Here's chapter 9 coming to you as a separate entry. Sorry, sorry, sorry. Hope everyone is having a great Halloween!!

Summer of '46

-9-

Tim rummaged through the items in the box while Tony drove.

"A copy of a police report, some newspaper clippings, some pictures. Hey, I wonder if this guy is Rayburn?"

He held up a black and white picture of a couple in bathing suits, circa mid-40s. Tony risked a quick glance. It was a close up of the two of them from the waist up. He had his arms around her and she leaned back against his chest. It was the woman from the picture in the official file but more relaxed; her hair windblown, a big smile on her face. The man looked at her instead of the camera, all his attention focused on her. He looked as if he might have blond or light brown hair. His arms were well muscled if the biceps on display were any indication.

"She's a pretty girl," Tim said.

"Yeah, stacked too," Tony agreed. "What about those letters the niece mentioned? You see those?"

Tim shuffled a few more papers around and then held up some yellowed envelopes.

"Success! Captain Rayburn C. Randolph, USN care of the Royal Navy, Gibraltar. Three letters. And even better…"

He held up a small book.

"A diary, Tony."

###

At that moment, back in the squadroom, Ziva looked up from her computer screen. She shivered. She always felt cold now. She felt a little dizzy too. Looking around she noticed Gibbs had slipped out, probably for more coffee. She reached down and picked up her backpack, slung it over her shoulder and walked to the elevator. The doors opened and she got on. She wondered where she was going.

###

"Start at the end, Probie. See what the last entry says."

Tim obediently paged through the first two-thirds of the small book.

"Here we go. 'October 29, 1946. Mrs. Randolph contacted me today at work. Apparently she has had a change of heart and now no longer hates me. Good - since I'm going to have her son's baby in a few months. Ray is still on Gibraltar with the Royal Navy doing that echo locating project. He'll be home by Thanksgiving. I've already applied for the marriage license. Never thought I'd be getting married in the Court House but that's what happens when you fall in love with a Christian, I guess. Mom and dad are very upset but I think they would be more upset if their first grandchild was born out of wedlock. I only hope I can hide it from them for another month.'"

"Go back a few more days. Let's see what else our ensign had to say about Ray and his family," Tony said.

###

Ziva pulled up in front of the abandoned Victorian home where they'd found Anna Stein's body last night. She turned off the car and sat for a few minutes, absent mindedly rubbing her arms. Why was it so cold? She just couldn't get warm anymore. She got out of the door and locked the car then started up the walkway to the house. The late afternoon sun over her shoulder made her shadow long and thin as it preceded her, like a specter

###

Tim randomly flipped through the diary as they got closer to the Navy Yard.

"Hey, listen to this, Tony. 'February 20, 1946. I had a date tonight with a true southern gentleman, Rayburn Randolph. Even his name sounds like something out of GONE WITH THE WIND! We saw the new Marx Brothers' film, NIGHT AT THE OPERA. I never laughed so much. He asked me if he could kiss me when he said goodnight and I said yes. Such soft lips he has. He wants to go out again this weekend."

Tony grunted.

"Guy didn't even get to first base. They moved a lot slower back then, Probie."

"Well, I think it's kind of sweet. She was a nice girl, Tony."

"Yeah, you think, McInnocent? How'd she got knocked up then and not married, hunh? That was as big no-no back in '46."

McGee ignored him and kept reading.

"May 1, 1946. I woke up in his arms this morning and I was afraid. Afraid he'd be gone. Afraid I hadn't done something I was supposed to do. Afraid of what came next. I mean a virgin at 25, what must he think? But he was there, holding me, kissing me. Telling me he loved me. Telling me religion wasn't important to him. Telling me we'd be married as soon as his time in the Navy was done next year. I knew he was serious when he said it was time for me to meet his parents. I called in sick today for the first time ever and we stayed together. I think I may love him too, God help us both."

###

Ziva walked under the crime scene tape barring the way through the door. "Ray," she whispered as she pushed the door closed behind her.