Milk was spilled on the counter, the carton had fallen to the floor. The cabinets were stained, where at one time the milk had dripped steadily, it was dry now, or as dry as spoiled warm milk can get. It was August and the house was hot. Despite being a newer home remodel that had air conditioning it was clear it hadn't kicked on in the last several days. Across from the spilled milk lay a stack of mail and a set of house keys. Little else seemed to be disturbed, outside the kitchen that is.
"Lieutenant Provenza," he said as he logged in with the patrolman standing at the door.
"Detective, what do we have?" He asked directing his attention to Amy.
"Neighbors called it this morning, reported smells coming from the house. Patrol didn't make it by until this afternoon. When they got no response, they checked the windows and spotted the mess on the counter and called it in. The watch commander gave them the go-ahead to enter and Officer Jacobsen found the body lying in here, behind the island," she pointed in the direction of the kitchen.
The kitchen had a long island with three barstools on one side and a sink on the other. The space was open to the small living room area near the foyer. Provenza took note of the window behind the other sink, most likely where the officers spotted the body, and the French doors leading out to the backyard.
Provenza nodded as he looked around the place. He gave the door a once over when he arrived, there didn't seem to be any of the usual signs of forced entry or a break-in. That didn't mean someone couldn't have gotten in, only that it wasn't obvious. The one-story modern ranch style home was situated on Canyon Drive and backed up to the open space of Griffith Park, just below the Hollywood Sign. It was expensive, which made sense considering the part of town they were in. Everything seemed cleaned and tidy, except the kitchen. As he moved towards the kitchen he asked, "Do we know who she is?"
Tao popped up from behind the counter, "No, there's a set of house keys on the counter," he pointed at the table in the breakfast nook, "but no purse or car keys."
Detective Sanchez rejoined everyone after checking the bedrooms, "The house belongs to a Micah Williams," he held up a picture of an African American man, "his suitcases are gone and there's no sign that he slept here recently."
"Okay, so if the victim didn't live here is she a girlfriend, mistress? What was she doing here?" Provenza inquired looking around for evidence that the woman belonged in this house.
"Could have been a friend? Or maybe house sitting?" Amy offered up as she combed through the mail.
A few moments later Kendall arrived from the morgue with his kit, "Gentleman and lady," he said as he nodded and moved in the direction of the body. The woman was well-dressed, the red lacquer from her shoes was a dead give away. He carefully pulled back the woman's red silk blouse to insert the liver probe. As he waited for a temperature to read he took stock of her appearance. Her heather grey pencil skirt had been torn, but her underwear wasn't missing. There was clear trauma to her head from a blunt object or maybe the counter. The probe beeped, "She's gone through full rigor already. Time of death might be a little skewed given the heat, but I'd say at least two days. There doesn't appear to be signs of sexual assault, but her face certainly took a beating. Morales will be able to tell you more, but there's some slight bruising around her neck indicating possible strangulation." He tried to open her eyes but between the swelling and decomp he couldn't get a good look to check to petechiae to verify. He began jotting down notes before exiting the scene to retrieve the gurney.
"Mike, I want you to track down this Micah Williams and find out where he is and where he's been in the last 48 hours. Amy check with Robby Orderno in Missing Persons and see if anyone matching our victim's description has been reported missing in the last 48 hours. Julio, any sign of the girl's car?"
"There was no cars in the driveway or on the street when patrol got here.," Julio comments, "But there's a black BMW M5 in the garage. I'll check the glove box and see if it belongs to our victim." Provenza gave him a nod and Julio took off towards the garage.
Provenza pulled out his phone about to place a call before asking the all important question, "So what about this case makes it a Major Crime?"
Tao looked up at him, "Well we are in the Hollywood Hills—"
He gave another look around the kitchen before stepping out of the house to get away from the smell.
"Yeah, I suppose that makes us the lucky one's," mumbling to himself and began dialing.
