Explanations: Chapter 9

Chapter 9's here! It'll mostly be a filler to elaborate on the case… I think that's important. I'll try my best to put in some humour. And warning! Some language is expected.

The SUV pulled up alongside the outside of the hotel that Thomas Clayton worked at.

Nick exited the SUV after Sara. "Somehow, I've never pictured him to be a receptionist at a hotel. "

"Things aren't always as they seem."

The pair entered the building. It wasn't a very big hotel, but it was definitely well-decorated for a fairly medium-sized one. Whoever was the owner was definitely a devoted person, Sara thought, as she glanced at the numerous potted plants and paintings sprinkled around the main lobby area. Several people were lining up at the receptionists'.

"That's him," Sara pointed out.

Thomas Clayton was seated behind a counter, and was attending to a Hispanic man.

Nick and Sara approached Thomas Clayton's counter immediately after the man had left, earning dirty looks from some of the people in line.

"Excuse me, but you'd have to get in line," Thomas said without looking up from the computer screen.

"I think this is a good enough all-access pass," Nick said, showing him his police badge.

He looked up, and a look of surprise and shock crossed his face.

"We'd like to talk to your boss, actually."

"My boss? He's in the office."

Nick and Sara pushed open the door to the boss' office. He was seated behind a desk, wearing a navy-blue suit. 'Derek Sturgeon' was written on the plague sitting atop of the desk.

"Mr. Sturgeon, we're from the LVPD," Sara introduced, as the manager looked up at them, slightly puzzled.

"Ah, I see," he replied. "How can I help you?"

"We're investigating a homicide," Nick continued. "The victim is the partner of one of your employees, Thomas Clayton."

"Yes. I've heard it from the other employees."

"We wanted to know if Thomas Clayton took any unpaid leaves within the past week."

"Well, he did last Tuesday and Wednesday off. The twelfth and thirteenth, if I'm not wrong."

Sara exchanged looks with Nick. "That was the period of time when Erica's body was found," Sara said to Nick, out of earshot from Derek Sturgeon.

Nick turned back to Derek Sturgeon. "Did Thomas seem uneasy and out of sorts lately?"

"He did, actually. Seemed to be pretty upset over something. You might want to ask the other employees. They might know better."

"Alright, thanks for the cooperation, Mr. Sturgeon," Sara said, shaking his hand. "They would be helpful to us."

The pair exited the office. "I'll go ask the employees about Thomas, and you'll ask Thomas himself about the leave?" Nick suggested.

"Sure," Sara replied, and proceeded to have a talk with Thomas Clayton.

Nick approached the counters. There wasn't any queue, fortunately for him. He glanced backwards at Sara, who was speaking with Thomas Clayton already, then made his way to the counters.

"Anything you guys can tell me about Thomas Clayton?"

"Thomas? Well, other than the fact that he was pretty quiet, nothing much," a blonde receptionist said.

"He had a wife."

"And two kids, they were adorable."

"He used to have this sleek red car, but he sold it for some reason. Pity."

"He seemed really upset that day, though," one of them said. Nick turned to her, gesturing her to elaborate. "I think he saw his wife with another man."

Nick raised his eyebrows. Now this is interesting. Motive? "Any idea who?"

"No, but apparently, he's a little younger than his wife. I overheard Thomas cursing not-so-softly the other day."

"When was it?"

"Two weeks ago, I guess."

"Alright, thanks for the info," Nick answered, then looked over his shoulder at Sara, who gestured for him to go over. He replied with a nod.

A while ago:

Sara approached Thomas Clayton. He took unpaid leave for two days, and they happened to be the days when Erica Clayton died. That was definitely suspicious.

"Sorry for the wait, Mr. Clayton."

"Nah, it's okay."

"I've heard from your boss that you took two days of unpaid leave last week. Those two days happened to be the period when Erica's body was found. Where were you in those two days?"

"I was resting after I visited the police station," he replied simply. "I was at my other apartment in Brooklyn."

"Without your family?"

"I wanted to be alone."

"Where were your children?"

"At my parents'."

"Then, can anyone verify your whereabouts?"

"No," he answered. "Like I said, I was alone. Am I a suspect now?"

"Yes, you are," Sara replied, expressionless. "You have an alibi that doesn't seem to check out."

"The security guard may remember me, but he's getting a little old, so he might not."

Sara pursed her lips, and turned to look at Nick. He was talking to the receptionists. He looked up at that moment, and she mouthed at him to 'get over here'. Nick nodded, and came over to where she and Thomas Clayton stood. She pulled him away from Thomas Clayton.

