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Crime Always Pays — Chapter Forty-Seven

Sifting through Tyler’s love letters brought waves of emotion.

Raven giggled and cried at her lover’s chosen words. And lover he was. His adoration contained within his notes proved it.

Tyler had never forgotten her. He had reasons for staying on the farm, which pointed toward her mother.

While the year away at school had softened Raven’s sorrow, Frances’ grief over Floyd mounted with each day she fared alone and currently, with the high cost of living, Frances was at risk of losing it all.

Tyler had elected himself as “man about the farm.”

His letters explained it to Raven — his love for her, his duty to her mother, and his intent to come to California in time.

Raven noted the correct postage affixed to the envelopes.

Perhaps he had mailed them after all. Had someone stopped them midway?



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Crime Always Pays — Chapter Forty-Six

Raven counted fifty-two pink envelopes scattered on top of her bedsheet. Tyler had written the weekly love notes but never sent them.

Why did he have to hold back, or did he merely lose his nerve?

She wished she could ask him, but Tyler wasn’t talking. Still in a coma, his locked mind was beyond retrieval.

She wondered, should she read them or would learning his thoughts violate his privacy?

Somebody wanted her to know they existed.

She had to read them to see if they held pertinent information to help Raven understand Tyler’s life during their absent year.

He had become a stranger to her, also her imaginary lover.

She never forgot he came to California in search of her.

Raven could not let him down.



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Crime Always Pays — Chapter Forty-Five

After years of study, Raven gained graduate status. Now in her mid-thirties, Raven seemed to have it all.

Along with a degree in plant biology, Raven achieved expertise in jousting, martial arts, and logistical reasoning. She had broken free of boredom long ago, hoping to watch herself soar.

And there were puzzles to solve.

Who had assaulted Tyler and left him for dead? And who was leaving her crank calls from dusk until dawn?

If for no other reason than to get one peaceful night’s sleep, Raven committed herself to flush the perpetrators into the open, but the police assured her that the gang of adolescents’ calls were benign.

And then the unmarked package came in the mail.

As Raven slid the knife through the tape binding the cardboard, handfuls of posted envelopes to her address fell onto the floor.



Karen Schwartz

Karen Schwartz

Aspiring bestselling novelist, featured writer for The Daily Cuppa, kindness specialist, and lover of short-form and chocolate.