"Mrs. Murphy. Let me have my mail." Mim bent down to see two beautiful green eyes staring back at her.
"Give me your glove. I love the smell of the suede."
"Harry, your cat won't let me go."
Harry walked over, slipped her fingers into the mailbox and disengaged Murphy's paws. "Murphy, not everyone in Crozet thinks you're adorable."
"Thank you!" Pewter's voice rose up from the canvas mail cart.
Harry gently placed her tiger on the counter again. A pretty woman, young and fit, she stroked the cat.
Miranda checked the bookshelves for cartons. "Mim, got a package here for you. Looks like your coffee."
Mim belonged to a coffee club, receiving special beans from various world-famous cafes once a month. "Good." She stood at the counter sorting her mail. She removed one exquisite glove and slit open envelopes with her thumbnail, a habit Harry envied, since her own nails were worn down from farm work. The older, elegant woman opened a white envelope, read a few sentences, then tossed the letter and envelope in the trash. "Another chain letter. I just hate them and I wish there'd be a law against them. They're all pyramid schemes. This one wants you to send five dollars to Crozet Hospital's Indigent Patients Fund and then send out twenty copies of the letter. I just want to know who put my name on the list."
Harry flipped up the divider, walked over to the wastebasket, and fished out the offending letter.
"Sister Sophonisba will bring you good fortune." She scanned the rest of it. "There is no list of names. All it says is to pass this on to twenty other people. 'If you wish.'" Harry's voice filled the room. "Send five dollars to Crozet Hospital's Indigent Patients Fund or your microwave will die."
"It doesn't really say that, does it?" Miranda thought Harry was teasing her but then again ...
"Nah." Harry flashed her crooked grin.
"Very funny." Mim reached for her letter again, which Harry handed to her. "Usually there's a list of names and the top one gets money. You know, your name works its way to the top of the list." She re-read the letter, then guffawed, "Here's the part that always kills me about these things." She read aloud. "Mark Lintel sent five dollars and the Good Lord rewarded him with a promotion at work. Jerry Tinsley threw this letter in the trash and had a car wreck three days later." Mim peered over the letter. "I seem to recall Jerry's wreck. And I seem to recall he was liberally pickled in vodka. If he dies he'll come back as a rancid potato."
Harry laughed. "I guess he has to get rid of that old Camry somehow so he decided to wreck it."
Excerpted from Claws and Effect by Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown Copyright 2001 by Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown. Excerpted by permission of Bantam, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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