"Hunter, get in here."

Tori Hunter looked up from her computer, nodding at Lieutenant Malone as she slid her chair back and walked into his office.

"Where's Kennedy?" he asked, motioning for her to sit.

Tori glanced at her watch. "She had a lunch date."

"Oh, yeah?" He cleared his throat. "Is everything okay with you two?"

Tori blushed slightly. It was still unsettling to know that her lieutenant, of all people, knew about her love life. It was one thing for Sikes to tease them, quite another to have her lieutenant asking about her relationship. "Sam was meeting her friend Amy, that's all."

"Okay. Well, you'll need to call her in. Got a situation out at Saint Mary's, downtown," he said, reading from a scribbled note in his hand. "We need to be sensitive about this one, Hunter."

"Like I don't know how to be sensitive," Tori said dryly as she crossed her arms. "And if you want sensitive, maybe you should send Sikes. We've got a solid lead on our case, Lieutenant. I think we found a witness who can put Stewart at the scene. I hate to take time away from it."

"Sorry, but now you've got another case. I want you two on this one." He fingered the note again. "Father Michael was found dead this morning in the rectory. The responding unit is there, and the crime lab's already on the scene."

"A priest?" Tori asked, leaning forward. "Homicide?"

"Appears so. He was found naked." He looked at her. "Like I said, sensitive, Hunter. Let's try to keep the gory details from the press."

"Naked? Shouldn't this fall to the new Special Victims Unit?"

"Special Victims investigates sexual crimes, Hunter," he said, his voice tense. "This is a homicide. Nothing more."

"I understand." Tori took the piece of paper from Malone. "You're Catholic, Stan? I never knew."

He nodded. "I knew Father Michael. He was a good man."

"Okay. Sensitive."

Tori grabbed her jacket off the back of her chair. The January day was cold and rainy, making her long for summer. It had only been a couple of months since they'd gone to the boat regularly, but still, it had been an ideal summer and Tori missed it. She and Sam had spent nearly every weekend on the lake, getting to know each other without a murder investigation hanging over them. They had grown so close, Tori wondered how she had managed before Sam came into her life. But she knew, didn't she? She hadn't really been living, she had merely been existing.

She called Sam while she drove the short distance to Saint Mary's. She and Amy were still at the deli.

"Why don't you have Amy drop you off at the church?"

"Okay. We're finished anyway. I'll meet you there."

Tori had just disconnected when she was nearly sideswiped by a TV news van. She leaned on her horn, barely resisting the urge to flip them off. "Idiots."

She reached the church parking lot the same time the van did, and she held up her badge as she walked toward them. "Where the hell do you think you're going? This is a crime scene. No TV."

"Detective Hunter, we must stop meeting like this. People will start to talk."

Tori turned, silently groaning as the red-headed reporter slid from the van, long legs appearing well before the rest of her. Melissa Carter was fresh out of college, trying her best to win the evening anchor job. She had also been trying to win a date with Tori. Sam's teasing had been relentless.

"Miss Carter, please keep your crew back. We've been over this before. Crime scene, remember? It's not that hard."

"We wouldn't think of interfering with your investigation, Detective. Just trying to catch a break. Of course, I'd love an exclusive interview with you later," she purred.

Tori lifted an eyebrow. "Call my lieutenant." She walked toward the two uniformed officers standing at the steps to the church. "Make sure they stay put."

"Yes, ma'am."

Tori looked at the massive doors to the church, then back to the officers. "Where's the rectory, anyway?"

The younger of the two said, "It's the building behind the church. The M.E.'s van is there."

"Okay. What's the media look like back there?"

"Crowded. But we've got tape up." He motioned to the TV crew. "They've been run off from the back already."

"Lovely. I hate her," she murmured as she followed the sidewalk around the church. Behind it was a courtyard with several manicured gardens, assorted religious statues the centerpiece of each. It was bursting with activity as people—mostly priests and a few nuns—gathered, waiting for news.

