Home > Close to the Bone (Widow's Island #1)(11)

Close to the Bone (Widow's Island #1)(11)
Author: Kendra Elliot

Cate couldn’t stop the laugh that bubbled up her throat. “I will.”

Edith said her goodbyes and left.

Silence filled the waiting room as the vivacious personality left, and she and Henry were abandoned to awkwardly stare at each other.

His eyes are kind.

The corners of his mouth rose in amusement. “What’s so special about the brownies? Do they contain a healing herb from the island?”

“If you consider marijuana an herb, then yes.” His laugh sent warmth through her limbs. “Edith has supplied secret pot brownies for the last forty years or so.”

“Not so secret?”

“An open secret, I guess. To get one you have to ask at the counter if there are any fresh brownies still in the oven.”

“I’ll remember that.” His countenance turned serious. “What’s wrong with your shoulder?”

A fucking bullet ripped through it.

“It’s good for now.” She changed the subject. “Have you studied the dental x-rays from Becca and Samantha?”

A short pause told her he understood her shoulder issues were private. “I have. Come on back.” He turned and gestured for her to follow. Cate grabbed her laptop and trailed after him. He led her into an exam room and flipped on a large light box. A large plastic bin on the counter held human bones. She spotted the skull’s braces through the clear plastic sides of the container.

Henry slipped two sets of dental x-rays onto the box. “Top is Becca. Bottom is Samantha.” Then he added two larger x-rays that showed the entire smile of a skull. “We’re lucky in that both girls had braces. The orthodontists typically do this larger film of the lower half of the head before starting treatment.”

The grayscale grins were creepy. She stepped closer, studying the record of Samantha’s teeth, searching for anything familiar of her friend. Nothing. The films were impersonal. “What’s this?” She pointed at a white mark on the far side of Samantha’s large x-ray and noticed a similar mark on the other side.


“Of course,” Cate muttered, realizing it was the personal piece of Samantha she’d been searching for. Samantha had always worn a pair of tiny diamond studs that’d reportedly been handed down by Camilla Bishop. “A bit of my ancestor in my ears,” Samantha had said.

Cate had been envious. She had never complained, but the Bishops had been wealthy, while Cate’s family—also descended from Elias Bishop—had struggled.

“Any conclusions about the identity of the remains?” She turned her attention to the plastic bin, putting Samantha out of her thoughts.

“Yep.” Henry lifted the skull and mandible from the bin. Cate noticed each bone had been marked in pencil with a code. Tessa had known what she was doing while removing the bones. He pointed at the upper front teeth. “See how the braces brackets are nearly as wide as the teeth on these two teeth? They’re extremely narrow for front teeth.” He didn’t point at the center two teeth but at the teeth flanking them. “There’s a name for the condition when these two teeth are abnormally small . . . I’ll have to search online to find it.”

Cate immediately stepped closer to the two large x-rays. One had the tiny front teeth. “It’s Becca.”

“No self-respecting forensic odontologist would make an identification off this one anomaly,” Henry said. “But the skull does have a large white filling on a molar that I can see on the x-rays too. Samantha’s films don’t have any fillings—still not conclusive . . . Samantha could have received the filling after the films were taken.”

“But no dentist would make Samantha’s front teeth so tiny, right?”

“The small teeth haven’t had any enamel removed; she was born with them that size. I’m comfortable saying this is definitely not Samantha and highly likely to be Becca,” Henry finished.

“We’ll officially confirm with an odontologist’s report. Or DNA.” But the results were strong enough for Cate to move forward with Becca’s investigation. “I don’t think we should tell Rex until we get an official confirmation.”

“It’s hard not knowing what happened to a loved one,” Henry said. His brown gaze was gentle.

A wave of sorrow washed over Cate. “I’m relieved it’s not Samantha. Is that wrong of me?”

“No. It means you still have hope.”

“I do.”

The awkwardness she’d felt with Henry in the waiting room was gone. She felt . . . comfortable.

“Have you had lunch?” he asked. A dimple appeared on his left cheek, and she was instantly charmed.

I have work to do.

But she was surprised and pleased by the invitation.

“I can have a quick lunch.”

Henry chose The Little Garden for lunch because he liked the food, and it was close.

“I’ve never eaten here,” said Cate. “It used to be an office building.”

“I think the restaurant is only a few years old,” Henry said as he held the door open. As she passed, he smelled cinnamon, making his stomach growl. Good thing we’re eating. Something about Cate had held his attention last night on Ruby’s Island and again in his waiting room this morning.

He’d suggested lunch because he hadn’t been ready to let her leave his office.

They were seated immediately. Only three other tables were occupied. Cate sighed as she sank into the booth. “I love how quiet the island is during the winter.”

“When I checked out the practice in September, it was mellow then too. Residents have warned me it’s a madhouse in the summer with the tourists.”

“You won’t recognize it. People everywhere. Traffic. Hour waits at the restaurants. The locals stay away from the towns.”

“It was warm and sunny when I bought the practice. This cold, dreary winter was a bit of a shock to my system. Especially for a California transplant.”

“No consistent heat or sun up here,” Cate agreed. “Get used to gray and rain during the winter. Some snow when we’re lucky.”

She wore a scarf that brought out the blue in her eyes, and some of her long black hair was casually braided, keeping it out of her face. Overall she made a very attractive and fascinating lunch companion.

She said quick lunch.

But she didn’t say no.

“Good afternoon,” said a gaunt man in his fifties as he filled their water glasses. His crisp white shirt and black apron were pristine. “I’m Milton, and I’ll be waiting on you today. Can I bring you something else to drink?” he asked in a formal voice.

“Coffee,” Henry and Cate said in unison.

The waiter gave a stiff nod and vanished.

Henry set his menu aside, knowing he wanted the burger. “What’s your next step in Becca’s investigation?”

“Supposedly the ferry will be running by tomorrow, and we can send her remains to the lab.” She lowered the menu and rubbed her eyes. “I want to call Becca’s mom in New York and retrace Becca’s last movements. I’ll also talk to Rex and Dustin again.”

“You have a lot to do. What else?”

Her lips flattened into a line. “I have a sex offender to follow up on.”

“I guess I shouldn’t be surprised they’re on Widow’s Island.” He paused, remembering his unwelcome visitor from that morning. “Does the island have much of a drug problem?”

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