"Sara, come home," urged the woman on the other line.
"I can't," whispered Sara.
"Your father is very upset," said Mrs. Holmes.
"I know," she breathed. "He's disappointed…what's new."
"Sara, he's hurt. He misses you," Emma Holmes explained.
"Yeah, well, his voice was pretty harsh the other night," said Sara.
"You were supposed to come home last weekend," Emma said.
"I couldn't," gulped Sara.
There was a silence between them.
"Emma Grace has been asking for you," whispered Sara's foster mother. "We miss you very much."
"I'm trying Mom…I'm really trying," said Sara.
"Sara, you don't owe me an explanation," her mother replied.
"Is he there?" asked Sara.
"He's been working late…the company hasn't been doing well," answered her mother.
"I didn't know. He's never mentioned…"
"He never does. He really expected you to come home for Mary's wedding."
"We barely knew one another," explained Sara.
"Sara, he wanted to see you…know that you're okay. You seemed so upset that last time you were here," replied her mother.
"I'll try to call him…explain," said Sara.
"I'll talk to him for you," said Mrs. Holmes.
"Always the mediator," breathed Sara.
"I love you, Sara. Take care of yourself."
Sara leaned back in the seat of her car as she recalled the conversation she'd had earlier that day. She'd not been able to sleep.
She'd managed to talk with her foster father.
He'd been quite hurt when she could not give him a date when she would be coming home again.
I'm so tired of all of this…
She'd spent a small fortune flying back and forth.
The lack of sleep was taking its toll on her physically and emotionally.
What am I doing?
Go home, Sara…
He's never going to love you…
She'd given herself a goal of eighteen months to convince Gil Grissom that he was in love with her.
That time frame had come and gone while her life had been put on hold only it wasn't.
Sara watched as lives continued while hers remained in stasis, waiting for some glimpse that Gil Grissom really cared for her.
She almost came home.
She had boldly dropped the request for a leave of absence telling him she intended to check out the Federal jobs but in truth, she just wanted to see how he would react.
When she received the plant, she almost sent it back.
It was Catherine's description of Grissom's desperate behavior that had halted her decision.
She wanted him to burn for her as much as her body yearned for his but he never indicated he did such a thing.
In fact, she thought that he would not even care if she returned to San Francisco.
Oh, he would miss her at work but in truth, she never thought he would give a backward glance if she laid her feelings on the floor at his feet.
The plant indicated that just maybe there was a chance.
She should have been elated over the revelation but instead she'd cried for days over it.
She had really wanted to go home.
There was a small part of herself that wanted this to be over.
She longed to be back in San Francisco.
There, she was loved and wanted.
Vegas was no place to live.
Here, she faced death every day which was a constant reminder of how her life had really begun before a childless couple had taken her in and loved her.
When the third year anniversary rolled around, she felt the familiar pang of guilt envelope her.
As she traveled back and forth between San Francisco and Vegas, she wondered how much longer she could continue the pace without burning out.
Now, she just wanted to lay everything out on the table and if he refused her, she would accept it.
How do I do that?
Grissom stepped out of his vehicle and headed toward the door of the lab.
He stopped the moment he saw her sitting in her vehicle.
Things had not been good between them.
In fact, things had become rather painful.
He remembered his words that day after Holly Gribbs case had been solved.
"Let's go home."
He'd almost panicked when the words left his mouth because it meant she would return to San Francisco.
He'd offered her a job and she took it without hesitation.
Vegas was home now for Sara Sidle.
He had given her a job, knowing that it would only cause each to suffer but he could not bring himself to let her slip from his fingers again.
He'd done that when he'd met her in San Francisco years ago.
She had been brutally young and he felt he had taken full advantage of her youth.
He'd turned her onto forensics and then turned her off by returning to Vegas without so much as a backward glance.
Oh, she had called a few times and he had even answered a time or two when he'd been so lonely for her.
Sara Sidle was a vibrant young woman who offered him more than he ever dreamed or dare allow himself to have.
A single smile from her caused his emotions to steal forth.
A slight touch sent his pulse in overdrive and he dared not even think what might happen if he held her.
Surely, he would self combust on the very spot.
His blood boiled with fury when her attention was diverted to someone else, especially if it was a male.
He never cared for the jealous emotions but it reared its ugly head every time Sara Sidle tossed a smile toward someone of the opposite sex.
He could have her if he wanted but he was not willing to pay the price for such a costly vixen.
He knew she would most likely turn his world upside down and leave him a broken man.
What she didn't know was that she'd gotten involved with a man that was already broken and very much emotionally unavailable.
He'd thrown caution to the wind and made her a part of his team.
Sara Sidle had given up her life in San Francisco for him.
For the first time in his life, he felt he had a personal life…even if he kept those feelings to himself as he worked with her each day.
They had their moments.
Some were soft while others were volatile.
