Finally, this is complete and posted to the CSI:BigBang community on Livejournal. So I can get back to my other stories. I hope you all enjoy it and please, let me know what you think.
He climbed out of the silver Mercedes, his glistening black designer shoes pressing down onto the rough concrete as he stepped aside, looking up at his home with a fond smile. Moving along the path, he reached down to pick up the newspaper from the edge of the flowerbeds and stepped up to the front door. Fishing around in his pocket, he searched for his keys but when he rested his hand against the door, barely applying pressure to the wooden surface, his heart stopped beating for a moment, when it fell open with a quiet creaking sound.
"Hello?" He called as he pushed the door further open and stepped inside. When he heard nothing, he started to sweat. He felt faint as he called again. "Is anyone here?" Nothing.
He followed the silence through the house and out into the living room as the morning sun beamed in through the wide French doors beyond the kitchen. His eyes searched the room and he fumbled with his phone as he noticed the curtains, billowing through the open back door and the harsh red blood staining the stark white carpet surrounded by toys and the remnants of his wife s favourite lamp, shattered into a million pieces.
His hands shook violently and he was barely able to press the buttons for the three digit number and raise it to his ear.
"911. What is your emergency?"
"Ah, my wife, my son. They are missing."
"Sir, can you tell me your name?"
"Amancio Sala, please, I need your help." His voice was shaking as he reached for the photo of his wife and son, resting on the side table. "Please, help me." He looked down at their smiling faces, his son pulling the length of his wife s long golden hair across his face as she laughed. Dropping to his knees, he pleaded into the phone and the operator insisted that he keep talking, insisted that he stay on the line until he could hear the sirens blaring out in the street. And he waited, babbling incoherently to the operator until the gentle, kind features of a red haired man crouched down in front of him and smiled a reassuring smile as he carefully took the phone from him and rested a comforting hand on his shoulder.
Climbing out of the Hummer, Eric hissed as the sun hit his eyes and the harsh light made him squint. He leaned back across the driver s seat and reached for his sunglasses, slipping the cool metal frames onto his face with an audible sigh of relief. It was hot. It was barely pushing eight o clock in the morning and it was sweltering and Eric almost felt he resented the fact that the first call-out for the day was his.
But then he rationalised that even if it were the middle of the day, the sun would only be beating down harder and the vicious Miami heatwave that had been pounding the city for over a week now, would be at its daily peak. So he gripped his kit tightly in his hand and made his way across the parking lot to where Horatio was questioning a witness, and he could see Tara a little way down the beach, examining the victims.
A mother and her young son.
Nothing made him feel more nauseous. They d been following the kidnapping if Elizabeth Sala and her son, Liam for the past three days. Her husband, Amancio Sala a respected Cuban business man based in Miami had been less than helpful, constantly insisting that if he were to pay the ransom, he d get his family back and Eric had gone through no small amount of anguish trying to convince him where the fault in his logic lay.
Of course, he hadn t foreseen that today he d be explaining to Mr Sala that his wife and son were dead.
He nodded his acknowledgement of Horatio and the man simply tipped his head in Tara s direction and Eric found his way under the bright yellow crime-scene tape, and down the sandy embankment towards her. "Mornin'." He greeted, deliberately omitting the 'Good' because with what he could see before him, the morning had become anything but.
"Hey," She looked up at him though it was hard for him to read her expression through her thick black sunglasses. It was an image that only nostalgically made him think of Alexx. But if knowing Tara was any indication, he knew she was just as disturbed by this as he was.
"What have we got?" He placed his kit down in the sand, at the foot of the mother's body where he knew it was normally Calleigh's place to sit on her knees, back straight and long blonde hair whipping in the wind as she waited for each minute detail Alexx or now Tara could find without so much as setting a single gloved finger on the body.
"Cause of death for little Liam was drowning. His lips are blue, indicating that he asphyxiated, other than that; there isn t a mark on him."
"The father, Amancio Sala, told me that he s three years old." Eric whispered, kneeling down beside the boy, studying his ash brown curls and the slightly tanned colour of his skin. His features reminded him of a very young, part Cuban, part American boy that he knew and he could feel the bile rise in his throat.
"Are you alright, Eric?" He heard Tara question and he realised that he must have looked as though he was a million miles away. Clearing his throat, he smiled faintly.
"Yeah, I m fine. This is just...it s a tough one."
"Yeah." She agreed. "The kids are always the worst."
"What about the mother, Elizabeth?" Eric wanted to swerve this conversation far away from kids and murder, but he would stick with murder, if it meant he could keep the kids aspect out of it for as long as possible.
"Gun-shot wound to the back of the skull." She gently tilted Elizabeth s head to the side, so that Eric could take a look at the bullet-hole beneath the mass of matted blonde locks, caked in blood.
She nodded, pursed her lips and sat back with her hands on her knees as she spoke. "Liam died first. With the brutality of this one, I wouldn t be surprised if Elizabeth was forced to watch while they drowned him. Here-" She pointed to a small piece of paper pressed to the mother s chest. "-what is that?" Eric photographed it, before lifting it carefully and turning it over in his hand. He read it carefully and Tara watched his expression change several times as he did.
"What is it?"
"It's a match book. It's from a nightclub, I think I know it. It s owned by one of Ivan Sarnoff s men."
Tara turned to look down at the mother s face again. "Poor thing, I m afraid to wonder what she was thrown into the middle of, but it looks like she managed to save something for us." She whispered, brushing the dead woman s hair out of her face. Eric watched her as she collected a few fingernail scrapings, popped them into an evidence bag and handed them over with a reassuring nod.
Eric swallowed and nodded. "Right, I'm..." Tara watched him intently as he fiddled with his kit. She smiled almost solemnly as he glanced her way and then finally stood up straight and took a deep breath. "I'm going to get these to the lab."
"Sure." She nodded and he cleared his throat before turning on his heel and heading back towards Horatio, waiting by the edge of the parking lot.
"Are you alright, Eric? You look pale." Horatio commented and Eric nodded, tucking his free hand into his pocket.
"This one kind of hits home, you know."
Horatio nodded and rested his hands on his hips. "Yes, I understand. If it s too much, just say the word."
Eric nodded and turned his eyes back down the beach. "Thanks, H, but I think I need to see this one through."
"That's fair enough."
"Tara collected some possible DNA evidence from under Elizabeth Sala's nails. As well as this." Eric held the match book that was now held secure in a clear evidence sleeve out to Horatio who scrutinized it intently.
"I wonder what this means."
"Well, let s hope we can get some prints off it. It might lead us to a meaning." Eric nodded, taking the sleeve back and slipping it securely into his kit. "I'll see you back at the lab, H."