Across town, Sharon and Andy were enjoying a rare day off with his grandsons. Nicole was out of town on business again and Dean was in need of a break. They both knew the real reason he needed the boys out of his hair for a few hours, Nicole was expected home tomorrow and the house was a bit of a disaster. Sharon smiled as she recalled the conversation, Andy was beaming from ear to ear when he hung up with his son-in-law. She always found it interesting how surprised he would get when his family asked him for help. Sure, she as well as anyone remembered what he was like when he was drinking, but he was a different man sober and he had been that man for over 20 years now. Trust was a funny thing, so easily given, so easily taken away, so difficult to get back.
The first thing Andy did when he hung up was check the Dodger schedule, but unfortunately they were headed out on a nine game road trip. They were hotter than Hades this year, not that he needed that as an excuse to take the boys to a game. The man loved his baseball. Because of the heat wave, and the god awful humidity that had made a rare and unsettling appearance, they opted to spend time up on the roof of her condo hanging poolside. Even the though the boys had access to a pool at home, they were overjoyed to go swimming at Grandma Sharon's. Having been a lifeguard in high school and all through college, Dean put the boys in swim school when they were barely old enough to walk, so the two young children were naturals in the water.
As much as Sharon enjoyed swimming, today she was enjoying watching her boys play while catching a little sun. After days stuck in her office, she relished the opportunity to just sit and take in a little vitamin D. Andy was tossing the boys around in the water, occasionally looking in her direction. Every time she caught him staring at her he gave her a wicked grin. She knew he loved her in this swimsuit. It was a Cupshe Deep Feelings criss-cross one piece in black and his attention was why she'd bought a second one in emerald green - not that he knew that yet.. The reversed "v' peek-a-boo gave him a new angle of cleavage to appreciate. The ruching below her breasts provided a nice slimming effect, that she appreciated.
She set the magazine that she was pretending to read down when she heard the ring emanating from her cell. Flipping it over so she could view the screen, she saw Provenza's name flicker across the top and couldn't help the groan that escaped. There could only be one reason that he would be calling at 2pm on a Saturday, a Saturday she had off.
"Yes Lieutenant," she said turning away from the splashing.
"Ah Commander. I hope I'm not interrupting anything on your day off, but we've caught a murder," Provenza said as he looked back at the house as Kendall began taking the body down the driveway.
"Of course. Andy and I have the boys right now, so it will take us an hour or so to get them dropped off," she said standing to gather her things.
"Not a problem. Kendall is taking the body to the morgue now. The team should be back together in an hour as well. Will you be going directly to the morgue?" He asked making his way back to the patrolman to log out of the scene.
She turned towards Andy, waiting until she made eye contact with him and mouthed case to him. The look on his face said it all. Reluctantly, he corralled the boys together and climbed out of the pool. "Yes, Andy and I will go straight there. What can you tell me so far?"
"The victim is an unidentified African-American woman. Her face was pretty well beaten, possible strangulation. She was found in the Hollywood Hills at a house that isn't hers. Amy is tracking down the owner. Looks like our vic has been dead at least two days," he pulled his white bucket hat off his head and climbed into his car.
"Ok Lieutenant, I'll have Andy text when we are on our way," Sharon said before hanging up. She grabbed the boys' towels and made her way to Andy.
Andy pulled a towel around himself before squeezing the water out of his navy blue board shorts, "So, we caught a case?"
She nodded, "Yes, unfortunately." She turned to the boys, "Sorry guys, but your grandpa and I have to go into work after all. Go ahead and dry off while I call your dad and let him know that there's been a change in plans."
The boys looked up, the disappointment obvious but they were polite, "Okay, we understand" they replied as they took the towels Sharon handed them.
She gave Andy a kiss on the cheek, "I'll meet you downstairs, after you've dried off. Boys, please leave the wet suits in the bathtub when you change," she gave Andy a pointed look.
"What? I did it one time," he shook his head. There were a few cardinal rules he learned quickly not to break when he moved into the condo. One of the first was not to leave wet suits in the laundry room. She took the stairs down the one flight instead of the elevator, the thwacking of her flip flops against her feet echoed in the stairwell. Waiting until she got inside her condo she pulled out her phone and began dialing Dean, "Dean. Hi. No, No everything is alright with the boys, but unfortunately the team caught a case—"
Before Sharon could continue Rusty walked out of his room, "Dean can you hold on a sec," she covered the phone and turned to Rusty. "You're home?"
