DISCLAIMER: I don't own them, I never will. Proper rights go to Bruckheimer and gang. Sue me you will not, nothing I have.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Amy Jo

Part 21

I sit at my desk, perplexed. It would seem that the flowers were indeed from Sara. But what does she mean by putting her name on the last card? Does she want me to call her, to go find her?

When I came in to work, this is definitely not what I expected to happen. I wasn't sure what would happen, but it wasn't this. I had thought maybe there would be some tension between Sara and I when I saw her tonight. But I haven't yet had a chance to see her. I know that when I do there will be a smile plastered on my face.

The utter lack of small, sweet gestures like this in my life before only makes me appreciate it more.

I've already gone looking for her once; I think I should probably just wait until we see each other. It's going to have to happen sometime tonight with the two of us working the same case. In the meantime, maybe, just maybe, I can clear off the very last of this paperwork.

As I try to work my thoughts continue to drift. I can't focus and the tedium of paperwork is not helping. Deciding that maybe my office isn't the best place to be, I grab a few files and head for the break room.

Fresh coffee and final reports for closed files. This shift is going to be so long, I can feel it.

The break room is again empty when I get there. Not too surprising, knowing that Gil and Nick are at a scene and that Warrick is around here somewhere, probably still in ballistics. I'm not sure where Sara is, but I'm sure she'll either find me or we'll see each other when Greg pages with DNA results.

See how good I'm getting at this control thing? Part of me wants to call her, or page her, but being at work seems to have tempered things for me today. Yesterday was a mess, having really just figured out what she means to me. Today I seem to have a better grip on things, and that makes me happy.

Time creeps by slowly in the silence of the break room. I'm just finishing with the last of my files when my pager beeps loudly. Greg. For once he has good timing. Before heading to the DNA lab I drop the closed files in Gil's office, noticing that the stack of files I left in here yesterday are still sitting in the same exact spot on his desk, untouched.

As I walk up to Greg's lab I notice that Sara is already in there with him. My heart rate increases imperceptibly at my first look at her tonight. Funny how there's nothing special about the way she's standing there, the clothes she's wearing, or anything different about her appearance and yet simply seeing her brings a smile to my face. The knowledge that she isn't the same Sara I thought I knew yesterday changes the way I look at her.

Sara and Greg are locked in conversation and neither notices my approach. Sara stands in her usual black boots, blue jeans and a tank top. I want to reach out and run my hands down her arms so that I can feel the warmth of her skin.

I want to tell Greg to stop ogling her because she is mine. I remind myself that she's not. Not really.

"Hey guys," I say, stepping into the lab. Whatever conversation they were having suddenly stops and both of them turn to look at me. Greg offers a weak smile, but Sara's smile is much wider. And much more appreciative. For a second I think she's giving me the same look Greg was just giving her. The look in her eyes disappears quickly.

"Catherine, I think I've seen you more tonight than I have all week," Greg says before turning to one of the printers in the room to grab the results he knows I'm here for.

"Give me those results and you won't have to see me again all night." I can't help but smile. And though I'm looking at Greg, my smile is for Sara. It's not Greg that keeps me grinning; it's her. Seeing her again, just being near her. For the moment, thankfully, that's the only sign that anything is different tonight. And no one around the lab, except maybe Warrick, is going to notice that I'm smiling more than usual.

Greg smirks. Okay, so he may have noticed too. But he doesn't know the real reason why.

"Your sample matched. So that means ." Greg leaves his sentence hanging, apparently expecting an explanation for what's going on. Greg hands the results to me, and I take a quick look.

"That means, Greg-o, that either the Nesbits lied to us, or Junior lied to his father. Junior was in town visiting Grandma. And spit in her face either when he killed her, or right after."

Greg's faces scrunches up in disgust and the only thing I can do is nod in agreement. Sara steps closer to take a look at the results in my hand. If I moved one inch to the left, I could brush up against her. I'm surprised at the amount of control it takes to keep me from doing just that.

Trying to keep that precarious control, I hand the results to Sara and turn to leave. "Thanks again Greg."

Sara follows me out of the lab, barely giving the results anything more than a once-over glance. "Uh, Catherine?"

I slow my step a little so she can walk up to me. With her long legs my slowing down was unnecessary, but I don't want her thinking I'm walking away from her. I'm actually walking away from Greg.

"So what did you think we should do next?"

Well that's different. She's never asked before, she usually just goes and does what needs to be done. Unless she's asking about something else, which I highly doubt she would do in the hallways of the lab.

"We really need to speak with the Nesbits again. Find out if they were lying or if they really didn't know that James Junior was in town for a visit."

"You want to bring them in here, or should we go to them?"

It would probably be better to have them come here, but if I stay in this lab much more tonight the walls are going to start closing in on me and I'm going to go stir crazy. I'd much rather head out to the hotel and talk with them there. Too much time here is bad for my sanity. Especially if it's time spent alone wondering where Sara is or what she's doing.

"I'm all for getting out of this place. It's beginning to feel claustrophobic for some reason. I'll give the hotel a call and make sure the Nesbits are around."

"Okay, sounds good. A little bit of time away from the lab never hurt anyone."

Is this Sara I'm talking to? The same Sara that spends free time, otherwise known as unpaid overtime, hiding in a lab to get even more work done? The same Sara that goes to the ballistics lab and the morgue to just talk the techno talk with Bobby and Al?

I look over at her and yes, she still looks like Sara. But now it's her that's acting different. If I was acting this odd yesterday, it's no wonder she knew something was wrong.

"Well, you've got the detective's numbers, why don't we give her a call and see if she can meet us at the Palms to talk to the Nesbits." See how I kept all bitterness and jealousy out of my voice as I said that. I'm getting a little better at this.

Part 22

I make a quick call to the Palms in my office. I don't want to drive all the way there just to find out that the Nesbits are out, or worse, that they've already checked out of the hotel.

By the time I reach the parking lot, Sara is waiting by the Denali she usually uses to drive to scenes.

"You all set to go?" Sara asks, leaning up against the side of the truck.

"Yeah. I just gave the hotel a call to make sure the Nesbits hadn't decided to leave town yet. You call Secula?" I walk around to the passenger side of the truck.

"She'll meet us there." Sara opens the door and climbs into the truck.

"Good. Wouldn't want to do this without her." I tell Sara once we're both seated in the truck.

"Cat, about Detective Secula." Sara's voice trails off as if she's not sure what to say.

I'm not really sure what she is trying to say either, so the sentence hangs in the air between us uncomfortably.

Sara sighs heavily before continuing, "She gave me her phone numbers."

"I know that Sara. I was there when she reminded you, remember?" I may have fled the break room shortly after that, but I certainly do remember that part.

"Yeah. But I wanted you to know why." The only word I can think of to describe the look on her face is conflicted. I like it more when she smiles.

"Sara, it's none of my business. Really." That doesn't mean that I don't want to know, just that she doesn't have to tell me. Because it really isn't any of my business. Now if I could just convince myself of that.

"I think it might be. Well, not really, but as sexy as you are when you're jealous, I think maybe it's better that you know what's going on."

