Wednesday: February 25, 2026
6:43 AM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, MASTER BEDROOM
Bo shrugged a purple and white flannel shirt on over his shoulders, sitting down on the edge of the bed. He had slept out in the living room with Kayla again, and to say his neck and shoulders were cramped was an understatement. Although Kayla had slept soundly through the night—thankfully—Bo had only managed to catch an hour or two.
He looked down, buttoning up his shirt. His hands froze on the second button as Jensen’s hand touched his back. “Morning,” Bo greeted softly, clearing his throat as he went back to buttoning his shirt.
“Didn’t hear you come in,” Jensen said, his voice rough. “How’s your neck?”
One corner of Bo’s mouth lifted. “A little sore, but nothing I can’t deal with for the day.”
“Mm… I’ll make it better tonight,” Jensen mumbled. He let his hand drop back to the bed. “No school today?”
“No, they want to give the kids at least one more day to work through whatever they may be feeling,” Bo said. He left the top button of his shirt undone, rolling his neck to one side in an attempt to stretch out the knot that resided there. “But they both go back tomorrow, presumably. Mom and Dad’ll watch them while we’re at work today.”
“Mmhmm.” Jensen scrubbed at his face, letting his hands rest over his eyes. “What time is it?”
“About fifteen before seven.”
“Mm.” Jensen rolled onto his side, sliding a hand up Bo’s back. “How long?” he asked.
Bo smiled, shaking his head. “Ten days, sixteen hours,” he glanced at his watch on the nightstand, “twenty-three minutes, and two seconds.”
Jensen chuckled, forcing himself in a sitting position. “One of these days, when I ask you that, it’ll be on our anniversary, and all you’ll have to say is, ‘One year’.”
“Admittedly, I’m rather excited for that.”
“Me, too, Eli.” Jensen pressed a kiss to Bo’s shoulder before wrapping his arms around the blonde. He rested his forehead on Bo’s shoulder, smiling as Bo reached back and threaded his fingers through his dark hair. “You gonna talk to Jake about the dead guy today?”
“That’s the plan, anyway. It depends on how, uh, coherent I’m able to make a report sound,” Bo said. “You and Jamal have ruined me. I genuinely require sleep to function now. I don’t enjoy it.”
Jensen chuckled. “Sorry, babe. It means you’re healthier, though.” A pause. “Means you’re stuck with me for a long damn time.”
Bo smiled softly. “I do believe that was the goal of marriage, Jens. To make sure we’re stuck with each other forever.”
“Yeah,” Jensen whispered. He cleared his throat, considering not saying what he wanted to say. He already knew what Bo’s response would be, but he decided it was something they needed to address. “You need to tell Jamal,” he said.
“I’m not making him choose between Mrs. Silver and me,” Bo denied, gently pushing himself away from Jensen. He stood up, walking into the bathroom.
Jensen sighed heavily, climbing off the bed. He walked into the bathroom and through his closet, leaning against the doorway of Bo’s. “You know he’ll take your side, Eli.”
“I know. That’s why I don’t want to tell him,” Bo said.
“Because he’d choose you? There’s nothing wrong with him choosing you. He already doesn’t like her much,” Jensen said.
“He raised her, Jensen. He sees me as some sort of… heir to his empire. A charity case of a son, if you will. That’s like asking one of us to choose between Amber and Kayla. It’s wrong, and that’s not who I am,” Bo said. He skimmed his fingers over his watches, grabbing one with a black band and a faux marble face. Although he kept the watch Jensen had given him for the wedding with him at all times, he still felt the compulsive need to cycle through the rest of his watches.
“That’s… that’s not the same thing,” Jensen said. “They’re our girls. You and Kathy aren’t…”
“It is the same thing,” Bo corrected. He closed the drawer, standing up as he clasped the watch around his left wrist. “Amber likes playing with dolls. Tomorrow, she decides she likes cars and trucks instead. Kayla says she doesn’t understand how Amber could suddenly like to play with a boy’s toy. Whose side do you choose?”
