The scene HAD to be processed; it was as simple as that.
Everyone knew there were the easy ones; murders that occurred in living rooms or warehouse floors or in big spacious offices with lots of light and air—and then there were the hard ones‑‑in closets, or drainpipes, or tiny, cramped crawlspaces.
This one fell into the latter category big time, with added complications. Those complications wafted out into the night air in a bittersweet perfume far too familiar to those on the scene who’d ever gone to a rock concert, or passed through various rebellious stages of life. Although the officers securing the scene had done what the could to open some ventilation in the small sub‑basement drug lab, the thick smoke continued to linger heavily in the immediate vicinity, hanging like a fog along the stairwell leading down. By the time Grissom came to the scene lugging his case, Brass was already wearing a handkerchief over his own nose.
“Dispute among dealers, simple 419—guess the supply and demand argument got a little out of hand,” he told Grissom wearily.
Grissom nodded absently, glancing around the plane hangar curiously as Sara appeared behind his right shoulder, silent and hiding a little smile. Brass caught it and moved his handkerchief long enough to return it.
“The body was pronounced and moved about three minutes ago; we’ve sent for some ventilators if you want to wait, but it might be a while.”
Grissom fanned a hand through the smoke and shrugged, glancing at Sara, who shrugged back as she spoke up.
“Technically cannabis smoke isn’t a biohazard unless it’s thick enough to obscure vision or impede normal functions. If we wear masks and minimize exposure we can probably get it done before the ventilators arrive and finish the shift on time,” she pointed out softly. Brass arched an eyebrow, a hint of amused cynicism in his glance.
“Sounds like you’ve done this . . . before,” he commented. She grinned.
a lot of similar calls in
Grissom stared at her, his expression tinged with surprise and intrigue; she remembered that same look from the in‑flight case—his astonishment that she had prior experiences, and a past of her own.
“Well, it’s your call, Gil—“Brass gently reminded him, breaking into the other man’s reverie. Grissom looked down the stairwell and nodded.
“Might as well do it now—unless we find something out of the ordinary it should take us no more than twenty, twenty-five minutes tops.”
enough. I’ll fill out the extenuating circumstances releases
waivers, get someone standing by to take you home when you’re
done and let the
DEA know what’s left to confiscate and destroy. Oh, and
guys—“ Brass smirked,
“‑‑Try not to inhale?”
With that he strode over to the waiting officers. Sara had already opened her kit and donned a filter mask, settling it over her mouth and nose. Grissom sighed and copied her actions, trying not to let the uneasiness he felt show too much in his actions.
He was so aware of her now; her poses, her gestures, her moods and quirks. Had he been watching anyone else this intently Grissom would have honestly called it stalking, but Sara didn’t seem to notice the way he kept her in the periphery of his vision, on the edge of his perceptions whenever they were together.
Since the night he’d driven her home, it was as if that permission to be concerned had renewed his instinct to protect Sara. Most of the time he rationalized it with inner justifications that sounded reasonable in the light of day. Only when he was alone and out of her proximity did he dare sense the unspoken truth gnawing at him in ever‑greater bites day by day.
He cared. Oh yes, he cared a lot more than he knew he should, given his age and position and temperament. The larkish joy of working with Sara had mutated over the last few years into something far more complicated than mere professional pride and compassion. He’d flirted with her in the beginning, and then pulled away when she’d returned that attention. He’d pushed her to strive for excellence without remembering to praise it, and he’d seen her spiral in a downward flutter around him through his own deafness fears and middle‑age crisis, only to hit a moment of truth that he felt responsible for.
And now? Now she was up again, growing stronger, but standing a step further back, watching him with those rich brown eyes; smiling, but not quite the girl she’d been before. A woman tinted with hints of loneliness now, yet still at his side, despite all the moments she could have walked away and for that alone, Grissom was grateful.
He glanced over at her; she hefted her case and even though the mask hid her smile, he recognized the set of her eyes, knowing she was grinning.
“Ever get high before, Grissom?”
He held her gaze a moment, then arched an eyebrow at her, feeling both shy and annoyed at her knowing tone.
“I think I’ll invoke my Fifth Amendment rights on that question.”
“Riiiiiight,” came her amused tone as she led the way down the stairs cement stairs.
The room was cramped, but efficiently organized, for a drug lab and storage site; Grissom admired the layout in a backhanded sort of way. Against the far wall, the bricks of thick, loamy marijuana stood packed end to end. Two of them were smoldering despite the white CO2 from the fire extinguisher covering them, and Sara shook her head, her word slightly muffled by the mask.
“Probably have a few embers down a few inches in the stuff—they’ll have to unwrap the brick to put it out. This stuff’s pretty damp, so it’s probably not local. Where do we start?”
“Looks like the shooting occurred here, near the table. A few casings, blood spatter and some dustable surfaces we can work with. I’ll photograph, you can get the prelim layout down—“
They worked efficiently, moving in the comfortable tandem of a team used to each other’s mannerisms and work habits. Grissom relaxed a little, ignoring the sickly sweet smell around him as he tried to concentrate solely on the crime scene before him.
“Close quarters, two shots. From the mess on the concrete it’s obvious our victim fell, knocking over the Bunsen burner. The shooter grabbed the extinguisher, but didn’t quite get all the ignited material out . . .” he theorized, blinking as his eyes watered. Sara gave a low sound of agreement. She reached for gloves and carefully began bagging bits of trace from the worktable, moving with graceful efficiency. Grissom watched her long arms for a second, admiring the lean muscles of them, stretching and flexing as she bindled and tagged a lighter, some chemical residue, part of a scales, and a broken water pipe.
