The next day Joey came down to Lance's room with his suitcase dragging behind him and his duffel bag over his shoulder.  "Hey." He smiled and walked into the room, banging his luggage against the wall.

            "Moving in?"  Lance asked as he took a bite of an apple.

            "Not exactly, no."  Joey kicked the bags against the wall then sat at the little table with a bowl of fruit in the middle.  "Where'd you get fruit?"  He asked as he picked up an orange.

            "I called and asked for it." Lance chewed thoughtfully.  They were quiet for a minute, then Lance asked,  "So… you're getting outta here huh?"

            "Yeah."  Joey bit his lip and frowned.  "You're staying?"  He rolled the orange back and forth from hand to hand.

            "Yeah, for a couple more days."  Lance sighed and propped his feet up on the table.  "They want me to stay until the lab results come back and I'd feel weird leaving in the middle of all this, you know?"

            "Yeah."  Joey nodded.  "I mean, no, I don't know.  But I can imagine."

            "I just wish Jenna would let me do something.  The funeral is on Thursday and she didn't even tell me, the funeral home director guy called to see if I needed directions to the cemetery for guests."

            "Well… you know… I mean you didn't know her."

            "Yeah but still."  Lance shrugged.  He couldn't explain it.  He didn't know Monica, or Jenna for that matter, but he felt like he should be there for the burial.  They'd been married, whether he remembered or not.  Something special must have happened in order for him to agree to get married.  She must have been something awesome.  Someone awesome deserved to have more than one person at their funeral.

            "Do you care if I don't stay?"

            "It doesn't matter."  Lance shrugged.

            "Because I'm supposed to do this audition thing for a movie this week."

            "Go."  Lance nodded.  "I'll be cool here, don't worry about it."

            "Are you sure?"

            "Yeah I'm sure.  If I need anyone or whatever I'm sure it wouldn’t take much to convince Chris to come out or something."

            "Yeah, that's for sure."

            "And my lawyer's here."

            "What's his name again?"

            "Cody Monroe.  He's a criminal lawyer here in Nevada.  Jack Richardson said he came highly recommended."

            "Jack's cool."  Joey nodded; they'd all gotten to know their contractual lawyer well over the last few years.

            "Yeah."

            "Well that’s cool then."

            "So you're gonna leave tonight?"

            "In about…"  Joey looked at his watch, "… an hour or so.  I'm gonna leave the rental car here though.  I called over and told them I wanted to keep it for another week, so you've got it till next Monday."

            "Okay, thanks.  Let me know what I owe you for it."

            "Forget about it."  Joey shook his head.  "What are your plans for the day?"

            "Cody's over at the police station I guess right now, then he's supposed to come over after."  Lance shrugged and stared at the half eaten apple in his hand.  "It's like... I don't know what to do anymore.  Do I hang around the hotel room and wait?  Do I call around and… and just try to do something?  Do I hang out at the station?  Do I go downstairs and try to drink and gamble away my problems?"

            "That one won't work."  Joey shook his finger at Lance and dropped the orange back in the bowl.  "You'll just be hung over, broke and in even more trouble."

            "I don't think that's possible."

            "Yeah well you don't wanna go find out it is."  Joey smiled and reached across the table to mess Lance's hair.  "Just hang out here, play that keno on TV thing or whatever."

            "Keno sucks."

            "You could always watch pay-per-view until your eyes crystallize and fall out of your head."  Joey laughed, though he knew that was actually closer to what Lance would actually do than anything else.

            Lance laughed shortly,  "Yeah I could do that.  I haven't seen some of those movies yet."

            "There you go then.  Movies, movies and more movies."

            "Speaking of which, what are you auditioning for?"

            "Oh uh…"  Joey stood up and put his hands in his pockets.  "I don't wanna jinx it."

            "Don't pull that.  What is it?"

            "It's a new Tarantino thing."

            "Tarantino?!"  Lance's eyebrows shot up.  "What's he been up to?"

            "Coming up with this screenplay I guess."  Joey shrugged.  "But yeah, I'm flying up to New York on Thursday I think… to, you know, do a reading and stuff."

            "Shit, right on."  Lance smiled widely and slapped Joey on the back.  "Shouldn't you be home running your lines or something?"

            Joey shrugged and blushed slightly,  "This is a different kind of reading.  He's having everyone come in cold pretty much.  I've seen a rough copy of the script, but…"

            "Oh man... well good luck."  Lance felt relieved to really smile again.

