Dr. Alvarez, I Presume?
Grace finally has her own story. Romance more or less.
I just borrowed them for the story, they are owned by others.
Grace sighed it was the end of another long day. She was on her way to the day
care to pick up her sons, George and Jackson.
"Hi sweetie, come to mommy" she picked Jackson up as he toddled over to her.
"Did you have a nice day?"
"Mommy," He hugged her neck, and pointed towards the play area.
"Let's get your brother and go home."
Grace was driving in evening traffic, when her beeper when off.
"Damn," she pulled off the road and called in, "This had better be good?"
"Sorry Gracie, but we just had another killing in Knoxville, that makes three
in the last month. We've been called in to determine if it's a serial killer.
I need you to review the first two and take over for the local ME on the
newest victim." Bailey explained the situation to her.
"Alright tell me when to be at the airport."
Bailey knew it was harder for her to get away with two children at home.
He didn't always have her join the team, but this time he did need her skill.
Grace arranged with her neighbor to keep the boys until their father could
pick them up in the morning. Mrs. Garcia was an older widow lady, and she
loved taking care of the boys. Her own grandchild lived in another part of
the state and she only saw them a few times a year.
"I'm here boss. Let's go." Grace was the last to arrive at the airport.
"Glad you're here Gracie, get comfortable, the flight should take a few
Grace was examining the latest body at the scene. There were police officers
working all over. She was taking samples before the body was transported to the
local morgue. She stood up swinging her hair out of her face. Then she
looked for the officer that had escorted her. He was in charge of loading the
body, and she was done, for now.
"Can I help ma'am?" A tall man asked, he was dressed like a detective or a local
agent. He was wearing a suit, tie and shined shoes. He had blue eyes, short dark
hair and a ruggedly handsome face. He didn't look old enough to be an agent.
" I was looking for the officer that escorted me."
"He went back down to the front door, can I help?" He moved a step closer to
Grace, and bent his head sideways a little to look into her eyes.
He was smiling at her, at a crime scene. If she didn't know better he was
flirting with her. He was attractive and had a very masculine voice, deep
and soft kind of like Bailey's. " Thank you, but he's supposed to take
possession of the body now."
"I'm Anthony Travis, one of the detectives working this case." He offered his
hand to Grace.
"Grace Alvarez, the bureau's ME on this one. Can you tell me anything about
the first two victims?" Grace shook his hand, which swallowed hers. She
noticed again how he didn't look old enough to be a senior detective.
"I'd be glad to, I'll even take you to the county morgue." Travis escorted
Grace from the room and walked down stairs with her.
"Hank you can load up the body, Dr. Alvarez is done. Thanks." Travis told the
officer on the door.
"Sure thing, Detective."
Grace pulled free of Travis's grip and walked over to Bailey and Rachel.
"I'm going to the morgue now, I should have a pre lim, for you in a few hours."
"Thanks Grace, do you need a ride?" Bailey looked up from his notes.
"I'm with Detective Travis, he's assigned to the case locally."
"Right, I met him, their best detective from what I hear. Keep in touch Grace."
" How did you become a ME?" Travis asked after opening her door and assisting
her into his SUV.
"I was always curious as a child, one thing led to another and I ended up in
Medical School." Grace was studying her driver he did have a few lines around
his eyes. If he was the top guy he had to be at least thirty.
" See anything you like?" Travis asked, he didn't mind her looking him over,
he hoped she would be attracted to him. He'd stared at her for a long time
upstairs before letting her know he was there.
"I'm sorry, but you don't look old enough to be the top man on the case."
" I'll be thirty three in a few months. I served in the Marines for four years,
came home went back to college. Started with the county Mounties, then
transferred to the city police when there was an opening for detectives."
" You must hear all the time you don't look old enough for this or that."
"It comes up, but most people get past it pretty quick. Especially if I'm
working to help them with some trouble they are in." Travis grinned.
"You can't be much over thirty, are you a career woman?'
"Honey, I'm older than you, with two sons, and divorced." Grace laughed.
"I've never been married, I love kids, and I don't give up easily."
" I don't live in Tennessee." Grace reminded him. " How did you end up here?