Sexy? Holy shit, Sara just said I was sexy. Breathe. Breathe.

Wait. She also said something was going on. Damn. Talk about confused emotions.

"I ."

She flashes a smile at me before interrupting me, "She's got a thing for someone at the lab."

I can't help but laugh at that. "Sara, I think that was pretty obvious."

Her smile just gets bigger. The gap between her teeth shows and even as uncomfortable as I am talking about this, that smile just makes me want to lean over and kiss her. To find out if she will have the same taste of faded coffee and breath mints as she did yesterday.

"Yeah. But it's not me." The smile turns into a smirk.

"No? You sure about that?" Now why the hell did I say that?

"Absolutely. Hell she even made it very clear that I was wasting time and probably letting you get away."

Huh. I think this might be one of those situations where people describe their jaws dropping to the floor in astonishment. Shit, I was obvious enough yesterday that Detective Secula caught on. Fuck.

"So, uh ."

Sara knows what question I'm going to ask and answers quickly, "Nick."

I should have known. Nick is apparently quite the charmer when it comes to ladies. He probably worked one case with her and she fell for his Boy Scout charm and classic good looks.

"Apparently they had dinner quite some time ago and Nick never called her back. She seems kind of stuck on getting him to agree to a second dinner. She wanted me to talk to him."

"Are you going to?"

"Talk to Nick? Well I sort of have an idea of how to make this work. I can give Nick her numbers without getting too involved, and I can have a little bit of fun at Nick's expense."

"So you and Detective Secula got this friendly over the course of one evening?" Somehow that just doesn't seem likely. Sara isn't exactly the kind of person to open up to someone else in such a short period of time.

"Oh, I wouldn't exactly say that we're friendly. She just wants me to put in a good word for her with Nick and see if maybe I can get him to call her."

"Nick is a big boy. I'm sure if he wanted to call her, he would have."

Sara laughs, "I tried that. But she can be, uh, persistent."

That wasn't really the impression that I got from her, but Sara did spend more time with her yesterday than I did.

"So how did she figure out that I was interested in you?" I really didn't think I had been that obvious yesterday. But apparently I was if someone I had just met figured it out.

"Actually she didn't." Sara starts the truck and begins the drive to the hotel. I got so distracted by our conversation that I forgot we were even supposed to be going anywhere.

"Then how." I start, but Sara interrupts again.

"She figured out that I was interested."

Sara doesn't offer any further explanation. How does someone who has just met Sara figure out she is interested in me? I've worked with her for years and didn't know.

The rest of the drive to the hotel is quiet. I have a lot of questions for Sara, but now doesn't really feel like the right time to ask them. Sara focuses on driving and she looks so intense that I don't want to disturb her. I watch the streets flash by out the passenger window as I wonder what it is that has Sara thinking so intensely.

Driving, even on the always-crowded streets of Las Vegas, doesn't take this much concentration. Sara's hands grip the steering wheel hard enough that even in the darkness I can tell that her knuckles are white. The muscles of her forearms are taught with pressure. I want to calm her somehow, but I think if I were to move or say something Sara would become even more jumpy. I really just want to know what's going through her head right now.

Sara parks the truck in the hotel parking lot and we head inside in silence again. Even away from the lab I'm feeling claustrophobic, as if the walls are closing in on me. I think the cause of the feeling now is the distance between Sara and I. Sometime during that drive an invisible wall got built between us. I don't yet know to break it down, but I know that I will.

I can't let her stay like this; distant and closed off. I don't know what her feelings are about me, but I've already decided that I'm not letting go. I suspect that Sara is the kind of person to run away and shut everyone out when people get too close. She doesn't have to let everyone in, just me.

It sounds selfish and possessive to say such a thing. But I'm also pretty sure that Sara doesn't have a lot of people in her life that she can open up with. I want to be one of those people. I want her to know that I will be there for her, as a friend. Or as more than a friend.

I really want to be more than a friend, and I think we're talking small steps toward accomplishing that.

Part 23

I must have lost myself in my thoughts again because the next thing I know we're standing outside the door of the Nesbit's room. Sara knocks a little too loud and immediately there is a response from inside the hotel room. Standing behind Sara, I have no idea what the person on the other side of the door said, but it doesn't matter anyway because within seconds the door opens.

"Ms. Sidle. Ms. Willows. Come on in. James is on the phone right now, but you're welcome to sit in the living area." It's clear to me that the Nesbits haven't been sleeping much.

Sara and I walk to the living area and find Detective Secula waiting for us. She looks uncomfortable sitting on the couch waiting for the Nesbits to be ready. This is why we usually do these things at the lab, or at least at the PD. Interviewees are much more uncomfortable at the lab and it makes it easier to tell when they are blurring the truth.

Secula looks happy to see us, grinning when we round the corner to join her. There aren't too many places to sit in this little living area and Sara sits next to Secula on the couch. I remain standing, leaning against the wall. Angie sits on a love seat, the only other piece of furniture in the room, and quietly waits for James to return.

Seconds later, James joins us. He sits next to his wife, immediately reaching out for her hand. Angie covers his hand with both of hers and smiles weakly up at him. It's really none of my business, but I can't help but wonder what they spent their time doing today. The look in Angie's eyes is haggard, she is emotionally stressed to the maximum. James seems tired and weak.

"I think I know what this is about,' James begins. "Junior called me earlier to let me know that someone had been to the house and talked with him for a bit. He also said that someone took a 'spit swab'."

Secula jumps right in. "Yeah. It's more complicated than I can explain, but that's why Ms. Sidle and Ms. Willows are here. Basically we think your son may have been in Las Vegas at or around the time of your mother's death."

"Why would you think that?" James asks.

"Well, you remember how I took a swab from your mouth for a DNA sample?" I ask. James nods and I continue, "We had our lab run the DNA and it came back with a few matches to some other samples."

"What other samples, Ms. Willows?" Angie asks.

"Catherine, please." Angie smiles faintly and I can tell that she appreciates the small gesture of disregarding formalities.

Gil would say that I shouldn't be on a first name basis with people involved in our cases, but I've never liked it when anyone calls me 'Ms. Willows'. I can't really explain why, it just bothers me.

"I'm going to assume you don't want all the techno-jargon involved in a DNA test." Both heads shake. DNA isn't really as complicated as people think it is, but as soon as you start talking DNA and markers people usually just stare back at you blankly.

"Earlier last night a body was found in the desert. One of our coworkers went to that scene as Sara and I went to your mother's house and then came here. When we got back to the lab we had some DNA tests run."

And when I say DNA again, I can tell I'm quickly losing their interest. It might not be the most exciting subject ever, but I need them to pay attention if they want to know what's going on.

"We didn't think anything would come from it," Sara starts explaining. "But we needed to be able to exclude the two of you from anything we might have found at your mother's house. A stray hair, or your fingerprints or DNA on a glass of water, something like that. We look for what doesn't belong at a scene, but to find it we have to know what does belong."

Well she's better at explaining this to them than I was. She at least seems to have their interest. Which is okay by me, because I'd rather solve the puzzle than try to explain it to people. And Gil calls me the people person.

