To those driving along William J Day Boulevard, looking outwards into Dorchester Bay and into the ocean beyond it appeared to be a just a regular day. The early morning sun was steadily rising, taking the chill out of the air and drying the pale sand of the beach left wet by the retreating tide. A gentle on shore breeze pushed small tufted waves onto the growing shoreline, creating the signature calming sound of being close to the sea. Joggers, walkers and dog owners, over watched by sea birds above claimed sections of the beach to carry out their respective morning ritual. Taking in the clean air and cleansing their souls for the day ahead, the start of Tuesday was just as it should be.
Utopia, however doesn't exist. Through the rhythmic sound of waves spilling onto the beach, a dog's bark, persistent and clipped, signalled a come and see what l've found message to its owner. Expecting to see crabs clinging to the iron and wooden structure of the beach groyne trying to escape the inquisitive nature of a playful dog, a body of a woman lying face down in the shallow, foamy water greeted the owner instead.
As they drove past Joe Moakley Park, Jane was the first to break the silence. She was tired, hadn't had enough coffee to kick start her brain and it was early. Maura, perfectly put together despite the early morning call and half an hour to get ready simply indulged Jane's mood, enjoying the ride out to the coast.
"It just isn't fair."
The open question was enough to draw Maura in. "What exactly are you referring to Jane?"
"The only time we get close to the batting parks is when we're on a case. They're now nine ballparks in that park alone and I'm heading off to the beach." Referring to the huge recreation area that also included Saunder's Stadium, Jane's observation was duly noted by Maura. If they were free the coming weekend, she would be happy to drive out from the city to visit.
"Jane, we've been called to a scene and you make it sound as if you're on vacation."
Suitably chastised, Jane simply looked out of the window mentally promising to head back out at some time soon and get some fresh air. Just when that would be she tried not to dwell on. She also promised not to fall asleep on Maura's couch again as her back was just a contorted mess of bone and muscle right now.
Pulling into the beach parking lot that had been taken over by multiple cop cruisers and forensic unit vans, they were guided into a space that had been reserved for the Medical Examiner specifically. Opening the trunk of her car, Maura pulled out a set of yellow Hunter wellies and proceeded to swap her heels for the classy waterproof boot.
On cue, Jane was quick with her mouth. "Did you purposely put on your yellow blazer today so you could wear those?"
"Not specifically no, but yellow just happens to be a very versatile colour when it comes to wardrobe co-ordination."
"Is that so...and what do you propose will go with this extremely versatile suit of mine Dr Isles?"
Maura was polite enough not to pass comment, but nonetheless took pleasure at seeing Jane's surprise at a black pair of Hunters being pulled from the trunk. "Are those in my size?" she asked timidly when they were presented to her.
"Detective Rizzoli, when you leave your work boots strewn across the floor as much as you do, you tend to notice things such as the size. Plus, I always have these in the car for emergencies and today I rest my case."
Stunned at the thoughtfulness and forward planning of her friend, Jane resolved to be on her best behaviour for the rest of the day. Picking up Maura's black medical case from the trunk and passing it to its rightful owner, Jane flashed a genuine smile towards the ME, gently squeezing her arm to say thanks. Locking the car they turned in unison, game face on and headed out towards the melee which marked the location of the body.
In the last ten metres to where the body of the deceased lay, Jane took in an extra deep breath and steeled herself for the moment when death presented itself in its full glory. No matter how many bodies she had seen over the years, seeing them for the first time always made an impact. In a way, she likened herself to Maura in that finding the murderer was just as much a puzzle as that of determining the cause of death, except Jane preferred to be less hands on with that particular aspect of the evidence.
Maura went into full business mode as she cut a swathe through the gathered uniforms and other forensic techs. Pulling gloves onto her hands, she took a moment to observe the position of the body before asking for it to be rolled over onto its back.
Jane joined Frost who had arrived before them and quietly whispered into his ear. "You ok with this?"
"As long as I have the breeze in my face and the lady down there has her face intact I think I'll be ok."
"Just take a casual walk across to the bystanders if you think you're gonna throw, and ask them some questions about who this could be. Find out if anyone has reported someone as missing."
"Thanks Jane. You'd think that I'd be used to this by now."
"Don't sweat it, we all have our thing." Jane returned her attention back to Maura at the point the body was rolled.
Long matted hair was gently moved off the face by Maura revealing a waxy pallor, made all the more prominent by purple swollen lips. A nasty gash stretched from the corner of her left eye up towards her temple, the jagged skin of the open wound already going pulpy. Her eyes were closed, which Maura was thankful for, as this would have protected them from scavenger activity and would allow her to test the potassium level of the vitreous fluid. That would at least help to place a time of death for the victim. Her initial assessment was broken by Frost's statement.
"Well it looks as if we have the cause of death. That was some knock to the head."
