Remember Me(6)By: Ashlee Mallory
He tried to place her. “Allie…McBride. Is that your maiden name?”
“We worked on the school newspaper together,” she said flatly. “You were a senior.”
Sam stared at her face. A faint memory stirred of a bright-eyed girl who looked barely twelve as she cheerfully offered to upload the pictures he’d taken for the school paper. Always eager to please everyone. Sweet kid. Cute, but too young for him to pay any attention to at the time. “You had braces then, right?”
She nodded and smiled stiffly. He waited for her to take a seat before joining her, noting the absence of a ring on her left hand. Single mom to half a dozen kids? Maybe he was wrong. Sam slid into the chair next to her.
“Good, good,” Jeremy said. He walked to the bank of windows to perch on the ledge, which was an unfortunate choice. Despite the painstaking way Jeremy had combed his dark auburn hair to disguise its thinning, his position permitted the morning sun to highlight the one spot he’d tried to hide. “I know your planning committee tried to reach out to Sam—one of our star alumni—last fall to see if he’d participate in some of the school’s centennial events. A couple of weeks ago, he called to see if the offer still was on the table. I don’t know what the committee had in mind, but I asked if he’d consider helping out as a visiting member of the faculty. Just for the quarter, to give us more time to find Carter’s replacement. I’m happy to report Sam has agreed.”
Instead of showing a modicum of enthusiasm, Allie was silent. “Okay,” she finally said, and paused, as if thinking how to couch her words. “As thrilled as I am to have Sam come on board, I’m not sure whether having his name connected to the school—from a publicity standpoint—would be the best thing right now. I think there may still be some…bitter feelings in the community from his recently released book, Avenging Saints.”
Sam managed not to roll his eyes. His last novel, released just before Christmas, hadn’t been well received by many members of the church. In turn, although sales across the country had made his publisher happy, sales in this region had been deplorable.
“I’m sure the worst is over,” Jeremy said with sincerity. “Sam has written several books that received critical acclaim. Even this last one, once the furor died away, received the same.”
She smiled sweetly. “Outside of Utah, perhaps.”
“Notoriety has its advantages,” Sam said and faced her. “People are drawn to controversy. Whether or not some people think my book was an attack on the local culture—which it wasn’t—my notoriety could be useful. From a publicity standpoint.”
“Excuse me, Sam. I meant no disrespect”—though her tone suggested otherwise—“but I’ve lived here most of my life and know some of the people who found your book offensive. I daresay, if they heard you were in any way connected to the upcoming centennial events, they’d crucify us.”
“A bit melodramatic don’t you think?”
Her eyes narrowed, and from the way her leg twitched in his direction, he was certain she wanted to kick him. He bit back a smile.
Jeremy cleared his throat. “We can work this out with the planning committee in the next few weeks. You both make very good points, though,” he added diplomatically. “In the meantime, Allie, you’ll be happy to hear Sam will pick up Carter’s media class, and he’s also volunteered to help you as an advisor on the Crimson Press.”
Allie appeared skeptical. She glanced between the two of them, as if waiting for a catch.
“Which brings me to my next question,” Jeremy said. “The yearbook staff and I were hoping to put together a montage video in honor of the school’s centennial.” He looked at Sam. “Just some photos and film clips collected over the years to give people a feeling for what St. Andrew’s Academy is about. What we’ve accomplished.”