Elias dropped into his desk chair with a yawn. He was already on his third cup of coffee for the morning, and each one seemed to be making him more tired instead of more awake. He couldn’t help but feel that his thoughts of Vito were physically draining every ounce of energy from his body.
Before last night, when Vito had ditched him at the bar, his thoughts of Vito had been energy-inducing and swimming with the excited buzz of a journalist chasing his first real scoop. Now his thoughts were… conflicted.
Vito had left the bar because his brother had been shot. He had looked upset because his brother had been shot. His brother had been shot, and Elias had asked him if he was seriously leaving because he’d turned the man down for a kiss.
Maybe it was less ‘thoughts of Vito’ and more ‘fears of what a pompous, presumptuous, self-involved ass he had come off as’. Yeah, that seemed to sum it up a bit better.
Elias let out a heavy sigh as he scrubbed his hands over his face. He had spent a good number of hours with Vito the last two nights, and the man’s touch and whispers did terribly unfortunate things to him, but he didn’t deserve control over Elias’s brain, especially when he was supposed to be working, especially when he had a murderous mobster to research.
He groaned, dropping his elbows to his desk. He rested his chin on his clasped hands, eyes focused on the wall. If his brain wanted to focus on Vito and only Vito, he’d use it to his advantage. His entire career was hinged on researching the man. Surely he could work Vito-focused brain to that angle.
Closing his eyes for a moment, he bit back a sigh. “I think we, uh, talked about knocking on the door, Cole.”
A hand still on the doorknob, Cole had the grace to blush. “Oops, yeah, sorry. Redo?”
“No, it’s fine. What do you need?”
“I was wondering if you’d looked more into the shooting.” Cole held up a stack of papers. “I’ve been on standby since I got everyone coffee and breakfast, so… I went ahead and printed off some articles for you. Y’know, just in case.”
“Tito was shot. I’m researching his brother.”
“The news articles talk about both of them. They run out of stuff pretty quick if they only talk about the news.” Cole walked into the office and set the stack of printed off articles on Elias’s desk. “Vito flew out of an airport here in Kansas with Bo Austen-Taylor.”
“The dude who took over for Pitman as LAPD’s police chief.” Cole held a hand up near his shoulder. “Short guy, white, blonde?”
Elias offered a smile. “Sorry, Cole. I’m not really in L.A.’s news cycle. Thanks for the heads-up, though.”
“Of course, man.”
Elias scratched his head as Cole headed for the door. “Hey, uh, Cole?”
“Austen-Taylor. If he took over as police chief, then… does that mean he took over for Pitman’s suspected mafia activities?”
“That’s what they assume,” Cole said with a nod. “There’s a lot of that type of speculation in a couple of those articles. Only one of them has the rights to the pictures of Austen-Taylor and Minetti getting on the private plane, so I made sure to print that one off for you, as well as the pictures they took.”
“Thank you. How… long has Austen-Taylor been police chief?”
“Little while. Took over about two years ago, give or take a couple weeks.”
“Hmm.” Elias cleared his throat. “Thank you for these, Cole. I appreciate the help.”
The intern smiled. “My pleasure, Elias. Let me know if you need anything else.”
“I will, thanks.”
Cole nodded and backed out of the room, closing the door behind him.
Elias looked down at the stack of papers in front of him, a small smile tugging at one corner of his mouth. Surely researching a relation to Vito’s mafia dealings would help pull his focus from the man’s sadness in the bar. If nothing else, it was worth a shot.
Bo Austen-Taylor. Like Cole had said, the guy had taken over as the police chief of the LAPD when Jamal Pitman retired. Truthfully, that had yet to come up in Elias’s Minetti research. His focus hadn’t been on the police departments that had worked the Minetti murders, and he hadn’t dared research Jamal Pitman’s department. The man, retired or not, still donated a shitton of money to his parents’ business and charities. They’d kill Elias if he dared try to incriminate Jamal for all the homicides he had let slip by to keep the Minetti boys out of prison.
But Bo… Well, as far as Elias knew, he could be incriminated for everything he had inevitably covered up since his take over.
Bo Austen-Taylor, a long-time lab geek promoted straight to police chief. No Police Academy, no time spent as an officer. He had jumped over the head of ever single cop, sergeant, and lieutenant who could have–and should have–scored the promotion when Jamal decided to finally retire.
Elias blew out a breath and leaned back in his seat. Okay, maybe he couldn’t incriminate Bo in the article for the Minetti cover-ups. If he had been promoted straight from his position as a forensic analyst, it had been because Jamal had pulled strings with the mayor, a woman who–somehow–liked Jamal and considered him good for the city of Los Angeles, despite the shifty past and rampant stories of his corruption.
Somehow, Jamal was tied in with Bo, just like he was tied in with Vito. Over course, the relation to Vito was far more obvious. They were both thugs, though one was older and much more dignified than the other.
Elias rolled his chair back and pulled open the top drawer on his desk. He shoved a few folders aside before finding the walkie talkie he wanted. He rarely used it, but like the rest of the staff, he had direct access to the earpieces the assistants wore. The earpiece Cole wore.
He pressed down the button on the side. “Hey, Cole, you got your ears on?”
Cole laughed. “That’s okay. I just never knew what you sounded like over the earpiece. What’s up?”
“How much do you know about Bo Austen?”
“A bit. What do you need to know?”
“I don’t want him to be the focus of my article, but I can’t help the intrigue as to how the hell he connects to Pitman. I can’t move on until it’s done nagging me.”
“I might be able to fill in some blanks. I’ve got info, I guess, but your brain would be much better at picking through it to connect it all together.”
Elias closed his eyes, resting his forehead on the walkie talkie. More than likely, Vito would remain in Philadelphia with his brother until he was released from the hospital. So… it wasn’t like he had anything better to do tonight. “Wanna tell me about the guy over drinks?”
“Sure, man. Tonight?” Cole asked.
“If you’re free.”
“After six, yeah.”
Elias nodded, though the assistant couldn’t see him. He didn’t want to meet up at a bar. Who knew which ones were owned by the mob. Who knew which ones were filled with people that would tell Vito his latest object of desire was taking another man out for drinks. Cole was straight, but that wasn’t something the onlookers would be able to guess and relay to Vito without asking him.
“My place or yours?” Elias asked.
“Yours.” A pause. “Wow, that was creepily fast, huh?”
Elias chuckled. “Little bit.”
“I live with my parents. I don’t think you’d want them obsessing over you for the evening,” Cole said.
Deep down, a little part of Elias thought that might almost be nice. The far larger part had long since learned to ignore the little one. “Sounds good to me. My place, eight o’clock? I’ll text you my address.”
“Sounds good. I’ll do my best to bring all the Austen knowledge I have.”
Elias snorted. “Many thanks. See you tonight, Cole.”
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