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Chapter 1: Storm Warning
Cobalt waves lashed the beach, whipcracking as they broke, the gray sky deceptively placid, accepting of the storm gathering just beyond the horizon. This was a cool time of year for the greater Miami area, but something nasty was coming. Something hot, and not weather.
Here and there empty hotels seemed like great tombstones, as if the city were slowly turning into a cemetery, however much the remainder of the skyline greeted the Atlantic with glittering optimism. Tonight, the ocean seemed unconvinced, moving in like a dark-hooded figure with a scythe, the threat of the impending storm growing more absolute by the minute and Miami Beach's neon welcome ever more strained as the sky went from gray to charcoal to now very nearly black.
Along Ocean Drive, with only the thin emerald strip of Lummus Park between concrete and roiling water, cars passed in their usual slow parade while the well-lighted line of Art Deco hotels studded the darkening sky with their vibrant pink-blue-yellow geometry. Occasional storefronts in the row of businesses were dark now, gaps in the street's commercial smile, the stiff competition of South Beach killing off the weak. Still, despite the strobe flashes of lightning at sea, a party atmosphere managed to thrive.
This was Miami Beach, after all, and there was a reputation to uphold -- not necessarily a good reputation, but a compelling one for the young of all ages.
Hundreds of pedestrians, mostly tourists, strolled up and down the west side sidewalk, gawking at menu boards, confronted by hard-bodied, navel-baring, pretty hostesses who hawked their restaurants and hotels (each "the best" along this pastel strip).
At every stop, the pedestrians were inundated with pulsing music that poured as easily from assorted sound systems as the liquor in every South Beach bar. Cool jazz rolled from the Tides, reggae from the Breakwater, classic soul from the Leslie, and so on down the row, the only pauses coming as the rubberneckers passed the vacant husks of dead rival clubs.
At the Archer Hotel -- a three-story, white stucco building with mint-green-and-pink trim -- both the lobby bar and front dining terrace were jammed with patrons apparently not put off by what the sky might bring. Sixties rock blared from state-of-the-art speakers, and a queue of potential diners stood near the hostess stand on the front walk, seemingly oblivious to the storm knifing toward the coast.
The distant rumble of thunder was lost in the prominent bass line of the Spencer Davis Group ripping through "Gimme Some Lovin'." Here and there, diners tapped their feet to the familiar, infectious beat, while a few others tapped silverware on the table, keeping time with the pounding drums. At a square table, at the south end of the open front porch, however, the four men seated there seemed to not notice the music at all.
With his back to the window that looked in on the lobby bar, Kurt Wallace gave not a thought to the possibility of getting shot.
The burly, well-dressed men seated to his left and right as he faced Ocean Drive were security staff who'd been with him for years. On his right, the pug-faced Cummings watched the street. On Wallace's left, Stevens eyed the restaurant, the watchdog's head seeming to swivel from side to side without the benefit of a neck.
A third bodyguard, Anthony, was out of sight inside the bar, but he, too, was a longtime employee, and Wallace trusted the wide-bodied ex-pro footballer (a lineman, of course) to cover his back. The small security contingent's custom-fitted suits -- Anthony's was black, Cummings was in brown, and Stevens's a gray pinstripe -- helped them fit in to the Miami Beach nightlife, even while that expensive tailoring hid the fact that they were heavily armed.
One of the best haberdasheries in the city took care of Wallace's boys; as for their employer, tonight he had chosen an Armani suit, tailored especially for him.
Tall, with curly black hair showing flecks of gray, Wallace was handsome and knew it. What might have been conventional, male-model good looks -- his long straight nose sat absolutely perpendicular to the thin line of his mouth, for example -- had an edge, thanks to dark brown eyes that seemed always to suggest anger or cruelty or both, depending on the light, the angle, and, of course, his mood. Thick dark slashes of eyebrow provided punctuation whenever his expression changed.
With the assassination of Peter Venici earlier this year, Wallace had solidified himself as the new padrone of organized crime in Miami. For perhaps a decade, Wallace had dreamed and schemed of this rise to the top. But right now, the all-American businessman who had finally displaced the old Sicilian Mafia leadership was wondering if killing Venici had really been worth it.
Though he now controlled the docks, the unions, prostitution, and most illegal gambling, Kurt Wallace found himself constantly battling the youthful gangs that had matured into mini-cartels in recent years, stealing away much of his drug business. The most bothersome were Las Culebras, the group of second- and third-generation Cuban-Americans once headed by Juan "El Patan" Padillo.
