case had been--WAS, maddening. Five good clues that didn't add up to
a damn thing in any sense of logic: a battered copy of The
Sutra, a bag of Legos, a melted
beeswax candle, fifteen left
sneakers and a small dead, dried guppy.
of them had clear
prints--that weren't in any of the databases. All of them a first
glance SEEMED to be second-hand garbage, fished out of trash or
dumpsters around Vegas. But they had been recovered from the Topsy
Turvy's hotel vault using a key found clutched in a slaughtered man's
hand as he dangled head first from a 200 foot overpass on the Vegas
rubbed his eyes and felt the ache in the
small of his back. He'd pushed the team hard on this one, wracking
everyone's brains and getting on their nerves until in a private
moment, Catherine had glared at him.
are ALL doing
the best we can, so back off a little, all right?"
our best isn't getting the job done, Catherine. We're no further now
than we were two days ago!"
it--eventually," she tried to assure him, but he'd growled at
isn't good enough, damn it!"
she'd looked at him with that slow impatient scorn of hers, the kind
that made most men quiver. Catherine had let the words fly, low and
direct, her voice harsh.
damn it--you know Gris, you
really, REALLY need to get laid--" she'd thrown at him before
stared at the file before him after that,
face red, unseeing, feeling the hot flush of shameful realization
move through his system.
was true. He'd kept his distance
from Sara, put his focus back on the job and the status quo as they'd
agreed. The arrangement had worked--or so he thought. Six weeks of
concentration of cases had been good up until this last one, when the
edges of his frayed patience had begun to unravel with a swiftness
that startled everyone including himself. And the hell of it was that
he knew it had been coming.
was the consummate
professional at work. She kept her distance and her smiles were very
PC. Only once in a while would he look up to see a flash of dark heat
in those brown eyes, a smoldering hint that stirred his libido and
made him suck in a breath as memories stiffened his cock. Those
little moments drove him back to his office, to brood.
cell phone rang; impatiently he fished it out and flicked it open,
his voice terse.
can't come in this weekend. I have a shipment of furniture coming
from my old storage unit in San Francisco and I've got to find some
place to park it."
paused, looking through the
glass walls of his office to see Sara standing there on the other
side, her long slender back pressed against the clear panes. He
leaned back in his chair.
looking for storage?"
he echoed, mind racing. He watched Sara nod instead of replying,
amused that she knew he was looking at her spine.
was supposed to have a place
rented for it by now, but I've been-busy--" she responded, her
voice surprisingly gentle. Grissom had enough grace to bite his lower
lip. He got up and walked towards her, standing on the other side of
the glass wall, looking at the back of her neck as he spoke into his
phone."I have--a solution."
me more--" she arched an eyebrow at
him. He shoved a hand in his pocket, voice dropping lower.
got a place you can use--it's empty right now, but--"
took a step back from the glass as a tech passed by, then shot a
quick look back at Grissom, who was watching her face carefully. "--A
place to store furniture? You ARE a man of surprises, Gris. What sort
of place are we talking about?"
of Sahara, west
of the fifteen. There's a little road about ten miles out--Caliente
Way. Turn north and you'll see a few houses. The fourth one about
eight miles down is set back from the road by a gravel driveway.
10867 Caliente Way."
stared first at him, then at
the phone, clearly puzzled, but a small smirk was lingering on the
corner of her mouth, and seeing it, Grissom felt a shiver of hope
filter through him.
me get this straight--you're
offering me the opportunity to store my furniture in somebody's
not quite. It's--complicated. But the
place is empty, and if you're in a jam time-wise, it's available. I
need to go out and check the circuit breakers after work
tried not to make his voice sound
anything other than casual, but Sara leaned toward the glass wall and
in a sultry move she planted a kiss on the
smooth surface, her mocha lip-gloss making a perfect impression of
her mouth there. She walked away, leaving Grissom to stare hungrily
at her kiss on the glass.
*** *** ***
house first. The cool sunlight of autumn dawn in Nevada was stealing
over the land as she pulled up the long gravel drive, worried about
the degree of neglect evident along the way. Caliente Way was an
older neighborhood, and the houses were miles distant from each
other, more rural than urban. Only one had been modernized; the
others were small bungalows from the Thirties, single story houses
set on huge four-acre lots. Sara wondered if Grissom knew someone out
here, an older acquaintance perhaps who owed him a favor.
more lascivious thoughts overrode those however, and Sara glanced at
her purse guiltily. Nestled deep in it was a brand new box of
condoms, purchased in a moment of utter optimism three weeks back,
when she caught Grissom studying at her chest halfway through a
debriefing Catherine was droning through. That desperate glance had
been enough to renew her hopes and rekindle her patience with the
enigma that WAS Grissom.
been good. Superb even, if you
considered every opportunity she'd bypassed in the name of their
agreement. No re-enactments. No private moments in his office or the
staff room. Professional deportment for professional zones--oh she'd
been a saint all right, patiently hungering for the moment he'd drop
a pair of pantyhose on her desk.
now this--offer. Store
her furniture? Was this some coded message, or worse--exactly what he
meant? She tried not to assume the worst, but the lingering fear that
their single night at the Desert Inn would be all there were was,
haunted her. Sara climbed out of the car slowly and walked to the
bungalow, despite the neglect, was charming,
a low brick and wood structure surrounded by tall hedges and pines.
