Friday: May 19, 2028
9:49 AM; CLINSTONE POLICE DEPARTMENT, DETECTIVE SERGEANT JENSEN AUSTEN-TAYLOR’S DESK
“How much do you love me?” Bo questioned, lowering himself into one of the chairs in front of his husband’s desk.
“What’d you do?” Jensen asked.
“Your faith in me is mind-blowing,” Bo said, laying a hand on his chest. “I didn’t do anything.”
“A’ight. Whaddya want?”
“Can I steal your laptop?”
“You’re already running two of them for the footage. What else could you possibly need another for?”
“I want a third algorithm to be actively running through current footage in hopes of spotting his face. If I find him on camera while he’s in a coffee shop or on a street, I can call Jamal and he can send his men out to find out the guy’s name,” Bo said.
Jensen leaned to the side and grabbed his laptop from the corner of his desk. “You’re lucky I love you.”
Bo smiled, grabbing the laptop. “Please. You’ll be on your phone all day anyway. But, you know, thank you.”
“Sure thing, babe. Lunch today at the diner?”
“Of course. Extend an invitation to Ryan and Jake.”
Bo pushed himself to his feet, leaning over the desk to kiss Jensen. “See you at lunch, love.”
8:30 AM; LOS ANGELES, THE WEREWOLF’S HOUSE, LIVING ROOM
Dominic sat down on his couch, unlocking the small tablet in his hands. He opened up his music app and clicked the play button. He skipped the first song before setting the tablet down on his lap.
Tamara Christian had lost interest in him because she couldn’t take advantage of him the way she could take advantage of Ashton. How many other patients had she taken advantage of? They were supposed to trust her, and most of them trusted her enough to tell her all of their secrets. It wouldn’t be that hard for her to convince a fair share of her patients to sleep with her.
Dominic raked a hand through his hair, swallowing roughly. He had been willing to kill Ashton just to get the doctor back on his side, back to listening to his stories. He had been willing to kill a man that was nothing but a pawn in Tamara’s sick, sick mind.
Not that I’m much better, Dominic reminded himself. He knew he was a killer. He knew his victims were nothing but pawns in his sick, sick mind. He knew they only served the purpose of getting Tamara’s attention.
He wasn’t much better than the doctor herself.
In a way, he was relatively okay with that. He wanted to get better, of course, but he was okay with temporarily being just as bad as she was. He’d right the wrongs eventually. He just needed time to plan it out, time to fix it all.
For Dominic, righting said wrongs began with getting rid of Tamara. Permanently. She had torn down any progress he had ever made just because she felt the need to sleep with her mentally ill or disturbed patients.
After Tamara was dead, he’d find a new doctor, one that wouldn’t lose interest in him or sleep with people like Ashton. He’d find a new doctor who would do his or her damn job without conflict.
He wouldn’t ever allow himself to fall for someone’s trap the same way he’d fallen for all of Tamara’s traps. She was conniving and manipulative. He knew that now.
He could only consider himself lucky that he had never run down the same path of her manipulation that Ashton and God only knew how many others had already ran.
Dominic drummed his fingers against the screen of the tablet, his eyes focused on the blank, beige wall across the room. He could turn her into the police. He could.
Or, he could try.
He doubted the bitch had kept any evidence of what she had been doing to at least one, if not several, of her patients. Who would the cops believe anyway? A well-educated doctor or a mentally ill patient?
As far as Dominic knew, Ashton hadn’t exactly seemed… ‘all there.’ The cops would never believe a word that came out of his mouth.
Still, he could at least give it a try.
8:56 AM; LOS ANGELES, ASHTON LAWRENCE’S HOUSE, KITCHEN
Ashton set a cup of tea on the table before gently pushing a cup of coffee over to Dominic. “So… what’s up?” Ashton questioned, lowering himself into his chair.
“It’s about Tamara,” Dominic said.
“Miss Christian. Right,” Ashton said with a nod. “What about her?”
“You remember what we talked about yesterday?”
“Did you cancel your appointments with her?”
“Uh, why not?”
“Well, my mom’s in charge of those. She pays for them and schedules them,” Ashton said.
“And… have you called your mom?” Dominic asked.
“Oh, yeah. Of course. She says I need to keep going. The appointments keep me from getting trapped in my head. Or, you know… something like that. That’s what Mom says, anyway.”
“Does your mother know what Tamara’s doing to you?” Dominic questioned.
“Of course not. You don’t share that kinda thing with your mom. That’s gross,” Ashton said.
“It’s different when her son’s rights are being violated.”
“Well, I wouldn’t say that.”
