Wednesday: March 7, 2029
6:00 AM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, MASTER BEDROOM
Bo attempted to disentangle himself from Jensen’s long limbs as his alarm went off. Unsuccessful, Jensen cracked open an eye and reached past Bo, tapping the snooze button. “Thank you,” Bo murmured.
“Mmhmm.” Jensen closed his eyes, snuggling into his pillow as he wrapped an arm around Bo’s waist. “How are you?” he asked.
“I’m okay.” Bo cleared his throat, reaching up to push Jensen’s dark hair away from his forehead. “And… how are you?”
One corner of Jensen’s mouth lifted. “I’m great, babe.” He opened both eyes, green eyes settling on Bo’s face. “Wanna take a shower?”
“So you aren’t supposed to be up for at least another hour.”
Jensen chuckled. “I can wake up early sometimes, you know,” he reminded. “Thoughts?”
Bo swallowed, brushing a thumb over Jensen’s cheek. “I, uh, I still don’t want you to look at my thigh.”
“Deal,” Jensen said quietly. He pressed a kiss to Bo’s forehead before pushing himself away from the blonde. “I’ll, uh, I’ll see about the computer and phone today, okay?”
“Okay. Thanks, Jens. Again.”
“Sure thing, baby.” Jensen tapped a hand to Bo’s hip. “Come on.”
7:15 AM; UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, UNKNOWN LOCATION
The hooded person lowered themself into their computer chair, a tablet in one hand, a cup of coffee in the other. They set the mug on their desk, resting the tablet on their lap. They swiveled their chair back toward the desk, reaching out to shake their computer mouse. As their computer screen came back to life, they reached out and tapped a finger to the refresh key on their keyboard.
The news story on the screen reloads, an image quickly appearing just below the title.
JUMPER IN CLINSTONE, MINNESOTA
They closed their eyes briefly, shaking their head. It was amazing to them how the media never seemed to care how an article would make the family feel about their loved one.
Not that they were really able to talk about moral or what was right, what wasn’t. They were the reason the girl had killed herself, after all. It had taken months of torturing her with reminders of what she’d done to that innocent young boy, of what she’d done and passed on every consequence she could have possibly received.
She had walked away from the trial without anything! Not even a slap on the wrist! She had just walked free!
They hadn’t liked that, and they had done what they could to ignore the woman’s blatant ignorance of the law and guilt and everything else that had made her stupid, but they simply hadn’t been able to get over it. And so they had set out to make her realize her guilt, make her realize her mistake, make her realize what the hell she’d done and why she deserved prison time, why she deserved time to reflect on the monster that she truly was.
To their credit, they hadn’t been trying to make her kill herself. It hadn’t been their goal. They had wanted her to admit she was guilty, admit she had killed that boy. She wouldn’t have been able to be retried thanks to double jeopardy, but they didn’t care about that. They just wanted the world to get confirmation for what they already knew:
Martha Fraser was a child killer.
Now she was dead.
They didn’t quite know how to feel about her being dead. It was, for all intents and purposes, blood on their hands. But if they had to be entirely honest, they didn’t care. Martha Fraser was a monster. She had murdered a child when she shot a person that hadn’t even pointed the ‘gun’ at her.
Her trigger finger had taken a child away from his parents.
They didn’t like that, and although they had wanted Martha Fraser to suffer some kind of worser fate, she was still dead, and they considered that… something, if nothing else.
9:52 AM; LOS ANGELES POLICE STATION, POLICE CHIEF JAMAL PITMAN’S OFFICE
Jamal stood behind his desk, his phone pinned between his shoulder and ear, an open folder in his hands. “What can I do for you, Taylor?” he asked.
“This case in Clinstone,” Jensen said.
“What about it?”
“Bo wants her laptop and computer,” Jensen said.
“Because he doesn’t believe it’s a simple jumper?” Jamal questioned.
“He’s not totally sure, and neither am I. Facts line up… too nicely for her, and Bo doesn’t like that. At this point, I’m more or less on his side,” Jensen explained.