            "Thanks."

            "Call me and let me know how it goes."

            "I will."  Joey nodded.  "Don't go to the funeral Lance."  He said softly a minute later.

            Lance dropped his eyes and shrugged.  "I'm just… "  He sighed and drew his lip between his teeth.  "I'm thinking about it.  That's all."

            "Think about not going.  Really man, it's… I mean it wouldn't be a great idea.  The sister girl, she hates you.  Anyone else there will be a friend of hers and will probably hate you too."

            "Yeah, but - "

            "And what if the media is there?"

            "I can handle the media."  Lance looked up quickly.

            "Yeah, but the media mixed with a cemetery full of grieving people who hate you?  I'm asking you as a friend, not to go."

            "There won't be anyone else there I don't think."  Lance tried to argue but Joey's expression didn't change.  "All right, I'll think about it, okay?"

            "I'll be disappointed if you go."

            Lance thought of the phone call to his parents and his numerous conversations with Johnny.  "Yeah… well you'll have to get in line."

            He said goodbye to Joey and walked him down to the elevators where the two men shared a hug and a pat on the back.  Joey promised to call and check up on him, and Lance promised not to go on another drinking binge and get married again.

            With Joey gone, Lance started to feel the effects of everything that had taken place over the last couple days.  He stretched out on the little sofa and for the first time since Thursday, he truly felt alone.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

            After thinking about it for a few days Lance decided that he was going to go to the funeral.  He couldn't explain why he felt he needed to, but something inside him made his chest tighten at the thought of not going.  Jenna had made it sound as though no one would be there, and that just didn't feel right.

            With only jeans and t-shirts in his hotel room, Lance frowned and bit his lip.  He would have to venture out to get something appropriate to wear to the funeral the next day and he wasn't looking forward to it.  For a second he thought of calling Johnny and having him send a suit out, but he didn't feel like calling anyone or explaining what it was for.  No one else thought he should go on he few instances that he brought it up so he didn't want them trying to talk him out of it again.  Lance took his room key and wallet, dropped his baseball cap over his hair then headed for the Grand Canal shops downstairs.

            He paid an obscene amount of money for a well cut charcoal gray suit and everything that went with it, then ate a quick lunch in one of the little cafés along the Canal.  The pasta salad he ate was filled with garlic and reminded him that he was alive and doing fine.  For the short time he was away from his room he really began to feel better about everything, as if it had slipped his mind that he had gotten married and she had been killed.

            His cell phone rang in his pocket and brought him swiftly back to the unreal reality he was living in.  "Hello."  He mumbled into the mouthpiece as he wiped his napkin across his lips.

            "Hey Lance, this is Cody."  His lawyer identified himself with a smiling voice.

            "Hey."  Lance nodded.

            "Did I catch you at a bad time?"

            "No I…"  Lance looked down at the bag by his feet.  "I'm just eating lunch downstairs.  I - did you need me?"

            "Nah, I was just going to see when you were available to go over some scenarios.  You know, some 'what if's and things like that.  I don't want you to be blindsided."

            "Blindsided?"

            "There are only so many ways this whole thing can go and I want you to be prepared.  Without knowing exactly what the police are up to I think it'd be best if I worked with you on them."

            "I didn't do anything though."  Lance lowered his voice.

            "And that's fine.  But that doesn't mean they can't or won't arrest you or charge you."

            "What?"  The breath left Lance's body with a loud woosh.

            "It's possible and that's why I wanted to get together with you to talk about what we should do in those situations.  I know we met yesterday and went over your side of the story, but I think it would be good to cover this too.  I'd rather have you prepared, just in case."

            "I… I can uh… meet whenever you want."  Lance tried to catch his breath as his heart pounded in his ears.

            "Are you busy now?  I mean, after you eat your lunch."

            "No."

            "Why don't you come on over then.  We can hammer out some of these scenarios over here.  I'm at the Bellagio, you know where that is?"

            "Yeah."  Lance nodded.

            "Cool, so I'll see you here in an hour?  Is that enough time?"

            "Y-yeah.  Yeah that's fine.  Thanks."

            "No problem.  I'll see you then."

            "Bye."  Lance hung up and stared down at his half eaten lunch.  Suddenly his appetite was gone and he wanted nothing more than to go back to his room and curl up under the covers.  He pushed his plate aside and paid the bill before he collected his bags and headed up to his room to put everything away.

