In From the Cold

Chapter 5

Bobby POV


The rest of the day was surreal.

And maybe Alex was worried about being on Youtube, but I was more perplexed with immediate concerns.

First of all, what did normal couples talk about in their homes?

If people were going to be listening to us, then we had to make it sound good.

Realistic.

And maybe I'd have to let her take the lead on that because she did have some experience in that arena.

But secondly, what about fights? Should we stage some? Or hell, maybe living with me would bring those about naturally, I don't know.

And what about sex?

That thought nearly had me hyperventilating.

Were we going to have to simulate the sounds of us making love?

Although at least there was no video feed.

I'd called an old buddy of mine who was into electronics. After Eames and I left her place with her life now packed into a suitcase, we'd met him at my apartment.

He pretended to be the cable repair man, and while he was inside, he did a sweep of the place.

"See, here's you problem," Jimmy told us while he pointed at the bookshelf. "Your coax is stripped. It'll take me a few minutes to get you set up with a new connection."

He kept talking about our cable while he showed us the location of four more bugs.

One in the kitchen, one in the bedroom, one near the front door, and a second one in the living room.

At least they'd left the bathroom clean.

"Okay, Mr. Goren. You're good to go," he said as he handed me a piece of paper.

Audio devices only.

Thank God for small favors.

So Jimmy left and Eames took her suitcase into the bedroom.

It only took her a few minutes to organize her things, and then she joined me in the kitchen.

I was sitting at the table with the file opened up in front of me, but I wasn't reading it.

I was still stuck on the minute details of pulling off this undercover so it was difficult to delve into the next undercover.

And then I suddenly realized that we'd been quiet for awhile.

That couldn't be normal.

"So…um…I was going through this file, and um…it looks like we need to pose as a um…couple who wants to…um…adopt a baby."

Great, Goren. That sounds natural.

"Relax, honey," Eames said, and her use of the affectionate term caused me to snap my eyes up to hers.

"I know it feels a little weird, but this is going to work out fine," she continued. "Trust me. I mean, we were thinking about taking this step anyway, right?"

"Step?" I asked in confusion.

Because for some reason the tone of her voice had caused me to lose all ability to understand plain English.

"Living together," she clarified. "We would have gotten here eventually. So it's just a little sooner rather than later."

"That's true," I managed to say.

"So come on," she said. And actually, she didn't just say it. She practically purred it and I found myself fighting back an erection. What was she doing? "We can look over the file later. There's something else I want to do first."

"First?" I repeated, well aware that I was losing my battle with arousal.

"Yeah. I think a nice hot bath is in order. And then I'll fix us something to eat. And after that, we can get down to business."

A bath.

She was suggesting that we take a bath.

Together.

She stood in the doorway waiting for me to join her and it finally hit me.

She wanted to go into the bathroom.

Where there was no listening device.

And I had to be the dumbest man on the planet for not realizing what she was trying to do.

"Bobby, what is going on with you?" she asked me once we were safely ensconced in the bathroom and the faucet was running.

I caught myself before blurting out an apology.

"I…Eames…"

"Alex," she corrected.

"Alex," I started again. "This is just…I'm having trouble."

"Yeah, I can see that," she said with a smile. "It's just an assignment. We've done undercover work before."

"Not like this."

"No, not like this," she agreed. "But that doesn't mean we can't pull it off."

I nodded, but I still wasn't convinced.

I was having trouble looking her in the eye, and for some reason, my mind was supplying me with the image of Meg Ryan faking an orgasm in that movie.

Would that be how Eames did it?

For the benefit of the bugs, I mean.

"How do you beat a lie detector test?" she asked me, touching me on the arm to get my attention.

"Believe the lie," I answered with a shrug.

"That's right. And this is essentially the same thing. So believe this lie. Get into the moment, okay? We love each other. And this is our life. We're undercover assets for the FBI."

Eames' little pep talk helped.

She was right and I'd been acting unprofessional.

I mean, come on. I'd infiltrated a drug ring back in the day. This should be a cake walk in comparison.

This was Eames.

And she was making it easy on me.

All I had to do was believe that she loved me.

"They can't see us," she reminded me. "We'll keep the blinds closed, so they can only hear us. Just say whatever feels natural, and if you want to tell me something else, something that you don't want them to hear, then either write it down or point for me to come in here. But writing it down will be better. I mean, we can't spend all of our time in the bathroom."

"You're right. I know you're right," I said.

"And relax," she insisted. "I'm not going to get mad at you for something you do or say while we're trying to pull this off. So don't over-analyze, okay?"

"Okay."

"And just think. A month from now, we'll be like an old married couple," she added with a smile. And to punctuate her statement, she put her hand on my chest, just resting it there for a moment and then she patted me and moved away. "Ready?"

"Aren't we going to take a bath?" I managed to tease.

She barked out a laugh and went over to turn off the water.

"Oh, we did," she said. "We're already done."

"Oh, I don't think so," I argued lightly. "I would not be that fast."