"So why did you need my son's DNA?" James looks like he is following everything okay, but he is still confused.

"Well, the body that was found in the desert turned out to be your mother. After comparing the DNA, we were pretty sure it was your mother. And your visual identification confirmed that."

Even though I might not be one for the science of DNA, I find myself actually wanting to explain exactly how we could match his DNA to his mothers. I hold back, knowing that while the information might be important, at this point Mr. Nesbit simply doesn't care.

"There was a second DNA sample that had similar markers to the sample we took from you. It indicated a familial relationship, and the next logical step was your son. Detective Secula managed to get your local police authorities to contact your son. And they got us a swab to compare to that second sample."

Now how Secula managed to get the local authorities to not only find the son, but to also get us a swab before shift started tonight is a minor miracle. At some point when we're away from the Nesbits, I'd love to ask her how she managed such a feat.

Normally interdepartmental cooperation is slow as molasses. Everyone wants to find the bad guy, but the problem is that everyone wants to be able to say "I'm the one that found the bad guy." No one wants to work together to get things done.

"So I take it his swab matched then. Otherwise you probably wouldn't be here."

"That's right." Sara says abruptly. Secula simply nods in silence, I think we lost her when we started talking science. I've never understood why some detectives don't bother to learn at least the basics of forensic science. The more experienced detectives can talk the talk just as much as anyone of us in the lab, but the new ones don't seem to take the time to learn.

"We can tiptoe around the questions we have for you, but it's probably better just to put everything out there and let you know where we are headed with our investigation." Ah. So Secula can talk. And bluntly too. I'm beginning to like her more and more.

"Well you might as well just lay it all out." James sighs heavily. "But you guys don't mind if I have a drink, do you? It's been a hell of a bad day."

James gets up without waiting for a response from any of us and heads over to the mini-bar. He's going to regret that when he gets his hotel bill. One little mini bottle of vodka from a hotel mini-bar can run as much as an entire bottle from a liquor store.

He returns just a few short minutes later with one glass of amber liquid and one glass of clear liquid and ice. If I had had to guess, I'd say whiskey for him and vodka on the rocks for Angie. He hands the clear liquid to Angie, and I feel the twinge of a smile at the corners of my mouth.

"So do you know what happened to Anna?" Angie asks quietly as she sips her drink.

"We don't have everything yet, but we've got an idea. We really need to know some things from you before we talk about what happened to her."

"Well, what do you need to know?" While Angie sips at her drink, James is practically gulping it down. He's going to need another real soon if he keeps drinking like that. One drink to calm the nerves isn't so bad, but anymore than that and talking to him is going to be useless.

"Why don't we start with Junior. We know that he was here in Vegas. What we need from you is the truth. Did you know he was here?" Secula asks.

I never figured out why detectives ask this question. If people have lied to us once, they are going to do it again. Simply asking for the truth doesn't mean you're going to get it. The Nesbits have already told us they thought Junior was back home, and until we find something to indicate that they lied to us, we are just going to have to take them on their word.



Oh. Now that's interesting.

Part 24

"What?" The level of James' voice reaches nearly yelling.

"Would you care to explain that at all?" Sara asks.

I see a look of disbelief on both Detective Secula's face and Sara's. I'm nearly certain that the very same look is on my face.

"When we were at the airport, I thought I saw James Jr. But I couldn't be sure." Angie takes one look at all of our faces and slugs back most of her drink.

"Why didn't you say anything?" James asks her angrily.

"Jesus, James. Have you looked at your son lately? He's barely over twenty years old. He looks like every other college kid in America. You could put him in a room with ten or twelve other kids his age and I probably wouldn't be able to pick him out. I thought maybe I saw him. But remember how he called you a few hours after our plane landed? I thought he was at home. Which meant the kid I saw couldn't have been him."

We should probably get this back on track before it dissolves into a marital spat. "So what time were you guys in the airport? We can check the passenger manifests and see if he took a flight in."

I watch as James starts thinking about what time they arrived, thankful the slight diversion worked. Tension might be high between these two, but that's something they can work out without the three of us in the room.

"Uh. I think it was about 10:30 a.m. three days ago. But our flight was a little late. We were supposed to be in town just after 10:00 a.m."

Detective Secula appears to be jotting down little notes, which I appreciate because there will likely be a lot of this conversation to make note of. I'm more focused on watching their reactions to certain questions and their interactions with each other.

Yesterday there was a definite feeling of love between James and Angie. She was there comforting him when he needed it, offering her support. Today is different. They might be sitting next to each other, but there is a distance between them that is much greater than mere inches.

"Great. We'll check the passenger manifests and see if his name pops up anywhere. Did he call you here at the hotel, or do you guys have a cell phone he called?"

"He called the room actually. We've both got cell phones, but he called here." Angie responds. I can see the gears working in her head as she starts putting things together.

"Can you pull the hotel's LUDs? Figure out where he called from?" Sara asks the detective.

"I'll give it a try. Might take a while. Unless the hotel agrees to give 'em up, we'll have to get a warrant, which means it'll have to wait until sometime tomorrow. There's not a judge in Clark County that would sign a warrant for LUDs this late at night."

"I don't think it's important enough that we get to it tonight," I tell Secula.

"I think you're probably right about that." Sara agrees with Secula.

I switch gears, "Was there any animosity at all between your son and your mother?"

"None that I can think of," James says. "Junior and mom always got along real well. As well as a grandson and a grandmother can I guess. We're not an incredibly close family, but I've never noticed anything that would even make me think they had problems. Angie?"

Well at least he recognizes that she might know something he doesn't.

"Not from what I've seen. I barely know Anna really, but she was the grandmother everyone always wanted from what I could tell. She kind of spoiled Junior a little, but really when she moved out here communication kind of slowed down. She had her life and we all had ours."

"So why do you think he would come all the way out here to see her?" Sara asks.

I love watching the way her mind works. She always seems to be two or three steps ahead of the question she is asking; always thinking of possibilities. She's quiet a lot of the time at the lab, but one look in her eyes tells you that her mind is working a mile a minute.

"I'm sorry, but I really just don't know." Angie responds.

"I can't think of anything. I know that it doesn't help you guys, that you're looking for answers. But I really don't think we can be of much help. Everyone pretty much had their own lives. Anna had hers, and James Junior his. Angie and I spend a lot of time together, but not really with James. He had school and his own friends. He's old enough that we don't really keep track of him much anymore. I'm sorry."

I can tell that James is upset that he is just as clueless as we are. Not every family, in fact very few these days, are as close as people would like to think. More and more often I find that families drift apart as the children get older. It's not something that can helped in most cases, it just happens and that's the way things are.

"Hey now. Don't apologize. Your son is old enough to have his own life, you aren't responsible for him anymore. We're just trying to get as much information from you as we can so that when we bring James in we'll have a starting point."

"You're going to bring him in? As in back here to Vegas?" Angie asks.

"Well yeah. There's a warrant for him as a person of interest to our case. As soon as the DNA came back I called your local authorities to see if they could get him down here on his own. But you should know that if he doesn't come willingly, he will be arrested and brought down."

