November 9, 2008: 9:17 AM
Catherine held Greg’s wrist as they walked down a drive toward the farmhouse. Their severe condition has worsened. They have sunken eyes, infected blisters and their skin was a sickly calico of bright red, yellow, and black. Greg was in shock and responding by instinct. They passed corrals with livestock and came around the corner of a shed. From shaded spots, six dogs ran at them, barking as they approached. Neither of them responded to the canines. When the humans didn’t run or stop, the dogs quit barking and follow them as a pack. At the house, the front door opened and a tall, tan farmer stepped onto the porch. He shaded his eyes and it took him a few moments to realize the two are in trouble.
“Carla, get a couple glasses of water!” the farmer called.
The farmer leapt off the porch and ran over to the two. He reached out for Catherine.
“Help Greg,” Catherine told him. “He can barely walk.”
The farmer helped Greg onto the porch and into a chair. He returned to help Catherine up the steps and into another chair.
His wife, Carla, jogged out of the house with two large, sparkling glasses of water. She handed each of them one. Catherine drank half of her glass before she noticed Greg wasn’t drinking any. She sat her glass down and crouched in front of him, taking his glass. Catherine lifted it to his lips. The movement untucked her shirt, revealing her sidearm. The farmer tensed when he saw it.
“It’s water Greg. You need to drink some.”
He does as he’s told.
“How long have you two been out here?” the farmer asked.
“Four days, I think. We need a ride back to Las Vegas. I have some money. I can—”
“You don’t have to pay for it, but it looks like you need an ambulance. He looks bad.”
Catherine looked at Greg. “We do, but there’s someone that has to know what happened. Then we can go.”
“I’ll drive you in,” Carla says. “Rest here while I get the car cooled off.”
“We should just call for that ambulance,” the farmer insisted.
“No. I can—” Carla stopped talking suddenly.
Catherine looked up. The farmer has pulled his wife back and both stare at Catherine’s hip. She glanced at her sidearm and realized the problem. She pulled her badge from her pocket, holding it out to the farmer.
“We’re with the LVPD Crime Lab. We got lost and our vehicle broke down way out of cell or radio service. Please, give us a ride to Las Vegas.”
The farmer looked the badge over, then handed it back with a nod. Carla ran off to get their vehicle. Catherine turned her attention back to Greg. She smiled when he lifted his eyes to look at her. She pats his hand.
“We’re almost home, Greggo. Stay with me, okay? Don’t leave me.”
He barely nodded, whispering, “Okay.”
She smiled. Greg wasn’t as far gone as he appeared.
May 22, 2011: Interview Room A
EMT Casey Thompson watched Catherine and Brass walk in. Brass leaned on the chair at the end of the table; Catherine sat in the chair across from Casey. She opened a file folder she had brought to the interview. Casey nervously glanced from detective to C.S.I.
“I was told Greg was engaged to Capri. Is that true? Was he?”
“We’re not here to talk about Greg, Casey. We subpoenaed your fingerprints from your Life Shield records and they matched the fingerprints found on the tubing used to strangle Capri. Can you—”
“He was engaged to her, wasn’t he?”
“We’re not talking about—”
“Why would he get involved with her? She led my partner and me right into a shootout. My partner died because of her. Then there were those firefighters trying to find a place in a hail storm, and drove right off an unfinished bridge because of her directions. She nearly got you and Greg killed when you two were stranded in the desert, why would he want to marry her?”
“Casey, we also found your thumbprint—”
“And then dispatch rehires her? They were going to put her back on the radio! Dispatch didn’t figure out years ago that she was a danger to everyone?”
“Did you kill her because you thought she was a danger?”
“Why would Greg ever get involved with her? She’s not even that special.”
“Did you kill Capri, Casey?” Brass asked.
Casey stared at him. “I was protecting lives.”
“By killing Capri?” Catherine asked.
