Wednesday: May 24, 2028
12:11 AM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, MASTER BEDROOM
Jensen rolled onto his stomach, holding his phone on his pillow. He drummed his thumbs against his screen before sending a text to Bo.
Jensen: What’re you wearing?
Bo: Just got out of the shower.
Jensen: Figured. What’re you really wearing?
Bo: One of your shirts
Bo: It smells like your cologne. Damn nice comfort.
Jensen: Mm, good.
Jensen: Call me?
Bo: Just a sec.
Jensen turned onto his side, answering the call as soon as it came in. He pressed his phone to his ear, closing his eyes. “Baby.”
Bo chuckled softly. “Hello, love.”
“Where are you? Your voice sounds… more echoey than usual.”
“Jamal’s. One of the spare rooms.”
“The… one we stayed in while he was recovering from surgery?”
“Uh-huh.” Bo cleared his throat. “The sheets have been washed and changed several times since then, so get your mind out of the damn gutter.”
Jensen smiled, shoving an arm under his pillow. “You know I can’t do that.”
“What’re your plans for tomorrow?” Jensen asked. Although it was, indeed, Wednesday for Jensen, it was still late Tuesday night for Bo.
“I’m going to the killer’s house with the detectives to see if we can’t find something to link him to the Werewolf murders. Bonesaw, rib spreaders… something.”
“Did you find out if he was psychic?”
“Yes, Jens, I asked him if he could read minds,” Bo said. Jensen laughed. “No, he didn’t do much talking. He wanted a lawyer, which is understandable, and then we couldn’t get anything out of him.”
“It does. But… I’m used to it. Roth and Lopez are a little more than annoyed with it, but that’s because it’s a relatively new complication for them, you know?”
“Oh, yeah. The first couple times a lawyer blocked me from getting any answers, I was beyond pissed. It takes a while to figure out that that’s just kinda how the world turns,” Jensen said. “Do you… like working with them?”
“They’re okay. Detective Lopez spends a bit more time being skeptical of my existence, than I like, but Detective Roth is okay. Of course, I’d rather work with the CPD Dork Squad.”
Jensen chuckled. “Of course,” he echoed.
“How’re the kids? Did they go to sleep easy?”
“Uh-huh. The boys went down pretty much immediately after their baths. Kay and Ber wrapped up homework and headed off, too. It was a pretty easy night,” Jensen said. He patted Hati’s side before rolling onto his back. She threw her head back with a grunt. Jensen snorted, scratching the underside of Hati’s chin.
“That’s good,” Bo said softly. “Anything planned for the day?”
“Nah. Thinking about taking the kids to the park after work, but I’m not sure yet. Depends on if anything interesting happens, I guess.”
“Stop praying for people to die. That’s what L.A.’s for,” Bo said.
Jensen rolled his eyes. “I know.” He cleared his throat. “I heard Jake and David talking about budget cuts. I mean… we have the highest solve rate in Minnesota, but with homicides at a low, they don’t know how much more funding will be funneled to us for the department,” he said.
“Give it time. Someone will murder some innocent person just because they can. That’s the way humans are. Some of them are just… despicable beyond belief or reason,” Bo said. “And if it comes to it, they can slash my salary. I’m in no great need for it. Let the detectives keep their jobs. I’ll take the hit.”
“I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
“So, wanna send me a pic?”
“Keep it in your pants, Jens.”
Jensen groaned. “But I miss you,” he said.
“And I you. Just… save it for when I get back. I like to think it’s more exciting that way.”
Bo chuckled softly, and Jensen could imagine him shaking his head. “Jamal’s basically setting me up on a date with a man he thinks could bodyguard me.”
“Like Frank does for him?”
“Does it… have to be a man?”
“I don’t think Jamal employs many women for that particular position,” Bo said. “I could ask, if it makes you more comfortable. Just know that I’m never going to find enough interest in another person to hurt you like that.”
“God, I know. I just… I dunno. Is he gonna live in our damn house or something like that? Like Frank does?”
“I can certainly make sure that he doesn’t. I don’t exactly trust some strange man living in a house with our children, either,” Bo said. “Or woman, for that matter.”
“I’ll see what I can do. I don’t need a live-in guard. I’ve got you.”
One corner of Jensen’s mouth lifted. “Hell yeah, you do.” He cleared his throat. “And, umm… thank you, obviously.”
