He coughed into his hand, and I used that as an excuse to glance back.
My sleek ponytail whipped over my right shoulder as I did so. “Summer colds are the worst.”
“Allergies,” he grumbled, almost to himself.
The elevator opened, and I stepped on, followed by Grove. His pale-blue shirt and too-small tie made his expansive midsection look even more pronounced.
Grove’s wiry mustache twitched. “It’s a little early to engage in chitchat, Agent Lindy.”
I raised my eyebrows and then faced forward, holding my hands in front of me. The seventh floor chimed, and I stepped into the hallway. I glanced back at Grove, who glared at me until the doors slid shut.
Val merged with me as I approached the security doors. “Open the door, open the door, open the—”
“We’re not finished,” Marks said with a grimace.
Val instantly switched on a smile and turned around. “For now, we are.”
I pushed open the door, and Val took a step backward. “But we are…so we are.” When the door closed in Marks’s face, she turned back around and squeezed my arm. “Thank you.”
She rolled her eyes and puffed out a breath. “He still wants me to move out of my condo.”
“Well…I wouldn’t like my boyfriend living with his wife either.”
“Marks is not my boyfriend, and Sawyer is not my husband.”
“Your status with Marks is debatable, but you are definitely still married to Sawyer. He hasn’t signed the papers yet?”
We turned into my office, and Val shut the door before falling into a club chair.
“No! He came home from Cutter’s one night, going on and on about how Davies was a mistake.”
Val’s nose wrinkled, and when recognition hit, she jumped out of the chair. “No! Ew! Ew! Even if I were a lesbian, I’d much prefer ChapStick to lipstick. Agent Davies looks like a reject from a Cher look-alike contest with all that”—she circled her face with her index finger—“stuff on her face.”
“So, when you said you experienced both Sawyer and Davies, you meant because he’d cheated on you with her.”
“Yes!” she said, still disgusted. She sat back in the chair, keeping her butt on the edge, while letting her shoulders fall back against the cushion.
“If you say that to anyone else, you might consider clarifying.”
Val let that thought simmer, and then she closed her eyes, her shoulders sagging. “Shit.”
“You’re not going to forgive Sawyer?” I asked.
“What keeps you there, Val? I know it’s your condo, but that can’t be all there is to it.”
She lifted her arms before letting them slap to her thighs. “That’s it.”
“Well, now,” she said, sitting up and crossing her arms, “look who is honing her craft.”
“More like common sense,” I said. “Now, if you’re going to be a bad friend, shoo. I have work to do.” I shuffled papers, pretending to be disinterested.
“I can’t forgive him,” she said, her voice small. “I’ve tried. I could have forgiven anything else.”
She picked at her nails. “Pretty much.”
“You need to tell him, Val. He still thinks there’s a chance.”
“I’m dating Marks. Sawyer still thinks I’m hung up on him?”
Val sighed. “You’re right. It’s time. But I warn you, if I put down the hammer and he doesn’t budge, you might have a new roommate.”
Val left with a smile, and I opened my laptop, input the password, and began scrolling through my emails. Three from Constance marked Urgent caught my eye.
I directed the mouse to the first email and clicked.
ASAC MADDOX REQUESTS A MEETING AT 1000. PLEASE CLEAR YOUR SCHEDULE, AND HAVE YOUR CASE FILE IN HAND.
ASAC MADDOX REQUESTS THE MEETING TO BE MOVED TO 0900. PLEASE BE PROMPT, AND HAVE YOUR CASE FILE IN HAND.
ASAC MADDOX INSISTS THAT YOU REPORT TO HIS OFFICE THE MOMENT YOU RECEIVE THIS EMAIL. PLEASE HAVE YOUR CASE FILE IN HAND.
I looked at my watch. It was barely eight a.m. I grabbed the mouse and clicked through recent documents, printing the new intel I had accumulated. I grabbed the file folder, snatched the papers off the printer, and ran down the hall.
She looked up at me and smiled, batting her long black lashes. “He can see you now.”
Thomas was sitting with his back to me, staring at the gorgeous view outside of his corner office.
“Agent Maddox,” I said, trying to sound normal. “I’m sorry. I just saw the email…s. I brought the case file. I have a few more—”
I blinked and then did as he’d commanded. The three mysterious picture frames were still on his desk, but the center frame was lying on its face.
“I can’t make them wait any longer,” Thomas said. “The Office of the Inspector General wants an arrest.”
He turned. The skin under his eyes was purple. He looked like he’d lost weight. “No, no…Grove. Travis will start his training soon. If Grove hears from Benny or Tarou about Travis…well, we’ll be dead in the water anyway.
“Constance will send everything you have to the US Attorney’s office. They’re going to stage an armed robbery at the gas station he frequents. He’ll be shot. Witnesses will testify that he was killed.
“Then, Tarou and Benny will think they’re shit out of luck instead of packing up and destroying evidence because Grove was busted and all roads lead to their criminal activity.”
Thomas winced at my cold response and then sat behind his desk. We remained in awkward silence for a solid ten seconds, and then Thomas made the smallest gesture toward the door.
“Thank you, Agent Lindy. That will be all.”
I nodded and stood up. I walked to the door, but I couldn’t leave. Against my better judgment, I turned, holding my free hand in a fist and tightly gripping the file folder so that I wouldn’t drop it.
He was reading the top page of a stack, holding a highlighter in one hand with the cap in the other.
“Are you taking care of yourself, sir?”
“Taking care of yourself. You seem tired.”
“I’m fine, Lindy. That will be all.”
I gritted my teeth and then took a step forward. “Because if you need to talk—”
He let both hands fall to his desk. “I don’t need to talk, and even if I did, you would be the last person I would talk to.”