Tuesday: May 9, 2028
6:10 AM; LOS ANGELES, JADE GILL’S HOUSE, LIVING ROOM
Bo squatted down beside the dead woman, snapping a picture of the hollow place her heart had once rested.
“We need to talk,” Jamal said.
“No, we don’t.”
“I’m sorry, kiddo.”
“Don’t call me that,” Bo said. “Don’t act like you like me. Go back to being annoyed with my existence and threatening to kill me.”
Jamal let out a long sigh, shoving his hands into his pockets. “I didn’t mean to yell at you, Bo.”
“You… did what you thought was right.”
“That’s because it was, but okay.”
“Look, Bo… Jacó…”
“Was going to kill you and Frank.”
“I already knew that. Thank you.” Bo pushed himself to his feet, moving to the other side of the body.
“Jacó’s my nephew.”
Slowly, Bo lifted his head, his gaze focused on the far wall rather than Jamal. “Excuse me?”
“He’s my little brother’s kid,” Jamal whispered. He glanced up, running his tongue over his top row of teeth. “If I had known he was gonna be there, I wouldn’t have brought you along. I didn’t know. He disappeared a… a long time ago and asked me not to try and find him. I obeyed. I didn’t even know he was still in America, Bo.”
Bo forced his eyes up to Jamal’s face. “I thought you were the only Pitman left.”
“I am. Jacó has his mother’s name. My brother wasn’t around when he was born. Didn’t even know the kid existed for a long damn time,” Jamal said. “He hates me. Not that that’s a surprise. But, uh, he’s still family. I didn’t know what the hell to do when he showed up, and I didn’t know…”
“You didn’t know how to react when I shot your fucking nephew,” Bo said through his teeth.
“Yes,” Jamal said after a moment.
Bo shook his head as he went back to taking pictures. “He looked nothing like you.”
“His mother was Latina. He looks… a lot more like her than he ever did my brother.”
“So he’s alive.”
“No.” Jamal cleared his throat. “But you didn’t kill him.”
“I’m really fucking sorry, kiddo,” Jamal said. “Bo,” he corrected.
“If you were that sorry, why wait to apologize? Why wait until you knew you were going to be stuck seeing my damn face all day at the station?” Bo asked.
“First of all, I didn’t know you were going to be here. I was hoping, but I wasn’t certain. Second, I wasn’t going to do it over the phone. That’s cheap, and it means next to nothing. Third, I wasn’t flying out to Clinstone so we could bicker in front of the rest of our family,” Jamal said. A pause. “Your family.”
“Don’t act like I’m doing you some sort of disservice by not accepting your apology. You hate Jensen, Amber walks too loudly to be of use to you, and Castor will never be strong enough to do your bidding.”
“Knock it the fuck off, Austen. You have no idea what you’re talking about,” Jamal said through his teeth. “I love every single one of those shits back in Clinstone. Jensen is someone I consider a son-in-law. I’d put myself in the line of fire for him any day of the week. Amber is adorable, and the only use I need from her is her ability to call me Grandpa. Castor is perfect the way he is, and he always will be. I’ll be long gone by the time he’s old enough to ‘do my bidding’. He’s a child, for god’s sake. I’m not a monster.”
Bo stood up, tilting his camera back to rest against his shoulder. “I trusted you. I trusted you to never again be the person that hurt me. You promised.”
“I know,” Jamal whispered.
Bo stepped around Jade Gill’s body, moving to stand in front of Jamal instead. “Jamal Pitman never breaks a promise. Do you even know how much it hurt to find out that was a lie? That everything you’ve ever promised to me suddenly doesn’t matter?”
“No, no. It all matters,” Jamal breathed. “Everything I’ve ever promised you is still true. You caught me in a moment of great weakness, Bo. I didn’t know Jacó would be there. I didn’t know he’d be the enemy. I didn’t know what to do for the first time in a long time. I panicked when you shot him. I panicked, and I’m so damn sorry.”
“You don’t get to come in here and throw a few apologies at me. That’s not good enough.”
