Hacker – Chapter Fourteen

NOT EDITED

Chapter Fourteen

Tuesday: March 13, 2029
6:05 AM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, KITCHEN

Bo pressed his phone to his ear, closing his eyes as he leaned back against the counter, one arm crossed over his chest.

After the first ring, Jamal greeted him with, “If you need to talk, I’m going to have to hand the phone over to Frank.”

“Are you okay?”

“I’m just fine, kiddo,” Jamal assured.

Bo’s brow furrowed. It sounded like Jamal was talking through his teeth. “Are you sure?”

“Oh, yeah. Just been a long morning already.” Jamal chuckled. “Would you like to talk to Frank? Or do you need a favor?”

“I need a favor.”

“Call Mekhi.”

“Mekhi’s… I’m not in charge of him.”

“You are, Bo. You’re his boss,” Jamal said. “You gotta wrap your mind around that one before you take over for me.”

“Okay.” Bo cleared his throat. “You’re sure?”

“I’m fine, kiddo. You worry about yourself, okay?”

“Okay.”

“You take care. I’ll talk to you in a bit, all right?”

“Okay, Jamal.” Bo hesitated a moment before ending the call. He scrolled through his contact list and clicked Mekhi’s name. Swallowing, he tapped the green call button and pressed his phone to his ear once more.

“Mister Austen-Taylor. How are you this morning?”

“I’m okay,” Bo assured. “Umm… you?”

“Oh, I’m just fine, Mister Austen. Thank you.” A pause. “What can I for you?” Mekhi asked.

“I, uh, I need a favor, I suppose.”

“Of course. What’s up?”

“Dominic Wilkinson,” Bo said. “He was charged for the Werewolf murders, as well as the assault of another woman, but he got out on a not guilty verdict.”

“I’m familiar. What about him?” Mekhi asked. “Do you want him dead?”

Bo snorted. Mekhi had clearly spent far too much time around Jamal. “No, no. I, uh, I’d just like you to trail him, find out what he’s up to.”

“Worried he’s killing people, then?”

“Mm… stalking. Or, at least, I’m worried he’s out touching people to find out where he can kill them easily,” Bo said.

“Right. Psychic Werewolf.” Mekhi chuckled before clearing his throat. “When would you like me to call you with an update?”

“When do you think you’ll be in Los Angeles?”

“Oh, about half an hour or so.”

Bo’s brow furrowed. As far as Bo knew, Mekhi spent most of his time in San Diego or San Francisco. “Why?”

“Overlapping missions,” Mekhi said simply.

“Mm.” Bo lifted a hand, scratching the side of his head. “Noon?”

“Right at noon, then?”

“I, uh—It doesn’t bother me. Just sometime around noon,” Bo said.

Mekhi snorted. “Right at noon, then, sir,” he said. “I’ll keep an eye on him and get back to you in a few hours. You enjoy your day, Mister Austen.”

Bo set his phone on the counter after Mekhi ended the call. He crossed his arms over his chest, eyes on the floor. Jamal sounded off and Mekhi just so happened to have a mission in Los Angeles, a mission he could push aside long enough to track Dominic Wilkinson for a few hours without complaint. What the hell were they keeping him out of?

He lifted his head as Jensen walked into the kitchen. The younger man offered a soft smile. “Morning.”

“Good morning. What’re you doing up?” Bo asked.

“You weren’t in bed. I get worried,” Jensen said. He crossed the room, wrapping his arms around Bo’s waist.

“I’m okay,” Bo said softly, combing his fingers through Jensen’s hair as he dropped his head to Bo’s shoulder. “I can, umm, I can come back and lie with you for another forty minutes or so? Then I’ll have to start breakfast.”

“Forty? Yeah, I’ll take it.” Jensen pressed a kiss to Bo’s neck and took a step back, holding out a hand. Bo grabbed his husband’s hand, snagging his phone from the counter before following Jensen out of the kitchen.

12:00 PM; CLINSTONE POLICE DEPARTMENT, LAB

Bo looked away from Martha Fraser’s laptop as his phone rang, cutting off his music. He reached up and tapped the call button the wire that connected to the right earphone, accepting the call. “Mekhi,” he greeted.

“Mister Austen, hello. So, before I drop any details, may I ask a question?”

“Of course.”

“How, exactly, do Mister Wilkinson’s… abilities work?”

“I never got an exact answer from him. As far as I was ever able to deduce, he can see the person’s past and memories by touching them. Skin-to-skin contact. I believe that’s how he picked up on their rituals,” Bo said.

“Mind stalking. Heh, the more you know. Anyway, Mister Wilkinson was out and about with his little short friend. Mister Lawrence?”

“Yeah.”

“Right, then. Well, Wilkinson was wearing gloves every single time I saw him outside. Gloves and a long-sleeved shirt.”

“So no one could touch him,” Bo said quietly.

“Yeah, not without effort, anyway.” Mekhi cleared his throat. “Mister Austen, sir, I do believe there’s a great chance those two either have a very odd father-son relationship, or they’re dating.”

Bo stiffened. “Why would you say that?”

“Well, they were holding hands most of the day. It’s entirely possible Wilkinson is taking care of him like a brother or other family member might, but I… quite honestly don’t believe that’s it.”

“Oh.”

“I can keep tracking them, sir?”

“No, that’s fine. No need to waste anymore of your time entertaining the thoughts of a crazy man.”

“You aren’t crazy, Mister Austen. There’s nothing insane about worrying that a murderer is going to murder more people,” Mekhi said. “I can do whatever you’d like. I can keep following him and the short one, or I can call it a day and head on out. It’s up to you.”

Bo scrubbed both hands over his face, pushing his fingers into his hair. “Call it a day. You have other shit to do.”

“You’re positive, sir?”

“Yes. Thank you.”

“Of course, Mister Austen. Take care.”

“You, too, Mekhi.” Bo ended the call, dropping his elbows to the table, his hands locked in front of his mouth. Dominic Wilkinson was dating a man. He was in a relationship. Did that put Ashton in danger? Probably, most likely. Killers weren’t always shy about murdering their lovers. What would stop Dominic from doing the same to Ashton?

“Nothing,” Bo said quietly. Maybe part of his spring break in Los Angeles would need to be spent with Ashton Lawrence. Maybe letting the man know exactly what he was getting himself into would be of some productive use.

Maybe.


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