10:25 AM; CLINSTONE POLICE DEPARTMENT, LIEUTENANT JACOB MASON’S OFFICE
Jacob printed out a piece of paper and handed it over to Bo. “Here you go. Locations and names that correspond with each. I can get you whatever else you need, too,” he assured.
“Thank you, Jake,” Bo said quietly.
“The majority of the twenty-one are from Connecticut. Twenty-nine percent of them, if we’re rounding up, twenty-eight-point-five-seven if we’re not.”
Jacob smiled. That was the Bo Austen he knew. “Connecticut’s at the top, then Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine.” Bo’s eyes skimmed the paper before he nodded his own confirmation of the list. “So, you’ve got your max in little ol’ CT. What’s the plan now?”
“I think I’ll focus on the addresses there first. Only three of the six addresses are linked to a household, it appears. One is a coffee shop, one’s a Target, and another is a fast food place I’m unfamiliar with, yes?”
“So I’ll start with the places of business and cross reference a list of users from the days the emails were sent to the names of the people in each of the households. Can you get me the names of the other members from these households? Or do you only have the names to those paying the bills?”
“Whatever you need,” Jacob said simply. Bo leaned back in his chair as Jacob moved to type something in on the computer. “Can I ask something?”
“Might as well.”
“Are you planning on tell Jensen?”
“In person, yes. I don’t want to do it over the phone. I’m a coward, but not that much of one,” Bo said. “He’s going to tell me it’s okay, that it’s not my fault, that he’s glad I told him. But I’ll know none of it’s true. I know he’s worried that I’m going to be like this forever. I can see it on his face, in his eyes, can hear it in his voice. I know he thinks some of it’s my fault, some because I won’t take the drugs, some because I pushed it away for so damn long. He’s not glad I told him any of it. It hurts him, makes him think he’s not enough to combat everything that goes on in my head.”
Bo cleared his throat, crossing his arms over his chest. “I wish I didn’t have to tell him. It’s why I tried to keep the thigh secret. I didn’t want him to worry or feel like it was his fault or any of that. But with the wrist… I can’t keep that secret. It’s in plain sight. I’m good at hiding, but not that good.”
“It’s normal for him to think all of that, Bo. Even I blamed myself for the first one, and you were over a thousand miles away.”
“One thousand, three hundred and fifty-four,” Bo said before Jacob could continue.
The lieutenant nodded. “That’s right,” he said softly. “And this one? God, I couldn’t help but feel it was on me. I didn’t answer the phone. It’s always on, and I had it on silent for the first time in a long damn time. I can’t help but feel bad, wrong, guilty. It’s terrible, but it’s human,” he said. “And for Jensen and for me? It’s hard because we aren’t you. We don’t know what it’s like to suffer that immensely. We don’t know what it’s like to live inside your head. We don’t know, and we’re doing our best to keep you strong and alive and fighting without knowing how to do it best.” He let out a breath. “But we’re trying so damn hard, Bo. ‘Cause we care.”
“I know,” Bo whispered. “It’s… it’s always appreciated.”
“Yeah, brother, I know.” Jacob scratched at his beard, offering a smile. “I’m gonna fight for your sanity and mental safety until the day I die, Bo. Even after my kids send me away to a nursing home.”
Bo found himself chuckling. “I won’t let you go to a nursing home.”
“Aww, I knew you loved me.”
Usually, Bo would crack a joke about how he only loved Jacob sometimes or most of the time, but today, he wasn’t feeling it. Instead he said, “Of course I do.”
Even Jacob seemed surprised by the lack of a punchline. He nodded. “I know, brother.” He cleared his throat. “Let me get you these names, then,” he said quietly, sapphire blue eyes falling back to his computer.
12:00 PM; CLINSTONE POLICE DEPARTMENT, LIEUTENANT JACOB MASON’S OFFICE
“How would you like to go for a field trip?” Bo asked.
Jacob lifted his head. “What kind of field trip?”
“One to Sullivan. I have a name his prosecutor friends in Connecticut might like.”
“Oo, fuck yeah, let’s go.”
Bo smiled faintly, pushing himself to his feet. “I’ll go wait in the parking lot.”
Jacob fished his keys out of his pocket and tossed them to the blonde, more than surprised when he caught them. “We’ll take the cruiser. Papa can speed that way.”
Bo rolled his eyes. “Sure, whatever works for you, Papa.”
1:03 PM; STOKELY, SULLIVAN & MASON LAW FIRM, ADAM SULLIVAN’S OFFICE
Adam Sullivan lifted his head at the knock on his open office door. “Yeah?”
Bo leaned into the room, offering a smile. “Are you busy?”
Adam watched him for a moment before shaking his head. “No, come on in.” Bo walked into the office, stopping a foot or so in front of Adam’s desk. “What can I do for you?”
“You know the woman who died in Clinstone? The suicide?”
“Fraser?” Adam asked. Bo nodded. “Yeah, what about her?”
“She was harassed until she died. Erica Harris. Connecticut. She turned eighteen seven days before Miss Fraser jumped. In those seven days, more emails were sent, each one more strongly worded and more suggestive than the last.” Bo held out a folder. “I know you have contacts in Connecticut. I’d like her charged.”
“Involuntary manslaughter?” Adam questioned, eyes on Bo’s face rather than the outstretched folder.
“Hmm.” Adam grabbed the folder and leaned back in his chair. “Only a couple cases have gone through like this since the 2010s, Bo,” Adam said. “Do you think it’s really worth it? The woman did kill a boy.”
“Everyone deserves justice when something unjust has been done to them, Mister Sullivan. Miss Fraser deserves justice. Her family deserves justice,” Bo said. “Besides, the laws have been revamped. They’re stronger now, much more solid and well-constructed than they were, you know, nearly two decades ago. It’ll go through. I just need you to get to Connecticut.”
Adam fell silent as he read through the information in the folder. Eventually, he lifted his head to look at Bo. The blonde still stood in front of his desk, hands tucked behind his back. Adam realized now that one hand had been behind his back the entire time he’d been standing there. “Are you all right, Austen?”
Bo lifted his head. “Pardon?”
Bo nodded once. “Of course. Just excited to hand this over to someone else. I’ve done the leg work. I’ve done the hardest part. Now it’s time for her to be arrested and questioned and charged,” he said.
“Sure, Austen. I’ll handle it.”
Bo let out a sudden breath, a ghost of a smile coming to his tired face. “Thank you, Sullivan, really.”
Bo offered another grateful nod before turning and walking out of the room. He headed to Alice’s office and sat down in one of the chairs outside of it. The door was closed, and Bo knew that Jacob was still inside. He had ducked into Alice’s office only seconds after they had gotten to the firm.
Bo leaned his head back against the wall, closing his eyes. Jacob could take as much time as he wanted to. For the first time since he had caught wind of Martha Fraser’s suicide, Bo felt the vice grip around his chest loosen. It was still there, still ever present, but it had loosened, and he felt like he could finally breathe.
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