4:29 AM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, MASTER BEDROOM
Jensen awoke to an empty bed. He pushed himself up on his elbow, eyes quickly scanning the dark room. Hati lay asleep in her bed, and he could make out Acamas’s sleeping form on the chair across the room. The bedroom door was open just a crack, and he could see a soft hint of light through it.
He climbed out of bed and walked over to his dresser, pulling open the bottom drawer and grabbing a pair of sweatpants. His movements were slow and groggy as he pulled them up his legs and tied the drawstring in a half-assed knot. Raking a hand through his hair, he pulled open the door the rest of the way and walked out of the bedroom.
In the kitchen, he found the source of the light. The light above the stove was on. He caught sight of Bo in the keeping room. With a sigh, Jensen walked into the other room and squatted down beside the couch. Bo lay on his back, Kayla asleep beside him, her head on his shoulder. Lightly, Jensen reached out, prodding Bo’s side with two of his fingers.
The blonde’s eyes opened as he turned his head toward Jensen. “Hi,” he whispered, his voice holding only the slightest trace of sleep.
“Hi,” Jensen whispered back. He cleared his throat, gently combing his fingers through Bo’s hair. “Want me to take her back to her room?”
Bo looked at Kayla briefly before shaking his head. “She can’t sleep on her own right now. Nightmares,” he explained quietly. “I’ll stay here with her.”
“Sleeping on the couch makes you sore.”
One corner of Bo’s mouth lifted. “The things you do for family, right?” he questioned.
“Yeah,” Jensen whispered. “You’re sure?” Bo nodded. “Okay. I’m, uh… I’m gonna try to go back to bed.”
“Okay, Jens. Turn up the heat on your way? And… turn on the water in the kitchen sink so it drips just a bit. It’ll help keep the pipes from freezing.”
“Can do, Eli.” Jensen kissed him softly before a smile crossed his face. “I love you.”
“I love you, too, Jens,” Bo murmured, reaching out to lay a hand on Jensen’s cheek. “If you absolutely cannot fall asleep without me, I’ll come back. Otherwise, I don’t want to risk waking her up.”
“All right, babe. I’ll just make Hati cuddle with me,” Jensen said. Bo rolled his eyes, but the faint smile never left his face. “I’ll see you in a few hours,” the younger man added.
Bo nodded. “Sounds like a plan, love. Goodnight.”
Jensen smiled. “Night, Eli.”
7:41 AM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, KITCHEN
“Nah, we’re totally snowed in,” Jensen said, his phone pressed to his ear.
Jacob let out a sigh. “You and me both. Al’s stranded in Chesterwick, I’m stuck in the house with five little shitheads—that’s a lie; five children, one of whom is a total shithead—and you guys are stuck in your house.” He chuckled. “Clinstone, huh?”
Jensen laughed softly, reaching up to pull a mug from the cupboard. “Clinstone,” he repeated.
“I bet you’re missing L.A. right about now.”
“Oh… just a little.”
“Bo’s parents still stuck there, too?” Jacob asked.
Jensen nodded, even though the lieutenant couldn’t see him. “Yeah, they’re upstairs.”
“Figured. Where’s Blondie? I called him a couple times before I tried your number instead,” Jacob said.
“He’s asleep, believe it or not. Kayla couldn’t sleep last night, so they both ended up on the couch, and she passed out eventually.”
“She saw the dead guy?”
“Jesus Christ,” Jacob muttered. “She okay?”
“She’s strong,” Jensen said. “And, you know, she can spend the whole day clinging to Bo if she needs to.”
“Yeah, she lucked out, you know. Ending up with you guys,” Jacob said.
Jensen smiled softly. “No, I just think we both lucked out with Bo,” he said honestly.
“He thinks the same about you, there, Sherlock.”
“I know he does.”
“Well, I’m gonna dig myself outta the house, here. I can get my door open, so… Are your doors blocked?”
“Oh, yeah. Doors are totally fucked.”
Jacob snorted. “After I get to my car, I’ll come help knock snow away from your doors,” he said.
“Thank you, Jake.”
“Ah, you betcha, Jensen. I’ll see you in a bit.”
