Morning Mystery – now with fictional goodness

“I can’t take you anywhere,” Lori said. She walked down the steps ten paces ahead of Lance. She didn’t look back to see if he was following.

He sighed and reached in his pocket for his cigarettes. This happened every time he tagged along on one of her assignments. It wasn’t his fault she took every story on face value. What did she expect him to do, really? Jam his hands in his pocket and let fraud parade around, jaybird-naked?

He wondered why she even brought him along, frankly; if she’d just told him about the story over dinner she’d probably leave out the fatal detail that ruined everything. She’d have more stories in the paper. But they’d be wrong, and she wouldn’t have the same rep at the Star. She wouldn’t be the reporter who uncovered all the scams and grifts; she’d be known for fluff-shots and society chatter. Really, he didn’t know what she was so upset about. But it happened every time.

When she got to the car she turned around, eyes blazing. “It’s not about the other ones, if that’s what you’re thinking. But this time. What was that about? Why do you have to know everything about everything? She’s an old lady with some dolls, Lance. Why did you have to ruin even that?”

He saw her point. In an amusing, abstract sense, he understood. He considered telling Lori that the dolls were actually made of a rare Persian birch – he could tell by the grain  – and that made them much more valuable than the old lady thought. He wanted to say he’d kept quiet because he didn’t want to make the old lady look like she didn’t know her own hobby.

It was like that time Lori took him to the antique dealer who had a suit of armor for sale, and he said it was Roman, even though the breastplate design was obviously pre-invasion Celtic. The guy was a friend of Lori’s brother-in-law. So he let it go. He paid the fellow a visit later, sure, and the guy called Lori and confessed before she filed her piece, but he didn’t say anything at the time.

Something told him not to say anything now, either.

(Solution up around 10:30; feel free to continue the story.)

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