Someone had set brick flowerbeds along the front, but there were full
of weeds now. An air of empty desolation hung about the place, and
Sara moved cautiously; if anything it looked exactly like a crime
at this thought, Sara stepped up onto the
porch and over to one of the two bay windows, peering through dusty
grey curtains into an empty room. Hardwood floors, plain plaster
walls-wait, there were--bookcases. Lots of them. She started counting
and reached five when she heard the sound of an SUV coming up the
drive. Turning, she caught sight of Grissom's Tahoe pulling up behind
her car. Forcing herself to be casual, she came down off the porch
towards him, arms crossed over her chest. He climbed out, sunglasses
on, mouth in a straight line.
kind of you to say so," he
replied evenly, striding towards her in his brisk way. At the edge of
the porch he reached her, looming close, far closer than he had in a
long time and Sara bit back a moan at the scent of him. Grissom had
no compunctions about crowding her though, and drove her back against
the low arched front door until her shoulders thumped hard against
me guess--it's a neutral zo--" Sara barely
got out just before his mouth descended on hers and she lost herself
in his demanding kiss.
she'd missed this! Hot and brazen,
his tongue slithered between her parting lips, moving in as if it
owned her mouth, seeking a sultry dominance here. Sara clung to
Grissom's shoulders, slightly dizzy; his big hands curved to cup her
ass and slam her up against him.
yes, if the rock hard
ridge pressing against her thigh was any indication, he'd missed her
too. Sara whimpered into his mouth, busily letting her tongue slide
around his, fighting the need to breathe as her fingers dug into his
pulled away gasping, pulling his sunglasses off,
eyes searching her face.
over a thousand hours,
Sara--that's the total and complete limit I can reach before loss of
control sets in."
trying to follow the line of logic that seemed perfectly clear to
him. One of her linen-covered legs slid around his, bringing their
bodies into closer contact against the front door and Grissom groaned
at the enticing pressure.
NEED you--" he
growled, kissing her again. Sara cupped his face, fingers splaying
out to hold it as she felt his mouth on hers again, hot, demanding.
Sweet slurpy kisses echoed on the porch, and Sara lost track of how
long they stood entangled there, making up for lost time, fighting
for erotic dominance in the wet duel of their tongues.
she pulled back, her head thumping against the wood of the door as
she tried to catch her breath. Grissom pressed his lips to the side
of her neck, apparently just as intent on kissing that as her now
slightly puffy mouth.
this has all been some sort of
test?" she asked, even as pleasure from his lips sent spirals of
slinky heat down her spine. Grissom hummed affirmatively against her
needed to know if I could take it. I'm sorry if
it hurts to hear that now sweetheart, but I couldn't tell if this
hunger would die or grow," he whispered huskily. She blinked
back a sting of tears.
well it grew. For me, it
grew--" she told him. Grissom let his teeth nip her neck, making
too. In my case, exponentially," he
admitted with a self-loathing tone in his voice. He pulled away from
her and ran a hand through his hair, sending the normally neat grey
curls into a slightly tousled disarray.
sight of it was
enough to drain Sara's anger and she smirked.
place was the first neutral zone you could think of, Gris?"
fact mentally I've rezoned quite a number of places since--" he
pinkened and lifted his chin, shifting the subject, "--But it
was the first place that came to mind when you mentioned
fished out a key ring and unlocked the
front door, pushing it open. It creaked, and Sara noted the grime
they'd disturbed along the front of it.
lot of evidence--" she teased. Grissom looked down,
been almost three months since I've
checked on it," he remarked, chiding himself as they stepped
inside the low doorway.
very--" she hesitated.
She'd wanted to say 'nice' but blurted out, "--dusty."
done it in early Addams Family--" Grissom commented lightly as
he walked into the living room. Sara trailed after him, moving
towards a bookcase and checking out the titles.
is where you keep them all--Spiders of Africa, Stuttgart's Guide to
Insects of Europe, The Mind of the Moth, Cockroach
one was a gift--" he
mumbled, looking over one of the other cases. Sara laughed. She
shifted her weight on one hip and looked at Grissom's back; he was
reaching for a dusty volume over his head in another bookcase and the
long line of his broad shoulders sent a spike of heat through
what is this place?"
he replied absently, opening his book and flipping the pages. Sara
came over, slightly miffed at being forgotten so quickly, but Grissom
looped an arm around her and pulled her close, nuzzling her
as you can see honey, it's got almost no
furniture. If you want to keep your stuff here, you're welcome to,
wanted to ask more, but bit back her
questions and gave a nod, looking over his shoulder at the layout. A
large bare room. An ancient brick fireplace stood at one end of the
room, flanked on one side by a windowed door.