Jane rolled her eyes at her partner's naivety and jumped in before Maura took the opportunity to give a full explanation of all possible scenarios that could have befallen this woman.
"Frost until Dr. Isles takes the deceased to the morgue we cannot be sure about that. Indeed, whether this represents either a pre or post mortem event. She hasn't been in the water that long, so that will help the ME to determine that."
"How do you that she hasn't been in the water that long?"
From the corner of her eye Jane could see that Maura was once again happy to interject. With a gentle signal from her hand, Jane motioned to Maura that she had this.
"A couple of things tell us that. Firstly, this is a reasonably popular place and she would have been spotted yesterday. Even if she had entered the water elsewhere and got snagged here, which is unlikely as her foot is jammed hard under the rock there and looks as if it has broken under a fall, there is little bloating and she hasn't started to change colour yet."
Maura was fascinated by the exchange and stood to hear Jane's prognosis. She was also slightly perturbed at Frost's shift in demeanour at the mention of a change in colour, as he himself was looking slightly green around the gills.
"A body tends to have to be in the water for around a week before it starts to show signs of decomposition and that is when it moves from ashen white to a greenish black once the fatty acids have become inactive."
Maura impressed with Jane's accurate delivery couldn't help interrupting. "It is then depending on the temperature of the water that will determine the point at which the phalanges of the hands and feet disconnect from the skeleton and..."
Her brief insight into cadaver decomposition in a water environment was interrupted with Frost breaking free from the group to go and retch into the surf behind them.
"Oh, I was just getting to the part where the skull detaches which is indicative of..."
Her delivery was once again interrupted, but this time with a gentle nudge to the ribs and quiet mutter from Jane. "Maura, enough or you'll have us all joining Frost."
"Oh. Too much. Well, I just took your cue Jane as you were remarkably on point with your assessment."
"Compliments of the job, you tend to see things repeat themselves." Lowering her voice again and moving closer to Maura's ear. "I do actually listen to what you say when we're at a crime scene or in a lab."
Filled with pride, Maura smiled her eyes connecting with Jane's and the two were lost momentarily in their own private bubble. Not wanting to miss out on the opportunity to tease the ME, Jane delivered her sucker punch out of the corner of her mouth, careful so that no one could hear the playful exchange between them. "Plus, I may have read one of those medical journals you have in the office."
Maura was unable to admonish Jane as a young woman broke through the gathered crowd, her declaration attracting pinpointed attention.
"Oh, my god it's her. It's really her."
In an attempt of a reputation regain, Frost had doubled up the beach to intercept the woman who was making a beeline for the body.
"Ma'am, please come this way. You cannot get closer. Let's just take a moment."
Pulling her away from the crowd and turning her away from the body, Frost attempted to keep the visibly agitated woman calm. Clearly in shock, she sat down hard on the sand, resting her head in her hands.
"May I ask you your name and who you think the deceased is?"
Taking a moment to wipe her nose and clear the tears from her eyes the woman took in a deep breath.
"I'm Lucy Daniels. I'm an art student and Kate Hoskins, who is laid over there, is my mentor helping out with some projects."
"Ok and what makes you think that it is Kate over there?"
"Well, the purple pants for one, the length of her hair, and the tattoo of the dolphin on her foot. That is all her."
Jane, had been careful not to interrupt the initial dialogue between Lucy and Frost, but now felt it time to join in the conversation.
Stepping from her position that had shielded her presence, she joined the pair, squatting down so not to tower above the only lead they had right now.
Before the detective had time to introduce herself, Lucy sat bolt upright and looked intently at the woman in front of her.
"Are you, Jane Rizzoli?" she asked tentatively.
"Yes." The response was guarded. "Have we met before as you don't look familiar?" The cogs were whirring inside her head, but she couldn't place either the name or face. Her senses went to high alert. This didn't feel right.
"You don't recognise her do you?" Lucy's eyes drifted towards where the body still lay.
"No. Should I?" Both Frost and Maura looked at Jane inquisitively. Her brusque response didn't indicate where this was leading to her demeanour was becoming more defensive by the second. Standing up in an attempt to gain some sense of control and authority, she addressed the young woman more forcibly. "Who is that woman and under what circumstances do you believe our paths crossed?"
There was almost a look of disappointment wash over Lucy's face. "You may well have known her by her maiden name, Kate Peterson. I believe that you were best friends during your time at the Boston Police Academy."
Jane's head whipped across to where the body lay and took a few steps to get a closer look. Looking past the bedraggled hair and the discoloured skin she instead focused on the build of the woman and searched her memory bank for a connection. The realisation hit her like a freighter truck. Inside her head a thousand thoughts raced each other. She did indeed know, or rather had known this woman. Although it had been almost 20 years, memories flooded her mind.
"Sweet Jesus." Pinching the bridge of her nose, those were the only words that she could muster. For the first time that day, it was Jane's turn to feel sick.