April Henry masterminds another edge-of-your-seat thriller in this much-anticipated sequel to Girl, Stolen.
Six months ago, Griffin Sawyer meant to steal a car, but he never meant to steal the girl asleep in the backseat. Panicked, he took her home. His father, Roy, decided to hold Cheyenne—who is blind—for ransom. Griffin helped her escape, and now Roy is awaiting trial. As they prepare to testify, Griffin and Cheyenne reconnect and make plans to meet. But the plan goes wrong and Cheyenne gets captured by Roy’s henchmen—this time for the kill. Can Cheyenne free herself? And is Griffin a pawn or a player in this deadly chase?
April Henry masterminds another edge-of-your-seat thriller in Count All Her Bones.
This title has Common Core connections.
A Christy Ottaviano Book
About the Author
April Henry is the New York Times bestselling author of many acclaimed mysteries for adults and young adults, including the YA novels Girl, Stolen and The Night She Disappeared and the thriller Face of Betrayal, co-authored with Lis Wiehl. She lives in Oregon.
Read an Excerpt
Count All Her Bones
By April Henry
Henry Holt and CompanyCopyright © 2017 April Henry
All rights reserved.
THE TERROR, THE BRAVERY
"We only have ten days until the trial starts," Matthew Bennett said. "Do you feel ready?"
Cheyenne Wilder nodded. She heard the Multnomah County prosecutor sigh.
"When we're in court, please remember to answer out loud. All testimony is recorded."
"Okay." Cheyenne swallowed. Even though this was just practice in Mr. Bennett's office, her tongue felt too big for her mouth. What was it going to be like in the witness stand in a crowded courtroom?
She was glad he had made everyone else stay in the waiting room: Danielle; her dad, Nick; and even Jaydra, who now accompanied Cheyenne every time she left the house.
Jaydra, her bodyguard. Her keeper. Her dad said it was just until attention died down. What if someone else got it into their head to kidnap her, knowing he had already paid a million for her once?
"And keep your hands away from your mouth," Mr. Bennett said. "You need to speak clearly. The juror farthest from you should be able to hear every syllable."
Cheyenne started to nod, then caught herself. "Yes. Okay."
"And be sure not to chew gum." He hesitated. "Although, hmm, it could make you look younger. Let me think about it."
She straightened up. "Why would I want to look younger?" Because she was only five foot two, Cheyenne always sat and stood tall. She wore makeup, knowing it made her look older.
"We want the jury's sympathy." His voice firmed. "Ask your mom to pick out something that makes you look younger. Maybe something pink or with ruffles."
Cheyenne didn't bother telling him she didn't own anything like that. Or that Danielle was her stepmom and certainly didn't pick out her clothes. She had already figured out this was a one-way conversation. Mr. Bennett wanted the jury to look at her and think she was helpless. Incapable. That she was a victim.
She hated that word.
"It's a fine line," he continued. "We want the jury to feel for you, but we also want them to trust every word you say. Initially, I'm going to take you through what happened, step by step. How you were kidnapped, how you escaped. I want them to feel the same things you did those three days. The terror of your kidnapping, the bravery of your escape."
Cheyenne hadn't felt brave, though. She shivered at the memory of running through the woods at night. Branches clawing her face. Tree roots tripping her up. Then it started to snow, adding the horrible knowledge that she must be leaving behind footprints.
"When it's the opposing counsel's turn to cross-examine you, he might ask if we've met before. It's fine to say yes. Just say I told you to tell the truth. If you tell the truth and tell it accurately, Wheeler can't cross you up. Never guess or make up an answer. If you don't know or don't remember, just say that. Answer only the exact question and then stop. For example, if I asked you how old you are, you would just say sixteen. You wouldn't tell me the time of day you were born or the name of the hospital. Don't volunteer anything."
"Okay." Cheyenne wanted to correct him, to say she would turn seventeen the day before the trial started, but Mr. Bennett didn't like interruptions. Her stomach felt queasy. What if she messed something up? What if Roy walked free? She remembered how he had howled her name as he did his best to kill her.
"That's another thing we might as well start practicing. Say 'yes, sir,' and 'no, sir,' to me and to Mr. Wheeler. If you speak to the judge, say 'Your Honor.' And no joking around or getting agitated, even if you're feeling nervous. I'm not just talking about when you're on the stand. You need to keep it together at all times, even if you have an unexpected interaction in the hallway or outside the courthouse. Your behavior could be observed and factored into the jury's decision."
