Tuesday: January 1, 2030
5:00 AM; LOS ANGELES, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, FOYER
Bo pulled open the front door, Pollux on his hip and a toothbrush in his mouth. His heart skipped a beat in his chest as his blue eyes settled on Jamal. The older man stood tall in, for the first time since Bo had met him, in a police uniform rather than a suit.
“Are you planning on gawking at me all day? Or can I come on in?” Jamal asked. Wordlessly, Bo stepped away from the door. “So, how’re you holding up, kiddo?”
“Pretty freaked out,” Bo mumbled. He handed Pollux over to Jamal. “Be back in sec?”
“Sure thing, Bo.”
Bo hurried back to the bathroom and finished brushing his teeth. “Jamal’s in our foyer in a damn uniform,” he said.
“For real?” Jensen asked, opening the shower door just enough to look at his husband.
“For real,” Bo echoed.
“That’s weird as shit.”
“It’s five in the morning, and he’s already ready to retire and leave me alone with this,” Bo said. “I’m panicking, Jens.”
“Hey, baby, it’s gonna be okay.” Jensen wiped a hand on the towel by the shower and held it out. “Come here.” Bo turned, grabbing Jensen’s outstretched hand. “Breathe. On deep breath in for me.” Bo drew in a long breath before slowly letting it back out. “I know you’re going into today thinking it’s gonna suck, but you’re gonna be okay.”
Bo stared at him for a moment before saying, “I’m going to be okay.”
“You’re gonna be fine.”
“I’m going to be fine.”
“You, Mister Austen, are more than capable of handling any situation the day may throw at you.”
Bo let out a breath, bringing Jensen’s hand to his lips. “I’m more than capable of handling any situation the day may throw at me.”
“Don’t worry about the day ahead. Don’t worry about what could happen or what might happen. Only focus on the right now. Only focus on what’s happening right now. Cross each bridge as it comes to you instead of worrying about it when it’s still ten miles away.” Jensen smiled, lifting his free hand to wipe water away from his eyes. “Everything’s gonna be fine.”
“Everything’s going to be fine.”
“You’re gonna be okay.”
“I’m going to be okay.”
“You’re gonna make it through the day and you’re gonna come out stronger than before,” Jensen said. “You’re gonna grow as a person today, Eli. Stronger, wiser, better. You’re gonna grow as a person today, tomorrow, and the day after. Aren’t you?”
Bo pressed a kiss to the back of Jensen’s hand before nodding. “I am.”
“There’s nothing to worry about,” Jensen said. “You’re safe. You… feel happy. You feel good about yourself.”
Bo closed his eyes, holding Jensen’s hand to his chest. “I feel good about myself,” he said.
“Damn right you do. You have no worries. Today’s a good day. You’re happy. You’re safe. You’re carefree.” Jensen wrapped his fingers around the material of Bo’s shirt. “You’re perfect just the way you are.”
“I’m perfect just the way I am,” Bo echoed.
“That’s right, baby. So perfect,” Jensen said softly. “You will not let the dark thoughts control you today. You will push them aside and show them who’s really the boss.”
Bo inhaled deeply, opening his eyes to meet his husband’s gaze once more. “I won’t let the dark thoughts control me today. I’ll push them aside and remind them that I’m the boss.”
“That’s good,” Jensen whispered. “You’re gonna be just fine, Eli. You just gotta remember to breathe and all that fun jazz.”
“Remember to breathe. Of course.” Bo leaned into the shower and kissed him. “Thank you.”
“Always a pleasure, baby. I’ll be out in a few, okay? I gotta shave.” Bo nodded, squeezing Jensen’s hand before heading into the family room, where he found Jamal and Frank with the twins.
“All calmed down?” Jamal questioned.
“More or less,” Bo confirmed.
“Good.” Jamal cleared his throat. “Come on. I’ll walk you through what’ll happen today. It’s been a while since I’ve been to one of these ceremonies, but it should be about the same.”
“When was the last time?”
Jamal smiled. “My ceremony.” He wrapped his arm around Bo’s shoulders. “July twenty-second, 2002.”
8:00 AM; LOS ANGELES POLICE STATION, ENTRY DOORS
“At this time, it is my honor to introduce to you today, the host of today’s ceremony, your mayor, Mayor Michelle Woolf.”
Bo watched the woman in question step up to the podium, quietly thank the officer who had introduced her. “Thank you for joining us for the time-honored tradition of a Change of Command Ceremony. This event is a public demonstration of the continuity of leadership, and it allows all of us to take time to recognize and reflect on the accomplishments of the West Los Angeles Community Police Department, as well as the accomplishments of the ingoing and outgoing Chiefs.
