- Beautiful Redemption
He climbed the steps, but hesitated when he reached the door.
I turned the bolt lock and pulled the knob toward me. “It’s over?”
“It’s over,” Thomas said, appearing exhausted.
I opened the door wide, and Thomas stepped inside, pulling me into his arms. He didn’t speak. He barely breathed.
Since my transfer, we had lived on opposite sides of the country, and I had become accustomed to missing him. But when he’d left with Travis a few hours after supervising the delivery of the rest of his belongings to our new home in Quantico, I’d been worried. The assignment hadn’t just been dangerous. Together, Thomas and Travis had raided Benny Carlisi’s offices, and organized crime in Vegas would never be the same.
By the look on Thomas’s face, it hadn’t gone well.
“Have you been debriefed?” I asked.
He nodded. “But Travis refused. He went straight home. I’m worried about him.”
“It’s his and Abby’s anniversary. Call him tomorrow. Make sure it’s done.”
Thomas sat on the couch, dug his elbows into his thighs, and looked down. “It wasn’t supposed to go down like this.” He breathed as if the wind had been knocked out of him.
“Do you feel like talking about it?” I asked.
I waited, knowing he always said that before he began a story.
“Trav’s cover was blown. Benny and his men took him underground. I panicked at first, but Sawyer got a location on them. We listened while they beat Travis for a good hour.”
“Jesus,” I said, touching his shoulder.
“Travis got some good intel.” He laughed once without humor. “Benny was making a grand speech and giving him everything, thinking Travis was about to die.”
“And?” I asked.
“The stupid son of a bitch threatened Abby. He began detailing the torture she would endure after he killed Travis. It was pretty graphic.”
“So, Benny’s dead,” I said, more of a statement than a question.
“Yeah,” Thomas said with a sigh.
“Years of work, and Benny won’t even see the inside of a courtroom.”
Thomas frowned. “Travis said he was sorry. We still have a lot of work to do. Mick Abernathy has contacts with a lot of bosses besides Benny. We can work the case from that angle.”
I raked my fingers gently through Thomas’s hair. He didn’t know that Abby and I had a secret. She would be handing the Bureau everything she had on her father in exchange for keeping her husband home and out of trouble. Abby had agreed to give it to Travis by their anniversary, and he would furnish that intel to Val, who had been promoted as the new ASAC in San Diego.
“I promised you I’d be finished unpacking by the time you got home,” I said. “I feel bad.”
“It’s okay. I wanted to help,” he said. His mind was elsewhere. “I’m sorry you couldn’t be there. This was just as much your moment as it was mine.” He looked up and touched the stretched fabric of my hoodie that covered my protruding belly—the second unplanned thing to ever happen to us. “But I’m glad you weren’t.”
I smiled. “I can’t see my scar anymore.”
Thomas stood and wrapped me in his solid arms. “Now that I’m finally here, you can just look at mine for the next eleven weeks—give or take a few days—until you can see yours again.”
We walked, hand in hand, across our living room, and Thomas led me through our bedroom door. We sat together on the bed and watched the flickering fire and the dancing shadows on the stacks of cardboard holding picture frames and trinkets from our life together.
“You’d think we would have figured out a more efficient system for this by now,” Thomas said, frowning at the boxes.
“You just don’t like the unpacking part.”
“No one likes to unpack, no matter how happy that person might be to move.”
“Are you happy to move?” I asked.
“I’m happy you got this job. You’ve worked toward it for a long time.”
I raised an eyebrow. “Did you doubt me?”
“Not for a second. But I was nervous about the ASAC position in DC. I was beginning to sweat getting settled before the baby arrived, and you didn’t seem to be in a huge hurry for me to get here.”
I wrinkled my nose. “I’m not thrilled about your hour commute though.”
He shrugged. “Better than transcontinental. You dodged the part about not being in a hurry for the father of your child to be around.”
“Just because I’m learning to allow for a few variables doesn’t mean I’ve given up on having a master plan.”
His eyebrows shot up. “So, this was the plan? For me to go crazy from missing you for three months? For me to take the red-eye to be here for every doctor’s appointment? For me to worry that every phone call was bad news?”
“You’re here now, and everything’s perfect.”
He frowned. “I knew you would apply for this position. I psyched myself up for the move. Nothing could have prepared me for you to tell me four weeks later that you were pregnant. Do you know what it did to me, watching my pregnant girlfriend move across the country—alone? You didn’t even take everything with you. I was terrified.”
I breathed out a laugh. “Why didn’t you tell me all of this before?”
“I’ve been trying to be supportive.”
“It all happened exactly the way I’d planned,” I said with a smile, incredibly satisfied with that statement. “I got the job and took just enough with me to get by. You got the job, and now, we can unpack together.”
“How about, when it involves our family, you plan with me?”
“When we try to make plans together, nothing happens the way it’s supposed to,” I teased, nudging him with my elbow.
He put his arm around me and pulled me close to his side, placing his free hand on my round stomach. He held me for a long time as we watched the fire and enjoyed the quiet, our new home, and the end of a case that we had both worked on for a few years shy of a decade.
“Don’t you know by now?” Thomas said, touching his lips to my hair. “It’s somewhere in the unforeseen when the best, most important moments of our lives seem to happen.”