Before the sun was high enough to shine in through his uncovered window, there was a pounding on Lance's door.  "Yeah."  Lance groaned as he pulled the covers off of his legs,  "Hang on."  He stood up slowly and cracked his back.  When he didn't hear the expected call of "Housekeeping!" his heart skipped a beat.  "That could be my wife on the other side of the door."  He thought to himself.  Lance self-consciously raked his fingers through his hair to try to make himself presentable.  If time had allowed he would have changed out of his pajama bottoms and tan top, but the knocking persisted.  The locks on the door seemed louder than necessary as he flipped the switches and pulled the door open.

            To his surprise he was not greeted with the smiling face of his bride, but instead two stone faced men, one in a suit and one in a full police uniform.  "Mr. Bass?"  The uniformed one asked in a no-nonsense tone.

            "Yeah?"  Lance swallowed the lump that had suddenly risen in his throat and let the door close a few inches.

            "Mr. James Lance Bass?"

            "Yeah."  Lance rubbed the sleep from his eyes and continued to look at the officers with complete confusion.

            "May we come in?"

            "Wh- why?  What for?  What happened?"  Lance's hand gripped the handle of the door as he looked from one man to the other.

            "There's been an accident sir."

            "An accident?"  His heart plummeted to his stomach as images of his family and the guys flashed through his mind.   The blood left his face and for a moment he felt lightheaded.  "Who?  Is it Joey?  Is he okay?"

            "May we come in?"  He asked again.

            "Y-yeah."  Lance held the door open and let the police officers into his room.  He shut the door then crossed his arms and turned to them.  "What's going on?  What happened?"  The sick feeling of his hangover returned with an added sense of panic.  Someone was hurt, and hurt bad… and Lance had no idea who it was.  "What happened?"  He asked again.

            "I'm sorry sir, last night we located a body behind a water reclamation plant on the edge of Clark County."  Lance felt his breath stop before it left his lips.  "We have identified her as your wife.  I'm very sorry."

            "Wait, hang on…"  Lance's heart stopped, then slowly pounded in his ears.  "Wait…"  He held up his hand as he tried to catch his breath.  Part of him was relieved that it wasn't one of the guys or his family, but at the same time he had to try to comprehend that it was his wife... that he had a wife.  He sat at the desk against the wall and looked at the officer.  "She's dead?"  He asked softly.

            "Yes sir."

            "Shit…"

            "We found your wedding certificate in her back pocket.  We understand you'd only been married a short time."

            "A few hours."  Lance nodded.  He looked up at the police officers,  "I barely knew her."  He added softly.

            "I understand that this comes as a shock Mr. Bass."

            "Yeah."  Lance rested his head in his hands as his eyes remained wide open.  This was nothing he expected, and nothing he knew how to handle.  "I… I need to call someone.  I need to call Joey."

            "Of course."  The man in the suit nodded and scooted the hotel phone closer to Lance.  He had seen people react in many different ways to the news that a loved on had died, but almost all of them needed someone else to share the news with, immediately.

            With a shaking hand, Lance picked up the receiver and dialed Joey's room number.  Under the table his bare feet tapped nervously as he waited through three rings for Joey to pick up.  "Dammit, come on."

            "What?"  Joey grumbled just before the fourth ring.

            "Joe.  It’s me.  Wake up."

            "What?"

            "Joey come on man, wake up."  Lance said quickly.

            "I'm awake, what the hell do you want?"

            "The police are here."  Lance spoke as fast as he could to keep up with his heart that was racing in his chest.

            "What?"  Lance heard the blankets rustle as Joey sat up suddenly.  "What the fuck?  What happened?  What'd you do?"

            "She's dead Joe."

            "She who?"

            "Monica."

            "The… the girl?"

            "Yeah."  Lance nodded.  "What… what am I gonna do?"

            "What do you mean?"  Joey asked.

            "She's dead.  She was killed."  Lance said as his lips turned cold.

            "Well shit, do they think you did it?  Who's there?"

            Lance's jaw dropped open slightly.  The thought of him being a suspect never even crossed his mind, and he had no idea who these guys in his room were.  "I… I don't know.  I don't think so."

            "Okay."  Joey grunted as he stood up.  "Listen, I'm gonna call Johnny then I'll come down, okay?"

            "No!"  Lance said suddenly.  "No, don't call Johnny."

            "Are you fucking serious?  Get your head outta the sky man, I'm calling Johnny."  Joey shook his head.  "I'm gonna throw on some clothes and I'll be down in five minutes.  Just… I don't know, relax okay?  We'll figure this out."

            "Thanks Joe.  Hurry."

            "I will."

            "Thanks."   Lance said softly again before he hung up.  He looked up at the officers and ran his hands through his hair.  "I'm sorry this is all just so… so…"  For the first time in a long while Lance was at a loss for words.

            "I understand that this can be a shock, Mr. Bass."  The man in the suit said.

            "I'm sorry, I didn't catch your names."  Lance's brow furrowed as he looked to the men in his room.