Interaction in the hallway. "Are you saying I might run into Griffin?" Her stomach twisted again. She pressed her fingers to her lips.
He touched her shoulder. The surprise of it, coming out of nowhere like that, made her jerk back.
"You don't need to worry. We'll make sure he never gets anywhere near you. And you've got Ms. Hamilton to protect you, of course." He meant Jaydra.
"Have you talked to him? To Griffin?" Cheyenne managed to sound like she didn't care.
"Yes. He's in town now. We've met several times to discuss his testimony."
Her heart sped up.
"He's the one who really has to worry, not you. Wheeler's going to focus on him like a laser. He'll try to get under his skin, make him lash out. He'll argue Griffin's the one who kidnapped you. Not his father."
"But it was an accident." Cheyenne didn't know who had been more surprised when each of them figured out the other was in the car. "Griffin was just trying to steal the Escalade, not me. He saw Danielle's keys, but he didn't notice me because I was lying down in the back. And he was going to let me go. It was his father's idea to ask for the money."
Mr. Bennett made a humming noise. "We only have Griffin's word for what he would have done. James Hixon is dead, and Thomas Meadors is in a mental hospital. And even though Griffin freely admitted stealing the car, I'm sure Wheeler's going to make a big deal about his plea bargain. He'll probably claim Griffin is lying about his father's involvement in exchange for not being sent to prison as an adult." He sighed. "Wheeler's going to eat him alive on cross."
Cheyenne must have made some small sound of protest because Mr. Bennett added, "I doubt he's going to ask much of you, since the jury will see you sympathetically. The one thing he might focus on is whether you're really capable of identifying Roy as the man who told your father to pay him five million dollars or else he would send you back in pieces. He's going to say it's impossible to identify someone by only voice or scent."
"I'm blind," Cheyenne said, "not stupid. Sir."CHAPTER 2
If it weren't for Cheyenne Wilder, Roy Sawyer wouldn't have been lying on the top bunk in a Multnomah County Jail cell. A cell the size of a bathroom, which he shared with a guy named Tiny. Who obviously wasn't.
Twenty-one minutes before lights-on, Roy lay curled under a blanket the color and softness of a burlap sack, trying to ignore Tiny's snores. Tap-tap-tapping on a phone. It was a smartphone that could go online, but Roy was even smarter. First was the fact he had a phone at all. He had sweet-talked it out of the new nurse, Alice, who had taken a fancy to him.
Second, Roy never actually sent any e-mail on it, even though he and his half brother shared an account. Is everything ready? He saved the message in the drafts folder and waited for Dwayne to read it. Once he did, Dwayne would hit the delete key.
Poof! Roy's words would be gone. Leaving no record of what had been said. What had been planned.
Then Dwayne would write his own message and save it as a draft. Which Roy would then read and delete. And so on, back and forth. A whole conversation in invisible ink.
While Roy waited for Dwayne's reply, he watched the spider on the ceiling two feet above him busily tending her web. She had set up shop a week earlier, and since then she had provided him with hours of entertainment. The spider was the first nonhuman living thing he had seen in six months.
At home, he worked outside stripping stolen cars, or in a barn with the doors standing open. Hawks wheeled overhead. At night, coyotes yipped in the woods. When Roy was arrested, it had been winter. Now everything would be in bloom, bursting with life. He was still stuck in here.
Roy checked the time. Nineteen minutes left. Just before lights-on, he would slip the phone inside a sock and tuck it in his briefs. He worked on the jail's laundry crew, so he made sure he always got the baggiest pants.
Alice had also gotten him a charger, but there were no electrical outlets inside cells. The dayroom had outlets, but it was far too open. However, the laundry room had several that could be hidden behind stacks of neatly folded uniforms.
In a few minutes, he would roll out of his bunk, pull on blue scrubs over the pink-dyed T-shirt and briefs he was already wearing. Yank on pink tube socks and stuff his feet into plastic shower shoes. The end result was that he looked more or less like everyone else. But even prison couldn't take away his tattoos. An eagle. A snake. Satan riding a Harley. Barbed wire around a heart on his biceps that also read Janie in flowing script. This one had caught Alice's eye. She thought it was romantic.
He even had a spider tattoo, but it was of a tarantula, not a house spider like the one above his head. His spider had delicate striped legs and a fat brown belly speckled with black.