            With his suit hanging in his closet, his new shoes in the box on the floor and no other good excuse, Lance quickly ran his hand through his hair and headed over to the Bellagio.  He called Cody's room from the immense lobby and got the room number before taking the elevator up to the suite.

            "Hey Lance, how's it going?  How was lunch?"  Cody grinned as he held the door open.

            "It was fine."  Lance nodded slowly.

            "You okay?"

            "Yeah."  He answered quickly.  "Just… I guess I'm a little nervous.  This whole thing is kind of… you know… nerve wracking."

            "Yeah, of course it is.  Is there anything I can do to make you more comfortable?"

            Lance shrugged, only one thing would make him more comfortable.  "Can you make it all go away?"

            "I'm working on it."  Cody smiled.  "All right, listen.  It's best if we just jump into this so you can get a feel for what's going on, or what could go on."

            "Okay."  Lance stuck his hands in his pockets and looked around the large sitting room.  The bedroom must have been behind the closed door, but Lance wasn't about to go look.

            "Make yourself comfortable.  Do you want some water or something?  I've got Evian up here I think."  Cody opened the refrigerator in the little kitchen and shook his head.  "Actually, all I have is Sprite, sorry."

            "That's okay."

            "You want a sprite?"

            "No.  No thanks."  Lance shook his head as he sat in one of the recliners.  He tucked one leg up under his butt and sighed as he leaned back in the chair.

            "Okay."  Cody grabbed one for himself, then sat on the couch with Lance's file spread out on the coffee table in front of him.  "Let's get started."  He sighed and reached for the notepad on the cushion beside him, and with that they started reviewing the possible scenarios.

 

            Almost three hours later Lance's stomach was in knots and all he could think about was going outside to get fresh air.  None of the possible scenarios for his role in the case were scenarios he'd choose.  He didn't want to have anything to do with it, but at the same time he knew it would have to be one of them.  "I just hope it's that last one."  Lance said as he stood up and cracked his back.  His car keys jingled in his pocket as he shook his leg that had fallen asleep.  "What uh… I mean, do you really think it's possible that I'll be cleared and sent home?"

            "I don't know."  Cody shook his head.  "In a perfect world, yeah.  Of course."

            "In a perfect world you wouldn't have to be here."  Lance pointed out.

            "True."  The lawyer smiled and sighed softly.  "The Las Vegas Police are good guys, they really are.  If you didn't have anything to do with this, they'll find out."

            "If?"  Lance's heart dropped as he looked at Cody like a kicked dog.  "You think I had something to do with it?"

            "No."

            "If I had nothing to do with this…?"

            "I just meant that they'll find out."

            "I didn't have anything to do with Monica's death.  If you're going to represent me then you need to know that.  I don't lie, I don't do drugs, I don't own a gun and I could never even think about hurting another human being like that.  Never."

            "And that's what they're going to find."

            "If you're so sure of that then why are you even mentioning these other scenarios?"

            "Just in case."

            "You don't have as much faith in the system as you're trying to make me think, do you?"  Lance asked.  He bit his lip while Cody remained silent.  "Or maybe you don't have faith in me."

            "Listen Lance."  Cody sighed and stood up.  "Everything you thought about yourself and the legal system is put into question right now.  Everyone you know is second guessing everything you've ever done, including yourself."

            "I'm not."

            "Yeah you are."  Cody nodded.  "You have to be prepared in case things go sideways.  The police team here is good.  Excellent even.  But shit happens and if things start to go that way I need to know that you'll be ready up here."  He tapped his temple.  "You didn't kill that girl.  That much I know.  And right now that's all I need to know.  I have faith in you and I have faith in the system.  But I'm not going in there bare-assed asking for a spanking, and I'm not going to let you go in there like that either.  You need to be prepared."  He spoke the last sentence slowly.

            "I'm prepared."  Lance said softly as he lowered his eyes, fighting with all of his strength not to run out of the room.

            "Great."  Cody nodded as he shuffled the papers on the little make shift desk and put them in his briefcase.  "So why don't you come on over tomorrow morning for breakfast.  We can grab something to eat then shoot over to the station."

            "The police station?  What for?"

            "To talk to the detective."  Cody acted nonchalant as he shrugged one shoulder and clasped his case shut.