            "I'm Detective Crawley, and this is Officer Montes.  We're with the Las Vegas police violent crimes division."  The suited man extended his hand.

            "Violent crimes?  What… what happened to her?"

            Montes looked from Lance, to Crawley and raised his eyebrow in a silent question.  Crawley's head shifted slightly and Montes licked his lips.  "She was found with multiple injuries and a fatal gunshot wound to her head."

            "Oh Jesus."  Lance exhaled sharply.  The feeling growing inside him was one he could not explain.  He was grieving for the lost life of someone he barely knew, someone he didn't really know at all.  Images of the news programs and tabloids once they got wind of this flashed through his mind.  In the span of just a couple days his whole life had changed, and he had no idea where to start to try to put it all back together.  "Do you…"  Lance started, then stopped to lick his lips and take a deep breath.  "Do you know who did this?"

            "No sir.  At this time we don't."  Montes answered quietly.

            "We've got an investigative team working on it right now, but we'd like to have you come on down to the station and help us fill in some blanks if you can."

            "Me?"  Lance's stomach dropped to his knees.

            "If we can get a better understanding for her as far as her routines go and her schedule, we might have a better chance of retracing her steps."

            "Retracing her steps?"  Lance repeated the officer softly.

            "To find out how she came to be on Delray Street."  Crawley nodded.  "We have reason to believe that she was taken there as opposed to killed there, so if we can find out where she left from we'll have somewhere to start."

            "I…"  Lance took a deep breath, he couldn't think of the right words to say.

            "It doesn't have to be today, Mr. Bass.  However, the sooner we can get this started, the better our chances are."  Crawley explained.

            "Okay.  Yeah… yeah I can go and tell you what I know about her."    Lance ran his hands through his hair for the thousandth time since the officers showed up, then sighed.  "I'm gonna go get dressed real fast."

            "Sure, of course."  Crawley nodded.

            "Th-thanks."  Lance averted his eyes, then dug around in his dresser for clean clothes.  He took them into the bathroom and changed quickly before he shaved and brushed his teeth.  When he stepped out into the room a few minutes later the officers were standing exactly where he left them.

            "So that's your friend that’s coming over?"

            "Yeah, Joey."  Lance nodded as he sat down to put his shoes and socks on.

            "Where's he staying?"

            "Just a few doors down."  Lance glanced at the door as he tied his shoe.  "He has to make a call first."

            Just then there was a knock followed by Joey's booming voice coming through the door.  "Lance, it's me.  Open up."  He shouted through the door.  Lance tied his other shoe, then jumped up to open the door.  "Hey, you okay?"  Joey asked quickly as he blew through the door.

            "Uh huh."  Lance barely had time to mumble as Joey rushed by him and into the room. 

            "Hi, I'm Joe Fatone.  What's going on here?"  He approached the officer's looking like he was taking charge of the situation, like only Joey could.

            "Joey, it's - "  Lance started to tell Joey it was okay, but he was on a roll.

            "No, no, no."   Joey shook his head and looked at the officers.  "What happened?"

            "His wife was involved in a violent crime and was fatally wounded."  Montes said in a very professional manner, letting Joey know exactly who was in charge.

            Joey turned to Lance.  "Monica?"

            "Yeah."

            "So what now?"  Joey asked.

            "I'm going to go with them down to the station and tell them everything I know about her so they can retrace her steps and - "

            Joey cut him off, "Well why can't you tell them that here?  You don't know anything."

            "Joey, please…"  Lance winced.  He appreciated how Joey was trying to protect him and take charge, but all he really wanted was for Joey to stop talking.

            "Are you a suspect?"  Joey asked.

            "No Joe… I'm not.   They just need to find out her routines or whatever.  Come on, just… just calm down.  You can drive me to the station, okay?"  Lance turned to Crawley.  "He can take me, right?"

            "Of course."  Crawley nodded as a concerned look passed from him to Officer Montes.

            "You shouldn't have to go down to -"  Joey started.

            "It's okay Joey, it's no big deal."  Lance said as he placed his hand on Joey's shoulder.  "I want to help them out as much as I can."  He added softly.  "Let's just go."

            "Lets go."  Joey nodded and turned for the door again.  Lance blew the air in his lungs out with puffed cheeks as he grabbed his wallet and room key off the desk and slid them into his back pocket.

            The four men walked down the short hallway to the elevators where one arrived as they pushed the button.  The group of older ladies stepped off in a fit of giggles as Lance and Joey followed the officers into the small compartment.

            "Have you guys been in town long?"  Crawley asked as they rode down in the mirrored elevator.

            "A few days."  Lance nodded.  "We came out for the Cadillac Classic."

            "You golf?"

            "Not really."  Lance gave a half smile.  "We… Joey and I are in Nsync so we were two of the celebrity guests."

            "Ah, I see."  Crawley nodded.  "My niece is a big fan."  Lance nodded politely and Joey cleared his throat nervously.