“See you soon,” Jensen reiterated. He pulled his phone from his ear, pressing the red end call button several times before setting his phone on the counter. He poured himself a cup of coffee before his gaze shifted back to his phone. With a desperate sigh, he opened up his contact list and brought up Cecilia Delacroix’s number. He pressed his phone to his ear.
“Good morning, Jensen,” Cecilia greeted just before it could go to voicemail.
“Hey. Are you snowed in?” Jensen asked.
She chuckled. “One of the pluses of living in an apartment complex, Jensen. The doorman’s already pushing snow away from the doors,” she said.
“Are… you going to work?” Jensen questioned.
“I was planning on it.”
“I don’t want you to go to work.”
“Jensen, sweetheart, I’ve driven on icy, snowy roads way more than you have. I did it before I was pregnant, and I can certainly do it now,” Cecilia said.
“I know that, but…”
“But you worry about your boys.”
“Yes, but I also worry about you,” Jensen said.
He leaned back against the counter, crossing an arm over his chest. “Cecilia, I’m serious. I just… People are stupid when the roads are icy. I don’t want to risk you getting hurt.”
“That’s sweet, Jensen, but I have a case to work on. ALl of my stuff’s at the firm,” she said.
“I’ll get it for you as soon as I’m able to get out of the house. Please?” Jensen asked.
Cecilia sighed softly. “All right, Jensen. For you.”
“Mmhmm. Consider yourself lucky you’re married to my best friend or I’d kick your ass for telling me what to do.”
Jensen smiled. “Been considering myself lucky for it every single minute of the last ten days, Cecilia. But, seriously, thank you. I just want you and the twins to be safe, that’s all.”
“I know, sweetheart. I’ll keep them safe and sound, Jensen. Promise. You just work on getting out of your house to grab my files. Call me when you’re leaving for the firm. I can have my assistant meet you to give you the files.”
“Will do, Cecilia. You take it easy today, okay?”
“Of course, Jensen. You, too.”
9:15 AM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, BREAKFAST NOOK
Jensen opened the sliding glass door that led to the back porch. Hati dashed outside for the first time all morning, nearly running straight into Jacob. The lieutenant chuckled, leaning the shovel against the house as he stepped inside and shut the door. “Your front door’s buried in even more snow than this one was. I went the easy route,” Jacob said.
Jensen smiled faintly. “I don’t blame you,” he admitted. He turned his head to the side as Bo’s hand touched his lower back. “Thought you were asleep?”
“Light sleeper, Jens,” Bo reminded. “The girls would like to play outside in the snow. So they can do that, and we can work on digging on an actual path between here and the front of the house.”
Jensen nodded. “We should get to the garage first. I told Cecilia I’d drive out to Cliffburn to grab some files for her. I didn’t want her on the road,” he said.
Bo smiled. “That’s sweet of you, Jens.” His blue eyes shifted to Jacob’s face. “You want some coffee before you go back out there?” he asked.
“God, yes, please,” Jacob said. Bo chuckled, rolling his eyes. He patted Jensen on the back before heading for the kitchen. “He’s… off,” Jacob murmured, looking back at Jensen.
“Well, between training to take over for Jamal, making sure Kayla’s okay, and Kathy, he’s got a lot on his mind.”
“Because she didn’t come to the wedding?” Jensen nodded. “Dallas was there, though,” Jacob said.
“Because Dallas doesn’t have any issue with Bo and me. Kathy doesn’t understand how Bo is, and I fucking quote, ‘suddenly gay’. He wants nothing to do with her, so…”
“Does Pitman know about that?” Jacob asked.
Jensen scoffed. “ ‘Course not. Bo isn’t going to make him choose between him or Kathy. He thinks that’d be unfair for Jamal,” he said. He rolled his eyes. “I don’t care that the woman half-ass raised me. The Taylors did most of the heavy lifting. If it were up to me, Jamal would know about it.”
“Kathy’s gonna regret ever saying that soon enough,” Jacob said, bending down to take off his shoes.
“What makes you say that?” Jensen asked.
Jacob chuckled. “What the hell do you think’s gonna happen when Bo is her boss? As soon as he’s in charge, she’s gonna wish she didn’t insult him like that. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you, you know?”
Jensen smiled faintly. “There is that,” he agreed. He nodded toward the kitchen. “Come on. Let’s grab coffee before Bo asks what we’re out here gossiping about.”
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