Home > Close to the Bone (Widow's Island #1)(7)

Close to the Bone (Widow's Island #1)(7)
Author: Kendra Elliot

Money doesn’t guarantee happiness.


The next morning, the wood floors chilled Cate’s bare feet as she headed to her grandmother’s kitchen, seeking the source of the coffee aroma that filled the home. Cate had grown up in her grandmother’s house, and her feet recognized every small imperfection in the floors. She avoided the board that still squeaked near the stove and headed straight for the coffee pot. She’d been home for less than a week, and it felt as if she’d never left. She wasn’t the only returning child; her brother, Logan, had recently come back to the island, but his work hours as a park ranger were long, and he lived in a cabin on-site. Cate had barely seen him.

She tightened her bathrobe and looked out the large window of the kitchen. Frost decorated the needles of the pines. The charming home had been built in the early part of the last century by Elias Bishop for his lover, Ruby, and it’d been handed down through the generations. The small house on Ruby’s Island had been a retreat for the lovers, but this was Ruby’s formal home.

The home wasn’t big and stunning like the Bishop mansion Elias had built for his wife, Camilla; this one had more character. Cate wished she could have heard the explosive gossip when the islanders had realized Elias wasn’t building an additional home to sell—it was for his lover.

“Good morning, sweetie!” Jane Sutton stepped out of the butler’s pantry with a plate of cinnamon rolls in her hands as Cate poured coffee into her favorite delicate childhood teacup.

“Morning, Jane.” Her grandmother insisted her grandkids use her first name.

Jane planted a kiss on her cheek as she hustled past to set the rolls on the table.

No worry about losing weight while I stay here.

Cate sat down and plopped a roll on her plate. They were still warm. She sighed in contentment.

“So what happened in the middle of the night?” Jane pulled up a chair and fastened an eager gaze on Cate. “I heard you come back in around five this morning.”

Cate had fallen asleep as soon as her head had hit her pillow.

“Bones of a young woman were found on Ruby’s Island.”

Jane froze, her coffee cup halfway to her mouth. “Whose?” Her eyes darkened.

“Don’t know yet.”

“Could it be Samantha?” Jane whispered, leaning toward Cate as she set down her cup.

Cate swallowed hard, the cinnamon roll suddenly dry in her mouth, and took two sips of coffee to make her tongue function. “Could be. You know Rex Conan’s daughter went missing two years ago. I think it’s more likely to be Becca Conan, since she was found near her home.”

Jane ran a hand over her long gray ponytail, blinking rapidly. “Is her father a suspect?”

“That’s jumping ahead, but of course we’ll talk to him.” Cate didn’t mention that she’d met the man last night. The heavy aura of sorrow around Rex and his home kept her lips shut.

“What’s next?”

“Well, we need to get the bones to an anthropologist and have someone compare the dental records to Becca Conan . . . and Samantha. Any word on the ferry yet?”

Jane shook her head. “They’re saying at least another twenty-four hours before it’s running again. My circle put the word out to let us know if the breakdown has caused issues for anyone; we’ll find them a ride. So far, no one is hurting from the lack of service.” Her eyes twinkled. “Most of the islanders just shrug. We like to believe we don’t need anything from the mainland, you know.”

“Complaints don’t start until the Black Tail Bakery runs out of coffee.”

“Damn right.”

“The ferry is already causing an issue with this investigation,” said Cate. “I shouldn’t be handling this case since I’m on medical leave, and we need to get the remains to the right sets of eyes. At least I can review the old cases from our database.”

“They’re lucky you were on the island.”

“I’m sure Tessa could have handled everything.”

“She can’t access the FBI’s information.”

“True,” Cate admitted. “I’m going to work from home. There’s no point in working out of the sheriff’s office in North Sound. They have two desks in a space smaller than your dining room. I’ll just be in the way.”

“I have a meeting with my circle today. Let me know if we need to get the word out about anything.”

Cate nodded. Jane was the head of the Widow’s Knitting and Activist group. Thirty years ago the group had taken its name from the island, but now—oddly or creepily—all the women were widows. The fact was amusing to most of the islanders but not funny to several of the married island men. The group would knit while discussing projects to improve life on the island. The topics ranged from recycling to domestic abuse to the island’s rampant drug problem. The group set lofty goals and got shit done.

“We finally got a doctor,” Jane said. “I haven’t met him yet, but all the gossip has been positive. His nurse is a cute little thing from Oregon—Julie something. She’s engaged to our newest deputy. Perhaps one of them could look at the remains and give their opinion—something to at least point you in a direction.”

“I met Dr. Powers last night,” said Cate, focusing on her cinnamon roll. “He’s also the county coroner.”

“Hmmm. Well, that’s good. What did he think?”

With her mouth full, Cate looked up. Jane’s blue eagle-eyed gaze was fastened on her granddaughter. Cate recognized that intense look from her childhood. It meant she or Logan was in trouble, or else Jane had come up with a mission. Since Cate and Logan were now adults, she assumed Jane had stumbled across a new task for her group.

“He said it was female and possibly a teenager. He asked to see the dental records today and wants another look in better light.”

Jane massaged her hands, eyeing the lanky, bony fingers. “My arthritis has acted up this winter. Knitting is getting harder and harder. I wonder if he’d have some suggestions to help with the pain. I should make an appointment.”

Cate studied her grandmother’s hands, remembering how they could knead dough or whip through skeins of yarn. The knuckles were more pronounced than she remembered, and the skin was looser. Jane still sat straight as a pole and held her head proudly. Cate’s heart swelled with love. Jane had raised her and Logan. Their mother was flighty. Cate’s father had died soon after she was born, and Jane said her mother had never recovered. When Cate was ten, her mother had left her children behind and moved to Arizona for year-round sun.

Long ago Jane had said, “Don’t be angry with your mother. She never felt she belonged here. The islands never spoke to her heart; they aren’t for everyone. She needed to leave for her own mental health.”

But a small amount of resentment still simmered in Cate’s gut. What kind of mother abandons her kids? An immature one who acted like a rebellious teen instead of a responsible adult.

She suspected that Jane had stepped in and insisted that the children stay behind. She and Logan had grown up in a warm, loving home thanks to Jane.

“I didn’t realize your hands hurt,” Cate said.

“It’s nothing.” Jane tucked her hands under the table. “How’s that shoulder and head of yours healing?”

Hot Series
» Unfinished Hero series
» Colorado Mountain series
» Chaos series
» The Young Elites series
» Billionaires and Bridesmaids series
» Just One Day series
» Sinners on Tour series
» Manwhore series
» This Man series
» One Night series
Most Popular
» Close to the Bone (Widow's Island #1)
» A Bone to Pick (Widow's Island #2)
» Professor Feelgood (Masters of Love #2)
» Trailer Park Heart
» Once Upon a Sure Thing (Heartbreakers #2)
» Muffin Top (The Hartigans #2)
» Intercepted (Playbook #1)
» What If It's Us