Just six months before, I had applied for my dream job. Three months later, I had been transferred. Now, I was wearing a robe and fuzzy socks, unpacking the sundresses I would be wearing if I were still in California. Instead, I had to promise myself not to adjust the thermostat—again—and I was sure to keep near the blazing fireplace in my bedroom.
I untied the belt of my robe, letting it fall open, and then lifted my heather-gray FBI hoodie, reaching down to feel the thick circular scar on my lower abdomen. The healed wound would always remind me of Thomas. It helped me to pretend he was close when he wasn’t. Our matching scars were a little like the feeling of being under the same sky—but better.
A car engine grew louder as it pulled into the drive, and headlights raced over the walls before extinguishing. I walked across the living room and peeked out the curtains next to the front door.
The neighborhood was quiet. The only traffic was the car in my drive. Nearly all the windows in the neighboring houses were dark. I loved the new house and the new community. A lot of young families lived on my street, and although the door experienced regular knocking and I’d seemed to be fielding daily requests for chocolate or cheese sales from the local school kids, I felt more at home than ever before.
A dark figure stepped out of the vehicle and grabbed a duffel bag. Then, the headlights came on again, and the car backed out and drove away. I rubbed my sweaty palms on my hoodie as the shadow of a man slowly walked toward my porch. He wasn’t supposed to be here yet. I wasn’t ready.
He climbed the steps, but hesitated when he reached the door.
I turned the bolt lock and pulled the knob toward me. “It’s over?”
I opened the door wide, and Thomas stepped inside, pulling me into his arms. He didn’t speak. He barely breathed.
Since my transfer, we had lived on opposite sides of the country, and I had become accustomed to missing him. But when he’d left with Travis a few hours after supervising the delivery of the rest of his belongings to our new home in Quantico, I’d been worried. The assignment hadn’t just been dangerous. Together, Thomas and Travis had raided Benny Carlisi’s offices, and organized crime in Vegas would never be the same.
By the look on Thomas’s face, it hadn’t gone well.
He nodded. “But Travis refused. He went straight home. I’m worried about him.”
“It’s his and Abby’s anniversary. Call him tomorrow. Make sure it’s done.”
Thomas sat on the couch, dug his elbows into his thighs, and looked down. “It wasn’t supposed to go down like this.” He breathed as if the wind had been knocked out of him.
“Do you feel like talking about it?” I asked.
I waited, knowing he always said that before he began a story.
“Trav’s cover was blown. Benny and his men took him underground. I panicked at first, but Sawyer got a location on them. We listened while they beat Travis for a good hour.”
“Travis got some good intel.” He laughed once without humor. “Benny was making a grand speech and giving him everything, thinking Travis was about to die.”
“The stupid son of a bitch threatened Abby. He began detailing the torture she would endure after he killed Travis. It was pretty graphic.”
“So, Benny’s dead,” I said, more of a statement than a question.
“Years of work, and Benny won’t even see the inside of a courtroom.”
Thomas frowned. “Travis said he was sorry. We still have a lot of work to do. Mick Abernathy has contacts with a lot of bosses besides Benny. We can work the case from that angle.”
I raked my fingers gently through Thomas’s hair. He didn’t know that Abby and I had a secret. She would be handing the Bureau everything she had on her father in exchange for keeping her husband home and out of trouble. Abby had agreed to give it to Travis by their anniversary, and he would furnish that intel to Val, who had been promoted as the new ASAC in San Diego.
“I promised you I’d be finished unpacking by the time you got home,” I said. “I feel bad.”
“It’s okay. I wanted to help,” he said. His mind was elsewhere. “I’m sorry you couldn’t be there. This was just as much your moment as it was mine.” He looked up and touched the stretched fabric of my hoodie that covered my protruding belly—the second unplanned thing to ever happen to us. “But I’m glad you weren’t.”
Thomas stood and wrapped me in his solid arms. “Now that I’m finally here, you can just look at mine for the next eleven weeks—give or take a few days—until you can see yours again.”
We walked, hand in hand, across our living room, and Thomas led me through our bedroom door. We sat together on the bed and watched the flickering fire and the dancing shadows on the stacks of cardboard holding picture frames and trinkets from our life together.
“You’d think we would have figured out a more efficient system for this by now,” Thomas said, frowning at the boxes.
“You just don’t like the unpacking part.”
“No one likes to unpack, no matter how happy that person might be to move.”
“I’m happy you got this job. You’ve worked toward it for a long time.”
“Not for a second. But I was nervous about the ASAC position in DC. I was beginning to sweat getting settled before the baby arrived, and you didn’t seem to be in a huge hurry for me to get here.”
I wrinkled my nose. “I’m not thrilled about your hour commute though.”
He shrugged. “Better than transcontinental. You dodged the part about not being in a hurry for the father of your child to be around.”
“Just because I’m learning to allow for a few variables doesn’t mean I’ve given up on having a master plan.”
His eyebrows shot up. “So, this was the plan? For me to go crazy from missing you for three months? For me to take the red-eye to be here for every doctor’s appointment? For me to worry that every phone call was bad news?”
“You’re here now, and everything’s perfect.”
He frowned. “I knew you would apply for this position. I psyched myself up for the move. Nothing could have prepared me for you to tell me four weeks later that you were pregnant. Do you know what it did to me, watching my pregnant girlfriend move across the country—alone? You didn’t even take everything with you. I was terrified.”
I breathed out a laugh. “Why didn’t you tell me all of this before?”
“I’ve been trying to be supportive.”
“It all happened exactly the way I’d planned,” I said with a smile, incredibly satisfied with that statement. “I got the job and took just enough with me to get by. You got the job, and now, we can unpack together.”
“How about, when it involves our family, you plan with me?”
“When we try to make plans together, nothing happens the way it’s supposed to,” I teased, nudging him with my elbow.