AN- I want to thank you all so much for the response to the last chapter! It was really overwhelming… and definitely helped to get me excited about writing again. I didn't respond individually to the reviews, but believe me…they are ALL greatly appreciated!
One thing I need to say though, is please forgive the lazy/bad science! :-) I truly pride myself in the research I do, and the authenticity that brings my stories. That being said… I hope you can suspend disbelief a little bit when it comes to the science in this case.
Sorry for the delay in posting, too… there was a lot of pressure to come up with a "jealous Brennan" scene, and I wasn't sure I was up to it... and I'm still not sure, LOL.
As always, please let me know what you think!
Booth and Brennan were walking up to the front of the luxury hotel that was the new temporary home of the bachelorettes as Brennan's phone began to ring.
"Brennan," she said, answering.
"Dr. B," came the animated sound of Hodgins' voice. "Have you and Booth gotten to the hotel yet?"
"We're walking in now," she answered. "Why? I'm putting you on speaker. Have you found something?"
"Maybe," Hodgins answered. "There was an extremely high level of chlorine in the water from the hot tub…"
"Which makes sense, right?" Booth said. "In a situation like this, wouldn't they want to have the thing a little more sanitized?"
"That's what a lot of people might think," Hodgins said. "But it doesn't actually take more chlorine for sanitization… and too much chlorine would be toxic…"
"Are you saying that the excessive chlorine contributed to cause of death, Dr. Hodgins?"
"No," he replied. "Actually, the chlorine confused me at first because I also found a large amount of Bromine in the water…"
"That is strange," Brennan said.
"I know, right?" Hodgins replied.
"What?" Booth asked.
"Do you have any way of knowing which they normally used?" Brennan asked.
"No," Hodgins began, only to be interrupted by an impatient Booth.
"Hello… somebody want to tell me what's going on here?"
"Generally you would use chlorine or bromine to sanitize a spa or hot tub," Brennan offered.
"But never both," Hodgins went on, finishing the explanation.
"Is is this bromide stuff toxic?" Booth asked.
"Bromine," Hodgins answered, correcting. "And no, not especially."
"Bromine is actually used in the production of brominated vegetable oil, which is used as an emulsifier in citrus based sodas," Brennan told her partner. "Like that Mountain Dew that you like so much."
"Great," Booth said with a touch of sarcasm. "So, it's gonna kill me. But did it kill our vic?"
"No," Hodgins answered. "But I do think that maybe somebody dumped the excess chlorine in to the spa to contaminate the evidence…"
"We don't know that," Brennan said. "You know I don't like to speculate when we don't have the evidence to support a supposition."
"Which is exactly why I called," Hodgins said. "You think you guys could swing by the crime scene and find out what chemical they use to treat the hot tub?"
"Yeah, Hodgins," Booth said. "We can do that. Anything else?"
"Yeah, actually," Hodgins said. "Wendell still hasn't determined the source of the kerf marks…"
"Which is why I need to get back to the lab," Brennan interjected.
"No, no. We're doing fine, Dr. B." Hodgins assured her. "We can handle things here, just keep working with Booth. Maybe we'll have something when you get back."
"Keep working, Dr. Hodgins," Brennan said. "Let us know if you find something. I'll be in to check over Mr. Bray's findings when I return to the lab."
"We're on it," Hodgins said as he hung up the phone.
"What's he talking about?" Booth asked as Brennan put her phone back in her pocket.
"I've been concerned about how the body became dismembered," Brennan said.
"What do you mean?" Booth asked. "Human soup… she came apart in the water, right?"
"That's possible," Brennan answered. "But unlikely given the timeline."
"According to the people from the show, Roma was only missing for a matter of hours. If that is true, then…"
"Somebody chopped her up," Booth surmised.
"That's more likely," Brennan agreed.
"Unless they lied," Booth replied. "We'll have to check their story."
Chris Harrison met the partners in the lobby of the posh hotel.
"Agent Booth," he said, reaching out to shake hands.
"Mr. Harrison," Booth replied. "We have a few things we'd like to talk with you about before we speak with the ladies."
"Of course," the host replied, leading them toward a pair of sofas secluded from the rest of the lobby. "Shall we sit?"
Booth nodded and Brennan followed.
"I see you've settled in to the new digs," Booth said, glancing around the grand room.
"We're used to moving around," Harrison replied with a smile.
"Which brings me to my first question," Booth said. "Why are you in DC? Don't you usually camp out in some mansion in Los Angeles?"
"Yes," Harrison answered. "When we're not traveling the world. But our bachelor, Rex Kingston, lives here. The house in Chevy Chase is actually very close to where he lives. He is actually staying in his own house during the filming."
"Rex Kingston?" Booth asked. "The 'skins QB?"
"Yes," the host answered with a smile and a nod. "And even though it's the off-season, with his schedule he can't go traveling around with us for two months. So, we had to tape the show here in the DC area. It's the only way we could get him to agree to participate."
Booth let this information digest while he moved on to the reason for their visit.
"We need to talk to the ladies," he said.
"Of course," Harrison agreed, standing. "They're in their suite. Follow me."
