“I don’t see it that way.”
I leaned to the side to see his face, my face still squashed by my hand, and frowned at him, dubious.
“You look like hell,” Maddox said.
He looked like an Abercrombie model, including the stern yet impervious stare, and I happened to know that he looked like one under his suit and tie, too. I hid behind my computer again before he could catch my eyes lingering on those damn unforgettable lips.
“Let’s go pick up something. I’ll drive.”
I shook my head. “I still have a lot to do.”
I looked around my monitor again for effect. “Agent Davies is saying I fucked my way to the top. Do you have any idea how hard it is to get the agents to take me seriously when I walk in here and get a promotion on day one?”
“It was day two actually. And Agent Davies did fuck her way to the top—well, to her top. She won’t likely be promoted any further.”
I raised an eyebrow. “Have you ever given her a raise?”
“Well, Davies might have, but technically, she’s right about me. It’s gnawing at me. I’m putting in extra hours, so I can make myself believe that I earned the spot.”
I thought I heard him breathe out the tiniest hint of a laugh, but I didn’t acknowledge it. I simply allowed myself a smug smile from behind the safety of the lit screen between us.
Car horns and sirens could be heard coming from the street below. Out there, the world continued, unaware that we worked late and lived lonely lives to make sure they could go to bed with one less mob boss, one less sex ring, and one less serial killer on the loose. The hunt-and-capture was what I worked for every day—or that was what my function used to be. Now, I was tasked with keeping Thomas’s brother out of prison. At least, that was what it felt like.
“Tell me the truth,” I said against my hand.
“That’s not it. What is your objective? Taking Benny down or keeping Travis out of prison?”
“One is entangled with the other.”
Thomas took a deep breath and exhaled, his shoulders sagging as if the answer were weighing down on him. “I’d trade my life to save his. I would definitely walk away from this assignment. I’ve walked away before.”
“No, and no, I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Understood,” I said. I didn’t want to talk about her either.
“You don’t want me to talk about it? Everyone else in this office is dying to know.”
I glared at him. “You just said you didn’t. There is something I want to know though.”
“Who is in the pictures on your desk?”
“What makes you think it’s a who? Maybe they’re pictures of cats.”
All emotion left my face. “You don’t have cats.”
I leaned back, and I hit my desk, frustrated. “You don’t like cats.”
“You don’t know me that well.”
I hid behind my monitor again. “I know that you either have a miracle lint brush, or you don’t have cats.”
“I could still like cats.”
The faintest hint of a smile touched his lips. “Let’s go to dinner.”
“Not unless you tell me who is in those frames.”
Thomas frowned. “Why don’t you just look for yourself the next time you’re in there?”
We were quiet for several seconds, and then I finally spoke, “I’ll help you.”
“I’ll help you help Travis.”
He shifted in the chair. “I didn’t know you weren’t planning to.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t consider me a sure thing.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t say yes,” he snapped back.
I slammed my laptop closed. “I didn’t say yes. I said I would watch for the email from Constance.”
He narrowed his eyes at me. “I’m going to have to watch you.”
A smug smile broke out across my face. “Yes, you are.”
My cell phone chirped, and Val’s name appeared on the screen. I picked up the phone and held it to my ear. “Hey, Val. Yes, just finishing up. Okay. See you in twenty.” I pressed the End button and laid my phone on the desk.
“That hurts,” Thomas said, checking his own phone.
“Deal with it,” I said, opening the lower drawer to retrieve my purse and keys.
“I don’t know,” I said, standing before pulling my purse strap over my shoulder.
Vacuums were being pushed back and forth somewhere down the hall. Only half the lights were on. Thomas and I were the only employees left in the wing besides the cleaning staff.
Thomas’s expression made me feel guilty. I tilted my head. “Do you want to go?”
“If Val will be there, it would be less awkward if Marks were going,” he said, standing.
“Agreed.” I thought about it for a moment. “Invite him.”
Thomas’s eyes sparked, and he lifted his cell phone, tapping out a quick message. Within seconds, it beeped back. He looked up at me. “Where?”
Thomas laughed once. “Is she giving you the official tourist tour?”
I smiled. “It’s the same bar from Top Gun. She said she didn’t do those things when she moved here, and she’s never gotten to it. Now, she has an excuse.”
Thomas tapped on his phone, a grin spreading quickly across his face. “KC Barbeque it is.”
I sat on the end stool, glancing around the room. The walls were covered in Top Gun memorabilia—posters, pictures, and signed headshots of the cast. To me, it didn’t look anything like the bar in the movie, except for the jukebox and the antique piano.
Val and Marks were deep in conversation about the pros and cons for the solicitation notice of the 9mm pistols versus our standard issue Smith & Wesson. Thomas was on the other side of the L-shaped bar, standing in the middle of a small herd of California girls any Beach Boy would be proud of. The women were all giggling as they drank and took turns at the dartboard, clapping and cheering every time Thomas hit a bull’s-eye.
Thomas didn’t seem to be overly flattered by the attention, but he was having a good time, glancing over at me every now and again with a relaxed smile.
He had taken off his jacket and rolled up the sleeves of his oxford, revealing several inches of his thick tanned forearms. His tie was loose, and his top button had been left undone. I willed away the jealousy threatening to bubble to the surface every time I looked over at his new fangirls, but I could still feel those arms around me, pulling me into different positions and watching as they flexed while he—