Melanie Studd stretched out on her bed, her eyes heavy with exhaustion. It had been a busy day, volunteering at a soup kitchen in the morning, then testifying at court in the evening. Detective Jack Whitby and Kathy, his accomplice, were sentenced to 30 years in prison for attempted murder-twice. Carmen Dell, a small-player in the grand scheme, was sentenced to 120 hours of community service. Melanie was glad it was over. Her best friend, Janefer, was enjoying life as a new Christian, even though at times it was hard. It had been four months since her dad had died, but Janefer was doing well, and was very happy it was all over. Mel kept her eyes closed as she savored the comfort of her bed. She leaned over and reached for the blanket at the end of her bed, threw it over her legs. Her broken leg was pretty much healed, but she still had to be cautious that she didn’t do too many strenuous activities.
Tomorrow would be the first day of freedom. She would be free from court dates and the fear that someone would try what Jack and Kathy would do. She would be able to go to college like a normal young woman and live her life out like God would have it. Her future seemed so blissful and happy as she fell asleep.
Mel awoke the next day, singing cheerfully as she showered and dressed. Janefer would be picking her up soon. Mel opened the fridge and studied its contents. “Umumum…. eggs? Nah. Toast? Hmm… okay.” She pulled the bread and peanut butter out of the refrigerator and put a slice of bread in the toaster. Pouring some water into the coffee maker, she pressed the ‘ON’ button and sat down at the table with a plate and knife.
The toast popped and Mel got up and spread on the peanut butter–thick. She prayed quietly and began eating. Suddenly she was struck with a thought. I wonder what it would be like at college. Surely everyone has heard about me and Janefer in the news. As she got up to pour herself some coffee, that thought remained in her mind. Well, I do hope that everyone will treat us normally. She swept the thought away like the crumbs on her plate. “I am determined to be happy today. I don’t want to think about thoughts like that.”
The doorbell rang just as Mel finished her last bit of coffee. It rang again. “Hang on! I’m coming!” Hurrying to the door, she opened it. There stood Janefer, her chestnut-brown hair curling slightly around her shoulders, a concerned look on her face. “Hey Janefer! You look worried. What’s wrong?”
Janefer raked a hand through her hair. “I’ll tell you everything on the way. Are you ready to leave?”
“I just have to brush my teeth and grab my textbooks from upstairs. Hang on.”
As she ran upstairs, Janefer looked around. She loved Mel’s house. The cream walls nicely accented the leather-brown couches and the hardwood floor. The smell of freshly brewed coffee permeated the air, and Janefer sauntered into the kitchen to see if there was any left. She’d need it after this.
She saw the empty coffeepot in the sink. Guess not. Grabbing a granola bar from the basket in the pantry instead, she walked back to the front entrance. Mel came down the stairs just then, shrugging on a sweater as she set her books down and pulled on her shoes. “Okay, I’m ready.” What’s going on? I hope it’s not too serious. The girls got into the car, and as soon as they pulled out of the driveway, Mel started shooting questions rapid-fire. “What’s happening, Jan? Is it your mom? My family? You? Something at college? No, that wouldn’t be it because we are going to college, right? Today.”
Janefer held up a hand. “Calm down. It’s not your family or my family. It’s at the college. There’s been a break-in, and someone’s been hurt. No one knows who did it or why, but the police are searching there right now.”
Mel turned white. “Oh no. Who was hurt? Do you know what was stolen?”
Janefer shook her head. “I think it was the janitor that was hurt, but right now he’s unconscious and hasn’t woken up yet. My guess is that he saw the person, or persons who did it and they saw him and had to somehow get him out of the way. I don’t know what was stolen, but I guess we’ll find out soon.”
Mel watched as they pulled into the college parking lot, yellow caution tape strung near the entrance. What was happening?