“My pleasure, Jens.”
“What’s he look like?”
“I’ll let you know after I meet him. His name’s Mekhi, though. That’s really all I know. Oh, and he’s apparently rather tall.”
“Like… six-seven or so?”
“Yeah, that’s how I felt, too,” Bo agreed.
“Where the hell does Jamal find these giants?” Jensen asked.
Bo chuckled. “I wondered that myself. I guess he’s been working for Jamal for seven years or thereabouts. He knows the business, the ins and outs of it all. Jamal says he trusts him the most, and if I like him, too, I won’t have to get my hands dirty. Mekhi can… handle that side of things.”
“That’d be… a relief.”
“Just, you know, remember to trust your gut, Eli. If you don’t like the guy or he makes you uncomfortable, stick with that feeling. Jamal will understand,” Jensen said.
“Okay. Thanks, Jens.”
“No problem, babe.” Jensen sighed. “Getting tired?”
“Not yet, but I can talk until you fall asleep.”
Jensen smiled. “Works for me, Eli.”
6:26 AM; LOS ANGELES, DOMINIC WILKINSON’S HOUSE, LIVING ROOM
“So… what’re we looking for?” Luca asked, pulling a glove onto his left hand.
“Anything that can connect him to the Werewolf murders. Bonesaw, scalpel, rib spreaders… Phones. I believe he took a cell phone from the first scene. It’s very possible he took one from the second, as well,” Bo said.
“What if he doesn’t keep them here?” Katalina asked.
“He keeps them here.”
“How would you know?”
“Because he doesn’t have the money to keep them elsewhere,” Bo said. “He’s on disability. He doesn’t make enough to throw it at useless things.”
“Check the garbages. There’s always a possibility of bloody clothing,” Bo said. Snapping the flash into place on his camera, he let his eyes scan the room. “It’s a small house. It means they’re going to be hidden rather well. So we just have to… keep looking.”
8:02 AM; LOS ANGELES, DOMINIC WILKINSON’S HOUSE, KITCHEN
“Listening,” Jamal greeted after the first ring.
“Found it,” Bo said, holding his phone to his ear with his shoulder.
“Behind the wall in the cupboard under the sink. Creative, I’ll admit,” Bo said. “Bonesaw, scalpel, rib spreaders. Haven’t found the phones yet. Otherwise, the actual tools have been bagged and are ready for examination.”
“Good job. How about I send Mister Caine down there and you can come back for some paperwork?” Jamal asked.
“Sure. Umm… I’ll leave when Brad gets here. Is that okay?”
“Sure thing, kiddo. See you in a few.”
12:05 PM; LOS ANGELES, SLICE OF LIFE DINER
“Your friend’s late,” Mekhi said, folding his hands beneath his chin.
“He isn’t late. He’s trying not to sike himself out,” Jamal said. “He worries about meeting new people.”
“ ‘Cause he’s smart?”
“That and he knows you work for me. He’s not exactly a full blown supporter of what I do. Of what you do.”
“And… you want him to take over for you?”
“It’s a bit more complicated than that, Mekhi. You can take care of the dark shit. He’s my chief, no matter what. The board already agrees with that.”
Mekhi nodded. “Got it,” he said softly. He pulled his arm back enough to look at his watch before sighing. “I’ve got shit to do, Pitman.”
“We’ve all got shit to do. Yours can wait,” Jamal assured.
“My ex would say otherwise.”
Jamal chuckled. “You can tell her it’s my fault.”
“Deal,” Mekhi agreed. He tugged at the elastic hair tie around his wrist, sighing. “She’s gonna kill me,” he muttered, reaching back to pull his long hair into a loose bun.
“He won’t be long,” Jamal said.
“I’m leaving in five if he’s not in here.”
Bo walked into the diner less than a minute later, hands tucked behind his back. He stopped at the table, swallowing roughly. “I apologize for being late. Umm… Bo Austen-Taylor,” he said, sticking out a hand.
Mekhi shook his hand. “Mekhi Rasmussen.”
Bo nodded. “Right,” he whispered. He sat down beside Jamal, folding his hands in his lap. “So… when you aren’t working a, you know, mission, what do you do?”
“Sit on my ass until Pitman calls me or until it’s my day with my kid,” Mekhi said.
“You have a kid?”
