“Bread. Salt. Mustard. I have nothing,” she said.

“Meet me afterward. Maddox is coming.” His eyes floated to me for just a fraction of a second, long enough to make my cheeks flush pink.

I retreated to my office, not wanting to seem eager to hear of Thomas’s plans. Just as I sat in my throne and woke up my laptop, Sawyer knocked on the partially open door.

“Yes,” I said, rolling the mouse. I clicked on the icon for my email and frowned as I read the numerous subject lines. “How in the hell does this happen? I’m gone for an hour, and I have thirty-two new messages.”

Sawyer shoved his hands into his pockets and leaned against the doorjamb. “We’re needy. There’s an email from me.”

“Do you want to go to Cutter’s tonight?”

“Is that the only bar in the neighborhood?”

He shrugged, walking toward my desk and falling into a chair. He leaned back, his knees spread and his fingers intertwined at his chest.

“Sorry, ma’am,” he said, sitting up. “Cutter’s is just where we go. It’s close for a lot of us who live in the area.”

“Why do so many of us live in that area?” I asked.

He shrugged. “Housing has a good relationship with the property owners. It’s fairly close to the office. It’s a nice neighborhood, and for Midtown, it’s pretty affordable.” He smiled. “There’s a little eatery in Mission Hills called Brooklyn Girl. It’s pretty fantastic. Want to go there?”

I thought about it for a second. “Just food, right? It’s not a date.”

“God, no—not unless you want to buy me dinner.”

I chuckled. “No. Okay. Brooklyn Girl at eight thirty.”

“I don’t have to eat alone. Pardon me while I celebrate.”

“Get out of here,” I said, waving him away.

Sawyer cleared his throat, and then I noticed the door hadn’t closed when it should have. I glanced up to see Thomas standing in the doorway. His short hair was still damp from his post-workout shower.

“How long have you been standing there?” I asked.

I barely acknowledged his taunt. “You really should stop hovering in my doorway. It’s creepy.”

He sighed, shutting the door behind him before approaching my desk. He sat, waiting patiently, while I looked over my emails.

“What?” I said from behind the monitor.

“Checking my email, also known as work. You should try it.”

“You used to call me sir.”

“You used to make me.” An awkward long silence prompted me to lean over and meet his eyes. “Don’t make me explain.”

I looked away, annoyed, and then gave in. “It’s just dinner.”

“It’s my favorite restaurant. He knows that.”

“Jesus, Thomas. This is not a pissing match.”

He considered that for a moment. “Maybe not to you.”

I shook my head in frustration. “What does that even mean?”

“Do you remember the night we met?”

Every bit of my sass and nerve melted away, and I instantly felt the same way I had the first few seconds after he climaxed inside me. The awkwardness put me in my place faster than intimidation ever could.

“What about it?” I asked, chewing on my thumbnail.

He hesitated. “Did you mean what you said?”

He stared into my eyes for what seemed like an eternity, planning what he would say next. “That you’re emotionally unavailable.”

He hadn’t just taken me off guard. All my guards were taken off faster than any other offed guards in the history of offed guards.

“I don’t know how to answer that,” I said. Well done, Liis!

“Does that go for everyone or just me?” he asked.

“I’ve just been…” His expression changed from casually flirty to curious and flirty. “Who’s the SWAT guy you left behind in Chicago?”

I glanced behind me as if someone who might be hanging on the seventh-floor window could hear. “I’m at work, Thomas. Why the hell are we talking about this now?”

“We can talk about it over dinner if you’d like.”

The skin around his eyes tightened. “A date?”

“I’m not canceling on him because you want to win whatever game you’re playing. This is already old. You make me tired.”

“Then, it’s settled. We’ll discuss your ex-ninja at my favorite restaurant at eight thirty.” He stood.

“No, we won’t. None of that sounds appealing—at all.”

He looked around and playfully pointed at his chest.

“You’re a terrible liar for a fed,” Thomas said with a smirk. He walked to my door and opened it.

“What is with everyone today? Val is acting crazy, and you’re insane…and arrogant, by the way. I just want to come to work, go home, and maybe not eat alone once in a while with whomever the hell I want to, without drama or whining or contests.”

The whole of Squad Five was staring into my office.

I gritted my teeth. “Unless you have an update for me, Agent Maddox, please allow me to continue my current task.”

Before he closed the door, he poked his head back in. “I was just getting used to you calling me Thomas.”

“Get out of my office, Thomas.”

He shut the door, and my cheeks burned bright as an uncontrollable smile spread across my face.

Miniature rivers rushed down each side of the street, a city’s worth of dirt and debris escaping down the large square drains at each intersection. Tires sloshed in high-pitched tones as they careened down the wet asphalt, and I stood in front of the striped awning and large glass windows that featured Brooklyn Girl in vintage font.

I couldn’t stop smiling about the fact that I wasn’t saddled with a heavy coat. The low clouds overhead were backlit by the moon, and the sky had spit and poured on San Diego off and on all day, yet there I stood in a sleeveless white blouse, a coral linen blazer, and skinny jeans with sandals. I’d wanted to wear my suede slingback heels, but I hadn’t wanted to chance getting them wet.

“Hey,” Sawyer said into my ear.

“I got us a table,” Thomas said, breezing past us and opening the door. “Three, right?”

Sawyer and I traded glances, and I walked in first, followed by Sawyer.