2:12 PM; LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT, FORENSIC ANALYST BO AUSTEN-TAYLOR’S OFFICE
“So, walk me through it,” Bo said, closing the door to his office.
“Through what?” Katalina questioned from where she sat in front of his desk.
“The questioning of the mother.” Bo crossed the room, lowering himself into his chair. “Walk me through it.”
“You were in the room when we spoke to her,” she said. Bo remained silent, crossing one ankle over the opposing thigh.
“He’s not doing it for him,” Luca said quietly. He smacked the back of his hand against Katalina’s arm. “He’s doing it so we can walk through the answers, maybe figure out something we’ve already missed.” He turned toward Bo. “Right?” The blonde only nodded. “Okay. Well, umm… she hasn’t spoken to him since Wednesday. He came over for supper,” Luca said.
“Right,” Katalina agreed with a nod. “They don’t see each other often, and they only text or call when they really need something important,” she said.
“Did we ask her why he came over for supper, then?” Luca asked.
“Umm…” Katalina trailed off, quickly scanning the notepad page in front of her. She flipped through several pages before shaking her head. “We didn’t.” Bo cleared his throat, tossing a small notebook in Luca’s direction.
The detective fumbled with it for a moment before pulling it away from his chest. He read through the words on the page, a frown on his face. “He came over out of the blue.” He looked up at the blonde. “We asked that?”
“Yes,” Bo said simply. “You asked it. You just didn’t think the answer was important enough to write down. Why is that important to write down?” he questioned.
“Because… because it could indicate… that he was stressed about something?” Luca asked.
“It’s possible,” Bo said with a nod. “What could he have been stressed about?”
“A lot of things. Work, a relationship, uh…” Luca trailed off, licking his lips. “Bills? Animals? Anything?”
Bo blew out a breath, a faint smile tugging at either corner of his mouth. “All possibilities. You’ve left a very strong possibility out, though,” he said.
“What would that be?” Katalina asked before Luca could even open his mouth again.
“If I gave you all the answers, you’d stay rookies forever,” Bo said.
“They were right. He’s a pain in the ass,” Katalina said. Bo chuckled, but he didn’t respond.
Luca read through the notebook page against before clapping his hands together, causing his partner to flinch in surprise. “The killer could’ve been following him. Knight could’ve even suspected it,” he said.
“There you go,” Bo said softly.
“You think that’s the case?” Luca asked.
Bo lifted his shoulders. “I don’t know. Like I said, anything’s possible at this point in the case. You have one victim and no evidence against the actual killer. You don’t have enough of a case built to already be refusing theories,” he said. “You have to keep your minds open to everything around you. Every theory, every possibility. Those theories and possibilities only start to get crossed out after you’ve moved away from square one.”
“After we find evidence,” Luca said.
“So… so we have some theories, then,” Katalina started. “The mother said he didn’t have a girlfriend. They didn’t talk often, no, but they still pretty much told eachother everything. If he was in an actual relationship, she would’ve known,” she said.
Bo nodded, leaning forward to pull a pen from his desk. “Which means?”
“We need to find out where he was before he died. He could’ve brought someone home from the bar,” Luca said.
“Right,” Bo agreed. “How are you going to figure out where he was?”
“His phone’s GPS or a money trail. Credit or debit card,” Luca said.
“Mmhmm. You’ll need to talk to Dallas for the money trail. He’ll get it started for you,” Bo said. He tapped the pen against his thigh, clearing his throat. “Anything else… important you’d like to point out, detectives?” he asked.
Luca stared at the blonde for a moment before looking down at Bo’s notebook. “She said he always forgot to lock his doors?” he asked. Bo nodded. “So… maybe the killer’s been in his home? If the killer’s a stalker of some kind?”
“We should check the guy’s home,” Katalina says.
“Well, what do we do first?” Luca asked. Both detectives turned back toward Bo.
The blonde snorted. “Don’t look at me, Rookies. What would you consider the best course of action?”
“Will you tell us if it’s a good plan? ‘Cause I kinda feel like you’re judging me,” Luca said.
“I’m judging you in the sense that I want to make sure you’re both prepared for all the terrible shit Los Angeles has to offer. Take Beverly, for instance. She went to college for the sheer purpose of working homicides and collecting blood and taking pictures of gruesome displays. She sees that gruesome display, and it’s far too much for her. We should’ve prepared her better for the crimes she would be seeing here, but we didn’t. I’d like to change that with you two. You need to be better prepared for the scenes you’ll be working, the people you’ll be questioning,” Bo explained. “So, again, what do you believe is the best course of action?”
Luca glanced up at the ceiling before looking over at his partner. “We get started on the warrants for the bank so we can find out where he was. Loo will work it through the system, and we can go to his house, see what’s up. Then we don’t waste as much time,” he said.
“That… makes sense,” Katalina said softly. She nodded and rose to her feet. “I’ll get the ball rolling with Loo.”
