Tuesday: December 3, 2024
2:15 AM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, MASTER BEDROOM
Bo cracked open one blue eye as he felt a quick tug on his pajama sleeve. He turned his head to the side, and slowly, his gaze focused on Elijah. “What’s up, buddy?” he asked quietly.
“I had a bad dream,” Elijah whispered.
“Well, we can’t have that, can we?” Bo asked. Elijah shook his head. Bo lifted the covers up. “Come on.” Elijah climbed onto the bed, snuggling up against Bo’s side as the blonde dropped the sheets back over the boy. Bo lay on his back, his left arm trapped beneath Jensen’s body. Whenever Bo fell asleep on his back, Jensen always ended up with his head on the blonde’s shoulder, his left arm resting on Bo’s torso, his fingers curled around the material of whatever shirt Bo happened to be wearing.
Although Jensen weighed more than Bo, and sometimes, it felt like Jensen was crushing Bo and all of his organs, he still found it incredibly comforting. He always knew Jensen was there, even when his eyes were closed and he was sound asleep. It was the easiest way to fall asleep, especially with his stalker following him and his family so closely.
Jensen cleared his throat, his right arm sliding under Bo’s neck, his fist resting near the blonde’s shoulder. Bo shook his head, smiling faintly as he turned just enough to press a kiss to Jensen’s forehead.
Bo wrapped his free arm around Elijah, aware that, more than likely, Elijah wouldn’t be the only child to end up in their bed before the sun rose.
Outside, on the sidewalk, the Copycat Killer neatly pushed a little cardboard box to the back of the mailbox. He had been preparing for a kill over the weekend and yesterday evening, after Jensen had returned to the Austen-Taylor household, he had kidnapped his intended victim.
A fifteen-year-old little blonde boy.
5:00 AM; LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT, CHIEF JAMAL PITMAN’S OFFICE
Jamal stood at the window of his office, his deep brown eyes staring at nothing as he held his phone up to his ear. “That’s not what I asked you.”
“No, sir. We haven’t found him,” the man on the other end of the call corrected nervously.
“Right.” Jamal shook his head, tucking his free arm neatly behind his back. “Is that because you aren’t looking, or because I need to have you fired? Permanently?”
“W–we are looking, sir. He’s just good at what he does. He isn’t easy to find,” the man said.
“Please, sir, I’m sorry. We’re doing our best.”
“I don’t need excuses. I never asked for excuses.”
“Yes, sir. Sorry, sir.”
“If this man isn’t found, he is a danger to you, a danger to your boss, a danger to Los Angeles, and, worst of all, he is a danger to me and my family. So, when I ask if you have found him, am I really asking?”
“No, sir. Y–you’re telling us to find him.”
“Oh, good. You can process simple thoughts on your own. Very good,” Jamal murmured. “You have two days.”
“Two days, sir?”
“Two days before I slit your fucking throat and send someone better to do your job.” A pause. “Do I make myself clear?” Jamal questioned.
“Yes, sir. Very clear.”
“Good. I will call you in two days. Forty-eight hours, not a second later. If he is not under your watch the exact moment I call you, you’ll be dead within the hour,” Jamal said. “Good luck.” He pulled his phone away from his ear, ending the call. He stared at his phone for a moment, selecting Bo’s name from his contact list instead. He pressed his phone to his ear again, waiting patiently.
Four rings later, Bo’s voice greeted him, “Good morning.”
Jamal smiled softly. “Good morning. How are you… handling?” he questioned.
“Uh, better. I don’t feel quite so exposed now that Jensen and the girls are here,” Bo said.
Jamal frowned. He sounded breathless. “Are you all right?”
Bo laughed. “I’m cold, but I’m all right. The, uh, the furnace stopped working last night, so it’s pretty damn cold everywhere but the family room. Jensen’s working on it, and I’m trying to get five children ready for school, two of which are fighting me because it’s cold.” He let out a heavy breath. “Have you ever tried to make a kid take a bath when the bathroom is colder than a freezer? They don’t like it.”
Jamal chuckled, the smile coming back to his face. “Do I need to send someone to fix it? I have a couple men near Clinstone.”
“Not yet. I think Jensen has a pretty good idea what he’s doing,” Bo said. “Why do you have men near Clinstone?”
“Relax. I told you I wouldn’t send anyone to look for your stalker until you gave me the green light. I’m not a liar,” Jamal said. “My men are busy looking for someone else at the moment.” In specific, his men were looking for the traitor within the Lucchese mafia family, the traitor that had gone into hiding three days ago when he found out that Jamal knew of his existence. “I have people all over the damn country, Bo. It’s for convenience,” Jamal said.
“Is it true you’re planning on allowing Mister Smalls to call in his FBI friends?” Jamal asked.
“It had been discussed. Why?” Bo questioned.
“I’d prefer you didn’t.”
“Why?” Bo repeated.
“I don’t want this man in a prison for the rest of his life.”
“Jamal, he’s killing people. Where the hell are you going to put him if not prison?” Bo asked. “He can’t… he can’t just run free.”
Jamal shook his head, running his tongue over his top row of teeth. “No, Bo, you’re not… you’re not understanding me. The bastard isn’t spending a day in prison. He hurt you. Nobody hurts my family.”
“Oh,” Bo whispered. He cleared his throat. “Well, I, umm… I suppose I can tell Tom not to call anyone in.”
“That would be appreciated,” Jamal said.
Bo remained silent for a moment. “You’re going to kill him, aren’t you?”
“A lot of factors. For your sake, I won’t go into any of them right now,” Jamal said. “Get your kids ready for school, Bo. I just wanted to check up on you. I’m here if you need anything.”
“Thank you, Jamal,” Bo said quietly.
“My pleasure, Bo. Keep me in the loop, all right?”
“Good boy. I’ll talk to you soon,” Jamal said.
“Okay. Love you.”
“Love you, too, kid.” Jamal pulled his phone away from his ear and tapped his thumb against the red phone button, ending the call. He turned around, tucking his phone into his pocket. “Where were we?”
Alessandro Lucchese tossed a folder onto Jamal’s desk. “Rat in Portier’s organization. He requested you personally. Wants you to scare the shit out of the poor kid,” he said.
Jamal sat down, opening up the folder. “If he’s ratting on his own damn family, he’s not just a ‘poor kid’, and you know it,” he said. “Not everyone is like Venetia. Not everyone is a good kid. If he’s ratting, he’s destroying that family from the inside out. He deserves whatever the hell I’m about to dish out to him.”
Alessandro sighed quietly. “I know.”
“Good.” Jamal closed the file again, crossing his arms over his chest as he leaned back in his chair. “I’ll deal with it by the end of the day.”
“Not a problem, Ollie.”
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