            "Crawley?"

            "Yeah."  Cody looked down at his notes.  "I've been over there but I wasn't able to talk to him.  Besides, I'd like you there as well just so we can see what's going on."

            "I guess… is this normal?"

            "What?"

            "You going to the police station?"

            "Do you have any idea how much time I spend in police stations?"  Cody smiled then cleared his throat.  "I'm going there to introduce myself as your lawyer so that they know that they will be going through me for any contact.  They should be expecting you to have a lawyer given your social status."

            "Yeah, I'm sure they are."

            "So that's all."

            "But we're going to talk about the case?"

            "I'm going to ask some questions, you bet."  Cody nodded.  "So… tomorrow?  Say eight thirty?"

            "Y-yeah."  Lance stuttered.

            "That's not too early?"

            "No, that's fine.  Do you want me to come here?"

            "Yeah."

            "To your room?  Or the restaurant?"

            "Go ahead and come on up to my room.  It's a little more private and I'm sure you don't want the world knowing your business."

            "No, I don't."  Lance shook his head.

            "Okay then.  Eight thirty it is.  Right here."

            "Okay."  Lance nodded, then stood and headed for the door.  "Thanks… Cody."  The name didn't come easily for Lance, it just didn't seem to fit with his profession or attire.

            "No problem."  Cody slapped Lance on the shoulder and opened the door for him.  "Why don't you go try to take it easy tonight.  You look like you could use the rest."

            "Yeah."  Lance nodded in agreement.  Sleep and aspirin was exactly what he needed and as he left the hotel he made a mental note to stop at the little store to pick up a bottle of Tylenol before he went upstairs.

            When he made it to his own room at the Venetian he popped three Tylenol, then went to the room phone to check his messages.  All of the calls were ones he expected.  His parents, Johnny, JC and a hang up with traffic sounds in the back, which was probably JC again.  He sighed, then fell back on the cool bed and dialed his parent's number.

 

            He spent the rest of the evening in his room talking on the phone until his ear burned and his eyes began to drift closed.  Somehow nothing had reached the media yet and Lance felt as though he was sitting on a time bomb just ticking away the seconds until it exploded.  JC assured him that their staff was on the ball and keeping track of everything while Johnny kept his cool and made sure everyone was informed.

            At eleven thirty he finally told JC he had to go, then tossed the phone on the nightstand and clicked the TV on.  He watched another movie on pay-per-view until he fell into a dreamless sleep only to wake up eight hours later still feeling tired.  After a quick shower he threw on his clothes and headed over to the Bellagio to meet up with Cody for breakfast.  Lance pulled his baseball cap over his damp hair as he walked into the huge lobby and crossed to the elevators.

            With a loud yawn Lance shook his head and stepped off the elevator on Cody's floor.  He didn't quite feel up for another inquisition, but he knew it was a necessity for the case.  Lance's watch read eight thirty five when he knocked on Cody's door, with any luck he'd be out of there by ten so he could return to his hotel for a nap before the funeral began at noon.

            "Hey Lance, good morning."  Cody smiled as he pulled the door open.

            "Hi."

            "Rough night?"

            "No, not exactly."

            "Did you go out?"  Cody smiled and shut the door then followed Lance to the table in the corner.

            "Uh no.  I watched some TV and made it an early night."

            Cody frowned at Lance and looked at his sideways, "You look tired."

            "I feel tired."

            "Hrm."  Cody bit his lip and pulled out the case file from the day before.  "Have you tried Tylenol PM?"

            "No."  Lance fought another yawn as he crossed his legs.  "I slept fine, I just… I'm just still tired.  And I don't like taking medicine like that."

            "Okay."  Cody shrugged.  "So today we're going to head over to the station and see what we can find out.  I'd also like to get your contact information in Florida, for some reason I don't have that here and I'll need it."

            "I won't be back there till this is all done."

            "Well, you never know.  This might take a while to be completely done.  I'm sure you'll go home before that and I'll need a way to reach you."

            "I…"  Lance began to protest, but changed his mind and filled out the paper Cody handed him.

            "So are you hungry?  I'm starving, I was just waiting for you to get here.  What do you want?"  Cody held up the room service menu and handed it to Lance.  "I already know what I'm getting."

            "Oh uh, thanks."  Lance took the menu and looked it over.

            "Get whatever you want.  I'm going to make a call real quick, so when you're ready just call it down and get me the waffles plain."