“I am proud to say that the find men and women of the West Los Angeles Community Police Department have worked relentlessly to combat crime in our community. Your pursuit of a safer community and city has brought about the most dramatic decrease in crime in Los Angeles’s history.
“Over time, this decrease has been made possible by putting more boots on the street and offering the best technology that we have to our officers. This technology allows our officers to do their job better, and these improvements allow our officers to focus strictly on safety for civilians.”
Michelle cleared her throat. “Just over twenty-seven years ago, Chief Pitman became the third African-American to be appointed Police Chief of the LAPD. Only a decade after the L.A. riots, the city was still in a pretty rough place. And while, in the past, Chief Williams and Chief Parks did their job to help study the department and the distrusting citizens, Chief Pitman stepped up his game and helped contribute to a much better community as well.
“For the past 20 years, Chief Pitman has been a rock for this community to stand on in order to better gain our footing in a time of need. He has been a guiding hand to this department and the officers within it. He has led this department with grace, directed his officers and detectives with the constant goal to better our community. Over the years, Chief Pitman has helped unite the community, businesses, schools, churches, and youth programs in the fight against crime.
“On behalf of the entire city of Los Angeles, I would like to thank you, Chief Pitman, for your leadership and your passion in keeping Los Angeles’s residents safe. Let’s give Mister Pitman the nice, loud round of applause he deserves as he approaches the podium.”
Jamal blew out a quick burst of air through his nose, patting Bo on the back before heading for the podium. The man remained silent until after the applause had died down. “Thank you,” he said simply. “Just over forty-eight years ago, in October of 1981, I packed up my things from New York and moved out to L.A. with the intention of becoming a police officer. Boy, I’m sure you can imagine how much that move pleased my daddy.”
Bo swallowed, one of the few people who didn’t offer at least some form of laughter. Jamal hadn’t shared much about his father, but he had mentioned a bad childhood. Bo could only imagine his father’s displeasure had nothing to do with becoming a police officer and everything to do with moving clear across the country to get away from him.
“My wife though, was rightfully pretty damn worried about it. But I made the same promise that I made to everyone and assured her that I wasn’t going anywhere, that I have a long, long life ahead of me. And with seventy-nine years on this earth, forty-eight of which were spent serving the best city in this great country, shows how great that promise was.
“Now, I’m sure that many of you have spent this last year or so wondering what the hell happened to make this old bastard retire, hmm?” Jamal asked. Bo snorted. “Well, the answer is that short little blonde behind me.” Bo straightened himself back out, hands tucked behind his back.
“You see, Los Angeles is like a baby to me. I’ve done my best to take damn good care of it, and in the twenty-seven years I’ve spent taking care of it, I’ve never found someone that I trust with my baby. I’ve never found someone who would continue to keep her safe, who would continue to keep as much of the crime contained as they possibly can. That is, until I met Bo Austen-Taylor.
“I knew from the start that his intelligence, his love for this town, his love for human life, his constant fight for justice for the people of this town would be what pushed me to retirement. I knew from the start that, when I retired, that little blonde could take over for me and keep this city up and running without any trouble at all.
“When I step down today and Mister Austen takes over, you will be in good hands, Los Angeles. He will fight for your safety. He will fight for your protection. He will fight for your justice. I’m certain of all of that.”
Jamal cleared his throat. “I’m happy I spent my life dedicated to this city and its people. I’m happy I came into this department and did my best to seek out constant improvement for the department and the people within it.” He smiled. “God bless you, God bless Los Angeles, and God bless the United States of America.”
To the sound of applause, Jamal took a step back, allowing Michelle to take the podium again.
“Proclamation, city of Los Angeles: whereas, since 1981, Jamal G Pitman has been a loyal city of Los Angeles employee and has carried out her duties with the highest tradition of public service, and, whereas, for forty-eight years, from patrol officer to chief, Jamal G Pitman has faithfully served the citizens of Los Angeles through his many assignments, including Patrol Division, Vice Division, and Homicide division, and whereas, on July twenty-second, 2002, Jamal G Pitman was appointed Chief of Police in the city of Los Angeles to oversee the day-to-day operations of the department and serve as Chief Council to the mayor in matters of public safety, and whereas, under Chief Pitman’s leadership, the West Los Angeles Police Department implemented new and innovative crime fighting strategies and engaged the entire community in the fight against crime, resulting in a drastic reduction in crime, and whereas, on the occasion of your retirement, the city of Los Angeles wishes to express its sincere gratitude for your loyalty and dedication to keeping the citizens of Orlando safe.