You have the same accent as Bailey, and he's from New York."
"I started out there for fifteen years, then we moved to Virginia, then here.
I graduated from the local high school then enlisted. My mother is Italian like
Bailey's we talked before on the ride out here."
"You move around a lot?"
"There are police departments everywhere you go. I travel light."
Travis warned her. He liked her, and he wanted to get to know her.
Grace had a report ready for Bailey by the time they reached the local
police HQ. The only similarities she'd found were the type of wounds. The
knife used was different for each body. She had taken fiber samples,
and hair to examine. She would work on them back in Atlanta.
" I understand you all are leaving soon?" Travis asked Grace after she
spoke with Bailey.
"Yes, John will be here for a few days, but the rest of the team is going
back to Atlanta. It was nice to meet you Travis, good luck on the case."
"Call me Tony, Dr. Alvarez is was a pleasure, have a safe trip home."
Grace couldn't believe his cocky attitude. He must hit on every woman he
came into contact with. She shook her head, and went to gather her things.
"Made a friend in Knoxville Grace?" Bailey asked.
"He was trying, but I'm not looking."
The team was busy over the next few weeks. Grace wasn't needed away from
her lab for one of the cases, so she was busy with fiber samples when Travis
showed up with George one afternoon.
"Grace you have a visitor." George was playing escort to the tall Tennessean.
This could be interesting.
" Who would be visiting me here?" Grace look up, and saw George and Travis.
" Nice to see you again, Dr. Alvarez, he removed his hat, a cowboy hat she'd
not seen him wear before." He was smiling.
"Travis? What are you doing here?" Grace removed her gloves and washed her
"I asked my superiors for travel pay on the stabbing case, when you sent the
information about the types of knives used for the murders. Something clicked. I
brought you a knife, if you can match it to one of the victims wounds."
"Where did this come from?" Grace asked. Taking the bagged knife from Travis.
"That's why I brought it, instead of sending it, it came from," He paused,
glanced towards George. Then back to Grace.
"George, is the person who gathers all the information around here. He knows all
about the case." Grace advised him.
"The knife came from the evidence locker at KPD."
"I'll get Bailey," George excused himself.
"I'd better get right on examining this then."
"Mind if I watch?" Travis was still holding his hat, in his hands.
"Yes, I do mind, go talk to Bailey. I'll let you know what I find."
Grace shooed him out of her area.
"Travis, what brings you to Atlanta?" Bailey shook hands with the tall
" I brought a special piece of evidence for Grace to examine. I didn't want to
trust it to a courier." He explained, and Bailey whistled.
"You know you might lose your job over this? Accusing members of you own force."
Bailey shook his head, in amazement.
"I know, but I can't let it go."
"I'll back you, the bureau has taken state police forces down before."
"I'm glad to here it, it could get rough."
George returned to Grace's lab. " You didn't mention you had met someone in
" It didn't seem like it was important. I didn't think he was serious."
"He's serious, he asked me all about you on the walk down here." George had an
evil smile on his face.
" Don't you encourage him. I'm not looking for a man in my life other than my
"I don't know Grace, he seems nice, tall, good looking kind of rugged, in shape.
Nice wide shoulders square hands, a touch of a New York accent.
" He's to young for me George, stop pushing."
" He's thirty-ish, intelligent, employed, likes you a lot."
"Come on Grace, you know you want to. He's gorgeous, go for it." George urged
"I can't. I have kids to worry about. I can't be having an affair."
" I think you could take a few days for yourself. The kids aren't old enough to
know where you are and what you're doing."
Travis, heard George advise her to go for it. He crossed his fingers and waited
for her next statement. Then he played that back in his head, George had said he
was gorgeous. Whoa, he'd not pegged Fraley as gay, but with a statement like
that he almost had to be. Hey, cool as long as he was on his side, Travis would
take all the help he could get, if it meant Grace would go out with him, give
him a chance. He went back up the hall, he didn't want them to know he had
Grace agreed to have dinner with Travis that night. But she didn't think
anything could come of it. She didn't see herself having an affair.
