Thursday: June 12, 2025
2:07 AM; CLINSTONE, THE BONEKEEPER’S LIVING ROOM
The woman sat in her comfy rocking chair, her eyes on the television as she ran a brush through her hair. She set the brush aside, setting it on the table at her side. She reached out and grabbed the sewing needle from the coffee table, quickly going back to stitching fabric onto the little mouse skeleton that would end up in her display room with its own label.
She had found the skeleton on the side of the hiking trail, and she had picked the bones up carefully, for each one was really quite frail. Although small animals were what she considered ideal, she enjoyed making any animal’s skeleton appear to be alive and real.
She considered it a near form of taxidermy, stuffing the skeletons into a homemade fabric shape of the animal, stuffing it with pillow fluff until it was full. She had gifted the animals to children before, the bone surprise hidden inside of a few soft, cuddly, fluffy lies.
Each animal was a simple addition to her beautiful, ever growing collection, a simple array of bones she saw as perfection.
The woman looked back up at the television, glancing at the report of both of her human kills, a case that had been taken on by Clinstone’s homicide division. The woman shook her head, wondering how far the poor detectives and their analyst would get with only two humans dead.
She still wasn’t sure when she would collect another human bone again, for hers was a hunger that still didn’t need to be fed. Whenever desire hit her full force, she’d take a human being’s shoulder as planned, of course.
4:21 AM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, NURSERY
Bo carefully lowered Eve into her crib, drawing his hands back toward himself as he waited, afraid that any sudden movement would wake her again. He held his breath for a moment, taking a small step backward before walking out of the nursery. He grabbed the doorknob, pulling the door closed with a nearly silent click.
He walked down the hall, cracking open the door to Amber and Kayla’s bedroom. Both girls lay sound asleep on the bottom bunk. Bo smiled faintly before closing the door and heading back to the bedroom he shared with Jensen. He shut the door most of the way and crawled back into bed with his fiancé.
Jensen wrapped an arm around Bo’s chest. “Where’d you go?” he asked, his voice rough with sleep.
“Eve was crying. She needed to be fed,” Bo said.
“Mm.” Jensen cleared his throat, snuggling up against the blonde. “I’m sorry I didn’t hear her.”
“It’s okay. Some nights, you’re a sound sleeper, other nights you’re not.” Bo threaded his fingers through Jensen’s, pressing a kiss to the back of the younger man’s hand. “One of us might as well get a couple hours of uninterrupted sleep.”
Jensen chuckled. “Wake me up next time, okay? I’ve got the next one,” he said softly.
“Sure, Jens. Thank you.”
“Mmhmm.” Jensen pressed a kiss to Bo’s shoulder. “Love you, Eli.”
One corner of Bo’s mouth lifted. “Love you, too, Jens.”
8:12 AM; CLINSTONE POLICE DEPARTMENT, LAB
“So I have a long version, and I have a relatively shorter version. Which version do you want?” Bo asked.
“Is the longer detailed in one of your notebooks” Jacob asked.
“Then let’s hit the short version for now,” Jacob said.
The blonde nodded. “The bedroom and bathroom were entirely untouched, undisturbed. The front door was locked, and it hadn’t been tampered with. The wall behind the door showed no signs of damage, either. The killer didn’t break into that apartment, and based on what Mister Horn said—that he dropped her off at the complex—I can only imagine that the killer was waiting in that apartment for her.”
“How’d they get in without disturbing the lock?” Rick asked.
“Well, at first, I considered the option that they had picked the lock, but I don’t think that’s the case. Based on the mess, the killer isn’t experienced or organized. Not in the traditional sense, anyway. I did, however, check the fire escape. There was a fingerprint there that didn’t belong to Mrs. Bishop. That, of course, didn’t really surprise me. It’s a fire escape. But there were several fingerprints on the window, prints that matched one of the many on the fire escape, prints that matched several found in the apartment.
“The killer opened the unlocked window and climbed in that way. They weren’t wearing gloves.” Bo offered a shrug. “The prints didn’t match anything in the system. The blood on the coffee table wasn’t Mrs. Bishop’s, either. I imagine that whatever DNA would’ve been under Mrs. Bishop’s fingernails was picked up there at the apartment. That’s where she got a couple hits or scratches in on the killer.” Bo held up a hand. “The blood? Female.”
“Jesus fucking Christ,” Jacob whispered. “It was bad enough when we had some guy sawing into women while they were still alive. Now it’s a chick?”
“Yes. Unidentified, but definitely a woman,” Bo said. “That’s all I have.”
“What about the security tapes?” Rick asked.
“They only cover the lobby and the halls. I’ve watched all of them, compared them with the list of people that live in the complex, as well as the people that work there. There’s nothing suspicious or out of the ordinary there,” Bo said. “There’s a building beside the complex that had cameras facing the alley where the fire escape ends up, but we’ll need a warrant for that,” he said.
Jacob sighed, jumping down from the counter. “I’ll start the paperwork for that,” he said.
“Great. Thanks, Jake,” Bo said. Jacob nodded, lifting a hand in departure as she walked out of the lab.
Rick cleared his throat, crossing his arms over his chest. “Now what?” he questioned.
Bo lifted his shoulders. “Now we wait.”
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