            "You guys can go ahead and follow us over to the station.  It's not that far really."  Montes said as they stepped off the elevator and headed for a side exit.  Lance and Joey followed them out to the parking lot and found their rental car.  "We'll pull around and meet you right here."

            "Okay.  Thanks."  Lance nodded as he slid into the passenger seat and shut the door.

            "So what's going on?"  Joey asked when the doors were closed.

            "I don't know man.  This is so screwed up."  Lance rested his head against the window.

            "She's dead?"

            "She was shot in the head."

            "Jesus."  Joey said under his breath.  The car started and rumbled under their feet as Joey backed out of the parking space.

            "What'd Johnny say?"

            Joey kept his eyes straight forward as they waited for the police car to pull around for them to follow.  "Um, with or without the cuss words?"

            "Fuck."  Lance said as his eyes closed slowly.

            "Yeah, that was the major one."  Joey nodded.  "He said to cooperate with the police and that he'd call tonight after he talks to our lawyers and stuff."

            "I don't need a lawyer, Joe.  I'm not a suspect."

            "To get your ass outta this whole marriage thing?  You might.  With you being who you are they could rip you apart, you need a lawyer so just forget about not having one."  Joey sighed.  "Plus if and when the media gets wind of this it's all gonna hit the fan and he and the PR crew is gonna have some serious damage control to do."

            "I know."

            "So basically, Johnny needs to know the legal side of all of this and he's sending someone out, or whatever."

            "Okay."

            "But count your blessings, he's not coming out.  You got lucky."

            "Thank God."

            "But he said that he wants us back in Florida."

            "I don't know if I'll be able to."  Lance said softly as the police cruiser pulled in front of them.  Montes waved at them to follow and Joey eased out into the driveway behind them.

            "Well, I believe his exact words were to get our fucking asses back to the fucking compound right the fuck now."  Joey shrugged and flipped his turn signal on.

            "So you're going back today?"

            "I'm going back when this shit gets settled.  I can handle Johnny, he's not gonna tell us to leave before the police are done with you."

            "This shouldn't take long, I don't know that much."

            "Yep, so as soon as we're done here today we'll call Johnny back and get us flights out first thing."

            "Okay."  Lance nodded.  He was perfectly fine with that, the sooner he could leave the city, the better.  He wanted to leave Las Vegas, and never come back.

            "Man…"  Joey said a minute later with a quick laugh.  "This is so something that would happen to me.  I don't know how this isn't me."

            "This isn't funny Joe."

            "No, I know it's not."  Joey agreed, but the smile still danced at the corner of his mouth.

            "The girl is dead, that's not even a little bit funny."

            "I know."  The smile dropped and Joey frowned.  "I know it's not funny."

            "This is serious.  Someone murdered her."

            "I know."

            "Shit… I don't even know what to do here.  I mean, technically, legally I guess, I'm her husband.  Do I have to put together the funeral?  I don't know any of her friends or whatever… what if she has a will?"

            "I'm sure they'll contact her family too."

            "Yeah, and I'm sure they'll just love to hear about me."  Lance rolled his eyes.  "This is so messed up."  He sighed again and kept his eyes on the traffic flying by outside his window.  They drove in silence across town, then parked in the far lot of the police station.

            For a minute they sat there in silence with the car off and the windows up.  "Wanna run away?  We can make it to the airport in like… a half hour."  Joey said with a slow smile.

            "I wish."  Lance sighed and pushed his door open.  "Let's just go get this done with."

            "You're okay about this?"  Joey asked as he got out and locked the car.

            "No."  Lance shook his head.  "I've got a bad feeling about this, but I mean… she's dead.  Someone killed her and they think I'm married to her."

            "You are."

            "Yeah but not really.  I mean, not in the sense that your parents are married or whatever."

            "According to everything legal, you are."

            "I know."  Lance sighed.  "And that's part of what's got me worried.  Seriously, I just want to skip ahead like, six months and have this been done and forgotten… or skip backwards to the day all this went down and just stay in my hotel room."

            "Or go to see the showgirls with me."  Joey smiled.

            "Yeah, I think that would have been more fun that this."

            "I can promise you it was."  Joey held the door open for Lance and they stepped into the air-conditioned police station.

            "Mr. Bass?"  Crawley stood up straight from where he'd been leaning on the counter.  "Come this way please."  He walked to the end of the desk to a door leading to a room that was visible through the glass.  There was a collection of more than 10 desks in the room, each with someone sitting behind it on the phone, working, or talking to someone sitting in an uncomfortable looking chair on the end.

            "Can Joey - "  Lance began.

            "Your friend can have a seat out here.  We shouldn't be too long."  Crawley nodded toward a long vinyl couch along the far wall.

            "I'll wait."  Joey nodded as he took a seat and reached for one of the many ancient magazines on the cushion beside him.

            Lance followed Crawley into the open room and around several desks before Crawley sat down and nodded to the chair.  It was as uncomfortable as it looked as Lance shifted his weight.  "Sorry about the lack of privacy here."  Crawley said as he shuffled through the files on his desk, finally bringing the one he wanted to the front.  "How are you doing?  You holding up okay?  You want something to drink?"

