“After walking around New York for years, my feet are oblivious to pain. I can walk.” Or I might stand here in the beam of his scorching gaze and melt in my shoes. He still wants me, but it will be cold comfort in my empty bed tonight. I’m letting him go. He’s letting me go. I’m complicated. I’m always complicated.
I start to turn, to get this over with, but his fingers curl on my elbow and he pulls me close, his legs pressing to mine, sending waves of heat through me. And just like that, everything but Liam fades away. There are no people walking about, no doorman a few steps away, no horns honking. There is just me and this man, and I tingle with awareness, alive when I was barely living before meeting him. There are many things I want to say to him but cannot. I am confused and conflicted in all ways possible with this man, stuck between right and wrong.
“Amy,” he says softly, his tone just sharp enough to be warning, a command of silence, and maybe he simply wants me to stop arguing with him, but in my mind, he is saving me from something I might say and we both will regret.
“Yes,” I say as if he’s actually issued the warning, and wishing he’d say whatever he stopped me to say. Wishing it would be something magical that made everything all right. “Let’s go to the store, Liam.”
I do not know why I said his name. Why I felt the absolute need to say it, or why it lingered on my lips almost wistfully, but his eyes narrow, his head tilting slightly and there is no question he’s noticed. I hold my breath, not sure what he will say. Not sure what I want him to say. Not sure what he intended when he pulled me close. But when he finally replies, I get nothing more than, “Yes. Let’s go to the store.”
Air trickles from my lips and I am both relieved and disappointed by his non-response.
But he does not allow distance between us, drawing my hand in his again as he turns us forward.
Easily, comfortably, we fall into step together, silence settling between us and I find myself obsessing about our fingers twined together. About what that means about his intentions and even mine.
Too quickly we are at the store and Liam releases my hand to open the door. I freeze with a jolt of reality. We are not one but two again, and he may never touch me again. Once we are done here, we are…done. Emotion wells in my chest and I can feel Liam looking at me, willing me to look at him, but I can’t. Not without forgetting why I have to do this.
Feet heavy as lead, I walk into the store, the cool air conditioning adding to the chill I have suddenly developed. Hugging myself, I stop just inside the entrance and see phone displays in the center of the store, accessories hanging on the walls and a small service counter in the back. Liam steps beside me, and as if washing away my fear he will never touch me again, his hand settles on my back. The touch is electric, sizzling down my spine and washing away the cold.
“Hi, folks.” The greeting comes from a lanky guy no more than twenty, with dark, wavy hair and black, thick-rimmed glasses, wearing a store t-shirt, who stops in front of us. “I’m Scott. Can I help you?”
“We need to have you look up our account information,” Liam states.
Scott shoves his glasses up his nose and indicates a counter in the back of the store. We follow him there and Liam does not remove his hand from my back. We stop at the counter and Scott walks behind it, pulling a keyboard closer to him. “What can I help you with?”
Liam sets the phone on the counter. “Can you confirm the name on the account and who has access?”
Scott’s face pinches. “Only if I’m talking to the person who owns the account, and surely they would know this information already.”
“Not if a good friend set the account up for them,” Liam corrects.
“Then I need the ID of whoever is on the account,” Scott replies. He obviously takes his job seriously and I have to respect the guy, considering how I value my privacy.
Liam glances at me. “He’ll need your ID.”
I’d seen this coming, but as I open my purse a sliver of unease ripples down my spine as a thought hits me. Is this Liam’s way of seeing my driver’s license? I remove my driver’s license that reads Amy Bensen and it hits me that it is a Colorado license. Liam is a smart man. This is going to make him ask questions.
I slide the card forward face down and hold my breath in hopes that Scott is discreet. He lifts it and sets it on a keyboard beneath the counter, out of sight, and I let out a breath. He keys in my information. “What phone number do you have a question about, Ms. Bensen?”
The way he says it, like I have another one on file, is curious. I barely stop myself from asking. “I don’t have it memorized.”
“303-222-1018,” Liam supplies by memory.
“You remembered it that quickly?”
“I’m a numbers guy.”
The mental image of all those numbers trailing from his belly button down to some delicious destination I’ve yet to explore and never will thickens my throat. “Yes. I suppose you are.”
“Got it,” Scott informs us. “What do you need to know, Ms. Bensen?”
“She needs to know if anyone else is on the account,” Liam answers.
Scott looks at me for confirmation and I’m not sure where Liam is going with this but I’d like to get there with him sooner than later. “Is there?”
“Nope,” Scott answers. “Just you.”
“And the bills go to her directly?” Liam asks.