“Coughing yet?” Sara asked in a low voice. Around them, lingering traces of smoke curled in long ghostly tendrils. Grissom shook his head.
“Not yet. Breathing shallowly,” he told her. By the shake of her shoulders he could tell she was laughing at that, but her voice was mild.
“Given the saturation in this room, Grissom, I think you’re barely holding off the inevitable myself. We ought to call in for donuts right now.”
He turned away from her, hoping he looked blasé and suspecting he didn’t, as he fleetingly remembered his single previous experience with Cannabis sativa nearly twenty‑five years past.
God, had it really been almost a quarter of a century ago?
A single crumbling joint, shoved in his direction by a scornful roommate, accompanied by the sneering remark, “Ten bucks says you can’t toke without a choke, Grissom . . . you fuckin’ science dicks ALWAYS cough.”
Grissom remembered dragging on the thing repeatedly, holding in the acrid smoke the way he’d observed a few of his peers do; in twenty minutes both he and his tormenter were fairly buzzed, their ongoing personal animosity temporarily abated. It had been a hard‑won ten dollars and he’d immediately spent on a Falconi’s Pizza—a large double anchovy as he recalled—and had devoured it with the ruthless single‑mindedness of a shark.
Pizza actually sounded rather good at the moment.
He blinked and forced his thoughts back to the scene, squatting down to look under the lab table, carefully pulling a taped note from the underside.
“Something for Cryptography—probably a coded phone list or contact list,” he observed. Sara drifted over, her flashlight beam crossing over the page in his hand. She nodded.
“Most likely. A few cell phone calls and they’d be connected to a dozen private landing strips throughout the Southwest.”
Grissom made a soft noise of assent, trying not to notice Sara’s thighs brushing his back and failing completely. He blinked a little more.
Sara fought a sigh. She felt the light tingle settle in her system, a vaguely familiar sensation she understood. Part of her mind was standing back and snickering at the unlikely circumstances of the night, reminding her that of all the people to have to process through a buzz with, Grissom would never have occurred to her.
Unexpectedly a wave of protectiveness washed over her and she glanced down at the top of his curly head, hoping the situation wasn’t freaking him out too much. Clearly Grissom was a marijuana virgin, and although Sara couldn’t claim to be any sort of an expert, she’d been around the stuff in enough unavoidable situations to know what the general experience would be like. Already the lassitude was affecting her mood; she knew this by the way she kept standing close to his back, savoring his body heat.
Sara sighed and moved away, hoping she hadn’t been obvious, although it was hard to tell if he’d even noticed. Part of the trouble with getting high alongside someone else was remembering they were being affected as well, and probably focusing on something a hundred and eighty degrees off of your own concentration. So while she might be enjoying the feel of Grissom’s spine against her legs, HE might be thinking of last Mother’s Day, or algebraic equations, or whether or not he’d set the parking brake in the Denali.
You never knew with Grissom, even without the dope.
And that was what kept her around, she supposed. Despite the setbacks here and there, he kept throwing out hints and signs of some sort of attachment to her; some sweet, unspoken attraction. While his words were pragmatic and a little painful, the lonely look in his blue eyes told a completely different story. That occasional peek into his soul was what made her swallow her proud disappointment time after time and stay. That sweet, secret knowledge that deep within Grissom, there WERE strong feelings for her trying to get out kept Sara waiting patiently for the moment they would fully surface.
And they would; she sensed it more than ever now.
“Think we should just move the bricks upstairs and let the DEA deal with them?” Sara asked quietly. Grissom rose up and glanced over at the smoldering block and shook his head slowly.
“There are a lot of flammables up in the hangar—better to leave them here and finish this up as quickly as we can. Do we have any more bindles?”
Sara handed him a few, her gloved fingers brushing his as she did so. Grissom’s eyes over his mask crinkled in a quick smile and he carefully put the shell casings into the tiny envelope. Sara picked up a glass beaker and carefully dusted it, feeling a wave of satisfaction when a clear fingerprint rose out of the powdery residue.
“Oh you beauty . . .” she purred. Startled, Grissom looked up at her, but Sara had turned away, beaker in hand, and he felt very warm, and very foolish.
Officer Yun tried not to roll his eyes, but it was difficult. He understood all too well that eighty percent of police work involved either standing around or doing mundane chores; nevertheless, providing taxi service, particularly for members of the Nerd Squad ranked low on his particular list of favorite activities. True, this was in direct response to being shot down by Ms. Willows almost a year ago, but he still held most of the CSIs in low esteem on general principles. The two in the back were no exception, and the fact that they reeked of what smelled to be some extremely primo puff certainly didn’t help.
“Where to?” He demanded sourly.
Grissom blinked for a moment, then hesitantly rattled off his address in a low, overly serious voice. The officer let his glance flick to the rearview mirror, then the police car pulled out into early morning traffic along the I-Fifteen.
Sara seemed relaxed; she had her head back, eyes closed as the vehicle moved along, and Grissom thought he heard her humming ever so softly under her breath. He turned his face so he wasn’t staring at her, and tried to make his vision focus properly on the passing desert landscape, but far too much of his inner attention was on the soft press of Sara’s thigh against his, and the tingle of pleasure that ran through him every time the police car bounced.
He vaguely remembered signing the papers Brass had handed him, and recalled passing the evidence to Warrick, who looked both concerned and amused at the sight of his coworkers.