            "Okay."  Lance pulled on his lip and looked the menu over.  He didn't feel hungry but the growling in his stomach let him know that whether he felt it or not, his body needed breakfast.

            Cody clicked his cell phone on and took a call while he paced around the room.  Lance used the room phone and called down to order their breakfast, then read through the hotel brochures while Cody spoke into his phone about some case that.

            Room service arrived a short while later and Cody waved for Lance to let them in.  With a heavy sigh Lance stopped himself from rolling his eyes as he let the young man in.  Cody handed him his tip then set his waffles on the table and took a bite while he continued with his call.  "This will only be another couple minutes."  He assured Lance softly.

            "Okay."  Lance whispered back as he sat at the table and picked at his omelet.  For the next ten minutes he listened to Cody's side of the conversation and was impressed with how professional and hard-nosed he sounded.  For the first time since he met him, Lance was glad to have the young lawyer on his side.

            With one final bite Lance pushed his plate away and wiped his mouth as his cell phone rang in his pocket.  He jumped at the sound and quickly reached to silence it before it interrupted Cody's call.

            "Hello?"  He asked, without looking at the caller I.D.

            "Hi, Lance?  This is Officer Montes with the Las Vegas Police."

            "Oh... uh, hi."  Lance leaned forward onto the table.  "What's up?"

            "We're gonna need you to come down to the station."  He explained.

            "Why?  Is something wrong?"

            "We have some new information and Detective Crawley would like to see you about it."  Montes said quickly.

            "Okay.  Um, my lawyer is here with me and we were planning on seeing you guys in about an hour, is uh… is that okay?"  Lance asked.

            "Is that the detective?"  Cody asked as he covered his mouthpiece with his hand.

            "Hang on."  Lance said into his phone, then turned to Cody.  "It's the police officer that came to get me the other day.  They want me to come to the station."

            "Let me talk to him."  Cody quickly ended the conversation on his phone, then reached for Lance's.  "This is Cody Monroe, I'm representing Mr. Bass.  How can I help you?"  Lance listened carefully to Cody's side of the conversation.  "Yes.  Yes, I understand.  Okay, we'll be there within the hour.  Thank you."  He clicked the phone off and handed it back to Lance.  "Are you ready to go?"

            "Yeah…"  Lance looked down at his jeans and worn out sneakers.  "Is this okay?"

            "It's not a fashion show."  Cody smirked and straightened his tie.

            "Yeah but…"

            "You're fine."  Cody shook his head as he retrieved the papers from the table and shoved them into his briefcase.  "Do you have anything you need from your room?"

            "No."  Lance shook his head, wondering what he could possibly need.

            "You have your managers phone number?"

            "Johnny?  Yeah I have it, why?"

            "You might need it."  Cody clasped his case shut and headed for the door.  "Did you bring your car?"

            "Yeah.  My rental."  Lance nodded and patted at the keys in his pocket as he lamely followed Cody out to the hall.

            "Okay, let's take our own cars.  I'm going to head over to our Vegas office after the meeting if things go well.  I've got a case going to trial in three weeks and I need to make sure everything is being taken care of."

            "Oh.  Okay."  Lance sputtered as they headed out of the hotel and to their cars.  "We're going to the station, right?"

            "Yes.  Second floor, to Crawley's office."

            "He has an office?"  Lance asked before he realized how stupid that sounded.

            "I uh… that's what the officer said, yeah."  Cody nodded, seeming flustered for the first time.

            "I'm sorry, I'm just not used to this.  I don't always think before I speak, you know?  When I get nervous and stuff."  Lance blushed slightly as he unlocked Joey's rental car.

            "It's okay."  Cody laughed lightly and pulled his keys out of his pocket.  "Meet me in front of the station, we'll go in together."

            "Okay."  Lance nodded and slid into the drivers seat.  He adjusted the rear view mirror and Cody walked away to his own car, then he pulled out of the parking lot and headed for the police station, hoping it would be his last time.

 

            When he pulled up at the station, Lance waited in his car until he saw Cody pull in then met the lawyer at the front door.  "Have you been here much?"

            "A couple times."  Lance nodded as he squinted at the reflection from the glass doors.

            "Well maybe we'll get lucky and you won't have to come back."

            "Yeah."  Lance pulled the door open, then Cody reached behind Lance and held it open for him.  "Did they tell you what we're here for?"