            "I'm okay, thanks."  Lance shook his head.

            "Alright."  Crawley nodded.  "If you want anything just let me know."  He opened the file and flipped through it for a minute as Montes walked up and leaned against the far corner of the desk.  He nodded at Lance then sighed and went back to looking bored.

            "Thanks."  Lance said softly.

            "Okay…"  Crawley took a deep breath then looked into the coffee mug on his desk.  He frowned as he swirled it around, then put the cup down and looked at Lance.  "Okay, all I'm going to do here right now is just try to find out a little about what might have happened to your wife."  Lance nodded numbly and folded his hands in his lap.  "If you want an attorney present, and due to the fact that you're a celebrity, you might, we can have one appointed to you or you can call your own."

            "I… yeah my manager is having one sent out I think.  He's talking to our lawyers today."

            "Okay, good."  Crawley nodded.  "Would you like to go ahead with the questions today without a lawyer present?"

            "Yeah.  Yeah that's fine."

            "You can stop whenever you want."

            "Right."  Lance nodded.  "The Miranda Rights."

            "Exactly."  Crawley smiled.  "I just want to make sure you understand that you're not being detained here in any way, and that you are here voluntarily."

            "Yeah, I understand that."

            "We just want to get this investigation going."  Crawley said, making sure to cover all of the important facts before he asked Lance anything.  Lance nodded again and took a deep breath.  "I need to ask you some questions now and they may get personal, understand that these will help our investigation."

            "Sure."  Lance nodded.

            "Do you know what time she left your hotel room?"

            "No."  Lance shook his head.  "She left while I was sleeping."

            "Do you know where she might have gone?"

            "No clue."

            "Did she say anything about meeting someone, or did she call anyone?"

            "I don't remember her saying anything, and I don't think she called anyone.  Not that I saw anyway."  Lance thought of his cell phone and made a mental note to look through the call log to see if she had maybe called someone on that.

            "Was she involved in any kind of illegal drug use, to your knowledge?"

            Lance cringed, that wasn't the type of talk he wanted to hear.  "Not that I know of, no.  But that's not exactly something that would come up in conversation."

            Crawley continued to nod as he scribbled notes on the pad in front of him.  "Did you have sexual intercourse with your wife in the 24 hours preceding her death?"

            "Yes."  Lance blushed and nodded.  "I uh… I think so."

            "You think so?"

            "Well I…"  Lance bit his lip.  "I know we had sex, but I don't know what time.  I know it was the night before last, but I… I can't say for sure it was within 24 hours.  I don't know when she…"

            "If it was the night before last it was within the 24 hours."  Crawley said softly.

            Lance looked down into his lap as his stomach tumbled and lurched.  Someone he had sex with died less than 24 hours after seeing him.  That was too weird of a thought to comprehend, but he sat there facing it.  "Then yeah."

            "Did you use protection?"

            "Yes."

            "You're sure?"

            "Yes."  Lance nodded.  "There were uh… wrappers on the floor and stuff."

            "More than one?"

            "Yeah."  The blush stayed permanent on Lance's cheeks.

            "About how many?"

            "I don't know, a lot."  Lance sighed, "Why?"

            "I just need to know if there's a chance we may find evidence of this when she's examined."  Crawley said delicately.

            "Oh."  The knowledge crossed Lance's face like a sheet.  "There were a lot, but I… I don't know if we were careful every time.  I'd… we'd uh… we'd had a lot to drink."

            "Okay."  Crawley made a note on his notebook.  "I'd like to get a semen sample from you if you so we can compare it to anything we find."  He kept his eyes on his paper as he scribbled.

            Lance's ears burned as his mouth turned dry,  "A uh…?"

            "We have a lab upstairs that you can go to so you don't need to make an appointment or anything."

            "Yeah but a uh… a sample?"  Lance could think of only one way to get that sample and he wasn't sure he'd be up for it.

            "In case we find any we want to be able to compare it to something we know is supposed to be there."  Crawley explained.

            "Oh, I uh… o-okay."  He was willing to do what he could to help out the investigation, but suddenly things were going much different than he anticipated.

"Great, I'll write you out a lab slip.  Is there anything you'd like to share with us?"

            "No."  Lance shook his head as he mentally played back every detective movie or crime scene TV show he'd ever seen.  "Wait, yes."  He said suddenly as he remembered the marks on his shoulders.  "I… I don't know if this will make a difference or not, but when we… the other night she uh…"  He pulled the neck of his t-shirt to the side and showed Crawley the scratch marks.

            "You got into a fight?"  He asked.

            As impossible as it seemed, Lance blushed even deeper.  "No I ahh… no."  He gave the officer a knowing look and pursed his lips slightly.

            "Ahh."  Crawley nodded and made another note.  "Would there be any marks on her?"

            "No."  Lance shook his head.  "I don't think so, that's not usually… I mean, I don't usually… that's not what I usually do."  He listened to the words leave his mouth and couldn't believe a perfect stranger was the one taking notes.  "I just… I've seen a lot of TV shows and stuff and they check under fingernails and I wanted to let you know just in case anything like that came up."

