Scott glances at me. “You can speak freely. Please tell him whatever he wants to know.”
“The account is paid for a year in advance. Statements do go to you directly, Ms. Bensen, and any extra charges would therefore be payable by you.”
“Does the account have a password of any type?” Liam asks.
Scott punches a key on his computer. “No password set up.”
Liam opens the box and takes the phone out. “Throw that away.”
“What about the paperwork?” Scott asks.
“That’s why we have the internet.” Liam’s attention shifts to me but he speaks to Scott.
“Walk her through setting it up.”
Scott starts speaking, but I tune him out, focused solely on Liam. His eyes hold mine and I feel the connection between us. He never intended to return the phone. This was never about things getting too complicated. He held onto my hand to hold onto me. I should have seen that, but let my state of mind and inexperience with a man like Liam make me a little crazy.
He steps closer to me, sweeping a strand of hair behind my ear, his fingers brushing my skin and sending a shiver down my spine. “You need the phone,” he says softly. “Set up the password. You can change it at any time.” He glances at Scott. “And she can change her number if she needs to as well, correct?”
“Yes,” Scott agrees. “If there is a reason she needs to change it she just needs to call in and provide account validation.”
Liam leans down, his hand settling possessively on my waist, branding me. I want to be branded by this man. “If you ever really want to get rid of me,” he whispers, “you can always change your number.”
If I ever really want to get rid of him. He didn’t believe my lie. I didn’t either.
A few minutes later, I’ve tucked my cell phone into my pocket and let Liam hold the door for me to exit the store. Pausing, I wait for him to join me, instinctively scanning the still-busy sidewalk illuminated by a combination of moonlight and street lanterns.
“How about that dinner?” Liam asks, stepping beside me, and just that easily I’ve forgotten my surroundings and there is only him.
“Earlier,” I start, “back at the hotel. Liam, when I said what I said. I…” Still need to say goodbye, but I can’t seem to get the words out.
He steps closer to me, sliding his hand to my face. “If you tell me you don’t want to be with me. I will listen. I won’t like it, but I’ll listen. I need you to know that. But when you say you ‘can’t’ be with me, like some obstacle out of your control is stopping you from seeing me, I’m not going to listen.”
I am stunned and happy and confused and freaked out all at once. It is as if he has reached inside my head and ticked off every possible thing I could need him to say but it also means he sees too much. And yet…not enough. I have never wanted to bare my soul to anyone and I do now to a man I barely know.
He brushes his lips over mine, and while I have no idea what was going to come out of my mouth, I think this is another case of him saving me from saying something we both might regret. “Let’s go eat, baby.”
Let’s go eat, baby. I like how familiar this sounds. How not alone it makes me feel. “Yes,”
I whisper, willing accepting the reprieve I am certain he has intentionally offered me. “Let’s go eat.”
His eyes light with approval, his fingers lacing with mine, and in silent agreement we begin to walk and my mind replays that first time I’d seen Liam in the airport. Even from across a room, he’d spoken to me. I think of making love to him. I think of him picking me up today from the store and then kissing me in front of the hotel. I think of every second I’ve spent with this man, so absorbed that I blink and we are stopped at a restaurant a few doors down from Liam’s hotel. Suddenly, I realize that for all of my thinking I managed on this walk, remarkably, there’s one thing I haven’t had on my mind. Godzilla. I have not thought about what monster is watching or lurking around the corner. And Liam did that for me.
He holds the door to the restaurant open for me and for a moment I just stare at him, this brilliantly talented, amazingly generous man, who epitomizes tall, dark, and handsome, and I think I am crazy. Crazy for him. And I’m selfish. So very selfish because I have been alone and now he is here and I don’t know how I can walk away from him. I don’t deserve him and he absolutely does not deserve me.
Ten minutes after arriving for our reservations at North, a chic modern restaurant with frosty dangling lights and steel and glass tables, Liam and I are sitting inside a high-backed half-moon-shaped booth that seems to hug us in privacy. Our twenty-something attractive blonde waitress takes our orders of pasta and salads, batting her eyes at Liam in the process, clearly smitten with him, but then so are most of the females in the place from what I could tell on our arrival. He, however, is a perfect, suave gentlemen, neither disrespectful to her nor encouraging for that matter, casting me warm looks in the process. I am charmed and remarkably at ease with her flirtation considering my inexperience and his good looks.
Reluctantly the woman tears her eyes from Liam and departs, and a waiter appears by our table with the insanely expensive bottle of champagne Liam has ordered for us. Once the top has been popped and our glasses are filled, Liam and I are finally alone.
Liam lifts his glass, shifting in his seat to stare down at me and his blue eyes might as well be red fire, they burn so hot. “To new friends and lovers.”