“I hate to say this, Griss, but by the look in those ruby eyes of yours, you are seriously glazed, man—“came his soft assessment. Grissom could only nod, trying to stay dignified. The easiest way was to say as little as he could, and thankfully Brass had arranged to get them home with as little fanfare as possible.
Now here they were, turning up his street, and Grissom knew his little adventure with Mary Jane was about to come to a quiet end. Some serious pancakes and a long, long nap would probably be the best way to deal with his light‑headed euphoria of the moment. He fumbled for the door handle and climbed out, taking a moment to fish his keys from his pocket. Sara clambered out as well, slamming the car door with a cheerful shove of her hip. The patrol car rolled down the street as Grissom stared at Sara.
“I thought you were going home,” he finally muttered. Sara shook her head, the whites of her eyes a lovely shade of pink.
“Can’t. My purse is in my locker, and my house keys are in my purse. Warrick might be able to bring me my purse after the shift is over if I remember my combination, which is . . . twenty-two, four . . no, fourteen . . .”
She was still trying to recall the last number as she followed him up the steps to his front door, her hands shoved deep in the back pockets of her jeans. Grissom managed to plug the key in the keyhole on the first try, and turn the lock, but the door was sticking, and he struggled with it, his co‑ordination off for some reason. Sara turned and glanced along the small expanse of greenbelt along the townhouses, spotting something in the middle of the grass.
Guiltily he glanced at his watch: 8:30 on the dot.
“They’re on a timer—“ he called, lamely to her. Sara turned to face him, the paper still in her hands; the spray saturated her, turning her blouse nearly transparent, and making her hair cling to her face.
She laughed. With loopy grace Sara strode out of the sprinklers and up the steps again, blinking at Grissom and shaking her head like a dog, flicking water on him as she grinned.
“Here—“ she offered. Grissom took the dripping newspaper and shook his head. Carefully he walked into the townhouse, Sara following behind.
Grissom looked around, trying to think and finding the process a little . . . difficult. He knew Sara was soaking, and probably needed a change of clothes, but wasn’t sure what he had on hand that would work. He kept his back to her on purpose, aware that if he turned to face her, he’d end up staring at her chest.
“Okay—go down the hall to the first door on the right. Spare room. I’ve got a dresser in there with some stuff, and you can take anything that fits.”
“Can I shower first?” Sara asked softly, rubbing under her nose with one wet finger. Grissom turned.
Sara looked like glorious water nymph. Like one of the Naiads from the fountain of Trellini, all carved curves and sweet wet perfection. The pout of that kissable mouth, the hollows of that elegant neck, the dainty double perk of those very visible . . .
Grissom deliberately closed his eyes and nodded.
“Thanks.” Sara sloshed past him, making wet little squishy noises with every step. He quivered, and waited until he heard a door close before opening his eyes.
So. Sara was going to be naked in his house. Showering. Walking naked from the bathroom to the spare room. Naked. As in with no clothes on. Except maybe a towel. Allllllll naked.
Grissom looked down to see the smeary ink of the wet newsprint all over his shaking hands, and a sense of reality finally came back. He wandered over to his kitchen and dumped the paper in the trashcan at the end of the counter. He scrubbed the ink off his hands in the sink, trying very, VERY hard not to think about the sound of running water at the other end of the townhouse.
Sara luxuriated in the warm cascade of water, feeling just lovely now. The shower was big, and filled with the most interesting stuff. A sort of clear herbal bar of soap that smelled of sage. Middle‑of‑the‑shelf shampoo—nothing bargain, but not top of the line—decent. A few other plastic bottles. And a wooden old‑fashioned back brush big enough to groom a Clydesdale—she giggled at the soft touch of the bristles, suddenly picturing Grissom sliding it down his spine. Oh, such a nice picture too—being in his shower made all the difference to the fantasy, she admitted to herself. Being able to picture him in the right setting and all—
A knock at the door made her jump.
“Yeah?” she managed in a slightly higher voice than normal. Did she lock it? Shit! She couldn’t remember—
“I asked if you’ve got towels. I can’t remember if I restocked.“
Hastily Sara hung the brush back up on the cold water handle and slid open the frosted glass door, looking out into the bathroom. Her clothes were in the sink, a soggy, forlorn clump slowly draining. The counter was clear, except for an electric toothbrush and a box of tissues. The towel rack had a face cloth and two hand towels—she looked on the handle of the sliding door. Nothing.
“No towels,” she confirmed.
“Oh. Okay. I’ll leave some outside the door here.”
Sara stepped back into the water, wishing irrationally that Grissom had just brought them in. Hell, for that matter he could have joined her in the water as well—why waste a good fantasy? But even as she reached for the shampoo she knew, stoned or not, Grissom wasn’t the sort to just go with his impulses.
Of course, some of his reserve was on a low setting at the moment; she remembered his awed expression at seeing her dripping on his foyer.
Sara looked at the unlabeled plastic bottle in her hand. It wasn’t shampoo, so she opened it and sniffed. A sharp tang hit her nose: Lemon juice. With a smile, she put it back on the shelf; Grissom was probably the only CSI already prepared to wash away decomp at home. Another, smaller bottle caught her eye and she examined that one too, startled at the soft scent of coconut. Confused, she poured a little out onto her palm and rubbed it with her fingers, feeling the slickness spreading.
