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Bones of the Lost

A Temperance Brennan Novel

Bones of the Lost by Kathy Reichs
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Heart pounding, I crawled toward the brick angling

down to form the edge of the recess. Craned out.

More footfalls. Then heavy boots appeared at the top of the stairs,

beside them a pair of small feet, one bare, the other in a platform pump.

The feet started to descend, the small ones wobbly, their owner

somehow impaired. The lower legs angled oddly, suggesting the

knees bore little weight.

Anger burned hot in my chest. The woman was drugged. The bastard

was dragging her.

Four treads lower, the man and woman crossed an arrow of moonlight.

Not a woman, a girl. Her hair was long, her arms and legs refugee

thin. I could see a triangle of white tee below the man’s chin. A

pistol grip jutting from his waistband.

The pair again passed into darkness. Their tightly pressed bodies

formed a two-headed black silhouette.

Stepping from the bottom tread, the man started muscling the

girl toward the loading-dock door, pushing her, a hand clamping

her neck. She stumbled. He yanked her up. Her head flopped like a

Bobblehead doll’s.

The girl took a few more staggering steps. Then her chin lifted and

her body bucked. A cry broke the stillness, animal shrill.

The man’s free arm shot out. The silhouette recongealed. I heard

a scream of pain, then the girl pitched forward onto the concrete.

The man dropped to one knee. His elbow pumped as he pummeled

the inert little body.

“Fight me, you little bitch?”

The man punched and punched until his breath grew ragged.

Rage flamed white-hot in my brain, overriding any instinct for

personal safety.

I scuttled over and grabbed the Beretta. Checked the safety, thankful

for the practice I’d put in at the range.

Satisfied with the gun, I reached for my phone. It wasn’t with the


I searched my other pocket. No phone.

Had I dropped it? In my frenzied dash, had I left it at home?

The panic was almost overwhelming. I was off the grid. What to do?

A tiny voice advised caution. Remain hidden. Wait. Slidell knows

where you are.

“You are so dead.” The voice boomed, cruel and malicious.

I whipped around.

The man was wrenching the girl up by her hair.

Holding the Beretta two-handed in front of me, I darted from

the alcove. The man froze at the sound of movement. I stopped five

yards from him. Using a pillar for cover, I spread my feet and leveled

the barrel.

“Let her go.” My shout reverberated off brick and concrete.

The man maintained his grasp on the girl’s hair. His back was to me.

“Hands up.”

He let go and straightened. His palms slowly rose to the level of

his ears.

“Turn around.”

As the man rotated, another fragment of light caught him. For a

second I saw his face with total clarity.

On spotting his foe, the man’s hands dipped slightly. Sensing he

could see me better than I could see him, I squeezed further behind

the pillar.

“The fucking slut lives.”

You’ll die, too, fucking slut.

“Takes balls to send threats by e-mail.” My voice sounded much

more confident than I felt. “To bully defenseless little girls.”

“Debt to pay? You know the rules.”

“Your debt-collecting days are over, you sick sonofabitch.”

“Says who?”

“Says a dozen cops racing here now.”

The man cupped an upraised hand to one ear. “I don’t hear no


“Move away from the girl,” I ordered.

He took a token step.

“Move,” I snarled. The guy’s fuck-you attitude was making me

want to smash the Beretta across his skull.

“Or what? You’re gonna shoot me?”

“Yeah.” Cold steel. “I’m gonna shoot you.”

Would I? I’d never fired at a human being.

Where the hell was Slidell? I knew my bluff was being sustained

by coffee and adrenaline. Knew both would eventually wear off.

The girl groaned.

In that split second I lost the advantage that might have allowed

him to live.

I looked down.

He lunged.

Fresh adrenaline blasted through me.

I raised the gun.

He closed in.

I sighted on the white triangle.


The explosion echoed brutally loud. The concussion knocked my

hands up, but I held position.

The man dropped.

In the murky gloom I saw the triangle go dark. Knew crimson was

spreading across it. A perfect hit. The Triangle of Death.

Silence, but for my own rasping breath.

Then my higher centers caught up with my brain stem.

I’d killed a man.

My hands shook. Bile filled my throat.

I swallowed. Steadied the gun and stole forward.

The girl lay motionless. I crouched and placed trembling fingers

on her throat. Felt a pulse, faint but steady.

I swiveled. Gazed at the man’s mute, malevolent eyes.

Suddenly I was exhausted. Revolted by what I’d just done.

I wondered. In my state, could I make good decisions? Carry

through? My phone was back at the house.

I wanted to sit, hold my head in my hands, and let the tears flow.

Instead I drew a few steadying breaths, rose, and crossed what

seemed a thousand miles of darkness. Climbed the stairs on rubbery


A single passage cut right at the top. I followed it to the only

closed door.

Gun tight in one clammy hand, I reached out and turned the knob

with the other.

The door swung in.

I stared into pure horror.

Scribner; August 2013
304 pages; ISBN 9781439112830
Download in secure EPUB
Title: Bones of the Lost
Author: Kathy Reichs
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