12:07 PM; LOS ANGELES, SLICE OF LIFE DINER, PARKING LOT
The Werewolf stalked across the parking lot, a cup of coffee in his hand. To the average civilian, he’d look like the rest of them. Average. Normal. Just a civilian recharging during the middle of the workday. But he wasn’t like them.
He was recharging for his next kill. He rolled his eyes, stepping over the grassy paver and onto the sidewalk. He was getting ahead of himself. He was recharging for his next stalk, for his next stakeout. He had someone to find, someone to watch, someone to follow. He had patterns to memorize, rituals to realize.
He walked down the sidewalk, his free hand shoved into his pocket, his coffee held to his chest. In his pocket, he slid his finger along the edge of his phone, turned up the music in his earphones. His eyes, hidden behind a pair of glasses, scanned the people around him as he walked.
Businessmen and women on their way to lunch or a meeting. College students, off for the day or on a long break between classes. Old couples walking to enjoy the warm weather. Dog sitters and neighbors walking their dogs.
He directed his gaze to the space in front of him. He knew he couldn’t look around too often. If his eyes constantly darted over those around him, eyes narrowed as he judged each and every one of them, someone would get suspicious. Someone would notice him and pick him out of the crowd.
He wouldn’t let that happen.
After walking nearly a block, he took another sip of his iced coffee and went back to scanning those around him. The drivers in their cars, their passengers, their children in the backseat. The young kids in the park, their parents or babysitters sitting on the benches and at the picnic tables, their phones in front of their faces.
If he were interested in children, he could walk right into the park, swipe a child, and move on. No one would notice the missing child for a solid five to ten minutes. The adults were far too absorbed by their phones.
He couldn’t help but wonder what entertained them so much that their eyes couldn’t leave the device. Were they texting a girlfriend? A boyfriend? Were they reading or drawing? Playing one of those games that he couldn’t stand? One of those ones that praised the player every time they matched three of a kind?
His gaze shifted to the woman walking in front of him. Her eyes were glued to her phone, too. What a fucking surprise, he thought dryly. He stepped out of her way as she walked straight through where he had been a near second beforehand. He glanced back at her over his shoulder before turning back to the sidewalk and people in front of him.
He’d been in many states and cities in the United States in his lifetime, but he found that L.A. was particularly electronic-oriented. Yes, the other cities and states had their fair share of people walking down the sidewalk without ever paying their surroundings any mind. But, in his experience, L.A. had the largest population of video bloggers, people walking around and talking to a camera or their cell phone for some kind of video.
He believed these people were the reason so many others never watched where they were going. After all, the other videos had taught these phone-watchers that those around would simply step out of the way to avoid being walked into.
Most would consider it an annoyance.
The Werewolf saw it as an opportunity. Every now and then, he considered not stepping out of their way. The idea usually made him giddy with an unmeasurable excitement. Whenever someone walked into him, it gave him a reason to grab them, to steady them. Skin-to-skin contact. Boy, how he loved that. It gave him a direct insight into their lives, into their soul.
He smiled to himself. Maybe he’d let someone walk into him. He certainly had ample opportunity to allow it to happen. There was nothing stopping him, nothing but the risk of spilling his coffee. He cleared his throat, eyes searching the people in front of him. At least three of the ones walking toward him were staring at their phones. He turned down his music and slowed his pace. He hadn’t been paying enough attention before, but he knew he was walking much faster than the people around him.
The woman in front of him walked right into him and stumbled back. He grabbed her arm, holding his coffee out to his side. “Oh, God, sorry,” she apologized quickly. “Are you okay?”
He chuckled. “I’m fine.” He released her, took a step back. “Better watch your step so you don’t get hurt,” he said.
She laughed, nodding as she tucked her hair behind her ear. “I will. Thanks.” She lifted a hand, offering an awkward wave before she walked past him. He watched her out of the corner of his eyes before walking forward again.
