"Ah. There's the word. Is he planning to sue you? What about the people at the airport? Did anyone have any accidents during the panic you caused? Heart attacks? Were any ambulances called?"
"Jeremy! Whose side are you on?"
"Yours of course," he said in a tone of dismissal, "but money is money. Did the man say he was going to sue you for destroying his alligator?"
"I don't know. I don't remember. They kept us separated after we got to the police station. Oh, Jeremy, it was so horrible, and I wish you were here to hold me. That man -- "
He cut her off. "Did anyone else mention a lawsuit? What about the airport personnel? You caused mass hysteria, so I doubt if they'll take that lightly."
Fiona ran her hand over her face. There was no longer any hope that she still wore makeup. "Jeremy, I called you as my friend, not as a lawyer."
"Maybe you'll need both, so would you please answer my questions?"
Part of her wanted to be babied, hugged and cuddled as best he could over the telephone, but another part of her was sane and sensible. She took a deep breath. "The woman whose bowling ball bag I used came to the police station and said I had to buy her a new bag. And her ball was dented too."
Jeremy let out smoke so fast he nearly choked. "You dented her bowling ball?"
"Don't start on me," Fiona snapped. "I've heard it all from those horrible policemen. I guess I must have put a lot of my anger into that throw because I hit that...that...thing pretty hard."
"Enough to dent a bowling ball," Jeremy said in wonder. "Remind me never to make you angry at me. So, what did you do about the woman's bag and ball? And, by the way, why didn't you call me from the station?"
"Because they said I wasn't under arrest, that I was their 'guest' until this thing was cleared up, therefore I didn't need any fancy-smancy New York lawyer."
"You need to document this. You might have a case for a lawsuit against them."
"I never want to see them again. I gave the woman a check for three hundred dollars and -- "
"Paid for the ball I dented," Fiona half shouted into the phone. "Isn't that what you just asked me?"
Jeremy didn't speak for a moment. "You want to calm down?"
"How can I calm down? I didn't want to leave Kimberly in the first place; Garrett made me go. Now, there's someone I'd like to sue. He threatened me that if I didn't go on this trip he'd separate me from Kimberly forever. Can he do that?"
"He's your boss," Jeremy said, stubbing out his cigarette. Privately, he thought that it would be a great relief if Fiona were separated from Kimberly. "Look, Fee, honey, I need to get some more sleep. It doesn't sound as though you're in serious trouble, but I'll call a friend of mine down there in the morning and have him call you. I'll have him make sure that nothing bad is going to happen to you." His voice softened. "Now I want you to take a long, hot bath, then get into bed and dream about me."
Finally, Fiona smiled. It seemed that she hadn't smiled in days, maybe even in years. "I'd like that," she said softly, leaning back against the headboard. But the creaky thing almost came off its cheap frame, so she had to sit up quickly to keep from falling, and the movement broke the spell.
"I can't," she said in a little-girl whine. "I have to meet this old man, this Roy Hudson, in just over an hour."
"Can't you call and delay the meeting?"
"It's for" -- she swallowed -- "fishing. You have to go out in the boat very early for fishing. Maybe the slimy little things take afternoon naps; I don't know. But I have to be there very soon."
"All right, calm down. This man Hudson is rich, so I'm sure he'll have a boat with a crew. A yacht probably. Think you could handle a yacht? Have yourself a few drinks? Lie in the sun?"
Copyright © 1999 by Deveraux, Inc. Published with the permission of the publisher, Pocket Books
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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