"Detective Hunter, about time. Where's your partner?" one of the uniformed officers asked.

"She's on her way. Who's inside?"

"Crime lab and the M.E."

"Make sure the TV crews stay away. Must be a slow news day."

Tori walked inside, finding Rita Spencer bent over the body. She and the medical examiner were on better terms now. Working a serial killer case could do that.

"Spencer, anything?" Tori asked, staring at the body. He was younger than she'd assumed. .

Rita looked up, nodding. "Hunter. You got this one?"

"Looks like it." Tori looked around, watching as the crime lab techs lifted prints from a fallen lamp. "What we got?"

"Strangulation. Most likely with a thin belt or a rope. See the bruising pattern?" she said, pointing to the ligature mark around the neck.

"Why do you think he's naked?"

Their eyes met.

"There is some rectal bleeding."

Tori frowned. "Raped?"

"There doesn't appear to be trauma. No visible fluids. Could be consensual. We may not know."

"Consensual? Jesus, he's a priest. Let's hope he was raped. I don't want to be the one to report he was having consensual sex." Then Tori paused, thinking. "Wait a minute. What about that autoerotic . . . strangulation thing? Is that the right term?"

"Asphyxiophilia. It's possible. Difficult to prove without a sexual partner, or someone who may have known he practiced it." Rita looked up. "Which was why I was expecting Special Victims, not Homicide."

Tori sighed. "Time of death?"

"Liver temp indicates he's been dead six or seven hours."

Tori looked at her watch. "It's nearly one. Do you know who found him?"

"I think the housekeeper. The responding officers took her to the kitchen."

Tori nodded. "You'll do the post, or will Jackson ?"

"He'll probably want this one, Hunter."

Tori nodded again. "I understand." She walked through the house into the office where the crime lab techs were still lifting prints. "How's it look?"

"Multiple prints. In every room. I assume most belong to the priests of the diocese here." He shrugged. "And the housekeeper. I guess we could print them, then eliminate the ones that match."

"Eliminate them? Why would we want to eliminate them? We're looking for a killer."

"Hunter, they're priests."

"They're human. Anyone that's got a print in here, I want them accounted for. I don't care if it's the goddamn bishop." She moved next into the bedroom, eyebrows raised questioningly as the Luma Light played across the bed.

"Clean. No sign of fluids."

"Has anyone questioned the housekeeper?"

"No. She's in the kitchen."

Tori walked down the hall to the back of the house, her gaze landing on the quietly crying woman. She paused, then cleared her throat. The woman looked up, her eyes red and puffy.

"I'm Detective Hunter. I understand you found him?"

"Awful, so awful. Who would do this?"

"Well, we're going to find out. But I need to ask you some questions. Are you up to it?"

The woman rubbed a well-used rosary, the beads rolling between her nervous fingers. She crossed herself once, then gathered the rosary in the palm of one hand. "Yes, I'm all right. I'll help in any way. Of course I will."

Tori pulled out a chair and sat across from her, wishing Sam were here. She was better at this, more compassionate. Tori didn't usually bother with pleasantries. "What's your name?"

" Alice . I'm Alice Hagen."

Tori nodded. " Alice , what time did you find him?"

"It was nearly noon . I was running late today. I'm usually here by ten, but my husband wasn't feeling well and I was tending to him. He's got emphysema." She looked away quickly. "He was a smoker."

"How often do you come here? Daily?"

"No, no. Monday, Wednesday, Friday."

"Does anyone else—"

"Hunter? Found something," Mac, the lead technician, motioned toward the hallway.

"I'm sorry, but excuse me, Mrs. Hagen. I'll be right back."

Tori followed him back into the living room, then outside. She looked up once into the gray sky, then brushed at the moisture that had gathered on her hair.

"Found these in the shrubs," he said, pointing to what looked like men's pajamas. "And a belt." He motioned for her to follow. "Got shoe prints. Going to take a cast of them. There's only two. This one is smeared, like he was running."

