1:47 PM; CLINSTONE POLICE DEPARTMENT, LAB
Bo stared at his laptop screen for a moment longer before picking up his disposable phone, his work phone, and unlocking the screen. He selected Carmine’s name from his contacts list, suddenly more than thankful for Frank and the time he had dedicated to uploading contact information to the device.
Drawing in a deep breath, he clicked the green phone button and pressed the device to his ear.
After four rings, Carmine answered with, “Mister Austen. Can I assume this is because you found the bastard that murdered my man?”
“You may. Would you like me to email you his information?” Bo asked.
“I’d love that, Chief.”
Bo chose not to correct him. The term almost sounded like a nickname rather than a title coming form Carmine, and Bo was okay with that. “What can I expect to happen after you get ahold of this guy?” he asked, twisting his chair back toward his laptop as he dragged a file into a new email draft.
“Depends a lot on who he is and his affiliations. If there are people that gave him the order to pull the trigger, the Horror Twins will string him up for his boss to see. If not, more than likely, you and your detectives never have to see the body.”
“Good.” Bo cleared his throat. “I’m sorry about your man, Carmine.”
The mobster let out a harsh breath. “You and me both, Chief. Thank you.”
“My pleasure. And… good luck. Stay safe.”
“You too, Chief. I’ll keep you updated on the happenings here?”
“That would be appreciated.”
“Mmhmm. Expect a call tonight, then. Enjoy your day, Chief.”
Bo pulled his phone from his ear once Carmine ended the call. He locked the screen and set the phone down between his laptop and his actual cell phone. A soft smile crossed his face as his blue eyes shifted back to his laptop. With the mobster murderer handed over to the Lucchese family, it was no longer a task sitting on his plate or weighing on his shoulders.
“Now, with the secret mobster scene out of his way, he could focus on the killer in Clinstone and the vigilante that had taken out two criminals in Georgia. The crime scene photos and reports from Georgia gave him nothing new to go off of–not that he was at all surprised by the fact. In his experience, the so-called vigilante killers were incredible at hiding evidence of who they truly were, at blending into society oh so perfectly.
If the vigilante killer was anything like Hangman or the Gym Bag Killer–GBK–he wouldn’t find out who they really were until he was either best friends with them or they had gone off and married someone Jamal loved too much to destroy.
Bo frowned. He’d have to keep an eye on Katalina to make sure she didn’t suddenly fall head over heels for some mysterious ‘too good to be true’ type.
The blonde rolled his eyes, shaking his head. Even he knew the thought process was far too cautious, far too based on ‘what if’s and ridiculous scenarios that he’d rather not entertain.
Still, he had been wronged by far too many people and killers to let one slip by him ever again.
Bo sighed, closing his eyes as he forced himself to push away thoughts about the vigilante. Out of the two killers on his plate, the vigilante was the one that was more likely to push him back into a dark place. He didn’t need that, not now. Instead, he opened the email Mekhi had sent him and downloaded the document the man had sent him. He read through the crime scene report of a homicide from earlier that morning.
Dead man. Substantial damage to the skull and jaw. Orbital cavity crushed. Dislocated shoulder. Broken ribs.
Bo grabbed his work phone again and unlocked the screen. He selected Mekhi’s name from his contacts list, clicked the green phone icon, and pressed the device to his ear.
“Boss,” Mekhi greeted after two rings. “Did you get my email?”
“I did. Where did it happen this time?”
“That one would be in Florida, sire. Looks like the work of our vigilante, but the medical eaminer hasn’t had a chance to look into the weapon choice just yet.”
“When will we know if it was done with a wrench?”
“Tonight, maybe tomorrow? I’m not sure.” Mekhi cleared his throat. “I’m going to speak with Mister Silver, have him send a couple forms your way. Long as you sign ‘em, Miami’s department will send the info on the case to you or one of the detectives without complaint.”
“That… would be great. Thank you.”
“Mmhmm. Sure thing, Boss.”