            "Are there any other injuries?"

            "No."  Lance shook his head.

            "Do you know of anyone who would want to hurt your wife?"

            "No."  Lance frowned slightly and leaned forward to rest his elbow on the detective's desk.  "I really didn't know her."

            "You didn't know her well or you didn't know her at all?"  Crawley asked.  He was no stranger to the quickie marriages Vegas had to offer.

            "No, I didn't know her at all."  Lance raised his eyebrow slowly.

            "Would you care to explain?"  He'd heard just about every story in the book.  Las Vegas was notorious for drunken marriages between strangers, but few took on this extra twist with his celebrity status and the murdered wife.

            Lance took a deep breath and placed his hands on his knees.  "Sure."  He spent the next twenty minutes explaining to the detective how he came to meet Monica and what happened from the moment they left Caesars Palace together until the moment Crawley and Montes knocked on his door.  There were many, many details missing that Lance could not remember, important details.

            "So you didn't know where she was?"

            "No.  I guess I should have explained all of that first."  Lance rubbed his eyes as he felt a headache starting at his temple.

            "Why didn't you call in a missing persons report?"

            "I…"  Lance shrugged.  "I wouldn't have known what to tell you guys.  'Hi, my name is Lance, my wife is missing but I don't know what she looks like or what her name is'."  He placed his ankle on his knee and held his shoe with one hand.  "And when I got her name I went to Caesars to see if I could find her, I mean… I didn't know if she just got spooked or if she even remembered getting married or anything."

            "And you found out her name when?"

            "Yesterday afternoon, like… I don't know, around four?  When I went to the chapel."

            Crawley shook his head and frowned.  "Did she tell you anything about her friends or anything like that?  Did she mention having to meet someone the next morning?"

            Lance shrugged with a sigh, "If she did I don't remember."

            "And your friend out there,"  Crawley nodded toward the window where Joey was sitting on the other side. ", he wouldn't know anything?"

            "No.  No, Joey just found out about her last night when we had dinner.  That's when I told him what had happened, you know… me getting married and stuff.  Then we went back to Caesars to see if we could find her but one of the other waitresses there said she didn't show up for work."

            Crawley nodded, that was the same report he'd gotten from her supervisor earlier that morning when trying to find the name of her emergency contact.  "How much longer are you going to be in town?"

            "I… I don't know.  Johnny wants us to come back as soon as possible."

            "Johnny?"

            "Johnny Wright.  He's our manager.  He uh, Joey called him this morning and he said he wants us to come back to Florida as soon as we can."

            "So you're planning on leaving today?"  Crawley asked.

            "I don't know.  I mean, am I allowed to go anywhere?"

            "You're not being held."  Crawley raised his hands as he dropped his pen on the table.  "But if you wouldn't mind, I'd like you could stick around until we get your tests taken care of."

            "My tests?"

            "The sample."

            "Oh, yeah.  Yeah that's fine."  Lance said.

            "You're free to leave at any time, but this way in case something happens we can just get the samples again without having to go through the courts to have them taken in another state and all that."

            "That's fine."  Lance nodded.

            "It should only take a couple days."  Crawley explained.

            "Okay."  He would have to explain to Johnny that he had to stay another couple days, but at least he had a good excuse.  The police were asking him to stay, and he was cooperating.

            "Can you be reached at the hotel?"

            "Yeah, the Venetian."  Lance felt his back pocket for his cell.  "I also have my cell phone with me so let me give you that number."  He scribbled it on a scratch piece of paper for the detective, who stapled it to the front of the file.  "Where uh… where do I go to give my um, the uh… sample?"

            "Third floor."  Crawley pointed up.  "They can do it all up there, makes it real convenient."

            "Okay."

            "Just take this up and hand it to whoever's at the desk.  They'll get you all situated."  Crawley handed Lance a lab slip and stood up to dismiss him.  "It shouldn't take you too long."

            "Thanks."  Lance looked down at his shoes as he headed for the door.

            "Mr. Bass?"

            "Yeah?"  Lance turned around.

            "You may want to think about making final arrangements for your wife."

            Surprise shook Lance from the core, he hadn't even thought of that.  "Y-yeah.  I uh… I will."  He nodded, then folded the lab slip in half and slowly worked his way around the other desks.

            As soon as he stepped out of the large room Joey grabbed him.  "You okay?"

            "Yeah."  Lance sighed and tried not to yawn.  "I have to run upstairs."

            "For what?"

            "I have to give them a sample."

            "Of what?"  Joey asked with a confused look.

            Lance sighed and blushed slightly as he lowered his voice, "Well we had sex and if they find anything they need to know if it was me or if… if it wasn't."

            "So…?"

            "So I have to give them a sample."  Lance dropped his voice even lower and raised his eyebrow at Joey, praying he'd catch the meaning.