“That’s okay. I just wanted you to hear my piece, that’s all,” Jamal said, holding up both hands. “If you ever need anything, I’ll still answer the call on the first ring. Otherwise, feel free to cut me out of your life if it’s what you deem as necessary. I’ll be leaving now. You… take your time here. I’m in no rush for information. I’ve got a bottle of Scotch calling my name.” He cleared his throat, taking a step away from Bo. “See you around, kid.”
“Dammit,” Bo whispered as Jamal walked away from him. He pulled his camera strap over his head and set it on the couch. He hurried to catch up to Jamal, wrapping both arms around the older man’s torso. “Don’t drink because of me. Please. I don’t want to be like Kathy.”
Jamal laid a hand over Bo’s arm. “You never could be like Katherine. You only get upset when it’s reasonable. Katherine is quite the opposite.”
“I’m sorry, okay? You’re forgiven. Family comes first. I know that.”
Jamal turned to face Bo, his brow furrowed as he shook his head. “No, kiddo. You are family. Jacó… not so much, but I promised his mother I’d take care of the bastard. My panic got the best of me, and I’m sorry for that.”
“You’re my boy, kiddo,” Jamal said with a soft laugh. “I love you, and no matter what the hell happened to Jacó, that isn’t going to change.”
Bo wrapped his arms around Jamal, closing his eyes. “Forgiven.”
“Thank you,” Jamal whispered, hugging the blonde tightly.
Bo nodded. “Why’d you kill him?”
“He threatened to kill you. I couldn’t let that happen, and in the end, he gave me no choice.”
“I’m sorry, Jamal.”
“Don’t be. He was asking for it by threatening you.”
Bo nodded quickly before stepping away from Jamal. “I have photographs to finish taking,” he said, tucking his hands behind his back. “But thank you for apologizing. I… I was doing my best to be an ass per Jensen’s request, but I don’t know what the hell I’d do without you.”
One corner of Jamal’s mouth lifted. “I felt the same way about losing you, kiddo.” He clapped a hand down on Bo’s shoulder. “You finish up here. I’ll be at the station. Noon? Lunch?”
“Sure, Jamal,” Bo said quietly. “Thank you, again.”
“My pleasure, lab geek.”
11:30 AM; LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT, FORENSIC ANALYST BO AUSTEN’S OFFICE
“Did you speak to the boyfriend?” Bo asked.
“Boyfriend?” Katalina echoed. “He was her boss.”
“You saw the way he looked at her in the body bag, didn’t you? He was certainly more than her boss, even if he didn’t tell you that,” Bo said. “Point stands. You interviewed him?”
“What’d he say?”
“He picks her up every Tuesday and Thursday for work,” Luca said.
“Where do they work?”
“Fareway, I think.”
“Store doesn’t open until eight,” Bo said. “Why do they leave before six?”
“Well… if you’re correct on the boyfriend thing, it’s probably to have sex,” Katalina said.
“Most likely,” Bo agreed.
“Who the hell needs two hours?”
“I mean… based on the cheesy romance novels on her phone? I imagine she needed a lot of pampering beforehand,” Luca said. “I’m talking flowers and scented candles. Maybe a massage and the chance to talk about her feelings.”
“A good theory, certainly,” Bo said. “If you want to know my opinion, I don’t believe she would have been with him the full two hours.”
“Why not?” Katalina asked.
“She worked three jobs, and in the last couple of hours, I’ve been doing a little digging into those jobs and her checking account. Every Tuesday and Thursday, boss number one picks her up at her house at about five-fifty. Right around six-thirty, she ends up at a coffee shop every Tuesday and Thursday. I checked the traffic cam footage outside of that coffee shop, and she always enters and leaves with a man.”
“And that man is her second boss?” Luca asked.
“Right you are, Detective,” Bo said with a short nod.
“What about the third boss?”
“Looks like they have supper every Friday night,” Bo said.
“Talk about a busy woman,” Katalina muttered.
“Yes, one could say that,” Bo said quietly. He cleared his throat, tapping his fingers to his desk. “Those are all things for you guys to look through. The blood report for the scene will be done before I leave today and you’ll both have a copy. Otherwise, unless you need something later one, I’ve done my part for Miss Gill.” He rose to his feet. “If you’ll excuse me, I’m ducking out for lunch. Call or text if you need anything while I’m gone.”
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