That Padillo, known in certain circles as Johnny the Slouch, had been "disappeared" by Venici was no great secret, and Wallace had figured the Culebras might be a new ally when he dispatched the crime boss.
It hadn't turned out that way.
Las Culebras' new leader, Antonio Mendoza, seemed to hate Wallace even more than he had Venici. That Wallace had betrayed Venici -- however despised the old-school mob boss might have been -- labelled Wallace a traitor to Mendoza. Didn't these young punks understand how business worked? That the occasional unfriendly takeover was to be expected?
Las Culebras weren't the only ones horning in on Wallace's drug trade, either; the list was depressingly long -- the Mitus from Colombia; the Faucones, whose headquarters were in Little Haiti; the Trenches, named after the famous Kingston slum; and even those self-styled neo-Nazi meth freaks from upstate...all of them intent on helping themselves to slices of the Venici pizza.
If he'd known it was going to be this much trouble, Wallace wondered if he still would have made his move on Venici.
Who was he trying to kid? He already knew the answer: of course he would.
Kurt Wallace may have looked like a fashion-plate slickster, but at heart he was a fighter, and he wasn't about to let anyone come in and divide his territory among themselves.
Which was why he was having dinner at the Archer Hotel with Sonny Spencer tonight. The current situation was, in fact, the only imaginable reason he could conjure up that would have him even consider sitting down with the slimy likes of Spencer.
Spencer was a representative of what was referred to nowadays as the Dixie Mafia. In his white suit jacket over a pastel T-shirt and jeans, Spencer apparently thought Miami Vice was the latest thing.
The blond neo-Nazi sat across the table from Wallace, his blue eyes fixed in a squint that Wallace assumed was meant to make him look tough, when the effect was of myopia. Granted, he was a lieutenant -- and nephew -- of Billy Joe Spencer, head of the outfit Wallace hoped to strike a deal with...but Spencer was not exactly one of the best and brightest of his outfit.
Consider that Spencer had consented to coming alone and was right now also sitting with his back to the busy street. On the other hand, Spencer's apparent lack of precaution reflected something of which he and Wallace were both well aware: The younger Spencer had nothing to fear from Kurt Wallace.
Truth was, right now Wallace needed any allies he could muster in a war that seemed to be bearing down on him just as inexorably as the approaching storm was heading for the coast.
So it was that these two competitors between whom no love was lost sat preparing for a dinner that both hoped would end in a peace accord that would allow each side not only to survive but also to prosper in this world of ever-present danger.
Picking up his menu, Spencer said, "Seriously, Kurt -- we're gonna need each other when all these lowlifes come outta the woodwork after what's rightfully ours."
Kurt Wallace nodded agreement even as he pondered just how much he hated the ignorant asshole across from him.
He seriously wondered if the price of survival might not be too steep if it meant lying down with the flea-ridden dogs that Sonny Spencer represented. Still, it was only business -- the first rule being, it doesn't matter who you sell your goods to; and the second being, it doesn't matter who you do business with. Let this so-called superman obsess on race all he wanted; the only color Kurt Wallace cared about was green....
And Wallace had to do something before Las Culebras and the others figured out how tenuous his new position truly was.
"And I think we oughta start with these candy-ass Culebras," Spencer said.
"No, Sonny," Wallace said. "I can't agree."
Spencer frowned, as if forming a thought were painful.
"Let's start," Wallace said with his most charming smile, "with dinner."
Sonny beamed. "Frickin' A," he said, and focused his tortured attention back on the menu.
Actually, this idiot was right. Though every one of these former street-punk crime factions seemed to be lining up to take their shot at Wallace's holdings, Las Culebras were at the forefront of his thoughts.
By taking over Venici's business interests, Wallace had somehow inherited Las Culebras' animosity toward Venici.
It had been Venici who'd used that team of retired hitters from New Jersey, making "El Patan" disappear from the planet -- not Wallace! The Jersey hit team was gone now, one dead, the other two in jail. With Venici dead, the matter should have been closed.
Beyond Las Culebras and the competition from gangs, both Miami-Dade P.D. and the Feds were turning up the heat on Wallace's operations across the board. Not just the drugs -- hell, he expected that -- but gambling, prostitution, and everything from loan-sharking to construction, all coming under ever closer scrutiny.
Two cops in particular had been making Wallace's life miserable of late. Horatio Caine, that hot-shot Crime Scene Unit supervisor with Miami-Dade, had taken down the Jersey retiree hit team, which had opened a real investigative can of worms on local organized crime.
