12:00 PM; CLINSTONE, LITTLE DELIGHTS DINER
Bo leaned back in his side of the booth, his phone pressed to his ear. After the first ring, Jamal answered with his usual straightforward, “Listening.”
“I’m, on average, right around ninety percent certain that I found our killer,” Bo said.
“I don’t know. He doesn’t show up in the system. No driver’s license, and if he has a work ID image, it’s locked to my access,” Bo said.
“Send me his pictures.”
“All right. Just a sec.” Bo pulled his phone back and opened his text thread with Jamal. He sent the older man both images he had of the man, as well as the link to the YouTube video of the man in the background, trailing behind the person recording. “Done.”
“Been a while since I’ve seen someone look so dead inside, so that’s interesting,” Jamal said simply.
“Jensen and I kind of felt the same way,” Bo agreed. “Jensen thought we could put out a BOLO and an APB, but we were concerned that those would alert the killer that we were, indeed, onto him. I don’t want him to do something aggressive or rash just because we messed up and released his image far too soon,” he said.
Jamal remained silent for a moment before saying, “I could send a few men in search of the guy. If nothing else, they can figure out his name that way. If we get his name, we can get his address and… anything and everything else that didn’t show up with just a picture of his face.” A pause. “Does that work for you?”
“Anything to keep him from killing people outside of the ritual. As long as we don’t turn him onto a different path, we’ll be able to easily predict when he’ll kill again. We can intercept as long as we know when he’ll strike again,” Bo said.
“Of course. I’ll assign a few of my men to him, and we’ll get him found,” Jamal said. “What else are you doing over there?”
“I’m going to see if I can find him elsewhere in Los Angeles. Coffee shops, specific streets, a route he takes the most often… so on and so forth,” Bo said.
“Learn his rituals. Smart.” Jamal cleared his throat. “I’ll let you get back to that, and I’ll see what I can do here. Good work, Bo.”
1:10 PM; LOS ANGELES, TAMARA CHRISTIAN THERAPY, DOCTOR TAMARA CHRISTIAN’S OFFICE
“Have you done any hunting since we last spoke?” Tamara questioned, legs crossed, a clipboard balanced on her thigh.
“Of course. I haven’t been able to kill any of the jackrabbits,” Dominic said.
“Because you’ve been able to relate to all of their… stories?” she asked.
“Partly. Otherwise, it just hasn’t been fitting into my schedule,” Dominic said. “I found a really interesting jackrabbit.”
“Tell me about it.”
Tamara nodded. “Of course. Tell me about him,” she corrected.
“He has issues with being touched. He wears gloves to help make sure no one touches him,” Dominic said.
Tamara stared at him for a moment, tapping her pencil against her clipboard. “And why’s that?”
“He was abused as a child. His father tried to kill him,” Dominic said. “It turned him into a bit of a scaredy cat. Or, at least, someone that incredibly terrified of being touched. As he grew up, his rage and hatred toward his father grew, too. And when his father died, that rage and hatred turned him into a… a little jackrabbit serial killer,” he said.
“That… sounds oddly specific for something as simple as a jackrabbit.”
Tamara shook his head. “I didn’t mean that in a bad way, Dominic. I’m sorry,” she apologized.
“How did you mean it, Doc?” Dominic questioned.
“I…” She cleared her throat. “Why did his father try to kill him?” she asked rather than answering the question.
Dominic fought back the urge to roll his eyes. He hated Tamara Christian more and more with each passing session. “He was a drunk. He wanted his kid to make him laugh, and when the kid failed…” He trailed off, making a quick jabbing motion with his hand. Tamara flinched. “He’d stab him. Almost killed him twice.”
“That’s very dark, Dominic,” Tamara said quietly.
“It is,” Dominic agreed.
She stared at him for several seconds before dropping her gaze to her clipboard. “Why do you think some of your backstories for the jackrabbits get so dark?”
“Because the world is filled with darkness, Doc,” he said simply.
“Oh,” she said with a short nod. She cleared her throat, shifting in her chair. Dominic battled away a smile. He was making her uncomfortable. He considered that a success.
She certainly wasn’t bored anymore.
“When darkness… surrounds a person entirely, it’s hard not to pass it off to the people or animals around you. Giving the jackrabbits back stories simply fits the dark narrative of our lives. Just… a long, dark hallway filled with one evil after another, until we die. That’s what the jackrabbits are going through. And then I”—Dominic clapped his hands together once, causing Tamara to flinched again—“kill ‘em.”
“So…” She cleared her throat before shifting again. “So you’re putting them out of their misery by killing them, then?”
Dominic snorted. “No.”
“Then why kill them?”
“Why does anyone kill anything, Doc? Because I can.”
