6:15 PM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, NURSERY
Jensen lifted Eve out of her crib, turning back around to face Jacob. “So, she’s a bit smaller than most babies her age, but she’s healthy, and that’s the part that matters,” he said.
Carefully, almost gingerly, Jacob took the baby from Jensen. “Christ, she’s beautiful,” Jacob whispered. “I… I can’t thank you enough for taking care of them, Jensen. I’m sure you two had plans in this life that weren’t raising my kids and dealing with all of my bullshit.”
Jensen offered a shrug. “You’re family, Jake. Jamal has it wired in Bo’s head that you do whatever you have to for family.” He sighed softly. “And I believe it, too. He’d do anything for you, Jake. There aren’t a lot of people that have a bond that strong with him. Don’t pretend that you don’t deserve him to care about you as much as he does.”
Jacob smiled faintly. “Thank you, Jensen,” he whispered. The younger man only nodded. “After Alice is better… I’ll see what I can do about these two. I won’t let you take care of them forever. It’d be wrong.”
“If it happens, it happens. It’s nothing we can’t handle.”
“Jensen, I’ve heard you and Bo talking about having boys of your own, and I know the only reason you can’t do it is because you’re raising these two for me. I won’t ruin something like that for you. Having children of your own is…” Jacob smiled. “It’s amazing, Jensen. I won’t take it from you.”
“Thank you,” Jensen whispered. He cleared his throat. “But, you know, take your time. Work on getting Alice back to her full potential, and then repair anything in your relationship that’s been damaged by her depressive state. Then, and only then, do you come back for the twins. You have to repair what you already have before adding anything else onto it. And until it’s all repaired and everybody’s better… Bo and I have these two covered, I promise,” Jensen said softly.
“God… I’m so damn glad Pitman assigned you to him. You’re…” Jacob shrugged, his sapphire blue eyes falling back to Eve’s face. “You’re incredible, Jensen. I don’t know how he’d survive without you.”
One corner of Jensen’s mouth lifted. “Believe me, Jake, thinking back to the day Jamal picked me up and drove me out to meet Bo for the first time… It’s something I’m thankful for every single day.”
7:30 PM; CLINSTONE, THE MASON HOUSEHOLD, LIVING ROOM
Alice sat down beside Jacob on the couch, leaning into his side. He wrapped an arm around her shoulders, his free hand resting on the open case file on his thigh. “Your first appointment is scheduled for Monday morning. Your dad’s gonna drive you out to Chesterwick. I… figured you wouldn’t want to drive yourself.”
“Thank you,” Alice whispered.
“My pleasure, baby,” Jacob said softly.
“What’re you looking at?”
“New case we’re working. Two victims in already.”
“Damn,” she whispered.
“I know,” Jacob said quietly. It was incredibly odd to hear Alice swear, but because she was talking to him, he chose to ignore it.
Victim #2 – Erika Hayes
– DOB: 08/10/1989
– 35 years old
– TOD: Friday 06/06/1925
– between 1 AM + 2 AM
– Residency: Clinstone, MN
– apartment complex
– number currently unknown
– no children
– no father
– mother resides in Cliffburn
– no siblings
– nails untouched
– straps (possibly leather) used to hold down vic around ankles, wrists, and skull
– spinal cord removed in its entirety
– nothing else removed from vic
– incisions on right side of spine began while vic was still alive
– bruises on backs of legs
– possible car accident caused by killer in order to easily catch vic
– damage to lungs indicates use of chloroform
– unidentified substance found in vic’s system
– some sort of drug
– unknown uses
– further testing required
“Is it the one on the news?” Alice asked. “The one in Trojan Park?”
“Yeah, that’s the one.” Jacob cleared his throat, closing the file. He turned his head, pressing a kiss to Alice’s temple. “I’m gonna go ahead and grab a shower. The kids ate at Bo and Jensen’s, so we don’t have to worry about that. If you want me to fix something for the two of us after I get out, I’ll do it, okay?”
Jacob tossed the folder onto the coffee table and pushed himself to his feet. “I won’t be long, Allie.” He squeezed her hand, smiling softly. “I love you.”
“I love you, too, Jay,” she said quietly.
9:48 PM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, KITCHEN
Bo tossed his car keys onto the counter and pulled open the refrigerator door. He grabbed a bottle of water and closed the door. He twisted off the cap, tilting his head back to take a small sip. He heard Jensen’s footsteps behind him. He closed his eyes as the taller man wrapped his arms around his waist.
“All taken care of?” Jensen questioned.
“All taken care of,” Bo echoed.
“Good.” Jensen pressed a kiss to the blonde’s temple. “Amber and Kayla were pretty worn out from playing with the Mason kids all day, so they’ve both been out for nearly an hour. Eve and Noah are asleep, too, fed within the last half hour and both have been given fresh diapers.” He cleared his throat. “So, I’m gonna grab a shower and get ready for bed. Thought you might like to join me?”
Bo chuckled softly. “Of course, Jens.”
“Mm. Good.” Jensen kissed Bo’s shoulder before stepping away from him. Bo took another sip of water before capping the bottle and putting it back in the refrigerator. “Still wanna start working on the treehouse tomorrow?”
“That’s the plan. There’s a chance for rain and thunderstorms, but if it misses us, definitely.” Bo grabbed Jensen’s hand, flipping off the kitchen light as they left the room. “Did you buy the wood for it?”
“Yes, Mister Austen.”
Bo rolled his eyes. “Good.” He cleared his throat. “How’d Jake react to the twins?”
“He thinks they’re both adorable and hopes that Alice will also want to take them after she gets better. He, uh, has apparently heard us talking about the possibility of twin boys of our own. He feels like taking care of Noah and Eve is some kind of terrible burden for us. But I let him know that it’s our pleasure and that he’s family.” Jensen shrugged. “I told him to take his time, to worry about himself and Alice before he worried about the twins.”
Bo squeezed Jensen’s hand. “Good. Thank you.” He lifted Jensen’s hand, pressed a kiss to the back of it. “I love you. You know that, don’t you?”
Jensen smiled. “Mmhmm. I know. I love you, too, Eli.”
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