Fade to Black
This chapter carries a warning for implied violence and crime scene
All disclaimers and notes may be found in the introduction.
Henry Dreifort looks like he's about to have a heart attack, and Robert
Mendoza looks like he's ready to take the law into his own hands. We
managed to keep everyone else out of here, but neither of them will
leave, and I'm almost certain it's the only time I'll ever see those two
agree on anything. It's like they don't trust government employees to
respect this hallowed chamber. Quite frankly, I think that job goes to
someone else, and I'm definitely starting to see a pattern here. There's
something Jamie isn't telling me, but right now, I'm busy trying to
figure out what's missing from this picture, and he's directing the
photographer. Last year, this guy missed some important shots on an
arson, and neither of us are in the mood for taking chances.
The steps at the Capitol, the bench of the Supreme Court - I think our
guy has a problem with authority figures, or the government, or someone
associated with the government. Hold that thought. If he wants to go
after government, and if he keeps picking higher security and higher
profile locations..... Pulling my cell phone out of my pocket, I dial Ron
Butterfield's cell phone from memory, and tell him, FBI to Secret
Service, that he might want to up the President's security.
"Lisa!" Clicking the phone off, I jog across the court room to the
evidence guy, who's picking through her briefcase. "This woman, her
name's Ann Holland. Ring a bell?" No, honestly it doesn't, and I'm
wondering why it should. He shrugs though, and says he thought I kept up
with all the legal mumbo jumbo that went on in this town. Apparently, she
was arguing the Nebraska - Kansas case today. "Hey, get this! She was
from Gage Whitney Pace. Isn't that your old firm?" He's holding her
business card between latexed fingers, and all I can think is that it's
Sam's old firm too.
Jamie's standing with the medical examiner over the body, and he's waving
me over, because they're ready to proceed. I'm holding out some hope that
the signature on this body will be different, but in my gut, I know it's
the same. The flag has thirteen stars, and somewhere in the back of my
mind, I realize that he's progressed from 'Don't tread on me' to the
Union. I pull on a pair of gloves as Jamie peels back the flag. Now the
signature is becoming clearer. He's prepared her body. I didn't think of
it that way last time, but I do now. He's showing these women tremendous
respect, closing their eyes, straightening their clothing, crossing their
ankles. Maybe it was the scene on the steps, it didn't present an
illusion of peace, but the courtroom does. Whoever it is, he cared for
these women on some level.
"Is it the same guy?" Jamie sounds a little unhinged, and I have to
remind myself that this really isn't his thing. He doesn't do crime
scenes well, and I think seeing these women like this is unnerving him. I
reach across her body and take the flag from his hands, turning it over
to see the single bloodstain that blossomed from this woman's chest. Then
I hand it off to one of evidence guys and watch for just a second as he
folds it into a plastic bag. "Lisa?" Yes, I realize he's still waiting
for an answer to my question, but I'm not done yet.
Taking her hand in mine, I turn it over, and run and gloved hand over her
palm. No bruising, no skin under her nails, no scarring from a knife.
These women, they didn't try and defend themselves. Were they drugged?
Did they know the killer? The ME keeps looking at me, waiting for
permission to take the body, and I'm almost ready to give it. "On the
other woman, was there evidence of sexual assault?" She looks at me, and
asks if I mean the woman on the steps. Who else might I mean? "There's no
evidence of assault, and if she slept with anyone before she was killed,
they used a condom. There's nothing to make a DNA match." Well, that's
one dead end. Jamie tilts his head towards the far corner of the court,
and we peel off our gloves
"Is there any chance someone was just irate over Kansas water rights and
it's a copycat?" No. No, Jamie, I don't think so. He nods, and we stop.
We're far enough from the action that I don't imagine anyone's going to
disturb us. I know he's just aching to pick my brain on this, and I'm not
sure I'm ready to talk, but I better get ready. Quickly.
"Is this some guy on a spree, or are we looking for a serial killer?" I
can't call him a serial killer until there are three victims, and the
cooling off period was only a day, but yeah, I think it's a serial
killer. This isn't some guy who's mad about his tax return. I think
there's going to be more victims, and I think they're going to get more
visible. He's attacked the Capitol, the Supreme Court, and I'm not sure I
want to know where he's going next. Visibility, escalating visibility.