Even worse, DEA agent Jeremy Burnett was constantly intervening in Wallace's drug business. Aiding and abetting that Goody Two-shoes was Kenneth LaRussa, a U.S. attorney who prosecuted everyone in the city caught with anything more potent than a bottle of aspirin.
Turning to Cummings and Stevens, Wallace said, "You fellas might as well order, too."
Often the security boys ate later, but Wallace felt safe enough, here in the middle of a South Beach tourist trap. Wordlessly, the two bodyguards lifted their menus.
Picking up his own, Wallace wondered if he could talk Spencer into hitting any or all three of the law enforcement agents in question. A dangerous course of action, but if the credit and blame went to this group of malcontents from upstate, the reactive heat would be focused there.
Ideally, Wallace would have the law enforcement agents gone, and eventually the Spencers, too. With a faint smile, he read the menu, thinking that everything might work out after all.
Wallace decided on the fillet of sole and looked up, his eyes meeting Spencer's.
The blond man was saying, "Hope you don't mind if I order the porterhouse. I ain't much for fish."
"Order whatever..." Wallace frowned.
"You okay, Mr. Wallace?"
"Yes. Order anything you like, Sonny. My treat."
Spencer was grinning greedily now, reexamining the menu in search of other high-priced fare, but Wallace's eyes were on the street.
He had just realized that something was wrong. The music still blared in the background ("Goin' back to Miami!"), and because of that he hadn't noticed, at first, the silence gathering on the street. But, looking past Spencer, he could see that no cars were passing by in front of the hotel. Cars on Ocean Drive were as constant as the tide itself, and seeing no traffic, an absence extending all the way to the corner, sent warning bells ringing inside Wallace's head.
Cummings, sensing his boss's alarm, looked up from his menu, his eyes following the path of Wallace's concerned gaze, and saw the same disturbing thing. They both heard the squeal of tires at the same instant...and then time slowed for Wallace as he took in a silver car fishtailing around the corner to nudge a parked car, then come speeding south toward the Archer.
Some detached part of his mind drew fascination from this mini-spectacle, clearly seeing the head and shoulders of a Hispanic man protruding from the passenger side window.
He had large brown eyes, dark skin, curly black hair (Not unlike my own, Wallace thought, when I was younger), and a mustache so thick and black that Wallace wondered if it might be fake.
The passenger's mouth was open wide, his teeth bared, very white against his skin and the background of the black sky. The man seemed to be yelling something, but Wallace could not understand the words.
To Wallace's right, Cummings shouted something; but Kurt couldn't pick out those words either -- they too seemed drawn out, in this slow-motion dreamscape -- and his eyes remained riveted on the man in the car. Now he saw the brutish AK-47 in the brown hands, its barrel swinging in the direction of the Archer Hotel Cafe, the round drum of the magazine hanging down like a hornet's nest beneath the weapon, ready to sting when disturbed.
parThough the assassin was being tossed about by the swerving car, the man's moves seemed steady, almost elegant to Wallace, weirdly balletic, the colors so very bright as yellow and orange flames flowed from the barrel.
The crime boss heard people screaming and his two bodyguards were on their feet now, Stevens reaching under his suitcoat for his gun while Cummings moved toward Wallace with an obvious intent to shield his boss. Sonny Spencer's eyes went wide with wonder, and he, too, rose, his mouth moving, but again Wallace couldn't make out any words. Everyone seemed to be talking at once around him, and yet Wallace perceived himself in a vacuum of silence.
Then Spencer's lips stopped moving and crimson streamers of blood ribboned out of his mouth, slashing the air as he spun around, scarlet flowers blossoming from his white sports coat as he toppled.
Cummings's massive arm passed in front of Wallace, then slipped away as the bodyguard trembled and grunted and crashed through the interior window behind him, something Wallace more sensed than saw, unable to tear himself away from the hitman in the car. The vehicle was nearly past them now, and Wallace's eyes locked with those of the killer.
Still caught up in fleeting seconds that felt like lingering minutes, Wallace heard Stevens's gun clatter to the tile floor as the bodyguard went down. The assassin smiled at Wallace, and flame leapt from the weapon's barrel, and Wallace felt like he'd been prodded in the chest, once, twice, and then a third time, as if an obnoxious know-it-all had been thumping his chest with a thick forefinger, making a point.
Suddenly he was on his back looking up at the black sky. He had no idea how he'd ended up like this, but when he went to get up, no matter how he tried, he couldn't. An invisible hand kept him pressed to the concrete of the porch.