"Great. Maybe we can get a print off the belt," she said, watching as the belt was carefully placed in an evidence bag. "Or fluids on the clothes." She nodded at the officer who found them. "Good job. Make sure Spencer gets the belt. See if it matches her ligature mark."


Sam hurried through the fine drizzle, excusing herself as she moved among the crowd that had gathered. She spotted Tori at the edge of the house and slowed, an involuntary smile touching her lips before she could stop it. Tori was so . . . so powerful, so totally in control, and Sam was as drawn to her today as she'd been last year when she'd first transferred to Homicide. Slowly shaking her head, she marveled at all the changes in her life since then. The biggest change, having fallen in love with a woman. For the first time, she was totally happy with her life, both professionally and personally. And she was continually amazed that she and Tori could leave the job at the end of the day and have a completely different life at home, one that involved getting to know each other away from work, away from the stress of a murder investigation. And as she'd suspected, Tori had a wicked sense of humor. It was a part of her personality that she'd kept hidden as she'd retreated from life. But little by little, she'd opened up, and now she was practically best buddies with John Sikes, something Sam never thought could be possible.

As she stared, she saw Tori's back straighten and her head tilt to the side. Then, like always, she turned, Tori's eyes capturing her own in an instant. With only a slight twitch of her lips and one raised eyebrow, she turned back to Mac.

How does she do that?

Sam hurried on, the light mist turning into a downright drizzle. Inside the rectory, she sidestepped Rita Spencer who was preparing to bring the body out.

"Rita," she said by way of greeting.

Rita nodded. "The housekeeper is still in the kitchen. I don't think Hunter had a chance to question her."


Sam turned, watching the activity in the bedroom before moving down the hallway and into the kitchen. She paused, offering a slight smile as the older woman turned tear-stained cheeks her way.

"I'm Detective Kennedy. I'm sorry, but I don't know your name."

"Alice Hagen. Isn't it just so awful, Detective?"

"Yes, ma'am, it is." Sam pulled out one of the chairs by the kitchen table and sat down. "Are you the one who found him, Alice ?"

"I came in here, through the kitchen, like always. But it was too quiet. I knew something was wrong."

"Tell me what you saw."

"Well, I called to him but got no answer. At first, I thought that maybe he'd gone on to the church, but he always worked in his office, going over his sermon until I brought him his lunch."

"You came every day?"

"No, like I was telling that other policewoman, I come three days a week. The other two days, he fends for himself." Then she smiled. "Or one of the ladies from the church will drop off a meal." She leaned forward. "He was so well liked. No one wanted him to do without," she said quietly.

Sam nodded. "So, you called out to him. Then what?"

"Well, I went to his office first. But before I could open the door, I saw . . . oh dear God, I saw him lying there, naked."

"Where was he when you found him, Alice ?"

"In the den, he was just . . . lying there," she finished in a whisper.

Sam nodded again, reaching out to touch the older woman's arm. "Tell me what's out of order. The den area looks disturbed, as if there was a struggle."

"Oh, yes. I always kept it so neat. It's a mess. Just awful."

"Yes, I understand. Did you touch anything? Did you touch him?"

"Oh, no. I didn't touch anything. Well, the phone, you know. When I called," she said.

Sam jotted down some notes, then glanced up when she heard footsteps approach.

Tori looked at her briefly, then turned her attention to Alice Hagen. "Mrs. Hagen, excuse me, but . . . I have a few more questions if you're up for it."

"Of course, Officer."

"And forgive me for the bluntness of this, but were you aware of Father Michael having any . . . well, any sexual partners?"

The gasp sounded nearly like a groan. "Sexual? He was a priest! Of course he didn't have any . . . partners." She brought the tissue to her eyes again as she cried. "What kind of police are you?"

Tori ran a hand through her hair which was glistening with raindrops. "Of course. I'm sorry." Then she looked again at Sam. "All done?"

