|The next morning, after Rita had been surprised to find Chris sound asleep on her couch, she surprised him with breakfast. They talked over the case as they ate.|
"Sam, I just know we're not seeing something here.... It just isn't possible for a killer to strike this many times and not leave us something to go on." Rita said, as she once again pored over her files.
Chris nodded his head in agreement with her.
"I just don't see what it is though. It's as if the killer knows all these peoples' security systems... But how? There are what, three different companies... It would have to be one person working for all three, and we checked that out."
"It could also be several working together, you know Sam... But even with that... The Bringham security company is just a small mom and pop operation.... It's just them. I really don't see them involved in something like this, do you?" said Rita, sounded confident in her theory.
He was just about to say something when his cell phone rang. He picked it up.
Rita watched his face as he listened to the end of the conversation she couldn't hear.
She knew there had been another homicide again. And she knew it was their case, the only one they were assigned to work on. She sighed then. Another week had passed and she hadn't even realized it.
Chris hung up the phone, slamming it down. "Damn! .... We have another one, Sam.... You ready?"
Rita grabbed her jacket, trying to ward off the chill she felt, despite the 72-degree temperature inside, and the 86 one outside. She followed Chris out to the car, and neither one of them said anything else, preparing themselves again, for what they would find.
When they reached the house, Chris followed a patrol cop inside, passing a woman, obviously a maid, who cried hysterically. A female cop was comforting her.
When Chris turned around to say to Rita that they should wait a few minutes to talk to the maid, he was surprised not to find her right behind him.
He walked back the way he entered, finding her kneeling down and looking at something. He saw a key in her gloved hand.
"What ya got, Sammy?" he asked.
"I don't know... It was right here on the walk way... I don't think it goes to the door though, it seems too small... What would have a key like this?" She held out her hand for him to see the key better.
"Bag it, we'll figure that out later." he touched her arm, leading her to where the victims were.
It was as gruesome as any of the other murders, and yet as soon as she walked into that room, something about this one got to her more, though she didn't know why. Maybe it was just getting to be too much, she figured, she just wanted to stop whoever was doing this, and soon. They walked over to the bed to do what must be done, to check for any clues, to take their notes, and become late witnesses to the horrible crime itself. That was when Rita finally understood what it was about this crime scene, this couple that had affected her when she first entered the room.
She gazed down at the woman, then at her stomach. She had been pregnant, and pretty far along, by tell of her stomach. The woman had been dead now for hours, and Rita knew the baby would be as well. There was a gaping hole in her stomach.
She turned away, running, hoping to find the bathroom, and fast. She made it just in time.
Chris hadn't noticed the woman yet, since he had been more focused at the moment on the surrounding area, his keen eyes trying to find even the slightest clue.
He looked over when he heard the soft moan that escaped from Rita, and he saw the dead woman. He watched as the color suddenly drained from Rita's face, before she took off.
He went to the bathroom now, concerned for his partner, and worried for his best friend. He saw her leaning over the sink now, and crying.
"You okay?" he asked her quietly.
She nodded her head yes, as she quickly turned on the water, and splashed it on her face.
"Yes.... I'm fine now.... It just took me by surprise, that's all." Her defenses were up, he noted.
When she had finished cleaning herself up, she turned to him. He saw her eyes, with the unshed tears she held back, saw her force a swallow before she shakily said to him.
"Let's get back in there, so we can get this over with, okay?" He watched as her hands trembled.
Walking over to her, he reached out and gave her a quick hug.
"Yeah, Sammy.... As fast as we can."
They went back to the bedroom to resume their work, the true professionals they were, as usual. To everyone else, they were amazing to watch, as they discussed their ideas, one of them always finishing up the thoughts the other would start. They never let on that this case was scaring them as it scared the other cops on the scene, or that the discovery of the pregnant lady had bothered either of them, as it had the several other cops who had needed a breather outside.
That was what made Lorenzo and Lance the great team they were, and that was why they were in charge of this case, the top priority for the PBPD.
