A/N First, an apology for the tearing down and reposting of this chapter. When I began chapter two I realized that it should really have been a part of chapter one, so I tore it all down and started over again. This is the way chapter one should really have ended.
Second, to those of you who posted reviews on the original chapter one, I am truly sorry that they were lost when I deleted it. Please forgive me.
Cal, my dearest sis, thank you for the research on Kelly's Cajun Grill. This poor ole Yankee had no idea what was authentic and what wasn't. Grin.
"It is the decision of this court that the defendant be cleared of all charges and freed from custody of the Miami Dade Police department." Judge Fortier brought his gavel down on his desk with a resounding crash. "Court is adjourned."
In the silence that followed his words, Calleigh sat in her seat, stunned at the turn of events she had just witnessed. Capitalizing on one tiny mistake made by a green CSI hired only a month earlier, the defense attorney, who was well known for representing the scum of Miami, had dismantled the carefully prepared case the blonde haired ballistics expert had put together. Toliver Krantz aimed an oily smile at his adversary, and spoke.
"An impressive case, Ms. Duquesne. Too bad it wasn't water tight." He leaned down as though to share a confidence with an old friend. "Next time I would suggest handling the more delicate procedures yourself."
Only her innate sense of decorum and control kept Calleigh from slapping the smug face of the hated attorney. Inwardly she seethed with fury, knowing that a criminal had just been freed and would be back out on the streets in less time than it would take her to gather her things from the office and head back to her condo.
Without voicing any of the stinging retorts that burned on her tongue, Calleigh stood from her chair and exited the courtroom. The staccato clatter of her heels on the marble floor in the hall outside was the only sound to be heard from the obviously angry CSI.
Lieutenant Caine, who had observed the proceedings with a growing sense of revulsion, knew just how angry his second in command was after losing what should have been a slam dunk case. Seldom did Calleigh keep her thoughts to herself when it came to issues of right and wrong. It was only when she was insanely furious that she held her tongue. The silence that surrounded her gave terrifying evidence that she was angrier than he'd seen her in years.
Just then Toliver Krantz stepped into Horatio's path and extended a hand which the lieutenant took out of sheer reflex.
"You are to be congratulated, Lieutenant." Krantz' effort at grace in victory was woefully lacking. "That ballistics expert of yours is quite the cracker jack. I'd hate to be up against her in every case. She'd win more of them than I would."
"Did you tell her that?" Horatio's voice was a menacing growl.
"I'll let you carry the message."
"Not man enough to tell her yourself?"
"Charming, Lieutenant Caine. Charming." The slick lawyer gave a mock salute. "Until next time."
Horatio bit the inside of his jaw and said nothing, knowing that to say anything would only encourage the man in his drivel.
Back at CSI headquarters, Calleigh jerked her leather jacket from the coat tree, almost upsetting it in the process. Leaving everything on her desk in disarray, she gathered up her purse and keys and strode angrily down the hall to the time clock and signed out almost a full hour early. Horatio would question her early departure, but she was just to angry to care.
Calleigh headed straight home, knowing that in her current state of mind, even her usual sanctuary at the gun range would be dangerous. Alone in the confines of her silver Mercedes, she allowed the anger to erupt. Had anyone been able to hear her over the blaring of the radio they would have been stunned at the profanity laced tirade issuing from the beautiful mouth. Almost 20 minutes later, the tires of the sleek car skidded to a stop on the driveway in front of Calleigh's home.
Fussing and still cursing under her breath, Calleigh stomped up the walk toward the front door. Rather more forcefully than she intended, she inserted the key into the lock and opened the door. Her purse she flung on the table and her keys she dropped into the silver tray. Making her way to her bedroom, she unsnapped her holster and laid her .45 on the dresser and unclipped her badge, laying it next to her weapon. Her leather jacket was next and she carelessly tossed it on the bed. She kicked her shoes off and padded barefooted out of the bedroom and down the hall toward the kitchen, intending to quench her anger with alcohol. Calleigh usually never drank anything stronger than a couple of mojitos after work with Nat or the guys, but tonight she felt the need for something stronger to match the fire of her displeasure. Reaching above her head to the highest shelf of the cabinet, she felt for the bottle of scotch she had hidden there and carefully brought it down. She opened it and splashed a quantity of the amber liquid into a clean class, but before she had time to raise it to her lips, the doorbell rang.
"Who the hell?" Calleigh muttered, setting her drink down on the counter and sloshing some of it out.
She stormed angrily to the front door and without even looking through the peep hole, jerked it open.
"This had better be damned good..." she started, but lapsed into shocked silence when she saw Horatio standing there, his arms laden with containers of take out food from Kelly's Cajun Grill.
"Evening, Ma'am. Had dinner yet?" There was a twinkle in Horatio's eyes that completely cooled the heat of Calleigh's anger at having her solitude disrupted.
"Kelly's Cajun Grill, huh?" She said with the merest hint of a smile.
"Comfort food." Horatio offered.
"You think I might need some comfort?" Calleigh sassed.
"Do you?" Horatio's tone held part challenge and part understanding.
At last Calleigh smiled and nodded. "Yeah, I do. Come in, Handsome."
Calleigh led the way into the well-appointed, but smallish kitchen of her condo and reached to take some of the containers from Horatio's hands. Placing them on the counter, she pried the lid of one partially open, sniffed and grinned broadly.
"Now how did you know that gumbo is one of my favorite things in the world, next to guns, of course?"
"Lucky guess?" Horatio smiled as he helped set out and open the rest of the containers, releasing even more tantalizing smells.
"You? Guess? Never!" Calleigh laughed.
"I followed the evidence."
"Uh huh." Calleigh put both hands on her hips and tilted her head to the side in a comical imitation of her redheaded boss. "Right you did. Really, Horatio, how did you know?"
"Well, the evidence states that you are from the southern state of Louisiana and are familiar with if not fond of the foods from that part of the country. After a disappointing day like today, it sometimes helps to eat comfort food. Soothes the soul if you will."
Horatio should have known it would be the wrong thing to say.
Quicker than lightning, Calleigh's temper flared back to life. "I swear Krantz will need more than his soul soothed if he ever speaks…"
Whatever else the irate blonde was going to say was muffled by the insertion of a piece of warm French bread. Horatio slipped the tasty morsel into her mouth and held it there until he felt her bite off a piece of it, then he withdrew his hand, but not before he had let his fingers trail over her lips in a tiny caress.
"Mmmfff…that is….so not fair, Horatio Caine," Calleigh mumbled out between chewing and swallowing the bite of bread she'd taken from Horatio's hand. "Delicious, though."
"So are we going to stand here with me diffusing your temper all evening or are we going to eat this meal? Kelly assured me it was as authentic a Louisiana meal as one could get here in Miami." Lively blue sparks dance in Horatio's eyes as he smiled at Calleigh, daring her to stay angry.
"Oh she did, did she?"
"Well, then let's not let it get cold."
"I like the way you think, Ma'am."
Both Calleigh and Horatio worked quickly to set the small table in the dining room and soon were ready to dig into the tempting meal. Just as she started to sit down, Calleigh noticed two containers off to the side of the others they had opened and set out. She went back to the counter once more and came back with the last two boxes. "And what could this be, I wonder?" Eagerly she peeked under the lid and let out a happy squeal when she saw the contents.
"Peach cobbler! Horatio Caine not only have you brought me my favorite meal, but you brought my favorite dessert. I could just kiss you!"