- Beautiful Redemption
“No!” he said, pulling his arm away.
I held out my hands. “Do you want me to walk you or not?”
“I’m asking my girlfriend to come home with me!”
Val’s mouth fell open, and Marks’s eyes bounced between Thomas and me.
I slightly shook my head. “Thomas, we’re back in San Diego. The assignment is over.”
“So, that’s it then?” He stood up, weaving.
Marks stood with him, readying his hands to catch Thomas if he fell.
I stood up, too, motioning to Anthony that we needed the check. He had already printed it out, so he grabbed it from beside the register and placed it on the counter.
I scribbled my name and reached for Thomas’s arm. “Okay, let’s go.”
Thomas pulled his arm away. “You’re dumping me, remember?”
“Fine. Can Marks walk you?” I asked.
Thomas pointed at me. “No!” He chuckled, reached for Marks’s shoulder, and they walked toward the door.
I blew my hair from my face.
“I want to hear more about this weekend,” Val said. “But I’ll let it go this time.”
We joined the boys on the sidewalk, and then we watched as Marks struggled to keep Thomas walking in a straight line. The four of us took the elevator to the sixth floor, and Val and I watched as Marks fished Thomas’s keys out of his pocket and opened his door.
“Okay, buddy. Tell the girls good night.”
“Wait.” Thomas grabbed the doorjamb while Marks pulled at his middle from inside the condo. “Wait!”
Marks released him, and Thomas nearly fell forward. I reached for him and helped him to stand upright.
“You promised you’d stay with me,” he said. The misery in his eyes was unbearable.
I glanced at Val, who was quickly shaking her head, before I turned back to Thomas.
“Thomas…” I began. Then, I looked to Val and Marks. “I’ve got him. You guys should head home.”
“You sure?” Marks asked.
I nodded, and after a few glances over her shoulder, Val took the elevator with Marks to the lobby.
Thomas hugged me, desperately pulling on me. “I’ll sleep on the floor. I just feel like a piece of shit. My whole family hates me, and they should. They should.”
“C’mon,” I said, walking him inside. I kicked the door shut, reached back to lock the bolt, and then helped Thomas to his bed.
He fell onto his back and covered his eyes with his hands. “The room is spinning.”
“Put your foot on the floor. That helps.”
“My feet are on the floor,” he slurred.
I yanked him down and then placed his feet on the rug. “Now, they are.”
He began to laugh, and then his eyebrows pulled in. “What did I do? What the fuck did I do, Liis?”
“Hey,” I said, climbing into the bed next to him. “Just go to sleep. It will be different tomorrow.”
He turned, burying his face into my chest. I reached up for a pillow, propping my head. Thomas sucked in a breath, and I hugged him tight.
“I fucked up,” he said. “I really fucked up.”
“We’ll make it right.”
“How can we make it right if you’re done with me?”
“Thomas, stop. We’ll fix everything tomorrow. Just sleep.”
He nodded and then took a deep breath before exhaling slowly. When his breathing evened out, I knew he was asleep. I lifted my hand to glance at my watch, and I rolled my eyes. We would both be exhausted in the morning.
I hugged him again, and then I leaned down to kiss his cheek before slowly drifting off to sleep.
I TAPPED MY NAILS ON THE COMPUTER as I listened to the recorded conversation coming through my headphones. The Japanese was broken, mostly slang, but Agent Grove had gotten the numbers wrong again. This time, he had even falsely identified a location as a supposed vacant building next to a hospital when it was actually next to a medical professional building seven miles away.
I picked up the receiver of my landline and hit the first speed-dial button.
“Office of the Assistant Special Agent in Charge. Constance speaking.”
“Agent Lindy for Agent Maddox, please.”
“I’ll put you through,” Constance said.
Her reply took me off guard. She usually at least checked with him first.
“Liis,” Thomas answered. His voice was soft and tinged with surprise.
“I’m listening to these Yakuza recordings. Grove”—I glanced over my shoulder and then away from my open door—“is getting brazen, almost sloppy. He’s falsely identifying locations. I feel like something is getting ready to go down.”
“I’m working on it.”
“We have to remove him before he gets wind of Travis’s recruitment anyway. What are we waiting for?”
“A staged accident. That’s the only way Tarou won’t know we’re onto him and Benny. Otherwise, we could jeopardize the entire operation.”
“What are you doing for lunch?” he asked.
“I, uh…Fuzzy’s with Val.”
“Okay.” He chuckled nervously. “What about dinner?”
I sighed. “I’m playing catch-up. I’ll be working late tonight.”
“Me, too. I’ll take you home, and we can grab take-out on the way.”
I looked out the wall of windows to the squad room. Val was on the phone, having no clue that we now had plans for lunch.
“I’ll let you know,” I said. “The odds of us finishing at the same time are slim.”
“Just let me know,” Thomas said before the line clicked.
I placed the receiver on its base and sank back into my throne.
Once again, the headphones covered my ears, and I pressed Play on the keyboard.
The morning had felt like any other, except I’d felt tired and woken up alone in Thomas’s bed. He had knocked on my door as I was getting dressed for work. When I had opened the door, he’d given me a bagel and cream cheese with a coffee.
The ride to work had been awkward, and my thoughts had led to researching car dealerships and dreading the possibility that I might have to resort to flying back to Chicago and driving my Camry all the way to San Diego.
Just as the recording was getting interesting, my door flew open and then slammed shut. Thomas flicked back the side of his suit jacket and put a hand on his hip, desperately trying to think of something to say.