8:49 AM; LOS ANGELES, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, KITCHEN
Bo dialed Jamal’s number, quickly switching the call to speaker as he set his phone on the kitchen counter. “Are you all right?” Jamal questioned after the first ring.
Bo smiled faintly, Eve cradled in one arm as he pulled open the refrigerator. “I’m fine. I do, however, require a favor.”
“What’s in it for me?”
Bo snorted. “My everlasting love,” he offered, grabbing a bottle from the fridge.
“That works,” Jamal said softly. “What do you need, kiddo?”
“Are your people still right around Clinstone?”
“I need them to pull prints. Can they do that?” Bo asked, holding the bottle under the warm water in the sink.
“Hold on. I gotta see who I have in Minnesota. Give me a sec,” Jamal said.
“Sure.” Bo turned off the water, using his free hand to dry the water from the outside of the bottle. “Here, sweetheart,” he said softly, positioning the bottle at Eve’s mouth. He smiled as she took the bottle without complaint.
“All right, I have one guy near Clinstone that can do fingerprinting,” Jamal said.
“Great. I need him to pull me several copies of prints from Mary Lincoln’s home. As I understand it, they already know where her house is,” Bo said.
“What do you need them for?”
“I’m doing some… manipulation of my own, Jamal. You’ll be proud.”
“Possibly. What kind of manipulation?” Jamal asked.
“I have prints at a crime scene, prints I think belong to Mary Lincoln. Of course, she isn’t in the system. But, with a little magic, she’ll be in the system in no time,” Bo said.
“That’ll be suspicious when the data entry is today, Bo.”
“I’m smarter than that, and you know it. I’ll be changing the date. Believe it or not, I do know how to do that, Jamal,” Bo said.
“Of course, kiddo. Apologies. I’ll send my man to grab the prints and he’ll send you a picture of the ones he lifts,” Jamal said. “You need to come in for a session today. Wayne’s ready whenever you are. How about noon? After lunch?”
“Well, I’ll cut you an even better deal. After Eve’s happy and fed here, I’ll meet Wayne for training while your guy’s in Clinstone,” Bo said. “Kill a bit of time while I’m waiting,” he added.
“Works for me. Where’s Jensen?”
“Why? So you can scold him again?”
“I did not scold him,” Jamal denied. “What’d he tell you?”
Bo chuckled softly. “He didn’t tell me anything. I knew he called you to check Lincoln’s house. I know damn well you chewed his ass for calling me crazy,” he said.
“I may have… said a few choice words,” Jamal agreed.
“Mmhmm. He’s going to be my husband, Jamal. Do you want me to take over your throne?”
Jamal sighed quietly. “Yes.”
“I assumed. I love you, Jamal, and I can’t thank you enough for everything you’ve ever done for me. But if I’m going to take over for you, if I’m going to be king of your… empire, per say, I can’t have you scolding my king like he’s a child,” Bo said.
“I know. Old habits die hard, hmm?” Jamal questioned.
“There is that,” Bo murmured. “I don’t expect you to stop immediately, but it’s a habit that will need to… subside eventually.”
“I’ll work on it.”
“My pleasure. Wayne will meet you at the gym. Stretch. Don’t work too hard. Today’s an easier day, and I’ve already told Wayne that,” Jamal said.
“All right. Just because, or…?”
“We’ll be hitting cardio rather hard tomorrow, so you’ll pretty much just be going through the combination punches today. Nothing more,” Jamal said.
“Okay. I’ll be at the gym in, say… half an hour?” Bo asked.
“Mmhmm. I’ll tell Wayne. I’ll be at the station today, but I’ll see you tomorrow, all right?”
Bo smiled faintly, his gaze focused on Eve’s face. Jensen was right. Giving the twins up once Jacob and Alice were ready for them wouldn’t be easy. “You betcha, Jamal. I’ll see you then,” he said softly.
12:04 PM; LOS ANGELES, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, FAMILY ROOM
Because Bo was far too lazy to set up a group call of any kind, he had Jacob on a call with Jensen’s phone and Rick on a call with his phone. Both cells sat on the coffee table, both of them on speaker.
“I was able to match a couple partials, and we ended up with one full print that got an actual match,” Bo said. “Mary Lincoln. She’s an elementary school teacher in Clinstone. She teaches third grade. She was hired last school year,” he said.
“You think our killer is a teacher?” Jacob questioned.
“No, I know our killer is a teacher,” Bo corrected. He reached for his laptop, immediately wincing. With a heavy sigh, he grabbed his laptop and set it on his thighs. “I’ve done my fair share of digging on the woman. She has a large shed in her backyard, the temperature of which is controlled on her phone. For roughly the last two months or so, she’s been raising dermestid beetles. They’re flesh-eating beetles. The shed is where she would be able to keep them the most comfortably. They’d feast easiest in a controlled room, clean the flesh and meat off of whatever she put in front of them.
“She’s a collector, remember? This is her hobby. She collects the bones and the beetles dispose of the meaty parts of those bones,” Bo said. “Anyway, the weekend that Serena Bishop was killed? There was a teacher’s convention of sorts in Ames. She was there for it. I found her car in the traffic cam footage. I was able to track it to the bar Mrs. Bishop was last seen at, and I tracked her car most of the way back to the apartment complex. I’m emailing you both a more detailed copy of the information on this woman,” he said, sending out the email he had drafted less than ten minutes ago. “This is the homestretch, guys. She’s our killer.”
