Chapter 19

"Are you listening to me? Grissom?" Catherine snapped her fingers to pull him out of his daze.

"What?" irritated he removed his attention from his cell phone and refocused on Catherine. "Mandy and I are going out to the Stilton place, are you coming?"

Mandy. He almost never worked with her, leaving Sara's replacement to be trained by Catherine and Warrick. She'd been gone 8 months without any communication more than a short letter of resignation and he still thought of Mandy as her replacement.

"No. I'm off the clock." He gave no other explanation. "Must be nice." Catherine threw the parting shot over her shoulder.

The text message from Trina told him she had arrived safely in Vegas, was at the Hilton and had left a room key for him at the desk. He should come when he was able.

When his mother told him a week ago that she planned on visiting he tried to insist she stay with him but she wouldn't have it. Via instant message she explained that she wanted to try the luxurious life for a change. He admitted she earned it, but was stung that she hadn't wanted to stay in his home.

At the Hilton the front desk clerk asked his name then handed him the key to the Napa Executive Suite. "Are you sure this is the correct room?" "You are Gil Grissom?" "I am." The clerk checked the computer, "Yes, Napa Executive Suite. The lady is waiting for you."

Mom wasn't kidding when she said she wanted luxury. He pressed a button that would trip a visual strobe inside, alerting his mother that someone was at the door, and then used his key to enter. The Napa suite was tastefully appointed in dark woods and tile floors. A fire glowed and cracked in a large clay fireplace, pink flowers stood as the brightest colors in the room. He searched for a moment and then saw the door to the balcony open.

His heart felt ready to explode when he stepped into the cool night air.

"You let your beard grow." The desert breeze blew her hair across her face. He just stared.

"I like it. Very sexy." His mouth opened and closed, no sound escaping.

Sara smiled. "Say something."

"My mother…"

"Helped me get you here. Disappointed?"

"Shocked. Where have you been?"

"I went back to Boston. Here, sit down." She sat on the edge of an iron chair and motioned for him to do the same. "I needed some space, and some therapy."

"It looks like it helped, you're glowing." Whether it was his place to say or not he couldn't help himself. She was a vision. "I don't think I ever understood the phrase a sight for sore eyes until now."

"I'm sorry I ran away."

He shook his head, leaning into her just a little, "Don't be. I don't blame you. You did what you had to do. The results seem worth it." His eyes tightened as he looked at her closely, "Are you really okay Sara?"

"That depends on what happens next. I shouldn't have left you to deal everything on your own. I shouldn't have said what I did, and I can never take back that moment, but Gil, it wasn't true."

She tried to take his hand but he stood and put a few feet between them.

"It was. You only said what we both knew. If you came here to apologize you didn't have to. I'm happy as hell to see you, see that you're not broken and hurting somewhere, but you don't owe me a thing."

"Maybe not, but I owe it to myself to try to be happy. You make me happy. I've thought about this to the point of almost going crazy. I tried to get on with my life without you. At first I thought if I could just come back and tell you how sorry I was, but I could never picture me leaving after I said it. Every scenario ended with me in your arms."

"Sara," but the breath he took gave her a chance to cut in, she was ready for his resistance but was not about to let it stop her.

"You had it wrong, when you told me to look in your eyes." She could see him searching his memory. "The night of the rape, in my bathroom. I was afraid when you came too close and you told me to look in your eyes, and then you showed me your scar."

"I remember now."

"I've thought about that over and over again. I kept thinking that I could look at you and know that you weren't him and not be afraid, but then I'd think about him spending time with me and me never knowing it wasn't you. His eyes could hide the truth and maybe yours could too."

She walked to him and cornered him against the railing. This time she did take his hand and held it up, "It's not your eyes that I can trust. It's your hands. What I finally realized, sorting through, trying to remember when it was him, when it was you, he may have spoken to me, flirted with me even, but he never touched me before that night. I know he didn't. I knew something was wrong. I thought it was just my reaction to finally getting what I wanted, but it wasn't, it was the way he touched me."

He took her hand off of his own and placed it gently on the railing. He brushed a stray hair from her eyes, rimmed now with red, her desperation to reach him bordering on tears.

"How can you trust me when I don't? I don't know that I'm not capable of the things Miles did. His passion was deadly, that's not a chance I'm willing to take."

"Miles jealousy was deadly, Gil, not his love. I've talked to your mother, he loved his son, he never hurt him."

"What if you're wrong?"

But she could see that logic had won her battle for her, he was still resisting, but it was residual, habit.

She caressed the back of his neck, pulling him close and kissed him.


Every year on that date they returned to the Napa Suite. In the early years they made love on the balcony, just as they had that night. Later, when they were older and slightly less athletic they contented themselves with cognac and kissing in front of the fire.

Sometimes at night he would wake up to find Sara's finger tracing his scar in her sleep, but he'd place his hand nearby and even through fitful dreams she'd find it to hold onto and drop deeper into slumber.

They had no secrets except one, locked in a safety deposit box under an assumed name was a little leather book, wrapped in red, white and blue ribbon.

The end.