Bailey walked through the Las Vegas crime lab, watching the day-to-night shift change while Captain Brass walked through the case with him. The lab looked efficient and well-organized; Bailey had developed a habit of checking the labs and morgues when he did a consult to get an idea of the reliability of the evidence.
“Brass.” A tech with reddish-blonde hair and—Bailey couldn’t help but notice—a bombshell figure—hurried up to them, a folder in one hand. “I have the results on the trace from the explosion.”
Brass took the folder from her. “Thank you. CSI Catherine Willows, this is FBI Agent Bailey Malone. He’s here to do a profile on the Summerlin killings.”
“That’s great,” Willows said. “I haven’t been working that one—it’s day side—but I know they’ll be glad for your help, Agent.”
“It’s nice to be wanted,” Bailey said. Willows flashed a smile at him, collected her folder from Brass, and walked away with that ground-eating stride. Bailey watched Brass watch her go with a certain amount of private amusement.
“The latest body came in less than an hour ago,” Brass said, heading for the double doors to the morgue. “This one was stabbed—dozens of times, from the sound of it.”
“So you have burned, poisoned, shot, and now stabbed?” Bailey asked.
“Yep,” Brass said. “All with roses left at their feet.”
“I hate roses,” Bailey muttered. Brass threw him a look. “Old case. Never mind.”
Brass snorted. “All right.” He pushed the doors open. “You’ll like our ME. Used to work for the FBI herself. Grace—“
“Alvarez,” Bailey said, coming to a halt just inside the doors.
“Bailey Malone,” Grace said, looking up at him from across a dead body. “As I live and breathe.”
There was a knock on the door of his borrowed office. Bailey looked up from the stack of folders in front of him. “Grace, hi.”
“Want to rest your eyes a bit and grab dinner?” Grace asked. Her hair was shorter and darker than he remembered, but still formed a riot of curls around her face. Bailey was pretty sure his hair was only shorter around the hairline. “There’s a good quick Italian place not far from here.”
“Only if I get to pay,” Bailey said.
Grace smiled. “Single moms never say no to a free meal.”
“The boys look great,” Bailey said, taking the photo from Grace. Jason and George laughed up at him, each with an arm around their mother. “How are the early teens treating you?”
“I may survive them,” Grace said.
Bailey handed the picture back. “And Morgan...?”
Grace shrugged. “They’re visiting him now for spring break.”
“That’s good to hear,” Bailey said.
“Yeah. He loves them. I still would punch him in the face given the option, but the boys come first.”
“They always have with you.”
She sighed. “Thanks.”
He put a hand over hers, and felt a shock of surprise—and something else—when she turned her hand over to take his.
“Come on,” he said. “You haven’t even told me the gossip about our George yet.”
Her whole face lit up. “You mean the story about how he came to visit and broke the heart of one of my techs?”
“Tell me everything,” he said.
She launched into a funny, possibly overblown story, but left her hand in his. Bailey was uncomfortably conscious of it even as he laughed and joked with her.
Grace flopped back onto the sofa in Bailey’s hotel suite and put her arm over her face. “That’s it, I’m done. I am murdered out, Bailey.”
“Perish the thought,” Bailey said. He put his folder down on the desk and stretched. “Drink?”
Grace raised an eyebrow at him. “Do you still drink too much, Agent Malone?”
“I do, Doctor Alvarez.”
“At least you admit it.” Grace stood, took the glass of whiskey Bailey handed to her and looked down at it. “You were always honest about the strangest things.”
“Not all the things,” Bailey said.
“Well, who needs that?” Grace asked. She tapped her glass to his. “To just enough honesty.”
Bailey took a drink, keeping his eyes on hers over the rim of his glass.
Grace set her glass down on the desk. She hooked her fingers in the loose knot of Bailey’s tie and pulled him down into a kiss.
They lay in silence afterwards. Grace curled into Bailey’s side and traced patterns along Bailey’s ribs. Bailey played with the ends of her hair and waited for her to say something.
“Stop that,” Grace said without lifting her head from his shoulder.
Bailey moved his hand.
“Not that,” Grace said in a tone that probably worked very well on teenagers and lab techs. She reached up blindly and poked him in the cheek. “Stop thinking.”
Bailey surprised himself by laughing. “Not sure that has an off-switch.”
Grace shook her head; her curls brushed across his face. “Put the serial killers and the personal demons and the VCTF in a box for a couple of hours, Bailey.”
“Can you do that?” he asked.
She shifted on his shoulder and he felt her lips on the side of his neck. His heart gave a sudden, dangerous lurch. “Race you to forgetting, Malone.”
“You’re on,” he said, and felt her smile against his lips as he kissed her.