10:04 AM; CLINSTONE, MARY MCCULLOUGH’S HOUSE, BASEMENT
The man sat on the tattered couch. The remote clutched in his hand, he stared at the boxy television across the room. He knew from the news reports the day before that Clinstone PD had found his little display a lot quicker than he had originally expected. The day before, he hadn’t been able to decide if he was okay with that fact or not.
Today, though, with three cops standing outside of the police station, all cameras focused on them as they talked about his scene, he figured out.
He wasn’t okay with that fact.
The cops tramping all about the house, collecting blood and clothes, searching for fingerprints. He’d worn gloves. He hadn’t left anything of his own there. Or, at least, nothing he knew of. He knew there was no real, plausible way to guarantee he hadn’t left behind a hair or some lonely drop of saliva.
He’d had sex with that girl. She had tried to scratch him many times, but his long sleeves had kept her from making much contact. With how quickly CPD had swarmed his scene, he found himself thankful for making the decision to wear the damn long-sleeved shirt. Suddenly, it seemed much more important than it had when he’d chosen a long-sleeved shirt in the first place.
His jaw clenched as the cops on screen continued talking. The volume was loud, but he was no longer listening.
Clinstone PD had taken away his control over the scene, over the crime. They’d taken it all away from him. His control, his secret.
Next time, he wouldn’t be able to leave a body behind.
11:30 AM; CLINSTONE POLICE DEPARTMENT, MAIN LOBBY
“That was great. You guys did well,” Bo said.
“Thanks, Blondie. You wrote a good one,” Jacob murmured, clapping the blonde on the shoulder.
“Do you guys want to take an early lunch?” Bo asked.
Jacob glanced down at his watch and pushed his glasses back up on the bridge of his nose. “Hell, sure, I could go for lunch.”
David Quinn shook his head. “Thanks, Bo, but I’m supposed to drive out to Cliffburn for lunch with Cici.” He patted Bo on the shoulder. “You guys enjoy lunch. I’ll see you in a bit.”
“Sure thing, David.” Bo held out a hand. “Jens?”
Jensen smiled softly, grabbing the blonde’s outstretched hand. “Yeah, food sounds good. You wanna say fuck the diner and go get tacos?”
Bo snorted, lifting his gaze to Jacob’s face. “Tacos okay with you?”
“Brother, if you still gotta ask, we don’t know each other as well as I thought we did.”
Bo rolled his eyes, smacking the back of his free hand against Jacob’s chest. “Don’t be a shithead, Jake.” Jacob laughed. “Well, come on, then. Let’s go.”
12:04 PM; CLIFFBURN, DUNCAN, STONE & DELACROIX DEFENSE FIRM, PARKING LOT
David pushed away from the car as Cecilia Delacroix walked out of the building. “Hi,” he greeted.
One corner of Cecilia’s mouth lifted. “Hi.” She wrapped her arms around him, closing her eyes.
David sighed softly, kissing the top of her head. “You slept okay last night?”
She nodded. “I did. I think I got used to Bo and Jensen’s bed when I was pregnant with their boys. The bed they keep upstairs is the same kind of mattress. It’s comfy as hell.”
David chuckled. “You know, if you’d told me that sooner, I would’ve bought us a new mattress,” he said.
Cecilia lifted her shoulders. “That’s thinking way too deeply into things.” She laughed as she pushed herself away from him, a hand falling to her stomach. “You’re giving pregnancy brain a lot more credit than it deserves. I’m always tired, Dave.”
“I know, baby.” David tucked her dark hair behind her ear. “I’ll ask Bo what kind of mattress they keep upstairs.”
“You don’t have to.”
David shook his head as he reached back and pulled open the passenger side door. “Cici, you’re pregnant with our daughter. It’s kind of my job to make sure you’re comfortable,” he said.
She offered a smile. “Yeah, yeah, I know. It’s still a little hard to accept help sometimes,” she said.
“I know.” He nodded toward the car. “Come on.”
“Thank you,” Cecilia said softly, squeezing his hand before climbing into the car.
“My pleasure, babe.” David closed the door and walked around to the driver’s side. He pulled open the door and slid into the seat. “How’s work been treating you so far today?”
“It’s been easy so far. I spent most of the morning watching your little fear student on TV,” Cecilia said as David closed his door. “Was that Bo’s idea?”
“Of course. You know just as well as I do that I’m not that insane. I like to keep publicity to a damn minimum,” David said, clicking his seat belt into place. “But I love that little blonde, so if he thinks a fear tactic is the best way to protect our citizens, I’ll do it without complaint. Fought Connie on it for damn near ten minutes this morning.”
Cecilia shook her head, turning toward the window as David started the car. “I love him, too, but even I was scared by the shit you were saying.”
“I’m sorry, Cici.” David laid a hand on her stomach as he drove out of the parking lot. “Honestly, the whole time I was standing up there, I just kept hoping you weren’t watching. Shoulda known better than that.”
She snorted. “I agree. You should’ve known better.” She lifted her shoulders, covering his hand with her own. “It’s better than the alternative.”
“And… what would that be?”
“His lawyer has been removed from his case after being accused of tampering with evidence,” Cecilia said. She cleared her throat. “He’s no longer using public defense, and… he’s hired our firm, instead. I’ve been assigned to him.”
David’s fingers tightened around the steering wheel. “He’s in L.A.”
“Why is he hiring a lawyer from Clinstone?”
“I asked that myself. He likes my success rate,” Cecilia said quietly.
“You’re pregnant, Cecilia. We can’t risk you stressing out any more than usual. It’s dangerous for your health, and it’s dangerous for the baby’s health,” David said.
She nodded. “I’m aware. I had the option to turn it down.”
“And you didn’t?”
“No. Pregnant or not, giving a voice to suspected criminals is my job.”
“He’s not a suspect. He slit a woman’s throat. He was caught red-handed.”
“That was in self-defense. She stabbed him,” Cecilia said. “And that has no correlation to the other crimes he’s being charged with.”
David let out a heavy sigh. “So what the hell’s your plan, hmm? Cart yourself back and forth between here and L.A.? Put our daughter’s life at risk just so you can work a damn case?”
Gently, she moved his hand to the center console. “I’m going to ask Bo and Jensen if they mind me staying in their house there,” she said. She cleared her throat. “See, I was hoping you’d join me.”
“I have a job, Cici,” David said quietly, moving his hand to the steering wheel. “I can’t just pack up my shit and leave.”
“You’re in Pitman’s pocket. You can do whatever you want. He’ll drop a replacement into your chair in less than twenty-four hours,” Cecilia said. “Please, David. This is my job, but I can’t do it without you there.”
David let out a long sigh. “Let me sleep on it tonight before you talk to Bo, okay? Please? Just hold off until tomorrow morning?”
Cecilia nodded, reaching over to squeeze his thigh. “Sure, David. I can manage that.”
“Thanks,” he whispered.
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