10:37 AM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, KEEPING ROOM
Bo opened his eyes, sniffling before clearing his throat. He stared down at his husband’s sleeping form for a moment, smiling softly. He combed his fingers through the younger man’s hair. “Jens, love? I have to get up,” he murmured.
“Five more minutes,” Jensen grumbled.
“Your elbow is directly in my bladder.”
Jensen groaned dramatically, stretching his arm out further. “Now?”
“You’re all good now.”
“Good. Now five more minutes,” Jensen said.
Bo chuckled softly, pressing a kiss to the top of Jensen’s head. “Sure, love. Five more minutes.”
True to his word, five minutes later, Jensen pulled away from Bo and sat up. “Oh, fuck,” he whispered, dropping his head into his hands. “Should not have slept like that.”
Bo snorted, dropping one foot to the floor. “Sore?”
“You and me both.” Bo ran a hand down his thigh. “I was going to make you move this morning, but you were adorable and snoring.”
“Ugh. I would’ve woken me up,” Jensen said. “I bet I snore like a freight train.”
“Mm, no, I don’t think so. You’re adorable either way. That’s really all you have to know.” Bo interlocked his fingers and reached for the ceiling, stretching out his back. He pushed himself to his feet and held his hands out to Jensen. “Come on.”
Jensen grabbed Bo’s hand, allowing the blonde to pull him to his feet. “What’s the gameplan today?” he asked.
“Eat breakfast, drink coffee, play around with finding our killer. You and I will visit Cecilia and Castor around noon, I think,” Bo said as they walked into the kitchen. “She doesn’t like the hospital’s food, not that I blame her. We’ll bring her something healthy but… simple to eat. Yogurt, applesauce, you get the gist. But when we get back, we should do something with the girls. Watch a movie, go play outside, something. I won’t let them think they aren’t important just because we have other things on our minds right now.”
Jensen nodded. “Right.”
Bo refilled the water reservoir of the coffee machine and turned it on. He headed back toward their bedroom; Jensen followed. “Jamal went out this morning to track down our killer.”
“I asked for his help. I still have to find the evidence to back it up, and then, you know, I’ll hand that evidence over to you so you can arrest him.”
“You’ll come with when I arrest him?”
“Mmhmm.” Bo turned on the bedroom light, a faint smile on his face. Hati was asleep on Jensen’s side of the bed, stretched out and snoring. Acamas, however, lay curled up on Bo’s pillow. “Castor Sterling Austen-Taylor,” Bo murmured as he pulled his shirt over his head. “You really like it?”
“I think it’s perfect,” Jensen said, closing the bedroom door with a soft click. “So, you know, positive vibes, when do you think we’ll be able to bring him home?”
“Mid-June, maybe?” Bo questioned. Jensen followed him into the bathroom. “It depends on if he needs surgery or how well he’s doing by then. A lot of preemies can go home around the time that they would’ve been born otherwise. And despite my dickheaded attitude, the doctors at the hospital are damn good at what they do. If Castor needs anything, they’ll look after him. They’ll take care of him.”
“What happens if Pollux is born early?”
“Same thing. We visit them both in the hospital all the time, and the doctors take care of them until they’re ready to come home,” Bo said. “Do you want to take a shower?” Jensen only nodded, pulling his shirt over his head and dropping it to the floor. “As long as we keep ourselves busy outside of the hospital and keep our thoughts positive, everything will be okay. It’s just a matter of me not passing my bad luck down to our boys.”
Jensen grunted, leaning down to kiss the blonde. “We’ve both got some bad luck, both got some good luck. Don’t make this out to be your fault.”
One corner of Bo’s mouth lifted. “Thanks, Jens.” He nodded toward the shower. “Let’s… let’s shower so we can finally start our day, all right?”
“Sure thing, babe.”
11:18 AM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, BREAKFAST NOOK
Jamal dropped a folder onto the table in front of Bo. “Miguel Santángel. Got your guy, got his vehicle, got his hotel room, got his storage unit, got his history,” he said.
Bo glanced up at the older man before flipping open the folder. “Thirty-two years old, Hispanic, unemployed, widower…. When did he lose his job?”
“After his wife died,” Jamal said, pulling out a chair and sitting down. “It’s all in there, but ask what you want.”