Secula is right on top of things, and I couldn't be happier knowing that some of these things are being taken care of. Especially since she has already managed to get some cooperation with the other police department.

"I think that about covers it for now, right ladies?" Secula asks.

Sara and I nod in agreement. Secula gives the Nesbits the usual 'try not to leave town' speech and the three of us leave the hotel room.

Part 25

The three of us leave the hotel room and I find myself not quite willing to return to the lab. Back at the lab I have already finished up all the paperwork that was sitting on my desk, and right now our case has stalled; any immediate work to be done on our case will need to be handled by Detective Secula. Mostly I think I don't want to return to the lab because then I won't have a reason to keep myself in Sara's company.

We're waiting for the elevator and all three of us are surprised when I open my mouth and ask, "You ladies want to grab some dinner down at the café?"

"Well I don't know about Sara, but I'd love to," Secula responds, grinning widely.

Sara looks confused but simply shrugs and says, "Yeah sure."

"You sound so enthused, Sara. C'mon, be a little social. I'm not bad company once you get to know me," I kid with Sara.

The elevator arrives and Sara lowers her voice to a whisper as Secula steps in, "I think you're great company. But I prefer to have you all to myself."

I can feel myself blushing from Sara's comment and though Secula is less than three feet away she gives no indication that she heard anything. As the elevator moves downward, I glance over the detective and she grins widely at me. My face turns a deeper shade of red, knowing that her smile means she heard exactly what Sara said.

I've never managed to be embarrassed by such simple words. But to hear them from Sara seems to make all the difference. It's really going to take some time for me to get used to hearing even remotely personal comments from her. Everything said between us up until now has always been professional; nothing to indicate that our relationship went any further than coworkers.

In less than a day all that has changed. And I like it. I like it more than I think I should. Sara and I still haven't really established where things stand between us, and I shouldn't let myself read something into her words that might not be there. No matter how badly I want it to be there.

"Cath, you coming with us? Or were you planning on riding the elevator all night?"

Shit. Sara is chuckling and standing outside the elevator, her arm outstretched to hold the door open. Apparently I've lost myself in my thoughts again and didn't even notice that the elevator had stopped. Damn it. I've really got to quit doing that.

"What if I like this elevator?" I kid right back.

"Then by all means," Sara says as she removes her arm from the elevator door.

"Ha ha." I say, stepping out of the elevator.

Secula has already started off toward the Sunrise Café and by the time we catch up to her she is already seated. Sara pulls out a chair and sits. I'm left with the choice of sitting next to her and being near her or sitting across from her and getting the chance to watch her. It's a tougher decision than I thought it would be, but in the end I can't pass up the chance to sit next to her, to feel her so close to me.

Secula just keeps on smiling and I can't help but wonder if she knows something I don't. Has she noticed something else that I didn't? I'm still looking at her confused when I see her eyes flit over to Sara. I turn to look at Sara and something about the look on her face really makes it feel as if my heart swells.

It's hard to describe the look on her face. It's not like love, I'm old enough to know that you don't really fall in love at first sight. Okay so this isn't the first time I've seen her, but I know that love is based on emotion, not just looks. Lust is based on looks. Even after one kiss, good as it may have been, is not enough to fall in love with someone.

That look, I've never seen it so openly displayed on her face, but I finally recognize what it is. It's happiness. Sara looks at me and for what I swear is the first time, she really honestly looks happy.

My face heats with the flush of embarrassment. Never has anyone ever looked at me like that. Not the boyfriends I had back at home, not Eddie, no one. I duck my head and stare at the table, knowing that my face is a deep shade of red. Across the table I can hear Secula giggling. Actually giggling like a schoolgirl. And here I thought I couldn't be more embarrassed.

A menu slides into my field of view and I assume a waitress has appeared. Sara and Detective Secula order beverages. When I still haven't looked up, Sara orders water for me.

"You think she'll ever be able to face me again?" I hear Secula ask of Sara.

"Oh, I'm sure she will. I think she's just a little embarrassed," Sara replies, resting her hand on my thigh.

Holy god. Her hand is on my thigh. A heat unrelated to embarrassment quickly spreads throughout my body.

"Sara. Play nice. She's going to spend the rest of the night staring at the table, and we should at least talk or something."

Play nice? She is playing nice. More than nice. Sara's hand rubs slowly, so god damn slowly, up and down my thigh. My head falls forward and hits the table with a loud thump. Her hand squeezes and I'm tempted to lift my head just so I can thump it back down again. She's going to kill me.

With my forehead pressed against the edge of the table, I can watch as her hand moves. And I had been so worried earlier that I wouldn't know what to say or how to act. Looks like I don't have to worry about either because my voice is gone and there's nothing that could motivate me into moving. I can't see the look on her face, but I know she's smiling.

I can't lift my head. I'm not used to Sara being even remotely affectionate toward me, much less placing her hand on my thigh. And in the middle of the Palms hotel café. In front of a detective I've only known for barely longer than twenty-four hours. It's all too much at once.

Trying to get my mind on track, I attempt to focus on the case, the people involved, the science; anything to make me forget the heat transferring from her hand, through the material of my jeans, and deep into my skin. It's not working. At all.

"Sara? Please?" Secula asks. "She'll never be able to face me after this. What if I have to work with the two of you again?"

The light teasing Sara is getting from Secula distracts me a little. Not enough, but a little. Sara applies a little pressure to her hand and her gentle caress increases to something closer to a massage. Oh god. I have to bite my lip in order to keep a frustrated groan from escaping.

How is it that she is so comfortable with this? I'm close to dying of embarrassment, well not literally, but still. And I've barely known the person sitting across from me for a day yet she teases Sara as if they were old friends. I've got a lot to learn about the hand on my thigh. I mean, about the person the hand belongs to.

"Oh, I don't know. I kind of like Catherine like this." There's a tone to Sara's voice that I really, really like.

Part of me realizes that I need to move, to open the menu and find something to order. But somehow I doubt that Sara is on the menu here. And I'm afraid that if I move the spell will be broken.

I'm not sure how long I remain seated with my head pressed against the table. I'm vaguely aware that the waitress has returned more than once. She even asked if I was okay, which led to more giggles from Secula and a throaty laughter from Sara. I'm fascinated by the slow movement of her hand and the affect it is having on my senses.

"Cat, your dinner is here," Sara whispers in my ear.

I nearly fall apart at the feel of her breath in my ear and the sound of her voice so close to my ear. I'm never going to make it through this dinner, or this shift, if Sara keeps this up.

The hand on my thigh finally withdraws and I'm left with a deep sense of loss and longing. How can she do this to me with a simple touch? How can she make me want her so much?

"Eat now, play later." Sara's voice has dropped so low I almost don't hear her.

This shift? This dinner? How am I going to make it past the next five minutes?

Part 26

Sara's hand dips under the table one more time. She wraps her fingers under my chin and pulls my face up.

I'm not prepared to face her, or Detective Secula for that matter. I know that my face has turned a permanent shade of red, and the obvious look of enjoyment on Sara's face is definitely not helping matters. The look on Secula's face isn't much better as far as I'm concerned.