The partners followed Harrison to the elevator and stood back as he used a key to allow the elevator to take them to a private floor. Once inside the suite, they stood together and watched as Harrison gathered the women to join them in the living room of the suite. After a few minutes, he indicated for Booth and Brennan to join them.
"We're all here," the host said, giving the agent the floor.
"Ladies," Booth said, glancing around the room. He only counted ten women. He turned back to Harrison. "I thought you said this was everyone?"
"It is," Chris replied.
"There are ten women here," Booth said. "I thought there were twenty-five."
"There were," the host replied. "When we started the show. But we're a little over two weeks in," he went on. Fourteen have been sent home… and then there's Roma…"
Booth thought back to their first visit to the mansion. He realized that though it had seemed as though there had been "bachelorettes" everywhere, he hadn't seen more than five or six of them together at one time. It was likely that Harrison was telling the truth and this was everyone.
"We're going to need to speak with Rex, too," Booth replied, nodding.
"Of course," Chris answered. "I'll take you to his house when you're through here."
"That won't be necessary," Booth said. "The address will be fine."
Brennan watched as her partner conversed with the host. She looked around and watched the women as they began to participate in Booth's interrogation. She may still have some trouble reading people, but she could tell when a woman was on the prowl. A few of the women were practically salivating over Booth.
"Which of you were on the group date the other night?" Booth asked as six of the ten women raised their hands.
The partners split the women into two groups and began by talking to the ones who had been on the date.
"Was Roma with you when you left the mansion?" Booth asked.
"Yes," several of the women answered in unison.
"We all traveled together in a limo," a tall, leggy blonde offered as she stepped up in front of Booth. "We met Rex there, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial," she said. "Roma was being her usual bitchy self on the way there."
"Rachel!" a brunette standing nearer to Brennan admonished.
"What?" the blonde asked, feigning innocence. "I'm just telling the agent here what happened that day. We're not going to start pretending that we liked the bitch just because she's gone, are we?"
"No, Rach," another blonde answered, walking up to the first. "But we could use a little decorum when telling our story. No sense in making things worse than they already are." She turned and faced Booth. "I'm Caroline," she said, introducing herself. "Caroline Justis. Rachel here is my roommate while we're here. Roma was sharing a room with us in the mansion, too."
"So, just the three of you in the room then?" Booth asked, attempting to step back as Rachel brushed up against him. He took a moment to cut a glance in the direction of his partner. She didn't seem to notice as her eyes were fixed on Rachel.
"Miranda roomed with us, too," Rachel asked, placing her hand on Booth's arm. She leaned in close as he wrote on his note card.
"Miranda?" Brennan asked, pulling some of the attention away from her partner.
"That's me," a fiery redhead stated as she stepped out of the cluster of ladies standing in the doorway and made her way over to where Booth, Brennan, Rachel and Caroline were standing.
"Miranda Walsh," she said, introducing herself.
Booth stepped up to speak with Miranda as Rachel held him back by wrapping both of her arms around one of his.
"Agent Booth," she said, her voice dropping a bit from the way it had sounded just a minute ago. "May I speak with you a moment?" she asked, speaking softly so only Booth could hear. "In private?"
Booth swallowed hard and looked over his shoulder to see his partner watching the display from across the room. He could see the tightness in her jaw from where he stood. He let out a long sigh. He didn't know if the young woman actually had information pertaining to the case, but he was concerned that if she wanted to tell him away from the other women, she might have some important information for them.
"Sure," he said in answer, following as Rachel led him toward the kitchen.
With his eyes, he begged Brennan to understand as he walked past her. He prayed that Rachel did have good information because either way, he was going to be dealing with the repercussions of this interview for some time to come.
"I thought we could stop off at the mansion on the way to Rex Kingston's place," Booth said. "We can check on the hot tub maintenance and see what we can find out to corroborate Hodgins' findings."
Brennan continued to stare straight ahead, as she had since they had gotten into the car.
"Bones," he said.
He rolled his eyes and tried to hide the grin that threatened to erupt. Part of him was highly amused. It was nice to see Bones acting like a girl. He had to admit that seeing her react with jealousy made him feel good about himself. Then he didn't hide the smile as he realized that in some ways, we never really leave high school behind.
As fun as this was, they were still working. They had a job to do and they wouldn't be able to do it properly if they weren't speaking to each other.
"Is this what you meant when you said our behavior had to be above reproach?" he asked with a grin.
His grin faltered only slightly when she turned to glare at him.
"Baby, I have to admit I find it totally hot that you get all territorial when a beautiful woman hits on me. But you know you have nothing to worry about, and we are still working. We can discuss what you're feeling right now when we get home tonight," he said. "Right now, could you put it in one of your little boxes for a little while so we can finish our interviews?"
"Do you know how much I hate that you're enjoying this?" she asked, still pouting and still facing out the windshield.
"I think I do," he answered. "Believe me, I've been on the other end of this scenario plenty of times over the years. And it is something that we're going to have to deal with. Maybe even put a plan together on exactly how we'll deal with it. But for now, we have to put it aside and find out what happened to Roma Davidson."
"I hate it when you're rational," she said, quietly.
"I love it when you're not," he replied with a grin.