8:16 AM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, KITCHEN
“I’m planning on calling Werlin soon, get him to send in Chris to help with this entire… situation,” Thomas said, leaning back against the counter, a coffee mug held between his hands.
“You don’t have to call anyone. It’s going to be okay,” Bo said.
Thomas’s brow furrowed. “What changed your mind on that?” he asked.
“Well, truthfully, Jamal would prefer that we didn’t involve the FBI,” Bo said.
“Why do you care what Pitman wants?”
“Because he’s family,” Bo said.
“You don’t know half of the shit that man does, Bo,” Thomas said.
“Umm… I have a pretty good idea about most of it, actually,” the blonde corrected. “Tom, these cases will get too much attention if you bring in Agent Cross. The media will catch wind that it relates to me and I’ll be all over the damn news. Do you… do you remember the last time I was all over the news like that?” Thomas sighed quietly. “Jamal kind of wants to handle this all on a… on the downlow.”
“Meaning he wants to kill the guy,” Thomas said.
“We don’t know that.”
Thomas snorted. “I know that. And you know damn well you know it, too.”
Bo sighed. “So?”
“So it’s illegal.”
Bo’s blue eyes fell to the floor. “Have you ever felt so hurt by someone that you didn’t want them in prison? You… you wanted them dead instead?” he asked.
Thomas cleared his throat. “Once, but that’s unrelated. It’s different.”
Without lifting his head from its bowed position, his eyes shifted back to Thomas’s face. “But is it?”
“The guy killed my little sister. Of course I wanted him dead.”
“And this guy threatened to kill Jensen and my girls. Jamal’s not allowed to want him dead simply because he didn’t successfully murder my family?” Bo asked.
“That’s a rather unfair way to word it,” Thomas said. The blonde offered a shrug. “I love you, Bo. I just don’t want you to let Jamal force you into making that kind of mistake.”
“Tom…” Bo let out a soft sigh. “When Jamal… dies, I’ll be taking over as chief in L.A.. I’ll be taking over most of, if not all of, his current business transactions, no matter what they are. This issue with my stalker? Letting Jamal handle it instead of a court or a jury?” He shook his head. “I don’t think that’s a mistake. Personally.”
Thomas stared at his nephew for a moment. “You’re taking over for Jamal?” Bo nodded. “You’re a forensic analyst.”
“That’s actually the first thing I said when he asked me,” Bo said.
“What made you agree to that, Bo?”
“He’s done so damn much for me, Tom,” Bo said simply.
“So you don’t regret it?”
“Not at all.”
“What’s Jensen think about it?”
“He doesn’t know?” Thomas asked, the three words laced with utter disbelief.
“I’ve had a hard time figuring out how to break it to him,” Bo said.
“How about you start by telling him?”
“Tom, not counting the current stalker situation, my life is damn near perfect. We’re talking about surrogacy to have a little boy of our own. I’m not going to sit Jensen down and ruin all of that. It can wait,” Bo said.
“Have you ever thought that Jensen might not want to be with someone who’s going to turn into Jamal Pitman?” Thomas asked quietly.
“Well, I…” Bo frowned. “That’s a terrible thing to throw at me.”
Bo nodded slowly. “I mean, you’re right, but it’s still a bit rude. I’d assume as a rather normal person, you’d know that,” he said. “Either way, I have things other than the LAPD take over to worry about. That won’t happen for… for a long time. Until then, I need to worry about this stalker and my family. I’ll tell Jensen when it’s more… relevant, I suppose is the word.”
Thomas nodded. “Right,” he said quietly. He cleared his throat. “What’s in the box?”
“I don’t know. I haven’t opened it yet,” Bo said, looking down at the small box in his hands. “I’m waiting for Jensen to come home. He’s only working half a shift today, so I figured he’d like to be there when I finally open it.”
“You’re scared to read the note, aren’t you?”
“A little,” Bo admitted. “There’s a part of me that’s still terrified that I’ll make the wrong move and he’ll hurt someone I love. When I was… me, he couldn’t hurt anyone that I cared about. I didn’t allow myself to get close to anyone. If he had done this years ago instead of right now, he couldn’t do anything to hurt me. I wouldn’t care. But he… he had to wait until I had just about everything I could ever possibly ask for.”
“He wants to ruin your life, Bo. He knew he had to wait and hope that you eventually opened up to other people, to your family,” Thomas said.
Thomas’s brow furrowed as he took a sip of his coffee. “I wonder what his issue is with you. Is he a general stalker? One who’s seen you on the news and done his best to find out everything about you? Has he only met you recently? Has he genuinely known you forever?” he wondered aloud.
“I don’t know. It’s hard to tell. Based on the notes, I’d say he’s known about me for a very long time. He knows just about everything there is to know. Christ, he knows about things that I’ve literally never told another living soul. I just… I don’t understand how it’s possible for him to know so much about me,” Bo said.
“I wondered the same thing when he knew that you and I were related. That’s not something that you can just find online,” Thomas said.
“I know. There are incredibly private details peppered throughout the notes. I don’t know how it’s possible for him to know so much.”
“There’s really no way someone else in your life knows everything that’s been in those notes?”
Bo shook his head. “No. Jamal and Jensen are the only two people who know almost everything, and Mom and Dad are close seconds, but even the four together don’t know everything about me. There are things that only Jamal knows or only Jensen knows. Are even a few things about me that only Jake knows. There’s no logical reason that this stranger would know everything about me,” Bo explained.
“I don’t know if logic applies to a stalker,” Thomas said.
“I know. Which… sucks for me. I can’t see a situation without trying to apply logic to it,” Bo said.
A faint smile crossed Thomas’s face. “Believe me, kid, I know.” He cleared his throat. “Since Jamal wants to handle this personally, why hasn’t he sent someone out here to find the guy?” he questioned.
“Because I haven’t given him permission to do so.”
“He takes orders from you?”
“Like I said, Jamal does a lot for me,” Bo said quietly.
“Why don’t you give him permission?” Thomas asked.
“Because I don’t want Jamal to lay a hand on the guy. Not yet. Currently, the guy belongs in jail, not… not buried at sea. Currently, it’s my problem. If things escalate or this next note threatens Jensen or the girls again, or you or my pants… then I’ll give Jamal the green light to do whatever he wants.”
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