            "Some new information came up."

            "That's all they said?"

            "That's really all they can say."  Cody sighed and let the door close behind them.  "Wait here."  He held up his finger at Lance then approached the front desk where he conversed with the young officer at the computer for a moment.  "Okay, Crawley is waiting upstairs."  He nodded toward the elevators and they walked over quietly.

            "So… so what do you want me to say when we get there?"  Lance asked softly, not wanting anyone to overhear their conversation, though no one was near.

            "Nothing."  Cody shook his head.  "We're just going to go in and see what they have to show us and we'll go from there. You aren't being brought in for questioning, so you don't have to say anything."

            "But can I?"

            "You can say whatever you want, but if I stop you, you need to stop."

            "Okay."  Lance nodded.

            "But don't worry about it."  Cody smiled and tried to be reassuring.

            "Okay."  Lance nodded again and tried to smile as they got off the elevator.  He followed Cody down the hall to the little office with a paper sign on the door that had 'Crawley' scrawled across it in black marker.  "This is it."

            "Yep."  Cody rapped sharply on the doorframe then pushed it open.

            "Can I help you?"  Crawley began to stand up behind his disheveled desk.

            "Hi."  Lance stepped in behind Cody and waved slightly.  "You uh… well Montes called me in?"

            "Ah, Mr. Bass.  Come on in."  Crawley pulled the pen out from behind his ear and looked around his desk for something he'd apparently misplaced. "Grab a seat.  How's it going?"

            Lance shrugged and sighed, how good could he be doing?  "I'm doing all right."  He nodded slightly and dropped himself into the chair at the corner of the desk.  "What's up?"

            Cody looked over at Lance then smiled at the detective,  "Hi, I'm Cody Monroe.  I'll be representing Mr. Bass."

            "Great, I'm glad you're here."  Detective Crawley said brusquely.  "We ran a DNA match test on the sample you gave us and the specimens we found on and in her body."  He said as he laced his fingers in front of him.  "They matched."

            Lance let out a deep and shaky breath.  The detective didn't waste any time and Lance's head spun with all of the scenarios he and Cody went over the day before.  "We had sex."  Cody kept quiet and observed, waiting to jump in if he needed.

            "Yes, we're aware of that."  Crawley nodded.  "We found traces of semen that were matched to you.  We also found skin under her fingernails which belonged to you."

            "The scratches."  Lance tugged the neck of his shirt to the side again to show him the healing marks.

            "Yes, we have that in the notes."  Crawley looked back at the handwritten notes in front of him.  Lance blushed slightly, very personal information was scribbled on the notepad in front of the detective and he didn't even seem to care.

            "We also have some new evidence."

            "What is it?"  Lance's heart skipped a beat as he looked up at Detective Crawley.  He still couldn't remember that night and he had no idea what he would do if somehow there were evidence that pointed to him.

            "Video."  Crawley held up a VHS tape in his hand.  "As I'm sure you know, casinos monitor everything.  No one can enter or leave a casino without being caught on tape."

            "Right."  Lance nodded and licked his lips nervously.

            "The tape for the morning in question shows Monica using a payphone then leaving the lobby at 10:46am.  She was alone."  Crawley reached for his chapstick and rubbed it on his lips.  "We checked all of the tapes for every possible exit from the time you two arrived at the hotel, at 3:24am until the afternoon of the next day."

            "Okay?"  Lance's palms began to sweat as he tried to think of what this could mean.

            "You were not seen leaving the hotel during that time."

            "Of course not, I was asleep."  Lance gave him a look.

            "We didn't spot you leaving the hotel until 3:32pm."

            "Right."  Lance nodded.

            "Her estimated time of death was 12:00 noon."

            "Okay."

            "You've been cleared as a suspect for now."

            "I…"  Lance tried not to jump out of his chair.  "I'm cleared?  That's… wow… thanks.  It's about time."  He let a small smile escape.  "I mean, I know you guys had to uh, had to make sure and everything."

            "I wanted to thank you for your cooperation."

            "No problem."  Lance sighed with relief and looked over at Cody.  "I guess you came all the way out for nothing."

            "Better safe then sorry."  Cody smiled and reached to shake Crawley's hand again.  "It was a pleasure."

            "Same here."  Crawley tried not to roll his eyes.

            "So he's free to leave the state?"