Relieved he'd not been seriously hurt, Wallace felt no pain, though he couldn't really see anything but the inky clouds and...how strange!...the shooter's grin dangling in space above him like a crescent moon. Like Alice in Wonderland, when that cat disappeared and left his grin behind....
The acrid smell of cordite hung heavy in the moist air and -- though he tried to listen for sounds -- all Wallace heard was the echo of a thousand gunshots. Turning his head, he saw Anthony on his stomach next to him, a neat red hole in the bodyguard's forehead. Anthony had died rushing out of the bar to save him.
Goddamn Culebras. Someone would pay for this.
Antonio Mendoza, Padillo's Culebras successor, was not only smarter than his predecessor but also far more ruthless. This attempted hit had Mendoza's name signed to it. Where Padillo would have just tried to muscle in and take a piece, Mendoza was the type who'd figure that if he whacked Wallace, he could have the whole damn pie his own self.
Mendoza, Wallace knew, fancied himself the incarnation of Tony Montana, the gangster played by Al Pacino in that movie, Scarface. Many of the local gang members looked up to that character as a hero. Wallace, on the other hand, felt contempt for anyone who couldn't see that Montana was arrogant and stupid and, in the end, had wound up dead, riddled with bullets in a pool of blood.
That was not the ending Wallace saw for himself. He would pick himself up from this close scrape and teach Mendoza that Miami could not so easily be taken away from Kurt Wallace.
He gazed up at the sky again, unaware that his perception was still turning seconds into minutes, and the first drop of rain fell and kissed his forehead.
The sensation was a kind of wake-up call, and Wallace tried to sit up again. Funny -- he still couldn't seem to move. A woman's face crossed into his field of vision. Her lips moved, but Wallace couldn't figure out what she was saying.
She was beautiful, though, an angel whose long hair was a rich black that matched the sky as dark arcs swung around, the wind coming up. Her brown eyes were wide with, what was that...alarm? Fear?
Wallace opened his mouth to tell this bystander -- understandably spooked by the drive-by shooting -- that everything was all right. Instead he coughed and rather than words coming out, scarlet spittle did.
The woman's eyes went even wider, and the crime boss felt himself choking. For the first time, he realized he'd been hit. The rain came down harder now, pelting his face, and he felt cold all over. The storm had come quickly. He thought about his wife, Christina, sitting at home waiting for him. She was going to be pissed about this.
Finally he managed to speak, looking up at the hovering beauty: "My...wife'll...kill me."
Her face no longer soothed Wallace, and he closed his eyes.
He was lucky to have found a wife as good as Christina, who put up with his cheating ways and the kind of business he was in. He hoped Christina understood -- as finally, all at once, he understood that the blackness before him was not the sky -- that he hadn't meant for it to end like this.
With one last cool exhale, Kurt Wallace was gone.
Six feet and slim, Lieutenant Horatio Caine -- in black slacks and a navy blue CSI windbreaker -- leaned into the weather as he moved to the back of the Hummer to collect his crime scene kit. With a stiff wind whipping his red hair, he wondered glumly how much damage Mother Nature had done to his crime scene already.
Right now the gale snarled in off the ocean, nothing to abate it, ripping across Ocean Drive, rain slanting in, stinging like needles. Preserving a crime scene was impossible under such conditions, but at least he'd have his whole team with him for damage control.
The lab's resident firearms expert, Calleigh Duquesne, met him at the back of the vehicle. The petite platinum-blonde had a cool beauty balanced by a warm nature; her Miami-Dade PD ballcap was snug on her head, her hair tied back in a long ponytail pulled through the hole in the back. When Caine opened the rear Hummer door, Calleigh withdrew her crime scene kit and headed straight for the street and any possible shell casings she might find before they were carried away by the rushing water. What Caine prized most about CSI Duquesne -- kiddingly dubbed "Bullet Girl" by her peers -- was her passion for collecting and interpreting evidence in her area of expertise.
Caine hoped she was carrying bricks in the pockets of her CSI windbreaker, else she might just get swept away by either the wind or the torrent racing toward the sewer.
A second Hummer rolled to a stop, and, almost before the vehicle's engine died, Tim Speedle and Eric Delko -- also in CSI windbreakers -- were standing next to Caine, peering at their supervisor through the driving downpour.
"What have we got, H?" Speedle asked, working his voice up over the storm.
Speedle was the one member of the team that the whipping wind seemed unable to faze. His short, dark hair hugged his head, he appeared not to have shaved yet this week, and his eyes had a look that belied both his alertness and a keen intelligence.