It took quite a few years, but I finally understand what it feels like to be mortified from embarrassment.

In front of me on the table sits a sandwich I didn't order.

"I got you a club sandwich. No bacon." Sara says as she watches me studying my plate. "Oh and chips because I couldn't remember if you liked french fries."

She ordered my food. And not only that, but she got it right. "How did you know that?"

"We've had dinner a few times," I'm still confused, and she knows it. "With the boys and sometimes Brass. I remembered the sandwich you liked, but forgot about the chips or fries thing."

"I'm surprised you even remembered the sandwich. We've only done this what, like three other times?"

Sara simply nods.

"And, you know, you got it right. I prefer the chips." I smile as big as I can, trying to reassure her since she seems disappointed that she couldn't remember something as inane as my preference for potato chips over french fries.

"Good god Sara. You've had dinner with her three times and you can remember what she likes to eat. That's either incredibly sweet or incredibly sad." If it weren't for the laughter erupting from the other side of the table, I think Sara would be incredibly pissed to hear that.

Sara nearly jumps out her chair when I rest my hand on her leg briefly. "Thank you."

Her leg tenses under my touch and it feels good to know that I can get this reaction out of her. Her breath catches when I drag my nails along her thigh before pulling my hand away.

"You know ladies, we are in a hotel. You could just get a room." Secula might be laughing, but her tone is serious.

For a moment I actually consider doing just that. Taking Sara upstairs and showing her just what she can do to me with a simple touch. Or at least getting the room for nothing more than an ice cold shower.

"You know, for someone I just met yesterday you're kind of a smart ass. Are you like this with everyone you work with, or is there something special about the two of us?" I ask Secula.

At least the food and conversation can distract me from Sara. I hope.

"Not everyone. But it's especially fun with you two. Have you guys really worked together for more than three years and not noticed the tension?" Secula replies between bites of her meal.

Sara remains silent, and I can't really think of what to say. "Uh ."

"And they call you investigators. I thought you folks on the 'nerd squad' were supposed to be very observant."

"Well I'm glad you find this so very entertaining. And 'nerd squad'? I think I resent that." Sara is laughing, but I do notice a bit of real resentment at the term.

"Hey now, O'Riley taught me that one. Apparently it's an affectionate term most of the detectives have for you CSIs. If you prefer I can call you science geeks."

Secula is having way too much fun teasing us. But it is nice to have a good rapport with the detectives, and she seems easy to get along with.

"Moving on. You think you can get the LUDs by tomorrow's shift?" Sara munches on her salad while waiting for Secula to answer.

"Aww. And here I was having a good time poking fun at you. Are you always business? Where's the fun in that?"

I'll give her credit for being persistent. She doesn't seem to want to give up on the teasing. But it's clear to even me that Sara wants to get back to work.

Sara looks directly at me, and I can feel her eyes burning into me. "Not always business. Just when I'm on the clock."

"I could be wrong, but it didn't seem like you were on the clock ten minutes ago when you were groping your girlfriend under the table."

Secula has a shit-eating grin on her face and it only gets bigger when my mouth drops open and my face turns red again. At least I'm not alone. Sara's face is bright red, and for a moment I see a scared look in her eyes that makes me think she's about to bolt out of here as fast as her legs can take her.

"Uh. Um." Sara stutters, unable to come up with a response.

While this might be something I'm more comfortable discussing with Sara in private, and hopefully far away from work, I really think I should clear up a few things before I let Secula go on teasing us. "I'm not exactly her girlfriend."

That gets Secula's complete attention, "Oh. Mind if I ask what exactly you are?"

I wonder if I would mind her asking if I even had the slightest idea what I am to Sara; what we are together.

"I, uh. I don't really know," My voice is low and the words come out in barely a whisper. There is a tinge of hurt in my voice and out of the corner of my eye I see Sara actually flinch slightly as I speak.

Secula really is pretty observant and she switches topics quickly, "Yeah. I'm pretty sure I can get those LUDs by tomorrow night. Actually I guess that would be tonight. Since it's past midnight now. And I check on the status of the son. I'm hoping since he gave up the DNA so quickly that he will come in on his own."

Sensing things are tense between Sara and I with that small revelation, Secula immediately slips into work mode and almost doesn't stop talking for the next thirty minutes.

The more time I spend with Secula, the more I like her. She's got a quick wit, even if she uses it to poke fun. But she was also observant enough to notice when she hit an obviously sore spot and immediately changed the subject. By the time we've finished our meal and are ready to go I've almost, just almost, forgotten that pang of hurt from when she asked me what my relationship with Sara really was.

Outside the hotel Secula leaves us, promising to page both of us on our next shift to let us know what information she came up with. Sara heads to the truck quietly and I follow.

Whatever this thing between us really is, we have to talk about it soon. I feel exhilarated when her attention is focused on me; when she laughs, smiles or touches me. But the hurt is overwhelming when I realize that I don't know what I mean to her.

In two days she has changed everything. I want, god do I want, to move forward and see where this takes us. If that isn't the same thing that she wants then we need to stop this right now. Before the pain kills me. It won't be the easiest to go back to the way things were, but if that's what she wants I'm willing to give it a try. I was willing to ignore this attraction to her before she kissed me, so it seems I should be willing to do the same now. It all depends on her.

Part 27

The drive back to the lab is quiet. I want to say something, but I'm not sure what to say. We shouldn't really talk about this at work, but the distance I feel from her when she shuts down like this as agonizing. Just when I want to be close to her she pulls away.

I want to ask her about the flowers. I know she sent them, but I want to know why. I know she's saying she's sorry, but for what exactly? For kissing me the way she did? Or for leaving with the words 'I have a date'? Or maybe it was both.

And the date. God help me I want to know about her date. Who was he? Or was it a she? Why did she go after what happened between us? Is there a second date? I have so many questions and not enough answers.

Back at the lab Sara makes a beeline for either her office or her lab. She hasn't said anything since sometime during dinner and I'm half afraid I've managed to scare her away before we even got close.

In my office I find some miscellaneous reports I needed for open cases and a copy of the autopsy report for Mrs. Nenadov. I sit down to read them and find the smell of flowers distracting and the silence is causing the walls to close in. I take the reports that are high on my priority list and head off for the break room.

In the break room I grab a bottle of water from the fridge and sit at the table with my reports. I leave the Nenadov autopsy report for last, knowing that if something important has come up on a previous case that will need to be taken care of before the Nenadov case.

"Deep in thought Catherine?" I'm startled by the sound of a voice. Nick is sitting across the table from me, studying me.

"Something like that. Ballistics report, DNA, DNA, and trace reports," I say picking up the individual file folders and dropping them back on the table one by one.

"Heavy caseload lately, huh?" Nick sips at his coffee and smiles his charming little Texas smile.

"Not really. Just a lot of reports on a few cases. Have to make sure we cover everything, you know. Heard you got a db with Gil tonight."

"Yeah. I honestly think he would have let me have this one myself, but with bugs involved." Nick lets his sentence trail off.