When her anger spiked, her words wounded, almost impaling his heart at times.
"I wish I could be like you, Grissom. I wish I couldn't feel."
He was too preoccupied at times to catch the true meaning behind her words.
It would be later when he had replayed every word back in his brain over and over that he would understand the truth behind the words.
She could be brutal at times but then so could he.
It wasn't that he ignored her on purpose.
He was usually trying to slow his heart rate.
It seemed to react to the sound of her voice.
It was melodic and methodic.
It was intellectual and sexual.
It was the person that drove him crazy at times.
He wasn't quite sure how or why.
Just his name from her lips and his hair stood on end.
No one had ever affected him the way she did.
It wasn't comfortable and yet it was.
It was confusing and yet simple.
It was just the beginning and yet he felt it was the end of how he had lived his life.
He took solace each time she smiled her pearly whites in his direction and said one word, "Night."
The single word was usually followed by a smile.
When she was near, he imagined what it would be like to have more than just the promise of a "good night" and "see you tomorrow."
Here lately, there seemed to be a shift in direction.
Her smile used to display warmth and encouragement but as the years slipped by it displayed nothing but sadness and loneliness that even an emotionally inept entomologist could feel.
She seemed troubled and he wondered if the job was getting to her.
He knew she was getting to him.
He'd commented more than once about her inability to sleep.
He used to sleep better before Sara Sidle entered his life.
He stood there waiting for her to step out of her vehicle but she didn't.
Grissom glanced around before he walked toward her vehicle.
She quickly exited the car, grabbing her jacket.
She offered a quick hello as she passed by him and headed into the lab without a backward glance.
What do you expect?
You've not spoken to her in weeks…
Too preoccupied with the surgery…
Catherine had discreetly blabbed to the others about the surgery and its success.
He'd been angry.
Sara had been quiet while the others had asked and congratulated him on the success of the surgery.
He took her silence to mean that perhaps Sara finally understood what he'd been trying to tell her all along.
He was old.
He was too old for her.
She'd even taken a few days off while he was recuperating.
He'd heard she had gone out of town.
She'd returned looking a bit frazzled.
Once she returned, he dismissed every chance she tried to talk with him in private.
He'd been too angry at her reaction to the news of his surgery.
That had been months ago and things had not improved but had gotten far worse.
He stepped into the locker room, opening his locker and placing his jacket inside.
She was nowhere in sight.
Grissom handed out assignments and boldly waited for her reaction when he announced she would be helping him.
She picked up her tablet and left the room without a word.
When they arrived on the scene, she waited for instruction.
She was no longer the eager student.
"You alright?" he asked.
"Where do you want me?" she asked as she stood there with her kit in hand.
He nodded toward the bedroom.
She disappeared without another word.
He scowled but began work himself.
An hour passed and it was as if he were working solo.
She worked efficiently and silently.
He cursed inwardly.
He half hoped there would be an exchange of conversation.
It was not like Sara to let an opportunity to pass and he wondered if finally she was giving up.
He certainly hadn't given her an indication there would ever be a chance between them.
There appeared to be a silent ongoing war between the two.
Neither knew when it began but perhaps now, he was beginning to see the end.
Sara was giving up any notion of a relationship.
Well, it was fine with him.
He never wanted one in the first place.
The stakes were far too high and he did not need the hassle of the emotions that would entangle a relationship.
He'd stayed clear of any and all relationships for years and not even Sara Sidle was going to break through his barriers.
His walls were higher that the Wall of China.
Brass stepped into the house.
"Didn't know you got called out here," commented Grissom.
"I need to see Sara," said Brass.
By the look on his face, Grissom knew that something was wrong.
"I was at the lab when a call came in for Sara…her parents were involved in a car wreck."
"You and I both know…they're her foster parents," whispered Brass.
"She's in the next room," answered Grissom.
Brass headed toward the room but Grissom stopped him. "Any news about their condition?"
"Both are critical," replied Brass.
"I'll tell her," said Grissom.
Grissom stepped into the other room.
"Sara, Jim is going to give you a lift back to the lab," began Grissom.
Her head bobbed up. "I'm not finished."
"I can finish here," he said.
"Sara, your parents were involved in a car accident…you need to go home."
The print dust dropped from Sara's hand sending powder into the air.
She tried to brush it away but his hands suddenly grabbed hers and held them briefly.
"You need to go," he whispered softly.
He saw a flicker of fear cross her face at the urgency in his voice.
She left her kit behind and hurried out of the room.
It had taken her minutes to pack a few things and then her plane was landing in San Francisco.
Sara stood in the hallway of the hospital.
She had made numerous phone calls trying to assess their condition but more importantly she had been desperately trying to ascertain the whereabouts of Emma Grace.
She'd cried when she heard the little girl had been in the car at the time of the wreck.
Sara held her breath as she listened to the prognosis of the only real parents she had since she had gone into Foster Care at the age of nine.
