Finding Us

By: Heather B. Moore

“That’s okay,” Felicity said automatically, although she didn’t really want to be alone tonight.

“Can I take a rain check?” Livvy continued. “Slade wants to do something Saturday night.”

Felicity was happy that Livvy was dating a great guy. They seemed to complement each other, so she couldn’t begrudge her friend’s relationship. “Sure, sounds good.” She tried to keep her tone light, but that didn’t disperse the nervousness that was returning.

After hanging up with Livvy, Felicity decided she was being silly. She’d never been worried about staying by herself before, and it wasn’t like going to a movie with Livvy meant Felicity would be any less alone at night. Being alone was kind of her mojo. She was used to it.

Surely, if the shoplifter was a dangerous criminal, he wouldn’t have been released on bail, right?

By the time she’d finished with the online orders for the upcoming month’s new releases and helped the few customers who’d come into the shop, it was time to close. Tomorrow was Saturday, and then she’d have a day off. Mr. Smithson’s other employee only came in on Sundays. A day off would be just what she needed.

She usually rode her bike to work, unless she walked, and today had been no exception. She locked up the bookshop, then rode her bike to the grocery store, limiting herself to two shopping bags so that the bike wouldn’t be off balance when she rode home.

An hour later, after grocery shopping, she rode up to the small brick house, with its towering pine trees. As Felicity put her bike away, she told herself that she lived in a neighborhood that was plenty safe. And she was sticking to her original decision that a judge wouldn’t have released a dangerous criminal on bail, even if he did have priors.

Still, as she carried her groceries into the house, her imagination played tricks on her. Had the welcome mat been slightly crooked before? Did the bushes look like someone had stepped through them? Were the locks on the front and back doors really going to keep someone out if they were determined? By the time she’d put the groceries away, her stomach was in knots, and her hands were trembling. One part of her guessed she was dealing with a side effect of being robbed; the other part of her knew she had to go through the emotions of whatever this was.

Felicity methodically checked the locks of every door and every window, then called her parents’ home phone number. Her parents had been in their forties when they had her, and they’d never been the coddling type. This would be advantageous now, since Felicity needed some common-sense advice.

Her dad answered on the first ring, and after he told her that her mom was at a ladies’ dinner with a friend, Felicity told him what had happened at the shop that morning.

As expected, her dad’s advice was practical. “Find out the shoplifter’s name, and then you can look up any of his priors. There’s no use worrying if there’s nothing to worry about.”

So . . . his words weren’t all that comforting.

“Okay, that’s a good idea,” she said anyway.

“Information is power,” her dad said.

Felicity let a small sigh escape. “Very true.”

Her dad didn’t offer anything more, and Felicity shouldn’t have expected it. Yet she felt disappointed. Her parents weren’t the emotional type. They weren’t affectionate. They hadn’t hugged or kissed her as a child. No story time, no trips to the park. Things she hadn’t realized were missing until she started attending elementary school. Sometimes she felt like they were just going through motions of being a family, when everyone would rather do their own thing, away from each other.

After they’d hung up, Felicity stayed on her couch, thinking about what her dad had said. He was right. The more she knew about the shoplifter, the more power she’d have. So, she called the Pine Valley Police Department for the second time that day.

When a female officer answered the phone, Felicity introduced herself and explained what she wanted.

“Just a minute,” the officer said. “Let me transfer you to the reporting officer.”

Which probably meant Officer Russo. When he answered, he sounded like he was in a rush, and Felicity regretted her call. She was being too paranoid, and the cop had already given her all the information he needed to.

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