"What about invisible victims? Do you think he's done this before?" Our
guy, he wants to be seen. He wants to be important. No, I think if he'd
killed before, he'd want us to know. There was probably some recent event
in his life that set him off. Now if only I knew what.
I'm ready to leave now, to go back out to Quantico and run through some
background on the victims. Jamie nods, and follows me out through the
police barricade to where the car is parked. He climbs in and starts the
engine, but I hold up a finger, and pull out my cell phone. He picks up
after four rings. "Joshua?" He mumbles something, and I can hear Donna
and Leo hollering in the background. I ask him, for my own piece of mind,
to go to the house, and sit on Sam as soon as he can get away.
Thankfully, Josh doesn't ask for an explanation, and I get in the car.
We've commandeered a conference room, and on the cork board, are photos
of both women, Lauren Crenshaw and Ann Holland. Jamie's scribbling a few
of the things we know about them into a column, but it's pretty sparse.
On the surface, they seem vaguely similar, professional women who worked
themselves through law school, dark hair, attractive, but that's where
the similarity stops. Ann Holland was a contract attorney who billed
$1500 an hour. Laurie was as Assistant DA making $30,000 a year. One was
in town from New York, the other lived in DC. One married, one not..... I
wasn't having much luck. Maybe we weren't looking at it from the right
Jamie's back is turned to me, and I call his name. "Find something?" No,
but I want to know what I'm not being told. He's gets still for the
longest moment, and then turns to face me. "This morning, an anonymous
caller at 5:58 AM, my private line again. They asked for you." That
slightly unsettling. Usually the only anonymous calls I get at work are
from prison - from people I sent there. Who would care that I was on the
case? There has to be something there. Something or someone. Someone who
knew me when I was Elizabeth Lloyd.
Donna was understanding last night, but I have to go home. I told Sam I
would be home tonight, and in my heart, I want to be. I gave my heart and
soul to this man, and I refuse to believe the worst about him. He's not
capable. Turning the key in the lock, I can hear music playing and Josh
and CJ yelling something back and forth. "Hello?" Josh mauls me when he
sees me. "I think I'm naming you my honorary sister." Okay Joshua....
Where did that come from? "You give CJ someone else to yell at." I'm
laughing a little now. What did I do?
"Did you tell the Secret Service to increase the President's protection?"
Hmmmm.... Yeah, CJ, I did. You know why? 'Cause I don't even want to have
to utter the phrase 'President Hoynes'. "Where's Sam?" Josh points to the
stairs, and CJ yells at me as I run up that she made dinner. We are
apparently having a 'let's cheer Sam up' dinner. That's just fine by me.
He can't mope around over Lillianfield and the Post running the
manic-depressive thing for too much longer. Sam just doesn't mope well.
"Sam? Sweety? Are you feeling okay?" He rolls over on the bed to face me,
and I have to admit, I don't really think he and Laurie were anything
more than friends. Politically, he's too smart to have an affair with a
former call girl, and personally, I don't think he'd have an affair. His
eyes are bloodshot, and he's face has this wry smile that Sam shouldn't
wear. He looks much better with a real smile, 'cause that there is a Josh
look. He sits up and swings his legs over the side of the bed, and his
face falls a little. Those eyes..... I think I married a lost puppy dog.
"Are you mad at me?" No, no I'm not mad at you. I'm in love with you Sam,
I just have to convince the skeptic in me to shut up for twenty minutes
and I'll come up with a dozen reasons why I shouldn't suspect you..... of
I can't find the words to tell him that I'm not mad at him, so I sit next
to him on the bed, and slide my hands under his sweater. He shivers a
little, and I laugh. I'm sitting here still wearing my coat, and my hair
is covered with snow. Did he really think I'd be warm and cozy? We're
laughing now, and he leans closer, until I can feel his breath on my
lips, and I'm have to wonder what he's waiting for. Then he kisses me.
His lips are touching mine softly, and my arms wrap around him tightly.
Out of the corner of my eye, I can see him hold up five fingers and
starting a count down. He hits zero, and I hear Josh holler. "Hey
Fade to Black - 4