The following is a commissioned mini-interlude focusing on Felicity’s father, Lincoln.
Tugging the door to the newspaper office open, Lincoln Chambers stepped inside while holding his cell phone to his ear. “She’s getting a good education out there, Dad. Better than she could get here.”
Arthur Chambers’ voice came back a moment later. “Well, you know. I just don’t like the idea of Felicity being so damn far away from you, Linc. You already–” He stopped himself before continuing, though Lincoln knew that he had been about to bring up Joselyn. “A girl should be near her dad, especially for the last couple years of school. She’s about to go away to college, son. You should keep her as close as you can. Cherish the time you’ve got.”
Even being thousands of miles away from his father, Lincoln could picture exactly where the man was and what he was doing. He’d be standing in the middle of his garden, talking on his Bluetooth (he loved his tech toys about as much as he loved growing his vegetables) while puttering around in his greenhouse. Being able to garden year-round was one of the man’s favorite things about living in California.
Not that he looked like much of a farmer. Standing at a whopping six and a half feet tall and built like a truck even in his mid-sixties, people often joked that Arthur was well-named, since he looked like a cross between the mythological Thor and a pirate. Hence Arrrr-thor.
To Felicity, he was simply Popser, a hold-over from when she had been young and the man had teasingly told her she could call him Pops or Sir. The little girl had chosen to combine them into Pop-sir, which had gradually simply become Popser.
“I do, Dad. Believe me, I miss her every day.” Lincoln’s voice caught a little bit before he shook it off. “But I’m not going to take this opportunity away from her, just to make myself feel better. I won’t do that to her. This school is good for her, Dad. Better than being stuck in the public one back here. And after she’s done, they already have a college lined up. It’s direct admission.”
The response was a grunt as his father clearly worked out a stubborn weed to throw out before speaking again. “She jump on the newspaper up there?”
Lincoln sighed to himself, pausing briefly. “No,” he admitted. “At least, not that she’s mentioned.” And she would have mentioned it. Here, the newspaper had meant everything to Felicity. She’d practically run the thing herself through sheer willpower. But since she went up to the school, she didn’t mention it. Nor did the reporter subject come up much.
“But that’s okay,” he pushed on. “Dad, you know I’d love if Felicity went into reporting. She’s good at it. But if she was only doing it to be close to me…well, I’d rather she find out now that there are other things she’d rather do. I don’t want her doing something just for my benefit.”
“Hogwash,” Arthur retorted. “Even if you were a damn plumber, that kid’d be a reporter. She was writing stories in third grade, writing up that bit about the… what was it, the lunchroom thing.”
Swallowing a little, Lincoln answered, “Taco Tuesdays. They kept running out of tacos too soon and giving the kids sandwiches. Felicity figured out the lunch lady was taking a bunch of them home instead of giving them out. Took a whole letter about it to the principal, with pictures.”
“There, you see?” His father’s voice was firm. “That kid was meant to report things, to investigate, find the truth. She’s got the head for it. And the stubbornness.”
Lincoln found himself nodding. Nonetheless, he insisted, “And if she wants to do that, she’ll come back to it. I can’t smother her, Dad. Not… I just can’t.”
Arthur’s voice softened. “I know, son. I… well, your mom’s yelling something about coming in for our shows. You tell that kid to call me when she gets back in from the trip with the vampire.”
Rolling his eyes, Lincoln chuckled. “She’s not a vampire, Dad. She’s just got a skin condition. Tell Mom we’re sorry we couldn’t make it down there for the holiday this year. We’ll make it another time. And we’ll call on Christmas morning.”
“You better,” Arthur warned. “Or neither of us will ever hear the end of it.” He paused then. “Love you, son.”
“Love you too, Dad.” Lincoln returned the sentiment before disconnecting the call. He took a moment then, standing in the hallway outside the newspaper office itself, collecting himself.
His father was right, he did miss his daughter. And she had definitely changed over the past few months. For one thing, the way she looked at that Shiori girl that came to visit, or even just the way she sounded when she talked about her… he had a feeling there was a discussion that Felicity was going to want to have with him at some point. But he wasn’t going to rush her to it. He’d be there for her when she was ready.
More seriously, not only had his daughter stopped bringing up anything to do with reporting or the newspaper, but she had also voluntarily brought up her mother more times than she had in several years.
He thought he knew why, but it was something that he didn’t know how to bring up with her. Nor was he going to tell his father about it and worry both of his parents about their granddaughter.
Not talking about any investigation she was doing when he knew for a fact she enjoyed it too much to just abandon it. Asking about her mother so often. Actually being okay with him calling her Felicity instead of Flick. All of it came together to mean one thing.
Felicity was trying to find her mother. She was trying to find out where Joselyn had disappeared to, and maybe why she had disappeared.
He’d been down that hole so many times, and had gotten nowhere. He wanted to tell Felicity that much, but he also didn’t want to discourage her. She had been so… down on her mother for so many years. If this investigation at least gave her enough closure to not… to not hate Joselyn, then he couldn’t take that away from her.
But how could he talk to her about it? What could he possibly say?
Stepping into the wide open bullpen full of desks and people shouting over each other on their phones or to one another, Lincoln’s thoughts were interrupted as his eyes found his own desk. Sitting on the corner of it was a manila envelope. His name was written on the front. Picking it up, he felt something slide around. But other than his name, there were no other markings. It had clearly been delivered in person.
Opening the envelope, he found a single object: an unlabeled CD. Frowning as he turned it over in his hands, the man finally shrugged and put the disc into the computer sitting beside his desk before sitting down. A single video file came up in the list of contents, and he double-clicked it.
For a moment, Lincoln watched the video. With each passing second, his eyes grew wider. Finally, his hand slapped the button on the keyboard to stop the video as the man went back to his feet. His head turned, eyes moving rapidly to look over the room full of people. All of them were familiar, people he knew. No one new. No one that would have left the envelope without saying anything else.
“Ada!” Turning, he focused on the woman at the desk nearest to his. When her eyes snapped up from her computer, he snatched the envelope off his desk and held it up. “Did you see who left this? Do you know who it was?”
Her eyes lingered on the envelope briefly before she nodded. “Oh sure, yeah. It was a big black guy. Maybe a couple inches over six feet. Real handsome too. Said his name was uh… umm… “ She snapped her fingers a few times trying to recall. “Guh something. Gary, no. Jerr—no, Gah… gah… Gab-Gabriel. That’s it. Said his name was Gabriel.”
“Did you get a last name?” Lincoln pressed. Receiving a shrug in return, he turned his attention back to the computer. Slowly, he reached down to hit the button once more to let it play.
The video on the screen was poor quality, and obviously very old. From the look of it, the video had been taken from a Super 8 home movie and copied onto the disc. There were dark lines running down it here and there, and the movie itself had no sound. Despite the poor quality of the video, however, it was still quite possible to make it out. It showed the inside of what looked like a hospital waiting room. There were a dozen people in the shot, all of them staring a television in the corner. A television that showed footage that Lincoln recognized. It was the news report announcing the assassination of John F. Kennedy. And going from the looks on the people’s faces in the home video, it was also the first time they’d heard of it. Fresh news.
Lincoln’s attention wasn’t on the recorded news report, however. Nor was it on the vast majority of people who were reacting to it with tears and disbelief. No, his disbelieving gaze was focused on a single person on the screen, a single young woman standing in the middle of the shot with two infants in her arms. A woman who looked remarkably good considering she shouldn’t have been born for another decade.