Thursday: January 2, 2020
8:00 AM; CLINSTONE POLICE DEPARTMENT, LIEUTENANT MYRA COOPER’S OFFICE
“I’d like to be the first to welcome you to Clinstone PD, Mister Austen.” Lieutenant Myra Cooper brushed a lock of blonde hair out of her face, brown eyes brightening as she smiled and held out a hand. “We’re very lucky to have you.”
Bo Austen shook her hand. “I appreciate you hiring me on.”
“Of course. My pleasure.” She cleared her throat. “Most days, you’ll be replacing our usual forensic analyst, Misty. She’s pregnant, due in a week or so. She’s supposed to be taking it easy for a bit, and that’s why you’re here.”
Bo nodded. He knew the job was temporary, that he’d have to go back to Los Angeles once Misty came back from maternity leave, but he was appreciative of the opportunity regardless. “Thank you for everything you’re doing here.” Bo offered a smile. “I’m in desperate need of a break from the City of Angels.”
“I can certainly see why.” Myra snorted. “One day working under Jamal Pitman, and I think I’d leave the field forever.”
Bo offered the smallest chuckle he could force out. “Where am I off to?”
Myra pointed to the open door of her office. “The detectives you’ll be working with today are out there on the main floor. Mason and Lehmann.”
“Thank you.” Hands tucked behind his back, Bo walked out of her office. The strap of his satchel cut across his left shoulder, the satchel itself settled at his right hip. In his left hand, his camera case was clutched, leaving his right hand free for the necessary handshakes.
Bo’s eyes landed on a man dressed in a suit and a blue tie. His face was lit up with a wide smile. He stood behind his desk, one hand pressed to the top of the desk, the other holding a cell phone to his ear. “You’re kidding? Did he really?” His smiled broadened. “That’s amazing. Christ, you better be taking tons of pictures for me, baby.” His eyes settled on Bo, and he lifted his hand from the desk to offer a two-fingered wave. Bo waved back, unwilling and unable to match the man’s smile.
His tie was the same sapphire blue of his eyes, which hid behind a pair of plastic-framed glasses. “Good. I’m gonna want you to send all of those to my phone. Like, now. Yes, seriously.”
Bo’s gaze shifted to the man seated at the desk beside the blue-eyed man. He was less muscular than the one glued to his phone. The blue-eyed man leaned over and smacked the other man’s shoulder with the back of his hand. He mouthed something that Bo couldn’t quite catch. The other man nodded and rose to his feet.
“You’re just making me sad, babe,” the blue-eyed man said. “Hey, I’ve got a wild idea. Ready? You come to work for me, and I’ll be a stay-at-home-mom for you. Sound good?” He chuckled as he pushed himself away from his desk. “Was that a no? It sounded like a no.” He walked over to Bo and held out a hand, moving the bottom half of his phone to his cheek. “Detective Jacob Mason. You’re with me and Lehmann today. Got a crime scene downtown.”
Bo shook the detective’s hand. “Bo Austen. Forensics.” It only struck afterward how pointless the introduction was. The detective already knew who he was. That was why he had come over. That was why he had said Bo was with them today. It made him look nervous or incapable of paying attention. He only hoped the detective was still too busy with the person on the other end of the line to notice.
Jacob looked away for a moment. “How about tomorrow?” he asked into the phone. His eyes shifted back to Bo as he jerked a thumb over his shoulder. “Partner, Carter Lehmann.”
The man in question stepped up behind Jacob and shook Bo’s hand. “You’re Misty’s replacement, then?”
Bo couldn’t help but lock onto Carter’s eyes. They were hazel without being, well… hazel. There was a ring of blue and a ring of green in each one, speckled with little dots of brown in the middle of the ‘hazel’ color in the middle. “Awesome. You’re replacing our ME today too. Think you can handle that?”
“I can handle nearly anything you throw my way, Detective.”
“Good. Come on, I’m driving.”
Phone still pressed to his ear, Jacob laughed as he followed Carter out of the station. “No, you’re right, I shouldn’t laugh. But come on, Al. You gotta admit it’s a bit hilarious.”
Al. Short for Allison or Alice, if I had to guess. Bo glanced at Jacob’s left hand. No ring. Fiancée or girlfriend?
“Okay, but you’ll realize how funny it is in a day or two.” Jacob elbowed Carter’s upper arm. “Charlotte pissed on Al after I left this morning.”
Carter snorted. “You are not nearly cute enough for that woman to put up with your shit and your kids pissing on her.”
Jacob scoffed. “I’m fucking beautiful. Don’t know what kind of shit you’re on, Lemon.”
Lemon. Throw in the exchange of cute, beautiful, and the accusation of drug usage, and there was no way in hell the pair weren’t great friends outside of the station, as well.
“No, the rule is that I can’t swear in the house,” Jacob said into the phone. “I’m in a parking lot, babe. You aren’t in charge of the parking lot.” He yanked open the passenger door of a police cruiser and slid into the seat. Bo climbed into the backseat, shutting the door behind him as Carter got into the driver’s seat.
“Where’d you come in from, Austen?” Carter asked as he started the cruiser. He cranked up the heat against the cold that had seeped in throughout the early morning.
Bo shifted. He had hoped they’d save this conversation for at least day two. “California.”
“Hold up a sec, babe.” Jacob turned around to look at Bo, his phone held away from his ear. “You were Baker’s forensics guy during her last case, weren’t you? That Wings shit in Iowa?”
Obviously, even Minnesota wasn’t far enough away from California to escape the Kathy ordeal. Choosing a state bordering Iowa had been a mistake. He’d learn from that for next time. “Yes, I worked her last case with her.”
“Damn.” Jacob shook his head. “Glad that was a shitfest I wasn’t invited to,” he muttered.
Bo cleared his throat as Jacob turned back around. “What this scene we’re heading to?”
“Dead gal,” Jacob said, briefly meeting his gaze in the rearview mirror.
Carter nodded. “We don’t know much yet. A woman was found dead in a dumpster outside of the ER downtown. I don’t know much more than that.”
“Her throat was slit,” Jacob added.
“Where the hell did you hear that?” Carter asked.
“I dunno. They just tell me more than they tell you.”
Carter snorted. “Bullshit.”
“Nah, I’ve been here longer, so they like me more than you. Example, I get told way more than you do.” Bo caught the end of Jacob’s eye roll in the mirror. “Alice told me to apologize.”
“Didn’t say I had to mean it, though.”
Carter backhanded Jacob’s arm. “Dick.”
Blue eyes smiled their response.
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