“Now, therefore, I, Michelle Woolf, Mayor of the City of Los Angeles, hereby proclaim grateful appreciation for your long and honorable record of faithful service with the city of Los Angeles and extend best wishes for good health and happiness.”
Bo, for the first time, noticed the flag an officer had been holding off the side. Now, as the people crowded around applauded, the flag was lifted, and the officer moved back to his position among the other men in blue.
Bo’s heart thudded in his chest, his eyes skimming the crowd before he found Jensen and the kids.
Michelle looked back at Jamal over her shoulder, holding up a badge. “I’ve got your retirement badge, Pitman. Sure I can’t bribe you into hanging around?”
Jamal snorted. “Positive, Mayor.” He grabbed the badge and wrapped the woman in a hug. Bo glanced up at the sky briefly. With every second, they were getting closer and closer to signing him in. Bo, the man who had been fitted for a police uniform that very morning. Bo, the man who spent his days photographing corpses with his flannel sleeves rolled to his elbows and a beanie tugged over his head.
Bo, the man who was only five-foot-eight and meant to be just the forensics guy.
He stiffened as a hand touched his back.
“It’s me,” jamal murmured. “Doing okay?” he asked, his voice low as the mayor went back to talking about crime and leadership.
“Panicking,” Bo said plainly. “Openly panicking. On the inside, but it’s an open inner panic.”
Jamal chuckled, squeezing the back to the blonde’s neck. “You’re gonna be just fine, kiddo. Promise.”
“I know that our new chief, Bo Austen-Taylor, will be a strong leader who will continue to aggressively fight crime and make our city safer. Chief Austen-Taylor also brings a unique combination of experience to this position. While we make history today by appointing the first forensic analyst to the position of chief, we do so in good faith of his abilities as a leader.
“Mister Austen-Taylor was personally mentored by our very own Chief Pitman, and the faith Chief Pitman has put into Mister Austen-Taylor and his abilities is encouraging. Mister Austen-Taylor has been the head innovator in the field of forensics for many years, and within the LAPD, he has gone out of his way to keep our solve rate in the ninetieth percentile for over a decade.”
Bo tuned her out for a moment. With the roaring of his own blood in his ears and the overzealous pounding in his chest, he didn’t have much of his choice. He drew in a deep breath, closing his eyes.
You’re going to be okay. You’re going to be fine. You can handle whatever the day may throw your way. You can do this. You’re good. You’re happy. You’re going to be okay.
“Let’s reflect on what this ceremony represents,” Michelle said. Her voice sounded distant to Bo, but he figured the fact that he could at least hear her again was a positive.
It nearly guaranteed that he wasn’t going to pass out. That was certainly a step in the right direction.
“The city of Los Angeles’s promise to its residents that they can depend on us and our officers not to fail in our commitment to keep our community safe.” A pause. “Chief Austen-Taylor? Will you join me?” Michelle asked, stepping away from the podium.
Lightly, Jamal pushed Bo a step forward as several uniformed officers led Jensen and the kids up to the raised platform they had been using like a stage.
Bo let out a breath, moving to stand in front of the mayor, highly briefly flicking down to the card she held in her hands. She smiled at him, and Bo did his best to return it without looking as nervous as he felt.
Jensen stood between the pair, about a foot behind them, a bible in his outstretched hands. Bo hated the idea of swearing on something he had never, and would never, believe in, but when the mayor asked him to lay his left hand on the bible and hold up his right, he did as told.
He could see the kids out of the corner of his eye, standing just beyond Jensen. In the slightest of ways, knowing they were there calmed him.
“I, state your name.”
“I, Bo Austen-Taylor,” Bo was, admittedly, more than surprised that his voice didn’t waver.
“Do solemnly swear.”
“…do you solemnly swear…”
“That I will support.”
“…that I will support…”
“Protect and defend.”
“…protect and defend…”
“The Constitution and government of the United States.”
“…the Constitution and government of the United States…”
“And of the State of California.”
Bo let out an inaudible breath. “…and of the State of California…”
“Against all enemies, domestic or foreign.”
“…against all enemies, domestic or foreign…”
“And that I will bear true faith, loyalty, and allegiance.”
“…and that I will bear true faith,” to my very sentient husband and children, “…loyalty, and allegiance…”
“To the same.”
“…to the same.”
“And that I will faithfully perform all duties of the office on which I am about to enter.”
“And that I will faithfully perform all duties of the office on which I am about to enter.”
“So help me God.”
“So help me God,” Bo repeated.
“Congratulations,” Michelle said, holding out a hand.