Sam stood up. "Yes. Thank you, Mrs. Hagen. You've been a big help." She handed the older woman her card. "If you think of anything else, anything at all, please call me."

She followed Tori out into the hallway, stopping her with a light touch on the arm. "Sexual partners?" she murmured.

"Either that or he was raped. We'll know more after the post."

"Raped?" Sam looked down the hall back to where Mrs. Hagen still sat. "Okay. Do we want to look for witnesses? There were a lot of people in the courtyard. Other priests, nuns. Maybe someone saw something out of the ordinary."

"Father Michael obviously lived alone. Where does everyone else stay?"

"I'm not sure. But the diocese headquarters is located here, and the seminary. And there's a small convent just two blocks from away. Word has spread, I'm sure." Sam pointed down the hall as a priest stood talking to one of the uniformed officers. "This looks like an official visit."

Tori followed her gaze, and Sam noticed the older priest look their way. He was an overweight man, his face round and puffy. He took off his black hat as he made his way over to them. Bushy, graying hair protruded like two patches above his ears; the rest of his head was as slick as a cue ball.

"Excuse me. I'm Monsignor Bernard. Bishop Lewis sent me," he said, his hand extended to both her and Tori. "The officers over there said that you were going to be investigating this tragedy. Is that correct?"

Before Sam could speak, Tori stepped forward.

"I'm Detective Hunter, and this is Detective Kennedy. What can we do for you?"

"As I said, Bishop Lewis sent me to oversee this situation. For the time being."

Tori raised an eyebrow. "Oversee?"

"With the press, mainly. We are aware of how the situation looks, Detective. And by no means can the Dallas Diocese handle another scandal."

"Monsignor, if you have information about Father Michael's private life, you need to tell us now."

"If you're insinuating that Father Michael behaved inappropriately, Detective, you are very wrong. Father Michael has an impeccable record and there has never been even a hint of improper behavior."

"Then what scandal are you trying to avoid?" Sam asked.

"When the press reports that a priest was found naked and that there was evidence of sexual activity, do you think the words raped or assaulted will be included in the text? No. They will assume sexual misconduct. And we simply can't have that."

"Monsignor , how do you know what evidence was found? There have been no official statements."

He smiled but shook his head. "I won't bore you with the chain of information, Detectives. What we want, in your official statement to the press, is for you to report that he was sexually assaulted and not leave it up to the reporters to use their own words."

Tori said, "I'm sorry. I can't do that. I don't know if he was sexually assaulted or not. I won't know until the medical examiner issues his report." Her cell rang and she unclipped it from her belt. "Excuse me," she murmured as she moved back into the kitchen.


"Hunter, I just got a call from CIU."

Tori rolled her eyes. CIU—Criminal Investigative Unit—thought they were the damn FBI. "And?"

"We're not to talk to the press on this one. They're going to handle it. I think they're sending someone over now."

Tori sighed. "Great, Lieutenant. Are they going to handle the goddammed investigation, too?"

"Look, I told you this was sensitive. Apparently, the bishop contacted the mayor and the mayor himself called the chief. The church is concerned about—"

"They're concerned about a sex scandal. They don't appear too concerned about their dead priest, only how it's going to look in the papers."

"Well, as much as you hate dealing with the press, I thought you'd love this." Malone paused. "Now did you find anything at the scene?"

"They found pajamas and a belt under some shrubs. The belt could likely be the murder weapon. Multiple prints in the house. We got nothing at this point, really."

"Well, we need to find something."

"No shit," Tori murmured after she'd disconnected. Sam and the monsignor were still talking in the hallway, his bulk nearly dwarfing Sam. Tori said to him, "Well, your prayers have been answered, it seems. They're sending someone over to handle the press."

"Thank you, Detective."

"I assure you, I had nothing to do with it. Now, if you'll excuse us," she said, brushing past him and motioning for Sam to follow.

