The Carters start to get curious. Ashley and Ashley Carter aren't your ordinary couple. They're fascinated with death, and the rituals that surround it. They bring flowers to the burials of transients; they eavesdrop on the will-readings of people they've never met. At home, they take their obsessions further, playing dead in rituals of their own. But the ironic distance they've taken pains to maintain between themselves and the mourners they spy on is about to crumble.

During an impromptu visit to a stranger's will reading, the Carters are alarmed to discover that the deceased, a man named Andrew Farkass, has bequeathed his cremated remains to them. To Mrs. Carter, the inheritance is a welcome diversion from their usual morbid pastimes, and an excuse to investigate one man's demise in greater detail. To Mr. Carter, the dead man's familiarity with the couple and their private lives is unsettling. He seems to know more about their tastes than even they do.

The mystery deepens when the Carters discover, mingled with Farkass' ashes, a pair of engagement rings, engraved with a series of cryptic numbers. Curiosity overcomes caution, and the pair decide to find out as much as they can about the man behind the ashes. A trip to the county morgue reveals the cause of death: arsenic poisoning. A far more interesting discovery, however, is an unfinished letter from the departed, addressed to the Carters. In it, Farkass explains that he has specifically chosen the Carters because their macabre fetish mirrors his own. Insisting that they carry out his one last request, Farkass' dying plan begins to manipulate the Carters from beyond the grave, leading them ever closer to the very heart of their obsession.

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