“Where’s he from? I doubt it’s Clinstone.”
“He was born in New York City. His parents divorced when he was four, and he moved to some small town in Michigan with his father. He lived there until he was eighteen. He moved to Texas for college, moved to Tennessee after that, got married seven months later. Wife died last year. He lost his job a month later. He stayed at the house until he ran out of money, and now he lives in a little hotel room in Cliffburn. He works off the books at the hotel. He doesn’t get paid anything, but it gives him a room and three meals a day,” Jamal explained.
“You figured this out in just a couple hours?” Bo asked.
“That’s my job.” The older man smiled. “I’ll teach you how to use people to your advantage. Then you’ll be able to do it just as well and efficiently as I can,” he said. “Of course, I know you’ll still prefer the usual way of crime solving, but it’s a good method to track down people, especially people that have screwed you over,” he said.
Bo nodded slightly, slowly flipping through the pages before him. “Where’d this come from?” he asked, tapping a finger against a printed out traffic cam image.
“So that’s his guillotine in the back of his truck.”
“Uh-huh. I found it when he was leaving the storage unit. You should be able to trace him from there to Clinstone.”
“Thank you for this, Jamal.”
“My pleasure, kiddo.”
“Do you… know why he does it?” Bo questioned.
Jamal shook his head. “I dug everything I could about him. Couldn’t figure it out for the life of me. I’m sorry.”
“It’s not your fault. It’s not like this is your job, anyway,” Bo said quietly. “It’s my job. I just…”
“You’ve got a lot on your plate, kiddo. That’s all there is to it,” Jamal said.
“I know.” Bo cleared his throat. “What if he takes someone before I can put together the hard evidence on him? What if he kills someone because I’m preoccupied with my son or my girls or…?”
“I can have one of my men watch the guy until you build the evidence you need. If he takes anyone, you’ll be the first to know,” Jamal said.
“Really,” Jamal echoed.
“Thank you,” Bo whispered.
Jamal smiled softly, squeezing Bo’s hand. “My pleasure, kiddo.”
12:13 PM; CLINSTONE SPECIALTY HOSPITAL, RECOVERY ROOM TWO
“So, these flowers are from your partners at the firm,” Bo said. “These ones are from… your assistant at the firm. This edible arrangement is from Sullivan. And these flowers are from…” He smiled as he flipped open the card.
“What? Who’re they from?” Cecilia asked.
“Ugh. Don’t call him that.” She leaned up slightly, swiping the card from Bo’s hand. “How’s Castor?”
“Healthy,” Bo said, sitting down on the edge of the bed. “I mean, healthy for a preemie, obviously. He needed another blood transplant this morning to help combat the anemia. They’re still keeping an eye on his heart murmur, but… but he’s alive, and that’s the important part.”
Cecilia offered a smile. “I’m sorry, Bo.”
“It’s my fault. I worked too hard. I stressed myself out. I…”
“It isn’t your fault. At all, Celia. This isn’t on you.” He shook his head, tucking her dark hair back behind her ear. “You’re the reason Jensen and I can have kids in the first place. You’re the reason one of our kids is still healthy and developing here,” he said, gently laying a hand on her stomach. “You’re giving us two children. Whatever happens past us and science putting them there in the first place is just, you know, the way the world turns. Things happen, and that’s all there is to it. It doesn’t have to be someone’s fault.”
“Good to hear.” She patted his cheek. “But I still worry about you.”
“I know. I worry about you, too,” he said, squeezing her hand. He reached back, pulling a cantaloupe wedge from the edible arrangement. He handed it to Cecilia, and to his surprise, she took it without putting up a fight. “Doc says your bleeding is subsiding. They think you can go home for bedrest in another few days,” he said.
“Which means I’ll be at your house.”
She shook her head. “Eventually, I’ll need to get Kiwi from the kennel, you know.”
“She’s a bird. She can stay at the house. I don’t care. Jensen won’t care,” Bo said.
“She screams,” Cecilia said.
Bo laughed. “I have two girls. I know what that’s like.”
Cecilia smiled. “Okay.” She laid a hand on his thigh. “What’s his full name?”