Something as simple as a single touch could give some people an entire profile of another person’s life. The Werewolf was one of those single touch people, and now the woman’s name rang loudly in his mind.
2:05 PM; LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT, PARKING LOT
“I’ll be going through a lot of the traffic cam footage while I’m in Clinstone. If or when I find anything noteworthy, I’ll give you a call and fill you in on it,” Bo said. “Otherwise, I’ll be making copies of my notes so far and leaving them with Jamal to give you tomorrow morning. Okay?”
Brad nodded, pulling open the door of his car. “Sounds like a plan, Bo.” He smiled, lightly clapping a hand down on Bo’s shoulder. “It’s damn good to work with you again.”
Bo smiled back at him. “Same to you, Brad. I’ll see you soon,” he said. Brad nodded, lifting a hand as he slid into the driver’s seat of his car. Bo adjusted the strap of his satchel on his shoulder before turning and heading back to Jamal’s car. Frank pulled open the back door, an arm tucked behind his back. “Thanks, Frank.”
“My pleasure, Mister Austen,” Frank said.
Bo slid into the back seat, setting his camera bag on the floor. “I’d like to shower before I head back to Clinstone,” he said, clicking his seat belt into place.
From the passenger seat, Jamal nodded. “Sounds like a plan, kiddo.” He cleared his throat, glancing up at Bo in the rearview mirror. “You think this guy’s going to kill again?” he asked as Frank climbed into the car.
“More than likely. I honestly believe that there is… a strong chance that the kill on a full moon might not be entirely accidental,” Bo said.
“So you think it’s part of the ritual.”
“More or less,” Bo said. “To be safe, I’ll come back the night before the full moon. That way you guys don’t have to wait for me to fly in,” he said.
“Mm, good idea,” Jamal said softly. “If you don’t want to come back, you don’t have to. Now that we have an actual analyst rather than an unprepared analyst, I don’t mind if you stay with your family.”
Bo chuckled, leaning back against the seat as Frank drove out of the parking lot. “Jamal, if I didn’t want to be here, I’d let you know. Yes, I hate being away from Jensen and the kids for very long, but I also don’t like being in the lab when Jensen’s upstairs at his desk. We’re annoyingly inseparable,” Bo said. Jamal snorted. “But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy being here. It’s damn good to work another case again. I want to be available for every crime scene if at all possible,” he said.
One corner of Jamal’s mouth lifted as he turned to look at the window. “That’s good. Thank you, Bo.”
“No problem, Pitman.”
8:00 PM; CLINSTONE MUNICIPAL AIRPORT, LOBBY
Jensen held Bo’s face between his hands and leaned down to kiss the blonde. Bo sighed softly, closing his eyes. His fingers tightened around Acamas’s pet crate before he moved his free hand up to Jensen’s face. The younger man broke the kiss, leaning his forehead against Bo’s, pulling his bottom lip between his teeth. “God, I love you,” Jensen whispered.
Bo smiled broadly. “I love you, too.” He set the cage on the ground and wrapped his arms around Jensen. “I missed you.”
“I missed you, too, Eli,” he murmured. “The girls are watching a movie and the boys are asleep. We’ve got at least another hour before anything exciting can happen.”
Bo snorted, stepping away from Jensen. “I can wait an hour,” he assured. He picked up Acamas’s pet crate and grabbed Jensen’s outstretched hand. “I took a shower before I got on the plane, so it’s up to you on whether or not you want to, you know, take a shower,” he said.
Jensen smiled as they headed outside. “Oh, Eli, we are definitely taking a shower.”
“I figured,” Bo said with a roll of his eyes, unable to stop the smile on his face. “What’re you going to do when I go back to L.A. again?”
“Same deal, babe. No sleep and long, lonely nights,” Jensen said. He pulled open the back door of the car, crossing his arms over the top of the door as Bo slid Acamas’s crate into the car. “I’ll also hope that your next trip to L.A. results in more nudes.”
Bo chuckled nervously as he backed out of the car. “I don’t know about that.”
