7:04 AM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, BREAKFAST NOOK
“Whatcha working on?”
Bo’s shoulders lifted in brief surprise as he exited out of Word document and opened up his wedding guest list instead. “Checking over my guest list again. What’re you doing up?” he asked.
“I think my body’s slowly getting more and more used to getting no sleep at all,” Jensen said. He leaned down and pressed a kiss to Bo’s temple before sitting down beside him at the small, round table. He set his coffee cup on the table, reaching across the grab his tablet from the other side. He pulled it toward himself and unlocked the screen. “Wedding stuff. Can I see your list?” he asked. Wordlessly, Bo turned his laptop toward the younger man. “You okay? After… after this morning?”
Bo lifted his eyes to meet Jensen’s worried gaze. The blonde smiled softly. “I’m good, Jens. Promise.” He reached over and squeezed Jensen’s thigh. “Thank you,” he added.
One corner of Jensen’s mouth lifted as he nodded. “My pleasure.” His smile broadened. “Literally.” Bo rolled his eyes, picking up his own coffee mug and taking a sip. “Aramis? Is that the guy you used to work with?”
“Old friend,” Bo said simply.
“Who do you have on your list so far?” Bo asked. Jensen slid his tablet over to the blonde. “Who’s Bruce?”
“Dude from college.” Jensen glanced over at Bo, one eyebrow raised. “He has a girlfriend,” he added.
Bo nearly choked on his coffee. “Christ, I wasn’t asking if you’d slept with him.”
Jensen chuckled. “Sorry. I assumed jealousy was hiding somewhere in that head of yours,” he said.
Bo shook his head, pushing the tablet back toward Jensen. “I don’t care who you’ve slept with. I’m not jealous, not of that,” he said. “I’d be jealous if you started sleeping around now,” he added, pushing himself to his feet.
“Lucky you, babe. You’re stuck with me,” Jensen said, tilting his head to look back at Bo.
“Hmm.” Bo leaned down, pressing a soft kiss to Jensen’s lips. “Good.” He grabbed his coffee cup, turning to walk back toward the kitchen.
Jensen, however, hooked two fingers through one of the belt loops on Bo’s dark jeans, keeping him from walking away. “How many people do you want me to write down?”
“As many or as few as you want. It’s just to give us an idea of what kind of venue to look at,” Bo explained.
Jensen nodded, releasing Bo. “Thanks.”
“Mmhmm.” Bo walked into the kitchen, letting out a soft sigh as he poured himself a second cup of coffee. He’d slept for just under an hour before giving up on the idea entirely. He’d already fed and changed the twins since he’d gotten out of bed, and Hati, deciding to be incredibly difficult that morning, had already been outside on four different occasions.
He knew that, at some point, he’d have to give Jamal a call so they could properly discuss the position as chief. Bo had no problem with taking over as chief. It was Jamal’s extra curriculars that bothered Bo, and he knew that was exactly what bothered Jensen, too. For Bo, it didn’t matter what kind of hellish job he had to work during the day, but if it held any risk of tearing his family apart, he wanted no part in it.
Bo was certain Jamal would talk him down again and let him know that everything was going to be okay, and Bo had no real problem with that. When Jamal told him everything would be okay, Bo believed him, and he knew that Jamal would manage to successfully talk him back into fully supporting the chief position in Los Angeles.
And as long as Bo could guarantee that taking over for Jamal wouldn’t drive Jensen away, he had no problem with any of it.
11:32 AM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, BACKYARD
“You’re positive you won’t hate me if I take over for Jamal?” Bo asked.
Jensen cleared his throat, hammering another nail into place. “Are you going to come home to me every single night?”
“Are you going to be some cold-blooded killer?”
Jensen’s gaze flickered up to Bo’s face. “Are you still going to love me?”
“Yes,” Bo whispered.
Jensen nodded. “Then I’m not going to hate you for it. I don’t have a problem with it. As long as you’re still my Eli at the end of the day? Do whatever you have to do,” he said.
“Thank you,” Bo said softly.
Jensen smiled the same charming smile Bo had fallen in love with. “You’re welcome, Eli.” He tapped a hand against the blonde’s thigh. “Nails. Help me put up this wall.”
Bo chuckled quietly, reaching out for the hammer at his side. “Will do, Jens.”