“I’ll catch up in a sec,” Luca said. He pushed himself out of the chair, handing Bo’s notebook back over to him. “Are you coming to the house with us? For… for prints or pictures or something?” he asked.
“Yes. I don’t expect to find anything of great interest there, but I’ll go with just in case anything turns up,” Bo said. He set his notebook on the desk, dropped his pen back into the little cup near his laptop. “You and your partner are both incredibly intelligent, Detective. Nervous, yes, but intelligent. You both have things you need to work on, but you’ll get there.”
“Well, uh… thanks.”
“No problem, Detective,” Bo said softly. He pushed himself to his feet, clearing his throat as he adjusted the watch around his wrist. “I’m going to grab a late lunch with Jamal. If you two would like to head out before I get back, feel free to. I’ll meet you at the house. Okay?”
Luca nodded. “Yeah, sure.” He smiled. “Thanks for, like, toning down the pain-in-the-ass tendencies for me. It makes being around you a hell of a lot less daunting.”
Bo snorted, shaking his head. “My pleasure, Detective.” He tapped a hand against the desk. “I’ll meet you and Detective Lopez at the house,” he added before walking past Luca.
3:27 PM; LOS ANGELES, ARCHIBALD KNIGHT’S HOUSE, FOYER
Bo stepped into the house, his camera draped around his neck. He reached back, closing the door. He had seen Luca and Katalina’s police cruiser in the drive, but he wasn’t sure how long the two detectives had been at the house. He heard them talking in one of the rooms. He followed their voices, ending up in the living room of the house.
“Finding anything?” Bo asked.
Both detectives flinched. “Nothing interesting,” Luca said after a moment. “Just a lot of books. The guy liked romance novels.”
Katalina nodded. “Right. He has a lot of health stuff, too. Like, pamphlets on heart problems and books on healthy dieting and healthy living,” she said.
“He needed to be healthy to prevent further health issues,” Bo said. The thought made Bo think of Jacob back in Clinstone, about how Bo would let him sneak one or two hamburgers for lunch every week instead of a salad. “Seems odd that you’d target a person with a weak heart, don’t you think?”
“Maybe he knows someone with a weak heart,” Katalina said.
“Anything’s possible,” Bo said simply, his eyes scanning the room. “I’ll do a once-over of the place just to check for prints that may prove important. Otherwise, you guys can head back to the station, wrap up your day before heading on home. It’s been a long ass day,” he added.
“Of course, Austen. See you tomorrow morning,” Luca said.
Bo nodded. “Bright and early tomorrow,” he said, offering a soft smile. Katalina simply lifted her hand in departure as she and Luca walked past the blonde. Bo let out a sigh, shaking his head. He knew that no fingerprints were going to turn up in his search of the house. He knew nothing important would turn up in one of the rooms.
Still, it kept him from having to return to an empty house, save for Acamas. That was better than nothing.
6:49 PM; LOS ANGELES, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, DINING ROOM
Bo set a small plate on the floor before placing his own plate on the table and sitting down. Acamas rubbed herself against his leg, purring happily before sitting down in front of the plate to eat. Bo glanced down at his watch, still set two hours ahead for Clinstone rather than Los Angeles.
It’d be nearing nine in Clinstone. He could only imagine Jensen was working on getting the girls ready for bed, Amber especially. Kayla was allowed to stay up until ten, an extra hour that she usually used to read and draw.
Bo touched his fingers to his phone before letting out a sigh. He’d wait until Jensen called him instead. Bo wouldn’t risk waking up the twins or disrupting whatever part of their nightly ritual Jensen was at. Instead, the blonde picked up his fork and ate the first meal he’d eaten entirely alone in a long time.
9:46 PM; LOS ANGELES, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, MASTER BEDROOM
Bo lay on his back on the bed, Acamas curled up his chest. He scratched the top of her head with one hand, holding his phone above his head with the other hand. Aimlessly, he scrolled through Instagram. Pictures of celebrities and their families peppered his feed, but the only images he stopped on were ones of his friends and family. Cecilia had posted a picture of her and David. Bo double-tapped it to offer a ‘heart’, although he still wasn’t certain why that was necessary.
Jensen had informed him it was rude to scroll and never give any pictures except for ones of their kids a heart. Bo didn’t really care either way, but he had decided to do his best to follow his husband’s set rules on human interaction.
Less than a second later, his phone dinged with a text from Cecilia.
Cecilia: I went to see you today. Your car’s parked outside but you’re gone. The hell’s that about?
Bo: I had to fly out to L.A. for a case.
Bo snorted, rolling his eyes.
Cecilia: What’s the case?
Bo: Something gruesomely disgusting and a missing heart.
Cecilia: How pleasant.
Bo: That’s what I thought.
Bo: Why’d you stop by the house? Are you all right?
Cecilia: I’m fine. Just needed to gossip
Bo: What kind of gossip?