Though the tall soldier couldn’t see him, Bo raised a brow. “How did you get your hands on the crime scene report?”
Mekhi chuckled. “I’ve hung around Jamal long enough to have a few favors to pull here and there, Mister Austen.”
“Fair enough.” Bo reached up, tugging down on his beanie. “Well, thank you, Mekhi. I’ll talk to you later, okay?”
“Sure thing, Boss. Take care of yourself.”
“I will. You do the same.”
“I will,” Mekhi echoed. “Ta.”
Bo ended the call and set his phone back on the desk. Minnesota, California, Georgia, Florida. The vigilante wasn’t like Hangman or GBK. Both vigilante killers had been more than willing to kill people from different states, but they had always brother them back to Los Angeles. Hangman had always hung his victims from the same tree, no matter where he had picked the killer up from. GBK hd always dropped the dismembered bodies stuffed into three gym bags at the doors of the police station just before David Quinn’s shift, back when the man was still a detective in Los Angeles rather than the police chief of Clinstone’s police department.
But the new vigilate was different. It didn’t seem to matter where they killed the victim, and it seemed to matter even less where they displayed the victim. A machine shed, the middle of a road, outside of a house. There was no rhyme or reason to it, no organization.
It was just… killing.
Bo wasn’t entirely sure how the hell he was supposed to feel about that.
3:20 PM; CLIFFBURN COMMUNITY SCHOOL DISTRICT, CHORUS ROOM
Freddie let out a sigh of relief as the bell rang. He had spent most of his day focused solely on his sister and the dead woman in Clinstone. He had always hoped his sister wouldn’t turn into the monster their mother had been, the monster she still was. He had hoped his sister would fight the dark urges to hurt another human being.
Clearly, she had decided against it.
Freddie slid his music folder into the slot marked with his student number and headed out of the room. He bent down, grabbed his backpack, and slung it over his right shoulder. He grabbed a second bag from the floor and leaned back against the wall, waiting.
A girl stepped in front of him and smiled, grabbing her back. “Thanks, Freddie.”
“Sure thing, Evie.” Evie Nguyen had been Freddie’s girlfriend for the last year. Vietnamese had been one of the only races Mom had never managed to stick a knife into, and because of it, she was one of two kids at school that Freddie felt safe around. If he ever cracked and hurt someone, it wouldn’t be her. It’d be someone who reminded him of one of Mom’s victims. He was certain of it.
“You’ve been distracted all day,” Evie said as they walked down the hallway. She reached back with one hand and pulled her dark hair over her shoulder. Though Evie preferred short hair, she had been growing it out to donate it. Pride bubbled in Freddie’s being at the thought. Mom never would have remembered something so ‘useless’ about one of her ‘friends’. If it didn’t help her kill them, it wasn’t something she needed to remember.
Freddie was nothing like his mother. That was all there was to it. He was nothing like her.
Gently, Evie bumped his shoulder with hers. “Hey. Did you hear me?”
“No, sorry. Uh… What’d you ask?”
“You’ve been distracted all day. Is there a reason for that?”
Freddie offered a chuckle. “Just wish we were still on winter break, I guess.”
“I thought you liked school.”
“I do. A break’s just nice every now and then.” Evie nodded and turned to the left at the end of the hall. Freddie followed, clearing his throat. “What’re you doing tonight?”
“Studying, more than likely. Mom and Dad won’t be home until seven or so. You?”
Freddie lifted his shoulders. Trying to figure out how to get my sister to stop killing people, maybe? Making a plan to kill her and solve the problem? Track down Mom and off her too? A night full of murderous thoughts, Evie! “Also probably studying,” he said.
Evie grabbed his hand and gave it a squeeze. “Relax, Fredster. You’re gonna hurt your pretty face if you keep your jaw all tense like that.”
Freddie opened his mouth slightly, forcing himself to relax the tense muscles in his jaw. “Sorry.”
“Would you feel better if I came over and studied at your house? As long as an adult’s there, my parents won’t care.”