Only Chris had noticed Rita's hands as they still slightly trembled, saw the subtle change of color in her eyes due to her mood, and heard the grief in her voice as she spoke. And it was only Chris who knew her exact thoughts, who felt all that she did. And maybe it was because they truly were two halves of a whole.
They consulted with the Burglary unit, and then headed back to the shop, to give Cap an update. While they drove, Chris was struck with the realization of just how close the murder scene was to Rita's apartment. He thought of last night, and again a shiver came down is spine. This whole case was pure evil, he thought.
Rita had been quiet, and he knew she was still upset by what they had seen back there. He reached out his hand to take hers and rubbed her soft skin with his thumb She looked over at him, and he saw her lip begin to quiver.
"Not now, okay Sam" she asked.
Chris realized what she meant. Her eyes pleaded with him to find another subject for now. Chris nodded at her, and gave her a wink to tell her it was okay, he understood.
She needed time to find the composure she needed to face the rest of the day. He knew that when it was time for her to release her emotions, it would be with him, and only him. He gave her hand a gentle squeeze, before he let it go.
Back at the station, harry Lipschitz was shouting into the telephone.
"What! No! You listen to me.... No. It's just not possible.... We have nothing yet... Absolutely zilch... Well then you'll just have to do it yourself then... No, not as busy as they already are... George, they are already like zombies with this case..."
Chris looked over at Rita, relieved to see a small smile now on her face, as she listened to Caps end of the conversation. He himself chuckled at Harrys woes. Cap slammed down the phone, and then he looked over his glasses at his two best homicide cops.
"The damn press is all over George, it seems they want to talk to the investigating officers in charge. No. Don't give me that look, Lorenzo, youre saved. I told them no way."
"Thanks Cap!" said Chris.
"So what do we got... Another Night Crawler? He demanded.
"Yeah... It looks that way, cap... Michael and Karen Richardson.... Same as the other houses and no prints were found. Rita told him.
The maid said that things were missing, the same as usual... Jewelry, silverware, and the vault was broken into, plus some expensive art pieces.... Just like with the others" added Chris.
"The maid... She was the one who found them?" asked Cap, as he read over Chris's notes.
"Yeah.... She called it in around seven this morning. The coroner estimated time of death at about two thirty this morning. We found no fingerprints, no tracks anywhere, and no sign of breaking entry.... It's as if the killer just walks right in. Despite any security measures that have been placed." said Chris, then pausing to sip from his coffee.
This was where Rita picked up again.
"We figure the killer must know the security that's in place, but we haven't found anything to connect all six houses at present, and we haven't checked into this one yet... I did find this though, cap" Rita held up the bag with the key inside it.
"So what is it?" asked Cap
Rita shook her head "We haven't figured that one out yet either."
Cap watched as she rubbed her neck, a sign he had learned to read that she was stressed. He knew they were both beginning to burn out with this case, but there was work that needed to be done, a killer that needed to be caught. He had heard it said that it was better for two cops to drop from exhaustion, then for a killer to go free.
"So what are you both still standing here for? "Go! Go!" he ordered. Chris and Rita began to rise, but then Cap had another question.
"How about the kids in this one... I assume there were, if it is like the others.... Have they been taken some place safe and were they questioned?" It was something they all knew must be done, but none of them liked it.
Chris hesitated as Rita moaned a little, then quickly left the room. Caps eyes followed her, full of questions, but then turned to Chris for the answers.
"There were no children at this house... At least not yet.... The woman was eight and a half months pregnant, cap. There was no chance for the baby.... She had been shot in her stomach."
"Oh, god." sighed Cap.
"Yeah... It was bad... Really bad.... And it hit Rita pretty hard... It hit us all that way, cap, but knowing Rita, this one really got to her. I don't think she can shake this one off as easy this time." Chris walked over to the window of Caps office, peering through the blinds at his partner, worry written on his face. Cap followed him, still in shock at what he heard. Pregnant woman being killed...."Damn!" he said aloud, to no one in particular. They watched as Rita leaned her head onto her desk.
