- Beautiful Redemption
Val sat forward. “David is the son of Yoshio Tarou’s sister.”
“Tarou, as in the second-in-command of Goto-gumi in Japan?” I said, in disbelief.
Goto-gumi was one of the oldest syndicates of the original Yakuza Japanese gang. Tarou was a prominent boss, leading Goto-gumi since the 1970s. Tarou didn’t just intimidate his enemies. He was creative with his executions, leaving their mutilated bodies for all to see.
Val nodded. “Tarou’s sister lived with him until she died when David was fourteen.”
I nodded. “Okay, so you’re telling me Travis is also a target of Yakuza?”
Thomas shook his head.
I frowned. “I’m not hearing why there’s a goddamn Inspector General’s report on my desk.”
“Tarou is bad news, Liis,” Thomas said. “Grove has been passing him information via the Yakuza he’s interviewed here, and more recently, he’s been speaking to Tarou directly. That’s why we’ve had no traction on their criminal activity despite all the interviews. They’ve been one step ahead.”
“So, we let the IG arrest Grove. Who cares?” I asked.
Thomas’s face fell. “It gets worse. David died a couple of months ago. He was beaten unconscious during a fight, and no one has seen him since.”
“Does Tarou think it was Travis?” I asked.
“Keep in mind,” Sawyer chimed in, “David’s run-in with Travis was over a year ago, and to their knowledge, Travis hasn’t been to Vegas since.”
“The fights were run by the mob,” Val said. “Benny pitted David against someone out for blood. Uncle Tarou blamed Benny and sent several of his guys over to the States to get an explanation from Benny. The fighter who killed David was found all over the desert—well, not all of him. We have reason to believe the men Tarou sent over are part of this Yakuza nest we’ve been interviewing.”
I frowned, still confused. “Why was the nephew of Tarou doing low-level goon work for Benny?”
“The mother,” Val said simply as if I should have known. “When his mother died, David blamed Tarou. There was a fight. David left and came to the States. He gravitated toward what he knew and ended up with Benny.”
“This is a train wreck,” I said.
Val looked up to Thomas and then back at me. “We were waiting to pull the trigger on Grove because we knew he was playing both sides, but now that we’ve cracked the connection with Benny, we don’t know what intel from our case he’s turned over to them.”
“Shit,” I said. “How much does he know?”
Thomas took a step toward me. “Like I said, I’ve been suspicious of him for a while. Sawyer has been keeping track of his activities.”
“What kind of activities?” I asked.
Sawyer crossed his arms. “Daily activities—what he eats, where he sleeps. I know what gives him indigestion, what soap he uses, and what porn sites he jacks off to.”
“Thanks for that,” I said.
Sawyer chuckled, “Surveillance, boss. I’m damn good at surveillance.”
“Like the master,” Val said.
Sawyer smiled at her. “Thanks.”
Val rolled her eyes. “Fuck off.”
Sawyer continued, “Maddox kept Grove in the dark about the Vegas case for the most part, but when the cases began to intertwine, Grove became interested…and so did Tarou. Benny is smoothing things over with Tarou, and with these guys, money can turn enemies into friends. The fights are big money. Benny wants a champion, and Travis is a sure thing.”
Val sat back in the chair. “We can control what Grove learns at the Bureau, but if Benny or Tarou mention Travis Maddox to Grove, it’s all over. He’ll make the connection.”
I sighed. “Travis’s deal, even Abby’s access…”
Thomas nodded. “The case. All of it. We’ll have to turn in what we’ve got and wrap it up without Travis or Abby.”
“And Travis will no longer be an asset to the Bureau. He’ll go to prison.”
The weight of my words seemed to bear down on Thomas, and he used the bookshelf for support.
I looked at the file lying askew halfway between Val and me. “The Inspector General just blew us out of the water.”
Sawyer shook his head. “Grove doesn’t know yet. We need to get on the phone, delay his arrest, and drag this out just a little longer.”
“You should have told us your contact was Liis,” Val scolded. “We could have avoided this.”
Thomas glared at her, but she didn’t yield.
“How?” he asked. “Telling you that Liis was keeping tabs on Grove was going to keep the IG’s office from writing that report? Are you fucking joking?”
“Knowing we could use Liis to check Grove’s transcriptions would have been helpful,” Sawyer said.
“I was having Liis check them, Sawyer,” Thomas said, annoyed. “You think she’s been listening to Taylor Swift on her headphones in here?”
I shook my head. “Why the secrecy?”
Thomas held out his hands and let them fall to his sides. “It’s Spy one-oh-one, kids. The fewer people you tell, the less risk you take. I didn’t want Grove to know I had another Japanese translator in the unit. He needed to keep tabs on all the interviews for Tarou, and another Japanese-speaking agent could have gotten in the way. She might have ended up a target just to keep Grove in charge of the Yakuza interrogations.”
“Oh,” Val said. “You needed to protect her.”
Sawyer rolled his eyes. “That’s absurd. He didn’t even know her to want to protect her.” It took him a moment, but when Sawyer recognized the shame in my eyes, his mouth fell open. His index finger waggled between Thomas and me. “You two were…”
I shook my head. “It was before. He didn’t know I was here to work at the Bureau.”
“Discussing line of work comes right after name-swapping.” Sawyer cackled. “You one-nighted the new hire, Maddox? No wonder you jumped on her ass at her first meeting. You don’t like surprises. This is all beginning to make sense.”
“We don’t have time for this,” Thomas sneered.
Sawyer stopped laughing. “Is that why you gave her the promotion?”