Home > Close to the Bone (Widow's Island #1)(4)

Close to the Bone (Widow's Island #1)(4)
Author: Kendra Elliot

“Not that I’d heard.” They shared everything. Why would Samantha keep a secret from us?

“There’s no way I can sneak out tonight,” admitted Tessa. “We’ll have to make her tell us tomorrow.”

Cate glanced down the hall as Samantha stopped to talk to two other girls. Is our friendship developing cracks?

She hoped not. Samantha and Tessa were the sisters she’d never had. “Yeah, she’ll tell us tomorrow.”

Cate and Tessa never saw her again.

Cate caught her breath. The memory had surged through her brain as she’d traipsed through the Ruby’s Island woods behind Dustin Conan, nearly making her stumble.

Are the bones Samantha’s?

Cate had stood behind Tessa, listening closely as the deputy and Henry had knelt next to the skull, carefully exposing a few more bones and murmuring to each other. Some hair had been present with the bones. The length was about right, but no one could be certain about the color; it matched the dirt. Tessa had pointed out that vermin had been at work. Gnaw marks were apparent on some of the bigger bones, and several finger bones were missing. Most of the clothing had disintegrated except for the coat and tennis shoes.

Both women had stared at the Nikes. Did Samantha wear that style?

Neither could remember.

She and Henry had been reluctant to leave the skeleton before it was removed, but Dustin had been antsy, and Cate knew Rex Conan was the first person she needed to interview.

The path they followed was like a deer track. Barely visible. If Dustin hadn’t been leading them, Cate would have never found the way. Well, that wasn’t quite true. All she needed to do was head north, and she’d eventually come out on the other side of the tiny island.

She pushed a wet branch out of her way, careful not to let it slap back on Henry behind her.

“Thanks,” he said as he put a hand on the branch. “Have you been on this island before?”

“Of course. Everyone parties on that beach at some point in high school. Or visits the lighthouse, hoping to see the ghost.”

“Oh, yeah. I’ve heard about the ghost.”

“We play it up for the tourists,” Cate admitted. “A little island lore to make them curious.”

Henry laughed, and it lightened her sad heart.

“What else do you tell tourists?” he asked. “Now I’m wondering how much I’ve been told is true.”

“Have you heard that Camilla Bishop haunts the old Bishop mansion on Widow’s?”

“No. I did hear that Camilla’s husband, Elias, and his lover, Ruby, haunt the Widow’s Walk,” he answered.

“That’s correct, but I haven’t seen those ghosts at the Walk. If they reveal themselves to anyone, it should be me.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’m a descendant of Ruby and Elias Bishop,” she said simply as she glanced over her shoulder. In the light of his flashlight, she saw his eyebrows rise.

Yep. A descendant from their affair.

“You’re related to Elias Bishop?”

“Yes. So are my grandmother and mother,” she answered in a teasing tone. “He was my great-great-grandfather.”

“He’s the biggest historical figure around here.”


“I’ve toured his little museum in the old hotel,” said Henry. “He was quite the entrepreneur. Not everyone decides to build ships for the navy and becomes successful at it.”

“Most of his fortune went to Camilla after he died. That’s always the next question people ask. ‘How rich are you?’”

“I bet that is annoying.”

“Drove me crazy growing up. That and the fact that people can’t get over that he was cheating on Camilla when he died.”

“Even I’ve heard about that huge scandal in the island’s history,” Henry said. “In the last hundred years, nothing else happened here to compete with the story?”

“Nope. The fact that Elias left Camilla and had a child with his lover, Ruby, will always take first place. The names of our four islands won’t let anyone forget.”

“I understand why three of the islands are named for the people in that love triangle, but where does the name Widow’s Island come from?”

“Originally it was because of Camilla. She remained a widow until she died of old age.” Cate paused and looked at Henry. “You’ve probably noticed we have an unusual number of widows on the island.”

Henry blinked. “I’ve had many more older single female patients than married ones.”

Cate bit the inside of her cheek as she nodded solemnly. “Married men have an awfully short life span on Widow’s Island.”

He stared at her, and she knew he wanted to ask if she was joking.

“You’ll see that it’s true.” She fought to keep a serious look on her face.

They hiked in silence for another minute.

“So how does it feel to be on an island that was named after your ancestor?” he asked.

Cate was silent, not wanting to sound like a freak. That little electrical pulse in my spine . . . “Can’t say I feel anything. The island was sold out of the family line years ago.”

“Almost there,” Dustin announced. He glanced back at Cate. “My uncle’s mansion used to belong to your family?”

“Elias Bishop built a small home for Ruby where the mansion now stands. The home was in ruins when your uncle bought the island.”

“Yeah, not many people can buy an island,” Dustin said in a flat voice. “But when every book you write hits the New York Times number one slot for thirty years, I guess it’s easy.”

Well now. There’s a bit of jealousy in the family.

“There it is,” said Dustin as they emerged from the woods and found themselves at the top of a cliff, looking down at the mansion.

The sky had grown lighter as they’d hiked north, but it wasn’t time for sunrise. Now she saw that every outdoor light at the mansion was on. It glowed from its hillside perch halfway down to the water.

“Wow.” Henry stepped beside her. “I’ve seen the home from Widow’s Island across the water, but up close it seems ten times bigger.”

Cate had to agree. She’d never viewed the home from such a high angle. The mansion was protected from south winds by the steep cliff, and the front of the home faced Widow’s Island. A wood-and-metal staircase zigzagged down the face of the cliff to the home. Dustin headed toward the top of the stairs. As they carefully moved down the steps, Cate stole glances at the home. She couldn’t imagine the years of work it had taken to build. Every square inch had been delivered by boat.

The home could have been transplanted from a beachfront in New England. It was a gigantic gray craftsman with weathered shingles, a wraparound deck, multiple gables, and an assortment of large bay windows. The rooflines were steep, and she counted three stone chimneys. Huge river rocks covered the foundation. They wouldn’t have come from the island; someone had physically brought each one.

She couldn’t estimate the staggering cost.

Farther down at the water’s edge was a covered boat dock and small marina. There was no use for a garage or a car on Ruby’s Island. No doubt Rex stored vehicles at one of the larger marinas on Widow’s.

“The home is stunning in the summer,” Cate commented, remembering the multiple times she’d passed by the house on a boat, staring hungrily at the beautiful home.

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