After a minute or so, the yelping and banging stopped.
I trudged to my room, stripped off my clothes, and slipped on a T-shirt before falling into the bed.
Not only did I not hate Thomas, I liked him. Worse than that, he knew it.
I FLIPPED MY WRIST OVER TO CHECK MY WATCH, cursing myself for sleeping in. After poking a pair of fake diamond studs into the holes in my ears, I slipped on my heels, grabbed my purse, and opened the door.
Thomas stood there with a Styrofoam cup in each hand. “Coffee?”
I pulled the door closed and twisted the key in the lock. “Is there milk in that coffee?” I asked.
“Nope. Six sugars and a two creamers.”
“How do you know how I take my coffee?” I asked, taking the cup he’d pushed toward me.
We walked together to the elevator, and Thomas pressed the button.
“Constance knows you bought me coffee?”
“Constance told me to buy you coffee.”
The doors opened, and we stepped inside.
I turned to him, confused. “She’s up early,” I grumbled. “Why would Constance tell you to do this?”
He shrugged. “She thought you might like it if I did.”
I turned to face forward. He was answering me without answering me, my very least favorite thing. I was going to have to ask Val to teach me her human-lie-detector trick.
“Constance knows I like you. She says I’ve been different since you’ve been here, and she’s right.”
“Thomas,” I said, turning to him, “I…appreciate that, but I’m—”
“Emotionally unavailable. I know. But you’re also just coming out of a relationship. I’m not asking you to move in with me.”
“Let me take you to work.”
“Okay. Can we have dinner alone?”
I turned to him as the elevator opened. “Are you asking me on a date, Maddox?”
I walked into the lobby, my heels clicking against the floor.
After a few seconds of hesitation, he nodded once. “Yes.”
“I don’t have time for anything messy. I’m committed to the job.”
“I don’t like to report to anyone.”
“Yes, I can take you to work? Or yes, we can have dinner?”
He smiled, triumphant, and then he used his back to push open the lobby doors, keeping me in view. “My vehicle’s this way.”
During the drive to work, Thomas explained his evening with Taylor, what time Agent Davies had left his condo, and how inconvenient it was to have a drop-in guest even if it was his brother.
The freeway was still damp from the rain the day before. He weaved his Land Rover in and out of traffic, and although I was used to driving in Chicago, San Diego was totally different, and I wasn’t sure if I would be prepared once I found a vehicle.
“You’ll hate it more when you drive it. When does your car get here? You’re going on three weeks without it.”
“It’s not coming. My parents are selling it for me. I’m going to look for a new one when I have some time, but for now, public transportation works.”
Thomas made a face. “That’s ridiculous. You can just ride with me.”
“Just meet me out front in the mornings. We leave at the same time anyway, and we’re going to the same place. Plus, you’re doing me a favor. I can drive in the carpool lane.”
“Okay,” I said, looking out the window. “If you don’t mind.”
I glanced over at him. His transformation from angry, volatile boss to gentle, content neighbor—possibly more—had been gradual, so I hadn’t noticed until we were side by side, the morning sun highlighting the calm in his eyes. We rode the rest of the way to the Bureau in comfortable silence.
The next time Thomas spoke was to the guard at the security gate.
“Agent Maddox,” Agent Trevino said, taking our badges. He leaned down to identify me and smirked.
“All fine. Nice of you to drive Agent Lindy to work this morning.”
Thomas took back his badge. “We live in the same building.”
“Mmhmm,” Trevino said, sitting back before pressing the button to open the gate.
“Trevino,” Thomas said, resting his elbow on the bottom of the window and touching his lips with his fingers.
I frowned. Anytime anything came into contact with his lips, a mixture of depression and jealousy swirled inside me. It was an awful feeling, and I wondered when it would stop. “Am I a running joke?”
Thomas looked over at me and switched his driving hand. Then, my hand was in his, and he squeezed.
“No. Why would you think that?”
Thomas pulled into the parking garage and put the gear into park. He turned back the key, and the engine silenced. “Me. He’s laughing at me. I don’t bring people to work. I don’t smile when I check in, and I damn sure don’t ask him about his family. He knows it’s…he knows. Things have been different since you came here.”
“Why is that?” I stared at him, my eyes begging him to say the words.
Admittedly, I was too proud and stubborn to break my vow to the Bureau without insurance. Coffee, odd jobs around my condo, even his hand in mine weren’t enough. I was okay with being second to his job. When we were both committed to the Bureau, it somehow canceled the other out. But I wouldn’t come in third.
His cell phone rang, and when he noticed the name on the display, his entire demeanor changed. His eyebrows pulled in, and he sighed.
“Hey,” Thomas said, his face tight. He let go of my hand and looked away. “I told you I would. I, uh…” He rubbed his eyes with his thumb and index finger. “I can’t. My flight doesn’t land until an hour prior to Trav’s arrival at the hotel. Okay…tell me what?”
Thomas looked down, and his shoulders sagged. “You are? That’s great,” he said, failing to cover the devastation in his voice. “Uh, no, I understand. No, Trent, I get it. It’s okay. Yeah, I’m happy for you. I am. Okay. All right. See you then.”
Thomas pressed End and then let the phone fall to his lap. He held the steering wheel with both hands, his grip twisting so hard that his knuckles turned white.
“Okay. Well…I’ll be in my office if you change your mind.”
Just as I reached for the lever, Thomas grabbed me by the arm and pulled me to him, his amazingly soft lips melting against mine. Everything around us blurred, and I was transported back to the night we’d met—the desperate hands, his tongue deep in my mouth, his blazing hot sweaty skin against mine.