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MY HEAD WAS SPINNING BY NOW. IN A SMALL space of time Id found out that the sister Izabelle didnt get along with was her identical twin, that Commander Blaine may or may not have been tampering with evidence and that Spenser Futtermans companion wanted to shoot Adele.

Sheila and I had slipped unnoticed from behind the bushes. Once I got my coffee drink, wed found a bench and I was trying to regroup. I let the red-eye circulate through my brain. I was thrilled that Dinah was doing such a great job with the writers, but I missed having her to talk to. Sheila was definitely trying to be helpful, but she was already a wreck from driving with Adele, then sharing a room with her and then becoming her crochet assistant.

The obvious priority here is Adele, I said. I have to warn her.

Good luck getting her to listen to you. Sheila had taken out her tranquilizer crochet supplies and was adding a row. Her breath immediately smoothed out.

I sighed and asked if I could do some; I certainly needed something to calm my thoughts. Instead of giving me her crocheting, Sheila produced a ball of sunny yellow worsted and another hook and said I could do my own. A few minutes of crocheting did wonders for me, and I was ready to save Adele as we headed for her workshop.

Adele, I have to talk to you, I said as I came into the meeting room with Sheila close behind. Adele was standing at the front end of the table with seven women and one man arranged around the other end.

Not now, she said. Pink, just put down the box. I have a workshop to run. She gestured toward the crocheters. People, while I set up, you can work on the blocks for the shelter blanket. She nodded at Sheila. Leave yours on the table and go help them.

Adele was in full attitude with her hand on her hip, glaring at me until I set the box on the table. She waved for me to leave and immediately began taking out Izabelles sample pouch bags, tee shirts with a row of trim along the bottom, and flowers that could be attached to anything from purses to jean pockets, along with several copies of A Subtle Touch of Crochet. Apparently ignoring Adeles order, two of the women left their seats and began looking through what Adele was setting out. A woman with long, prematurely gray hair joined them, picked up one of the copies of Izabelles book, and began thumbing through it. Meanwhile, Adele was managing to totally ignore me.

The woman with the book held it open and showed it to the others. Look at the doll clothes, she said, and the three women started discussing making clothes for some dolls they had.

People, please keep your seats, Adele said, annoyed that no one seemed to be listening to her.

Adele, its important, I said, taking her arm, but she pulled it away.

Pink, whats with you? Cant you see Im busy?

Now the women had moved from discussing the doll clothes to the doll model in the picture. Look at that nose, one of them said. Thats definitely not a regulation doll nose. Im sure its one of those dolls I was telling you about.

I caught a glimpse of the picture over one of their shoulders and recognized it as the doll in the background of the photo of Izabelle on the back of the book. Its an odd-looking doll, I said, jumping into their conversation. So you think its some special kind?

Pink, youre interrupting. Leave, Adele said, sounding exasperated. But it was too late; the women had already picked up on my question.

We collect dolls, which I guess makes us kind of experts, the woman in a red sweater said, and this doll looks like what I call a little me doll. There are various methods, some better than others, but the idea is the same-basically a doll is crafted from a photograph to look like a child. Ive seen some where they just go for face shape and hair color, but this one looks like they went all out.

Adele was out of patience. She took the book from the womans hand and strongly suggested all of them take their seats. She glared at me and pointed toward the door. I happened to look at the doorway behind Adele. Spensers friend abruptly stepped into view. I saw her hands go up. There was no time to consider alternatives, I just had to act. On pure impulse I dived toward Adele, tackling her, and yelled for everyone to hit the floor.

Pink, youve really lost it this time! Adele screamed as we landed on the floor together.

CHAPTER 18 | A Stitch In Crime | CHAPTER 20