"Drive-by shooting," Caine said, with a sideways glance toward the crime scene -- the Archer hotel. "And the weather's going to get worse before it gets better. Let's collect everything we can before the rain wipes this slate clean."
"Fatalities?" Delko asked.
Delko -- the newest member of their squad, taller than Speed -- had an alert wide-eyed look on his latte-colored face that one could misread for naivete.
"At least six," Caine said. "And maybe more, according to the nine-one-one call. Let's get wet, guys."
The other two CSIs turned toward the back of their Hummer. Delko's specialty was underwater recovery work, and Caine wondered wryly if the weather would grow so bad that Eric would end up in his scuba suit before this was over. The rain clawed at Caine as he lugged his crime scene kit toward the sidewalk.
Detective Frank Tripp, blinking his brown eyes against the wind and moisture, stepped forward to meet Caine. "Horatio."
Caine nodded. "Frank. How bad?"
"Eight dead, eleven wounded."
His upper lip tightened. "How many witnesses?"
"Ooooh," Tripp said, with a head tilt, "how about all of South Beach?...including Ken LaRussa."
"A U.S. attorney at a drive-by?" Caine asked. "Are we talking target?"
"He wasn't here -- he was having dinner down the street. Came runnin' when he heard the shooting and screaming."
"Where is he now?"
"Inside. But your instincts are right, Horatio."
Tripp gestured toward the restaurant. "It probably was a hit. Kurt Wallace and three of his bodyguards are among the dead. Another guy at Wallace's table bought it, too, only him I don't recognize."
"Public place, lots of civilians...not exactly mob style."
Tripp shrugged and his shoulders threw raindrops. "Which mob? There's a lot more than one these days...and they all got their own sense of 'style.'"
"Too true," Caine said hollowly. "Is it finally here, Frank?"
"Is what here, Horatio?"
"That all-out gang war we've been dreading?"
Tripp sighed. "If not, it's a damn good imitation."
"You've been interviewing witnesses?"
Tripp nodded. "And I got more to do."
"Anything so far?"
The detective let out a bitter laugh. "Twenty wits -- guess how many stories?"
"Twenty," Caine said with a shrug. "In the end, the evidence will tell its own tale."
"One thing they all agree on, though."
"The vehicle that carried the killer clipped a parked car back on the corner of Twelfth. Haven't found the owner yet."
"That's what we call a happy accident -- we'll check it out." Caine touched the detective's wet sleeve, briefly. "I better get started before the evidence is all washed away."
As he knew they would be, his team was already hard at it. They scurried around at their various duties, but none of them hurrying. Work fast, Caine had taught them, invoking an old coaching rule, but don't rush. This was no empty mantra: When you rushed, you missed things. But the weather was upon them and time was running short, Mother Nature playing accomplice to a killer.
Since the shooting had been a drive-by, Calleigh started at the corner and combed the street for shell casings. Speedle photographed the deceased victims while EMTs aided the wounded. Delko pried slugs from the hotel facade and furniture, and Caine took photos and paint scrapings from the parked car that had been hit by the perp's vehicle.
In the end, however, the storm won.
Less than an hour later, Caine found himself standing in the bullet-pocked lobby bar of the Archer, broken glass crunching under his shoes, his team around him, shaking off water.
The dead had been taken away, the wounded transferred to South Shore Hospital. All that remained now were Caine's team, Detective Tripp, and one of the witnesses...albeit a significant one: U.S. attorney Kenneth LaRussa.
Olive-skinned, in his late thirties or perhaps early forties, the attorney wore longish black hair over his ears and swept straight back, à la Miami Heat basketball coach Pat Riley. LaRussa wore a white button-down shirt, dark slacks, and black tassel loafers. In the middle of the white shirt was a huge red splotch: not a bullet wound but a marinara sauce stain.
The ambitious attorney had burst on the scene a few years ago with a DA's office post, then had risen to his current position through hard work and an exemplary conviction rate. Rumor had it his goal was becoming the next Democratic senator from this largely Republican state.
Caine had no real problem with LaRussa, or the attorney's ambitions; no question, LaRussa had accomplished some positive things.
What Caine did have a problem with was LaRussa tossing loser cases back to the state and plucking the prime cases on some technicality that would allow him to charge a perp in federal court. Sure, that might mean that some bad guys did longer stretches when they got federal time, which was not a bad thing; but a couple of truly evil men had walked in federal court when their cases would have been a slam dunk at the state level.
