Bred in the Bone (Widow's Island #4) - Kendra Elliot


“What kind of person doesn’t stop?” muttered Cate.

“The kind who was too impaired to notice or too scared to face the consequences of killing a man,” answered Tessa as she watched Henry kneel beside the hit-and-run victim.

FBI special agent Cate Wilde looked away from the dead man, fighting to keep her stomach calm and her anger in check. County deputy Tessa Black appeared composed and centered as she and two other deputies handled the death scene in the middle of the rural island road.

The victim had been struck by a vehicle and either knocked or dragged thirty feet from his mangled bicycle. Deputy Bruce Taylor was taking dozens of photos while Tessa and Deputy Kurt Olson analyzed the scene.

Cate and Henry had been enjoying a chilly but romantic hike up to the Crone Mountain lookout when Henry had been called to the accident. As Widow’s Island’s only doctor, Henry Powers was also the coroner—a position he hadn’t expected when he’d bought the medical practice on the island earlier that year.

“There are no skid marks,” continued Tessa. “To me that means an impaired driver is more likely the cause. And since there are no more ferries today, the vehicle is still on the island.”

Wrapping her coat tighter against the cold, Cate glanced at the lowering December sun. They’d soon be out of light to search for the deadly vehicle.

Not my case.

It wasn’t. She had accompanied Henry as an observer. This death was firmly in the county sheriff’s department’s hands.

“Anyone know him?” Henry asked as he checked the victim’s limbs for ease of movement.

“Brad Gill,” Kurt stated simultaneously with Tessa.

Everyone knew everyone on the sparsely populated island in the Pacific Northwest. Kurt, Tessa, and Cate had all been raised on Widow’s Island. Henry was the newcomer from Southern California, and Bruce was a recent transplant from Oregon.

“Why would he ride a bike on a winding road with no shoulder?” asked Henry.

“Lost his license,” said Kurt. “I can’t tell you how many times he’s been brought in for DUI. Looks like following the rules cost him his life this time.” The graying deputy was grim.

The irony made Cate wince.

“He wasn’t the nicest guy,” Kurt said, earning a curious raised brow from Henry.

“You’re being kind,” said Tessa. “He was a jerk. The type who enjoyed pissing off everyone. Most people avoided him.”

“The accident was recent,” Henry said quickly. Cate suspected he was tactfully changing the conversation’s direction. “Some of the blood is still wet, and there’s no sign that rigor has started.”

“This road is very quiet,” said Cate. “But it does have some traffic.”

“Clearly.” Kurt’s tone was flat. “I’ll have Bruce check the vehicles leaving on tomorrow’s ferry. The damage caused by this accident should be obvious.”

“Someone is going to have a shitty Christmas in a couple weeks,” Henry said. He’d stood but continued to study Brad Gill’s contorted body.

Cate saw Tessa and Kurt exchange a look at Henry’s comment. “What is it?” she asked.

“Brad was estranged from his father,” Kurt said. “There are no other relatives around that I know of. The two of them had words every time they bumped into each other in town. We were called to separate them several times.”

“What was the issue?” asked Henry.

“That basically Brad was a lousy excuse for a human being,” said Tessa. “A lotta anger between them.” She sighed. “Jon Gill’s home will be my first visit.”

“Wait a minute.” The name had set off bells in Cate’s brain. “Jon Gill is the guy we wanted to talk to about Samantha. He used to own the orchard where her necklace was found.”

Tessa blinked as a dozen emotions flickered across her face, and she touched the small pendant at her neck.

Twenty years ago the third member of Cate and Tessa’s teenage trio, Samantha Bishop, had vanished, her coat left at the top of the deadly Widow’s Walk. The police investigation had never determined if she’d jumped from the high cliff, been kidnapped, or simply left the island. But Cate and Tessa knew their best friend would have never disappeared on purpose without telling them first.

A few days ago, Tessa had found Samantha’s necklace in the orchard’s pump house. Cate’s grandmother had given the three girls each a necklace with a portion of a heart that said “Sisters” on the back. Cate and Tessa had already decided to take another look into the cold case of Samantha’s disappearance, but the discovery of the necklace had opened up a fresh lead in their personal investigation.

Had Samantha been held in