The bunk groaned as Tiny rolled over. The jail held more than five hundred people — snoring, farting, mumbling, and bickering. For most, it was catch and release. Others, like Roy, were awaiting trial. Afterward, he would go to state prison, a place he had resolved never to go. When he got out, he would be an old man.
And what happened hadn't even been his fault. It was his boy, Griffin, who brought Cheyenne home. Roy didn't plan it. Didn't ask for it. But when the radio said this girl was the daughter of Nike's president, well, who wouldn't want a little something for her safe return? Like finding a lost cell phone and getting a reward for giving it back. He hadn't touched a hair on her head, Roy thought as he watched the spider delicately wrap up a tiny fly.
The same couldn't be said for Cheyenne. She had pressed a gun against his side and pulled the trigger. Taken out a chunk of meat just above his hip that still ached every time he lifted a load of wet uniforms. And even though she was blind, she managed to run Roy over with his own car. Now he walked with a limp.
Of course, she hadn't gotten in any trouble. No, it was Roy who was sitting here. And Griffin was walking around free. When the dummy was the one to take the girl in the first place. But he was going to get up on the stand and point his finger, run his mouth, spill his guts.
After Janie was gone, Roy had tried to raise the boy right, but obviously he'd failed. Didn't loyalty count for anything anymore? Didn't family? Dwayne wasn't even his full-blood brother, but he was willing to do whatever it took to help Roy get out of this place. Help when Roy's own son had turned against him.
Griffin. Every time Roy looked at him, he saw the boy's mother in the stubborn set of his mouth, in his dark, challenging eyes. When Griffin found out his mom was dead rather than gone, it must have turned him against Roy. And it didn't help that he had taken a fancy to Cheyenne. As if a girl like that would ever care about a guy like him.
Saw our friend in cuckoo's nest, Dwayne's last message had read. He meant TJ, who once worked for Roy. Even though he was dumber than a box of hammers, TJ had been good with tools.
TJ had been fascinated by Cheyenne. She was a little thing, even shorter than TJ. Dark curly hair, brown staring eyes. Eyes that couldn't see TJ's stupid face. Couldn't see anything.
Now TJ was in the state mental hospital, where they had filmed One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
The file flickered as it was replaced. When Roy opened it again, his words had been deleted and exchanged for Dwayne's. He'll be flying free Friday. It's time for the next step bro. Ready Freddy?
Roy took a deep breath and deleted his brother's words. His finger hesitated over the tiny keyboard. Once he pulled the trigger, there would be no going back.
It was too risky to try to escape. So he had decided to go with plan B. Make it look like the girl had run away. Without her to testify, the case would be dismissed.
But how to get to her? She had a guide dog, which Dwayne reported looked pretty tame, but still. Worse, she was accompanied by a bodyguard every time she left the house. To add insult to injury, she even had Duke in her yard, behind one of those invisible fences. Duke had once been Roy's dog.
Just like Griffin was his son. At least according to Janie. But family couldn't be a one-way street. Especially when there was a chance to kill two birds with one stone. So to speak. He began to peck out an answer.
Some choices were hard. Maybe even wrong. But they still had to be made.
Roy looked over what he had just written. After a long moment, he pressed Save.
And then he reached up with his thumb and smashed the spider against the ceiling.CHAPTER 3
Dressed in the suit Aunt Debby had bought six months ago for his first hearing, Griffin Sawyer walked out of the bathroom at the Stay-A-While Motel.
"You've grown," Debby said. The fingers of one hand twisted through her short, dark hair. Griffin's mom, Janie, had had the same anxious habit her sister did, only her hair had been a reddish-brown waterfall to her waist.
Had he grown? He looked down. His ankles were sticking out the ends of his pants. He remembered Debby's whole family watching some awards show with pretty-boy actors on an actual red carpet. "Isn't this how guys wear suits now? Short and kind of tight?"
"Not that short and tight." She sighed. "We'll need to get you a new suit before we meet with Mr. Bennett tomorrow. We can swing by Nordstrom's Rack on the way. Put on your regular clothes. After I take a shower, we'll go get dinner."
Great. The suit would be one more thing he would owe his aunt. After changing, he traded places with her. When the shower started, Griffin stepped outside and lit a cigarette from his hidden pack. Knowing she would probably smell it on him, but telling himself he didn't really care.
Debby hated smoking. It reminded her of his dad. Roy. She didn't get that smoking could calm you. How it gave you something to do with your hands, a place to look, an excuse to turn away every time you exhaled. How it made you feel cooler and also harder.
