12:00 PM: CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, DINING ROOM
“I feel like I’m being mocked,” Bo said quietly, setting a plate down in front of Katie.
“Because of the clay thing?” Thomas asked.
Bo nodded, setting a second plate down in front of Charlotte. “I just…” He trailed off as he walked back to the kitchen. Thomas followed. “There should be another body by now. A human body. He’s playing games with me, and I don’t like it,” he said. He grabbed the remaining three plates on the counter while Thomas grabbed all of the cups lined up beside them. “It makes me nervous. Whenever Thanatos would wait, it was because… because he was doing something big.”
“What do you classify as ‘something big’ in this case?” Thomas asked.
“Thanatos built a throne out of human skulls one time,” Bo said plainly before walking back into the dining room.
“Skulls?” Thomas asked in a whisper that only Bo heard. The blonde simply nodded. He set a plate down in front of Elijah and set the remaining plates down at the two empty seats at the table. “Why?”
“It was part of his display,” Bo said. He took several of the cups from Thomas and set them down in front of Jacob and Alice’s children. “But that doesn’t change the fact that it was… disturbing. We can talk about it after lunch.” With a sigh, Thomas nodded.
3:32 PM; CLINSTONE SPECIALITY HOSPITAL, NEONATAL INTENSIVE CARE UNIT
“She’s lucky,” Doctor Murray said softly. “Finding a heart for her this soon? It’s good news.”
“Yeah,” Bo whispered. Wearing a thin gown over jeans and a flannel, he sat in front of the baby’s incubator. “When does she go into surgery?” he asked, lifting his gaze to her face.
“Monday, more than likely. The family isn’t ready to sign over the organs. But, uh, we’ll play it by ear,” she said. “You can touch her.”
“I can?” Bo asked. Doctor Murray. Almost cautiously, Bo stuck a hand through one of the large holes in the incubator. He held the baby’s tiny hand in his own, smiling softly.
“What’s her name?”
“It’s a very pretty name,” Doctor Murray said. Bo nodded. “Has anything changed with the father?”
He shook his head. “I’m trying not to bring it up with him. I’d rather not start a fight with him, not over this,” he said quietly. “But as long as Alice is okay, he’ll come around. This is what he wants. He wants children. He just… he just needs time, that’s all. And if anything changes, I’ll make sure they’re well-taken care of.” He cleared his throat. “How’s Noah today?”
“Oh, he’s so good. His vitals are strong, he’s developing very well. Truthfully, I wish all babies in the NICU were like him,” she said.
Bo smiled. “He gets that from his mom,” he said softly. “The Tangwerais are fighters, aren’t they, baby?” he asked, his blue eyes falling back to Eve. “I’d give your daddy credit, but he’s more on the pacifist side of life. You get your bite from your momma.”
Doctor Murray smiled softly, looking down as her pager went off. “Mister Austen?”
“They’re preparing for the separation of a set of siamese twins today. They’d like me to make sure everything ends up okay with the hearts.”
“And you’ve been told to ask me for permission, right?” Bo asked.
“Eve and Noah are still your top priority?” Bo questioned.
“One hundred percent,” Doctor Murray said.
Bo nodded. “Go right ahead, Doctor Murray. I’ll stay in here for a little while longer if that’s all right.”
“Of course, Mister Austen. Have a nurse page me if you need anything,” she said.
“Sure thing, Doc,” Bo said softly.
4:03 PM; CLINSTONE SPECIALITY HOSPITAL, INTENSIVE CARE UNIT
“Where were you?” Jacob asked.
“I was just filling out some paperwork and checking on, umm…”
“The twins,” Jacob said quietly.
Bo nodded. “What’re your plans after they wake her up?”
“I don’t know. We wait until they say we can go home, and then we go home?” Jacob asked.
“Right,” Bo said quietly. With a sigh, he sat down in the chair beside Jacob. “Jake, we… really need to make a decision within the next few days here.”
“They’ll come home with me and Allie. I don’t expect you to take care of them forever,” Jacob said.
Bo laid a hand on Jacob’s arm. “I mean the newborns, Jake. I know it’s hard, but I need a plan, no matter what it is.”
Jacob watched him for what felt like an eternity. “Even if I thought I could look at them without feeling responsible… I don’t think Allie will want anything to do with them. She has enough trauma revolving around child birth as it is, and now I’ve added to that with the attempted death sentence here. I-I don’t know what the plan is, Bo. I don’t know.”
Bo nodded. “I’m sorry I brought it up. I know it isn’t easy. Putting my own desire for a plan ahead of your grief is unfair.”
