After the passengers settled into their seats and the flight attendants informed us how to survive a possible plane crash, the plane taxied to the end of the runway and then surged forward, the speed climbing and the fuselage rattling, until we took off in a quiet smooth motion.
Thomas began to fidget. He turned around and then faced forward.
“I can’t do this,” Thomas whispered. He looked over at me. “I can’t do this to him.”
I kept my voice low. “You’re not doing anything to him. You’re the messenger.”
He looked up at the vent above his head and reached up, turning the knob until air was blowing full blast in his face. He settled back into his seat, looking miserable.
“Thomas, think about it. What other option does he have?”
He clenched his teeth as he always did when he was annoyed. “You keep saying I’m protecting him, but if I hadn’t told my director about Travis and Abby, he wouldn’t have to choose.”
“That’s true. Prison would be his only choice.”
Thomas looked away from me and out the window. The sun reflected off the sea of white clouds, making him squint. He closed the shutter, and it took my eyes a moment to adjust.
“This is impossible,” I said. “We have a job to do, and if we have all this personal junk swimming around in our heads, we’re going to make a mistake, and this entire operation will go south. But its very nature is personal. This assignment involves your family. And we’re here, together, with our own…issues. If we don’t figure out a way, Thomas, we’re fucked. Even if—when Travis says yes, if you’re not on your A game, Grove is going to sniff this out.”
“I’m sorry. What did you say?” I teased, touching my fingers to my ear.
The flight attendant leaned in. “Can I get you a beverage?”
She nodded and stepped toward the row behind us, asking the same.
“Are you nervous about seeing Camille tonight?”
“Yes,” he said without hesitation. “The last time I saw her, she was in the hospital, pretty banged up.” He noticed my surprised expression and continued, “She and Trenton were driving just outside of Eakins when they were hit by a drunk driver.”
“I can’t decide if your family is really lucky or really accident-prone.”
The flight attendant brought our drinks, setting down napkins first and then our glasses. I took a sip of wine as Thomas watched. He paid special attention to my lips, and I wondered if he had the same jealous thoughts as I did when his lips would touch things other than my mouth.
Thomas broke his stare and looked down. “I’m happy for Trent. He deserves it.”
He laughed nervously and then looked up at me. “I don’t want to talk about Camille.”
The flight attendant returned with a notepad and pen. “Miss…Lindy?”
She smiled, dozens of gray strands shooting out like lightning bolts from her French braid. “Would you like the grilled chicken with sweet chili sauce or our grilled salmon with lemon caper butter?”
She scribbled on her notebook. “Everyone okay with beverages?”
We both looked at our nearly full glasses and nodded.
“Talk,” Thomas said, leaning toward me.
“But I don’t want to talk about Camille. I want to talk about you.”
“Have you ever broken a bone?” he asked.
“How old were you when you lost your virginity?”
Thomas’s eyes nearly popped out of his head. “What? But you were engaged…”
I giggled. “I’m just kidding. I was twenty. College. Not anything or anyone to speak of.”
“Ever drank enough that you passed out?”
Then, he asked his next question, “Have you ever slept with your boss?” He smirked.
I shrank into my seat. “Not on purpose.”
He threw his head back and laughed.
“Me, too, but not for the reason you think.”
“Because you were afraid of what Tarou or Benny would do to me if Grove found out why I was there?”
Thomas frowned. “Yes.” He swallowed hard and then looked down at my lips. “That night with you…it changed everything. I was going to give it a few days, so I wouldn’t look completely pathetic when I knocked on your door. I came to work that morning and immediately told Marks that he was coming with me to Cutter’s. I was hoping to run into you again.”
“Yeah,” he said, looking away again. “I’m still concerned. I’m going to have to keep a close eye on you.”
Thomas didn’t seem happy about my response. “I’m not the one who keeps tabs on people, remember?”
When Thomas affirmed my suspicion with a nod, I chuckled.
“It’s not funny,” he said, unamused.
“It’s a little funny. No one will tell me why they dislike him, except to say he’s a bastard or an asshole. Neither you nor Val will give me anything specific. He helped me unpack. He was at my condo all night and didn’t try to sleep with me. He’s got the sleazy barfly thing going on, but he’s harmless.”
“No, it sounded like you said Agent Sawyer is married.”
Thomas was beyond annoyed, but I couldn’t wrap my head around what he was telling me.
“What?” My voice lowered an octave. Now, I knew he was messing with me.
“It’s true. They were like Romeo and Juliet at first, and then it turned out that Sawyer has a small issue with commitment. Val has sent him divorce papers several times. He keeps dragging it out. They’ve been separated for almost two years.”
My mouth was still hanging open. “But…they live in the same building.”
“No,” he said, chuckling. “They live in the same condo.”
“Val makes me tell her everything. This is just…I feel betrayed. Is that rational? I do.”