Something this slippery would be damned dangerous in a shower, she mused. And she never remembered smelling coconut on him . . . very slick, very sensual‑‑
The clothing thing was a little tricky. She pulled open drawer after drawer in the guest room dresser, realizing this must be where Grissom stuck his unwanted birthday and Christmas presents. There were gag tee shirts galore, extolling insects, forensic work and various theme park roller coasters here.
Another drawer held untouched, packaged pajamas in hideous plaids. Another drawer had scarves and gloves of all sorts. In desperation she reached the bottom and found various sweats. One pair of grey pants looked promising, and Sara donned them, feeling each pant leg drape over her bare feet as she struggled to pull the drawstrings tightly. The resulting bunching around her waist felt ridiculous, so she loosened it up a bit and tied it off. The pants sagged down, held up by her hipbones as much as by the drawstring. Oh well.
Shirts—digging around a bit, she found a smaller, faded red one with a lovely drawing of a tarantula across the chest. It seemed to fit in the shoulders, but hung down to mid thigh on her, so Sara tried to tuck it in to the pants. Her finger snagged on small hole at mid‑rib level and a ripping sound panicked her.
“Grissom?” Sara quavered, examining the lateral tear that now cut across the shirt.
The sound of heavy footfalls heading her way. She opened the door to look up at him, troubled, a quick flash back to the coconut oil crossing her mind.
“I‑I tore your shirt. I’m sorry, I can fix it if you’ve got a sewing kit . . .”
He shrugged, even as his gaze roamed over her, eyes slightly less red, but his smile gentle.
“Don’t worry about it, it was already on its way out. Your stuff should be washed and dried in about two hours anyway.”
“Oh. Okay then. So I can just . . . trim it?”
“Sure.” He turned to go, not quite hiding his smile, and Sara felt a surge of annoyance rising up.
“You’re laughing at me.”
“Yes,” Grissom admitted, letting the smirk blossom fully. Sara tried to stay annoyed, but it was hard. Grissom was smiling at her, and she was in his pants, sort of, and the carpet felt good under her bare feet. So she reached and tore the shirt, changing the hem of it until it was between her stomach and the bottom‑most of her ribs. Grissom watched her do it.
“I can see your navel,” he finally told her, vastly amused. Sara looked down.
“Where?” she demanded, as if she couldn’t find it. Grissom pointed. Sara tried to tug her shirt down but couldn’t.
“Damn it, now it’s too short.”
“That’s all right. It’s a very nice navel. And now I know.”
“Know what?” came her demand as she followed him out of the spare room and back into the living room. She liked the feel of the dark industrial flooring underfoot—slightly springy to the step.
“I know now it’s an innie. I used to wonder,” Grissom admitted, heading into his kitchen. “Something to drink?”
“Yeah, got any bottled water? And most grown women have innies. I think it’s only the guys who have outies. Like Nick.”
“Nick?” his tone held disbelief and annoyance, Sara realized with a smirk of her own. She dropped herself on the loveseat, feeling much better now after the shower. Grissom brought her a chilled bottle, watching her drain it thirstily, admiring the long muscles of her throat.
“I don’t think I want to know how you know about Nick’s navel—“ he admitted. Sara shrugged, setting the half‑empty water down.
“Remember that dig job out in Pahrump? Both he and Warrick stripped down to get that body in the composter out. Not like anyone could MISS it. So I personally know the belly button status of Nick, Warrick, Catherine—that only leaves you, Grissom. Whatcha got?”
Grissom pursed his mouth, not answering. Sara emitted a husky giggle, lounging back on the loveseat and smiling at him.
“Come on—you’ve seen mine, now you show me yours—“
“Sara—“ it was a light warning, with no real weight behind it, and she approved of this mellower Grissom. Her grin widened.
“Chicken? Buck, buck buck—“ came her clucking little taunt. He arched an eyebrow at her, standing in his living room, wondering how the hell he was going to get out of this with any sort of dignity.
“You’re not seeing my navel. It’s . . . undignified.”
“Oh for WHO? I don’t see a packed audience here dying to know if the night shift supervisor of the Las Vegas Crime lab has an innie or an outie. It’s just ME, Grissom,” Sara argued with grave amusement, feeling oh so fine for the moment.
Grissom tipped his head to one side, shaking it slightly, both refusing and trying to clear his vision. Sara looked wonderful on his loveseat, slightly sprawled, obviously comfortable. She stared at his midriff in a significant way and he self‑consciously brought his arm down across his waist.
“No, Sara. No peeking at my second chakra.”
“Not even if I said pretty please?”
He hesitated, and it was a mistake; Sara slithered off the couch and slowly stalked towards him around the coffee table, her smile slightly goofy.
“Ohh I get it. You’re ticklish. Well don’t worry, I’m not going to touch, I just want to look,” she lied. Grissom gave a huge sigh as he glared at her.
“You’re not going to stop about this, are you? You seriously want to see my navel, lint and all—“
“It’s got lint?” she demanded, intrigued. Grissom reddened a little and shrugged.
“I don’t know, I haven’t checked. It’s not something I inspect every day.”
Sara moved in closer, mischief in her brown eyes as she tossed her damp hair back.
“Well I don’t care if it does have lint in it. You got to see mine, AND my chest, so I think I’m owed a little parity here—the ratio’s in your favor you know.”
Grissom flinched a little and roughly grabbed the sides of his shirt, yanking them up.
“There, happy now?”
“Oooohh,” Sara responded happily, feasting her eyes on the slightly rounded, very pale expanse of stomach now exposed to her. Grissom had an innie, sitting in the lower middle of his abdomen, a mysteriously endearing dimple so deep that it enticed her to poke, so she did.
