeant Johnson turned to Sami with a pair of handcuffs, and she felt the first stirrings of fear. "We’ll have to take you in, miss. You have a right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law."

"Wait. You don’t understand …"

"You have the right to talk to a lawyer and have him present with you while you are being questioned. If you cannot afford to hire a lawyer, one will be appointed to represent you before any questioning, if you wish one. Do you understand each of these rights I have explained to you."

"No." She shook her head. This was going all wrong. She was going to have to do something. If she could only think …

The sergeant frowned. "Which part don’t you understand?"

"Why you’re taking me in, to start with. You have no reason—"

"Of course he does. My head!" Mr. Strucely stepped back up.

Sami turned on him. "Oh, hush! I didn’t hurt you."

"Having these rights explained to you and keeping them in mind, do you wish to talk to us now?"

"Talk to you?" Nothing was making sense to her. "You know everything there is to know. The baby seals— I thought I told you about them, didn’t I? These people are killing them."

"Well, I’m certainly not," Mrs. Rolf stated emphatically.

Sami’s eyes narrowed, and she nodded toward the fox heads. "You know, you’ve got nothing to brag about. They’re a very unfortunate fashion choice."

Handcuffs clicked decisively shut on Sami’s wrists, and she panicked. This couldn’t be happening! How could something that had started out with such good intentions end up so wrong?

As the policeman started to lead her toward the car, Sami stopped, trying to dig her heels in. "Wait a minute! You can’t arrest me. You don’t understand. I’m simply trying to save the baby seals. I didn’t do anything wrong. And it’s not my fault he’s bald."

Sergeant Johnson appeared unimpressed, and kept walking, making Sami’s feet skid along the concrete as he did. "I’m sorry, lady, but you’re going to have to tell it to the judge."

Put without ceremony into the back seat with the younger officer, she swung to him, instinctively knowing that he was the more sympathetic of the two. "W-where are you taking me?"

"Down to the station to book you. The charge will be assault, and if you have a lawyer, you’d better get in touch with him."

"Book me? A-And when are you going to take these handcuffs off? A-And you’ll let me go in a few minutes, right? I can’t be locked up. Not in a cell. Or closet. Nothing like that, okay?"

"I’m sorry, but I can’t help you. It’s all about procedure."

"But you won’t lock me up. Promise me."

The younger officer shrugged.

No, no, no! Sami stared out of the window of the moving police car, her insides churning with a very real fear. She had really done it this time—and it wasn’t at all hard for her to figure out how. She seemed to be in an unusually restless stage of her life; she was finding herself going off on even odder tangents than usual, and it had begun to bother her that she seemed to have no true direction, that she was following no specific course.

Seven years ago, she and Morgan Saunders, the girl with whom she had shared her traumatic adolescence, had moved to St. Paul. She had bought an old warehouse in the Lowertown district and completely renovated it. The bottom floor had been divided into space for Morgan’s South Sea specialty shop, Little Bit of Paradise, and for storage. The top floor contained an apartment for Morgan and an enormous one-room loft for Sami, plus her studio/workshop.

Jerome Mailer had come into her life a few years later, when she had found the eighteen-year-old at a flea market selling garishly painted stuffed birds. She had brought him home and created an apartment for him at the rear of the warehouse.

Now, however, her two best friends were both settled. Over a year ago, Morgan had married Jason Falco, the man with whom she had fallen so desperately in love on a holiday in Martinique, and she was expecting a baby. Jerome had matured into a serious, highly intelligent young man and was attending law school. In addition, he seemed to be spending more and more time with Morgan’s new shop assistant, Michelle.

Consequently, Sami was looking for something of her very own. It seemed she had been doing just that all of her life.

But what was she going to do now? The idea of being locked in a jail cell for an indeterminate length of time was unbearable, unthinkable. She could feel the cold perspiration breaking out on her pale, peach-colored skin as her stomach turned over sickeningly at the thought of jail. An old abyss of terrors had been opened up, exposing all of her nerves, and she knew, without a shadow of a doubt, she wouldn’t be able to stand it!

Yet who could help her? Whom could she call? She didn’t have a lawyer in St. Paul. It was the middle of the afternoon. She had no idea how to get in touch with Jerome at the law school. Morgan might be in her shop, but there would be nothing she could do, and Morgan’s husband, Jason, who might be able to do something, was out of town. Oh, God, what was she going to do?

Think, Sami, she urged herself. Sure, she had plenty of friends, but none of them was a lawyer, and any call for help was going to take time. Besides, as Sami paused to consider, she hated phones, and never used them, so calling anyone was out. She groaned inwardly. None of her ideas was any good. She had to have help now. It was imperative!

The police station only highlighted the seriousness of her situation. A confusing melange of noise and a jumble of motion poured in upon her terrified senses. It was like the worst surrealistic nightmare imaginable, in which everyone wore guns and looked at her as if she were quite mad. And perhaps she was.

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