Home > A Bone to Pick (Widow's Island #2)(8)

A Bone to Pick (Widow's Island #2)(8)
Author: Melinda Leigh

The high-pitched whine of a small motor cut through the air.

Tessa stopped. He was on a dirt bike or ATV. Leaning on her thighs, she caught her breath. The sound of the engine drew farther away. She rapped a fist against her leg.

Damn it.

She entered the woods. About twenty feet inside the tree line, she found ATV tracks. There was no way she could catch an ATV on foot. She went back out of the trees to the barn.

“Hey, Tessa! What’s wrong?” Jerry shouted as he ran out of the house and across the backyard toward her.

“There was someone inside,” she said. “Wait here.”

She slipped through the door, found a light switch, and flipped it. An overhead light turned on. She scanned the living room and kitchen. Sofa cushions were overturned. Drawers hung out of a small desk. Books littered the wide-planked wood floor.

The intruder had been busy.

She recovered her gun from the corner. Even knowing the intruder had fled, she systematically cleared the rooms anyway. The high-ceilinged space had been divided loft-style into a few large rooms. The living room and kitchen were one giant open space. The single bedroom had an attached bath. A large, sunny room served as an art studio. There was one more room next to it, where it appeared Dante stored his paint supplies and drying canvases. The bedroom and studio areas were tidy, so the intruder hadn’t finished his search.

Bruce was still tied up reviewing evidence. Kurt hadn’t called, which meant he was still on the mainland. Tessa pulled out her phone and dialed Logan’s number. He answered on the first ring.

“Are you busy?” Tessa asked.

“I was just going to call you and see if you needed help,” he said. “Murder investigations are your expertise, but the state park is my turf. I’d like to work with you on the case.”

“That’s perfect.” Tessa told him about the intruder at the barn.

Logan swore under his breath. “You’re not injured?”


“He was looking for something.”

“Seems like it.”

“I’ll be right there.” Logan ended the call.

She returned to the main room. The window in the eating nook overlooked the woods. She walked closer, noting the broken latch.

Jerry stood in the doorway. “Hey, Tessa. You’re bleeding.” He pointed at her leg.

A dark stain colored her uniform pants below the knee. She returned to the little porch, lowered herself to the front stoop, and rolled up her pants leg. Blood ran from a gash across her calf. The minute she saw the cut, her leg began to throb.

Tessa limped to her vehicle. On the way, she called Bruce, told him about the break-in, and gave him a description of the suspect. “Male, approximately five feet, ten inches tall, wearing jeans and a dark-colored leather jacket layered over a hoodie, possibly riding an ATV or motorcycle.”

“Do you want me to come out there?” he asked.

“Is Kurt back?”

“No. His daughter had a complication.”

That didn’t sound good.

“Then I need you to keep sorting through the evidence.” Tessa would not drag Kurt back if his family needed him. “I’ll manage.”

In Seattle, she would have issued a BOLO alert. Every patrol car would have been looking for the suspect. But she and Bruce were the only deputies on Widow’s Island today. She debated calling the ferry terminal and giving the operator a description of the man so they could keep him on the island, but she hadn’t seen his face. She wouldn’t recognize him if she saw him again. She doubted he’d ride up to the ferry terminal on a quad.

After opening the cargo area of her SUV, she unzipped the first aid kit. With her boot propped on the bumper, she applied a disinfectant wipe to her wound, breathing through the eye-watering sting. Then she covered the gash with a thick layer of gauze and bound her whole calf with an Ace bandage. She’d need a few stitches, but at least for now she wouldn’t bleed on the crime scene. She gathered the wrappers, removed her gloves, and stuffed the trash inside one of them.

When she set her foot on the ground, pain shot up her leg. For a wound she hadn’t known she’d had five minutes ago, it hurt like it was on fire.

Donning fresh gloves, she went back to the barn. She put her hands on her hips and scanned the mess.

“Tessa?” Logan’s voice called.

“In here,” she said.

Logan walked in. He’d showered and changed since the previous night. His face was freshly shaved, and he smelled good. Really good. Like fresh cedar and citrus.

Tessa resisted the urge to lean closer and inhale.

He’d think I was nuts.

She thought she was losing it.

This felt nothing like the innocent teenage crush she’d had on him. Their relationship dynamic had shifted, and the sniff she wanted to give him was nothing like the one she’d given Bruce. But then, she and Logan had both changed.

His gaze roamed over the room. “Looks like someone gave the place a good toss.”

More comfortable with the case than her sudden notice of Logan, she agreed. “It seems I interrupted him before he got to the bedroom or studio.”

“Do you know how he got in?”

“He jimmied the kitchen window.”


Tessa shook her head. “He was wearing gloves.”

“Assuming he was still inside because he hadn’t found what he was looking for, we should probably start in the rooms he didn’t have a chance to search.”

“Agreed.” Tessa limped into the master bedroom.

“What happened to your leg?”

“Just a cut. It’s not a big deal. I’ll stop and see Henry when we’re done here.”

Tessa started with the nightstand and dresser, checking in and under drawers and behind the furniture. They worked their way around the bedroom methodically. Logan lifted the mattress, then the box spring. He pulled the bed away from the wall and looked behind the headboard. In the closet, Tessa checked the pockets of coats and clothes.

Logan emerged from the bathroom. “So far, I don’t see anything unusual.”

Just inside the closet, a hamper overflowed with dirty clothes. Tessa began lifting pants and shirts and checking pockets. Underneath the dirty laundry, she found a duffel bag. She unzipped it. The bag was stuffed with bundles of cash, each bundle about an inch thick.

“Now this is interesting.” She crouched, picked up a bundle, and removed the rubber band. Fanning the bills, she whistled. “Mostly twenties, and there are a lot of them.” She did a rough count of the cash. “Looks like about three thousand in this stack.” She reached into the bag and flipped through the ends of a few more bundles. They seemed to be the same mix of bills. “Assuming the other stacks are about the same, there could be a hundred thousand dollars here.”

Logan’s brow rose. “Then he wasn’t a starving artist.”

“I doubt he made that much money painting landscapes of Widow’s Island.” Tessa rocked back on her heels. “No one except a major drug dealer would keep this much cash on hand. I wonder what Dante was up to.”

She set the duffel bag aside to be logged in to evidence, then stood and walked through the doorway into the studio. Light streamed in from a bay window. A chaise lounge stretched out in the patch of light that fell in front of the window.

Tessa turned in a circle. There were a dozen paintings lined up against one wall. An orca surfacing in the bay. Ruby’s Island in the center of a sparkling Widow’s Bay. Waves crashing on rocks below Widow’s Walk.

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