“Hey, hey!” Alarmed, Grissom dropped his shirt and backed up a step. Sara laughed, a bubbly sound that ran all the way down his spine.
“Man, is that an innie or what? I think my finger went in to the knuckle!”
Annoyed and embarrassed, Grissom stalked to his kitchen, trying to look lofty and failing. Sara laughed and laughed, clutching her stomach as she staggered a bit, finally coming to a rest clutching the edge of the counter.
“I hope you’re pleased with yourself—“ he began, his words bringing another wave of giggles from her. She nodded, eyes bright.
“Yup,” Sara had the audacity to look smug as she shifted to lean against his counter, long arms stretching back, gripping it. Grissom sucked in a quick breath, thinking that Sara couldn’t possible be aware of how the pose tightened her tee shirt across her chest. Between that and her low‑slung sweats, an acre of taut flat stomach flashed out at him, and Grissom grew slightly lightheaded at the sight.
So much of her, so close—
“I’m hungry,” he barked out brightly, turning his attention away from the sight of her. Sara made a humming noise.
“Munchies, munchies, yeah—me too. Wanna call for a pizza? I’ll go halves on it with you. When I get my purse that is.”
Grissom reached for the flyer for Tuscany Pizza tucked neatly under the wall phone and handed it to Sara, relieved to be back on a safe topic.
“You choose. I’ve got enough for an extra large and breadsticks if you want them.” He reached for the phone, finger poised on the speed dial. Sara blinked and studied the flyer, leaning on the counter and taking her time.
“Good stuff here—quattro formaggi, oh yeah, sun dried tomatoes, oooooooh anchovies!!!”
Grissom stared at her, leaning forward, feeling this was a critical moment for the two of them.
“You like anchovies?”
“LOVE them. Back in San Francisco there was this pizzeria down in the north beach district that had the BEST anchovy pizza I’ve ever eaten. Crunchy sourdough crust, perfect tomato sauce and oh man those intense salty anchovies, slick on the tongue, totally a taste sensation never to be forgotten. It wasn’t pizza, Grissom. It was . . . an experience . . . “ Sara purred, lost in memory, closing her big eyes and sighing.
Grissom felt horny. And hungry. Hungry and horny. A man full of appetites. To offset any further mental confusion, he picked up the handset and hit the button. Sara grinned up at him from the counter, the gap in her teeth flashing out as she waggled the flyer at him.
“Feed me, Seymour, feed me all night loooonnnng—“ she sang. He rolled his eyes, but the sound of her voice, low and sultry was getting to him; only Sara could hit that squirmy place deep within him when she sang, that one that tended to open wide in his dreams and leave him breathless when he woke up.
“Shhhhh—“ he muttered, waiting for the clerk on the other end of the phone to finish reciting the specials of the day. Sara complied with amusement, humming to herself as she refolded the flyer. Grissom spoke up into the receiver.
“Yes I’d like an extra large double anchovy pizza on wheat, with an order of breadsticks. For delivery . . .” He noticed Sara wander back into the living room, sauntering, the back of her sweats dropping low enough to reveal the dimples along her spine. He took a deep breath, gave the delivery address, and hung up after receiving a quoted price. As he carefully tucked the flyer back under the wall phone, he took a moment to make a quick self‑assessment.
Still horny. Still hungry. A little sleepy.
He wandered out to the living room, wondering what to say to Sara, and hoping it wouldn’t be something foolish. She was back on the loveseat, idly thumbing through the stack of magazines there, re‑arranging them in topical stacks when she held one up with a bemused smile.
It was an issue of Playboy; he pinkened slightly as a long embarrassed pause stretched between them. Then he blurted,
“My mother sent me that.”
“Really?” Sara replied, gentle skepticism in her low voice. He nodded, swaying a little.
“Yeah. They shot one of the pictorials in her art gallery. Paid her almost seven thousand for three days’ use of the place. She was so excited she went out and used the money to buy a new air conditioner for her house.”
“Ah . . . “ Sara grinned. She flipped through it, settling back on the sofa, bare feet up on the coffee table. Grissom didn’t know whether to join her or not, but she patted the seat next to her and flashed him a look.
“Come on, you have to show me the gallery—“
“I’m sure you can see it just fine,” he countered quickly. Sara snorted, rubbing her eyes.
“Grissom—come on. We’ve seen porn before on the job, stuff much worse than this. Just‑‑show me the gallery.” She softly murmured, looking very gentle.
Grissom looked at Sara sitting there, her chest rising in steady breaths, her bottom lip quivering. In one long moment he pondered all the possibilities open to him from this instant on, from the mundane to the fantastic, and when he looked in her eyes, he could see the same moment of choice reflected in them.
He sat, dropping onto the loveseat next to her, the cushions sinking down as he did so, and somehow just being next to her did good things to his mindset. It was okay to be close to her, to take the magazine and thumb through it and open the page to a glossy photo.
“That’s part of the front entrance, right there. It’s got a skylight for natural ambience as you first come in,” he commented, ignoring the sultry‑eyed semi‑nude model leaning over the guest book. Sara politely looked at the photo of the room, but the corner of her mouth twitched a little. Grissom liked the feel of her warm thigh pressing against his on the loveseat, and he fought back a surge of arousal, remembering that leg had been naked earlier.
Sara tried to concentrate on what Grissom was saying, but she let herself enjoy the warmth radiating off of his proximity. She’d missed this, the easy pleasure of his presence overlapping hers. He always made her feel very female when he got close enough for her to breathe in his scent.
