- Beautiful Redemption
When Thomas affirmed my suspicion with a nod, I chuckled.
“It’s not funny,” he said, unamused.
“It’s a little funny. No one will tell me why they dislike him, except to say he’s a bastard or an asshole. Neither you nor Val will give me anything specific. He helped me unpack. He was at my condo all night and didn’t try to sleep with me. He’s got the sleazy barfly thing going on, but he’s harmless.”
“He’s not harmless. He’s married.”
My mouth fell open. “Excuse me?”
“You heard me.”
“No, it sounded like you said Agent Sawyer is married.”
Thomas was beyond annoyed, but I couldn’t wrap my head around what he was telling me.
He leaned closer. “To Val.”
“What?” My voice lowered an octave. Now, I knew he was messing with me.
“It’s true. They were like Romeo and Juliet at first, and then it turned out that Sawyer has a small issue with commitment. Val has sent him divorce papers several times. He keeps dragging it out. They’ve been separated for almost two years.”
My mouth was still hanging open. “But…they live in the same building.”
“No,” he said, chuckling. “They live in the same condo.”
“Shut the front door!”
“Different bedrooms. They’re roommates.”
“Val makes me tell her everything. This is just…I feel betrayed. Is that rational? I do.”
“Yeah,” Thomas said, shifting in his seat. “She’s definitely going to kill me.”
I shook my head. “I did not see that coming.”
“I’d ask you not to tell her that I told you, but when we get back, she’ll take one look at you and know.”
I turned to face him. “How does she do that?”
He shrugged. “She’s always had a bullshit detector, and then the FBI helped her hone her skill. With pupil dilation, delay of response, looking up and to the left, and whatever inner radar she has that goes off, she can detect more than just lies now. She detects omission even if you’ve got news on your mind that you’re keeping to yourself. Val knows all.”
“That’s why you’re her only friend.”
My mouth pulled to one side, and I cocked my head to the other. “That’s sad.”
“Not many people can handle Val’s gift or her brazen use of it. That’s why Sawyer’s such a dick.”
“Knowing she would find out?”
“I believe so.”
“So, why won’t he divorce her?” I asked.
“Because he can’t find anyone better.”
“Oh, I hate him,” I snarled.
Thomas pushed a button, and his seat began to recline. A satisfied smile stretched across his face.
“No wonder she’s never let me come over,” I mused.
His grin became wider, and he wedged the pillow under his head. “Have you ever—”
“No. No more questions about me.”
“There is literally nothing to speak of.”
“Tell me about what happened with you and Jackson. Why didn’t it work out?”
“Because our relationship was nothing to speak of,” I said, forming my lips over the words like he had to read my lips to understand.
“Are you telling me your entire life was boring until you came to San Diego?” he asked, in disbelief.
I didn’t answer.
“Well?” he said, shifting until he was comfortable.
“Knowing you now, I’d almost believe you didn’t have it in you to be so spontaneous. It makes sense. You left Cutter’s with me that night to have something to talk about.” Arrogance flickered in his eyes.
“Don’t forget, Thomas. You don’t know me that well.”
“I know you bite your thumbnail when you’re nervous. I know you twist your hair around your finger when you’re in deep thought. You drink Manhattans. You like Fuzzy’s Burgers. You hate milk. You’re not particularly fussy about the cleanliness of your home. You can run farther than I can during our lunch hour, and you like weird Japanese art. You’re patient, you give second chances, and you don’t make hasty judgments about strangers. You’re professional and highly intelligent, and you snore.”
“I do not!” I sat straight up.
Thomas laughed. “Okay, it’s not snoring. You just…breathe.”
“Everyone breathes,” I said, defensive.
“My apologies. I think it’s cute.”
I tried not to smile but failed. “I lived with Jackson for years, and he never said anything.”
“It’s the tiniest wheeze, barely noticeable,” he said.
I shot him a dirty look.
“To be fair, Jackson was in love with you. He probably didn’t tell you a lot of things.”
“Good thing you’re not, so I can hear all the humiliating things about myself.”
“As far as everyone is concerned, I’m in love with you today and tomorrow.”
His words made me pause. “Then, play the part and pretend that you think I’m perfect.”
“I can’t recall thinking otherwise.” Thomas didn’t crack a smile.
“Oh, please,” I said, rolling my eyes. “Does my first FD-three-oh-two ring a bell?”
“You know why I did that.”
“I’m not perfect,” I grumbled, biting the corner of my thumbnail.
“I don’t want you to be.”
He scanned over my face with such affection that I felt like the only other person in the fuselage. He leaned toward me, his eyes fixated on my lips. I had just begun to close the gap when the flight attendant approached.
“Would you open your tray table?” she asked.
Thomas and I both blinked and then fiddled with the mechanics of getting the trays out of the arm of the seat. His popped out first, and then he helped me with mine. The attendant gave us that what-a-cute-couple look and then spread napkins on both of our trays before setting our meals before us.
“More wine?” she asked.