Home > A Bone to Pick (Widow's Island #2)(10)

A Bone to Pick (Widow's Island #2)(10)
Author: Melinda Leigh

“Maybe they were tourists.” Logan pulled a bookcase away from the wall and checked behind it.

“It seems Dante’s arrangements with Shannon Moore, Pam Rhodes, and the other two women were the same.” She looked up at him. “This is all on the up-and-up. There’s nothing subversive here. They weren’t sneaking around.”

“I’ll bet their husbands didn’t know.” Logan crossed his arms over his chest.

“We’ll have to interview them and find out.” Tessa tapped her finger on the desk. “There’s no contract for my mother’s painting.”

“Maybe we’ll find it somewhere else.”

“Maybe.” Tessa surveyed the room. “We’ll take the paintings, the invoices, and the cash with us as evidence.”

Tessa’s phone beeped. She read the display and pressed “Answer.” A minute later, she ended her call. “The medical examiner ID’d our body. Dante’s real name was Frank Martin. He was from New Jersey, and he was wanted for fraud. They haven’t found any next of kin yet.”

“So he was a con man.” Logan wasn’t surprised. The whole setup felt sleazy.

“Could be,” Tessa said. “Let’s talk to Jerry.”

Logan followed her out of the barn. Her limp was getting worse.

Jerry was leaning on a tree, his face turned up to the sky. The sun had broken through the clouds. Even the weak winter rays were appreciated.

“Jerry, did you know Dante’s name wasn’t really Dante?” Tessa stopped in a ray of sunlight.

“No way, really?” Jerry shook his head.

“His real name was Frank Martin. He was from Jersey.” Tessa winced and shifted her weight off her wounded leg.

“No shit?” Jerry barked out a laugh. “If I was Frank Martin from New Jersey, and I wanted to talk a bunch of rich women out of their clothes and their money, I’d have changed my name too.”

“You knew about the women?” Tessa asked.

“Sure.” Jerry nodded. “Dante could turn on the charm. He had a nice little enterprise going. You don’t think he could have actually made any real money painting lighthouses and crap like that?”

Tessa frowned. “Do you think there was more going on between Frank and the women than was strictly professional?”

“No.” Jerry shook his head. “He told me he wasn’t sleeping with them. That was the most beautiful thing about his plan. All he had to do was flatter them and tell them how beautiful they were. He was so good, he didn’t need to sleep with them to get their money.”

“He played them,” Logan said.

“Hey.” Jerry raised both palms to the sky. “He made them feel good about themselves. They would walk out of the barn beaming. They were so happy. What’s the harm in that?”

Logan thought there was plenty, though he couldn’t come up with any specific argument on the spot.

“I’ll need the key to the barn,” Tessa said.

Jerry handed it over.

“Thanks,” said Tessa. “If we have more questions, we’ll call you.”

She returned to her vehicle and found a roll of crime scene tape.

“I’ll seal the door.” Logan went back to the barn and fastened the tape across the entrance.

“We need to talk to Pam Rhodes and Shannon Moore and their husbands.”

“After Henry takes a look at your leg,” Logan said.

She sighed. “Fine.”

They dropped the evidence at the sheriff’s station, then made a detour to Henry’s office. The office was empty when Tessa limped into the waiting room and eased into a plastic chair.

Logan stepped up to the reception counter and called out, “Hello?”

Henry walked out from the back room. At one o’clock in the afternoon, the office was closed for lunch. His nurse, Julie, would be having her lunch with Bruce.

“I know it’s your lunch hour, but I cut myself,” Tessa said.

“Come on back.” Henry gestured toward the doorway that led to the exam rooms. “I just spoke with the regional medical examiner. You might want to come in too, Logan.” Henry paused. “As long as Tessa doesn’t mind.”

“Not at all.” Tessa hobbled down the hallway.

“First door on the right.” Henry pointed.

Logan followed Tessa and Henry into a small room. Tessa hopped up on the table and rolled up her pants leg. Blood had seeped through the Ace bandage wrapped around her calf.

Henry put on gloves and removed the bandage. He adjusted an overhead task light. “Do you know what you cut it on?”

“A nail.” Tessa leaned back on her hands.

Henry sized up the wound. “I’ll give you an antibiotic injection along with a tetanus shot.” He took a vial from the cabinet and drew clear liquid into a syringe. “This is a local anesthetic.”

Tessa didn’t flinch as Henry injected liquid in several locations around the wound, but her fingers curled around the edges of the table.

“The ME said he would be calling you next, Tessa.” Henry gathered supplies and laid them out on a sterile cloth. Then he cleaned and disinfected the cut. “There weren’t any major revelations during the autopsy. The harpoon nicked the aorta. He bled to death.”

“You had that spot on,” Tessa said as the doctor started the first suture.

Henry tied off a stitch. “You know about his real identity?”

“We just found out,” Logan said. “Did you ever treat him?”

Henry shook his head. “He never came into the office while I was here. I checked the patient files but found nothing in his name.” Henry snipped a thread, applied a bandage, and taped it into place. “Finished. Only five stitches.”

“Thank you, Henry.” Tessa rolled down her pants leg.

“If I told you to stay off your leg, would I be wasting my breath?” Henry removed his gloves.

“Yes.”

“Thought so.” Henry smiled. “In that case, keep the wound clean and covered. Come back in seven days so I can remove the stitches.”

“Thank you.” Tessa led the way out of the doctor’s office.

Logan followed her outside.

“Why don’t we leave your truck here?” she asked. “We can pick it up later. Seems silly to follow each other around in separate vehicles all day.”

“Are you sure you want to drive?” Logan asked, nodding at her leg.

“It’s my left leg. Not a problem.”

“All right.” Logan climbed into the passenger seat of her patrol SUV. “While you drive, I’ll see what I can find out about those other two women in the paintings. Where do you want to go first?”

Tessa drove out of the lot. “The Naked Sheep Winery is the closest. Let’s talk to Shannon and Brad Moore.”

The winery was on the east side of the island. They drove out of town and into the rolling hills. By the time they arrived at the winery, Logan had determined that both of the tourists Dante had painted were currently in Seattle and had strong alibis. “They’re off our suspect list for now.”

“That leaves Shannon and Pam and their husbands.” Tessa parked in front of the winery’s office. The vineyards stretched out behind the quaint white building.

“How does the leg feel?” Logan watched Tessa climb out of the driver’s seat.

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