One corner of Bo’s mouth lifted. “Castor Sterling Austen-Taylor.”
“Beautiful,” she whispered.
“Thank you.” Bo sniffled, clearing his throat. “Jens and I talked about eventually having another girl. Like… years down the road. But we’d name her after you for everything you’ve done for us. Her middle name would be Cecilia.”
“Oh, my God, Bo,” Cecilia breathed.
“Is that a… good reaction?”
“Good.” He lifted her hand, pressed a soft kiss to the back of it. “I love you, Celia.”
“Love you, too, Bo.”
2:30 PM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, FAMILY ROOM
Inside from an aggressive snowball fight and freshly showered, Bo sat down on the couch, his laptop on the armrest. Jensen sat beside him, scrolling through Instagram on his phone. Amber sat in front of the television, setting up a video game for her and Kayla to play.
Thanks to Jamal, Bo had successfully tracked the Executioner’s truck from his storage unit in Chesterwick to the outskirts of Clinstone. Due to the lack of traffic cameras near Haven’s park and roads closest to it, he hadn’t been able to track the truck right up to the park, but he had gotten as close as possible, and he considered that better than absolutely nothing at all.
Bo tapped the enter key on his keyboard, setting into motion an algorithm that would comb through the traffic cameras between Clinstone, Cliffburn, and Chesterwick to check for all instances of the Executioner’s truck in the last two weeks. He touched a hand to Jensen’s thigh. “Monday, you need to talk to Zoe Beckenbauer.”
“I cannot talk to a famous person,” Jensen said.
Bo snorted. “Too bad. Jamal already spoke to her agent,” he said. “She’ll be in Clinstone Monday morning.”
“You’ll be there?”
“Yes. So will Jake,” Bo said.
“Mmhmm. So that way we can find out where the first vic was last scene?”
“We can hope, anyway,” Bo said. “We tried to get through to her several times, but we never even got to her agent. One call from Jamal, and suddenly, she’s on her way to Clinstone.”
Jensen snorted. “Fear of Jamal reaps its own rewards, that’s for sure.”
“Mm.” Bo sighed softly, smiling as Amber excitedly handed a gaming controller to Kayla before flopping down on the floor. “Nadia, victim two, doesn’t have any family that I could find, but from what I’ve seen on her Instagram and Facebook pages, she was just planning on staying home three days before we found her body.”
“Did she post again after that?”
“No, but I’ve found that there were times where she didn’t post for half a year at a time. She wasn’t obsessed with the sites or anything like that,” Bo said.
“Which means it’s not an accurate timeline of when she went missing.”
“What about a job?”
“Unemployed for the last month,” Bo said.
Jensen grunted, his brow furrowed. “And victim three was ice fishing for four days before we found his body, so his friends and family hadn’t heard from him.”
“We have no timeline.”
“Not right now,” Bo said. “The algorithm will find his truck in Chesterwick, Cliffburn, Clinstone, and the places in between.It could help give us… something.” Acamas jumped onto his lap, prodding his thighs with her paws. He smiled faintly, scratching her head as she lay down. “I’m going back to the station tonight to run tests on a second, third, and fourth livers. If the time of decay all come at the same rate, we have a good idea of when the injection was done. Roughly, I mean. But that’s it. Without the traffic cams and several more interviews, we have nothing.”
“We’ll get there,” Jensen said. He glanced down at his watch. “When’re you planning on going to the station?”
“So you’re not planning on sleeping again tonight?”
“Not much,” Bo said. “I just don’t think I’m tired enough for actual sleep. If I need to sleep, it’s a weekend. I can sleep whenever I want,” he said. “Except for tomorrow. We’re going out tomorrow,” he reminded.
Jensen looked over at Kayla before nodding. “We’re getting her ears pierced, right?”
“I feel like it’s been forever since we asked her what she wanted,” Jensen whispered. “And it’s only been a couple days.”
“I know, love.” Bo leaned up slightly, kissing Jensen’s temple. “That’s what stress does. Something that happened an hour ago feels like it was a month ago.”
“Yeah,” Jensen breathed.
“It’ll be okay, soon. We just have to get past the stressful part. Once the case is off our plates, it’ll be easier.”
“Promise?” Jensen asked.
“You have my word.”
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