Saturday: January 5, 2030
6:00 AM; SAN DIEGO, THE PITMAN ESTATE, BASEMENT, GYM
Jensen stood in the doorway of the gym, arms crossed over his broad chest, shoulder resting against the door frame. He watched Bo as the short blonde ran through his usual boxing routine, earphones pushed into his ears. Over the last several months, while Bo and Jensen worked together to help make his depression more… manageable, Bo had gained back the weight he had previously lost, put on several pounds in muscle weight, and toned himself to what Jensen considered near perfection.
Now, Jensen got to see it all in action. When they were in Clinstone, they usually went to the gym at different times, and when they worked out together, Bo wore a shirt and a pair of sweats. In the comfort of Jamal’s home, the blonde was shirtless and in a pair of basketball shorts, constantly bouncing up on the balls of his feet before driving a fist or a foot or shin into the bag.
Jensen tilted his head to the side, letting it rest on the door frame. His eyes on his husband’s back, he watched his muscles tense and relax with every punch, the way the backs of his legs tightened as he lifted one to drive his knee or shin into the bag.
It wasn’t long before Bo stuck out a hand to stop the bag from swinging. He pulled an arm across his chest, stretched it out, repeated the action with his arm. He pulled a knee to his chest, wrapped his hands around it, stretched it out, and repeated the process on his other leg.
Bo turned, lowering himself to the small bench near the wall. He grabbed a towel, patting his face and neck with it. “Morning, love,” he greeted after a moment.
Jensen smiled. “Morning.” He waited a moment as Bo pulled out his earphones and set them on the bench. “Planning on showering next?”
Bo shook his head. “I’m going to do a few more stretches and go out for a run. It’s nice outside.” He started unwrapping the wrap on his hands and wrists before lifting his eyes to Jensen’s face. “Or… I suppose I can shower, get changed, and I can go for a walk with you and the kids. Does that sound okay?”
“Sounds perfect. Kids are asleep, so if you don’t mind, I’ll join you in the shower.”
“Aha. I should’ve been able to guess that’s why you moseyed your way on down here.” Bo set the wraps aside and rose to his feet, wrapping his earphones up. “I was thinking about the homicide in Clinstone.”
“The first victim being black is a general indicator that our killer might not be white.” Bo grabbed his shirt, draping it over his shoulder. “She may have considered David–if the woman in the cowboy hat is, indeed, the killer–but she ultimately chose Angie Hall. She danced with her, drank with her, charmed her. She spent a long, long time to make sure they left together, but gave up on David–again, an assumption–rather quickly.”
Jensen looked up at the ceiling for a moment, nodding. “David said she looked a bit darker-skinned than he was, but it was hard to tell. It was, well… dark.”
“That checks out. Maybe Will got a better look at her. There are more lights behind the bar than on the dance floor, surprisingly. He might have been able to offer a more concrete answer than what David could.” Bo leaned up and kissed the younger man before raising an eyebrow. “Speaking of, have you heard back on Will?”
“Yeah. Sketch got finished yesterday morning. Ryan sent it over last night. Should be in my email.” He flashed a smile. “After we shower and get back from the walk, okay?”
“Sure, love, works for me.” Bo wiped his hand on the shirt draped over his shoulder before patting Jensen’s chest. “Come on, then. Limited levels of funny business in the shower, all right? We’ll never get breakfast and coffee in time to go on the walk while it’s still nice out if you don’t.”
Jensen scoffed, pushing himself away from the doorframe. “No promises, babe.” One corner of Bo’s mouth lifted. “I’m happy to see you so damn healthy, Eli,” he whispered, dragging his fingers up the defined lines of Bo’s abs. “Healthy and happy and… and getting better and better every damn day.”
Bo wrapped a hand around Jensen’s wrist, stilling his hand. “Well, that’s largely because of you, Jens. You’ve held my hand and walked me right back out of hell a hundred times.” He lifted Jensen’s hand and pressed a kiss to his palm. “I’ll always be thankful for that.”
Jensen smiled. “As long as you let the funny business edge closer to medium than minimum, it’ll always be a pleasure,” he said, humor dancing in the green eyes Bo had been in love with for damn near seven years.
“Yes,” Jensen whispered. He curled a finger beneath Bo’s chin, tilting the man’s head back before kissing him softly. “I love you, Eli.”
