8:41 AM; STONE HARBOR, NEW JERSEY, 117TH STREET
Mickey walked down the street, favoring the middle of the paved road rather than the sidewalk. He shoved his hands into his pockets, looking both ways before walking into the intersection and crossing the street. He moved to the sidewalk, his eyes skating over the bare trees, branches heavy with ice.
He needed to find a home for his father, one his mother would be happy with. He needed to find the home soon and get back to Clinstone. He couldn’t even begin to imagine how crazy the detectives were going over his murders and the sudden break between them. He had a habit for knocking women off left and right with little to no break in between. It’s what made his kills famous in New Jersey.
The idea of the little blonde analyst in Clinstone being confused at Mickey’s break was… thrilling. Bo Austen’s presence in Clinstone had been Mickey’s deciding factor when he was debating where to make his kills famous once more. If Austen had been in Los Angeles during February, Mickey would’ve taken his kills there instead.
In New Jersey, Mickey had wanted to be caught, but that dumbass had taken the fall for him to gain the game that came with the Casanova’s name. He’d gone to Clinstone for the same reason. He revived his killings to prove they’d caught the wrong man. He knew all about Austen’s track record, about his solve rate. Mickey had gone to Clinstone to get caught without turning himself in.
Of course, he hadn’t planned on making it easy. He wasn’t planning on purposely leaving evidence behind. No DNA, no prints. He wasn’t stupid, but he had wanted to get caught. He wanted the fame to be attached to the right person: him. That had been the plan.
Now, however, with his father’s Alzheimer’s worsening and his mother about to be home alone all the time, he didn’t want to get caught any more. Getting caught was choosing fame over his parents, over his family.
His father’s illness changed everything. It changed his plans. He loved his mother too much to leave her alone. Social security checks would never be enough for her to stay at the house and to pay for his father’s assisted living. She’d need his help, help that he certainly couldn’t offer from prison.
He hadn’t given the folks at CPD any evidence to lead to him. He was sure of that, but now that he couldn’t stand to get caught, he couldn’t help but be worried. A desperate yearning for fame had been one thing when his father was still well enough to stay at home under his wife’s watchful eye. Now, that yearning was nothing but selfish and stupid.
One way or another, he’d find a way to fix it. If he was lucky, Bo Austen was nowhere near figuring out who he was.
11:07 AM; CLINSTONE FITNESS GYM
Bo stared at the wall before him as he ran on the treadmill. Long finished with his attempt at profiling the Casanova, he’d gone to the gym to make up for at least a few of the workouts he’d missed since the twins had been born. He’d run through the quick, half hour workout he and Wayne Duncan had designed for boxing training before heading to the treadmill to get in a few miles for the day.
With his earphones pushed into his ears and playing instrumental covers of songs, he was forced to listen to his brain rather than the words of a random piece of music. Listening to his brain, he still couldn’t put the pieces of the Casanova together to make something whole. The Casanova was a man—he knew that. The Casanova was white and his forties—he assumed that.
The Casanova had taken a break from killing—he knew that—but the reasoning behind it was something he had no idea of. Truthfully, Bo couldn’t even come up with an assumed reasoning, not yet.
The Casanova had sex with and killed women—he knew that—but he didn’t know what drove the Casanova to do it. How he chose his victims, how he decided upon a method of operation, how he managed to be attractive enough to charm the women but not attractive enough for the bartenders to remember his face.
He and Thomas had tried to make it all make sense before Bo gave up and went to the gym, but they weren’t much further than when they originally began. A white male in his mid to late forties. It was all they all, and it certainly wasn’t enough to start searching through old house records to see who used to live in New Jersey or who currently lived in Clinstone.
Although, in reality, if they couldn’t make progress, Bo had no problem wasting an extra forty hours a week searching through record after record to find someone who matched the single-sentence profile.
Somewhere along the line, Bo just needed something that would make sense; he just wasn’t certain when the sense would be made.
12:49 PM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, DINING ROOM
“Dig in,” Bo said as he set two fast food bags on the table. Amber happily yanked one of the bags toward herself, reaching inside to grab her food.
“How was the gym?” Jensen questioned, opening up the second bag and setting out food for the taking.
Bo lifted his shoulders. “Tiring,” he said simply. “I did half an hour on the bag and ran four miles. No progress on the case, though. Nothing… impressive accomplished.”
Jensen chuckled. “I wasn’t exactly expecting you to crack the case while you were gone.” He watched Amber and Kayla leave the room before he turned back toward his husband. “But, still… just the same shit as before?”
“Same as before. Just a white male in his forties. It’s all I know, and even two of those things are really only likely assumptions,” Bo said. “I see why they were so willing to believe that Andrew was the real killer. It’s much easier to convince yourself this odd, random man is the killer than it is to convince yourself you’ll catch the killer despite the extreme lack in evidence.”
“Yeah,” Jensen murmured. He offered a smile. “But we’ll figure it out. You, me, Jass, the goddamn FBI. We’ll get there. We just need time, patience.”
“I know.” One corner of Bo’s mouth lifted. “If it comes to it, I’ll stalk every single house record available until I find a group of people that have moved from New Jersey to Minnesota.”
Jensen chuckled, shaking his head. “Well, let’s avoid doing that right now. Give Tom and Chris time to work first. Then we’ll see about your much longer process, deal?”
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