“You should have told us your contact was Liis,” Val scolded. “We could have avoided this.”
Thomas glared at her, but she didn’t yield.
“How?” he asked. “Telling you that Liis was keeping tabs on Grove was going to keep the IG’s office from writing that report? Are you fucking joking?”
“Knowing we could use Liis to check Grove’s transcriptions would have been helpful,” Sawyer said.
“I was having Liis check them, Sawyer,” Thomas said, annoyed. “You think she’s been listening to Taylor Swift on her headphones in here?”
Thomas held out his hands and let them fall to his sides. “It’s Spy one-oh-one, kids. The fewer people you tell, the less risk you take. I didn’t want Grove to know I had another Japanese translator in the unit. He needed to keep tabs on all the interviews for Tarou, and another Japanese-speaking agent could have gotten in the way. She might have ended up a target just to keep Grove in charge of the Yakuza interrogations.”
Sawyer rolled his eyes. “That’s absurd. He didn’t even know her to want to protect her.” It took him a moment, but when Sawyer recognized the shame in my eyes, his mouth fell open. His index finger waggled between Thomas and me. “You two were…”
I shook my head. “It was before. He didn’t know I was here to work at the Bureau.”
“Discussing line of work comes right after name-swapping.” Sawyer cackled. “You one-nighted the new hire, Maddox? No wonder you jumped on her ass at her first meeting. You don’t like surprises. This is all beginning to make sense.”
Sawyer stopped laughing. “Is that why you gave her the promotion?”
Thomas lunged for Sawyer, and Val and I stood between them, bouncing like pinballs as we pushed them apart.
Thomas stepped back, and Sawyer smoothed his tie and then sat down.
Thomas touched his fingers to his mouth while he calmed down. “My apologies,” he said through his teeth. “I’ll call Polanski. We need to get that report buried and intercept the warrant for Grove’s arrest—at least for now.”
Val straightened her clothes. “You call the S.A.C. I’ll call the IG’s office.”
“I’ll tail Grove. See if he suspects anything,” Sawyer said.
Thomas’s expression turned severe. “We have to keep a tight lid on this.”
They left Thomas and me alone in my office, and we stared at one another.
“You left out your key agents to protect me?” I asked.
I tilted my head. “Marks isn’t even on this case.”
Thomas gritted his teeth. “I shouldn’t have to explain myself. It’s dangerous, Liis. These people we’re dealing with, if they get a hold of your name—”
“That is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard,” I snapped.
“I can shoot a target at eighty-five yards with a twenty-two pistol, I can take down an assailant twice my size, and I deal with your arrogant ass at least twice a day. I can handle Benny, the Yakuza, and Grove. I’m not Camille. I am an agent of the FBI, same as you, and you will respect me as such. Do you understand me?”
Thomas swallowed, carefully thinking about his next answer. “I don’t think you’re weak, Liis.”
“Something happened to me when I met you.”
“We had great sex. You’re attracted to me. That doesn’t mean you shut out your best agents. That’s another reason it’s a bad idea for us to explore whatever this is,” I said, gesturing in the air between us.
“No, it’s more than that. From the very beginning…I knew.”
“That I would have to be careful. I lost someone I loved before, and it changed me. I gave up someone I loved before, and it crushed me. I know that when you leave, Liis, however it goes down…it will end me.”
I closed my open mouth and stuttered out the next words, “What makes you think I’m going anywhere?”
“Isn’t that what you do? Run? Isn’t that your whole goal in life? To move on?”
“I’m not just talking about promotions, Liis. We are poking not one but two deadly mafia rings. They don’t know we’re onto Grove. If Grove finds out that you speak the language and can out him, they will see you as a problem. You know how these people are. They’re really good at erasing problems.”
“But Grove doesn’t know, and Val or Sawyer wouldn’t have told him.”
“I wasn’t going to chance it,” he said, sitting in the chair Val had previously occupied.
“So, now, we have two problems. He’s going to notice when your brother starts working for the FBI. If you want this to work with Travis, we have to get rid of Grove.”
“And we can’t get rid of Grove without Tarou knowing we’re onto him and Benny. The case will implode.”
I stood there, at a complete loss. “What are we going to do?”
“We’re going to stall. The timing has to be perfect.”
“So, we don’t just have to pull off one miracle but two.”
“You have to be careful, Liis.”
“Don’t start. We have to focus.”
“Goddamn it! I’m more focused than I’ve been in a long time. When I walked into that squad room and saw you sitting there…I admit it, okay? Knowing I brought you in to expose Grove scared the shit out of me, and it still does. It has nothing to do with you needing protection or you being a female agent and everything to do with the fact that, at any moment, you could have a target on your back, and it’d be my fucking fault!” he yelled the last part, the veins in his neck bulging.
“It’s the job, Thomas. It’s what we do.”
Thomas picked up the file and tossed it across the room. Papers exploded in every direction before floating down to the floor. “You’re not listening to what I’m saying! This is serious!” He leaned down, his palms flat on my desk. “These people will kill you, Liis. They won’t think twice about it.”
I forced my shoulders to relax. “We’re leaving for Eakins on Saturday and attending a ceremony in the Virgin Islands on Sunday, and we have to persuade your brother to lie to his wife for the rest of his life before we leave Monday morning because our boss wants an answer. Let’s concentrate on that first.”
Thomas’s face fell, defeated. “Just…stay away from Agent Grove. You’re not the best liar.”
“Yet you trust me to convince your family that we’re a couple all weekend.”