by Gayle McCreedy
All characters of Forever Knight belong to them. All other characters
belong to me. The story is mine. I'll put the members of FK back
where they belong just as soon as I finish playing with them. Thanks!

"Nat," Nick said, touching her shoulder as she knelt over the body.

"Nick. Hi," Natalie said, rising.

"So, what do we have here?" Tracy asked Natalie.

"Samantha Robbins, age 24, Caucasian. Time of death is only a couple
of hours ago. I can nail that down a little better once we get her
to the morgue. Hands and feet are bound with nylon cord, mouth is
duct-taped. No signs of sexual assault. Two stab wounds, but both
are pretty superficial; I'd say they were caused by a small knife,
maybe a paring knife." Natalie clicked off the observable evidence

"So, you're saying that she didn't die from the stab wounds" Tracy
said, looking confused.

"Nope. While there is a fair amount of blood from the wrist wound,
she hasn't lost anywhere near enough blood to bleed to death, nor did
the other wound cause much damage."

"So the cause of death is?" Nick asked pointedly.

"I'm not sure. There's a possibility that she has a heart condition
and the stress of the situation caused a heart attack. Seeing as we
found this inhaler in her purse, however," Natalie lifted a plastic
evidence bag containing a small gold-colored inhaler, "I would hazard
a guess that Ms. Robbins had an a severe asthmatic attack while bound

and died because she could not get to her inhaler."

"Asphyxiation," Tracy said.

"Exactly," Nat replied.

"Who found the body?" Nick asked.

"Well, the call came in from the employer. Robbins didn't show up
for work today, boss was worried - it seems our Ms. Robbins was a
terribly prompt woman - and telephoned to ask if the police could
check on it. Dispatch sent a car around, when they got here, they
found the boyfriend here already. Evidently he'd just come in and
found the body. He's in the kitchen, in the back. He's in pretty
bad shape," Natalie answered.

"Name?" Nick said, already heading for the door. Tracy immediately

"Bud, I think," Natalie said in frustration to Nick's retreating
back. She rubbed her forehead, feeling the onset of yet another
headache. "Alright, you guys, once they get all the pictures they
need, ship her back to me at the office. I'll meet you there."

"Will do," the driver of the hearse for the Coroner's Office replied.

Natalie picked up her bag and, looking around the crime scene one
last time, made her way to her car, parked unevenly on the street in
front of the small clapboard house. As she drove back to the morgue,
a drive sufficiently long for her headache to fully blossom, she
thought again how much she needed a vacation.


"Mister," Tracy consulted the clipboard handed to her by the
plainclothes officer, "Connelly?"

"Y-yes," the thin man sitting at the small table answered.

Nick surveyed tiny kitchen as he leaned against the refrigerator,
letting Tracy handle the interrogation. Although he'd had initial
doubts at Vetter's assignment as his partner, Nick had come to
appreciate that a softer touch often yielded more information when
the subject was as upset as this man appeared to be. Buddy Connelly
was a man of average height, thin but wiry, with dark wavy hair. He
was dressed in shiny chinos and a blue shirt with his name stitched
over one pocket. Nicholas noted that the pants had been torn near
the pocket, but the tear had been very tidily sewn and was hardly

"Thrifty," Nick thought to himself.

As Nick continued to watch Connelly, he noted that as Connelly clung
to a large mug of coffee, Nick could see his hands shake.

"You were Ms. Robbins' boyfriend?" Tracy asked.


"And how long did you two know each other?"

"We've been together for about a year, year and a half, I guess."

"Where did you meet?"

"Sam used to bring her old car in to my shop. I'm a mechanic,"
Connelly replied. "One day, we were talking, and I asked her out."

"Did you live together?"

"No," he replied quickly, then after a moment, continued. "Well, not
exactly. I spent some time here, you know...I mean we *were* seeing
each other and all."

"I think we get the picture," Nick said with a smile, nodding to
Tracy to move on as he thought disgustedly, "This is going nowhere."


Natalie sat at her desk at the morgue, slowly finishing up the
autopsy on Samantha Robbins as she typed her report into the
computer. Her initial surmise had proved true - Robbins had died
from an asthmatic attack. What had surprised Natalie in the course
of the examination was the discovery of a number of previously
fractured bones Ms. Robbins possessed. Although none of the injuries
were fresh, Natalie had to assume that, at some point in her past,
Robbins had been subject to abuse. Natalie picked up the telephone
to call Nicholas with her discovery, but then put it down again.
Nick would be here soon enough, she thought. Nat sighed to herself
as she typed her observations onto the screen. Pausing, she
considered the sheet-covered corpse.

"Why on earth did you stay?" Natalie asked rhetorically.

Turning back to her screen after a moment, Natalie finished the
report and backed it up onto a disk, which she threw into the file

folder along with all of the other notes.

Still, Nick sensed that there was something out of kilter in this
room. It wasn't exactly an idea that Connelly was a liar, more that
some piece of evidence was eluding him. Nick focused all of his
special abilities to ferret out the source of his discomfort.

Gradually, Nick became aware of a slight dripping sound. A slow,
irregular drip that even Nick had to strain to hear. Letting Tracy
continue to question Mr. Connelly, Nick began to try to locate the
source of the noise as inconspicuously as possible. Crossing the
room to the other side of the table, Nick leaned against the side of
the sink. Casually placing his hands on the counter, Nick was able
to ascertain that the interior of the ceramic sink was damp. Nick
turned suddenly and flung open the cabinet below the sink.

"Hey! What is he doing?" Connelly exclaimed in a tight voice.