“Hmmmm?” she asked, realizing he’d asked a question. Grissom turned and looked at her, saying nothing, just studying her face for a long moment, zeroing in on her eyes.
“I said this is the main hall and it’s got three alcoves just behind the model’s left shoulder here, but you’re not really interested in this, are you?”
“Nope. It was just an excuse to get you on the sofa.”
Grissom nodded, the corner of his mouth going up, as if he’d known this all along. With a sigh he tossed the issue onto the coffee table and leaned back, closing his eyes, relaxing. Sara sat still, not moving either, and they both let a sense of content wash over them.
“When’s the pizza coming?”
“Soon. Double anchovy, so you’d better be serious about liking them,” he murmured.
“Oh I am. We’re going to have some pretty potent breath though.”
“If I love it on a pizza, I’ll love it on you,” he announced, then immediately regretted his impulsive words. Sara gave a slow chuckle, turning to rub her nose on his shoulder.
“You really ARE wasted. Because you’d never say something like that if you weren’t, Grissom. You’re not actually picturing me with anchovies plastered all over my body, are you?”
“I am now—“ Grissom confessed, appreciating the image of a naked Sara stretched out on his dining room table, small olive-colored fish clinging sensually to her tight, rounded buttocks. Damn it was a nice image, bringing together a lot of tasty things.
Sara laughed again.
“It’s just a side effect of the marijuana, Grissom. You’re probably feeling a little more in touch with . . . parts of yourself,” she commented in a voice braver than she felt. He turned his head to look at her profile, marveling at the saucy tilt of her nose.
“My parts are behaving themselves just fine. I don’t need to get in touch with them at the moment.”
Sara made a rude noise, then laughed at the sound of it, and did it once more. Grissom tried not to grin in response, but she spoke up.
“But you do once in a while, Grissom. I know, you know.”
This made no sense, and he blinked at her, waiting for more information. Instead, the doorbell rang and he rose from the sofa, fishing for his wallet as he headed for the door.
The delivery girl sniffed a little, a small, cynical smile briefly crossing her features as she handed over the cardboard boxes and took the twenties in return.
“Keep the change—“Grissom called out to her. He carried the box in, setting it on the dining room table between insect reference books and a stack of specimen boxes. Sara drifted over, looking hungry.
“Kitchen, cupboards over the dishwasher,” he muttered, opening the box and breathing in the fragrance. Sara thought Grissom looked just like the little skunk from the movie Bambi, but blissed out on pizza rather than flowers when he smiled. She brought the plates, handing him one ceremonially.
“Ladies first,” he politely offered. Sara pulled a big slice and draped it on her plate, carrying it back to the loveseat, Grissom following her after a moment.
Ecstasy. The warm flavors hit his palate with an intensity he wasn’t prepared for, and Grissom actually moaned as he chewed. Next to him, Sara wrapped long strings of dripping mozzarella around her fingers as she tried to free them from her slice.
“OhwisisGOOOOOO!” She praised through her full mouth, chewing through the salty tang of anchovy, and the mellow sweetness of the cheese. Grissom nodded, eating steadily through his slice. He was well into his second when Sara brought them more bottled water from the kitchen.
“Thanks,” he nodded. They ate companionably for a while, munching through the pizza and enjoying it. Sara liked watching Grissom eat, seeing him play with the cheese and nibble through the anchovies with his strong white teeth. She stopped at her third slice, sated and content with the mild flavors still in her mouth. Grissom was still close to her, and relaxed; for that she was grateful.
She picked up part of an anchovy, intending on eating it, but swiftly Grissom took her wrist and guided her hand to his mouth, slurping the fish from her fingers like a sea lion. Sara glared at him.
“That was MY anchovy.”
“Not anymore,” came his cheerful and accurate observation. Sara reached over to the slice on his plate and swiped one quickly, waggling it at him before popping it into her mouth. Grissom pouted, ever so slightly, his brows drawing together.
“‑‑Is for horses and cows, Grissom.” She intoned. Somehow this struck him as very funny, and he choked on a mouthful of water, spluttering it up along his chin and beard as Sara thumped his back with more enthusiasm than he really needed. Turning, he caught her wrist again, his fingers encircling it easily, he held it with a firm grip.
“I’m . . . FINE—“ he managed between wet coughs. Sara dabbed at his face with her free hand, wiping away droplets with her thumb. Grissom fought the urge to roll his eyes; she’d made him choke in the first place, and now was trying to clean him up. He looked up just as Sara inched closer, her eyes bright with mirth.
Ohh. Grissom stared dumbly into the velvet promise of her eyes, into the coffee and amber depths of Sara’s gaze and suddenly knew he wanted those eyes to always look at him just this way—with sultry hope sparking in them.
“Kiss—“ he got no further with words than that; Sara tilted her face up to his and very softly laid her lips against his. A brush, light and silky, the pillowy warmth of her mouth like a hot shadow on his lips.
Sara pulled back, not much, but for him it was too far, and Grissom leaned forward, aware of the pull of her, the undeniable attraction of her surprised expression.
“I . . .” he stammered, seeing his possibilities spinning before him once more, like a roulette wheel, the best and most wonderful passing before his befuddled senses. Sara made a soft, low purr, and that little sound brought Grissom forward, eagerly pushing his mouth back on hers into a richer, fuller kiss.
Good. Hot. Grissom felt their mouths mold together in a hungry perfection, pressure and pleasure mingling through a hint of garlic and anchovy. Oh yes, the only imperative rattling down the tracks of Grissom’s mind was the urge: More.
