Today's Reading

The driver's-side door of the other truck opened, and Officer Arabella de Groot stepped out. She tilted her head and spoke Dutch into her shoulder mic, then yelled something in Papiamento to the two officers scurrying down the beach. Originally from the Netherlands, she'd been on the island police force for more than ten years and spoke at least three languages.

The two officers turned in her direction, listened intently, then nodded and continued for the shore. Probably new recruits. Had to be. They displayed a lot of enthusiasm. Maybe too much, considering what they were about to encounter.

Officer De Groot walked toward me, her blond ponytail bobbing from side to side in cadence with her strides. She stopped mere inches away. Her near six-foot stature should've allowed me to peer into her ocean-blue eyes, except for her pair of dark, curved sunglasses. The epaulets on her shoulders displayed a crown encircled by a wreath, along with a gold button, denoting her rank as Sergeant, or Brigadier. Usually when we were that close, one of us leaned in for a kiss. But she was in uniform. Any form of fondness ceased while on duty. We had both agreed to that. Her more so than me.

As always, the edges of her mouth were curved upward, ever so slightly, ready to break out in a smile or spontaneous laughter. She stared into my eyes, as if teasing me to afford her some level of affection. I held my ground and stared back. The breeze lashed at my shirt and pushed her ponytail sideways.

Neither of us leaned in.

"Hey, Conklin," she finally said, holding her vigil, but allowing a relaxed smile to cross her face. "What do we have?"

I took a breath, coming out of my trance, disappointed she was in uniform. "A leg washed ashore."

She stepped back and turned to survey the scene; eyebrows raised. "It is true, then. That was the call that came in, but we did not believe it. Thought it was a mistake. Or even a bad joke."

"It's Rulio's."

Her mouth gaped open for a moment. "Are you sure?"

I nodded.

"How can you be so—" She stopped talking. Her shoulders slumped and she tapped her index finger on her right thigh. "The tattoo."

"Yup. I was able to make out the outline. Faint, but it's there."

"Does Erika know?"

"It's a small island, so she might by now. But there's more."


"There's a piece of wire wrapped around the ankle."

She turned her head and eyed the area of beach where Rulio's leg swayed in the mild surf. "Oh mijn god."


Arabella and I walked across the street toward a ten-unit ma-and- pa-type hotel, the YellowRock Resort, which I owned, courtesy of my life savings and a large chunk of my pension. I lived in a small apartment upstairs, and Erika worked in the office on the first floor.

Whether purposeful or accidental, being a few years older than me, Erika often played the role of my big sister. I believe she enjoyed keeping me focused and pointing out the errors of my way every chance she got. Over the past five years, I had gotten used to it and didn't mind. I enjoyed having a big sister.

She was a great office manager, to boot, and kept the business organized and running smoothly.

The mechanical closer on the screen door stuck as we entered, forcing me to pull it shut with some extra force. It had been broken for several weeks, and, regardless of Erika's persistence on moving it to the top of my to-do list, I hadn't found the time—or ambition—to repair it.

She sat behind an old gray desk that could've come out of a 1960's secretarial pool, her yellow polo, embroidered with 'YellowRock Resort' on the upper left shoulder, deepening the tint of her dark skin.

Peering over black-rimmed glasses, she said, "Nice of you to come and help me at work today." A Bonaire native, and having lived on the island her entire life, Erika spoke English as a third, maybe fourth, language. As with most of the local population, her speech contained a hint of Dutch accent and reminded me of someone who always wanted to sound formal and correct. She pointed at the door. "You could fix that if you did not spend so much time in the water."

Based on her demeanor, I guessed Erika hadn't yet heard what had been found.

Arabella didn't make eye contact with Erika and went straight to my desk—another old, gray behemoth—and sat. She leaned back and stared at the dirty ceiling tiles, wiping the bottoms of her eyes. I could've told her from experience; those old ceiling tiles never held any answers.

Join the Library's Online Book Clubs and start receiving chapters from popular books in your daily email. Every day, Monday through Friday, we'll send you a portion of a book that takes only five minutes to read. Each Monday we begin a new book and by Friday you will have the chance to read 2 or 3 chapters, enough to know if it's a book you want to finish. You can read a wide variety of books including fiction, nonfiction, romance, business, teen and mystery books. Just give us your email address and five minutes a day, and we'll give you an exciting world of reading.

What our readers think...