"Who's coming over?" Sam asked when they stepped outside.


"CIU? Are they taking over the case?"

"I wish." Tori stopped and looked to the sky, wondering how long before the downpour hit. "Let's find out if anyone saw anything this morning."

"Starting where?"

"I don't know. Grab a nun."

Sam smiled. "Grab a nun?"

Their eyes met and Tori allowed herself a brief smile. "Maybe I should take the nuns. You have more of a history with priests."

"My brother doesn't count. But maybe you're right. I think you're less likely to piss off the nuns."

"Funny, Detective," Tori said as she moved away, finding a group of four nuns watching them.



"Hunter, I hear you got close to a church today and lightening didn't strike!" John Sikes said with a laugh.

"Good one, Sikes. I can always count on you for humor in the midst of death," Tori said as she picked up her coffee cup. Eyeing the dark liquid—which she assumed was several hours old—she opted for a water bottle instead, grabbing one from the small fridge tucked in the corner.

"Heard about the priest, but what about your homeless guy?"

"Finally got a witness who picked out Stewart's picture. But—"

"But it's another homeless guy?"

"Exactly. A defense attorney would have him for lunch." Tori pulled her chair out with her foot before sitting down. "Saturday night was fun. Thanks for asking us."

"Oh, sure. We usually get together at least once a month to play. Sorry you two had to come separately."

Tori shrugged. "Better to be safe."

"I had no idea Sam could play poker."

"I'd been teaching her all last week. She picked it up pretty quickly."

"She looked like she had a great time." He leaned on the corner of her desk. "And Ronnie's an asshole," John said quietly. "Sorry about that."

"Sam can handle herself. No big deal."

"Yeah, but it was you I was worried about. You should have seen the look on your face when he tried to kiss her."

Tori smiled. "He doesn't know how close he was to having a gun shoved up his ass."

John laughed and stood, slipping his hands into his pockets. "So, what's with the priest?"

"Don't know yet. He was found naked, strangled. Spencer found rectal bleeding, but we don't know if it was assault or consensual. Jackson was going to do the post."

"Oh, man. You better hope the M.E. states it as assault. It'll be a regular circus otherwise."

"It's already a circus. CIU's pulled rank. They're handling the media. I guess they're afraid I might say something off-color."

"Now where would they get that idea? But shouldn't Special Victims take this one? I mean, isn't that why they formed that unit? To take this kind of crap off our hands?"


Sam watched from across the squad room, smiling as Tori and John laughed together. Last year, the two could hardly tolerate each other's presence. Now, they were buddies. And Tori needed a buddy. She needed someone other than Sam in her life, someone else to let her know that she was a good person, worthy of friendship. Oh, she could still be a total bitch, especially when things didn't go the way she wanted. But finally, she was dropping the shield around her and letting everyone else see the person who Sam had fallen in love with. And John Sikes was not immune to Tori's charms, Sam knew. John had joined them often on the boat at Eagle Mountain Lake , his love of fishing nearly matching that of Tori's.

Tori must have felt her presence, turning to look at her, her face gentling. Here in their own squad room, they didn't have to be so careful. It was unspoken, but everyone knew about their relationship. Even Gary Walker, Donaldson's new partner, acknowledged it. It went without saying that it remain in-house. As far as the other detectives were concerned, if Lieutenant Malone didn't have a problem with it, they didn't have a problem with it.

"Trying to sneak up on us?"

"And someday I just might." She squeezed John's arm as she passed. "Hey, Sikes. Where were you this morning?"

"Ramirez wanted to check out a hunch. We spent half the night and all this morning staking out a neighborhood bar in Oak Cliff."

Sam wrinkled her nose. She hated stakeouts. "Sorry. Any luck?"

"Of course not." He shoved off the corner of Tori's desk. "Catch you two later."

Sam leaned across her desk, watching Tori. "Any luck with your nuns?"

"No. What about you? Enjoy your ride over in the patrol car?"