I know what he means. Anytime a case pops up where the state of decomposition is such that there are likely to be bugs, Grissom can be found nearby. I really don't know what he finds so fascinating about those creatures. I understand the value of entomology but sometimes the little creatures are just icky.

I laugh a little, setting the files off to the side. "Yeah. I know. How'd your robbery case from yesterday go?"

"Smash and grab. Perp was all over the videotapes. I got Archie to blow up a couple of stills and handed those off to the detective. There's not much for me to do until he finds the guy."

"And your db tonight?"

"Just taking a break. Grissom started muttering about life cycles and pupae and then wandered off to see Doc Robbins and David. Bobby's already got the bullets over in ballistics but he's a little backed up. Thought I'd take a minute for myself."

Just when I think our conversation is going to fade into silence, Sara enters the break room. It takes more concentration than I'd like to admit to not stare at her while she goes about emptying and re-starting the coffee machine. With the last cup of coffee she sits at the table next to Nick. Across from me.

"Hey Sara. Did you get a chance to do that thing yesterday?" Nick asks looking between Sara and I as he speaks.

I suddenly wonder what he's talking about. He can't possibly know anything about what's going on between Sara and I. I nearly panic at the thought.

"The thing? You mean that blind date you forced me into?" Sara grumbles while sipping at her coffee.

Well that explains a lot. Nick is nervous bringing up the subject in front of me because we all know how protective Sara is of her private life. Part of my brain is busy dancing with excitement over the fact that Sara's date yesterday was a blind date. It explains a lot.

She wouldn't cancel because word would get back to Nick that she was being anti-social or something. And if she just plain didn't go, chances are pretty good that whoever Nick set her up with would complain that he got stood up and then Sara would have had to explain things to Nick somehow.

"Uh. Yeah," Nick says nervously. His lips curl up in a smile and he asks, "So?"

"So? So I'm getting you back for that one. The only reason I agreed to go was so you'd shut up about setting me up with your friends. But I've got to tell you Nick, that guy was just not my type."

I'd be interested to know what she considers her type. Sara does a little bit of mind reading and looks over to me, grinning widely. Damn that's cute.

"Really? I thought you two would get along pretty well. He's a really good guy and very smart."

"And also obsessed with NASCAR. Nick did you really think I'd have one single thing to say to him about car racing? Other than that it's highly dangerous and kind of stupid to drive around in big circles all day?"

Sara's having a good time with this, I can tell. She isn't laughing outright, but I can hear the laughter in her voice. And her smile just gets bigger and bigger as she continues to complain about the differences between her and Nick's buddy. I sit back in my chair and watch, completely entertained by the sarcastic comments Sara makes and the look of dread slowly creeping across Nick's face.

"Okay, okay. I get it." Nick finally says, hanging his head in exasperation.

"Oh Nicky I don't think you get it," Sara sets her cup of coffee on the table and stares at Nick.

I swear Nick shrinks in his chair from that look. I would too, if Sara looked at me like that. It's evil, a playful kind of evil, but Nick knows right away that he's in some trouble.

"Now you can say you've set me up with a nice guy and it didn't work out. So that means you can stop badgering me to date your single friends. But you owe me."

"I owe you?" Nick looks frightened and I cover my mouth in a lame attempt to hide my laughter.

"Big time," Sara grins. "See, I've got this friend. I think she's your type. Blonde, gorgeous, and even smart. Quite funny too. And you're going to buy her dinner."

"I am?"

"You are."


"I'll even set it up for you. Reservations and everything. When's your next day off?"

Sara continues with her plan to set up Nick and Secula and I slip out of the break room quietly. I can't hold back the giggles anymore. Nick looked like a child being punished and Sara was enjoying every minute of it. Whatever happened on her date couldn't possibly have been good, but I find myself wanting to know all the details just so I can have a good laugh about it.

Part 28

For once, I actually find myself searching the labs for Gil. Lately it seems as if crime in the city is down or something, because it feels like I should be doing more work than I am. This is Sin City after all, you'd think someone somewhere would be committing a crime.

And how bad is it that I actually want someone to commit a crime just so I'm not bored. Somedays I really wish I could get into the science of this job as much as Gil or Sara. But I prefer to be out in the field over being stuck here at the lab. The fact that in two days I've managed to finish over a weeks worth of paperwork is testimony to just how bored I've been feeling in the lab lately.

I find Gil sitting behind his desk in his office, lovingly feeding some six-legged creature. No matter how many times I see him do this I'm still amazed at the tender care he gives the insects. I mean, they are insects; not exactly something I would choose as a pet. I wouldn't be surprised if he started babbling in gushy baby talk; it's that frightening.

I sit down in the chair across from his desk and when he doesn't notice my presence after a couple of minutes, I speak up. "Gil?"

"Huh?" His head snaps up, "Oh. Hey Catherine. Something I can help you with?"

As soon as he's finished speaking, his head ducks down again to watch his little buddy in the jar. I wonder if this is just his semi-antisocial behavior or if he's pissed about me handing out assignments yesterday. I hadn't really had time to think about it since then, but with a spare minute now I realize that I actually haven't seen much of Gil in the past two days. And when I have he's been completely absorbed in something else.

"I uh ." I start. Oh hell. What is it about apologizing that makes it so damn hard? "I thought I'd stop by. I think I should apologize. For, you know, handing out assignments last night. I should have let you take care of that. I'm sorry."

Gil's head pops ups briefly and at least I know he heard me. He stares at me for a minute with his eyebrow arched. Okay, so apologies aren't really my thing, but he doesn't need to look so surprised about it.

"Okay." And that's it. He turns back to his bug and it would seem that this conversation is over.

"Uh, Gil?"

He looks back up at me, seemingly surprised that I'm still sitting there and with obviously no intention of moving. "Yes?"

"Listen, uh, well are there any cases that need follow up work? Or maybe fresh scenes or something?"

Gil smirks, "Bored?"

"Well yeah."


I point to the stack of files sitting precariously on the corner of his desk. "Done."

"Want to do mine for me?" Gil asks with a smile.

Well he can't be that mad at me if he's going to kid around. "Uh. Not really. I was looking for something that would keep me awake, not make me slip into a coma."

"Ha. Ha."

"Anything?" I feel awkward asking for more work.

"Sorry. So far I don't have anything I can give you to do. Ask one of the others if they need help on anything. There's only a few more hours left, I'm sure you can find something to do until shift's over."

Gil goes right back to his bugs and I know that this time all conversation is over. I'm thankful that he doesn't appear to be mad at me for handing out assignments. Now if only I had something to do for the last few hours of this shift.

For lack of anything better to do at the moment, I head back to my office. The door has been closed since I last left and when I open it, I'm immediately overwhelmed with the scent of fresh flowers. A smile spreads across my face before I can control it.

This is a good feeling. It is good to know that someone cares, even if they aren't there to tell you. Just the scent reminds me of her and what we could have. Or maybe we already have it, I'm not sure. I'm going to have to talk with her this morning after shift. I need to know what all this means.

I step around my desk, not even sure what I'm still doing in here. There isn't any work to be done, there's nothing for me to do here. Well, nothing but sit back and smile. And so that's what I do.

