Thursday: March 4, 2027
8:37 AM; CLINSTONE POLICE DEPARTMENT, DETECTIVE SERGEANT JENSEN AUSTEN-TAYLOR’S DESK
Jensen cleared his throat as he sat down at his desk, lifting his gaze to the man sitting before him. “Mister Briggs,” he greeted. Luke nodded. “What can I do for you today, sir?”
“I just… wanted to ask how close you are to finding my daughter’s killer,” Luke said.
“We’re getting closer, Mister Briggs,” Jensen assured.
“Having the little blonde on your side must be helpful, right? Mister… Mister Austen?”
“Yes, sir. He’s very helpful,” Jensen confirmed. “He’s been hard at work in order to find the killer.”
“What kind of evidence do you have against the guy?” Luke asked.
“You know just as well as I do that I can’t tell you that, Mister Briggs.”
One corner of Luke’s mouth lifted, something that made him look a little more alive than before. “It was worth a shot.”
“All I can tell you is that we’re working on it,” Jensen said. “We’re working our way through persons of interest and going from there. We’ll get him. Ellen will get the justice she deserves, Mister Briggs.”
9:04 AM; CLINSTONE POLICE DEPARTMENT, LAB
“I just got done talking with Luke Briggs,” Jensen said as he walked into the lab.
“About?” Bo asked.
“He came down to see how close we were to catching the Casanova,” Jensen said. He pulled out a chair beside Bo and sat down.”It’s been over a week of going through these damn records. We’re leaving for L.A. tomorrow. How close are we to settling on someone?” he questioned.
“Well, I have eleven names in all. I’m starting background checks today,” Bo said. “Our flight leaves in the morning so that we can celebrate Cas’s birthday with Mom and Dad, but I’ll be picking up the rest of the checks on Saturday,” he explained. “Honestly, most of today is just revolve around working up individual algorithms for each name. It’ll search through their public records. Schooling, housing, police arrests. That kind of thing. If it’s not enough to pinpoint a specific person as our killer, I’ll do some of my own searching of records.”
Jensen scoffed, draping an arm over the back of Bo’s stool. “So, in short, you’ll be hacking into records for info.”
“Well, I wasn’t going to say that,” Bo said.
“I know, babe.” Jensen leaned over and pressed a kiss to Bo’s temple. “I’m proud of you, Eli.”
“For being able to find a balance between work and family. You haven’t gotten lost in your head or anything. That’s beyond amazing,” Jensen said.
Bo smiled softly. “I’ve done my best to keep my head on straight.”
“I know, and you’ve done a damn good job. So, you know, I’m proud of you.”
Jensen nodded, clearing his throat. “Has Jamal told you what he wants from you?”
“Not yet. He keeps saying I’ll find out when we get to L.A,” Bo said. He offered a shrug. “You know how vague and cryptic he likes to be.”
Jensen laughed. “Yeah, there is that,” he agreed.
“But that’ll be Saturday morning, so I’m trying not to worry myself about it too much. He says it’s nothing bad, so I’m holding out hope that he does still have an idea of the differences between good and bad,” Bo said.
“Makes sense.” Jensen sighed, tilting his head back to look at the ceiling. “Our baby boy’s turning one tomorrow.”
“Crazy how quickly they grow up, hmm?” Bo asked.
“Yeah,” Jensen breathed. “I just want him to stay tiny forever.”
Bo chuckled, reaching down to squeeze Jensen’s thigh. “I do, too. But, hey, at least we have a few more months before Grayson joins the one-year gang, right?”
“I don’t think that makes me feel better. It just makes me feel old.”
Bo snorted. “You’re hardly old,” he reminded.
“I’m married with four kids and two houses,” Jensen said. “It makes me feel old,” he added.
“Understandable,” Bo agreed. He skimmed over the numbers and phrases written out on his screen, his blue eyes in search of any possible mistakes in the algorithm he’d set up for one of the names that fit the only current, set-in-stone profile: male. Satisfied, he tapped his pinky against the enter key and dropped his hands to his lap. “Coffee refill?” he questioned.
Jensen nodded, pushing himself to his feet. “Coffee refill,” he echoed. Bo stood up, swiping his coffee mug from the table. He followed his husband out of the lab, the empty mug held close to his chest. “We’re in L.A. all of next week?”