“Your rights are being violated. That’s exactly what you should say,” Dominic insisted. He had other ways to word it, of course, but he figured it was the least offensive or disturbing way to remind Ashton of what was happening to him.
“Well, I can’t tell my mom about, you know… sex stuff, no matter what. She’d be against that,” Ashton said.
“Why? Your mom wouldn’t want to know if some doctor was violating you?”
“I dunno. Mom and I don’t talk about that.”
Dominic let out a heavy sigh, dropping his head to rest in his hands.
“I’m sorry. I can be… I’m annoying,” Ashton said.
Dominic shook his head, raking a hand through his hair. “It’s not your fault. I just don’t have much patience anymore,” he said. He sighed, lifting his head. “Tamara took that from me.”
“She’s good at that, huh?”
“Yeah,” Dominic whispered with a nod. “What do you go to the appointments for?”
“What do you mean?”
“What, uh, what issues are you going there to talk about? Like, umm… like, I go there for anger issues. I get really, really mad way too easily, and she’s supposed to help me figure out why so I can better control it. What are you there for?”
“My mom shot my dad when I was eleven,” Ashton said.
“And you… saw it?”
“Uh-huh. It was in our living room.”
“Jesus Christ,” Dominic whispered, covering his mouth with both hands. “Tamara… She’s supposed to help you…?”
“Deal with the bad stuff from it all.”
Dominic nodded, clearing his throat. “Has she ever talked about it with you?” he asked.
“Oh, sure. In the beginning,” Ashton said. “She used to be real nice and caring. She’d listen to everything I said and she’d ask me how I felt about it all. She helped me figure out… a lot of stuff. Then she just, you know…”
“Got bored with listening.”
“Kinda, yeah, I guess.”
Dominic let out a long breath, folding his hands beneath his chin. “What happens if you don’t go to these appointments?” he asked.
“Miss Christian calls my mom,” Ashton said. “And then Mom comes down here and tells me why I need to go.”
“And then what?”
“She puts me in the car and drives me to the offices.”
Dominic stared at the man for a moment before nodding. “How many times have you tried not to go to your appointments?” he asked.
“Only a couple,” Ashton said, wrapping his hands around his cup of tea. “Mom gets mad and, you know, upset when I skip them. I don’t like making her mad.”
“Okay,” Dominic said quietly. He cleared his throat. “I thought that… we could go to the police station.”
“I want you to tell one of the police officers about what she’s doing to you.”
“Oh, I couldn’t do that.”
“Miss Christian says they wouldn’t believe me,” Ashton said.
Dominic closed his eyes. Even Tamara knew the cops would believe her story over Ashton’s any day of the week. “Okay.”
Dominic shook his head. “It’s not your fault,” he assured. He forced his eyes open, staring down at his still untouched coffee. “When’s your next appointment?”
“You’re going to skip it,” Dominic said.
“I can’t,” Ashton reminded.
“You can’t skip it if you stay here,” Dominic corrected. “You’re coming with me.”
Ashton looked around the kitchen, a slight frown tugging at either corner of his mouth. “To where?”
“To my house.”
“Is it far?”
“No, not very,” Dominic said.
“Mm.” Ashton’s hands shook as he took a sip of his tea. “I don’t think I can do that, Dom.”
“I don’t like leaving. It’s not safe anywhere else,” Ashton said.
“I promise you that it’s safe where I live,” Dominic said.
Just me. “No. I’ll keep you safe, Ashton. I won’t let Tamara or anyone else hurt you,” Dominic assured.
Dominic let out a breath. A promise was a bit more than he was capable of. “I’ll do my best,” he said instead. “Okay?”
9:31 AM; LOS ANGELES, THE WEREWOLF’S HOUSE, KITCHEN
Dominic reached back and closed the door as Ashton followed him into the house. “I know it’s a bit smaller than your house. I can’t afford much,” he said.
“That’s okay,” Ashton said.
Dominic kicked off his shoes, and Ashton followed suit. “It’s small, so there aren’t any bedrooms. I just sleep on the couch, but I’ll let you have that.”
“Where will you sleep?”
“One of the chairs,” Dominic said. He cleared his throat, scratching the back of his head. “Are you hungry? Did you eat breakfast?”
“I could eat.”
“Great. Umm, you can just, like… hang out in the living room for a while. I’ll make us something to eat and then…” Dominic lifted his shoulders. “I don’t know. I’ll figure out what to do about Tamara so we can both go back to living our lives. How’s that sound?”
“Sounds good,” Ashton said. He carefully stepped past Dominic and walked into the living room. Dominic sighed. Things had just gotten a hell of a lot more complicated.
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