Home > Close to the Bone (Widow's Island #1)(3)

Close to the Bone (Widow's Island #1)(3)
Author: Kendra Elliot

Kurt’s aggrieved tone made Henry hide a small smile. The deputy had taken it personally that he wasn’t informed.

“About six months.” Dustin stepped aside and craned his neck to look past Cate. “Is that a skull?” His mouth formed an O as his eyes widened.

The group looked from one to another.

We can’t deny it.

“Yes,” said Cate. “It was discovered tonight. You can go inform your uncle that we’re conducting an investigation.”

“Is that Becca?” Dustin backed up a few steps, shock on his face.

“We don’t know,” Henry said in a firm voice. “It’s too early to tell.”

“I need to go tell Rex,” Dustin said as he started to turn. “He’ll want to see this.”

“Wait!” Cate dashed forward and caught Dustin’s sleeve, earnestly meeting his gaze. “Let’s not upset Rex until we have some facts. This could be someone else.”

Dustin jerked his arm from her grip, annoyance replacing his shock. “He deserves to know a skull has been found on his property . . . and you didn’t ask permission to be here.”

“I’m recommending the remains go to the medical examiner on the mainland,” Henry stated. “That’s how we’ll get facts. They’ll have a forensic anthropologist determine who this is.”

“How many people have gone missing from Ruby’s Island?” Dustin snapped. “There’s only one, as far as I’ve heard. Becca.” The young man paled. “Oh, dear Lord. She’s been this close all this time. This is going to kill my uncle—his health isn’t good.”

“We don’t know—” Cate started.

“Your uncle is ill?” Henry cut in.

Dustin blew out a breath. “He hasn’t written a word in two years, and I swear he’s aged two decades since she disappeared.”

Kurt nodded in agreement. “I rarely see him on Widow’s anymore.”

“I’ve read most of his books. I hadn’t realized he stopped writing,” Henry admitted. Rex Conan was one of the top ten mystery authors in the world. Henry had lived on the island for four weeks before someone casually mentioned the author. When Henry had asked if she meant the Rex Conan, the islander had looked down her nose at Henry. “He’s been here a decade. Just because he writes some books doesn’t make him different than anyone else.”

Henry had gotten the message. And he’d learned islanders didn’t talk about their occupations—it was bad manners. A local quirk. His Realtor had told him not to tell people he was the new doctor in town. “But how will they know a doctor is finally here?” he’d asked.

“Don’t worry. They’ll know,” she’d assured him.

Sure enough. When his office had opened for business, he’d had a steady flow of patients—without a cent paid for advertising.

“Would you like me to come with you to tell your uncle?” Henry asked. He preferred to be present if Rex went into cardiac arrest.

Indecision filled Dustin’s face.

“I’ll come too,” said Cate, making the decision for the nephew. “I’d like to know more about Becca’s case.”

“Shouldn’t you already know?” retorted Dustin. “The FBI crawled all through his house two years ago. They interviewed my uncle over and over. They thought he’d done something to her.”

“It’s standard to rule out family first,” Henry answered before Cate could reply. “With any law enforcement agency.”

How many times have I seen family members hurt their own flesh and blood?


“You said you’d lived here six months,” stated Cate. “How do you know what happened during the investigation?”

Henry admired her cool tone. Fury had risen in his throat as the nephew had lashed out against the FBI.

“My parents and I flew out immediately when Becca vanished. I’d visited dozens of times before Rex asked me to stay.” Dustin’s voice was calm, but his eyes sparked in anger. “Ruling out family again, are you?”

“It’s step one,” Cate said simply. She turned to Henry, her expression flat. “How much more time do you need here?”

“I’m not sure.” He looked at the exposed bones. I can’t mess this up.

“I know the proper way to remove them and protect the scene,” Tessa said, giving Henry a confident nod. “We have to be our own crime scene team on the islands. Bruce and Kurt will help me.”

“Okay.” Henry looked at Cate again. “Give me ten more minutes to look things over.”

“Great.” She pointed at Dustin. “Don’t move. We’re going with you.”

Henry studied Cate out of the corner of his eye.

Could this be her missing friend?


“Don’t be a wimp!”

“I’m not. I’m being smart. My grandmother will hear me if I try to sneak out of the house,” Cate told Samantha as they both reached for textbooks in their locker. Cate wouldn’t consider Samantha’s invitation. Twice her grandmother had caught her brother, Logan, sneaking out. The last time he’d been grounded for two weeks.

“What will your grandmother hear?” Tessa asked as she joined them and waited her turn to get a notebook. Usually two people shared a locker at school, but the three of them had kept their things together since kindergarten and weren’t about to stop. They were accustomed to the crowded space.

“Samantha wants us to meet her at the Widow’s Walk at midnight,” Cate said sourly, wishing she had the freedom Samantha did. The temperatures had turned warm, and the days were long. She couldn’t wait to finish up her freshman year of high school and start a lazy summer.

“Ha! Forget it,” stated Tessa. “We’d have to bike there. There’s no way I’d ride that winding road in the pitch dark.”

“But I got some pot!” Samantha whispered in an excited voice.

Cate whirled to the girl. “Are you crazy? Who’d you get that from?”

“It doesn’t matter.” Samantha waved away Cate’s concern. “I thought the Widow’s Walk would be an awesome place to smoke it with my friends.”

Her emphasis on the word friends made guilt churn in Cate’s gut. They always did everything together, but Samantha was pushing for a double infraction.

“No way,” Cate said. “The smell of that stuff sticks to you. Once my grandmother smelled it on Logan’s clothes when she was doing laundry, and he didn’t get to drive for a month.”

“I can’t wait to be sixteen and drive,” muttered Samantha. “We won’t have to beg for rides, and I’ll drive us everywhere. Eighteen more months.”

The three girls were silent as they imagined the liberty a driver’s license could bring.

“Well, I’m going anyway. You two can miss out.”

“It’s not nearly as far for you to ride your bike,” Tessa pointed out.

“I have a ride.”

“With who?” Cate and Tessa squealed.

Samantha gave a pleased smile. “I can’t tell you. Show up, and then you’ll know.” She turned and strolled away to class, her long red hair swishing across her back.

Tessa looked at Cate and asked, “She has a boyfriend?”

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