“Are you suggesting that I’m asking you to lie in your report?”

“No, sir. I am suggesting you tell me what you expect of me.”

“I want you to do your job.”

I clenched my teeth, trying to keep my Irish side from getting me fired. “I would love to accomplish my responsibilities, sir, and do it to your satisfaction. What about my report do you find lacking?”

“Too bad,” he said in a smug tone, walking away again.

My patience had run out. “How in the hell did you get promoted to ASAC?”

He stopped and turned on his heels, leaning down a bit, looking incredulous. “What did you say?”

“Forgive me, sir, but you heard me.”

“This is day two for you, Agent Lindy. You think you can—”

“And it very well be my last after this, but I’m here to do a job, and you’re in my way.”

Maddox eyed me for the longest time. “You think you could do better?”

“Great. You’re now the supervisor of Squad Five. Give your report to Constance to digitize and then get your shit in your office.”

My eyes danced around the room, trying to process what had just happened. He’d just given me a promotion that I’d thought would take at least four more years.

Maddox walked away from me and pushed through the door to the men’s locker room. I was breathing hard, maybe harder than he was after his workout.

I turned around, seeing a dozen people standing at the glass door. They stiffened and walked away when they realized they had been caught. I pulled open the door and walked back down the hall and across the skywalk in a daze.

I remembered seeing an empty box next to the Keurig, so I retrieved it and sat it atop my desk, filling it with my laptop, sidearm, and the few files I had in my drawers.

“It went that bad, did it?” Val said, genuine concern in her voice.

“No,” I said, still dazed. “He promoted me to squad supervisor.”

“I’m sorry.” She chuckled. “I thought you said you’re the supervisor.”

I looked up at her. “I did.”

Her eyebrows shot up. “He looks at you with more hate than he does Agent Sawyer, and that’s saying something. You’re telling me you stood up to him once, and he gave you a promotion?”

I looked around the room, trying to think of a plausible reason as well.

Val shrugged. “He’s lost it, gone off the deep end.” She pointed at me. “If I had known being insubordinate and doing something as taboo as telling another agent how to run a case meant a promotion, I would have told him off a long time ago.”

I took in a deep breath and picked up the box before walking into the empty supervisor’s office. Val followed me in.

“This has been empty since Maddox’s promotion to ASAC. He’s one of the youngest ASACs in the Bureau. Did you know that?”

I shook my head as I set the box on my new desk.

“If anyone can get away with this, it’s Maddox. He’s so far up the director’s ass that I bet he’ll make S.A.C. early, too.”

Val laughed once. “He has dinner with the director. He spent Thanksgiving at the director’s house last year. He’s the director’s favorite, and I don’t mean out of the San Diego office, or even out of the offices in California. I mean, in the Bureau. Thomas Maddox is the golden boy. He can have whatever he wants, and he knows it. Everyone does.”

I made a face. “Doesn’t he have a family? Why didn’t he go home for Thanksgiving?”

“Something to do with the ex, or so I hear.”

“How does rubbing elbows with the director even happen for someone like Maddox? He’s got the personality of a badger.”

“Maybe. But he’s loyal to those in his circle, and they’re loyal to him. So, be careful what you say about him and to whom. You could go from surprise promotion to surprise transfer.”

That gave me pause. “I’ll just, uh…get set up.”

Val walked toward the hall, pausing in the doorway. “Drinks tonight?”

“Again? I thought you said I should stay away from you?”

She smiled. “Don’t listen to me. I am known for giving horrible advice.”

I pressed my lips together, trying to suppress a smile.

Even with my monumental fuck-up, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad here after all.

“LOOK WHO IT IS,” Anthony said, setting a pair of napkins in front of two empty stools.

“Thanks for the warning the other night,” I said. “You could have told me I was leaving with my boss.”

Val puffed out a laugh. “You let her walk out of here with him? Not even a hint? That’s just cruel.”

Anthony pulled his mouth to the side. “He wasn’t your boss…yet. Besides, I knew nothing was going to happen.”

I narrowed my eyes. “But you knew he was going to be, and you lost that bet.”

Anthony was stunned. “Maddox? Oh no, honey, you must have hallucinated.”

“Don’t look so shocked,” I said. “It’s rude.”

“It’s not that…it’s just…” Anthony looked to Val. “I’ve just seen him shoot so many women down. It was enough of a surprise that he asked you to leave with him.”

Val shook her head and chuckled. “I told you. He’s sworn off women.”

“Well, Saint Thomas has broken his vow,” I said.

Anthony pointed his finger, swirling tiny invisible circles in the air. “You must have voodoo in your hoohoo.”

Anthony seemed remorseful in a don’t-shoot-me sort of way. “You’re right. I should have given you a heads-up. First round is on me. Friends?”

“Oh,” Anthony said, looking to Val, “she’s feisty.”

“Just wait until Maddox finds out you knew she was an agent.”

Anthony held his hand to his chest, looking genuinely concerned. “Christ on the cross, you’re not going to tell him, are you?”

“I just might,” I said, chewing on my thumbnail. “You’d better have my back from now on.”

“Swear,” Anthony said, holding up three fingers.

“Quit that shit. You were never a Boy Scout,” Val said.

“Hey,” a male voice said before bending down to kiss Val’s cheek and sitting in the empty stool next to her.

Marks leaned forward, took one look at me, and then leaned back. “Yep.”

Val made a face. “What’s that about?” He was focused on the large television screen above us, and when he didn’t answer, she backhanded his arm. “Joel! What’s with the douchebaggery?”

“What the…why are you hitting me?” he said, rubbing his arm. “I just choose to keep my distance from trouble.”

I rolled my eyes and looked to Anthony.

“You already have a usual?” Val said. “How often do you come here?”

I sighed. “This is just my third time.”