Freddie nodded, shoulders relaxing ever so slightly for the first time that day. “That… would be great, Evie. Thank you.”
“That’s what girlfriends do, Freddie. We keep our men sane.”
He smiled. If that truly was Evie’s job, she deserved a damn raise. For the last year, she had been one of the only reasons he hadn’t gone entirely crazy when Mom fell off the map, leaving Cliffburn again to go kill somewhere new, somewhere fresh.
Evie had saved his life and sanity more times than he could count, and he appreciated her for it every damn day.
He cleared his throat. “Thanks for keeping my head on straight, Evie.”
She leaned up and pressed a kiss to his cheek before pushing open the door and stepping outside. “No problem, Freddie.”
4:05 PM; CLINSTONE POLICE DEPARTMENT, DAY CARE
Pollux squealed as he ran toward the door, practically tackling Bo. The blonde chuckled, hiking the boy up on his hip. “Hi, Daddy,” Pollux greeted, wrapping his arms around Bo’s neck.
“Hi, buddy.” Bo held his free hand out. “Come on, Cas.” Castor crossed the room and grabbed his father’s hand. “See you tomorrow, Tasha.”
The woman sitting on the floor with one of the detective’s children smiled up at the blonde. “See you tomorrow, Bo.”
He headed out of the room and made his way upstairs. With Castor’s hand, he pointed to Jensen’s desk. “How about you hang out with Daddy for a minute? I need to talk to Uncle David.”
“Okay!” Castor pulled away from Bo, letting out an excited, “Daddy!” as he neared Jensen’s desk. Jensen picking the boy up, setting him on his lap before lifting his eyes to Bo’s face.
“I need to ask David something. I’ll be back in just a few, okay?” Bo asked. Jensen offered a simple thumbs-up. Bo walked back to David’s office, knocking on the open door before leaning into the room. “Busy?”
“No, come on in.” He smiled at Pollux. “Heading home?”
Bo smiled, pressing a kiss to the top of the boy’s head. He cleared his throat, attention shifting back to David. “Are you busy tonight?”
David looked up at the ceiling before shaking his head. “Not that I know of. Cecilia said she probably won’t be home until after supper. Why? You wanna make me supper?”
Bo chuckled. “I could, if you wanted. I’d like to talk about the woman you saw at the bar. You can come over for supper and we can talk about it afterward?”
“Long as you don’t mind me bringing my baby girl.”
A smile came back to Bo’s face. “Never in a million years, David. I’ll see you in a bit, okay?”
David nodded. “Sure thing, Bo. See you soon.”
Bo headed back to Jensen’s desk, hiking Pollux up on his hip. “Ready to go?” Jensen nodded, setting Castor down before pushing himself to his feet. “I was thinking we could make vegetarian chili tonight. Then we don’t have to make a hundred different things.”
Jensen chuckled. “Sure, baby.” He stooped down and grabbed Castor’s hand. “What’d you need from Dave?”
“I asked if he’d be willing to come over tonight and chat about the woman he saw at the bar.” Bo offered a smile before grabbing Jensen’s hand. “You know I tend to feel a little left out when I’m not the one questioning the witness.”
“I know, baby.” Out in the parking lot, Bo pulled a lanyard from his pocket and handed it over to Jensen. “Thank you. Kay’s done with basketball, yeah?” Jensen asked as he unlocked the car.
“Yes. Her last game was before winter break.” Bo pulled open the back door and grabbed Castor’s hand, helping him into the car. “And we don’t have to worry about track practice until March.”
Jensen nodded, grabbing Pollux from Bo. “Are you making food, or am I?”
“That depends. Do you want to help with supper or homework?”
Jensen snorted. “Depends. Do you want our kids to pass or fail?”
“You’re much smarter than you give yourself a credit for, love.” Bo leaned up and kissed him. “I’ll take care of homework help tonight. You worry about supper.”
The younger man flashed a smile. “Works for me, babe.”
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