About this Item
Quantity Available: 1
Title: I Still Miss My Man but My Aim is Getting ...
Publisher: New York: Pocket Books
Publication Date: 1996
Binding: Hard Cover
Book Condition: As New
Dust Jacket Condition: As New
Signed: Signed by Author, Dated in Month of Publication
Edition: First Edition, First Printing.
About this title
Finishing her waitressing shift and preparing for Songwriters' Night at the local country music club, promising singer Shelby Kay Tate becomes the unknowing target of an obsessive stalker.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
The morning her mother rose from the dead, Samantha Adams stood out in her driveway loading up her car, nothing more on her mind than heading for Atlanta to sing "Happy Seventy-five" to her uncle George.
Her little blond shih tzu, Harpo, was on her heels, tagging back and forth from the car to the steps of Sam's old wide-hipped house in Covington, thirty-five miles due north of New Orleans across Lake Pontchartrain.
Harpo wore a worried look. To his mind, he'd been abandoned far too much recently. Why, it was only a couple of days earlier that Sam had returned from her latest trip to Manhattan, her publisher getting ready to debut her book, American Weird. And here she was headed off again. Was he going?
Sam said, "Yes, sweet pea. Yes."
Harpo did his happy polka.
"Chill, dog," she said. "It's too hot for dancing."
Come August, nowhere in the Deep South is suitable for woman or beast, but south Louisiana is particularly brutal. Walk out of the air-conditioning, it's like hitting a wet electric blanket turned all the way to ten. Even this early in the morning, the air was steaming, filled with the perfume of swamp and rot and finny creatures. Sam found it a struggle merely breathing much less loading a car with luggage and birthday presents. But finally she slammed down the trunk of her old silvery blue BMW. Ready to hit the road. Crank up Patsy Cline, Janis Joplin, Kenya Walker, and the air-conditioning.
Then Polly, Sam's housekeeper, stepped out on the Porch. "For you," she said, handing over the phone.
Sam eyed Pollys grin. Who was this?
Sam froze, a tall, lean Popsicle in the heat.
It was Harry.
Harry Zack. Her erstwhile lover, a gray-eyed songwriter turned barbecue restaurateur, former bad bad Uptown boy, scion of an ancient Garden District family. Harry, at thirty-two, ten years her junior. Harry, Of the broad shoulders, the slow grin, the head Of dark curls much like her own.
Harry and Sam had had a parting of the ways this past spring. Sam loved Harry but couldn't give him the commitment he was asking for. When she'd moved over from Atlanta, she'd wanted to be closer to him, but not too close, so she'd set up house in Covington rather than New Orleans, where he lived. She'd tried to explain it to him.
You see, son, she'd said, Loss was her middle name, the loss and death of loved ones major themes. Both her parents had been killed when she was eight. Her first love had abandoned her, had remembered suddenly, after he'd captured her heart that he was marrying someone else. Her sole marriage had been a disaster, ending in divorce. Mr. Booze, now he had been a faithful lover, whose clutches she'd barely managed to escape as he dragged her toward the grave. Then there'd been Sean, the love of her life, killed by a drunk driver in San Francisco only a few years earlier.
Trust me, she'd said to Harry. Death and destruction, they dog my tracks. Let's us be close but not too close; that's the safest thing.
That was nonsense, Harry insisted. No, said Sam. Then, his feelings hurt, Harry had let his glance fall upon a young blonde. That wasn't what Sam had intended, not at all. After that, things had become complicated. She'd flown off to Hot Springs, Arkansas, and gotten herself involved with one lack Graham. Whatever the hell that was about. Then, after a bit of to-ing and fro-ing, she'd pulled herself out of the game altogether, told herself she ought not to play at all if she didn't want to play for keeps. Recently Jack had called to say he was heading out to San Francisco to look up an old girlfriend. Sam, who had once lived in that fair city, gave Jack a list of great restaurants and wished him well. But she didn't call Harry.
She'd been fine with her solitude, she'd told herself. She had her garden, her dog, her old house at the edge of a bayou. She didn't have time for anything else, was hard at work on a second volume of American Weird, a collection of real-life tales of American strange and peculiar. She'd kept busy. She most certainly had.
Which was not to say that, every once in a while, when she was down in New Orleans, she didn't drive by Harry's cottage in the French Quarter, the one with the tiny square of garden bright with bougainvillea. At night, Dixieland jazz from Preservation Hall next door Boated across Harry's garden, leaving blue sharps and flats stuck to his big brass bed. Sam would sit in her idling car, thinking about sweet times and what-ifs. Eventually she'd cruise back home across the causeway, windows open, her curls blowing in the breeze, along with Janis's "Mercedes Benz" daring anyone to tell her she wasn't happy to be free.