Travis was thrilled, he'd not felt so strongly about a woman he'd just met in
years. His track record with woman was long. He enjoyed sharing his life with
someone, but his career did come first. Being a cop was always difficult on his
lady. They always broke it off after starting to really care for him. Scared he
would get hurt or killed in the line of duty.
"I'm glad I had to come here, It gave me an excuse to see you."
" I should have the results of the last few tests tomorrow." Grace opened her
menu, he'd taken her to a place Bailey had recommenced .
"How long have you been divorced?'
" A little over a year, but we were separated for awhile first."
"Thank you, so why have you never tied the knot?' Grace shifted the topic to
"Not for lack of trying, I can't seem to find a lady who is whiling to be
married to a cop." he shrugged.
Grace looked at him, he was handsome as sin, there had to be more to it than he
was a cop.
"I've only wanted to settle down the past few years, I don't' want you to think
I've been looking for someone all my life and couldn't find her."
"You should keep looking Travis, I already have two sons, I'm not planning any
"Kids are great, all kids."
she Believed him, she was softening towards him. She didn't want to fall for
this tall, serious, handsome, persistent man. She didn't *need* a man in her
life. What she wanted didn't' matter.
They shared a meal, talked, he made her laugh several times. But she had decided
she couldn't start something with him, even a casual relationship was out of the
Travis saw he wasn't making any head way. She liked him, but for her own reasons
she wasn't going to see him again socially. He could tell by the way she was
being polite, but not opening up to him, not sharing herself.
"Grace you're about to tell me thanks, but no thanks aren't you?" He said as he
walked with her to her door.
"Yes, it's nothing personal, I think it's to soon. I don't need any
complications in my life right now." she turned to him half way up the hall.
Travis had been trying to decide, he'd have one last shot at making her realize
he was very serious. He was planning to kiss her, but he couldn't decide passion
filled or tender.
"I can't accept that." He said and lowered his mouth to hers, touching his lips
to hers, one hand on her shoulder the other at her waist. He'd intended gentle,
pressure, but when she leaned into him and responded, everything changed.
Travis, switched to persuasion, stroking her lips with his, tugging on her lower
lip slightly, then finishing that first kiss by brushing the hair off her face,
and looking into her dark eyes.
"Oh my," slipped out, she blinked and stared into his blue eyes, bright with
One of her hands was resting on his broad chest, his heart beat strong, steady
reassuring. Grace was aware of the warmth of his body through his shirt, the
solidness of his chest. He was built more like John and Bailey than her ex.
There was strength, and gentleness.
If he had grabbed her and kissed her, to prove a point. It would have been over,
now she was fighting off the urge to go back for more.
Travis waited, not sure if kissing her again would hurt or help his cause.
Grace stared into his eyes for what seemed like days, but was only a few
"I'm just not ready Travis, goodnight." and she turned away and covered the last
few yards to her door alone, unlocking it and stepping inside.
Travis's heart missed a beat when the door clicked shut. He had a knot in his
stomach, he'd been almost sure he's convinced her. He stood staring at her door
for a minute before turning and going to his car. He wasn't giving up, not yet.
Grace slept poorly that night, she sent the report on the knife up to Bailey
and asked him to provide a copy to Detective Travis. If she could avoid seeing
him she would.
Travis accepted her report, it was a positive match. He had work to do at home.
But he did have one thing he wanted Grace to know.
"George would you tell Grace something for me?"
"Sure do you want me to escort you down to the lab?"
"No, just tell her." he paused, thinking he wanted to word it right. "Tell her,
my middle name isn't trouble, it's Gregory. Look it up."
" I will." George looked puzzled. He searched the data base he had on meanings
for given names. Gregory had listed, vigilant, deliberate and watchful. He hit
the print button and took the print out to Grace.
"Travis is gone but he left you a message." George was smiling, he though it was
an interesting way of telling her he wasn't giving up.
"What did he say?" Grace looked up from her work.
"He said to tell you, his middle name isn't trouble, it's Gregory and to look
up it's meaning."
George handed her the print out. "I looked it up for you."
Grace looked at the paper, smiled and shook her head.
" Determination is good, but he lives in another state."
"I think he'd walk back here to see you again Grace, you might want to save time
and agree to see him again now." George hoped Travis would be successful in his
bid for her affections.