“I do,” Jensen said, closing the door. “You know, when you said you’d make my day less boring, I was expecting a bloody crime scene. I was much more impressed with your decision,” he said.
Bo shook his head, reaching out to pull open the passenger door. “I honestly wasn’t certain how you’d feel about it. I was admittedly worried when I sent it, but I figured… what the hell?”
Jensen smiled, smacking a hand against the blonde’s rear. “You should let yourself loose like that more often. As long as it’s to me, feel free to be a little… different every now and then.”
A soft smile formed on the blonde’s face. “Thanks, Jens.”
“My pleasure, babe.”
10:14 PM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, MASTER BATHROOM
Bo let out a quiet laugh as Jensen pushed him back against the door. The blonde wrapped his arms around Jensen’s neck, pushing his fingers into the younger man’s dark hair. He tilted his head to the side as Jensen kissed his neck.
“Did we lock the bedroom door?” Jensen asked, wrapping his hands around Bo’s thighs.
Bo glanced up briefly before nodding. “I watched you lock it.”
“Good thing one of us has a good memory,” Jensen murmured. With a grunt, he lifted Bo enough for the blonde to wrap his legs around him. An arm around Bo’s back, Jensen reached out with his free hand and opened the door. He stumbled, chuckling. “I forgot the door was supporting you.”
Bo shook his head. “You’re lucky I love you.”
“Oh, damn lucky. I know.” Jensen crossed the room and dropped Bo to the bed. The blonde grunted, moving a hand to cover his mouth as he laughed. Jensen climbed onto the bed, knees on either side of Bo’s thighs. “A couple pictures just do not do you justice, Eli,” Jensen murmured, sliding his hands up Bo’s abdomen.
Bo shoved at Jensen’s shoulder, a faint blush heating his cheeks. “Stop talking about it,” he whispered. “You’re making me nervous.”
“Mm… I’m making you blush. There’s a difference, babe. But I’ll stop,” Jensen promised. He bowed his head, kissing a slow trail down Bo’s stomach, his lips brushing the long scar that lived there.
Bo closed his eyes, threading his fingers through Jensen’s hair. Gently, he tugged the younger man’s head up. “Come here,” the blonde whispered.
“What?” Jensen questioned, bringing his face back up to Bo’s.
Bo leaned up to kiss him. “I love you to death, but can we stay away from any and all scars tonight? For me?”
Jensen smiled softly, brushing a thumb over Bo’s cheek. “Anything you need, babe. Do you know why?”
“Because… you love me?”
“Damn straight, Eli,” Jensen agreed. “Because I fucking love you. Can I get back to it? Or do you need a minute?”
“I, uh, I need a minute.” Bo offered a smile. “Sorry.”
“Don’t be. We’ve all got bad memories, remember?” Jensen asked. Bo nodded. “I’ll just come on over here and do something you love,” Jensen said, pressing his lips to Bo’s shoulder.
The blonde laughed as Jensen pulled his skin between his teeth in his usual, annoying fashion. “Don’t bite me,” Bo said. Hooking a leg around the back of Jensen’s thigh, he rolled them both over. “You aren’t a fucking vampire.”
Jensen grinned, dropping his hands to Bo’s hips. “I might be. You don’t know my life.”
“I’ve known you for, on average, twenty-two percent of your life. I think I’d have some inkling if you were a vampire,” Bo said. “Not to mention that they don’t exist,” he added.
Jensen snorted. “All valid points,” he agreed. He dragged his fingertips down Bo’s torso, purposely avoiding the scar. “Better?” Bo nodded. “Good,” Jensen whispered. “If you need me to stop or… or if you start to feel bad about something again, tell me. Just like always, okay?”
“Okay,” Bo whispered.
Jensen held Bo’s face between his hands. “I love you,” he said, his eyes locked on Bo’s. “So damn much.”
Bo couldn’t help but smile. “I love you, too, Jens,” he whispered back.
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