But right now, Sam -- a tall brown-eyed woman in a red T-shirt, legs for years below white shorts, a grown-up woman who was doing just fine on her own, thank you very much -- was standing here on her porch frozen at the sound of her former lover's voice.
"Wha'cha up to?" he began.
"I'm about to head out for Atlanta for a week. George's seventy-fifth birthday is Sunday. Big shindig!." Had she kept it breezy? It was tough, with that big bass drum beating in her chest.
"Will you give the old man my best?"
"I miss him, you know!"
"George ever ask about me?"
"Yes. Yes, he does, Harry. You know he's always been very fond of you."
"And what do you tell him?"
She paused. "I tell him you're fine"
"How do you know that?"
Sam stared down at Harpo, who'd planted himself at her feet. He sat with his head cocked to one side, listening intently. Harry was one of Harpo's very favorite people. But then, they'd had some awfully good times, hadn't they, the three of them? Some great adventures. Some of her very best times, actually.
"I hear about you from time to time," she said. "I'm always happy to know that you're doing well."
"Don't suppose there's any way you want to see that for yourself?"
"Oh, Harry," she said.
"Yeah, well." Sam could see his chin jutting. She'd hurt his feelings again. He said, "Just thought I'd give you a jingle. Never any harm in that, is there?"
"No, not at all. I'm always pleased to hear from you!"
"Pleased! Hell's bell's, woman. Stop talking to me like I'm the vacuum cleaner repairman!"
Sam laughed. At Harry. At herself. "I'm sorry, son." She'd always called him that, a fond reference to the difference in their ages. "Tell me what you're up to."
"I thought you'd never ask. I'm about to leave on a little journey myself. Heading out this evening for a rafting trip on the Shuiluor."
"River in China. It's a tributary of the Yangtze, parallels the border of Burma and Tibet. It's never been run before."
See? This was exactly what she was talking about. How could a woman commit herself to a man whose idea of fun was pitting himself against a raging river in To Hell and Gone, where, if his team got into trouble, there'd be no help? He'd drown. He'd die. Sam had attended the funerals of enough people she'd loved, thank you.
"I was real flattered to be asked along," Harry was saying. "Crackerjack bunch of river rats. One of the guys is a descendant of a scout on the Lewis and Clark expedition."
"Can I have your record collection?" Sam asked. "You don't make it back?"
"Now, there's a vote of confidence."
"Okay, okay, only the Elvis." Two beats passed. "How long you going to be gone?"
"Run ought to take about a week. Tack on a week traveling over, another one back." Harry's voice had gone happy at her interest Oh, God. What had she done? Now he was saying, "You want to have a picnic with me, Labor Day?"
Yes, she did. That sounded wonderful, in fact. But she didn't hear herself saying that. Sam, Sam, Sara, what are you afraid of? Listen to your heart. Uh-huh. Then listen to it crack.
"Tell you what' Harry said. "You think about it. I'll give you a jingle when I hit town."
Oh, God, no. Don't let me be doing this. I can't open that door again. I'm happy playing my own music, safe. Don't need Harry's blues floating over us, his long low moaning between the sheets. Uhhuh. Then how come you lay awake so many nights, aching for him?
"Sammie? What you thinking about?"
Thinking a woman ought not to be talking to a man who could read her mind that well. At least, this woman shouldn't. This woman who, even after all the years and hard work of sobriety, would not, could not, commit wholeheartedly to love again because she couldn't risk the pain. Who wrote for a living, but couldn't find the words to express her fears. Who found it necessary to curl up around her soft parts like a possum.
She said, "Listen, son, I'd better get moving. I've got six-hundred long, hot miles to drive before I sleep. Let's talk when we both get back, okay?"
He sighed. "Okay, but you be careful."
"This from a man who's putting his life in the hands of river gods who don't even speak English?"
But it was true that Sam had a penchant for vehicular speed. Harry knew that she regularly flirted with death on the freeways and was on a first-name basis with more state troopers across Dixie than most governors. His voice was low and sweet as he said, "You take care of yourself, hear? And I'll talk to you Labor Day, if not before!" Then he was gone.
Five seconds later, Polly appeared back through the screen door, a pitcher of iced coffee in her hand. "Hows he doing?"
"I hate you, Polly. You're not to be trusted. I told you to say I was out if Harry ever called."
"Uh-huh." Polly started poking at a Boston fern perched on a white wicker stand.
Sam's protest picked up heat. "I don't want to be: involved with anyone. Do you understand?"
Polly brushed away some dead ends, snapped off little wiry runners. She started whistling "Trouble in Mind" under her breath.
"That's it I'm out of here." With that Sam grabbed up Harpo, the last of her things, and jumped into her car. Throwing it into reverse, she said to herself, Here I come, Slidell. I'll be out of Louisiana in less than an hour, away from these irritating people, folks poking all the time in my business. And she would ha...
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