Her small pale body lay crumpled on the sun-worn pavement. His, just to the left of hers, was in disarray, composed of a chaos of angles. Crimson rivers flowed from their bodies and ran into huge pools of life's liquid. Around them nature continued its spent cycle. Leaves cascaded down the front of the trees and came to rest on their lifeless bodies. Now they had become part of the rhythm that encircled them, part of the existence of Red Lantern Road.

Sarah Vernon set down her pen on the lined paper. She knew that her hardest task was over, the ending was finished. This particular creation of hers was in the habit of leaving dead bodies on Red Lantern Road, the street on which Sarah's famous detective Danbury dwelled. Different than most, one case in her murder mysteries would span several books. Sarah relished the feeling of keeping her audience in suspense. In order to extend that feeling as long as possible, the murders were committed at the end of the first book. Instead of trying to guess whom the killer was, readers first had to figure out who was going to be killed. The killer is revealed only at the end of one of her series. She was a critic's delight, something original with a remarkable imagination. She was also the apple of her publisher's eye, because there were an average of three books to one story and that kept the money rolling in.

She lived very contentedly. Sarah felt that she was doing exactly what she was put on this earth to do: use her talent as a writer to transport people to a place of fantasy where none of their worldly cares existed. She made a lot of money from her writing and with some of the royalties she invested. She didn't know exactly how much money she made, but it was enough that she didn't have to balance her checkbook when ordering a pizza. And that in itself was pretty good for a 25 year-old.

Her residence was a beautiful 19th century Victorian age estate that was located on Red Lantern Road in a wooded and remote area. She would never admit it, but she was afraid of being in that big place alone. Sarah felt that the building had a certain character that lent inspiration to her writing. Besides, the house had been in her family since the beginning of time it would seem. So she got a really price for it, being free and all. Sarah always liked getting a good deal. Above all, she was happy. Blissfully, wonderfully, happy.

Of course, that was before they found the body.