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All That Glitters

featuring detective Felicity "Lucky" Franklin

by Beth Kanell, (c) 2012

chapter 1

Lucky Franklin added the final footnote and pressed “save,” then “print.” “Parallels of Women’s Roles in Soviet Russia and 21st-Century Kuwait” began piling up in the printer tray. The burnt-coffee odor of the little printer hardly bothered her at this point, but it reminded her that she ought to rinse out her dishes and the coffee pot before her roommate got back.

She pushed away from her desk, scrunching her shoulders. Fifteen pages of dry text on the page, with citations, heading, the works. College writing could sure take the excitement out of what she’d seen when she’d visited Eiman’s family palace in Kuwait over the summer. Really, a palace.

This dormitory room, even on such an upscale urban campus, had nothing in common with Eiman’s life. Lucky scrubbed at her eyes, wondering what her high school exchange partner, exotic and elegant, would say about the term paper.

Keeping a Kuwaiti friendship while living in Vermont took attention. Now from a Boston dorm room, with the distractions of college, the connection grew even fainter. E-mails and an occasional Skype visit summed up the fragile Kuwaiti connections since September. Talk about living inside a veil.

Then again, she wasn’t exactly in touch with even her Vermont friends lately – the ones she’d grown up with, the ones who knew her best.

Lucky stretched and eyed the calendar hanging next to Shannon’s bed. Three more days of classes, and then Thanksgiving break. Most of the freshmen were headed home for the week. Lucky knew her dad would come pick her up from Boston if she asked him, but she’d already decided to ride the bus. She wanted time to decompress. Who knew the honors track here would be so stressful?

She reached for the window, to close it, now that she didn’t need the sharp November air to keep her awake and writing. Outside, the yellow security lights turned the steady snow into a golden curtain. Eleven-thirty. Shannon should show up any minute now.

The “Lone Ranger” theme burst from her cell phone, startling her. She picked up the phone with one hand and thumbed it, saying “Hi Dad,” as with her other hand she grabbed her half-empty cup, a paper plate, and a spoon and headed toward the bathroom sink to start them soaking.

Darned cell phones – the connection failed. She waited a moment for her father to call back, then pushed option 2 to return the call to him from her phone. It went straight through to voicemail.

“Hey Dad, what’s up. You can call me back until midnight if you want. Then I’ve got to get some sleep. Exams and all that, you know. Love you. Say hi to Mom.”

For a moment, she thought about calling her mother, just to say hi and ask what Dad wanted. But Shannon burst in, laughing, carrying two cans of soda and a paper plate with slices of pizza stacked up. Perfect timing, considering Lucky had missed dinner entirely.

So when her cell phone woke her at seven in the morning, with just an ordinary ringtone, nobody she knew, she rolled over and answered it anyway, thinking maybe one of her parents was calling from an office phone or something.

“Felicity Franklin? Is this Ms. Felicity Franklin?”

Nobody who knew here called her Felicity. Just Lucky. “Who’s calling, please?”

“Ms. Franklin? This is Sergeant Bill Marcus calling, from the Montpelier, Vermont, Police. I’m sorry to call this early, but your mother asked me to let you know she’s going to phone you in a few minutes, so you can wake up some before she talks with you. I’m afraid she can only make one call this morning.”

“My mother?” Lucky sat up, kicking off the blanket. “Where is she? Has there been an accident? Is she all right?”

“She’s in police custody,” the stiff professional voice said. “And she’s not hurt. I’ll let her –”

“Wait, wait! Is it my father? Has he been in some accident? Tell me what’s happened!” Lucky realized her rising voice had just woken Shannon up. “What’s happened to my father?”

“I’m sorry, Ms. Franklin, I’m not going to tell you that, just now. I’ll let your mother speak with you. She says she’ll be calling you in just a minute. And she’ll be allowed ten minutes on the phone with you. No, Mrs. Franklin, just ten minutes.” The connection broke abruptly.

Shannon said, “What is it?”

Lucky gasped, “Something’s happened to my dad.”

“Omigod.” Shannon came to sit next to her, one hand patting her shoulder. “What is it?”

The cell phone rang again, this time the theme from Star Wars. Lucky flipped it back against her face. “Mom? Mom, what’s happened to Dad? What’s going on?”

“Some idiot shot him,” her mother’s angry voice replied, “and this bigger bunch of idiots in the police station think it was me. For heaven’s sake, call your brother and get him to bring you home, and while you wait for him, call your uncle Mike for me. Tell him I need a better lawyer. Don’t just sit there, say yes, and get started, would you?”

Now Lucky could hear a catch in her mother’s voice, under the anger, and it scared her. “Shot him, what do you mean? He’s hurt?”

“They told me he’s dead,” her mother said flatly. “But I don’t believe them. Come home, Lucky. And for god’s sake, don’t let your brother get any tickets on the way.”

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