“You never know what evil the ashes are hiding.” The graybeard’s pipe glowed against the dark.

“Or what memories.” I dragged the iron rake through the edges of the fire.

“Good men were lost, in pursuit of that girl.”

That girl my heart-twin, nursed with me after her mother’s death. Closer than skin, we were.

He stepped into the clearing, one hand dropping from view. “Some girls think they’re better than they are.”

My rake drew the bone-white chunks of wood closer.

“Happen she got careless. Happen they never find her.”

The shadows grew chill.

“Some girls play with fire.”

My hands knew before my eyes. I spun half-way, slammed the rake down on his neck. His dagger glinted and fell.

Happen old men get careless, too.

I raked the coals red. Cut branches to cover his body. Some girls understand vengeance.

Only the flames kept witness.

– END —

This story presents a game for the readers: Identify twelve words taken from titles of Elizabeth George novels.


Bio: Leslie Budewitz blends her passion for food, great mysteries, and the Northwest in the Seattle Spice Shop Mysteries and the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries, set in Jewel Bay, Montana. The first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction, she lives and cooks in NW Montana. She is president of Sisters in Crime (2015-16).

Key: Consequences, evil, ashes, hiding, memories, edges, pursuit, death, careless, shadows, vengeance, witness


  1. Chilling story! I like it even without the game.

  2. Thanks, Kaye! And where it came from, I have no idea!

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