            "A…?"  Joey's look went from confused to surprised.  "You mean…"  He dropped his eyes to Lance's waist, then brought them back to meet Lance's worried look.

            "Exactly."

            "Jesus."  Joey exhaled and bit his lip.  "So are you a suspect?"

            "No."  Lance sighed with a hint of annoyance.  "I'm not a suspect but they need my sample or whatever so they can separate the stuff that's 'supposed' to be there from the stuff that’s not."

            "Oh."

            Lance folded and refolded the lab slip nervously as they made their way over to the elevators.  "Man…"  He whispered softly, still unable to believe that any of it was happening.

            "You don't have anything to worry about.  You'll be cool." Joey said reassuringly as he slapped Lance on the shoulder.

            "No, I know.  This is just some scary shit, you know?  It's like, in all those movies and stuff they always look at the husband first so I'm wondering if I'm gonna end up on the suspect list.  Or if I'm already on it and they just won't tell me or whatever."

            "Nah, if you were a real suspect they'd have you in those pretty little bracelets and hot orange jumper."  Joey said as he tried to joke.

            Lance let a small smile escape before a loud commotion at the front desk distracted them.  "What happened?  I want to talk to the investigator right now."  A woman demanded as she slammed her hand on the desk.

            "Ma'am, you'll need to calm down, what is the name of the - "

            "Don't tell me to calm down, my sister is dead and I want to speak to the investigator right this minute."  She demanded again.  Even from thirty feet away Lance could see her hands shake.

            The lady behind the desk stared at the wild woman for a second then repeated her request,  "What is the name of the investigator you would like to see?"

            "I don't know.  Crawford?  Crayson?  Something like that.  My sister's name is Monica Saylor, so whoever is investigating her case.  S-A-Y-LO-R.  My name is Jenna Saylor, I'm her sister."  The woman dropped her voice so that she was no longer screaming, but she hit the desk again to emphasize her point.

            Lance and Joey didn't notice that the elevator opened, then closed behind them.  They were both too entranced with the woman at the desk.  Monica's sister.  Lance's heart skipped a beat as he watched her and he broke out into a cold sweat.

            "That would be Crawley.  He's actually speaking to your sister's husband right now, but I'll see if he can speak with you after."

            "Husband?  No, my sister wasn't married."  Jenna shook her head as she collapsed against the narrow desk.  "Monica Saylor.  That's my sister."  She said slowly.

            "Yes ma'am, and her husband is in there with the investigators."  The clerk nodded toward Detective Crawley's desk that was behind a thick pane of shatterproof glass.

            "What?"  Jenna whispered as she stood up and went to the window,  "I… can I go in there?"  She looked over her shoulder at the clerk.

            "They're questioning him."

            "That wasn't what I asked."  Jenna said gruffly as she reached for the handle.  "Let me in!"  She screamed with anger and frustration, now combined with confusion.  Who was that guy in there claiming to be her sister's husband?  To her surprise the door opened freely and she stumbled into the large room.

            Crawley was already up and ready to break her fall as she stormed in.  "I'm Crawley, how can I help you?"  He asked gruffly.

            "Who are you talking to?  My sister wasn't married.  Who is it?"  She stood on her toes to look over his intimidating shoulder.

            Crawley's eyes darted past her to where Lance and Joey were standing by the elevator, then back at her.  But it was too late, she'd noticed the movement and followed his glance.  "Which one?"  Jenna left Crawley standing just inside the door and flew across the room to where Joey and Lance were standing.

            Without thinking, Joey stepped in front of Lance as if to protect him,  "Chill."  He said, not leaving any room for argument.

            "Who are you?"  She demanded as she clenched her fists at her sides.  "Who is he?"  Her icy stare turned on the investigator.

            "Ma'am, if you'll come with me."  An officer appeared and reached for her arm.

            "Hands off.  My name is Jenna Saylor and Monica Saylor was my sister and I want to know who this asshole is that's claiming to be her husband."  Jenna's eyes filled with tears as she flinched away from the officer again.

            "I'm not claiming anything."  Lance leaned away from her and wished he could beam his way out of the room.  "I'm not her husband."

            "You are married to her."  Crawley pointed out.

            Lance sighed and pressed his hands over his eyes.

            "He was not."  Jenna shook her head and took another step closer to Lance causing Joey to step back and move Lance a foot closer to the wall.

            "You need to leave this area."  The officer reached for her arm again.

            As his hand clasped onto her elbow, she went into hysterics,  "Get off me!  What did you do to her?!  What did you do to my sister?!  You lying bastard!   Who are you?!"  The officer lifted her off her feet, freeing them to kick out and strike anything within a few feet of her.

            "I didn't do anything!"  Lance shouted, though he remained behind Joey.  He was tired, his head was pounding and he'd just about had enough.

            "Get her out of here."  Crawley commanded as he pointed to the door.  They had already drawn a crowd with her little scene,  "Come with me."  He nodded for Lance to follow him, then opened the door to the stairwell. They walked up a flight of stairs then down the hall a private interrogation room.  "Grab a seat, both of you."  He instructed both Joey and Lance as he pointed to a short table.

