After Thomas McBain's killer is revealed, John (as lead investigator) and Natalie (as a forensic technician) are assigned to the same investigation. Natalie's analysis of the evidence gives John the clue he needs to solve the case.

Chapter 1

Natalie studied the article in front of her. The new technique described in it was fascinating to the aspiring forensic technician. As she read, she silently hoped to be able to try it out sooner rather than later. Earlier in the day she had convinced her supervisor to put in a request for the money needed for the equipment.

John knocked on the door to the inner office of the lab. Natalie jumped then shook her head, laughing at herself. She now realized how John could get so wrapped up in his case files.

"Come in."

"Hey you." He smiled as he watched her tuck a piece of hair behind her ear.

"Hey yourself. What's up?"

"Can't I just visit?" She almost seemed annoyed at him being there.

She smiled, relaxing him immediately. "You could. But you don't. Besides if I remember right we have a date at Rodi's later so either you're coming to cancel on me or you want something analyzed without having to schedule it."

He held up his hands in surrender. "Ok I'm busted. I can't get anything by on you can I?"

She shook her head. "So which is it Lieutenant?" Her tone sounded stern but the shine in her eyes belied her true feelings.

He shifted from one foot to another then put his hands on his hips. "Actually both."

Her face lost its glow. "Go on."

He could see the disappointment in her eyes and it killed him. What she didn't know was that she would be busy tonight too. "You've been assigned to a case for tonight. With me."

"Is that so?"

He nodded. "Yeah, a murder in the new condos down by the river. From what I hear the scene is pretty bad. I told Bo I thought it would be good experience for you to be involved. He agreed and so did Parker," referring to her boss.

Natalie turned and grabbed her field bag. "Then let's get going." He nodded, holding the door for her. "And John?"

"Yeah?"

"Thanks for the vote of confidence."

He smiled. "Any time."

As soon as they arrived at the scene, Natalie busied herself gathering the evidence in her assigned area. John looked over the scene and questioned the responding officers. Every now and then his gaze drifted to where Natalie was standing. She still didn't realize how proud he was of her and her determination.

Natalie could feel John's gaze on her as she worked. She forced herself to concentrate on the job at hand. The more time she spent with him on the job the more she was starting to believe that he had faith in her abilities. He would ask her questions and really listen to what she had to say. She told herself that his opinion didn't matter but she knew that was a lie. His opinion was as important as her uncle Bo's or her parents'. Maybe more.

As soon as she finished her second sweep through her area, she logged the remaining evidence and turned it over to the tech in charge of the overall scene. She knew that John would grill her later about what she saw. She was about to remove her gloves and pack up when a glitter on the bed caught her eye. "Hey Steve, are you done over here?" The crime scene photographer nodded as he lined up his next shot.

She moved cautiously to the edge and lifted the comforter slightly. Her breath caught in her throat. "It can't be him."