"I am." Rusty replied a bit sarcastically. Ever since Gus moved up to Napa to work in the new restaurant he had been a bit mopey. They were trying to do the long distance relationship, but as the weeks went on they were seeing less and less of each other. He was planning on driving up this weekend to spend some time with both Gus and Ricky before the Fall quarter started, but it appeared that had fallen through. "Looks like you've been up at the pool," he added.
"Uh yes we have. Andy and I were watching the boys for Dean, but just got called in. I'm breaking the news to Dean now that we will need to drop them off sooner than we intended," she said gesturing to the phone in her hands.
"You don't have to, I mean they could stay here and I could watch them until Dean can pick them up. We can play video games or something," he said with a shrug.
Sharon tried to hide her surprise at his response. It wasn't that he didn't like the boys but he didn't have much experience with little kids and rarely spent time alone with them, "Are you sure?"
He flopped on the couch, his melancholy noticeable. "Yeah, I mean it's only like for a few hours right? I'm capable of calling for a pizza and supervising for a little while. It's fine. Happy to help."
"Ok, well if you're sure," she paused as she watched him nodded his head, "Let me talk it over with Dean." She brought the phone back to her ear, "Dean? Yes sorry about that. Turns out Rusty is home after all and has offered to watch the boys until you're able to pick them up. Is that alright? Great. What time? Ok, I'll let him know. Thanks Dean. Take care." She hung up and turned back towards Rusty, "Dean will stop by around 7 to pick up the boys, you have his number right?"
He nodded affirmative, "Yes I do."
"Just call him if you need him to pick them up sooner for any reason. Thanks for the help Rusty. The boys will be very excited when they find out that they get some one-on-one Uncle Rusty time." She smiled at the added emphasis, they weren't married so nothing was official yet, but in the boys' eyes it already was a done deal. Except the part where they were excited to walk down the aisle in fancy suits that Andy picked out for them. She heard Rusty mutter a 'yeah, yeah' as she walked down the hall, anxious to get a moment in the bathroom before the all the boys came clamoring back into the condo. The one bathroom thing was the biggest downside to staying where they were. They'd discussed the topic of moving a few times after his heart attack, but it was ultimately decided that it was best to stay put. Rusty would be out and off to law school soon and they really didn't need the extra work a bigger house came with. That said living with two grown men and having one bathroom became old fast, what she wouldn't give to add an extra one.
She took off her suit and draped it over the edge of the tub, it was only a little damp, but she was against leaving wet clothes lying around anywhere but the bathroom. She knew the moment the boys came inside by the commotion that came barreling down the hallway. "Be sure to knock first!" she heard Andy yell. She double checked that the lock was engaged on the outer door, the little boys didn't have the best manners yet when it came to checking to make sure the bathroom wasn't occupied before they opened the door. It took only one near naked encounter with them for her to become a tad OCD about locking the bedroom and bathroom doors. She smiled as she heard them knocking, "Just a minute and it'll be all yours," she replied. Sharon quickly brushed out her hair and retouched her make-up before flipping the lock and walking back into the bedroom where she found Andy, "You can send them in to change."
He looked up at her and smiled not expecting her to still be naked, "Just so long as you don't change just yet."
She shook her head, "Maybe."
He quickly ducked out of the room and shouted for the boys to go get changed and reminded them to hang up their wet suits and towels. "I'm back, see how fast I can be."
"Uh huh, only when you're motivated, otherwise you have a tendency to move at a snail's pace," she said heading over to her dresser drawers. She felt him come up behind her and wrap his arms around her waist. His damp body felt cool against her sun warmed back and she leaned into his embrace. "How much time do we have?" he whispered suggestively in her ear.
"Well actually, Rusty volunteered to watch the boys, so we don't have to swing by Dean's on our way in, so a little time. What did you have in mind?" She asked pulling her arms around his.