Grissom set the book down and
waved his arm.
room. That door with the windows
leads to the outside and the freestanding garage. Back that way--"
he indicated with a tilt of his head, "The archway leads to the
kitchen and bathroom, and the other door is the bedroom."
cautiously strode off, looking like a curious cat as she peered
around the archway into the tiled kitchen. The design here
incorporated green and yellow Mexican tile on the walls and had a
brick floor, all original to the house; she laughed at the
refrigerator with the rounded edges and car door handle.
thing's an antique, Gris--don't tell me it actually still WORKS--"
she yanked it open to see several bottles of beer chilling alongside
a half empty jar of salsa and a Tupperware container.
loomed over her shoulder, arms slipping
around her waist.
don't ever stay here long enough to
eat. But the utilities are on--electricity and water."
glanced over the delicately painted cupboards and down to the end of
the galley kitchen, sighing.
not?" he shrugged easily, although his eyes were looking away.
Sara slipped out of his embrace and went to the door that led to the
bathroom. The frosted glass door swung open when she twisted the
heavy crystal knob.
no?" he grinned at her. Sara stepped in and rested one hip on
the high edge of the silver claw-footed bathtub. The tiles here had
seashells and Mexican mermaids in teal and pink. Sara shook her head
yes--this place is gorgeous, Gris--a
little work and you'd have a stunning piece of property here. You
could rent it, sell it for top dollar--"
held up a
hand, his expression bland.
interested. I've got
enough money, I don't need to make any more at the moment." The
look on his face was neutral, but Sara took the hint and shifted her
gaze around the bathroom, noting it was cleaner and better cared for
than the other rooms. It even had towels out, albeit faintly dusty
like your creature comforts I see--Charmin on
the roll, under, and bath rugs in good repair."
yard work kills me and I usually clean up before I leave--" he
offered lightly. Sara looked around at the fixtures in the bathroom,
realizing something with a grin.
leaned against the porcelain pillar sink
and nodded. Sara grinned, noting the old-fashioned back brush and
moveable wooden tray built to rest across the width of the
clean fun--" she teased. Grissom shot her
a glance that could only be described as smutty.
is always meant to be shared--" he replied. Before Sara could
say anything to that, her cell phone rang and she fished it out of
her purse, opening it impatiently. Grissom turned and watched her
reflection on the medicine cabinet mirror.
oh, yes, I finally have an address for you--no, no, I understand.
I'll accept the fee--" Glancing up into Grissom's face, she
paused a moment and continued.
10867 Caliente Way.
Off of the Fifteen, south. Pretty sure it's on MapQuest, yeah. Thank
you. Oh! That soon? Oh--well okay. Thanks--"
the phone off as Grissom cocked his head and spoke up.
Francisco is about five hundred and seventy miles from here, give or
take. If the van left around five this morning, it should be here at
noon. Which means we have six hours to rest up until it
for her hand, he tugged her up and led
her out of the bathroom, crossing to another frosted door on the
other side and pushing it open. Sara followed him into a dim room,
smelling a faint, ghostly scent of flowers.
real furniture in the house, and the only true antique, by
definition," Grissom murmured, moving to pull a heavy drop cloth
off of it. Sara stared, her brown eyes wide at the sight.
it's magnificent--" she managed, choking a little. He shrugged,
folding his arms over his chest.
bed against the far wall
was a full-sized and elegant one with an ornately carved wooden spool
frame and tall posts rising from each corner. Despite the faint light
in the room, Sara could see it was probably oak, and fairly sturdy
despite it's graceful appearance. She stepped closer.
spread on it was of--dragonflies, she noted. A delicate pattern of
them on what appeared to be a Chinese watercolor background. Quickly
she shot a look back over her shoulder at Grissom, who was watching
her, his eyes sweetly bright.
it is, although I haven't slept in it in about fifteen years. The
mattress and box spring are fairly new, custom-made for the frame
which is a nonstandard size--between a full and a queen, one of those
odd deals," he teetered a hand back and forth as he spoke.
theory began to form in Sara's mind, and she half-smiled, walking
over to the bed slowly, patting the mattress with a gentle
she from your mother's side or your
soft smile that flickered across his face was
full of love and memory.
"My mother's side," he replied in a low voice. Sara moved back to him and slipped her arms around his waist, holding him tightly; after a moment, he hugged her back.