A/N- Hello everyone. Here is my follow up to Devil's Breath. Now I will try to update once a week if I can. This story picks up a few months after Devil's Breath left off. Let me know what you think of the start of it. Thanks for reading!


He stared down at the bloodied body while the Assistant Coroner, David Philips took the body temperature. "Based on the body temp, I would say time of death was 6 hours ago" David told the dark-blond haired CSI.

Greg looked around the area as the wind and sand blew away any possible footprints that might have remained from their suspect. "Six hours is plenty of time for our killer to be long gone by now." He looked back down at the naked woman's broken body and shook his head. "The ligatures on her wrists clearly show she was tied up and struggled against those restraints. She was probably sexually assaulted." He was unconsciously rubbing at the scars on his own wrist.

It did not go unnoticed by David though. "Uh, can I remove the body now?" He asked Greg, feeling it was better for him the less he saw the body, the less his memories of his own ordeal flooded his mind.

Greg's attention was diverted to the headlights he saw coming their way in the form of a Black Tahoe. "Yeah sure. I took enough photos already. I can fill in Nick now that he is finally here," he said with a nod toward the figure coming out of the SUV.

"Okay, then see you back at the lab." He and his assistant picked up the body and took it to their van.

Nick walked under the police tape and came towards Greg. "Hey sorry I am late. There was an accident on the highway that slowed me up. So I see Dave is already taking her body away. What's the word on it?"

Greg told him the preliminaries on the woman's body that was found off the highway in the desert.

"So a trucker saw her body out here as he went to take a leak in the desert," Detective Vartann said as he walked up to the two CSI's. "He called it in right away. I don't think he's our guy. He seems pretty shook up about finding the body. Nonetheless, we need to take a look inside his truck."

"I'll do it since you already started here, Greg," Nick said to him.

"Sure," Greg said before Nick walked off. He started searching the vicinity for anything that might be evidence in their case. He found very little. A few stray shoe prints he took molds of and some tire treads, all of which could have belonged to anyone.

After a couple hours of searching the desert area Greg and Nick headed back to the lab. Upon arriving back to the lab and dropping off their evidence, they headed to the autopsy room to see their victim.

"Nick, Greg, you're just in time," Doctor Robbins, the chief medical examiner said to them as they entered the room where their female victim laid out on an autopsy table before them.

"What do you have for us, Doc?" Nick asked the older man.

"Well your cause of death is the obvious blood loss due to the stab wound in her chest, but I can also tell you she was sexually assaulted. David just took the SAE kit to Wendy. I want you to take a look at these marks," he pointed them out.

Nick looked closer. "Looks like cigarette burn marks," he said upon examining them closer.

"And check out her back," Doc Robbins said as he turned her over.

Greg tensed up seeing her back but did not say anything. It was Nick who spoke. "Looks like she was given a lashing too."

Doc Robbins nodded. He glanced at Greg briefly, who was just staring silently at the markings. Then he turned his attention back to the body before him. "They had some time to scab up, so I am guessing they are a couple days old."

"So they might have happened previous to the rape?" Nick asked him.

"Can't be sure about that. It looks like she may have been raped multiple times. It's possible she was being tortured for a couple of days."

"Once we have her ID'd we can find out how many days she had been missing. That might tell us how long she suffered," Greg finally said.

Doc Robbins and Nick both looked at him, knowing how hard this had to be for him. It had only been five months since his kidnapping, torture, and rape. He still saw his psychiatrist once a week and was still on anti-depressants.

He noticed the both of them staring at him. "I'm okay, guys. Just gives me the chills a little bit knowing what she must have gone through." He shrugged.

"Okay, G. Well, let's hope we can find the creep who did this," Nick said.

"She did fight back. We found skin under her nails, also been turned into Wendy," Doc told them.

"So we may get a lead on our suspect then," Greg said eagerly.

"Perhaps. Anything else for us, Doc?" Nick asked him.

"That's about it for now."

After they left the autopsy, Nick stopped a moment to talk to Greg. "Are you going to be okay working this case?" He asked out of concern for his friend.

