Friday: June 6, 2025
1:38 AM; CLINSTONE, THE BONEKEEPER’S KILL ROOM
The young woman screamed behind the gag, her teeth biting into the rag. The killer walked to the table with a sharp knife held in her hand, and it was clear from her soft smile that the morning was going just as planned. “This is only going to hurt a bit,” the woman said, “no real reason to throw a fit.”
Although the victim had been on her back an hour before, her back was now to the ceiling, dark eyes focused solely on the floor. The killer traced her gloved fingers down the young woman’s spine, a soft, gentle curve of the back the killer would be using as a guideline.
“The shot I gave you will help to keep you a little numb, but there will still be some pain you’ll need to overcome. I’ll be taking a piece of you to immortalize forever, but tonight’s piece is one I’ve never taken before, truly a beautiful endeavor. See, the spine holds so much of a person together, and we’ll be removing it in this morning’s little adventure.”
The young woman let out a muffled scream, hoping and praying she could close her eyes, wake up, and find that this was all just one big dream. As the killer sank the blade into her back and she didn’t awake from the nightmare, she asked for the pain to stop in silent prayer.
2:09 AM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, KAYLA AND AMBER’S BEDROOM
Jensen smiled softly as he walked into the bedroom. Bo was asleep on the bottom bunk, Kayla on his left, Amber on his right. He had come into the room well over four hours ago to read to both of their daughters, and, clearly, all three of them had fallen asleep soon afterward. Jensen grabbed the open book from Bo’s chest, sliding the bookmark back into place before closing the book. He placed it back in the bookshelf, clearing his throat.
He pulled a thin blanket over the three people he loved the most, leaning down to press a kiss to Bo’s forehead. One corner of the blonde’s mouth lifted. Jensen knew Bo’s neck would be sore in the morning from the way he was sitting, but he didn’t want to wake him. Bo always had a hard time falling asleep after being woken up, and with their sleeping schedules already revolving around the Mason twins, Jensen wanted to let him sleep. He reached up, shutting off the lamp by the bed.
He walked out of the room, shut the door, and shoved his hands into the pockets of his pajama pants. He cracked open the door to the nursery, peeked inside. Both of the babies were asleep. He closed the door with an inaudible click and headed back to the bedroom he typically shared with Bo. He knew falling asleep without the blonde beside him would be difficult, but he’d make it work.
If all else failed, he’d make Hati cuddle with him until Bo came back to bed.
3:50 AM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, MASTER BEDROOM
Bo sat down on the edge of the bed, undoing the small buckle of his watch. He set it on the nightstand, reaching back to tap a hand against Hati’s hip. She stood up with a grunt, stretching before jumping off the bed. “Thanks, sweetheart,” he whispered. Clearing his throat, he lay down in bed, pulling the covers up to his shoulders.
Jensen wrapped an arm around Bo’s chest, mumbling something that sounded like, “Love you.”
Bo closed his eyes, threading his fingers through Jensen’s. “Love you, too, Jens,” he murmured.
8:52 AM; CLINSTONE POLICE DEPARTMENT, DETECTIVE SERGEANT’S DESK
Bo sat down in front of Jacob’s desk, a cup of coffee in one hand. “You look well-rested,” he commented, crossing his left ankle over his right thigh.
“Allie slept in bed with me again last night. We’re normalizing, Bo,” Jacob said softly.
“That’s great, Jake. Honestly, it’s amazing.” Bo tilted his head to the side.
“God, I know.”
“Did you guys talk about the psychologist?” Bo asked. Jacob nodded. “Name?”
“I… Bo, are you sure you want to do this? I can find a way to pay for it myself. Put the sessions on a credit card,” Jacob said.
“And put yourself in even more debt? I’m sure, Jake. What’s the name?” Bo questioned.
Bo chuckled. “Nothing. I know him,” he said. “Good guy. Alice will really like him, Jake. He’s the last psychologist I ever went to.”
Bo nodded. “He’s the only one that almost got through the complexity that is my brain,” he said.
“So he is good,” Jacob said quietly. “Family man?”
“He’s married, yes. And, if I recall correctly, he and his wife successfully adopted a child several years ago.”
“So he’ll understand her… family issues?”
“Oh, yeah. Definitely, Jake. You guys made the right call,” Bo promised. “Is he in Clinstone?”
“I’ll leave work a little early today so I can get up to the office to schedule payments,” Bo said.
“Again, Bo, thank you,” Jacob whispered.
“You’re welcome, Jake,” Bo said softly. “Rick finally got ahold of the husband. He’ll be here in three or four hours,” he said.
Jacob nodded. “Sounds good.” He cleared his throat. “How’s wedding planning?”
“We’re working on our guest list this weekend so we can start looking at revenues. It’ll be inside, so we’ll be looking at beautiful, spacious places,” Bo said.
“And you’ll let me know if you need help with anything?”
Bo smiled faintly. “Of course, Jake. I’ll keep you posted.”
“Thank you.” Bo nodded. “Everything… everything’s gonna be okay again. Right?”
“Yeah, Jake. It’ll all be okay, promise. Alice will talk it all out with Gabriel, she’ll get better, and… and everything will go back to normal.” Bo offered a soft smile. “Just keep doing what you’ve been doing. Keep letting her know you’re there for her, letting her know you love her. Once she and Gabriel have a breakthrough, she’s going to have a lot of things that need to be worked out, so you’ll have to be strong for her. And if you ever need extra help, I’m always here,” he said.
Jacob smiled. “Thanks, Bo,” he whispered. He cleared his throat. “Umm… can I come over after work?”
“Well, I won’t be there right away or anything,” Bo said. “Why? Did you want to play poker? Learn the rules?”
“Uh, I–I want to see the twins,” Jacob said quietly. “Is that okay?”
“God, Jake, of course that’s okay,” Bo whispered. “Yes, you can come over. Jensen will be there,” he said.
“How are they?”
“They’re doing great, Jake. They suck at sleeping, sure, but they’re great.”
Jacob chuckled softly, scratching at the dark hair on his jaw. “They’re healthy?”
“Yes. Eve needs a little immune system support, but they’re both incredibly healthy.” Bo smiled. “And they’re both so goddamn adorable, Jake.”
“Good,” Jacob whispered. He raked a hand through his brown hair, pushing his glasses up on the bridge of his nose. “I’m sorry you’ve had to take them, Bo. I just… God, I can’t.”
“You have done more than you’ll ever know for me. There’s no apology needed for me helping you,” Bo said.
Jacob shook his head. “I haven’t done that much for you.”
“Jake, you made me feel normal. You made me feel normal before Bridge, and you helped me normalize again after everything that happened with her. You’re the reason I talk. I never thought I’d talk again after she died. I never thought I’d get past the daily nightmares or the sick feeling that settled in my gut every single day because I accidentally thought of her name. Again, I met Amber and Kayla because you made me want to be in Clinstone. I am engaged because of you,” Bo said. “The least I can do is take care of the twins. The least I can do is help you and your family out whenever I can.”
One corner of the sergeant’s mouth lifted. “You’re too damn good to me, Blondie.” “And the first day you met me, I thought the same damn thing about you,” Bo said, pushing himself to his feet. “Still do, by the way. You’re still good to me, Jake. It’s why I’m always going to be your best man, why you are always going to be mine. No matter what,” he said.
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