When Tara checked the mail the next day, she found a small piece of paper loose in her mailbox with no envelope. She found this odd and knew that it meant that someone had placed it in her mailbox either before or after the mailman had been there. She unfolded the paper, and froze at the words she read:
I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean for him to die.
She felt her knees go weak, but managed to make it into the house. She sat on the closest chair and called, “Allen!”
Allen came from the kitchen, and when he saw how pale she was, he rushed to her side. “What is it, Tara? Are you ill?”
Tara didn’t answer. She simply handed him the note, just as Eva came from the kitchen and asked, “What’s going on?”
“Eva, help me get Tara to the kitchen, and make a pot of tea. We need to call Sergeant Olsen.”
When they were in the kitchen and the tea was steeping, Allen showed Eva the note. Then he called Sergeant Olsen.
Sergeant Olsen arrived fifteen minutes later. He put the paper in a plastic bag, but wasn’t confident that they would find any prints on it other than Tara’s and Allen’s. “This note is obviously from the person responsible for Mr. Richardson’s death. And, just as we suspected, it must have been a crime of passion, done in the heat of the moment, if we can believe what this note says. The other thing that is quite obvious is, that whoever it is, not only knew Mr. Richardson, but also knows you, Mrs. Richardson. I will have to get this to the crime lab and they’ll try to get some prints from it and see if they can determine anything from the paper and ink.”
Sergeant Olsen left and Tara sat wondering whom she knew that could possibly have had an argument with Jaime that was so heated that it led to his demise.
The rest of the week passed rather quietly, though Tara began to suspect everyone she spoke with. She kept trying to figure out who could possibly be Jaime’s killer.
Late Friday afternoon, Sergeant Olsen called and informed Tara and her in-laws that there were no prints on the paper other than Tara’s and Allen’s. He also said that the ink and paper were nothing special. It was standard laser printer ink and paper, the kind the majority of the world used in their computer printers.
The weekend was uneventful. Tara stayed home, except for going to church on Sunday. Sunday was such a lovely day that she and Allen and Eva had lunch in the courtyard. They had plenty of food because the day before, Tara had found she could not paint in her studio, so she had done some cooking and baking in the kitchen. She had made spring rolls, vegetable Lo Mein, and sesame chicken. She had also made some fabulous crepes for dessert. Then she had made some delicious lemon-raspberry scones and a green salad with berries that she created a tea-based dressing for. They had eaten all of the spring rolls and most of the vegetable Lo Mein, as well as the crepes, for dinner Saturday evening, so they ate the sesame chicken with the salad and scones for Sunday lunch and enjoyed a pot of HarSha Assam tea.
After lunch, they took a walk in the woods and tried to talk about anything but the ever-present unsolved mystery of Jaime’s death. It was a very choppy conversation. When they returned to the house, they all retired to the sitting room, Allen with his newspaper, Eva with her embroidery, and Tara tried to read a book. After about thirty minutes of re-reading the same two pages about six times, she put the book down. She just couldn’t concentrate. She began to pace the room, then stopped at the large window and looked out onto the courtyard.
Finally, she went to the kitchen. She began to bake again. Baking and cooking seemed like useful things to do, and she could create her own dishes or use recipes, whichever she felt like doing. She enjoyed playing with the herbs and spices she had in the kitchen.
That evening, they had a vegetable lasagna with focaccia bread served with a flavored olive oil for dipping, a spinach salad with strawberries and poppy seed dressing and cannoli for dessert.
“Tara, you are quite talented in the kitchen. I fear that I will be packing some extra pounds when Eva and I return home. Eva is a good cook too, but she isn’t as creative and she makes smaller portions,” Allen said.
“I just need something to do, while we wait for news, and I just can’t find the inspiration or desire to paint. Cooking and baking seems much more useful.”
“Maybe you should open a cafe or bakery or something.”
Tara smiled, but wasn’t sure she would want to cook and bake when the case was finally closed, if the case ever was finally closed. She prayed God wouldn’t let this drag on for too much longer. She felt as though she were in limbo and couldn’t get out.