“He’s not staying here,” Thomas said, a tinge of anger still in his voice.
Thomas leaned over, letting Jackson fall forward over his shoulder, and then carried him to the couch. More careful than I’d thought he would be, Thomas helped Jackson lie back and then tossed a throw over him.
“C’mon,” he said, taking my hand.
“What?” I asked with just a bit of resistance as he pulled me toward the door.
“You’re staying with me tonight. I have an important meeting in the morning, and I won’t be able to sleep, worrying that he’s going to wake up and wander into your bed.”
I pulled my hand back. “I would hate for you not to be at your best during your meeting.”
He looked away, annoyed, and then back at me. “I admit it. I don’t want him fucking touching you.” He was enraged at the thought, and then it seemed to melt away. He took a step toward me, tenderly gripping my hips. “Can’t you see through my bullshit by now?”
“Can’t we just…I don’t know…say what we think or feel?”
I picked at my nails. “You were right. I’m scared. I’m afraid I can’t do this even if I want to. And I’m not sure you can either.”
He pressed his lips together in a hard line, amused. “Get your keys.”
I took the few steps to my phone and bent down to retrieve it, and then walked to the counter and swiped the keys up with one hand, my purse with the other. As I slid on my slippers, I couldn’t help but glance back once more to Jackson. His limbs were splayed out in every direction, his mouth was open, and he was snoring.
“He’ll be fine,” Thomas said, holding out his hand for me.
I joined him in the hall, locking the door behind us. We passed the elevator and climbed the stairs in silence. Once we arrived at his door, Thomas swung the door open and gestured for me to walk inside.
Thomas flipped on the light, revealing a space so immaculate it didn’t look lived in. Three magazines were fanned out on the coffee table, and a like-new couch sat against the wall.
Everything was in its place—plants, magazines, and even pictures. It included everything that made up a home, but beneath the homey embellishments, it was too perfect, sterile even. It was as if Thomas were trying to convince himself that he had a life outside of the Bureau.
I walked over to a console table next to the flat screen on the opposite side of the room. Three silver frames held black-and-white photos. One, I assumed were his parents. Another showed Thomas with his brothers, and I was amazed at how much the younger four looked alike. Then, there was one of Thomas and a woman.
Her beauty was distinctive, seeming to be wild and effortless. Her razor-cut short hair and cleavage-baring tight shirt surprised me. She wasn’t who I’d thought would be Thomas’s type at all. Her thick eyeliner and smoky eyes were that much more prominent in grayscale. Thomas held her like she was precious to him, and I felt a lump form in my throat.
“Yes,” he said, his voice tinged with disgrace. “I’m sorry. I’m rarely home. I forget it’s there.”
My chest ached. The picture in that frame was the only answer I needed. Despite my efforts, I was falling for Thomas, but he was still in love with Camille. Even in a perfect world where two people who were obsessed with their jobs could make a relationship work, we had the added obstacle of unrequited love. At the moment, it was Thomas’s problem, but if I allowed myself to have deeper feelings, it would be mine.
I was always a firm believer that a person couldn’t love two people at the same time. If Thomas still loves Camille, what does that mean for me?
An obnoxious siren went off in my head, so loud I could barely think. These feelings for Thomas, Agent Maddox, my boss needed to stop now. I glanced at his couch as I worried that I would one day be begging him to love me in return, showing up drunk and emotional at his door before passing out on his couch like Jackson was on mine.
“If you don’t mind, I’ll just make a pallet on the floor. The couch doesn’t look that comfortable.”
He chuckled. “Taylor said the same thing. You’re welcome to the bed.”
“I think, given our history, that is a particularly bad idea,” I said, quoting him from before.
“What do you plan to do when we go to St. Thomas?” he asked.
“It will be your turn to take the floor.” I tried to keep the hurt out of my voice.
Thomas left me for his bedroom and then came out with a pillow and a tightly rolled sleeping bag.
I eyed his haul. “Do you keep that in case of sleepovers?”
“Camping,” he said. “You’ve never been?”
“The bed is all yours,” he said, ignoring my jab. “I just put on fresh sheets this evening.”
“Thank you,” I said, passing him. “I’m sorry we woke you.”
“I wasn’t asleep. I have to admit that it was startling to hear a man yelling in your living room.”
Thomas dismissively waved his hand and then walked over to turn out the light. “Stop apologizing for him. I was out the door before I had time to think.”
“Thank you.” I put my hand on the doorjamb. “Get some sleep. I don’t want you to be mad at me if you can’t concentrate during your meeting.”
“There is only one reason I wouldn’t be able to concentrate during my meeting, and sleep isn’t it.”
“We’re going to be spending the better part of the weekend together, and I have to talk my brother into something he won’t want to do. Sunday is important, Liis, and you’re the biggest distraction in my life at the moment.”
My cheeks flushed, and I was thankful the lights were dim. “I’ll try not to be.”
“I don’t think you can help being a distraction any more than I can help thinking about you.”
“I understand now why you said being friends would be a bad idea.”
Thomas nodded. “I said that three weeks ago, Liis. The situation has changed.”
“We’re more than friends now, and you know it.”
I looked over at the picture of Thomas and Camille and pointed to it. “She is what scares me, and she is what won’t go away.”
Thomas walked over to the picture and set it down on its face. “It’s just a picture.”
The words I wanted to say caught in my throat.
He took a step toward me.
I pushed away from the doorjamb, holding a hand out. “We have a job to do. Let’s focus on that.”
THOMAS TOSSED A THICK STACK OF PAPERS onto my desk, his jaw dancing under his skin. He paced back and forth, breathing through his nose.
Just as I opened the file folder, Val rushed in, stopping abruptly between the door and Thomas. “I just heard the news.”
I frowned and skimmed over the words. “The Office of the Inspector General?” I said, looking up.