            "He was never detained, counselor."  Crawley sat back down at his desk and busied himself with straightening the papers.

            "Great, let's get you back to Florida then."

            "Y-yeah."  Lance stuttered as he headed for the door.  "Is there a way that I can call in or something?  To find out what's going on?"  Monica was a girl he hadn't known at all.  She was a vision in the dark that he'd taken back to his room one night, and couldn't identify her the next morning.  She was a virtual stranger, but he was now involved.

            "As her next of kin, you will be kept up to date."  Crawley nodded.

            "Okay, thanks."  Lance nodded, then followed his lawyer out of the room.  He stopped quickly and turned around, thinking of the one other person who needed to know.  "Do you by chance know how to reach her sister?"

            Crawley just shrugged and shuffled the papers on his desk.  "I can pass on a message if you want.  The next time she comes in I mean."  Lance knew that the detective knew how to reach her, but he also knew that Crawley wasn't about to give out personal information about anyone else.

            "No."  Lance sighed.  "That's okay.  Thanks anyway."

            "No problem kid."  Crawley didn't look up from the papers in his hand as he spoke.

            "Bye."  Lance bit his lip and frowned as he turned again and walked out of the station for what he hoped was the last time.  "So what now?"  He asked Cody as they walked across the parking lot to the car.

            "Now?  Now you're on your own."  He smiled and shrugged.  "You're not a suspect, and you've been cleared.  Unless you can think of another reason why you might need a lawyer, I'd say my work here is done."

            "Yeah, but I can go home now or whatever?"

            "Sure, absolutely.  You could have left three days ago."  He shrugged.

            "Well yeah but…"  Lance sighed.

            "Get on out of here.  Go back to Florida and try to put this behind you.  I'm sure you've got a media mess back there to clean up."

            "Yeah, probably."

            "Well, good luck.  You've got my card right?"

            "Yeah."

            "Okay then.  If you have any questions or if you get called in again, let me know."

            "Thanks, I will."  Lance raised his hand halfway and watched as Cody climbed into his car and backed out of the tiny parking spot.  Lance sighed, then hopped into the rental car parked at the far end of the lot.  He drove back to his hotel and went up to his room to change his clothes.  The funeral was at noon and he wanted to be there for it.

            Lance knew that Jenna wouldn't be happy to see him there, but he needed to talk to her as well.  He showered, then dressed in the new suit he bought the day before.  The charcoal gray pants fit perfectly but for the price he paid he thought they should.  Lance buttoned up his crisp white shirt and tied his gray and black patterned tie around his neck.  With a quick once over in the mirror, Lance was ready to go.

            As he headed out he took his keys and the small cemetery's brochure with the little map on the back.  After more than a half hour of driving around with his frustration building, he finally found the tall gates to the cemetery.  Lance parked in front of the office then stepped inside quickly.  "Hi, I uh… there's a service going on right now.  Um, Monica Saylor.  I need to know where it is."

            "Certainly."  The kind woman behind the desk glanced down at the calendar in front of her.  "That's over to the right there in the Angel's Courtyard."  She pulled out a small map and circled the area.  "You leave the parking lot here and go right.  Circle around here, and you should see it."

            "Okay."  Lance nodded and took the sketch.  "Th-thank you."

            "You're welcome."  She nodded sweetly and watched Lance leave.

            He hopped back in his car, then drove around to the right as he was instructed.  As he turned the far corner he saw a small canopy set up near the center of the grassy area.  Only two people stood under the covering, and Lance knew that had to be it.  He pulled to the curb then got out and walked slowly up the incline.

            The pastor was just finishing the brief prayer as Lance walked up and stood a few feet from the canopy directly across from Jenna.  He bowed his head and said a silent prayer for Monica, just as he'd been taught to do his whole life.  When he looked up the pastor was looking to Jenna for some kind of a response.

            Jenna hastily brushed her fingers over her eyes to sweep away her tears, then leaned forward and placed a single yellow rose on the plain looking casket.  "Thank you."  She whispered to the pastor, without taking her eyes off the polished wood in front of her.

            "You're welcome."  He said gently as he patted her back.

            "May I please be left alone?"  Jenna whispered so softly that Lance barely heard her.

            "Certainly, dear."  The pastor nodded then stepped away with a parting pat on her hand.  He took his bible and slowly walked toward the only other car parked along the curb.