"Nick?" Tracy said, pushing back from the table as she rose. She
was curious to know what Nick was going after, but thought it best to
keep her eyes glued to Connelly.

The space under the sink was very dark, but Nicholas had no trouble
finding the wet rag hidden in the crevice above the pipe. Pulling an
evidence bag out of his pocket, he used the tip of his pen to pry the
dishrag loose and deposit it in the bag. Straightening, he turned,
showing his find to both his partner and to Connelly.

"I don't suppose you'd care to tell me about this?" Nick asked.

"I don't know what you mean," Connelly said determinedly.

"Then I think we had better take this discussion downtown," Nick
replied evenly, motioning to the officer at the kitchen door to come

"Please take Mr. Connelly downtown for further questioning in the
death of Samantha Robbins," Nick instructed. The officer complied,

escorting Connelly from the house.

"Nick?" Tracy repeated, "What do you think you've got?'

"The sink is damp, as though someone had washed some dishes. But
there was no dish towels in sight. The damp rag, still dripping, was
crammed in a small space between the pipe and the wall. Why would
Robbins hide the dishrag if she were the one doing the dishes?"

"So, whoever used the rag hid it because..."

"Because they were afraid that the towel might still have her blood
on it."

"So whoever used the towel cleaned the knife here?"

"And, Tracy, how many murderers do you know stop to clean the knife
before they exit the scene?"

"Not many. So you think Connelly killed his girlfriend?"

"I think Connelly may well have."

Nicholas called to two other officers standing in the hallway.

"I want you to carefully bag up every knife you can find in this
place. I have a feeling one of them is still going to have traces of

"You've got it," the elder cop replied.


Natalie clicked the remote for the shades just as the sun appeared
over the top of the surrounding buildings. She rolled her
shoulders, trying to relieve the tension she carried in the aftermath
of a long and grueling shift at the morgue.

"So, Connelly is the murderer?" she asked, turning toward Nick as
she tossed the remote on the endtable.

"It's beginning to look that way," Nick confirmed, lighting the
fireplace. "I wish I had a confession, but the circumstantial
evidence is beginning to mount up. We were able to match Robbins'
blood to the dish towel and to the knife, and, thanks to you, we were
able to locate hospital and police records that put Connelly in
Robbin's life long over the year he claimed. It appears that this
last may well have been just one more incident in a long pattern of
abuse. I suspect that he stabbed her just for effect after she died,
to make it look more convincing."

"Which means, in the meantime, Connelly watched Robbins suffocate,"
Natalie said with a shudder.

"Try not to dwell on that, Natalie," Nick said as he crossed to where
she stood. Standing behind her, he began to gently message her
shoulders, kneading the tension he knew she always stored there.

"I'll give you a half hour to stop that ," Natalie said in a silken

"I may take you up on that offer," Nick said with a soft laugh,
nuzzling her ear. He embraced her tightly, her arms folding across
his as he planted a soft kiss in the hollow of her shoulder. "But
perhaps first we should decide where we are going on this vacation of

Natalie spun to face Nicholas, the surprise evident on her face.

"Did you say *our* vacation?" she demanded.

A broad grin spread across Nick's face as he nodded.

"I booked off for the week," he replied.

Natalie squealed and threw her arms around Nick's neck, embracing him
tightly. Nick's grin widened as Natalie sprung back away from him.

"I wanted to surprise you," he said simply.

"Well, you've certainly done that!" Natalie sputtered, reaching for

"So, where shall we go?" Nicholas said throwing himself down onto the
couch and picking up the stack of brochures Natalie had been pouring
over the last few weeks. Natalie joined him on the couch, one elbow
on his shoulder as she leaned to look over the pamphlets.

"Baha, Tahiti, the Keys, Cancun," Nicholas ticked off the exotic
locations as he shuffled through the literature.

"Actually, if you are coming with me," Natalie began as she reached
across Nick for one brochure tucked partway under the lamp, "perhaps
this is the better choice."

Settling back into her seat, Nat handed Nick the last brochure.

"Alaska?" he said, eyeing Nat suspiciously.

"Alaska," Natalie confirmed.

"But I thought you wanted to go somewhere warm," Nick said in

"If I were going by myself, I would want to go somewhere warm,"
Natalie confirmed. "But if *we* are going on vacation together, I
think we should go someplace *dark.* This time of year in Alaska,
the days are *very* short, I'm told."

Nicholas touched Natalie's cheek with one hand, his thumb caressing
her cheekbone.

"Are you certain you want to do this?" he asked, searching her face.

"If you are really willing to come with me, then I'm sure," Natalie
assured him.

Nick slid his hand to cup the back of Natalie's head and pulled her
forward into a long, gentle kiss. Placing a hand on his chest for
balance, Natalie pulled back as Nick released her. Nicholas reached
behind her and removed the stay from her hair, flinging the clip
behind the couch as he fluffed out the auburn curls. Natalie
struggled for composure.

"Don't you think we'd better call the airport? We need to book a
flight. Not to mention the fact that we both need to pack a
suitcase," Natalie said, attempting to make her voice sound casually

"Later," Nick replied, burying one hand in her hair as he left a
trail of small kisses along her jawline.

"I suppose it *could* wait..." Natalie's voice trailed off
eloquently as Nick's mouth moved toward her neck.

A sheaf of brightly-colored travel brochures slid to the floor as
Nicholas rose to one knee. Looking down, they both smiled to see the

brochure on Alaska settled on the top of the stack.

"Alaska it is," Nicholas said with a decidedly evil grin. He turned
toward Natalie, grabbing her waist and pulling her tightly to him.
"But, first,..."

The End.