Cheyenne hadn't liked cigarettes either. Griffin remembered how she had yelled at him, saying he was not allowed to smoke in her stepmom's car. His lips quirked at the memory. As if it didn't matter she was tied up with her own shoelaces in the back of the car.
She was more free tied up than Griffin had ever been just walking around.
But somehow, being around her had made him more free. With Cheyenne, he became a different person. Smarter. Braver. Brave enough to risk helping her escape.
He kicked an empty McDonald's cup and sent it rolling across the parking lot. His life was so much better now. Wasn't it? That's what everyone kept telling him. He lived with Aunt Debby and Uncle Jeff in Chicago, not with a dad who ran an illegal chop shop and who'd hit you as soon as look at you. And Debby loved him. At least she said she did. Maybe it had been easier to love Griffin when he was eight, which was the last time they had seen each other until six months ago.
So why was he still screwing up? In a few weeks, unless he managed to snag the mail first, Debby would get his report card and realize he'd flunked all his classes, mostly because he had just stopped going.
At his new school, he'd gotten lost in the shuffle. Everyone there had problems. Pregnant girls and drug addicts and kids who were both. Griffin wasn't the only one who struggled with reading, or was more than a year behind in school, or caught up in the justice system. Even the teachers were screw-ups. They left only a couple of messages about his absences, which he erased before Debby heard them.
Every day it took more and more effort to go, until finally he just stopped walking in the front doors and started walking around the city instead, his little sketchbook in his back pocket. He sketched people he saw — a young mom holding a sleeping baby, an old drunk stretched out on a park bench, a guy walking five tiny dogs.
Excerpted from Count All Her Bones by April Henry. Copyright © 2017 April Henry. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1. The Terror, the Bravery,
Chapter 2. Plan B,
Chapter 3. You've Grown,
Chapter 4. Supposed to Be the Victim,
Chapter 5. Building the Girl Piece by Piece,
Chapter 6. Fly Under the Radar,
Chapter 7. Such a Final Word,
Chapter 8. One Chance,
Chapter 9. Physical Problems with Physical Solutions,
Chapter 10. Shut Up for Good,
Chapter 11. Any Stranger,
Chapter 12. 3-D World,
Chapter 13. Just Do It,
Chapter 14. Strangers' Bones,
Chapter 15. Here and Gone,
Chapter 16. You Know What to Do,
Chapter 17. Impossible,
Chapter 18. The Only Thing That Matters,
Chapter 19. Another Victim,
Chapter 20. Run Away Screaming,
Chapter 21. Make a Killing,
Chapter 22. Let's See Just How Loud You Can Scream,
Chapter 23. Jumble of Anger and Disappointment,
Chapter 24. You Have to Get Your Hands Dirty,
Chapter 25. Count All Her Bones,
Chapter 26. Careful What You Ask For,
Chapter 27. Too Late for You,
Chapter 28. Plead, Pray, Moan, and Sometimes Scream,
Chapter 29. Into the Inferno,
Chapter 30. Can't Die Like This,
Chapter 31. Blood Everywhere,
Chapter 32. All Alone,
Chapter 33. More Than Scars,
Chapter 34. Never Wavering,
Chapter 35. Beautiful,
Chapter 36. With You,
Also by April Henry,
Honors for April Henry,
About the Author,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The all-star cast of characters from GIRL, STOLEN is back! Author April Henry returns to Cheyenne's story to let readers know what happens next. Several years ago Cheyenne and her mother were in an accident that left her mother dead and Cheyenne blind. Not long after the tragedy, Cheyenne was mistakenly kidnapped when the family car was stolen with Cheyenne sleeping in the backseat. Griffin Sawyer stole the car for his father's chop shop, but when it's discovered that the daughter of the head of Nike is part of the package, Griffin's father, Roy, decides to demand a ransom. Cheyenne is ultimately rescued and Roy is sent to prison. COUNT ALL HER BONES picks up with the start of Roy's trial. Cheyenne and Griffin are scheduled to testify, but Cheyenne's trusting nature results in a second kidnapping. Readers will be on the edge of their seats as the imprisoned Roy sets a complicated plan into motion. Will Cheyenne's self-defense training pay off? Is Griffin part of the new plot or is he also a victim? COUNT ALL HER BONES is a must read for fans of April Henry. A big thank you from this reader for letting us know what happens next.
I would definitely recommend this book!