Friday: February 27, 2026
1:27 AM; CLINSTONE, WEST MAIN STREET
The man shoved the woman to the ground, knocking her to her knees. Handcuffed, her elbow smacked the ground. He grabbed her arm, pulling her into an upright position. He walked around her in a slow circle, a sword hanging at his side. He stopped in front of her, smiling as her panicked eyes lifted to his hooded face.
He flicked the sword out to the side, watching her eyes immediately snap to it. Behind the gag, she let out a muffled cry, tears brimming in her eyes. He reached out with his free hand, wrapping his gloved fingers around her chin. He jerked her head up, meeting her gaze before taking a step back. He gestured to his own face, closing his eyes for several seconds. When he opened them, hers were closed.
He nodded. Good. He lifted the sword and with one deft slice through her neck, her severed head fell to the road. He nudged her shoulder with the sword, knocking her decapitated corpse to the ground. He flicked the sword once, spattering her blood across the road. He tugged at his hood before walking across the street, disappearing from any camera’s view between two houses.
He had places to be, and prison wasn’t one of them.
1:34 AM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, KEEPING ROOM
Jensen cleared his throat, his arm tightening around Bo’s chest. Bo, teetering back and forth between sleep and a state of restlessness, smiled. They lay stretched out on the lounge of the sectional couch. It gave them the most room, and Bo typically considered it the most comfortable, anyway.
The blonde opened his eyes as he heard footsteps in the kitchen. Amber, judging by the sheer loudness of the steps. Amber tended to ‘tiptoe’ through the dark house with elephant-like steps. He heard the refrigerator door open, listening to the bottles and condiments in the bottom rattle together.
Amber whispered a harsh, “Shh!” Bo only chuckled. He slid out from Jensen’s arm, drawing a groan of protest from the younger man. Bo smiled faintly, squeezing Jensen’s hand before heading into the kitchen. Amber looked up at him, offering a smile. “Hi, Daddy.”
“Hi, sweetheart.” He tilted his head to the side. “What do you need?”
Bo reached past her, pulling a bottle of water from the back of the top shelf. He twisted the cap off and handed it to the girl. “There you go.”
“Mmhmm. Your sister still asleep?” Bo asked.
Amber nodded. “She was when I walked out.”
“Good,” Bo said quietly. The Mason kids, with the exception of Eve and Noah, were asleep upstairs. Or, judging by the slight rustling upstairs, they were pretending to be asleep upstairs. He figured Katie was the child that couldn’t sleep, more than likely trying to wrap up whatever homework she had decided to push aside earlier.
Bo cleared his throat, his blue eyes shifting back to Amber’s face. He smiled faintly, tucking her tousled, unbrushed blonde hair back behind her ear. “You should head on back to bed, sweetheart. You have school in a few hours,” he said softly. “But Daddy and I are out here if you need anything.”
Amber nodded. “Uh-huh. Night, Daddy. Love you.”
“Love you, too, Ber.” Bo watched her hurry out of the kitchen before he headed back for the keeping room. He sat down on the edge of the lounge, leaning forward enough to stretch out his back. Rolling his shoulders, he sighed and lay back.
Immediately, Jensen’s arm snaked around his chest. “Where’d you go?” the younger man asked roughly.
“Amber was in the kitchen,” Bo said simply.
“Mm.” Jensen pressed a kiss to Bo’s shoulder. “Love you,” he mumbled.
One corner of Bo’s mouth lifted. “I love you, too, Jens. Go back to sleep.”
Bo tilted his head down, glancing at Jensen’s watch. He sighed quietly. If Jacob and David couldn’t get Alonzo’s death marked as a homicide by the end of the day, he’d call Jamal. Alonzo deserved a funeral, deserved to be put to rest so he could go forth in whatever kind of afterlife he had believed in. The longer they kept it marked as a suicide, the longer he’d go without an autopsy, the longer he wouldn’t be able to be embalmed, the longer he’d go without a funeral.
All victims deserved better than that, and Bo wouldn’t sit around and make Alonzo’s soul or his family wait weeks for a funeral. In the past, Bo had been known to pay for victims’ funerals, especially those that had to wait weeks for burial.
Alonzo would be no different.
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