"I'm gonna get this guy... Soon Cap..."Chris said, as he left his Captain's office. Harry watched Chris walk over to Rita and lean down closely, saying something to her, as he rubbed her shoulders. She stood up, nodding at him, and then she pulled out her growing stack of files.
As he watched both of his detectives emerge themselves back into their work, he wondered just how much longer this case would go on. Something had to break and soon, he thought, before one of his detectives did.
That day had been just as long as the one before, but there was a lot more to do now. After talking with the maid and finding nothing still to go on, Chris decided it was time to quit for the night, and Cap agreed. It was Rita who didn't want to quit just yet.
"Go on home now, get some rest.... Or go out, do something fun.... It's been awhile since you've done that... Anything... Just try not to think about this case for awhile."
Rita realized Cap was right. She could do any work that needed to be done now just as easy at home.
She gathered up her things, including the files for the case. Chris came over and took them from her hands however, and handed them over to their captain, who nodded his approval at him.
Rita, who was taken by surprise by Chris's actions, stood there just glaring at both the men. Harry put his hands on her shoulders, ushering her towards the palm doors, and Chris had her by the hand, pulling her along with him.
"Alright, alright, Im going.... Geez... It's not like I have any big plans for the night, you know." she said.
"You do now," said her partner. "You, my lovely lady, will be dining tonight at the best restaurant this town has to offer... No, no. Don't give me that look Sam.... I'm not even gonna make you go Dutch tonight... As a matter of fact, you know what... I'm gonna even let you go higher then your usual limit.... You my dear, get to spend seven dollars tonight, instead of the usual five!" Chris smiled at her, trying to make her give him one of hers in return. He was rewarded for his efforts.... God, he thought, when she smiled, it seemed as if all was right with the world again... At least his world. He loved her smile, and usually it thrilled him to see it. It did now as well, but he also noticed that the twinkling in her eyes that was usually there, was missing. It was his intention to put that spark back tonight.
"Wow, seven , Sam? I just might be able to get a bottle of water to go along with my bread tonight... I'm impressed Sam, really" teased Rita. Chris gave her one of his pity me faces, before he playfully pushed her out the swinging doors.
"Come on, you... Miss Smarty Pants..... Bread and water... Ha!... As if I could afford to take her out that fancy!" Chris said, as he turned to the Cap, who was enjoying this scene from his favorite duo.
They left finally, and he could still hear their playful banter as they walked down the hall. He knew that there would come a day when those two would finally realize what everyone around them already did. They were in love with each other, and they belonged together. He sighed, wondering how much longer it would be that he would be able to keep the best homicide team he had ever worked with patnered together.
Billy and Gina walked along the street, holding hands as they talked about their baby, their future. Gina was so excited, imagining that one day soon, they would be pushing a baby carriage with them. Billy let her ramble on, he could tune her out easily enough when he chose to. Her daydreaming gave him his solitude. He had to think, had to plan, because every detail mattered. He heard her go on about the baby... How wonderful their life was going to be when they left this town and settled down. What did he wish for, a boy or a girl.... Well it didn't matter to her, , just as long as it was healthy... But they really should decide on names,... Did he like Justin for a boy? Julie for a girl? BLAH, BLAH, BLAH.....
As if he cared! He could care less. She had to go and get herself pregnant..... It sure did put a crimp in his plans. A baby.... He had never wanted to become a father.... No way! But he loved her, and he knew the baby came with the package. It was his baby, he knew that. He just wished there wasn't a baby at all. She was asking him something....."What? "
"I asked if you liked Justin for a boy, and Julie for a girl?"
'Gina... That's up to you, what you name the baby.... I'll love it no matter what" he said, knowing it was a lie. He hated this baby already. Aw.. I just can't wait till it's born, Billy! We are going to be such great parents for it... We'll give it everything we could never have."