“I’ll read through this and talk to LT. I’ll keep you updated, okay?” Jacob asked.
“Sounds good to me,” Bo agreed.
“All right. Good job, Bo.”
“Bo?” Rick questioned. “Keep me updated on this.”
“I will, Rick,” Bo said softly.
“Mmhmm. I’ll talk to you both soon. Good work. Both of you,” Bo said. After a quick goodbye, Bo ended both calls.
Jensen sat down beside Bo on the couch. “Trade you,” he said, holding out an ice pack.
“Thank you,” Bo murmured, grabbing the ice pack as Jensen took his laptop.
“No problem.” Jensen reached down and kicked out the footrest. “Come here.” Bo did as told, moving to sit between Jensen’s outstretched legs. “How’d you hurt your wrist? Don’t you wear braces or something when you box?” he questioned.
“Yes, but I didn’t stretch enough beforehand. I wasn’t warmed up,” Bo said, laying the ice pack on his wrist. “It’s my fault for being in a hurry.”
“No, it’s your trainer’s fault for not training you properly,” Jensen said, sliding his hands up Bo’s back, the heels of his palms pressing into Bo’s sore muscles. The blonde sighed softly, letting his head hang at his chest. “Tomorrow’s cardio?”
“Mmhmm. With Jamal and Frank. They’ll make sure I stretch properly,” Bo said.
“Where are the girls?”
“Outside. They’re playing in the pool,” Jensen said. “They were trying to convince Hati that she would enjoy the water, last I checked.”
Bo chuckled. “She likes water, she just doesn’t like jumping into it,” he said.
“I’ve noticed. She’s strange,” Jensen said.
“I’ll agree with that,” Bo said. He reached up, laying a hand over Jensen’s as soon as it touched his shoulder. “I love you, Jens.”
Jensen smiled, leaning forward to press a kiss to Bo’s neck. “I love you, too, Eli,” he whispered. Bo lifted his head, briefly glancing out the window to catch sight of Amber and Kayla. Clearly bored with trying to get Hati into the water, they were tossing a tennis ball back and forth in the pool instead. “When we have boys… what would you want to name them?” he asked.
“We’d actually get to name them,” Bo murmured. “That seems…”
“Mmhmm. It’s odd. Amber and Kayla’s names were chosen elsewhere. It’ll be weird to have control over that aspect,” Bo said.
“I know. But it’ll be amazing, too. Getting to name our boys? That’ll be… well, amazing,” Jensen said with a soft chuckle.
“It’ll be amazing,” Bo agreed. “But, you know, you’d want to be in charge of names. I’d choose mythological names, and I don’t think you want that.”
“Why not? Hati and Acamas are both mythology, and I see nothing wrong with those names,” Jensen said.
“Mm, you wouldn’t want two of your kids to have ‘weird’ names while everyone else has normal names. It’d be… unfair, I suppose is one word,” Bo said. “I do, however, have one sete of names that would make you a total smartass.”
“I like the sound of that. What’re the names?” Jensen asked. Bo winced, one shoulder lifting defensively. “Oh, sorry. Too much?”
“Just a bit tender there.”
“Sorry,” Jensen said softly. He pressed a kiss to Bo’s shoulder, moving his thumbs in much gentler circles. “Anyway, the names?”
“Castor and Pollux. They’re the Gemini constellation. Born from one mother, but they both have different fathers,” Bo said. “See? Smartass.”
“I actually kind of like that, Eli.”
“I think you’re getting ahead of yourself, Jens,” Bo murmured. “We have a lot to do before we bring in two little boys.”
“I know. Nothing wrong with thinking about names, though,” Jensen said.
Bo nodded. “I suppose you’re right.” He looked out the window again, assuring himself that the girls were fine. “Amber asked me if we’d get her a chinchilla. Although, you know, she pronounced it wrong four different times before I helped her with it.” Jensen chuckled. “I told her I’d have to talk it over with her daddy.”
“They’re pretty low maintenance, aren’t they?”
“Relatively. One of the less disgusting rodent-types, as well,” Bo said.
“Hmm. Maybe. We could… wait until her birthday?” Jensen asked. Bo nodded. “If she still wants one by then, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. They’re fluffy, aren’t they?”
Bo laughed. “Yes, Jens.”
“Yeah, then I have no problem with it.”
“I assumed as much.”
Jensen kissed Bo’s temple. “Relax, Eli. You’re too tense for me to work out any of the knots in your shoulder here.”
“Sorry,” Bo murmured. He drew in a deep, calming breath, letting it out slowly as his shoulders fell.
“There you go. Pretty soon, you won’t have to worry about the case as all. Jake will wrap it up and fill you in on all the grimy details. Then it’s just you, me, the girls, and the Mason twins. We’ll finish planning the wedding, we’ll keep you well-rested, well-fed, and a lot more loosened up than this. Training will get easier, and… everything will be okay,” Jensen said.
Bo reached back, laying a hand on Jensen’s cheek. “You’re always going to be the brightest light in my darkness, Jens,” he said quietly.
One corner of Jensen’s mouth lifted. “I’m glad,” he whispered. “Relax. You can even sleep, if you wanna. I’ll be here.”
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