“There’s no other reason?”
“Oh, there is,” Dominic assured.
“And what would that be?” Tamara asked.
“Hmm… I think I’d like to save that answer for another time, Doc.”
“Dominic, if you don’t discuss your anger issues and what causes them, we’ll never be able to get you the bottom of it all. We’ll never be able to work on… improving your quality of life.”
“What if I didn’t want change? What if I enjoyed the way my mind processed everything?” A pause. “What if I live for the anger?” Dominic asked. Tamara swallowed roughly. He laughed, shaking his head. “I’m kidding Doc,” he said, and that was the truth. He hated the anger. If Tamara hadn’t changed up her methods of dealing with him, if she hadn’t grown bored with him, he was convinced that his anger issues would have been long sorted out.
But she had gotten bored, and she had made them worse. She had stopped trying to fix him.
Tamara let out a nervous laugh and forced an even more nervous smile. “Right,” she whispered. She cleared her throat. “Back to the rabbits, then?” she questioned.
“Sure thing, Doc.”
11:30 PM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, BREAKFAST NOOK
Bo tapped the enter key on his laptop’s keyboard before dropping both hands to the table. He watched videos whip by on the screen, each and every one in fast forward as his computer searched for any instances of the mystery man’s face.
Satisfied that the algorithm and the software would do their jobs, he stepped away from the table and walked into the kitchen. He set his coffee mug in the sink and flipped off the light. The kids already tucked in and asleep, he headed back to the bedroom he shared with Jensen and closed the door. He walked into the bathroom, shut the door, and twisted the lock.
“Eli?” Jensen questioned from the shower.
The younger man snorted. “Yeah, I shoulda known. You here to kill me?”
Bo rolled his eyes. “Of course not. Just to admire.”
“Oo, even better.”
Bo chuckled as he undressed, tossing his clothes into the pull-out hamper beneath the cupboard that held their bath towels. He stepped into the shower, wrapping his arms around Jensen’s waist. “I love you,” Bo whispered, pressing a kiss to the boldest scar on his husband’s back.
“I love you, too, Eli.” Jensen squeezed his hand before stepping away from him. “Did you get the algorithm done?” he asked, stepping out from the stream of hot water.
Bo nodded, immediately taking Jensen’s place. “Completed and actively running through every security and traffic cam in L.A. that it can get access to,” he said. “There are, of course, a few that Jamal will have to let me into tomorrow, or… that I’ll have to hack my way into, but I’m actually planning on not worrying about that tonight and getting some sleep instead.
Jensen smiled. “Good plan, baby. You need sleep. Actual sleep. More than an hour or two,” he said.
“I know. That’s an area I still have to attempt to improve,” Bo said. He shrugged. “I’m working on it, though.”
“I know you are. Your body’s just kind of a dick about it.”
Bo snorted. “Pretty much,” he agreed. He reached past Jensen, grabbing his shampoo from the corner rack. “Tomorrow?”
“I thought we’d take the kids out for supper instead of eating in,” Bo said. “Maybe that pizza place in Cliffburn? I think it’s kind of like a Mom and Pop place. The food’s all fresh and made that day. It’s a lot healthier than some of the crap we could be feeding them,” he said.
Jensen lifted his shoulders before nodding. “Works for me. Less cooking and cleaning for us.”
Bo smiled. “Exactly.” He cleared his throat, sighing quietly. “If we catch the Werewolf before his next kill, I’ll have to go back to L.A. for maybe a week or so to finalize some paperwork for the case. I’ll have my reports that will need to be checked over one more time, and then I believe Jamal wanted to show me how he works through everything at the end. Final paperwork, charges, press conferences, the prosecution, the defense… All of that.”
“So I’ll be here alone again?”
“If we catch him before June, yes,” Bo said.
“For a week?”
“Boy, are we gonna sleep like shit,” Jensen whispered. “We’ll make it work, Eli. We gotta start getting used to being apart, you know. For when you take over for Jamal. It’ll be for a lot more than just a week.”
“I know,” Bo said quietly.
Jensen offered a smile, reaching out with one hand, curling his fingers beneath the blonde’s chin. He tilted Bo’s head back. “We’re going to be fine. A few days apart or a year. We’ll be okay,” he promised. “I’m not going anywhere but here as long as you aren’t?”
“I won’t go anywhere.”
“Good,” Jensen murmured. He leaned down and kissed Bo, leaning his forehead against Bo’s. “I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
“You better,” Jensen said as he leaned away from the blonde.
“I do,” Bo assured. “I always will.”
“Good.” A smile tugged at one corner of Jensen’s mouth lifted. “We can binge watch something till we fall asleep. Sound good?”
“Sounds perfect, Jens.”
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