Travis returned home and continued to gather evidence. He was going to have to
take to the agent Bailey had contacted on his behalf in Knoxville. If it did
indicate a member of the local department was part of the recent killing spree,
things were going to get ugly.
There was another killing, a week after his return to Knoxville. He called
"I'm afraid he's still at it, we have another one."
"We'll be there in a few hours, don't let anyone near the crime scene until we
get there." Bailey warned.
" I know the drill, aside from the first man on the scene, I haven't even been
near the body." Travis promised him.
"Grace we have another one, be ready for a overnight, we're leaving in one
Bailey called down to her from his office.
"Bail, do I have to go on this one?"
"It there a problem with child care?"
"No, I can get someone to watch the boys"
"What aren't you telling me Gracie?" Bailey could hear something was bothering
"Nothing, never mind I'll be ready."
"Good, thank you."
Travis was waiting at the crime scene for the VCTF team.
" Glad to have you back on this, I know when I'm in over my head." Travis shook
hands with Bailey and John when they arrived. Rachel was already moving towards
the body. Grace beside her.
" This looks just like the others, stab wounds, and cuts made after death."
Grace had donned a pair of gloves and was making a preliminary exam.
" It's the same killer, we definitely have a serial killer active in the area."
"Can I offer to take you back to the morgue?" Travis offered Grace a lift back
" Sure, someone has to take me, you can if you want." She was trying to be
casual about him, but his nearness was making her heart beat faster. She was
attracted to him, any red blooded woman would be. But she didn't want to be
attracted, so she fought her own yearnings and mouthed off as much as possible.
Hoping to put him off.
" The local police don't seem to have a clue."
" There are men working on the force who have only seen death on the interstate.
This killing spree the past month has them worried. It's unfamiliar, unknown and
Travis commented. He glanced at her, she wasn't looking at him, her attention
was out the window.
" I'm sorry, if it really bothers you so much to have me pursue you I'll back
"I'm not bothered, just not interested." she lied, still not looking at him.
" Don't lie to me Grace, there was interest. I'm not a fool. You were hurt by
your ex, you haven't had time to heal. I understand that. You are as career
oriented as I am, but your career won't keep you warm at night. I know."
Grace didn't respond, keeping her eyes off him until they arrived at the court
house that also contained the county morgue.
"I'll see you later." he dropped her off and returned to the crime scene.
Grace was angry at herself. She had lied to him, she was interested. But she had
other obligations these days, to her sons.
She was half way through the exam of the body when she realized Travis was back.
" Is there something?"
" Yes, I brought a knife that was found at the scene. Bailey wants you to look
it over ASAP." Travis lay the bagged weapon on her work table.
"I get to it as soon as I'm done here." Grace nodded, that she understood he
wanted the tests done soon.
Travis watched her for several minutes. He'd seen a lot of death in his life,
mostly as part of his job. But he didn't think he could spend half his time with
his arms up to the elbow inside of dead people. Grace was amazing.
He waited up stairs, checking to see what she was doing every half hour. He was
running checks with the local DMV for matches to a partial license plate a man
had noted leaving the area at a high rate of speed the day of the killing. They
only had three numbers to work with so it was taking forever to run the possible
"Travis?" Grace called as she entered from the hall.
"Here," He lifted a hand in the air so she could find him behind the maze of
computers and cubicles.
"It's the murder weapon, and there is a print."
"Thank you Grace, that's the best news I've heard in weeks." Travis hugged her
quickly then released her just as quickly, a look of disbelief on his face. He
never should have grabbed her and hugged her like that.
"I'm sorry, that was just impulse." he looked like he expected her to yell at
him, or even slap him .
" I won't tell anyone if you don't. Just don't make it a habit." She was tempted
to smile, but held back. Not wanting to encourage him.
Travis took his seat again and punched in the state finger print system.
Grace watched taking a seat beside his desk. She'd enjoyed the short time in his
embrace. It made her wonder what it would be like to be hugged on purpose by
him. He was tall, her face pressed into his chest for a few seconds. He'd lifted
her off her feet, squeezed her tightly then set her down. His scent surrounded
her, it was unfamiliar she could only place soap and leather.