Cecilia: Uh… David stuff
Bo: Call me
Cecilia: Well I can’t talk about it over the phone, dumbass. I live with the guy. You can’t gossip when you live with him.
Bo: Is he asleep?
Bo: Then call me. David sleeps like the dead. He isn’t waking up until his alarm goes off.
Bo accepted her call as soon as it came through. “Talk to me. What’s going on?” he asked.
Cecilia sighed, clearing her throat. “I’m pregnant, Bo.”
“Does David know?”
“No. I don’t want to get his hopes up like last time. I can’t do that to him,” she said quietly. “God, I need you for this, Bo,” she whispered.
“I… Do you have a doctor’s appointment scheduled?” Bo asked.
“I’ll be there for it. I promise. Just send me the time and I’ll be on a flight to be there before then,” he said.
“My pleasure, Celia. That’s what I’m here for, right?” he asked.
“Right,” she whispered.
“This is just going to be like when you were pregnant with the twins, Celia. Lots and lots of positivity,” he said.
He could practically hear her roll her eyes. “You don’t even believe positivity works like that,” she said.
“No, not necessarily, but it seemed to get us through your pregnancy with the twins. It got us through Cas’s premature birth. Besides, I believe in the science that positivity and state of mind can be linked to the effectiveness of medical care. That can certainly carry over to a baby and pregnancy. If you think happy thoughts about it, your body will be stronger and even more prepared for it,” Bo said.
“You think so?” Cecilia asked.
“Of course. It’ll be okay, Celia, and I’ll be there as often as you need me to. You give me a call, and I’ll come running,” he said.
Bo smiled, closing his eyes. “My pleasure, Cecilia. You should get some sleep. Text me a time and I’ll be there on Wednesday. Okay?”
“All right, Bo. Goodnight. And, umm, thank you. Again.”
“It’s really no trouble at all, Celia. Goodnight,” he said softly. He waited until Cecilia had ended the call before he pulled his phone away from his ear. Before he could lock his phone, a call from Jensen came through. One corner of Bo’s mouth lifted as he accepted the call. “Hey, love.”
“How far?” Jensen asked.
“One thousand, three hundred and fifty-one-point-four,” Bo said.
“That’s too far,” Jensen said.
Bo chuckled softly. “I know, Jens. I’ll be home Wednesday. I’ll be back and forth between here and Clinstone. I couldn’t manage to be away from you guys for too long,” he said. “You know that,” he added.
“God, I know. I already miss you. Hell, I’ve got a half a mind to fly out there tonight.”
Bo snorted. “You only want to come out here because you’re too far away for sex,” he said.
“Hey, now. It’s only, like, sixty percent because of sex.” Jensen chuckled. “I lied. It’s sixty-nine percent because of sex.”
The blonde rolled his eyes. “You’re a dumbass. You know that, don’t you?”
“Obviously. But you love me for it,” Jensen said.
“You can thank the fact that you’re adorable for that,” Bo said.
“I know.” Jensen let out a long sigh. “It took me an hour to get Pollux to sleep. An hour.”
“I’m sorry, love. Is that why you’re still up?”
“That, and because you’re over a thousand miles away,” Jensen said.
Bo nodded. “Of course,” he said softly. “I’ll come home Tuesday night so we can both get some actual sleep. Okay?”
“Okay. When would you have to go back?” Jensen asked.
“I’m not sure. I suppose that depends on when and if this killer kills again. I, uh… I’m not sure it’s a coincidence that they killed during a full moon. It could be the start of a cycle,” Bo said.
Jensen snorted. “Like a werewolf?”
“Well, that’s a stupid thing to base a kill on.”
“It could explain the utter savageness of the kill, as well. This killer chose to cut into the victim with a scalpel, but they did it while the victim struggled. The cut was long and messy. A bonesaw was used to cut the sternum and it seems like rib spreaders were used to force the sternum open the rest of the way. The killer went out of his way to make sure this man suffered. Everything happened so quickly. The killer got through as much of it as he possibly could before the man died,” Bo said.
“You think this killer’s killed before? Or is this the first kill?” Jensen asked.
“There weren’t any indications of hesitation. None that I could find, anyway. If this killer hasn’t killed people before, I can only imagine they’ve practiced on animals,” Bo said. He cleared his throat. “But I don’t know for sure. I have a hard time believing someone could be this brutal on their first kill. Unless they were raised that way, unless they’ve been witnessing that kind of situation for years on end. I can’t make it make sense,” he said.
“Well, if you think this guy’s gonna take on a lunar cycle, you’ve got a while to figure that out,” Jensen said. “But don’t worry about the case right now. Just, you know, talk to me until we fall asleep like the sappy as shit love sick bastards we are. Worry about the case after you’ve slept,” he said.
Bo chuckled, closing his eyes. “Okay, Jens. I like that idea,” he said softly. “I love you. So damn much.”
“I love you, too, Eli.”
Enjoying the story? 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!