His hands came up and around Sara’s slender back, pulling her to him; magazines toppled off the coffee table, and dimly he heard the clatter of a plate as well, but nothing mattered more than the sweet little growl of Sara as she curled her hands around the back of his head and proceeded to kiss him most thoroughly.
And then, just as Grissom thought the sensual pleasure would kill him outright in one throbbing burst, Sara’s minxish little tongue pushed against his lower lip.
Grissom deepened the kiss, inviting her in, feeling Sara’s entire body shudder happily as their tongues met, and flickered over each other playfully.
Sara couldn’t believe her luck, her glorious good fortune. Tasting Grissom, plunging into that teasing, talented mouth and drinking his kisses made her breathlessly giddy, and her body ached now, throbbing in quick hard response. She forced herself to pull away and gaze at him, trying to catch her breath and settle back into her skin, but her fingers toyed with the thick curls they were buried in, and the pupils of Grissom’s blue eyes were wide and dark.
“Good,” Grissom managed, and Sara couldn’t fight a wriggle when he unconsciously licked his lips, as if seeking more of her taste on his own.
“Good,” she agreed in a deep whisper. “More?”
“Um hummm . . .” came the emphatic yet muffled reply against her lips as Grissom dropped his mouth on hers again.
They kissed. Waxing and waning, taking time to explore and laugh and nibble and suckle, they kissed long and deeply, drawing pleasure up between them in powerful waves of sensuality. Sara lost track of time, caught up in this amazing intensity of kissing Grissom.
And he was good, damn him. He had a tongue that stroked and teased and tickled, a tongue that could curl around hers with hot and ruthless skill until she groaned into his mouth, giving in completely.
Somewhere along the line hands began moving as well; Sara’s reluctantly left the soft tickle of Grissom’s hair and roamed over his broad shoulders, marveling at the big strength of his body. He didn’t seem to mind and returned the favor, his own hands sliding up from her back to touch her neck, the sides of her face.
“God, your skin is absolutely like velvet . . .” he whispered, awed at the warmth of it. Sara blushed at the compliment, and Grissom gently touched her dimples with his thumbs, stroking them as if they were the most marvelous things in the world. She rested her cheek in his palm for a moment, sighing in content. He smiled back at her.
“Hey . . .” she whispered, much more in that single word than its three letters implied. His grin widened.
“. . . Is for horses and cows—how could I forget?” came his response. Sara smirked a little, but the expression faded away, and Grissom gave a little shake of his head, keeping his eyes on hers.
“You don’t know what I’m going to say—“ Sara protested softly, but he leaned forward and pressed her willing mouth against his once more, a gentle benediction of a kiss.
“I know exactly what you’re going to ask because you’re Sara and I have a good idea of how your mind works. You’re worried.”
“Maybe,” she conceded with ill grace, not sure she liked Grissom being able to guess her thoughts so easily. He laughed, very softly as he cupped her face a bit more firmly.
“Precisely,” he corrected. “And God you are so utterly beautiful. All I want to do right now is lead you off to my bed and make love to you for hours and hours, Sara. I know what I want to do about ‘this’ and judging by the way you’ve been kissing me back I’d like to think the feeling is pretty mutual.”
“But—“ came her startled interjection even as her own hands tightened on Grissom’s big shoulders. She worked her jaw back and forth for a second, trying to collect her thoughts and get them organized, but between the light fog of the weed and the endorphin high of kissing Grissom it was an impossible task.
“But it’s up to you. I’m under the influence here.”
“Grissom! We’re both under the influence, so that’s not a fair justification.”
“I know,” he admitted, simply. He closed his eyes, his face tightening with lines of regret and sadness as he spoke again. “I know the right thing would be to have you go sleep in my bedroom while I take the sofa here, Sara. I know I should call Warrick or Catherine to bring your purse, and get you a cab home. I know both of us should sleep this off and go back to our strange little folie au deux, pretending this never happened and remembering it every time we look at each other. I KNOW all of that—but it’s not what I WANT.”
His speech ended on a low, strangled note of desperation, and Sara, moved beyond the capacity to speak, leaned forward and kissed him, hard. The touch of her mouth both soothed and aroused him; she felt his shoulders tense under her hands. Sara pulled back, and tossed her hair out of her eyes.
“And what I want, Grissom, is you. I’ve wanted you for more years than you can possibly know. I want to get naked and make love to you until there isn’t an inch of you I haven’t kissed or loved, and THEN I want to work beside you, happy and satisfied, and come back here or to my place and do it all again. I want to wake up holding you and go to sleep with you deep in me. And I want that because damn it, we deserve it, and it would be so good for us.”
Grissom blinked, slightly stunned in the face of her passion, the husky drive of her voice. He very slowly nodded.
“All right then.”
Slowly, he rose off the loveseat and extended a hand down to Sara; when she took it, he pulled her to her feet and into his arms for a quick hug.
“Come to my bed, Sara,” he whispered in her ear, “I want you very much.”
Grissom’s bedroom was cool and quiet, done in blues and greys. A thick striped quilt covered the queen‑sized bed, and white wooden shutters filtered the sunlight down into thin gold beams. A single nightstand with a single lamp rested on the right hand side, and a large dresser dominated one wall of the room. Sara looked up to see herself on the top of it, framed along with Warrick and Nick in a shot from the Christmas party a year earlier. Off to one side was another framed photo of a small woman with a crown of braids and a familiar smile.