3:30 PM; SAN DIEGO, THE PITMAN ESTATE, OFFICE
“So we’re all good, then?” Jamal questioned, his phone pressed to his ear.
“Yes.” Bo cleared his throat. “Jensen’s on board, as far as I can tell, and that’s really the only push I need. I just had to know I wasn’t going to lose him, that’s all.”
“Hey, kiddo, you don’t have to explain yourself to me. You’re allowed to have doubts and you’re allowed to be confused or scared or worried. If my wife was still around, I know I’d put her over everything, always,” Jamal said softly. “Don’t take him for granted, Bo. Don’t let him make all of your decisions, but don’t take him for granted.”
“I won’t,” Bo promised.
“Good boy.” Jamal crossed his free arm over his chest. “You’ll be home for poker? We’re still on?”
He could hear the smile in Bo’s voice, “Of course we are, Jamal.”
Jamal smiled softly. “Good. I’ll see you then. Love you, kiddo.”
“Love you, too, Jamal,” Bo said. Jamal ended the call, dropping his phone to his desk.
“You asked him that yesterday, sir,” Frank said quietly.
“Yes, I realized that after it was asked,” Jamal said. He pulled open a drawer, flipping through the files within. “I’m old, Frank. I’m allowed to forget a thing or two. I remember the important shit.”
“Yes, sir, I know.” Frank cleared his throat. “You have a meeting with Mrs. Lucchese in an hour, sir.”
“Ah… yes,” Jamal said quietly. “In the conference room?”
“Yes, sir.” Frank held out his hands. With a sigh, Jamal grabbed both of Frank’s hands, allowing the man to help him to his feet. “We could move your office downstairs, sir. There’s a spare room, you know,” Frank suggested.
Jamal shook his head, pressing a hand to the wall. “I’m old, not crippled,” he said. “We’ll move my office after Bo’s trained and ready to take over for me,” he added quietly.
Frank nodded. “Of course, sir,” he said softly. Jamal pushed away from the wall, wrapping an arm loosely around Frank’s shoulders. “Your appointment with the massage therapist has been scheduled for tomorrow evening,” Frank said, wrapping an arm around Jamal’s waist as they walked out of the office.
“Of course, sir,” Frank repeated.
“And the chiropractor?”
“After your appointment with Mrs. Lucchese, sir.”
“Mmhmm.” Frank cleared his throat as they reached the stairs. Jamal wrapped a hand around the railing, slowly making his way down. “There’s nothing wrong with back pain, sir. You’ve lived an incredibly hard life. There’s nothing wrong with admitting you need a little more help than massage therapy,” Frank said.
“I promised Bo he would never have to see me weak again,” Jamal said. “I’ll walk on my own two damn feet without a cane until the day I die.” He turned his head toward Frank. “Clear?”
11:20 PM; CLINSTONE, THE MASON HOUSEHOLD, MASTER BEDROOM
Jacob wrapped an arm around his wife’s shoulders, holding her close to him. She lay on her side next to him, dragging her nails over his bare chest, tracing out pointless designs. “Nervous?” he asked. She nodded. “You can talk to me, Allie. You know that.”
Jacob cleared his throat, shoving an arm beneath his head, his gaze shifting to the ceiling. “Are you worried about your appointment tomorrow?” he asked. He felt her nod. “What about it worries you?”
“What if it doesn’t fix me?” Alice questioned.
“Baby, the appointment isn’t going to fix you. You don’t need to be fixed. The psychologist is going to help you heal from a time of grief and pain. You aren’t broken. You’re just in a little rut,” he explained.
“Fine. What if it doesn’t heal me?”
“It will. Not in one session or anything. You’ll have to give it time, and you’ll have to be willing to talk to the guy,” he said. “I love you, Al, but you aren’t exactly good at talking about what’s bothering you. You’ll have to let him into your head, even though you hate that,” he added. She nodded. It’s gonna be okay, Allie. Give it time, and everything will be all right again.”
Alice nodded slightly, dragging her nails down his chest. He shivered, closing his eyes. “Okay,” she finally said, her voice quiet. “I love you, Jay. You know that… right?”
“I do,” Jacob said softly. He turned his head to the side, pressing a kiss to her forehead. “I love you, too, Allie.”
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