“Not so easy, is it?” Bo asked.
“Kathy didn’t express confusion about something that simple, Eli. She said it was one thing to date a man while you were getting over Bridget, but it was another thing to marry a man to get over Bridget. That isn’t the same thing,” Jensen said.
“But isn’t it?” Bo asked. He patted Jensen’s chest as he walked past the younger man. “It’s not the same exact thing, but it presents the same situation, the same problem. You don’t make a man choose between two people he cares about. It isn’t right, Jens,” he explained softly.
Jensen followed Bo back to the bedroom. “So what, Eli? You’re just… never gonna tell him?”
“Not anytime soon, no.”
“She wouldn’t even come to the wedding, Eli. I’m supposed to be her son.”
Bo let out a quiet sigh. “Jens, I uninvited her. I wasn’t going to have that much negative energy at our wedding. I told her not to come,” he said.
“Why didn’t you tell me that?”
“It was a last minute decision. I was worried you’d be pissed at me for it. My apologies.”
Jensen shook his head. “You don’t have to be sorry for it, Eli. Honestly, I’m thankful you made her not come. I didn’t want her there, either.” He crossed the room, sitting down at the foot of the bed. “Eli?”
“Eventually, I’m gonna have to tell Jamal about it. I’m not as good at lying to him as you are. I was able to lie about dating you for a while, but I can’t lie to him for extended periods of time,” Jensen said.
“I know.” Bo pressed a kiss to Jensen’s forehead. “And that’s okay. Just know that I won’t be the one to tell him.” He patted Jensen’s thigh. “Get dressed, Jens. I’ll start coffee and make breakfast, okay?”
Jensen nodded. “I’ll be out in a few, babe.” He reached up, squeezing Bo’s hand. “I love you, Eli.”
Bo smiled softly. “I love you, too, Jens.”
10:07 AM; CLINSTONE POLICE DEPARTMENT, LIEUTENANT JACOB MASON’S OFFICE
Lightly, Bo knocked on the door of Jacob’s office. “Jake?”
“Hmm?” Jacob lifted his head. “What can I do for you?” he asked.
“I’d like to talk about the presumed suicide at the school, if you have the time,” Bo said.
Jacob smiled. “I’ve always got time for you, brother. Come on in,” he said. Bo stepped into the office, shutting the door. Jacob watched him sit down before leaning back in his chair. “What’ve you got?”
“Well, I looked at the pictures and did some… digging, and I don’t think there is any way that man committed suicide. Logically, it just doesn’t make sense, Jake.”
“Well, walk me through it.”
“The man’s name is Alonzo Sáez. He’d be turning thirty in November. He owned his home, owned his car, and had no debt. Student loans paid off, credit cards paid off. He was Zoe Beckenbauer’s assistant, Jake. It doesn’t make sense that he’d kill himself, and if he was going to, he certainly wouldn’t have done it at a school. He and Zoe helped set of charity work for kids all the damn time. The last thing he would logically do is go out with the intention of traumatizing children,” Bo said.
“It’s… a good argument. You have that written down?” Jacob asked.
“You betcha,” Bo murmured, pulling open his satchel. One corner of Jacob’s mouth lifted as he grabbed the folder Bo handed to him. “It’s not much, and I don’t expect it to be enough to swing a case. I just ask that you do all you can to swing it my way. This is a case. I feel it, and if it doesn’t go through and I can’t look at that body before he’s embalmed, we lose any evidence that could’ve been left behind.”
“Do you know when the funeral is?”
“I already know you hacked into his bank account for some of this info, Bo. Just tell me when his funeral is.”
Bo cleared his throat. “I didn’t check for his funeral, but I know they’re embalming him tomorrow at noon.”
“Dammit,” Jacob muttered, glancing down at his watch. He pushed himself to his feet, folder in hand. “I’ll talk to David, start there. I’ll do what I can, Bo.”
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