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About the Author: Richard Ciciarelli has over 200 short stories published in some of the country's top mystery magazines.

Sheryl Case picked up the phone to hear her partner’s nasal voice.

“Sheryl, it’s Myra. That outline for the book you emailed me. You’ve got to be kidding, right?”

“What do you mean?”

“Oh, please. The killer uses an untraceable South American poison that acts almost instantly? That sort of thing was okay in the 1930s for some B grade movie, but no editor in the world would accept it today.”

“But it fits with the clue of the killer’s recent business trip to Buenos Aires.”

“I don’t care what it fits with. We’ve had three highly successful books, Sheryl. We owe our readers something better than this in our fourth.”

“But I like it.”

“Well, I don’t. I refuse to turn this ridiculous premise into an M. S. Bose novel. Fix it, please.”

“If you hate it so much, why don’t you fix it yourself?”

“When we formed this collaboration, we agreed that you’d do all the plotting and I’d do all the writing. That’s why. Besides, my new boyfriend and I are going away for the week. Bermuda.”

“Another boyfriend? Who now? You’ve already gone through a doctor, a lawyer and a musician.”

“Steve’s a painter. I met him at the grocery store, of all places. Now, get to work on that plot, please. I expect to see it when I get back.”

And Myra Borne hung up.

Sheryl Case stared at the phone in her hand.

When she and Myra met five years ago at a writers’ convention, they hit it off immediately. Using the pen name M. S. Bose they combined to write a mystery novel, One for the Money, that hit the best seller list. They followed that up the next year with Two for the Show and, a year later with Three to Get Ready.

Over the years they drifted apart socially, Sheryl preferring solitude and anonymity while Myra had public romantic flings with one man after another.

It finally reached the point where the partners corresponded only by phone, text or email.

“Just as well,” Sheryl thought. “If we were in the same room together, I’d probably kill her. Ever since One for the Money, she’s given me nothing but grief about my plots. I know they’re good. I could probably be just as successful on my own, but that lawyer boyfriend she had drew up that contract saying whoever dissolved our partnership forfeits all royalties to any future M. S. Bose sales.”

The rest of the day, as she struggled to revise her plot outline, the idea of going it alone haunted Sheryl. The phrase, “I’d probably kill her” echoed in her head.

“Why not?” she asked herself as she lay in bed that night. “With my logical mind I could get away with it. And the publicity wouldn’t hurt book sales.”

For the next week Sheryl ran through several plans to murder her partner, some extremely complicated, some quite simple. She finally settled on one of the simpler ones.

“I’m back from Bermuda,” Myra’s nasal voice said over the phone one Monday. “Where’s the new outline?”

“Don’t worry,” Sheryl said. “You’ll get it.”

That night, dressed all in black, Sheryl drove to Myra’s apartment and knocked on the door.

“What are you doing here?” Myra asked, eyebrows raised. “Did you bring the outline?”

This story appears in our MAR 2024 Issue
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