Andy enjoyed the feel of their naked flesh touching and swayed with her nestled between his own hips. He felt his body respond to the feeling, "Maybe a little time in the shower before we head out." He knew she wouldn't want to get too involved with the little kids or Rusty in the next room, but he wanted to spend some time with his fiancée. Not only had he looked forward to hanging out with his grandsons for the day, but he was also excited that they were going to have the condo to themselves for a week afterward. Not that he didn't enjoy having Rusty around, but all parents need a break from parenting. Between Rusty's moping, the changes at work, and planning a wedding, their summer had been nothing short of chaotic.
Normally she wouldn't agree to co-showering before they went in, but she was also feeling the need for connection. Who knew how long this case could take, and after his heart attack last September she had learned to enjoy the moments as they presented themselves. This was one of those times for them to just be together — intimate or not — and it was important. "Go tell the boys they're staying with Uncle Rusty," she let out a chuckle, "and I'll meet you in the shower." She leaned forward pressing herself against him as she reached into the drawer to pick out a panty set, "Allow me," Andy responded pressing back and reaching around her hand to make a selection from her drawer.
She let out a little laugh, he enjoyed picking out her undergarments — when she let him. He said there was something extra sexy about not just knowing what she was wearing under her suit, but that he picked it out that made him a very happy man. When she could she would indulge him, interestingly he had begun pairing either his shirt or tie with his panty selection. They didn't always match their outwear, but no one had any clue that they were still matching in a different way. She stepped aside as he removed a pale blue set of silk and lace underwear for her to wear, "Nice choice," she said as she grabbed the garments from him and headed towards the bathroom door adjoining their room.
Andy took a moment to collect himself, to avoid any embarrassment before he went down the hall to talk to the boys. "Mark, Ben!" He shouted as he turned the corner into the living room only to find the boys already sitting on the couch with Rusty, game controllers in hand, "I take it you already gave them the news?"
"Yeah," Rusty nodded.
The boys bounced up and down on the couch cushions. "Yeah grandpa. We're going to stay and play video games with Rusty!" Replied Mark.
"Ok, well Sharon and I have to get ready for work. Will be out in a few minutes to say goodbye. Remember no jumping on the furniture and no feet on the coffee table," he said pointing to Ben's dirty socks.
"Yes sir," they replied in unison before returning to their game.
Andy shook his head and made his way back to the bathroom. After checking that all the doors were locked he shed his wet towel and shorts setting them by the tub. Sharon had already turned the shower on, "Coming?" she asked.
"Almost," he replied cheekily. Steam filled the bathroom as he opened the shower door and stepped inside.
The shower took longer than a few minutes because they got more than a little carried away with the washing and rinsing of one another's bodies. The closeness felt good. As Sharon got dressed in the blue panties Andy picked out she found herself glad that they had taken the moment to enjoy being together. In the past she would have felt guilty or even regretted it, if she even permitted herself to go there before heading into work, but now she finally got the point of it all. Life was short, all they had were moments in the present. No longer was she going to feel guilty for living and enjoying it.
Andy sat on the bench at the foot of the bed as he slipped on his shoes and waited for Sharon to finish. He enjoyed watching her get dressed, almost as much as he did watching her undress. She had a beautiful body — naked or clothed — it was a body he revered.
His phone buzzed, "It's Provenza." She turned towards Andy as she zipped up her white skirt and tucked in her pale blue button-up blouse, it was too hot to wear anything else.
"What?" He barked at his partner annoyed that he was distracting him from watching Sharon.
"Oh am I interrupting something?" Provenza shouted back.
"Yes as a matter-of-a-fact you are. Now why are you calling me?" He responded quickly eager to get off the phone and get back to paying attention to Sharon for a little while longer.
Provenza huffed into the phone, "There was a four-car pile up on the 170, it's going to take Morales longer than we expected to get a prelim going. Meet us at PAB."
"Fine," Flynn responded and ended the call. He walked up behind Sharon and placed soft kisses to the back of her neck as he wrapped his arms around her.
"Time to be an officer and a gentleman again," he whispered into her ear. She let out a soft hum and a nod before they left the quiet sanctuary of their bedroom.