“She was going to get more people killed. People would die because we couldn’t get to them in time. I saved more lives by killing one.”
Catherine closed the folder. Brass walked around, taking Casey’s arm as he motioned an officer in to arrest him.
“Utilitarianism doesn’t clear you of murder charges, Casey,” Catherine tersely explained. “You ruined two lives today. There is nothing charitable about what you did.”
“I saved Greg from getting killed by that whore!”
The door flew open and Greg walked in shooting. Six bullets penetrated Casey’s body, throwing him against the wall. When Brass tried to stop Greg, he pushed him away with superhuman strength. He charged up on Casey, aiming right between the paramedic’s eyes.
“I was saving you!” Casey cried.
With a hateful sneer, Greg pulled the trigger…
Greg opened his eyes. The primal
part of his brain that had no inhibitions wanted the interview to end that way,
to make Casey suffer the way he’d made Greg’s wife suffer. That part of him was
disappointed that Greg wouldn’t even let love turn him into a murderer.
Beside him, Nick watched the room Brass and an officer lead Casey out. Catherine sat for a moment before she left the room.
“Why would you get involved with her?” Nick asked. “After all that happened… I just want to understand.”
“She was beautiful right down to her DNA. And she was fearless. And she was full of life. She fit right in to the crazy Sanders family. Her and my mom were best friends, even after we broke up and mom knew why we had. They spoke every day. My family loved her. She was always trying to be a better person for herself and she was finally seeing good things from that.” Greg turned and sat on the floor. He buried his head in his hands, crying silently. Nick sat down, shoulder to shoulder with Greg. “That was why.”
“How did you propose?” Nick asked.
Greg lifted his head. He had a far off look on his face and Nick wasn’t sure he wouldn’t snap at him. Then he smiled at the memory.
“We had a really rough shift the night before…”
“Yeah. We did,” Nick agreed.
“I was so tired when I drove by the jewelers but… I stopped and looked at the rings in the window and I saw her ring. Everything about it, the design, the sapphire and diamonds, it was her. Someone had captured her beauty and spirit in that ring. So I bought it; I can’t even remember what it cost because it just didn’t matter.” Greg closed his eyes, wanting to capture every little detail of how the proposal went. “It just didn’t matter…”
May 20, 2011: Sunset View Apartments
Capri hummed and almost danced to a song on the radio as she made breakfast for two. She wore a baby-doll nightgown that didn’t cover a whole lot. She didn’t hear Greg come in and stand in the kitchen doorway behind her. He pulled his hands behind his back and watched her move with a smile drenched in love. She turned to the refrigerator and yipped when she saw him. She ran up to him, playfully punching his arm.
“Jerk! Don’t scare me like that! Say something next time.”
“Sorry. I love watching you… Move.”
Capri pulled close to him as she slid her hands down his sides to his hips. Greg pushed his fingers into her black hair and pulled her into a kiss. She melted into his arms and kept her eyes closed for a moment when he pulled away. She finally looked up at him with a happy smile.
“Do we have homework?” he asked her.
“No.” She pulled back, beaming. “I aced my reading test. Only five mistakes!”
That made him proud and he kissed her nose. “That’s my girl. Now about these movesssss…”
She reached down and unfastened his belt, then began working on the buttons of his jeans. “Let me shows you some moves, big man.”
“I have a surprise in there,” he told her with a smile.
“Oh yeah? A big surprise?” She worked her hand down his pants.
“Nope. A little one.”
“Oh, he is anything but…”
His grin grew when she pulled her hand out, holding a ring box. She stared wide-eyed at it. Greg opened it, revealing a wedding ring with a sapphire surrounded by four diamonds.
“I want to marry you,” Greg told her. “I want to marry you today. Right now.”
She stared at him. Greg began to worry the longer she stayed silent. Suddenly she pounced on him, knocking him to the floor.
She leaned over him, placing a tender kiss on his cheek. “Who’s driving?”