“Mmhmm. Little girl. Three years old.”
“But you’re willing to risk your life every single day?”
“Everyone risks their life every day. You stay inside and risk dying if there’s a fire or a heavy storm of some kind. You go outside and risk getting hit by a car or shot or stabbed. The difference is I always know what I’m getting into,” Mehki said.
Bo couldn’t help but notice that whenever the man spoke, the left side of his mouth didn’t move. “I suppose you’re right,” he agreed after a moment.
“Heard you got kids of your own,” Mekhi said.
Bo nodded. “Four of them. Two girls and a set of twins.” He cleared his throat. “And… married to a man.”
“I know. Doesn’t bother me,” Mekhi said.
“I do my best not to hire closed-minded people, kiddo,” Jamal said, stretching an arm across the back of the booth.
Mekhi offered a nod. “We’re all surprisingly lovely people,” he assured. “You’re taking over for Pitman, then?”
“That’s the plan anyway,” Bo said.
“Well, I’m on a bit of a time crunch, and you’ve got kids, so you understand that, but I’ll be brief. I know everything about what he does, about what you’ll be doing. I don’t know anything about the cop part, about… taking care of that part of your family. But I get the rest of it. I know about the missions and how they work. I know how to run meetings and tell people what the hell you’re supposed to be doing. When you take over, if you want me on your side, if you want me to help make sure nothin’ happens to you or to your family, I’m here. I’m all for that, ‘cause I ain’t goin’ anywhere. But that’s up to you.
“You’ve got time to decide, and I’m in no sorta rush for confirmation. When you know if you wanna be stuck with me or not, just tell Pitman and he’ll relay that to me. I’m good, I’ve got morals, but I do what I’m told. I’m loyal as all get out, and nothin’ll change that, either. You tell me what you want, and I’ll get it for you,” Mekhi said.
“Yes,” Bo said simply. “I don’t need time to think on that.”
“He’s serious?” Mekhi asked, lifting his dark green eyes to Jamal’s face.
The older man nodded. “He’s serious.”
“Great.” Mekhi pushed himself to his feet and held out a hand. “It was good meeting you, Mister Austen-Taylor. I look forward to working with you.”
Bo shook Mekhi’s hand. “It was good to meet you, as well, Mister Rasmussen.”
Mekhi snorted. “Just Mekhi.” Bo nodded. “I’ll see you around, sir, Pitman.” Jamal offered a two-fingered salute. Mekhi lifted a hand in departure before walking out of the diner.
“You like him, then?” Jamal asked.
“He’s okay,” Bo said.
“Mm. You okay?”
“Yeah, I’m all right. Missing Jens and the kids, though.”
Jamal nodded. “Visit your parents tonight. I’m sure they’d love to see you, and it could help you feel better, too.”
“Possibly,” Bo agreed. He moved to the other side of the booth, pulling a leg up toward his chest. He wrapped his arms around it, resting his chin on his knee. “Dallas was going to question Mister Wilkinson with the detectives.”
“Is he actually expecting anything to come of that?”
“I’m not sure. Why don’t you talk to him? You could scare him, couldn’t you?” Bo asked.
“I could try, yes, but I’d need to find what makes him tick. Everyone has something. You just have to know what you’re looking for,” Jamal said.
“I know that much. How do you figure it out when there’s nothing to look at to find out more about a person?” Bo asked.
“Sometimes through questioning. Otherwise, you just gotta know when they’re worthless,” Jamal said.
Bo nodded. “He likes the kid.”
“Wilkinson. He likes Mister Lawrence. They’re… friends, I think. Does that count?” Bo asked. “Because… if someone threatened Jake, I’d give them whatever the hell they wanted if it kept them from hurting him. If Mister Wilkinson is friends Mister Lawrence…”
“It could be the same deal.” Bo nodded. “What would drive him to be friends with Lawrence?”
“Well… Mister Lawrence reported that that therapist had assaulted him. Mister Wilkinson tried to kill the therapist. Why do you think he tried to kill her? Because therapy wasn’t going the way he wanted it to? Or because he was protecting his younger, helpless friend?” Bo asked.
“Hmm.” Jamal smiled faintly. “Well, why don’t you call your lieutenant? Give him what you know.”
“Well, what I assume.” “Don’t be an ass. Call Dallas and let him know what you assume. We’ll see what comes of it.”
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