“I love you too.” Bo smiled, nodding to the left. “Well, let’s get a shower and some funny business in before the kids wake up.”
Jensen’s smile broadened. “Deal.”
10:30 AM; SAN DIEGO, THE PITMAN ESTATE, GOLF COURSE
Bo glanced up for a moment, checking his rough estimate to the flagpole one more time. Eyes falling to the ball again, he swung the golf club. He watched the ball sail through the air before clearing his throat. “I found Jamal’s note.”
“I’ll need specifics before I can engage in any conversation revolving around what Mister Pitman may or may not have told you,” Frank said.
“Katalina Lopez. According to his letter, she’s his daughter.”
“With… a woman named Gabriella?”
Bo grabbed a golf ball, tossing it into the air and catching it as it came back down. “How’d they meet?”
“She helped him adopt Mister Duncan,” Frank said after a moment.
“Why is her last name Lopez?”
“Mister Pitman hasn’t been lying to you all the times he said he never wants another Pitman on this earth after he passes. When Miss Lopez–currently Mrs. Carter–told him she was pregnant, he let her know the baby couldn’t have his last name.”
Frank nodded. “She took his mother’s maiden name when they got married. It was years after Miss Katalina was born. Jamal didn’t mind if she kept the last name Lopez. He gave her the option to change it when she was old enough to decide for herself, and she declined. An honor to her mother, if you will.”
“Why did he hide that from me? Safety?” Bo asked.
“Safety,” Frank confirmed. He cleared his throat. “I met Mister Pitman approximately fifteen days after his first wife was killed. I know what he went through, how his life changed afterward. I watched when…” He shook his head. “The point is, he didn’t want to risk the same thing happening to Mrs. Carted. He wouldn’t stand to lose another woman he loved, and when children were brought into the picture, it only confirmed that he needed to change a few things around.”
Bo nodded, bending down to set the golf ball on the tee. “I imagine you aren’t allowed to tell me what you ‘watched’ afterward?”
“You would be correct.”
“Why did Jamal hire you?”
“For protection. And… for the safety of others, he needed a sober driver.”
“When… did he hire you? Or, apologies, how old were you when you were hired?”
“Jupiter,” Bo whispered. “You’ve done this almost your whole life.”
Frank offered a smile. “And if given the chance in a second life, I would do it for him again.”
“I-I’m glad… he’s had you around all this time, Frank. I don’t think he’d be in my life if he hadn’t had you there.” Bo turned around completely, meeting the older man’s eyes. “Thank you for taking care of him after she died. Thank you for keeping him standing.”
“It was my pleasure, sir. Thank you for giving him the retirement he thought only death would give him.”
One corner of Bo’s mouth lifted. “My pleasure.”
12:00 PM; SAN DIEGO, THE PITMAN ESTATE, OFFICE
While Jensen was downstairs making lunch, Bo sat behind Jamal’s desk, skimming through the letter the older man had left behind for him once more. He already knew every word, every detail, but reading it yet again felt necessary.
Kayla and Amber were downstairs playing whichever violent video game they had most recently talked Jensen into buying for them. Bo hadn’t minded too much when they were younger, and he minded even less now. Castor and Pollux sat on the floor of Jamal’s desk, smacking a balloon back and forth, giggling as they did their best to keep it off the ground.
Bo glanced up at his sons, a smile tugging at one corner of his mouth. He looked back down at the note, shaking his head. Sitting in a room with two of his own children, he could understand every single reason that had driven Jamal to hide his family from Bo and the rest of the world. Having them out in the open could be dangerous for their safety, for their livelihood.
The very thought of losing his own family had driven Bo to sickness once, and it generally made him feel sick and disgusting, angry and fearful. He couldn’t blame Jamal for wanting to take every measure he could to keep his family safe.
Bo let out a quiet sigh, folding the note and setting it on the desk. He rested his hand on Acamas’s back. She purred, stretching out her paws to knead at his thigh.
Bo lifted his head. “Hey.”
Castor shifted quickly, looking back at his father. “What?”
“That was a swear.”
The little blonde tilted his head to the side. “Which one?”
Bo snorted. “You said two words, baby. You know exactly which one it was. Just don’t say it again, okay? Swears are off limits at your age.”