"No. He wouldn't let me play with anything." Sam picked up the file, knowing Tori had already typed up her notes. She glanced through them quickly, seeing the few comments Tori had added after speaking to the nuns. "Father Michael was very popular."

"Apparently so."

Sam leaned her elbows on her desk, watching Tori. "Who in their right mind would kill a priest?"

Tori leaned back twisting a pen between her fingers. "People kill for revenge. People kill out of anger. People kill for spite. People kill for fun." She raised her eyebrows. "You kill a priest, which of those would be a good reason?"

"Revenge." Sam shrugged, thinking for a moment. "Or anger."

"Why would you be angry at a priest?"

Sam's eyes widened. "I would be angry at a priest if he molested me."

Tori nodded. "So, our killer could be a former altar boy, perhaps, taking out his anger now? Or maybe enacting revenge?"

"But Monsignor Bernard said that Father Michael had no complaints, not even a hint of inappropriate behavior," Sam reminded her.

"Just because he said it doesn't mean it's true."

Sam bit her lower lip, then smiled. She was raised Catholic, and her brother was a priest, so it never occurred to her that the Monsignor could be lying. "That just wouldn't be right."

"Sam, just because he's a priest, don't assume anything. Don't assume they're not withholding something from us. Don't assume Father Michael didn't have consensual sex. And don't assume, because they're priests, that they're not human."

Sam agreed. "You're right. I have this skewed opinion, I know."

"And I'm too cynical about it all," Tori admitted. "So we need to find a common ground. Maybe we should—"

"Hunter? Crime lab's on line two," Fisk bellowed from the front desk.

"That was quick," she said before punching the speakerphone button. "Hunter. What do you have?"

"We got a good print off the belt, Hunter. It matched a partial that was found on the lamp."

"Got a name?"

"Juan Hidalgo. He's been in and out. Assault, armed robbery, possession."

"Can you e-mail me the specifics?"

"Already done."

"Thanks." She looked at Sam. "Juan Hidalgo? I think one of the nuns mentioned his name."

Sam looked at her notes, flipping through the pages. "Here he is. Handyman. He works three or four days a week."

Tori opened her e-mail, scanning it briefly before printing it. "Got an address. Little Mexico ."

"Of course it'd be Little Mexico." Sam looked around, hoping Tony was at his desk. They'd found from experience that it helped to have a Spanish-speaking officer with them. But Ramirez and Sikes had disappeared.

"Let's tell Malone," Tori said, hurrying into the lieutenant's office.

Sam waited at the stairs, keys dangling from her fingers.

Tori grinned when she saw them. "Got the Lexus?"

"Only the best for you, Hunter," Sam said in a sultry voice.

They paused at the door, gazing at each other, a smile playing across Tori's face. Tori's gaze to dropped to Sam's lips for only a second, but it was enough. Sam took a breath, saw Tori's eyes darken.

"How can you do that to me with just a look?" Sam whispered.

Tori only smiled, lightly touching Sam's back as they went down the stairs.


Tori drove as Sam looked at the e-mail again, then their street finder on the laptop. "It's a housing project. Should be the next block."

"Damn, but this is run down," Tori muttered, wondering if Juan Hidalgo lived with his family or alone. "It looks worse than my building."

"Oh, I'd say they're about the same, sweetheart."

Tori laughed. "Three hundred dollars a month rent. You can't beat it."

"Especially when you don't actually live there."

"You're ready for me to give it up?"

"Tori, you've not set foot in the apartment since May."

"Has it been that long?"

Sam reached over and squeezed Tori's thigh. "Keep it as long as you want."

Tori parked along the curb and cut the engine. "I don't really feel the need to keep it anymore. It's just, well, I haven't had time to think about moving my stuff out. Besides, what would I do with it all?"

"Just stop paying rent. They'll give your furniture away to someone who needs it."