            Lance and Jenna stood in silence for several minutes, neither of them taking the chance to look at the other.  Jenna stepped forward and placed her hand on the casket, surprised at the warmth of the wood.  She bowed her head and moved her lips with the silent words she spoke to her sister.

            When she took a deep breath a moment later, she spoke softly.  "What are you doing here?"

            "I…"  Lance started, then realized he wasn't entirely sure why he was there.  "I don't know."

            "I asked you not to come."

            "I know."

            "Then what are you doing here?"  She asked again.

            "I just… I wanted to be here."  He knew how lame the words sounded as they left his lips.  "I may not have known her well, but - "

            "You didn't know her at all."  Jenna kept her eyes on the ground.

            Lance licked his lips and continued,  "But I have a connection here."  He said softly.  "And I… I wanted to make sure you were okay."

            "I'm fine.  I don't need your money, I don't need your concern and I don't need your pity."  Jenna turned her red rimmed eyes on him as she pressed her lips into a single thin line.

            Lance sighed and tried to keep his frustration in check.  "I'm not here to pity you, but you just lost your sister and I can't help but feel - "

            "Responsible?"  Her eyes threw darts at him.

            He sighed again and removed his hands from his pockets.  "No, I don't feel responsible."  Unconsciously, his right hand came up and raked through his hair.  Lance pursed his lips then said,  "I wanted to let you know that I'll be out of your hair.  I met with Crawley this morning and I've been cleared."

            "You… you've been cleared?"  She looked at him with a look of pure confusion.

            "Yes, and I'll be leaving tomorrow."

            "You're leaving?"  Her voice took on a new tone, with a hint of panic.

            "I… yeah.  I can leave."

            "But…"  She seemed at a loss for words.  "You can't."  Jenna said forcefully as she glared at him

            "I've been cleared Jenna.  The police have their proof that it wasn't me, that it couldn't have possibly been me.  They've taken all the samples they need; they've checked all of my records and everything.  The police have cleared me, and I am leaving."

            Jenna paled noticeably as her hands clenched at her sides.  "So you just came her to tell me that?"

            "No."  Lance took a deep breath and walked around to where she stood.  "No, that wasn't why I came here.  I came here to pay my respects and to say a prayer for Monica."  He said softly.  "And for you."  He ran his tongue over his bottom lip then bit it softly.  "I also wanted to see if you could go grab something to eat or something so I could tell you that I was leaving and that I'd been cleared."

            "I'm not going anywhere with you."

            "Which is what I figured when I got here.  But I wanted to let you know anyway."  Lance's tie blew across his chest as a breeze swept under the canopy.

            "So you're just going to leave?"  Jenna took a step away from him and crossed her arms defiantly over her chest.

            "There's nothing else I can really do here.  They already know more than I do about it."

            "But they haven't found the… the person who did this."

            "Crawley is going to keep me up to date with the investigation."  Lance nodded briefly.  "I asked him to."

            Jenna's hand fluttered to her hair to brush it off her cheek as she tried to keep her emotions in check.  "But you're the last person to see her alive."

            "No…"  Lance stopped himself before he could point out the obvious.

            "Yes you are."  She said sharply.  "Lance, you're the last person we know of who saw her alive.  You're the missing link here."

            "I'm not, Jenna."  He shook his head gently.

            "You could add pressure to find the guy who did this.  As her… husband…"  She choked the word out.  "You'll have more pull."

            "I have a life to get back to."

            Jenna was silent for a minute as she breathed heavily.  "You just don't care about anyone but yourself, do you?  My sister is dead.  I've just put her in the ground and you just see this whole thing as a three day inconvenience for you.  You had to stay in Vegas for another couple days… how tragic.  And now you have to rush on back to your glitzy lifestyle, I mean… who gives a shit who killed my sister?  It wasn't you, so why would you even care?  It's not like you cared about her to start with or anything.  It's not like you saw her as anything more than just a quick piece of ass anyway."

            "That's not - "

            "Oh just shut up Lance.  Go.  Go ahead and leave.  I'm staying here until they find this bastard and lock him up for life.  We didn't need you before and we sure as hell don't need you now.  So go."  She turned quickly and strode away with her arms still crossed.  Lance watched as her hair blew sideways in the breeze and her steps quickened until she was running back toward the entrance.  There was no winning with her...

 

 

 

Next...

 

 

Copyright © 2002, Amy Lynn