The carpeting was thick under her bare feet, and the prints on the walls were ocean watercolors matching the room in quiet, understated elegance. She looked at Grissom, who was watching her.
“It’s . . . not like I pictured it,” she confessed. Grissom looked around and shrugged.
“Blue is supposed to be soothing. Usually it is.”
Sara dropped her gaze and smiled at the carpet, thinking what a Grissom thing that was for him to say. She took a deep breath and reached for him, glad to slide into his welcoming embrace. He squeezed her tightly.
“Not too late . . .”
“It was too late the day I came to Vegas—“ she shot back sternly, pressing her mouth to the tender skin of his neck. Grissom gasped, and his big hands slid down Sara’s back to settle on the rounded swell of her ass, cupping it. She squirmed against him, her skin flushing hot and cold as the sweet reality of the moment hit her.
Grissom was grabbing her ass. Tightly.
She shivered against him as unreasonable desire surged through her and the fierce hot WANT for the man made her pant a little. Grissom pressed his lips to her cheekbone and swung her over to the bed, dropping both of them onto the mattress. He loomed over her, hands planted on either side of her shoulders.
More kisses, and Sara let her hands tug on his shirt, fumbling with the buttons and making him laugh. Grissom waited patiently until she’d opened his shirt, then reached over to hers and flipped it up, exposing her chest in one quick gesture. She sucked in a surprised breath, and Grissom choked a little at the sight.
“Shhhhh . . . I’m‑I’m in love with this moment,” he sighed, his expression filled with sensual awe. Sara tried to look stern, but when he bent his head forward and laid his ear right between her breasts, she sighed instead, reaching up to stroke his head.
Then he turned his face, and his beard lightly brushed along sensitive skin, tickling along her goosebumps. Sara writhed, hips moving in helpless response to the pleasure flushing her skin. Grissom’s mouth, silky and hot reached one of her erect nipples and encircled it; Sara cried out, arching up as he suckled it.
“Godgodgod!” came her helpless litany, her hands cupping the back of his neck.
Grissom fought himself, the relentless throbbing between his thighs demanding pressure and pleasure. Instead, he rubbed his nose on the rosy, pebbled rivet of Sara’s nipple, toying with it, delighted at her quick response. He moved to the other breast and kissed it, trying not to scrape his beard too roughly. Sara’s skin tasted tangy, and the soft musk of her personal scent sent shivers through him. This perfume had haunted his memory for a long, long time, and now, to have it under his lips was almost more than Grissom could take.
“You are . . . .” Sara gasped, clutching his hair. He tipped his face to look up at her.
“Good?” he offered. She gritted her teeth.
“A TEASE, Grissom. Get your pants off and DO me for God’s sake! We’ll worry about finesse another time, but I want you right NOW.” Sara gasped, adding, “Please.”
He rolled away reluctantly and reached for his fly, struggling with his pants as Sara wriggled out of her tee‑shirt, the two of them bumping and clashing in that odd half‑embarrassed, half‑lustful fashion of new lovers. Finally though, Sara rolled herself over on his big bare body and straddled his hips, lying on him and pressing kisses onto his cheeks.
“I’m on the Pill—“ she offered; Grissom nodded, his hands sliding down her lanky spine. His eyes were half‑closed, and Sara could feel the race of his pulse as she touched him hungrily. With a soft wiggle, Sara shifted, and reached down, fingers curling around the heft of Grissom’s erection. He groaned, hips bucking up, but Sara shifted, resting her weight on her shins and gently settling herself over him.
“Want me?” she asked with a desperate laugh, eyes bright with tears of undefined origin. Grissom locked his gaze with hers. His eyes were full of that vulnerability she’d glimpsed over the years, blue bright.
Sara sank herself down in one slow plunge, the air driven from her in a low gasp as she did so, joining herself with Grissom in a molten moment of erotic intensity. He was big, and hot and felt so good deep within her that the tears that had threatened to fall did.
Grissom gripped Sara’s sweet hips over him and the hot growl of helpless desire rose out of his throat as he thrust up slickly, pushing, driving into Sara. She rocked, matching him in sensual synchronicity, and suddenly nothing else mattered through the heat as groans and kisses echoing through the room.
Sara clung hard to Grissom adoring the vision of him under her on the quilt, sweaty and aroused, curls damp along his hairline, mouth forming her name over and over again in a sensual mantra. And between her thighs, the heat of the man, the hard unstoppable thrust of him stoked the inferno higher and harder, until Sara couldn’t hold the pleasurable fireball of her orgasm from flaring through her entire body. She sobbed, arching hard, feeling her nipples peak painfully as the pulses of bliss flushed through her.
Grissom felt Sara’s slim body tighten around his shaft, throbbing in a slick caress that squeezed away the last vestiges of his reserve, not that he had much to begin with. The savage joy of Sara on him, eyes dark, mouth puffy from his kisses, taking him with lustful pride, demanding her pleasure—this rocked him to the core of his being.
He felt every thrust merged them further, every moment he parted her flesh with his own tore away the pretentious fabric of their lives and left them as they truly were, man and woman bare to each other in ways beyond skin. And in the moment before the rush of inevitable orgasm, Grissom groaned, knowing this was where the possibilities became a reality full of tears and semen and promises.
Going back would never be an option.
Clipping from the Las Vegas Sun, March 14th, 2007
Grissom‑Sidle‑Grissom— Gil and Sara, girl, Mary Jane Sidle‑Grissom, 7lbs 4 oz, Desert Palms Maternity.