Those cases, of course, LaRussa never talked about in his frequent media interviews.
Caine motioned the attorney off to one side, in a corner of the bar untouched by the drive-by shooter. They stood near a table over which a pastel impressionistic watercolor of an ocean sunset made an ironic counterpoint to the shattered room around them.
"Lieutenant Caine," LaRussa said, extending his hand. His other one gestured toward the red stain on his shirt. "Pardon the mess -- afraid I spilled my lasagna when we dove for cover."
Like any good politician, LaRussa had a ready, easy smile that put people at ease, as well as a firm handshake that was supposed to imply he was strong but not overbearing, steadfast but not stodgy, and just a plain good guy to know.
Caine thought the man might be better off practicing law and not his handshake.
"Mr. LaRussa," Caine said, waving off the attorney's apology. "I'm a little more concerned with this other...mess."
"Call me Ken." This he said with a smile, then studiously applied a somber expression to his face. "It's good to know that you and your celebrated staff will be working this case."
"Your confidence is appreciated," Caine said with no conviction and motioned to the table, where the two men sat. Just a small civilized conversation in a room shot to hell.
Forcing himself to use the lawyer's name, the CSI asked, "Did you see what happened, Ken?"
The attorney shook his head as a frown etched itself in place. "No, Horatio...it is Horatio, right?"
"I'm afraid I didn't. I was with my wife and some friends, having dinner at the Surfsider."
Caine knew the hotel, another Art Deco structure with front porch dining a block south.
"When I heard the shots," the attorney continued, "I dove over the table to Nance, to get her under cover." He offered a rueful chuckle; everything this guy did or said seemed forced. "That's when I got the lasagna stain."
"And Nancy...your wife?"
"Nancy wasn't hurt?"
"No. None of us were, thank God. The shooting was only at the Archer...but everybody dove for cover anyway. We had no idea when or where the shooting would stop."
Caine's eyes narrowed; he made himself smile, a little. "I'm surprised you could hear the shots."
"Why is that, Horatio?"
"Well, Ken -- over at the Surfsider, the music's pretty loud, isn't it? You were almost two blocks away?"
LaRussa's face lost all expression; oddly, he finally seemed sincere. "Horatio...Lieutenant...I was just a nineteen-year-old grunt when we invaded Grenada. But I heard the sound of an AK-47 tonight, and let me assure you, Lieutenant, it's not a sound that you ever forget -- even from a distance."
Nodding in thought, Caine said, "So, you know what weapon was used -- that's helpful."
"Glad to be, but that's about all I have for you." He shrugged elaborately. "Like everyone else around us, Nancy and I and our friends were behind an upturned table...hoping the shooting would stop."
"You didn't see anything?"
LaRussa shook his head. "Just a bunch of scared people. Myself included."
Appreciating this surprisingly human comment, Caine gave the lawyer a short nod. "And what did you do after the shooting stopped?"
LaRussa pondered that a moment. "First, I made sure that everyone was all right. That is, my wife and friends."
"Of course. And then?"
"You understand, we were having dinner with Brad and Darcy Willis."
The attorney spoke these names with reverence, but they meant nothing to Caine.
LaRussa was saying, "I told Brad to get Nance and Darcy back to their car and get them the hell home."
"Why didn't you go with them?"
"I thought maybe I could help here."
And get some TV air time, Caine thought.
This must have registered on Caine's face, because LaRussa blustered, defensively, "Wouldn't you have done the same thing, Lieutenant? As a law enforcement professional?"
"Yes," Caine admitted.
As if on cue, the first two TV reporters and their cameramen started straining at the yellow crime scene outside.
His eyes cutting to the media, LaRussa took a deep breath and slowly let it out.
Suppressing a smile, Caine thought, You wouldn't want to appear overanxious now...would you, Ken?
"Are we through here, Horatio?"
Caine considered that momentarily. "You don't have any trips scheduled? Work or vacation?"
"Nothing. As a witness, I'll make myself available should you need me, whenever that might be."
"Thank you, Horatio."
LaRussa rose and again stretched out his hand.
Groaning inwardly, Caine got to his feet and suffered through another LaRussa handshake. Then the attorney was disappearing through the shattered lobby doors, and Caine was not sorry to see him go.
The CSI supervisor sensed someone next to him. He turned to see an eager Delko.
"Hello, Eric -- something?"
Delko grinned. Nodded. "Something."
Copyright © 2004 by CBS Broadcasting Inc. and Alliance Atlantis Productions, Inc.