            "That was her sister?"  Lance asked.

            "That's what she said."  Joey said softly.

            "You didn't know that girl?"  Crawley asked with a disbelieving look.

            Lance sighed as his head pounded behind his eyes.  "No, like I said I didn't know Monica.  She never talked about her family or anything like that.  I didn't even know her name till yesterday afternoon."

            "But you didn't recognize her?  The sister?"

            "No."  Lance tried not to sound annoyed, but there were only so many ways to say he didn't know her.  "How could I recognize the sister of someone I never really knew?"

            "That's her twin sister."  Crawley leaned his hip against the corner of the table and looked down at Lance.

            "Her what?"  Lance asked with his eyes squinted in confusion.

            "They're twins."  Crawley said again.

            "Wait hang on, they're twins?"  Lance asked.  Crawley nodded and realized that Lance was telling the truth when he said he didn't even know what Monica looked like.  "Identical twins?"

            "Yes."

            "She…?"  Lance looked toward the door as if she might be standing there.

            "I can't believe you don't remember a woman like that."  Joey said softly.

            "Shut up."  Lance kicked his shin quickly and threw him a dirty look.  He stood up suddenly and began to pace the small room.  When he was moving he tended to think better, and right then he needed all the help he could get. "So… wow.  Whoa..."

            "We contacted her last night when we got her contact information from Caesars.  She just flew in from New York."

            "Can I talk to her?"  Lance asked as he stopped pacing.

            "C'mon Lance…"  Joey sighed and stood next to him, grabbing his sleeve as if to make him leave.

            "No.  I want to talk to her.  Can I?"  He asked Crawley.

            "I don't really think that'd be the best idea considering the circumstances."

            "I just want to let her know that I didn't do anything and I'm doing what I can to help you guys out."  Lance said softly.

            "Her sister was killed, they've got you in here asking you questions and you wanna talk to her?  You're fuckin nuts."  Joey shook his head.

            "I just want to talk to her."  Lance looked at Crawley with pleading eyes.  "Just for a minute.

            Crawley shrugged in resignation.  "I'll see if she'll come up here, but I wouldn't hold your breath."  He stepped from the room and left Joey and Lance alone for a few minutes.

            "You've lost every last marble in your head."  Joey sighed and sat back down.

            "I just need to see her and to talk to her for a minute."

            "I can't believe they're twins."

            "I know."  Lance sighed.

            "Maybe seeing the sister will make you remember something about her.  Monica I mean."  Joey suggested as he leaned his chair back on two legs.

            "Yeah."  Lance shrugged and ran his fingers through his hair yet again.  "Maybe."

            The boys sat in silence for a few minutes, the only sound they heard was the air conditioning humming from the vent above them.  When the door finally opened again, Crawley stepped in then looked over his shoulder,  "They're in here."

            "They?"  Jenna asked.

            "Your sister's husband and his friend."

            Jenna paused for a moment outside the door before something inside her made her step through with her arms crossed to keep herself from shaking.  The past twenty-four hours had been physically and emotionally draining and she hadn't had five minutes alone to let anything sink in.

            "What?"  She asked through clenched teeth.

            "Can we have some privacy?"  Lance asked softly, looking from Joey to Crawley.

            "If you leave me with him I swear I'll kill him."  Jenna growled.

            "I'll stay."  Joey sat in the chair against the wall, just close enough to Lance to intercept if she got out of hand.  Crawley remained quiet, but it was obvious he was staying as well.

            "Let me explain."  Lance said as he went to stand up.

            "Just sit down."  Jenna's hands shook as she took a seat against the far wall.  "Okay, talk.  I want to hear what you did to my sister."

            Lance nodded then looked directly at Jenna for a moment.  Joey had seen him do that on several occasions, and Lance was the only one he knew who could literally block out a hundred other people to focus on one important person.  "I don't know your sister.  I met her the night before last at Caesars Palace.  I was gambling and she was bringing the drinks.  We went out for drinks after that to another bar and apparently shortly after that we got married."

            "Right."  She rolled her eyes.

            "I swear, they've got a copy of the certificate if you want to see it."  Lance continued, "We went back to my hotel I guess and when I woke up yesterday I didn't know what hit me.  I didn't know I was married till that afternoon and I didn’t know who I was married to until even later.  I can't remember…"

            "So you're trying to tell me you don't remember shooting my sister?"  Her eyes flashed with angry tears.

            "I didn't do anything to your sister.  I could barely stand up straight the next afternoon, there's no way I could have left that hotel room in one piece."  Lance shook his head.  "I did not hurt your sister."  He said softly.  "I did not."

            "Then who did?"  She asked loudly.  "Who?"  Lance shrugged in silence… unable to answer.  "That's right, you don't know.  But you are the only person in here, so right now you're the one."  She stood up and stormed toward the door.  "Let me out of here."

            "Wait…"  Lance jumped up and walked over to her.

            "Keep your hands off me."  Jenna put her hands up defensively.