“And if something breaks on the case?”
“Then… I’ll fly out and confront the guy to get it over with,” Bo said. “But looking at it one step at a time, the algorithms come first. They’ll do the main, easy searches. I’ll do the more advanced ones, and we go from there. One step at a time, remember?”
Jensen chuckled softly. “Yeah, babe. I remember. My bad.” He smacked a hand against Bo’s backside as they headed up the stairs. “Do you have come sort of gag gift for Pitman’s birthday? Like last time?”
Bo snorted. “My gift last time was hilarious, not a gag,” he said. “The Grandfather. He liked it.” Jensen rolled his eyes. “But, no, I haven’t planned anything yet. He’s being his usual ‘against celebration’ self.”
Jensen frowned as he and Bo walked into the break room. “Was he not allowed to celebrate his birthday growing up?”
“Umm… I honestly don’t know,” Bo said, offering a shrug. He grabbed the coffee pot and refilled his mug. “He doesn’t tell me much about his childhood. Just, you know, that he took care of Kathy, Wayne, and a few others along the way. He’s not exactly chatty about his past,” he said.
“Fair enough,” Jensen agreed, grabbing the coffee pot from Bo. “Do you ever wonder about it?”
Bo lifted his shoulders, stirring a spoonful of sugar into his coffee. “Sometimes, I suppose, but I tend to try and keep my nose out of his business. All I know is that he’s known the Lucchese family for a long time. I don’t know how far back that connection runs,” he said honestly. He smiled, elbowing Jensen in the side. “Maybe he’ll tell me when he’s ninety.”
Jensen snorted. “Maybe.” He dropped a splash of creamed into his coffee before nodding toward the door. “Come on. I have algorithms to watch you design.
“Sounds like a hard day.”
“It is. Hardest work I’ve ever had to do,” Jensen said. Bo scoffed, rolling his eyes as he walked out of the break room. Jensen only laughed, trailing after his husband soon after. “You know I love you, dontcha?”
Bo snorted. “Yeah, yeah. I love you, too, you dumbass.”
“Luckily. I don’t think anybody else would put up with me,” Jensen said.
Bo smiled, shaking his head. “Well, we have that in common. No one else would put up with me, either.”
“Of course. That’s why we’re stuck together, you and me.”
“I know, love. That’s why you get to come down and watch me do all the hard work.”
Jensen grinned, shoving a hand into the back pocket of Bo’s jeans. “Favorite part of the job, babe.”
“Making me do all the hard work?” the blonde questioned.
“No, just… watching you.”
“Creepy but adorable.”
“So… my everyday combination?”
Bo snorted. “Yeah, Jens. That.”
4:03 PM; CLINSTONE POLICE DEPARTMENT, LIEUTENANT JACOB MASON’S OFFICE
Bo knocked on the open door before leaning into Jacob’s office. “Heading out. How long are you going to be?”
Jacob turned his wrist to the side, looking down at his watch. “Maybe seven?” he asked.
Bo nodded. “I’ll take care of the kids for supper and save a plate for you,” he said.
Jacob sighed, smiling softly. “You’re a lifesaver. Thank you.”
“Mmhmm. We’re heading to L.A. tomorrow afternoon after the girls get out of school. Your kids can stay at the house until you get off work. Tom will be there with them after work.”
“Again, lifesaver. Thanks.”
“No problem.” Bo cleared his throat, drumming fingers against the desk. “Have you talked to Alice about the law firm?”
“She told me that Jamal’s not as important as you think he is, and I kindly reminded her that he most definitely is,” Jacob said.
“Kindly enough that she probably kicked you out of the house for the night?” Bo asked.
The lieutenant grinned. “You know her so well.”
Bo chuckled. “Do you need to stay at the house?”
“It’d be appreciated, but I can totally get a hotel room for the night.”
Bo waved a hand. “You can stay at the house. And, uh, I’ll toss the law firm idea Jamal’s way this weekend, see what happens.”
“You’re going to be running background checks while you’re gone?” Jacob asked.
“On the possible suspects?” Bo questioned. Jacob nodded. “Yes. I’ll keep you updated on all of it, as well.”
“Great. It’s appreciated.”
“No trouble at all, Jake. See you in a few hours, all right?”
“You betcha, Blondie.”
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