Chapter Title: Prologue: First Meetings, First Impressions

Author: Merrianna

Story Title: Tangled Web

Series: A Life I Might Have Known

Characters: Stella, Mac, Don, Danny, Aiden, Sheldon, Lindsay and Sid. Maybe Peyton.

Pairings: Mac/Stella

Rating: R

Summary: AU: Stella doesn't go the straight and narrow, but instead is working for the mob. Can Mac turn her around, or will he be brought down with her.

Setting: Alternate Universe

Spoiler: None

Category: Mystery, Romance and Humor

Note: This is an Alternate Universe.

Disclaimer: I don't in any way own the series CSI. Those are the sole property of Anthony E. Zuiker, Jerry Bruckheimer, CBS and Paramount Home Entertainment.

It really was the worst day of her life. Star hadn't thought it could get worse, but it had. First, there was a shooting in the hotel room she was in with a 'John'. Then, being the good Samaritan, she had called the authorities, but those same authorities had tracked 'her' down. 'Well, shit... happy thirty-seven fuckin' birthday, Star.'

"Hey, I want to know what I'm being charged with," the curly-haired woman inquired around a large piece of gum as she sat behind a table in an interview room.

A tall, blue-eyed detective gazed at her impassively as he sat across from her. "Who said that you were being charged with anything?"

The green-eyed woman snorted as she eyed the man. Star didn't believe that they had dragged her ass there because they wanted to make small talk.

In her experience, there were only three different types of cops: One were the dirty kind, happy to take bribes and work clandestinely with anyone who could pay; two were the ones that liked being able to push their weight around, getting off on the power trip; and three were the good cops, which were very few; a lot of them had died in the towers. She was good at picking out what kind of cop she was up against when she crossed paths with them. This guy, Detective Flack, was hard to read, but her gut was telling her he was one of the good ones; which could either be really good for her, or really bad... depending on why she was there.

Mac had briefly watched the woman from behind the observation window. She wasn't what he was expecting in a Mafia girl. He looked again over the file on Stella 'Star' Bonasera-Berlusano; she was the legitimate child of a Ramero Berlusano from his first wife, a Greek woman who had died mysteriously. Mr. Berlusano had remarried and had one male child then had died in a hit with his boss. Star had gone to a Catholic school where she had barely graduated. Instead of going to College, she stayed with the 'Family' in any capacity that they wanted to use her for. She did anything from bribe, take bets, run drugs to prostitution; the only thing that she hadn't done was kill for them. In all that time, she had been in prison only once. This woman was a career criminal who was very well connected. For some reason she just didn't fit with the supposed Mafia hit, but he was there to decipher the evidence and that evidence lead straight to her.

The blue-eyed investigator shifted his gaze back through the one-way mirror. He let out a breath that he hadn't known that he had been holding. It was a reaction he'd only had with his wife before she had died, and it was completely unwanted.

The door opened after a few minutes; a man in the typical dark suit, white shirt, and tie came in. He was carrying a file in one hand. His blue eyes were trained on her, taking in everything. It made her want to squirm in her seat; it was a sensation that she hadn't had since she'd been in Catholic school... but not entirely; she'd never had a sexual response to any of the priests or sisters like she was at that moment.

The man seemed to be able to see right through the facade that she had made for herself.

"Detective Mac Taylor... I'm with the NYPD Crime Lab." He sat down across from her, along with his fellow police officer.

Once again Star had the urge to squirm; it was ridiculous how this extremely stern man was making her wish she were back in front of Sister Agatha, and she absolutely loathed that woman. The sister's opinion was still set: that a wooden ruler was the best way to discipline a child.

"Has Detective Flack told you why you're here?" even the sound of his voice did something to her. Star wasn't certain if that was good or not.

Star leaned forward, resting her breasts against the table; this made her cleavage even more pronounced. It was a vain hope to distract the two men "No. Why don't you tell me?"

Mac's eyes never left her face, "You're being charged with murder."

Choking on her gum, Star's eyes widened, first in surprise then in frightened anger. "And just how did you come up with that?"

The man's face was a hard mask, even more unreadable then the other Detective's. "We came by that from finding your fingerprints and DNA in the hotel room." On the table he laid pictures of her fingerprints and panties.

"Okay... So the fingerprints are mine." She taped an enameled nail on the photo of the miniscule underwear, "How do you know those are mine?"

Mac's lips quirked slightly as he informed Star, "When you were in prison they did a DNA swab which is in the system."

Sitting back, Star crossed her arms and hoped they would take it to be a show of defiance, "All right, so I was there; that doesn't mean I killed him."

"If you didn't, who would? Can you explain how someone else could have gotten in?" Don inquired with a sneer.

Star sat silent; her right hand reaching for the necklace she wore; it wasn't an over-the-top piece of jewelry, just a small single tear drop diamond suspended from a fine, simple silver chain that usually hung just above the hollow between her breasts. "I don't know who or how someone came in. Maybe while I was in the shower he opened the door to someone. How would I know? I was in the goddamn bathroom when I heard the shots."

"It's funny that you heard gun shots when no one else on that floor heard any." Flack mused sarcastically.

Star glared at Don, "Look pretty boy, I was there doing a job okay. Me and what's his name..."

"Mr. Armando Grezano." Mac supplied.

Star's face was the picture of passionate displeasure, "Armando and I were there for a good time. He got a little high, I had too much to drink, and we rolled around in the bed sheets. He wasn't the greatest lay, but, hey, he wasn't so bad that I'd shoot him for it. After he fell asleep I went to take a shower; I don't like the smell of sex and marijuana."

"You're trying to tell us that all the two of you did was drink, smoke a joint and had sex?" Don asked with obvious disbelief.

Star's green eyes flashed with annoyance, "No, you idiot. I'm saying that he smoked, I drank and we had sex."

Mac's gaze took in everything about the irate woman before him. "That doesn't explain how someone else killed Mr. Grezano."

Shivering, Star knew how this was going to go down. No matter how much she protested, the evidence they found would put her back into jail, and it would be ten thousand times worst this time than before. Somehow she had known that even before she was picked up. The way Armando had been shot had been a professional hit. The police were meant to think she was the one who did it.

"I want to make a deal with the prosecutor." Star took a deep breath and let it out slowly, once again worrying her necklace. She'd make a deal with prosecution; she wasn't about to go to jail for a group of people that had barely tolerated her and now seemed to want her hung out to dry. She'd gone to jail for them once; she was absolutely not going to do it again.

A young, polished man and woman passed the detectives as they went into the interview room. The man had a shark-like smile on his face.

Don frowned, "So we're just going to hand her over to the prosecution?"

"That's how this one is working, Don. I don't like it any better than you. But she's got the information that they need." Mac scowled.

"It sucks. You know she'll be playing them just like she tried to play us, and we got her on murder." Don pointed a finger at the closed door.

Mac wasn't so sure of that; they had a huge amount of evidence against her, but it could be as she had stated: she'd been in the shower when the shots were fired. She had left, but only after she had called 9-1-1 to report the emergency. The man hadn't died in the hotel, but on his way to the hospital. In fact the EMT's had said that if it hadn't been for someone packing the wounds on Mr. Grezano, he would have been dead when they got there.

The door reopened after only a few minutes and the young prosecutor, his aid, and the woman walked out. Star's face was still pale, and she seemed to be a bit unsteady on her three-inch-heeled shoes.

Mac's gaze tracked the woman as she followed the prosecution down the hallway. Somehow, he knew that it wouldn't be the last time he'd be seeing her. In that moment he was illogically relieved with the thought.

TBC...