"He says he was resting at an apartment."

"He does have one in Brooklyn. But get this: the others say he saw his wife with another man."

"That must have pissed him off," Sara stated, and they turned back to Thomas Clayton.

"According to your colleagues, you seemed pretty upset, and one overheard you talking about Erica with another guy," Nick said. "Mind telling us what that was about?"

Thomas Clayton seemed pretty calm at that. "Yeah… I saw Erica with another man... He volunteered at the shelter for some time."

"What made you that upset?"

"They seemed… pretty close."

"That must have angered you a lot. What did you do? Did you confront Erica?" Sara asked.

"Of course I did. It had been going on for a while already. I couldn't take it anymore when he actually dropped her off at our house."

"Did you hit Erica?"

"No," he answered.

Sara furrowed her brows. "Then why are your fists bruised?"

He immediately hid his hands in his pockets. "I was at the gym."

"You had assault charges."

"That doesn't mean anything."

"You hit her."

"I didn't say I did. Plus, there isn't any evidence, is there?"

And then he smiled.

Sara gritted her teeth, which alerted Nick, and grabbing her arm to try to calm her down, he told Thomas Clayton, "You'd better not leave town. We'll come back for you."

"Son of a bitch!"

Sara slammed her drink down on the bar top.

"Calm down, Sara," Nick tried to comfort her, but to no avail.

The two of them were seated in a bar they happened to find after their shift. They had returned to the police station, after the little talk with Thomas Clayton, to frantically find some evidence to convict him but their efforts were futile. Nick had no idea what to do as he watched Sara drive the Denali. He thought they were going to crash or something, seeing that Sara was so worked up. She insisted on driving though, and he couldn't stop her.

"It was so obvious that it was him!" Sara seethed. "He's got the motive, and he's got the bruised fists. Plus the car! He sold it the day Erica was murdered. Tell me, how is that not suspicious?"

"We couldn't retrieve the car anymore; it was already destroyed at the junk yard," Nick reminded her. "There just wasn't enough substantial evidence," Nick continued, trying to phrase his words properly so that Sara didn't get even more agitated. He knew what it meant to her. Thomas Clayton was a domestic abuser, just like how her father was. He knew how much she wanted to nab him.

Sara was already tipsy now, and yet she was still drinking. Nick took the glass away from her. "Cut down on the alcohol, you're still recovering from your food poisoning-"

She tried to snatch it back. "Oh, who the fuck cares?"

"Well, I do," Nick replied, and then downed the glass himself. Sara stared at him in disbelief, as he called for refills.

"Look, I want to catch him as much as you do, but drowning yourself in alcohol is not going to make it work. Plus, think of the hangover you'll get tomorrow. Honestly."

She started to retch again, and clasped a hand over her mouth. "Ugh… I don't care," Sara replied. "It just isn't fair."

"It usually ain't that way," Nick sighed as he stared into his refilled glass which was in his hands.

Eventually, more refills were had, and before they even realized it, it was already midnight.

Sara looked at her watch, after raising her head from the table, and managed to make out the time, 12:08a.m. "Oh… We have to go," she concluded, hitting Nick on the arm as he glanced at his own watch as well.

Murmuring a 'thanks' to the bartender, who watched them drink for two hours, Nick slapped the bill on the bar top, and then proceeded to get off the chair himself. The ground was pretty shaky, alright. He couldn't really think straight, but he was lucky he wasn't as drunk as Sara was. She was wasted.

"Whoa, watch your step there," he said groggily, as he helped Sara onto her feet while he struggled to do the same, and she slung an arm around his shoulder. They exited the bar, out onto the streets of Las Vegas, as the wind blew at them. Although it was midnight, some people would say: the night was still young. There were still a considerable number of cars driving along the street, and many shops and casinos were still open.

"So, where to?" she asked, smirking as she leant into him. "Yours or mine?"

Nick felt himself flush slightly, then tried to flag down a cab, avoiding Sara's gaze. "You need to go home."

"Huh… I'm guessing to mine then… You take a right from here, and then go straight…"

"Nah, we'll hail a cab," Nick answered as a cab came to a halt beside them. Hauling Sara into the cab with him, he gave the driver the address, and the cab drove off.

Yeah, this one is pretty long. (Plus, do the CSIs have badges? I'm not very sure about that.)

Alright, this story is finally moving forward. Will be working on chapter 10 soon! Please leave a review!