I'm not even sure how much time passes, but eventually I hear a knock on my door and look up to see Sara standing in the doorway to my office with a handful of files in her hand.

"I almost thought you were sleeping again." Sara enters my office with a smile.

"If I was, would you wake me up like you did yesterday?" I can't resist the urge to tease just a little. My office door is wide open and if someone were to walk by, it would be easy for them to hear us. Surprisingly, I don't seem to care. Happiness has weird effects on people.

"Maybe. Maybe not." Sara just keeps smiling and I've got to admit she looks fantastic smiling like that. Or maybe it's the devious glint in her eyes. Whatever it is, I like it.

"Well, you know you could just step back outside for a minute and I could pretend to be sleeping."

"No can do. I'm already here, why would I want to leave?" Sara sets the folders down on one of the chairs in front of my desk and sits in the other one.

For a minute I don't know what to say. In just a few words she can shake my perception of her totally. Somewhere under that tough, determined, beautiful exterior is the heart of a truly wonderful woman. With the right actions and the right words she knows just how to make me melt.

I'm in serious trouble if she doesn't want the same things from our progressing relationship that I do. I keep coming back to this, that she might not want to be with me even when it seems like she wants everything I do. I need to work on that, to have a little more confidence in her. In myself. What I really fear is that I'm going to fall hard for her and, like every other relationship, she will one day turn away. Turn to someone else.

Shaking the irritating self-destructive thoughts from my head I lean forward on my desk and ask, "So what are you doing here?"

"Beautiful flowers," she says as she reaches out and cups one of them in her hand, gently running her thumb across its petals. I watch in fascination as the softest look takes over her face. "Uh. Right. You forgot some files when you left the break room earlier. Thought you might want them back."

"Right. Files," I try desperately hard to keep all traces of disappointment out of my voice.

"And I wanted ." There's that nervous look again. Damn that's cute.

She's silent for a little bit, and I don't want to push her. Whatever it is that she's going through, she needs her own time to adjust to it. Something tells me she's been hurt a lot in the past and if I don't want to scare her away I need to let her do this her own way. Even if that means I get my hopes up a little just to have her retreat again. So far it's a pattern, open and friendly then back to reserved and quiet. It might take some patience, but I can learn to live with that.

"I, uh. Well, I wanted to see you. Make sure you got the flowers. And well, just see you again."

Sara, the woman who can steal everything I thought I was just by telling me she wants to see me. With anyone else I can be forward, make my move and make them mine. But everything is so different with her. I can't be like that with her, I need her to make the moves in a vain hope I don't fall too fast; let her set the pace. With her it feels more... everything. More heated, more intense, more sincere.

Part 29

God she really knows how to make me smile. I know the grin on my face practically stretches from ear to ear, but at the moment I don't care if it looks silly. She wanted to see me. I feel as giddy as a schoolgirl. I really need to grow up.

"You wanted to see me?" I question, pretending for the moment that I don't have the slightest idea what she's talking about. "Our case is stalled until we hear from detective Secula again."

Sara sits quietly and I can tell she's trying to figure what I'm talking about. She's still thinking about it when I get up and start to move across the room. She turns her upper body in the chair and watches almost nervously as I walk to the door. Does she really think I'm going to walk out the door? The relief on her face as I push the door shut tells me that yes, she did think I was going to walk out.

"I wanted to see you too," I tell her, walking over to stand next to her chair.

"You could have, you know." Sara says quietly.

"Could have what?" I stand at the side of the chair, looking down on her. She speaks softly, almost a whisper, and the look in her eyes is one of closely reined in fear. I sink to the floor, squatting next to the chair.

"Seen me. Come to find me."

I wish I could know what she was thinking. Her eyes hold a mixture of emotions; fear, hurt, nervousness, and many more.

"I didn't know. I wasn't sure. Things are. Well, things are a little different now." I rest one of my hands on the arm of the chair she's sitting in.

Confusion clouds her face even as her hand comes to rest on mine. "Different?"

"Yeah different. I don't know what this is between us," The hand she's not holding absently points from her to me and back. "I'm certain of everything I feel, but I don't know about you. It might sound corny but I get such mixed signals from you. I don't know what to do."

"Mixed signals, huh?"

I'm trying to have a serious conversation and she smirks at me. And that playful glint has returned to her eyes.

"Oh yeah. Mixed like you wouldn't believe," And now I'm getting signals, but these are the ones I want. Her fingers have begun gently stroking the back of my hand and the smile spreading across her face is one that I recognize from her teasing at dinner. A smile I definitely like.

"Playful and flirty one minute," like right now, "then distant the next. A kiss that sets my body of fire and literally made me weak in the knees. And before I could even put enough words together to form a sentence you're telling me you've got a date. Your hand on my thigh at dinner tonight, but before we even left the table you had gone quiet. Definitely mixed signals Sara."

I struggle to keep any note of desire out of my voice. Remembering her kiss and the feel of her hand makes it hard to remain neutral.

"I'm sorry about that. Do you know how new to this I am? How much I've wanted this? That every time I see you I want to sink my fingers into your hair and kiss you until you can't breath anymore? I've wanted it for so long that every time I come close to having it I fear I'm going to lose it."

Even sitting so close to her, the words are spoken so softly I can barely hear her. My heart is pounding in my chest at her slight confession. I look into her eyes and lose myself in the depth of emotion staring back at me.

"You do?"

"I do what?" I've confused her again.

"Want this?"

A whisper, "I've never wanted anything more."

"You do." This time it's not a question, but a statement. When she looks at me, puzzled again, I explain, "Kiss me until I'm breathless. You can take away my breath with your lips when you kiss me, with your hands when you simply touch me, and with your words when you say something like that. Everything about you shakes me down to my soul and leaves me lost and alone when you retreat."

I don't know at what point she came to mean so much to me, but she has. The speed and intensity of this frightens me.

"Cath. I ."

"Listen, I know that you're scared, I can see it. I want you to know that I'm just as unsure about all of this as you are. We don't exactly have the best friendship or anything, but I think what we could have is much better."

I honestly can't tell if she believes me, but her eyes are filled with hope. For right now, in this moment, that is enough for me.

I push up a little from my position on the floor, bracing both hands on the arm of the chair. Sara doesn't have a chance to respond to anything I've said before my lips are on hers. Her gasp of surprise is lost in the melding of our lips.

I feel her fingers in my hair, wrapping around the curls, pushing and pulling against the back of my head in an attempt to gain control of our kiss. She wants control, to kiss me breathless. But she's already done that, and petty as it sounds, it's my turn.

It takes a lot of strength, not all of it physical, to resist Sara. She wants more than I'm willing to give right now. I'm taking my time tasting her lips, chapstick, and enjoying the softness. Occasionally her tongue darts out to stroke my lips, a silent request for more contact between us. Sara grunts in frustration as I deny her.

I feel her fingers slide down my neck, the soft touch easily eliciting a moan. Sara seizes the opportunity given her and her tongue quickly slips past the barrier of my lips. The pressure of her tongue against mine sends flares of heat throughout my body. I am now the one seeking more contact as I try to regain some control of this kiss.