Bo flashed a smile, grabbing and shaking her hand. “Thank you, Mayor.” He pulled back, leaning over to kiss and hug Jensen.
The younger man squeezed him tightly. “You did so good, baby,” he whispered.
“Thank you,” Bo whispered back. He pulled back and hugged each of his children individually before heading to the podium. He tucked his hands behind his back, standing tall. “Good morning,” he greeted after a moment.
“I am… very humbled to stand here before you today as the new Police Chief of the West Los Angeles Police Department.
“But today isn’t only about me. Today is about celebrating the achievements and accomplishments of our outgoing chief, Mister Jamal Pitman,” Bo said. And then, like the good little blonde he was, he spent the rest of his speech talking out the great things his boss had accomplished before him.
9:00 AM; LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT, LOBBY
“You were so good, Daddy!” Kayla exclaimed, wrapping her arms around her father.
“Thanks, baby,” Bo whispered. He squeezed her tightly, only stepping back when Jamal touched his shoulder.
“I just wanted to check in before I left,” Jamal said quietly. Bo turned, wrapping the older man in a hug. Jamal chuckled. “Yeah, I love you, too,” he mumbled, a hand on the back of Bo’s head.
“Do you have to go?”
“Just for a while. You can still call me. I’ll be back to check on you in March,” Jamal said. “You’ll be okay, kiddo.” He stepped back, patting Bo’s cheek. “Frank’s back in my office.” A pause. “Your office. He’ll help you through it in the beginning.”
“Go on, kiddo. I’ll see you soon,” Jamal assured. He nodded toward Jensen. “Take care of my boy.”
Jamal nodded once, squatting down as he held out his arms. “Give Grandpa a hug.”
Jensen watched his children for a moment before grabbing Bo’s hand. “Come on. Let’s go see your office.”
The pair walked through the station in silence. At the closed door to Jamal’s office, Bo stared at the nameplate.
Chief of Police
With a deep breath in, Bo reached out and opened the door. Save for the desk and filing cabinets, the room was empty. Jamal’s files and boxes were gone. The picture frames that usually littered the desk and walls were gone.
Frank rose from a chair against the wall, smiling. “Welcome to the job, Chief.”
Bo swallowed. “Yeah,” he whispered. “Thanks.” He released Jensen’s hand as he stepped into the room, eyes scanning the empty walls.
“Go sit down, baby. See how it feels,” Jensen said, crossing his arms over his chest as he leaned against the doorframe.
Bo crossed the room, stopping behind the desk. He laid his hands on the arms of the chair and, slowly, lowered himself into it. He raked his hand through his hair and dropped his hands to his lap, scooching the chair forward.
“Well?” Jensen asked.
“I’m admittedly a bit out of my element, here,” Bo said.
“You’ll feel that way for a while,” Frank said.
Bo nodded, smoothing his hands over the desk. “I need… pictures,” he said quietly. “Remind me of that when we get home tonight?”
Jensen smiled. “Of course, baby.”
Bo pulled his knees to his chest, wrapping his arms around them. With a slight twist, he spun his chair around to look out the window.
This was his city. These were his… people. He was responsible for protecting them.
“Do you really think I can do this?” Bo asked.
“One hundred percent.” Bo turned at the sound of Dallas’s voice. The man stood in front of his desk, a broad smile on his face. “I’d like to be the first to walk on in here and congratulate you on the position as Chief.”
Dallas’s smile dimmed to his usual charm. “We’re very lucky to have you, Austen.”
Bo smiled. “Thanks, Dal,” he whispered.
Dallas nodded. “C’mon, Taylor. Let’s let your hubby adjust for a minute, all right?”
Jensen nodded. “I’ll be at my desk if you need me, Eli.”
“Okie dokie,” Bo murmured as the pair walked out of the room, closing the door behind them. Bo sat in silence, eyes on the empty desk.
“What’s the plan, Mister Austen?” Frank asked.
Bo’s eyes flickered up to the man’s face. “Fill me in on tonight’s interception of the gun run.”
Frank smiled, producing a file from his bag before dropping into one of the chairs in front of Bo’s desk. “Sure thing, Chief.”
BOOK FOURTEEN: END
THE BO AUSTEN SERIES: END
CONTINUATION SERIES: THE BO AUSTEN-TAYLOR SERIES
Thank you for reading The Hacker and the Bo Austen series!! I hope you enjoyed this book, and I certainly hope you enjoyed the series. If you did, please consider dropping a comment or a like down below!!
Love what I do and want to help support me? You can ‘buy me a coffee’ on Ko-fi!