Castor grinned. “Okay, Daddy.”
Pollux leaned up ever so slightly, just enough to look at Bo. “Daddy?”
Pollux pointed in his general direction. “Balloon.”
Bo looked down at the floor and leaned to the side to grab the balloon. “Here you go.” He tossed it up and hit it with the palm of his hand. Castor giggled, standing up to hit it in Pollux’s direction. He dropped back to the floor, pushing his glasses up on his nose with his middle finger.
Bo smiled faintly. He rolled his chair closer to the door and leaned out into the hall. “Hey… Frank?”
Frank stepped out of one of the rooms, a hand resting on the doorframe. “Yes, sir?”
“Is it possible for me to have a meeting scheduled with Mister Dawson, his co-leader, and the Cassata boy?”
“Oh, of course. Tomorrow?”
Bo nodded. “Tomorrow’s fine with me. Morning or afternoon is fine. We’re planning on leaving around four or so.”
“Sure thing, Mister Austen. Would you like it here at the house? There’s a room downstairs Mister Pitman tends to use as a conference room, but you can hold it wherever you’d like.”
Bo glanced up at the ceiling for a moment before lifting his shoulders. “Whatever’s easiest for you, Frank. I don’t mind.”
Frank smiled, shaking his head. “The conference room it is, then. Would you like Mister Taylor to sit in with you?”
“I’ll ask him if he wants to meet them or not. The final say is up to him.”
“Of course, Mister Austen. I’ll have it scheduled by tomorrow morning and let you know.”
“My pleasure, sir.”
10:37 PM; SAN DIEGO, THE PITMAN ESTATE, BO AND JENSEN’S ROOM
Jensen raised an eyebrow as Bo slung a leg over his hips. “Hey, babe.”
“Hello.” Bo leaned down and kissed the younger man, one hand on his chest, the other pressed to the mattress. “Question.”
“Mm… answer,” Jensen said, resting his hands at Bo’s hips.
“I have a meeting scheduled with three members of the Cassata family tomorrow morning at six. It’s early, I know, but I was hoping to do it before the kids were up,” Bo said. “So… I was wondering if you wanted to sit in on it or not. It’s nothing but an introduction to two of the other members for me. I just want to give you the chance to be involved in everything you… want to be involved with.”
Jensen smiled. “I appreciate that, Eli. Yeah, I’d love to. Thank you.”
“My pleasure.” Bo offered an almost embarrassed smile. “I want you to be included in as much of my life as possible, Jens. The good and the bad, the light and the dark. I’ll let you stand at my side for as much of it as you want to. I won’t keep you in the dark on it if you don’t want to be in the dark. You aren’t some… some stereotypical mafia wife. If you ask a question about where I’ve been or what I’ve done, I’ll tell you. If you ask to tag along, I’ll have Frank make arrangements to make sure the kids are safe with mom and Dad, arrangements to make sure you’re safe with me. Okay?”
“Sounds damn good to me, Eli,” Jensen murmured. He reached up, gently brushing Bo’s hair away from his forehead with two fingers. “You’re gonna do such a damn good job, baby. You know that, don’t you?”
“I think I’m still attempting to adjust to it all. I don’t believe I’m quite ready for the qualification of… ‘goodness’. Does that make sense?”
“Plenty.” Jensen rubbed a hand up Bo’s arm. “Wanna grab a shower, Chief?”
Bo shoved at his chest. “Should you really be trying to seduce me, Sergeant?”
“What can I say? I’ve always been a rule breaker.”
“Mm, clearing.” Bo smiled. “Sure, Jens. No funny business, though. I actually feel like I might be able to get to sleep easily if the shower’s quick enough.”
“Deal, babe.” Jensen drummed his hands against Bo’s thighs. “Let’s go.”
A/N: I can’t remember if I’ve said it or not, so I’ll post it just in case. Anything in this book and series about any of the mafia families (Grimm, Cassata, Lucchese) might be inaccurate. I’m still rewriting Grimm Reaper, and eventually, Rise of Viper will be rewritten too. It won’t be until those are done that I can guarantee the information is correct. What’s written in this book is based on the original version of Grimm, which is wrong in a lot of ways. So just keep that in mind and know some things might change eventually 🙂
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