Travis pulled handful of mints from his pocket and offered them to Grace.
" Care for one? I have to keep them handy to fight off the urge to find a
Grace stared at his hand, George had been right, they were large square hands,
with long strong fingers and a wide palm. She picked a peppermint from the
variety offered and un-wrapped it, placing it on her tongue.
Travis swallowed hard, he's been mesmerized by her at that moment. She'd stared
at his hand for thirty seconds, then finally took a mint. He wanted to kiss her
so badly at that moment he had to distract himself with the computer.
Grace was worried, she was starting to obsess about not being attracted to him
when clearly she was. She watched as he typed in commands for the finger print
check she'd given him. His shirt was open at the neck he'd removed the tie he'd
had on earlier. The top two buttons were undone, there was a dark shadow of hair
at his throat. Grace tried not to imagine what his chest probably looked like.
Travis did have a nice set of wide shoulders, his chest well muscled, she
guessed. Grace shook herself mentally. She shouldn't be day dreaming about him.
She loved it when a man had a hairy chest, it was one of her greatest
"This could take a while, can I offer to buy you a soda or some coffee?"
Travis was aware she'd been watching him, not that she'd been day dreaming about
"Sorry, I'd like a soda. I didn't see a break area." Grace had looked for a soda
machine on her way up.
"Come with me I'll show you where we hide it." He smiled and stood, Grace
stepped back,. letting him proceed her out of the cubical.
Travis led her to a door, that lead down a flight, past the men's room to a
closet. It was a large closet, with a window in the wall near the ceiling.
"No wonder I couldn't find it. why is it hiding down here?"
"The former chief hated soda machines, he thought cops should drink coffee,
period. So when the request was filled for a vending machine, they put it out of
Travis fed the machine three quarters, " What would you like?"
" Diet something."
Travis pressed the button for a diet Coke, then handed it to her after opening
it. Travis was tempted to tell her she didn't need to watch her figure, then
didn't. He was supposed to be backing off. The hug had been just enthusiasm.
"Thank you." Grace accepted the drink from him, took a sip, "That hits the
Travis fed in more quarters and chose a Mt. Drew for himself.
"I can run out for food if you're hungry. When was the last time you ate?"
"I'm fine, we had snacks on the flight up here."
They walked back to the stairs, Travis holding all the doors for her on the way.
When they reached his desk, there was a notice there was a hit on the finger
"I was afraid of this, it matches someone on the local police force. We'd
better contact Bailey."
The arrest was made the following morning. He acted like he'd been expecting
"I'm glad it's over, but I'm sorry to see you leave. I don't suppose we'll need
you back here anytime soon. That was the first crime wave Knoxville has ever
seen, besides breaking and entering." Travis removed his hat, he'd driven Grace
and John to the airport. Bailey and Rachel were following in the truck the team
was using with the local bureau agent.
He had kept Grace close to the car, wanting to tell her goodbye, alone.
" Thank you Travis."
"You're welcome, for what?"
"Treating me like you have, it was flattering. Goodbye." Grace stood
on her toes to kiss his cheek, bracing her hand on his hard chest.
Travis leaned into her, putting a large hand at her waist. He had to do
something... say something.
"Grace?" He held her from walking off by moving his hand to her elbow.
She looked into his eyes. "Yes?"
" If I come to Atlanta, do I have a chance?"
"I can't tell you that Travis, I don't know." She touched a hand to his face.
Travis watched her go, his heart in his mouth.
Bailey approached Travis as he was watching Grace board the plane.
" Hope to see you under better circumstances next time Travis."
They shook hands, Travis returning his hat to his head, but glancing after
Grace while saying goodbye to Bailey.
" Thanks for your help, it would still be an open case if it wasn't for you
Bailey noticed him watching Grace board the plane.
"She'd be worth the effort, but it's to soon."
" That's what she said, you have a safe flight home." Travis nodded, thinking
he'd just watched the women he'd been searching for leaving his life.
"Malone, do you know, is Atlanta PD, looking for any detectives?" Travis eyes
lit up with hope.
"I don't know, but I can put a good word in for you." Bailey smiled.