Copycat – Chapter Fourteen

NOT EDITED

Chapter Fourteen

Friday: November 29, 2024
6:00 AM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, FOYER

Bo pulled on his shoes and shrugged a coat on over his shoulders. The mail itself wouldn’t be delivered to his house for at least another five hours. But the mail wasn’t what he wanted to look for in the first place. He opened the front door and walked out onto the porch. He shut the door with a quiet click, walked down the steps, and hurried down the pathway to the sidewalk. He pulled open the mailbox, his jaw tense.

Sure enough, a small, clay figure of a three-headed dragon sat in the mailbox. A little fireball had been built and painted at the tip of each one of the open mouths. “Hi, Dahak,” Bo muttered. He grabbed the dragon, shutting the mailbox. In a way, Bo was almost impressed with the attention his stalker had paid to detail. Azi Dahaka belonged to the Persian religion of  Zoroastrianism. According to its tales, the Dahak was a large, winged, three-headed dragon. Each head had a mouth capable of breathing fire, and the body was said to be made of scorpions and lizards.

Even though the figure was much smaller than Thanatos’s original display, Bo’s stalker had paid much more attention to the original myth. “If you weren’t filled with blood, I wouldn’t break you,” Bo murmured. He turned, his eyes taking over the houses across the street. He felt like he was being watched, and he wasn’t sure if it was the paranoid part of the human brain, or if it really was the part of the brain that could almost always sense when one was being stared at.

In general, that part could be associated as the amygdala, which sensed fear. Bo knew that paranoia had more of a link to dopamine than it did to a specific part of the brain. He let out a short sigh. He wanted it to be paranoia, but knowing his current state of luck, it was more than likely true that he was actively being watched.

Bo tugged at his jacket with his free hand before heading back toward the house. He’d make sure all the curtains were closed in the house. He couldn’t be watched from in there as long as the curtains were closed.

Across the street, a man peeked out through the upstairs window of one of the neighboring houses. He smiled. Bo had gotten his little present. He wished he could see the panic and dread that would set on Bo’s face after he broke open the figure, but he’d have to tolerate watching the gradual build of tension and grief on the little blonde’s face from afar. One day, he’d get close, but that day wasn’t anytime soon.

He had more displays to run through first.

In Bo’s house, he dipped the tester strip into the blood and pushed it into the tester in his hand. His brow furrowed. Cat. Cat? Bo’s stomach dropped as he quickly rinsed off the baggie with the note inside and pulled out the note. He unrolled it, his eyes scanning the eight words written on the little piece of paper.

Would you miss Acamas if she were gone?

Bo dropped the paper to the counter, wiping his hand on his jeans before grabbing his phone. He pulled off the glove on his right hand, typing in his password and opening up the camera feed from the Los Angeles house. He flipped through the rooms, his eyes searching for the cat that had been his closest friend for years.

He let out sudden breath of relief that sounded like a sob. Acamas lay curled up on top of the refrigerator-freezer combo in the kitchen. He laughed quietly, an outcry of the effects of stress on his body. He slid down to a sitting position on the floor, leaning back against the cabinet. He drew his legs toward himself, resting his arms on his knees as he stared at the screen.

Acamas was safe and alive. It may not have been much, but Acamas’s sleeping form meant that the threat of hurting the cat was false. It meant the stalker hadn’t been to Los Angeles. If he had, Acamas would be dead or missing.

For now, his family was entirely safe.

8:03 AM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, KITCHEN

“Hey, kiddo,” Thomas murmured, squeezing the back of Bo’s neck.

“Hey.”

“Did you sleep any?” Thomas asked.

“Umm… maybe an hour? I don’t know. When I woke up, Jensen was snoring on the other end of the line,” Bo said. He smiled faintly. “Not that I mind, though.”

Thomas smiled, reaching up to grab a coffee mug from the cupboard. “Has anything showed up yet?” he asked.

For a moment, Bo considered lying to Thomas, too. “Yes,” he decided quietly. “Another clay figure. Mythology. Azi Dahaka,” he explained.

“Blood inside?”

“Yeah, but that’s to be expected.” Bo cleared his throat. “The clay things bother me, you know? Because it’s the last big case I worked with her. But… but I think Ammut’s next, and I don’t want to relive that. I have just gotten back into being able to listen to piano music without feeling sick to my stomach. I don’t know if I can handle going back.”

Thomas poured himself a cup of coffee before lifting his blue eyes back to Bo’s face. “Have you ever considered just handing all of this over to Gwen or Misty? Just… stepping back and letting them handle it?”

“Tom… if I know anything about stalkers, it’s that they like attention. If I let Gwen and Misty go to all of the scenes without ever making an appearance of my own…”

“He could hurt one of them,” Thomas said quietly. Bo nodded. “I’m sorry, Bo.”

Bo lifted his shoulders. “It’s not your fault.”

“I know.” Thomas leaned back against the counter, taking a sip of his coffee. “I could throw some weight around, have them send Chris down here on official FBI business. I’d be partnered with him. Then I could be at the scenes with you.”

“Then Jensen will find out about it,” Bo said.

“Is that the worst thing in the world?” Thomas asked.

“It is if it happens while he’s in California. Because then he’ll rush back here and he’ll end up here before Sunday. And if he’s here sooner than originally planned, the stalker’s not just going to stand for that disobedience,” Bo said. “I can’t risk it.”

Thomas nodded. “Understandable,” he said softly. “But after Jensen and the girls are back here? Then I can call in?” Silently, Bo nodded.


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