Tori looked up at the three-story building, then went with Sam toward the front doors. One of the doors was propped open, letting in the chill from the cold January day. "I think I've got a bottle of Scotch," Tori murmured.


"At my apartment. And some old files and stuff."

Not waiting for a response, which she didn't expect anyway, Tori headed on up the stairs. Files. Files of her family's murder. She realized she hadn't mentioned her family since the night she'd told Sam about their murder, but she'd kept copies of all the old case files.

"Then why don't you bring them to our place?" Sam said.

Tori paused in mid-step. Our place. How she loved those words. After Internal Affairs finished their investigation last year, Sam gave up her apartment and the two of them moved into an older complex hidden away near White Rock Lake . It was a small lake compared to the expanse of Eagle Mountain , where they kept their boat. But here, they were only two blocks from the city lake, and Tori often went there in the evenings to fish and to satisfy her need for solitude. Sam understood she needed her quiet time—her alone time—and she never questioned it. And Tori knew it also gave Sam some time alone to catch up with friends, mainly Amy.

But get rid of her old apartment? Well, she was throwing away three hundred bucks a month just to keep it. "Okay," she finally said, glancing back at Sam.

Sam frowned. "Okay what?"

"Maybe this weekend we could go to my apartment and pack up a few things."

Smiling, Sam seemed surprised. "Oh. Okay. Sure."

Tori stopped at the second-floor landing, looking up into the dark stairwell. "He would have to be on the third floor, wouldn't he?"

"Does it smell in here to you?"

"Yeah. I told you it was worse than my building."

Before Sam could reply, running footsteps below made them both stop and look back. Two uniformed police officers were running up the stairs.

"Stand back, ladies!" one of them shouted as they ran past them.

Tori and Sam pressed against the wall, out of their way, Tori glaring at their retreating backs. "Idiots," she muttered

"What are the chances they're going to the same apartment we are?"

"With our luck, they'll chase our guy off." Tori started toward the third floor, quickening her pace. "Come on."

They were both out of breath as they raced up the steps, looking in the direction of the commotion down the hallway. Loud voices, all in Spanish, called out, trying to talk over the others.

"What room are we?" Tori asking, gasping.

" Three twelve ."

"Well, this is just fucking great," Tori muttered as she caught her breath. "They're in room three twelve ."

Tori stood in the doorway, noting the chaos inside, watching as the two officers tried in vain to usher the crowd away from a body on the floor.

One of the officers looked up and saw her, motioning for her to stop. "You cannot come in here, ma'am. You need to go back into the hallway. This is a crime scene."

"And I see you're doing a wonderful job of securing it." She held up her badge. "Detectives Hunter and Kennedy. Homicide."

"Damn, that was quick. Usually takes you guys an hour to show up."

Tori looked around. "Who are all these people and why the hell are they contaminating this crime scene?"

The voices grew louder, the quickly spoken Spanish bouncing around Tori. She finally threw her arms up, yelling. "Shut up! Everyone shut up!" When the room was quiet, except for the wailing sobs of an older woman, she continued, "Can anyone here speak English? Por favor? English?"

Silence ensued as their gazes followed her around the room.

She tried again. "English? Anyone?"

One man finally stepped forward. "Si. Un poco."

Tori gritted her teeth, wondering why in the hell she'd never learned to speak Spanish. " Como te llamas?"

The man nodded. "Hector Ybarra."

Tori pointed at the man on the floor. "Who is he?"

"Juan. Juan Hidalgo."

At the man's words, the older woman started wailing again. Tori and Sam locked eyes, Sam nodding as she moved into the hallway, already dialing her cell.

"The mother?" Tori asked Hector.

"Si, es la mama."

"Okay. Ask everyone to leave this apartment, please."

The man frowned.

Tori rubbed her head, trying to control her temper. "Leave. Go. Out," she said, shooing them toward the door.


Tori grabbed his arm. "Not you." She watched as the others were led from the room, the two officers having to forcibly remove the crying woman. "Nine-one-one?"