            "I'm not… I'm not going to touch you.  But here, if you find anything or... or need anything... call me."  He handed her a piece of paper with his hotel number and cell phone number on it.   "And uh… we need to make funeral arrangements or something."

            "We?!  WE?!  No, absolutely not.  You said it yourself you didn't even know her.  Fuck you if you think you're going to play the part of the grieving husband now."

            "I don't want to play - "  Lance stopped and sighed.  "I'm offering my help if you need it.  I can help pay for the - "

            "Keep your filthy money, I don't want it.  All I want is to see you locked up for life for killing my sister."

            "Okay, meeting's over."  Crawley said gruffly as he opened the door and escorted Jenna out of the room.

            "You're seriously whacked."  Joey shook his head and tried to suppress a smile.

            "This isn't funny."  Lance leaned forward and put his head in his hands.

            "No, I know it's not."  Joey smiled completely.  "It's just… this is surreal or something.  I'm waiting for the 'candid camera' crew to jump out or something."

            "It's real Joe."

            "I know."  Joey sighed as his smile dropped.  "But what were you thinking bringing the sister in here like that?"

            "I don't know.  I just wanted to tell her face to face that I didn't… that I didn't hurt her sister."  Lance sighed.  "I don't know Joe.  I don't know anything right now."

            Crawley slammed back into the room and dropped the file on the table.  "You need to go to the lab."

            "I know."  Lance nodded.  "Are we… can I go?"

            "Yeah, get on outta here.  You can take the stairs on the right up to the third floor."  Crawley dropped himself into the empty chair and sighed.  "I'll give you a call when the results are in."

            "Okay, thanks."

            "No problem."  Crawley waved him off and they were dismissed.  Joey led the way out of the room and they took the stairs up one more flight.

            "So you've gotta give your… now?"

            "Yeah."

            "Man, I hope that's all you have to do."

            "Well what else could they want?"  Lance asked as he pulled the lab slip from his pocket.

            "I don't know."  Joey shrugged and opened the door.

            "You don't have to wait here."  Lance said quickly, hoping Joey would opt to wait in the car.

            "I don't mind."

            "Really Joey."

            "Well it's not like I'm gonna hold your hand or anything.  I'll just sit here and read a magazine or something."  Joey sat on the plastic chair and picked up a National Geographic.  "Just go do your thing, wash your hands and we can go."

            Lance tried not to smile as he turned his back on Joey and walked up to the desk.  "Hi, I uh…"  Lance stopped as the guy behind the counter looked up.  He didn't want to have to do this for a guy, but at the same time he thought of how mortified he'd be if it were a woman.  There was no way to make this okay.  "I need to have some lab work done."  He slid his lab slip across the little desk and cleared his throat nervously.

            The guy behind the desk didn't pause in his phone conversation as he grabbed the lab slip, stamped it then handed it back.  "Second door on the left."  He said as he waggled the paper in the air at Lance.

            "Thanks."  Lance took the slip and walked down the hall to the second door on the left.  When he opened the door it took all of his strength to keep from slamming it shut again.  There was a vinyl couch in one corner and a small stack of magazines on the table beside it.  On the far wall was a little door above a sink with a list of instructions beside it.

            Lance walked over and read them carefully, then opened the little door and took a little plastic container out.  "Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ."  He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, hating the scent of pine cleaning products.  Without touching anything else in the room Lance followed the instructions and set the sample back in the little door with his lab slip rubber banded around it.  He washed his hands with the anti-bacterial soap then splashed water on his face and left the room while drying his hands on the white paper towels form the room.

            He dropped the towels in the trash as his stomach toppled and he approached Joey.  "Ready?"

            "Took you long enough."  Joey dropped the magazine on the floor beside his chair and stood up.

            "Shut up."  Lance mumbled as he lowered his head and shoved his hands in his pockets.

            "Really, because you were in there for like - "

            "Shut up Joey.  I swear, let's see you perform under pressure."

            "I could do it."

            "Stop talking Joey.  Just… just shut up."

            "I'm just saying…"

            "Well don't."  Lance sighed and pressed the button to call the elevator.  The only thing he wanted to do was go back to his room and get some food into his system.  "I'm starving though, let's go get some food."

            "Say no more."  Joey smiled as the elevator dinged, then opened its doors for them.

            Lance stomach growled as they walked out of the building a few minutes later and he tried to inconspicuously look for Monica's sister.  He didn't see her anywhere as he slid into the passenger seat and sunk low into the hot cloth seats.

            "Air.  We need air."  Joey gasped dramatically as he turned the car on and pushed the air conditioning up as high as it would go.

            "Food.  We need food."  Lance said as he rested his head against the hot window beside him.  He let Joey decide where to go and they ended up back at the Venetian buffet.  Lance didn't care where or what they ate, he didn't taste it anyway.

            With his mind reeling he went through the motions of eating, but he couldn't get Jenna's image out of his mind.  He had to find a way to talk to her.

 

 

 

 

Next...

 

 

 

Copyright 2002, Amy Lynn