Kathy ReichsBuy a Copy of this Book
STARED AT THE WOMAN FLYING THROUGH THE TREES. HER HEAD was forward, chin raised, arms flung backward like the tiny chrome goddess on the hood of a Rolls-Royce. But the tree lady was naked, and her body ended at the waist. Blood-coated leaves and branches imprisoned her lifeless torso. Lowering my eyes, I looked around. Except for the narrow gravel road on which I was parked, there was nothing but dense forest. The trees were mostly pine, the few hardwoods like wreaths marking the death of summer, their foliage every shade of red, orange, and yellow. Though it was hot in Charlotte, at this elevation the early October weather was pleasant. But it would soon grow cool. I took a wind-breaker from the backseat, stood still, and listened. Birdsong. Wind. The scurrying of a small animal. Then, in the distance, one man calling to another. A muffled response. Tying the jacket around my waist, I locked the car and set off toward the voices, my feet swishing through dead leaves and pine needles. Ten yards into the woods I passed a seated figure leaning against a mossy stone, knees flexed to his chest, laptop computer at his side. He was missing both arms, and a small china pitcher protruded from his left temple.
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