"I call."

She made her hand into a gun and pointed it at Juan. "You see?"

"No, no." He pointed to his ear. "Oye."

She motioned out the door. "Did mama see? Did she live with him?"

"No, no. Next door."

"Okay. Gracias." She motioned to the door. "Go." She turned, staring at the body of their only suspect. "Well, this sucks the big one."

"How bad is it?" Sam asked from behind her.

"It's totally contaminated. They moved the body, for one thing. Looks like they flipped him over. Someone got blood on their shoes," she said, pointing to the prints.

"Window is open. Cold day like today, I doubt he had it open for air. Especially now. It's nearly dark outside."

Tori circled the body, careful not to touch anything. "Fire escape right outside."

"Is it down?"

Tori went to the window and sighed. "Yep." She looked back to the door. "But no forced entry. Could have known the shooter."

There was a rustling in the hallway, then Mac stuck his head inside. "Ladies, we meet again."

"Sorry, Mac, but there were probably ten people in this room when we got here," Sam said. "Don't know if you're going to find much."

"We'll sift through it." He looked at their body. "Damn, who walked in my blood pool?"

Sam shrugged. "They also don't speak English." Sam stepped aside as Rita Spencer walked in, medical bag on one shoulder, camera on the other.

"Well, this has got to be a first," Rita said, "you two beating me to a scene."

"Yeah, well, we came here hoping to find him alive, not dead," Tori said. "And why did they send you again?"

" Jackson 's started the post on your priest." Rita bent down, then shook her head. "He's been moved." She looked up sharply. "Who the hell moved my body?"

"I would guess his mother," Tori said. "Or any of the other nine people who were in here."

"Why do you guys have this one, anyway? The priest not enough for you?"

"Meet Juan Hidalgo. Our only suspect in Father Michael's murder."

"Damn, Hunter. What are the chances of that?"

"I would have guessed none." She turned to Sam who was busy talking on her cell again. Her animated expression told Tori she was describing the scene.

She looked up, meeting Tori's eyes as she disconnected. "Lieutenant says he wants Ramirez and Sikes on this one, not us."

"Why not us?"

Sam folded her phone and slipped it into her jacket pocket. "Well, the Spanish, for one thing. And we already have two open cases."

Tori pointed at Juan Hidalgo. "This case and the priest are linked. This is not a fucking coincidence," she snapped.

Sam shrugged. "Feel free to call him. I'm just passing on his orders."

Tori shook her head. "Sorry," she said quietly, her eyes darting from Sam to Rita. Orders. "Okay, Spencer. We're out of here. The guys will be in touch."

"Can't wait," Rita murmured absently, her camera already going to work.



"Shower first or dinner?"

"Shower," Tori said, already pulling her sweater over her head.

"Share?" Sam asked quietly, her voice low—inviting.

Tori stopped and turned, meeting Sam's gentle gaze. The smoldering desire she saw there never failed to amaze her. She nodded. "Yeah. Share."

She tossed her sweater on the bed and kicked off her shoes, watching as Sam did the same. Her breath caught as Sam pulled her undershirt off. There was no bra to distract her. Going slowly to Sam, she pulled her own black sports bra off and tossed it on the floor without looking.

"You're so beautiful, Sam," Tori whispered, reaching out to cup Sam's small breasts.

Sam moved into Tori's touch, pulling Tori close as her mouth found Tori's. "Shower," she murmured.

Tori knew it was one of her most favorite things—showering together. There would be no words, only the quiet touching, stroking, as they stood under the warm water. Sam lowered the zipper on Tori's jeans with practiced ease. Her hands slipped around Tori's hips, squeezing the firm buttocks, until Tori moaned.

"I swear, I'll never tire of this."

Tori smiled against her lips, then pulled away. "Come on. Shower," she reminded her. She led Sam into the bathroom, releasing her long enough for them both to shed their remaining clothes.