As they passed by a restaurant, they peered in. It was an expensive place to eat. Everyone looked so happy in there, enjoying themselves and the food. He saw a man and woman sitting at the table closest to the window. She was so beautiful, and the man looked as if he had just stepped out of a magazine. He would never have a woman like that. He knew she was way out of his league, and she probably wouldn't have even given him a second look. The Beautiful People, he thought.... They had it all money, looks, everything.... they thought they were so much better then people like him and Gina. They were just lucky, that's all. He was going to be one of them some day, and it would be at their expense. They would pay for his ticket to the good life. "Someday, Gina, that will be you and me sitting at that table by the window, eating that lobster, and drinking that vintage wine." he told her.
Gina just laughed at him.
"That is if we are lucky enough to find a good baby-sitter" she replied back. They continued walking on, and while she pictured herself holding their baby in six months, he made his plans.
Chris and Rita had the best table in the restaurant, and it was because the owner had a crush on Rita. When they had met Fritz, his daughter had just been killed, and he was devastated. It was Rita who had reached out to comfort the older man, and in doing so, they had become good friends. Every time Chris brought any other woman to this restaurant, they were placed in the back corner, close to where the rest rooms were.
However when Rita came with Chris, they would get the best table, the best wine, the best service. Fritz, owned the place, and he liked both detectives, but didn't like seeing Chris with any other woman. He would always ask Chris how Rita was, where she was, and why she wasn't with him then. And Chris would be embarrassed in front of his date, as Fritz intended for him to be, he was sure. After awhile, Chris learned his lesson, and the only time he went there to eat anymore, was with Rita. It was her favorite restaurant, and Chris thought it was more because of Fritz, then the food, though the food was delicious. It had somehow become "their" place, and Rita had no idea of the real reason of why it was so.
Whenever Chris and Rita appeared at the restaurant together, Fritz always gave them first class treatment. And tonight was no different. Chris had called Fritz earlier, telling him Rita needed to have her spirits lifted and Fritz had immediately begun to prepare for their arrival. He had picked out a superb menu, which he knew was Rita's favorite, retrieved one of his best wines, and even ordered a dozen long stem roses.
As they were enjoying their dinner, the roses were delivered to Rita, much to Chris's surprise, though he knew not to let that show, especially when she kissed him, surprising them both. He watched her glowing over the surprise, and heard the music in the background..... It finally hit him... Directly in his heart , his mind and his soul, all at once .... He was in love with her.
"Sammy... Come here", he said, as he gently pulled her to her feet, and led her to the dance area.
"Sam.... What are you doing... I'm not finished my dinner yet".
Chris took her into his arms, inhaling the soft, yet alluring scent that drifted up at him.
She came willingly into his arms, feeling the security that immediately surrounded her, loving the way being in his arms made her feel. She too breathed in his scent, so familiar to her, and yet so intoxicating. She allowed her self to be led, as she listened to the music playing, and she explored the secret place, where she kept her hopes and wishes, her desires and her dreams. She already knew she loved him more then as a best friend.
"God must have spent a little more time with you" the singer sang those words, as they danced, and they both thought how true it was.
Chris felt her relax in his embrace, and he tightened his arms a bit more around her. She was so tiny, and petite, but yet he couldn't help thinking how perfect she molded to him, better then any other woman he'd known ever had. It was as if she belonged there, was the only one made for him, and he thought,.... She really was his angel. He loved her, but more then a best friend should. He wanted so much now to tell her ... But how? She thought of him as her best friend, and he couldn't dare risk that. He contented himself instead by wandering through his imagination, dreaming of what it would be like to make love to her while whispering the words his heart yearned to speak. He was lost in his own world as Rita dreamed the same things in hers. In the real world, Fritz smiled, thinking it wouldn't be long now.
The evening turned out to be wonderful, a brief escape from the mad world in which they existed in. There had only been once in the entire evening where they each had vividly remembered the details of their current case, a few seconds in which they felt the burden of that morning, but neither of them knew it had occurred at the exact moment for them. A moment in which they had been envied by a couple walking past the nearby window.
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