She is just as resistant as I was to let go. Seated in the chair she has the advantage and without any thought I move my body to take that advantage from her. My hands push the arm of the chair and my lips separate from Sara's briefly. In a mere matter of seconds I'm straddling her with my calves stretched on the arms of the chair.

Sara opens her eyes at the sudden movement and I find myself again lost in the depth of her eyes. Desire flares and the sweet, chocolate brown is lost in a wave of black as she takes in my new position. Shock registers briefly as my hands push her back in the chair and I lean down.

She's expecting my lips to land on hers and gasps in surprise when instead I taste the skin of her neck. Her gasp quickly turns into a strangled moan as I suck some of her skin into my mouth and bite gently. Her hands have gripped my waist tightly, holding on with amazing strength.

I devour the soft skin of her neck, exulting in the flex of muscles under my lips as I taste the sensitive spots that cause her breath to catch. I can feel her pulse under my tongue; it is haggard and out of control, closely mirroring my own.

Sara pushes her head further into the back of the chair, granting me access to more and more of her skin. I can feel her flexing and digging into my hips as I discover a particularly responsive spot just under her ear.

When my lips wrap around the lobe of her ear, her entire body shudders in response. I like that. I want to do that again. I repeat the action and this time I am rewarded with a low, throaty moan of my name. The sound of my name on her lips, with that lust-filled tone, is nearly my undoing.

Part 30

My lips release her skin but move immediately to kiss her. I want to devour her and the soft sounds I hear from her make it very clear that she wants the same thing.

Cool hands slip under my t-shirt and I nearly collapse onto her from the overload to my senses. Her hands remain still for what seems a long while, simply luxuriating in the feel of skin on skin.

I struggle to remain where I am when her hands start moving. Slowly, teasingly, her hands inch upward, only to retreat downward again. I'm surprised at how soft her hands feel and how quickly my body reacts to her touch. Kissing her is enough to make me weak, adding her touch leaves me unable to think.

Her touch is like fire, heating my already burning skin and exciting me to levels I'd never thought possible. I separate our lips when I can't breathe anymore and almost instantly regret it. I might not be able to breathe, but I miss the taste of lips and feel of her tongue enough to make me lean in for more.

Sara has different plans and she has already moved her lips to the skin of my neck. I have a fleeting thought that we're still in my office at work, but as her hands work higher under my shirt and her tongue darts out to lick I suddenly don't care anymore. The only thing that matters is the woman underneath me and the nearly unbearable pleasure I'm feeling.

Breathing in ragged gasps, my hands clutch desperately at the back of the chair. I need something to hold onto, something to keep me grounded.

In my office. God, we're still in my office. We shouldn't do this in my office.

My grip on the chair tightens and I find myself pushing into her as her hands reach the bottom of my bra. Her lips travel across my neck, hungrily tasting skin. There's a low moan in the back of my throat that I'm trying to keep suppressed; chances are good that when it escapes it will be loader than appropriate considering our current location.

Her fingers slip under silk fabric and the touch rips the moan free. Much loader than is entirely appropriate. Fortunately, or not, the sound seems to snap both Sara and I out of the haze of arousal.

Sara's hands quickly descend down my stomach and out of my shirt.

"God," Sara breathes against the wet skin under her lips causing pleasant shivers to spread across my body.

I don't even think I can form words and simply grunt something affirmative in response. Sara giggles at my inability to speak properly and the light laughter continues to send waves of goose bumps across my skin. If I don't pull away from her soon I never will.

I push my hands off the back of the chair, resting all my weight on my legs. My movement causes Sara's lips to separate from my skin and for a brief moment I want nothing more than to reverse my position and sink back into her.

Teasingly, Sara's hands move around my hips and slide into the back pockets of my jeans. Her fingers ding in as she applies just enough pressure to pull herself closer to me without letting me lose my precarious balance.

"I love these jeans," Sara says quietly. To emphasize her point, she pulls herself even closer to me, her hands still shrouded in denim.

"Really?" It seems I've found my voice again.

Sara's position beneath me is awkward and probably very uncomfortable. She tilts her head back to respond, "Oh yeah."

It hasn't done me any good so far, and it probably won't do me any good if she keeps looking at me like that, but I continue to remind myself that we are at work. Can't do this at work.

I close my eyes, hoping that by not looking into the heat of her eyes I can somehow distract myself into cooling down. My plan is flawed and I know that. I might not be able to see the desire in her eyes, but I can feel the heat of her hands and the press of her lips against my collarbone.

Sara knows very well what she is doing to me. I can tell by the increased speed at which her lips move and the way she uses her hands to keep me closer as I try to move away. I find myself breathing raggedly again, and moving against her.

I try to ask her to stop. Or at least I think I do, but the only sound I manage to make suspiciously resembles a growl. I twine my fingers in her hair and forcefully pull her back from me.

"Sara?" It was supposed to be a statement not a plea. I wanted more force behind my voice, but I can't seem to do it.


I wait until I have enough control over my voice to speak again. I don't know how she can so thoroughly reduce me to nothing but hormones. I'd certainly like to find out, but this is something that can't be done at the lab. There's a certain forbidden aspect that is entirely too appealing about doing this at work.

"Can't do this here."

"No?" Sara questions.

I find myself once again looking into the depths of her eyes and it is very clear that she wouldn't mind doing this here at all.

"No," I sigh heavily.

Work. We're supposed to be working. And I don't exactly like the idea of getting caught making out like hormone-crazed teenagers. Sara groans her disapproval, but I feel her hands slipping out of the pockets of my jeans. Why did I say stop again?

"Okay," Sara mumbles sliding her hands across my thighs. Her hands rest loosely on my legs and I can't help but wonder if she's doing this on purpose. Tempting me to stay right where I am.

"Are you trying to make this hard for me?" I cover my seriousness with laughter, trying to ease some of the tension in my body.

Sara teases me by rubbing her thumbs in light circles on the inside of my thighs. "If I said no?"

"Then you'd be lying." I put my hands on the arms of the chair and slide down, resting on my feet right in front of her. "We really shouldn't do this here."

"I know," Sara sighs heavily. It's good to know that I'm not the only one having a hard time with this. "But you're too damn sexy in those jeans."

"Is that so?" She's so fun to tease.

Her eyes are still filled with desire, and it seems this is just as hard for her as it feels like it is for me. If I could, I'd climb right back up there and just see where this goes. But the door to my office is unlocked and we're still technically working.

"It is," Sara's tone is serious and the heat in her eyes hasn't diminished one bit. A smile dances at the corner of her lips and she continues, "You never wear jeans to work. And I know why now."

"Oh? And why is that?" I find the strength to push away from her, but still wanting to be close I simply lean up against the desk behind me.

"Because you'd never get any work done. You'd be too busy fending off all the boys in the lab if you came in looking like that more often." Sara chuckles at her own joke.

"Seems to me I can't wear jeans to work anymore." I say completely serious. Holding back the big grin on my face almost hurts.

Sara looks almost crestfallen and watches me closely as she asks, "Why?"

"I'd never get any work done. I'd be too busy fending you off all night long."

Part 31

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