Part 3

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The foursome walked through the park as the sun slowly edged toward the horizon, turning the sky a flaming red. A breeze passed and there was a chill in the city. Casey cuddled up to Brian for body warmth. Cricket watched as the breeze played with her brother’s long, dark brown hair.

Andy kicked a stone across the grass. He was right: their mom had warned him about Lisa. Some day that girl is going to break the poor boy’s heart, she had said. She wants too much.

She was right.

“Well, Casey and I are going to see if we can scrounge up something to eat. You guys interested in coming with us?” Brian looked over at his friends.

“I have to be at work soon,” Andy said.

“Sorry, guys, I have to go try and wring out my brain and write a novel. So I guess if I ever want to see another sunset, I better pass up your offer.”

Casey laughed, and Cricket winked at her. She knew Casey and Brian needed to be alone together anyway. The couple walked off together.

Cricket walked over and gave Andy a big hug.

“What was that for, Krys?”

“For being the best big brother a girl could have, and because I love you.”

Andy smiled and faked tears. “Gee, sis, you sound like a birthday card.”

Cricket nodded matter-of-factly. “And you, brother dear, look like a tissue commercial.” She held his hand and they walked a little farther.

Andy looked at his watch. “I guess I should start heading over to the club.”

“Now don’t fall for any more girls that will break your heart,” she warned.

“Krys, one day you’ll fall in love and figure out how hard it is.”

“Doubtful.”

“Oh, Krys?”

“What?”

“Thanks.”

Cricket waved, put her hands in her pockets, and headed home.

*

She poured herself a cup of hot chocolate and sat down in front of her thinking window. With night came the bitter cold of Fall. She was glad to be in her and Casey’s little rented home. She looked out the window. It often helped her gather her thoughts, but not tonight.

She pulled a fairly unused notebook out from under a pile of literary magazines. She dug between the pillows and found a pencil. “Okay, Krystlin. Write,” she told herself, but it was no use.

She pushed back her hair with a slender finger and continued to think, but her thoughts continued to wander. She grabbed a magazine full of short stories and flipped through it. If these people could write, why couldn’t she? The magazine fell to the floor and Cricket buried her face in her hands.

She decided to give up and turn in for the night. She wasn’t, however, the least bit tired. As soon as she crossed the threshold, she sensed that something was out of place. She laid the notebook on the table beside her bed when something caught her eye.

There, on her typewriter, was an envelope.

She walked over to her desk and picked it up. It seemed to be made of centuries old paper, and was sealed on the back with a glob of wax. It gave Cricket a strange feeling. Using a pointless pencil, she broke open the seal.

Inside was the most astonishing letter she had ever read.

She carefully slid the paper out of the envelope. It was an old parchment also, but instead of faded tan, it was a royal blue. She unfolded it, and the golden letters scribed on it seemed to jump out at her:

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