"I need to see Emma Grace," she said immediately.
Once inside the children's unit, she spotted the little girl curled in her bed.
Sara scooped up the little girl and held her tight.
"Hey, little bug," she whispered.
"Sara!" the little girl wailed.
"I came as soon as I heard," she said trying to sound calm.
"Momma Emm wouldn't wake up. Papa Joe told me to get out of the car…I did…but I didn't hold anyone's hand."
"It's okay. You did what Papa Joe told you to do."
The little girl nodded.
"There was fire, Sara," whispered the little girl.
Sara glanced down at the bandages on the little girl's hands and gasped.
She kissed them over and over.
Sara quickly examined the little girl and found only a slight gash on her forehead along with some bruising on her ribs.
Sara took a deep breath.
"Emma, I need to check on Mom and Dad. I'll come back soon."
The little girl nodded again.
She stepped out of the room and grabbed a nurse.
"You called me about Emma Grace. I'm Sara Sidle. What's her…"
"She only has some slight burns on her hands. She's going to be fine."
"My mother…" began Sara.
"I'm sorry Ms. Sidle but Mrs. Holmes died a few hours ago."
Sara looked shell shocked.
"Dad…Joe Holmes…is he…"
"He's in the burn unit," explained the nurse.
"How bad?" she asked.
"He was burned over twenty percent of his body," explained the nurse.
Sara was horrified.
"Can I see him?" she asked.
Sara stood outside the room as she watched the physician assess the man's condition.
Sara stepped into the room.
"This man is my father," she explained.
"He's been asking for you…Sara, it is, right?" asked the doctor.
She sat down and took the man's hand.
"I'm here, dad."
"How's Emma Grace?" he asked quickly.
"She's fine…in the children's unit," she whispered.
"Good. The car caught on fire and she wouldn't leave us…I had to yell at her... I've never raised my voice to her like that," he grieved.
"She understands," said Sara between bouts of tears.
He glanced at her.
"My Sara…you always touched a part of soul…don't cry," he urged.
"Just relieved to see you," she said.
"How's Mom?" he asked.
Sara swallowed hard.
"She's gone," he said. "I feel it. I looked at her and…just knew."
"Sara, you've got to focus on Emma Grace. She needs you…we won't be here…she needs a home now."
"You're going to be fine," said Sara.
He shook his head and Sara clutched his body as she cried.
He tried to lift his hand to stroke her hair but couldn't.
"I can't comfort you like I did when you were little. I've always loved you…what happened to us, Sara? We've been so distant these last few years."
"My fault…my decisions. I never should have stayed in Vegas. I should have come home…like you wanted."
"Sara...so much I want to tell you…forgive me…for…pushing you…I just wanted you to be happy."
"I know. I don't need to forgive you for anything…you've always taken good care of me…as if I were your own."
"You were ours by choice," he whispered. "I've never regretted it except that your real mother blocked the adoption." He coughed then causing his chest to rattle and send the machines into overdrive.
Don't talk…just rest…just get better so we…"
The monitor made a hideous noise and suddenly the room was filled with nurses.
Sara was pushed outside as she tried to find out what was happening.
She covered her mouth to stifle the sob as she watched them cover his body with the sheet.
She'd lost them both.
Her phone rang as she stood there in the hall.
She flipped it open.
She recognized the voice but she could not seem to speak at the moment.
The voice was more urgent this time.
"Grissom?" she managed to say.
"I was calling to get an update….are you alright?" he asked.
"I didn't get here in time…Mom died…a few hours ago…Dad just died…I've got to get back to Emma Grace…her hands were burned…she looks scared…she doesn't know about them."
"I need to go. I'll need to make arrangements…tell Emma…I don't know how to tell her…Oh God, Grissom, she was in the car…she saw it happen."
Grissom listened to the sheer panic in her voice.
He had no idea who Emma Grace was.
He imagined it was another foster child.
"Sara, I uhm…"
The phone clicked before he could finish.
He was going to offer to come.
He couldn't believe he would risk going to her at a moment like this.
It would certainly send red flags up.
The pain in her voice had overridden any caution he might have taken before.
He couldn't bear not knowing how she was handling the loss much less if she were taking care of herself.
She tended to neglect herself in times of stress.
She turned quickly and ran until she came to Emma Grace's room.
The little girl slept.
Sara curled her body around the little girl and held her tight.
There would be time to mourn.
At the moment, she wanted to cling to the small child.
Welcome back everyone! I just got back from vacation and decided that the only way I could force myself to finish this is posting it. LOL. This is a very long story. I am on chapter forty right now if this will give you an idea. I had been working on this for some time and honestly, it was not the story I wanted to post next but life got in the way as well as a few other ideas and so I am holding back my favorite a little while longer. I hope to have it done in order to post it next. As always, I will post daily at least one chapter if not two.
Take care and enjoy!