She laughed again, and just like that we were back on even footing.

I could do this.

We could do this.

So we had some lunch and then spent the afternoon discussing the case.

Once I managed to quit thinking about every little problem that might arise from our living situation, I was able to settle into a comfortable routine with Eames.

"So they think that this adoption agency is really stealing babies and then selling them to unsuspecting couples," she said after we'd read through the file. "Look, this guy here. Dorian Marcovic. He's the attorney that we need to request. According to the documentation, he does the vetting."

"So we convince him that we're desperate and that we have the money to back it up," I concluded.

The operation had ties to the Russian mob, as Eames had mentioned, and it looked as though their side business included offering up nannies for sale along with the infants.

The nannies were mostly teenaged girls who had undoubtedly been snatched from their Eastern European homes and forced into the working world as a way to either repay some debt owed by their parents, or maybe on the promise of getting their parents to America.

Whichever the case, I could see why the FBI wanted an in.

They needed proof that Marcovic was orchestrating this trafficking business and if we could convince him to take us on as clients then we might be able to follow the trail.

We could maybe plant a GPS device on him, or the Bureau could put a tail on him…whatever needed to be done so that there would be hard evidence of how and from whom he was obtaining these babies that he was then selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

And Marcovic would most definitely be cautious about which couples he accepted. According to the Bureau file, this had been going on for nearly a decade and the guy had yet to get caught, although they suspected him of some pretty grisly crimes in addition to the baby market. He was definitely not a nice guy.

"Hey, let's go get some dinner," I said suddenly after we'd been hard at it for several hours.

And yeah, I liked to cook, but I had a feeling that we were going to be doing a lot of eating out.

It would be a nice break to be able to talk without anyone listening. Although, then they'd probably be watching, but we'd be in public. I could hold her hand or put my arm around her, and we'd be fine.

It was a nice night, so we decided to walk to a restaurant that was only a few blocks away.

"See? It's not so bad, is it?" Eames said as we walked slowly along the sidewalk. She took my hand in hers and laced her fingers through mine.

"It's not bad at all," I agreed. "I'm sorry about earlier. And I know," I added quickly before she could chastise me. "I'm not supposed to be sorry. But, what can I say?"

She chuckled lightly and nudged me with her shoulder.

It was comfortable, being with her like this. I wondered idly why we'd never let ourselves be close like this before. Why we'd always kept that distance between us.

"You think they're following us now?" she asked me.

"I don't know. Probably."

"Why? I mean, we haven't started this case yet. What possible reason could they have for following us to dinner?"

"I think that maybe they're not sure what to make of us. I don't believe that month-long surveillance protocol thing for a second, do you?"

"No. No, they definitely want to keep an eye on us. But why even give us the job if they're afraid that they can't trust us?"

"Because we're good. And they want to trust us," I replied. "Which means that they will soon enough."

"And when they do…"

"Uh huh."

"I don't like Beemer," she said suddenly. "He's an arrogant little prick, isn't he? Saying he knew there was something going on between us."

"Yeah," I said, forcing out a laugh. "Crazy, huh?"

She hummed a noncommittal response and fell silent for a minute.

"I wonder why they haven't sent in anyone before now," she mused, once again thinking about Marcovic.

"I'm betting that they have," I said.

And I didn't finish that thought.

I left it hanging for a minute, knowing that she would pick up on what I wasn't saying.

Because what was it that Stahl had said?

Couples who weren't really couples were always made.

Did she mean that they'd been made by Marcovic?

Because there was no way that this guy had been running this racket for ten years and then all of a sudden the feds decide to go after him.

With two newbie assets.

No, they'd tried this before and had been burned. And now that they'd learned that we were a package deal, they'd pulled this one out of the back file.

We'd walked ourselves right into it.

I noticed a dark blue sedan drive past us and then park along the curb.

It had been parked near my apartment, too.

You would think that feds would be a little more sneaky with their surveillance, although I guess they figured that since we knew about it, then what was the point of hiding it?

I don't know.

But I was sure that it was them.

And I was suddenly a little worried about being able to pull off our ruse in front of a guy like Marcovic.

In a situation where it could potentially be life or death.

As we came to a stop in front of the restaurant, I decided to do a little more practice.

Because really, our lives depended on it, right?

So before I could give it too much thought, I gave a tug on Eames' hand, pulling her closer to me, and then I leaned down and kissed her.

And maybe I should've warned her of what I was going to do.

But she's a professional.

And apparently she's a professional at more than just undercover work, because she slipped her free hand around the back of my neck and returned my kiss in a fashion that had me fully aroused in a matter of seconds.

It went on for about a minute, a leisurely exploration that felt nothing like a first kiss and everything like a prelude to a more intimate encounter.

And then she pulled away and tipped her head towards the entrance.

"Are you ready?" she asked me. "I'm starving."

Did she really just ask me if I was ready?

If I was any more ready, I'd be arrested for public indecency.


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