12:03 PM; CLINSTONE SPECIALITY HOSPITAL, PARKING LOT
Bo climbed back into his car as his phone rang. He leaned up, pulling the phone from his back pocket. He glanced down at Jensen’s name on the screen, drawing in a heavy breath. His mother had definitely called Jensen to let him know that Bo was acting strange. “Dammit,” Bo whispered. He slid his thumb across the bottom of the screen and pressed his phone to his ear. “Hey, Jens,” he greeted, reaching out to turn the key in the ignition.
“Hi,” Jensen said softly. “Whatcha doing?”
“Just drove Jake back to the hospital so he could sit in Alice’s room. Got him to eat something, got him to sleep for a little bit… I think I made him see some sort of positive, so I’d like to believe he’s at least a little better than he was this morning,” Bo said, clicking his seat belt into place.
Bo cleared his throat, shifting into reverse. He set his phone to speaker, dropping it to his lap as he wrapped an arm around the passenger seat and backed up. He shifted back into drive and drove out of the parking lot. “What about you? What’re you up to?”
“Nothing, really. Work, basically,” Jensen said. “Say, I heard you’re going to be working tomorrow so we can’t come to Clinstone. Do you… think I can’t take care of the girls myself without Jamal hovering over me every few hours?” he asked.
“What? Jesus Christ, of course not, Jens. This is just a big homicide that I’m working. There are already two deaths with this one. I just need to be at work, focused.”
“Uh-huh. Your mom called me, said you were being… weird. You called her to ask her to change it to lunch, and then told her that supper was better because we could just stay in L.A.. I’d like to pretend that’s not odd, but it is,” Jensen said.
“I’m not exactly a normal person, Jensen. I’m sleep deprived, aching for a solid drink of alcohol, and loaded up on coffee. None of those things add up to normal at this point. Of course I’m odd and weird,” Bo said.
“Yes, well… there is that,” Jensen agreed, his voice soft. He sighed. “I worry about you, Bo. Can I trust you in Clinstone? You just said you want a drink,” he said.
“You made me strong, Jens. I’m okay. As long as I get to hear your voice every day, I have no problem making it through without a drink,” Bo said.
“Really,” Bo promised. It felt good to be able to tell the truth on at least one statement. “How’s the case?” he asked.
“Very small lead this morning, but it wasn’t enough to brag about, that’s for damn sure,” Jensen said. “What about this… case of yours?”
“Don’t get all suspicious on me, Jensen. There is a damn case,” Bo said.
Jensen sighed quietly. “Sorry. It’s kind of instinct to assume you’re lying when we’re apart.” He cleared his throat. “Continue?”
“Nothing solid yet. No leads. Just two bodies,” Bo said.
“What’s the M.O.?” Jensen asked.
“Both victims have been killed in a different way,” Bo said. “It’s possible that the killer is testing out different methods until they stumble upon one that pleases them the most.”
“Ugh. Good luck with that shit,” Jensen said.
Bo snorted. “Thanks.”
“When do we come back to Clinstone, then?” Jensen questioned.
“Sunday. The girl’s go back to school Monday, so…”
“Yeah,” Jensen said quietly. “God, I just miss you, Eli.”
Bo shivered. Eli. “I miss you, too,” he whispered. He pulled into the driveway, shutting off the engine. He grabbed his phone, turning it off speaker and pressing it to his ear again. He rested his left wrist on the steering wheel, closing his eyes. “It’s not the same without you and the girls, Jens.”
“I know, babe. It’s not the same without you, either. But we’ll see each other Sunday. And that’s… that’s good. I’ll be waiting excitedly, to say the least.”
The ghost of a smile formed on Bo’s face. “Me, too.” He cleared his throat. “Promise you’ll call again tonight so we can talk?”
“You mean so we can actually fall asleep?” Jensen asked.
“Yeah,” Bo whispered.
“I promise, babe. I’ll call you around eleven, your time,” Jensen said. “Does that work?”
“That’s great. Thank you, Jens.”
“My pleasure, Eli.”
3:35 PM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, BREAKFAST NOOK
Bo had just finished taking apart one of the listening devices when Thomas sat down across from him at the small table. “Hello,” the blonde greeted.
“Hey. How’s… all of that coming along?” Thomas questioned.
“Well, all of the audio has been uploaded to my laptop, and all of the devices have been shut off and taken apart,” Bo said. “I suppose it’s all a step in the right direction. But, honestly, after I see if any of them have serial numbers and, if they do, throwing those numbers into an algorithm of some sort, I’m going to fix supper and then lie down. I’m miserable because I’m so damn tired.” He rubbed the back of his neck, rolling his shoulders back. “I might take some sleeping pills before Jensen calls tonight, hope for the best. There will probably be a crime scene tomorrow, and I need to be at my best. I can’t keep bailing on the scenes just because they relate to me. It’s unfair to the victims,” he said.
“I know you feel like it’s your fault that these people are dying, but it’s not,” Thomas said.
“Maybe not entirely, but my existence contributes to it. Natalie died because I helped save her life. And the second victim died… for fun? I’m not sure,” Bo admitted.
Thomas shook his head, moving his left hand up to cover the scar on his face. “That woman was killed because she looked like the first victim in CGK’s New York spree,” he said.
Thomas nodded. “Seriously,” he confirmed. “Christine Carter was the first victim when he returned to New York. The resemblance between her and your victim is… alarming.”
“I’m sorry, Tom. I…” Bo shook his head. “I shouldn’t have called you out here for this.”
“Like I said, Bo, you didn’t call me anywhere. You called to let me know I could be in danger. You never asked me to come here. You never asked me to look at these pictures or help with this case in any way. I did that. Not you. It isn’t your fault,” Thomas said. “You have to learn that, sometimes, the effect of an action doesn’t relate directly back to you, and whatever occurs because of a choice you’ve made doesn’t always mean that the result is your fault. In this situation, that is the case. It isn’t on your shoulders. I subjected myself to it,” he explained.
“Thanks, Tom,” Bo whispered.
Thomas nodded, passing a hand through his brown hair. “My pleasure, kid.”
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