Greg sighed. He knew Nick meant well, but he still got irritated by the concern that he could not handle doing his job if a case came too close to comfort for him. "I said I will be fine, Nick. Have I done anything lately to make you doubt me again?"

Nick knew he should have kept his mouth shut now. He knew Greg was more defensive about himself. "No, Greg. I'm just being a good friend and wanting to make sure."

"I can work this case. I want to work this case," Greg told the dark haired Texan.

"Okay, okay. Then let's get back to work on the evidence we have," he said with a pat on Greg's back.

Greg grinned. "Cool."

*****

He walked in quietly and locked the door behind him. He stepped silently into the bedroom. He watched her sleeping soundly under the covers. She looked like an angel. He had needed an angel and she was the one.

He slipped over to the side of the bed and sat down gently on it. He brushed a dark strand of hair away from her face. She opened her eyes suddenly jerking away from the sudden touch.

"Hey, sorry. I didn't mean to scare you. I just could not resist staring at you," he smiled warmly at her.

She relaxed and touched his hand upon seeing her tired boyfriend. "You had a late shift. Why don't you come to bed?" She asked him as she patted the side of the bed.

"I will. I just want to take a shower first, then I will be in bed beside you." He leaned down and gave her a tender kiss. "You can go back to sleep. You don't have to wait for me to get out of the shower," he told her before he left the bedside.

Her green eyes followed his backside as he walked off to the bathroom. "But I like waiting for you to fall back to sleep with," she said before he closed the door.

He turned around and gave her a 1000-watt smile. "I like falling asleep with you, too. See you in a few minutes."

She lay back against the pillow. She could not believe her luck still in finding such a great guy in Greg Sanders. After meeting him while he was in the hospital and then attending their group therapy sessions, she never thought he would get comfortable enough around her to the point where they were now.

It was four months now since they first met. It was about a month ago when they decided on staying over at each other's places, trading off every week. They still were not willing to give up their own places yet, so they shared time between them. This week it was his place. They had keys to each other's place.

They had both found comfort in each other after horrific attacks and realized how much they had in common, emotional wise due to those attacks. Physically, Greg was having a harder time dealing with his scars still, but he had become comfortable enough around her to have physical contact.

She looked up and smiled when he stepped out of the bathroom. He wore pajama bottoms and a simple blue t-shirt. His short hair was towel-tussled dry. He offered her a sheepish smile as he looked at her. To her, he looked so damn sexy just standing there.

"Get over here," she said to him. He came over and pulled back the covers and crawled into bed next to her. "How was work today?" She asked him as he wrapped his arms around her.

"Rough case. I rather not talk about it. Instead…" he nuzzled her neck and started kissing down it. "I rather kiss you." He placed his lips on hers as she turned her head towards him. He held her face in his hands as they deepened their kiss.

She eventually unlocked lips with his and stared into his big brown eyes. "I thought you were tired?" She smirked.

He smiled in return. "I am. I just needed a nice goodnight kiss since you were still awake."

"Hmm, okay then. Let's get some sleep before we oversleep and end up running late for our jobs," she said to him.

He nodded and wrapped his arms around her. "Okay. Goodnight Marie."

"Goodnight Greg," she said as she snuggled into his embrace and closed her eyes.

She woke up a few hours later to his thrashing and incoherent mumbling in his sleep. He had not had many nightmares since they started sharing their beds at night. Same with her, but this seemed worse than his more recent ones. She lightly touched him. "Greg, Baby. You're having a nightmare again. Wake up."

After she shook his arm, his eyes flew open. "Greg?" He realized he was in his bed and turned toward the familiar voice. He looked at her concerned face and sighed, rubbing his hand over his face. "Sorry I woke you," he apologized.

"No, it is okay. Are you okay? You were really thrashing about this time. Does it have anything to do with this recent case you are working on?" She asked him.

He gazed at her sweet, understanding face before nodding his head a little. He turned on his back and stared up at the ceiling. "Yeah, I guess it does. It is a murder involving sexual assault of this young woman found naked in the desert."

"Oh," she said softly, having some of her own painful flashbacks.