“Don’t worry about it. Plans are good. My brain just isn’t ready for one yet,” Jacob mumbled.
“Of course.” Bo drew his feet up to rest on the edge of the chair, wrapping his arms around his shins. Closing his eyes, he dropped his head to rest against his knees. He wasn’t sure how much longer he could hold up the ‘I’m fine’ façade before he completely lost himself.
9:04 PM; LOS ANGELES, GARY’S BAR AND GRILL, BASEMENT
Jamal cleared his throat as he pressed his phone to his ear, holding it in place with his shoulder. “Talk to me, kiddo.”
“He sent me another clay figure today,” Bo said.
“Same second figure Thanatos had back in the day?” Jamal questioned, his eyes scanning the cards in his hands.
“Why don’t you install a camera in your mailbox?” Jamal asked. He mouthed the word ‘call’, tossing a fifty dollar bill into the center of the table. He rolled his eyes at his fellow poker buddies folded, automatically leaving him to win the round.
“Well, I… I haven’t thought about that,” Bo admitted.
“Maybe you should look into it,” Jamal suggested. He tossed his cards back to the dealer across the table, wrapping his hand around the glass in front of him. “I have talked to and scared the fuck out of a lot of people these last few days, Bo. Not a single one of them is the one messing with you, and none of them have heard any kind of… hype over the situation.”
“Do stalkers usually tell other people all about their current victims?”
“When you know the kind of people I’ve been speaking to, yes,” Jamal said. He had scared one of Wayne’s former serial killer friends so badly the day before that they ended up in the hospital for a minor cardiac episode. Still, the woman had known nothing. If she hadn’t pretended not to know who Bo was, Jamal wouldn’t have gone out of his way to scare her, but no one in L.A. didn’t know who Bo was, especially the murderers.
“Fair enough,” Bo murmured.
Jamal took a sip of his scotch, closing his eyes for a moment. The only time he could drink was when Bo was in Clinstone. It was the deal they had worked out after his heart transplant, and it was a compromise that the short blonde had been incredibly reluctant to agree to. “Install a camera on the outside of the house, kiddo. It’ll be more likely to catch sight of him than one in the mailbox would do.”
“Okay,” Bo whispered.
Jamal bowed his head, grabbing his phone. “Are you crying?”
“I feel like I’m dying, Jamal,” Bo breathed.
“Okay, okay. Breathe. Deep breath in.” Jamal paused. “And let it out. That’s good. I have got your family covered. I have got you covered. You give me the a-okay and I send my men to your house to wait by and tackle the motherfucker.”
“I’m not ready for that yet.”
“I know, kiddo. I know. That’s why you get to decide when I send people over for you,” Jamal said softly. “Do you know why you’re my favorite? ”
Bo sniffled. “Nuh-uh.”
“You’re the only one who always comes back. You may leave, but you always come back to me by choice,” Jamal said. “So when I decide who the hell I’m going to spend my time protecting, you’re always at the top of the list. I love you. I will not let anything happen to you or Jensen or your girls. Your parents are safe. Everything’s okay here, short stuff. Okay?”
“Okay,” Bo whispered.
“I’m flying over there with Jensen and the girls on Sunday. I won’t be able to stay for long, but I think we could both benefit from seeing each other for a couple minutes.
“My pleasure, Bo. I’ll see you Sunday. Get some sleep, okay?”
“I love you.”
Bo sniffled, clearing his throat. “I love you, too. I’ll… I’ll see you soon.”
“All right, kiddo. Goodnight.”
Jamal waited for Bo to the end the call before he set his phone down on the table. “What?” he questioned.
One of the men at the table shrugged. “Your soft spot for that kid’s too big. He’s a danger to you.”
“Shut your fucking mouth,” Jamal said. “You’re just pissed because your kid went to college and never came back to visit.”
“Pitman, I swear to—”
“Easy,” a man with a heavy Italian accent cut in. “Whatever you say to him next better be very well thought out.”
“Sorry, Lucchese,” the first man murmured.
The second man, Alessandro Lucchese, nodded. “There’s nothing wrong with Jamal’s relationship with the kid. It’s healthy, not a weakness. Do you want to stand here and tell me that my little girl is a weakness for me? She’s going to take over my place one day, just like Jamal’s kid is taking over for him. They’re our heirs. That’s not a weakness. That’s a strength.” He nodded toward the dealer across the table. “Deal out another hand. I’ve got places to be.”
“Of course, sir.”
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