Jamal nodded once, flipping a page in the file. “And, let me guess. You promised you’d get them for him, but you can’t bring yourself to talk to the broken family.”
“Something like that, yeah.”
“So you want me to do it instead.”
“If you’d be so kind.”
Jamal grunted. He leaned down, setting the folder on his desk. “I’ll do it. Just not today, I don’t think.”
“Busy?” Jensen asked.
“Very much so,” Jamal said plainly. He clicked the end of a pen and signed his name on one of the many documents inside the folder.
“And you still answered my call after the first damn ring?” Jensen asked.
“You’re my boy’s husband. Answering when you call is my damn job, Jensen,” Jamal said. He signed a second paper and closed the folder, handing it over to Dallas, who nodded his thanks before leaving the office. “Between preparing to have Bo take over for me at the station, on the darker side of things, and running my station and my usual shit, I have a lot on my hands. But I’m still coming out to Clinstone on the tenth. Can it wait until then?”
“I, uh, I’ll ask Bo. Okay?” Jensen asked.
“Of course, Jensen. I’ll be here when you’re back,” Jamal said. He lifted his eyes to Venetia Lucchese’s face, snatching the folder he held out to her. “You go talk to the lab geek. I’ll keep the line open for you.”
“God, you’re a lifesaver, thank you,” Jensen said quickly.
Jamal waited a moment before grabbing his phone so he could stretch out his neck. “What’re you bringing in now?” he asked.
Venetia glanced up at the ceiling for a moment before clearing her throat. “Sex slaves.”
“I’m not authorizing that.”
She held out a hand before he could toss the folder back at her. “It’s a ploy, Pitman. We buy them, save them from the real torture, use them to bait more of the disgusting people that buy them, kill off said disgusting people for… quite a large sum of money, and then the men and women are free to live their life however the hell they want to.”
Jamal stared at her for a moment before opening the folder. His eyes skimmed the information before him. He offered a terse nod. “Granted. I’ll keep my cops away from the area.” He tapped his fingers against the folder. “I want the names of every person you’re pretending to sell.”
“Because after you’re done with them, I’m setting them up in safe housing with bodyguards for the first year of their lives back in the real world,” Jamal said.
“And here I thought you were the devil,” Venetia said.
Jamal smiled, cocking his head to the side. “Oh, darling. Even the devil must make a deal or two to pull in the favors he needs to run his empire.”
She shook her head, pushing herself to her feet. “I worry about your little blonde, Jamal.”
“He isn’t going to be me, if that’s what you’re concerned about.”
Again, she shook her head. “No, just worried he’s got some damn violent shoes to fill, that’s all. And you better hope he steps up to that plate, Pitman. Won’t last long if he doesn’t.”
Jamal offered a smile as he laid a hand on his desk. “Venetia, you don’t know my boy like I do. If you ever suggest that my boy will be killed once I’m dead again, I’ll sic both of the Horror Twins on you, and I’ll combat whatever storm rains down upon me afterward.”
She scoffed. “The twins wouldn’t hurt me.”
“They would. I snap my fingers, and their loyalty falls immediately on me, not you. Don’t test me, Venetia. I loved your father, and I loved your grandfather, but if you ever pose a threat to my boy, you’re dead.” Jamal smiled a dark little smile that made her blood run cold. “What is it the boys like to say, hmm? Off with her head?”
Venetia Lucchese had only been fearful of one man in her entire life, and the bastard was standing right in front of her, head cocked off to the side, the darkest smile on his face. “They wouldn’t.”
“Carmine would kill you,” she whispered.
Jamal chuckled, his head bowed. He shook his head. “And I’d say good luck,” he said. He pressed his phone back to his ear. “Run along, Venetia. As long as you don’t threaten my boy, your pretty little head remains on your neck, and everyone lives happily ever after.” He lifted his hand, waving his fingers. “Goodbye, darling.”
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