"Yeah, it appears she was tortured prior, some kind of whip lacerations on her back," he said quietly. She now understood fully why it brought on nightmares for him. She reached over and placed her hand on his chest.

"Sometimes I don't understand how you can still do that job," she said as she ran her hand over his t-shirt. He looked over at her. "To help find the creeps and freaks out in this world that do those kinds of things and give some peace to the families left behind," he told her with sincerity in his eyes.

She smiled at him. "Have I told you lately what a wonderful man you are?"

He grinned. "Hmmm, probably but I could always stand to hear it again," he said as he ran his hand through her hair.

"Well, how about I show you instead?" She said as her hand traveled under his shirt. She leaned over and kissed him. Her hand fingered one of his nipples. She grinned when he gasped at her pinching him. She knew he was more sensitive to touches like that since he was tortured, but she also knew he trusted her and liked it when she did it.

She moved to straddle him. His eyes followed her hands as she pulled her nightgown over her head and tossed it to the ground. She saw lust fill his brown eyes as his hands came to rest on her hips.

When his hands started to travel upward, she stopped him. "No, you know the rules. I strip down means so do you."

He rolled his eyes at her and then sat up just enough and let her pull his shirt off. It had begun as a mutual trust issue between them but even though now they completely trusted each other, she still insisted on it. She knew that he was still super self conscious about the scars that littered his body but to her it was what made him even more beautiful. His ability to share his deepest, darkest secrets with her made her love him more.

She smiled as he lay back down. She leaned over his body and started kissing all of his scars. He closed his eyes and let himself get lost in the sensation of her warm breath over his skin. The first time she ever attempted to do this to him, he about had a panic attack because his mind would always take him back to the cold basement floor and the face of Robin Weaver taunting him before she took out her anger on his body. But once Marie told him to focus on her face and how he was feeling at that moment, he managed to be able to find that pleasure in life again.

She heard him moan as she teased his nipple with her teeth. She felt his hands slid down from her waist to her hips, pulling her panties down her thighs. Her mouth traveled down his lean torso, stopping just north of his waistband. She placed her hand over his crotch and then saw him shake his head, sort of sadly. She frowned a brief moment but then grinned. "You know that won't stop me."

His eyes followed her hands as they pulled down his boxer briefs. She looked at him and could read the disappointment in his soulful eyes. "It's okay, Baby," she said softly to him. Nonetheless she gave him some pleasure even though he was not hard.

He rolled her onto her back and pleasured her with kisses and his fingers. They eventually ended up embracing each other again, with Marie running one hand through his hair as she laid her head on his chest.

"You feeling okay?" He asked her. She raised her eyes to him in questioning. "Why wouldn't I be? I got you," she smiled at him.

"You know what I mean. I feel bad I can't give you everything," he sighed.

She raised herself up on her elbow to look at him better. "This relationship has never been about sex. Heck, we've only been intimate for about a month now. You know this runs deeper than that for me."

He pushed the hair out of her eyes. "What did I ever do to deserve you?"

"I'm not sure but you must have done something right," she grinned.

"Gosh, I love you," he said without thinking as he stared into her expressive eyes. Those eyes ended up opening up wider. "What did you just say, Greg Sanders?"

He suddenly realized what he said. He had never said those three words to her before. He was a bit taken back by it himself. "Uh, I said I love you." His eyes softened. "You are the light I never thought I would have again in my life." He watched as her eyes moistened up.

"Oh Greg!" She planted a firm kiss on his lips. She pulled back and looked at him. "I feel the same way. I love you too."

He pulled her in closer to him and kissed the top of her head. He did not realize how relieved he felt to hear her say she felt the same about him. It made him feel all warm inside.

After a few quiet, reflective moments, he spoke again. "We should probably try to get a bit more sleep before we have to be up, since I woke us early due to my nightmare."

"Yeah, sounds good to me. Just no more bad dreams, you hear me?" She said with a teasing threat in her voice.

"I'll do my best, boss," he chuckled before he closed his eyes again to try to sleep and this time he did not dream at all, just slept.