And I see the truth in his eyes. “You don’t talk about this.”
“But you did to me.”
“Yes. Now ask me why.”
“Someone has to go first.”
It is what he said to me on the plane. It is his offering of trust, and I know I was right.
There is something happening between us, something I may never experience again, and ironically that means lying. Now, this moment, is my chance to tell him Amy Bensen’s story. To make sure he doesn’t dig around to find out on his own.
I open my mouth to relay my fake life per my Amy Bensen file, and snap it shut with a stunning realization. My story is Liam’s story. Her father ran out on her when she was a kid and her mother died of cancer. How can this be? It’s impossible. I am not telling this lie to Liam. I can’t. I won’t.
“I need to go to the ladies’ room,” I say, and I do not wait for his reply. I scoot out of the booth and take my purse with me, but Liam is out the other side and standing in front of me, and I see the worry in his eyes. It’s like he senses my instinct to bolt. He thinks I’m running away, and I am—but not from him. From the me I don’t even recognize as me.
I lean into him and press to my toes, brushing my lips over his. “I still want to lick your tattoo. Remember?”
But he doesn’t laugh. He leans back and gives me an intense look. “Hurry back and let’s get out of here.”
“Yes. I’d like that.”
His hands slowly ease from my waist where they have settled, reluctantly it seems, and I like that he does not want to let me go. And I do not want him to either, but I have to find a way to make this work.
I rush away from Liam, and the waitress directs me to the bathroom, a fancy three-stall room with mirrors on the door, and I rush inside the farthest one and lock myself inside. All too soon, I am back where I was two nights ago, leaning on a bathroom stall and fretting. But this time Liam has found me and I do not want to lose him or put him in danger. I tell myself lies protect him and I should embrace them and him while he is in Denver. But deep down I feel this man inside me and I do not want to limit our possibilities. He knows I’m running and if I really want to be with him, I have to ensure he does not dig into my background. If I don’t give him something, he might go look on his own.
The air shifts in the bathroom and I push off the wall. I didn’t hear the door open but I hadn’t heard it at the museum either. My hand goes to my throat and I do not dare breathe. I listen and I do not hear anything. Wait. Do I? Time seems to stand still and I can’t seem to make myself move. What if I go outside the stall and there is another note? What if I have to run?
The cell phone in my purse starts to ring and I jerk at the sound. It’s Liam. Of course, it’s Liam. He is the only one who has my number. How long have I been standing here? I shake myself and open the stall, steeling myself for whatever I find outside. Eager to just know what waits on me, I rush forward and stop dead in my tracks as I bring the sinks into view.
“Meg? What are you doing here?”
She whirls around from where she stands at the sink primping her long blond hair to lie on her shoulders, a contrast to her short red dress. “Oh my gosh. Amy! What are you doing here?”
“I…” My phone starts ringing again.
“Oh good.” She lights up. “You got your phone working. I can’t believe we’re both here.”
“I…yes. Very small world.”
“That’s what I love about this little area of Cherry Creek. You can live, eat, shop, and play here and get to know everyone like it’s a small town. Only we have Chanel and Gucci in this small town. We’re the high-society chicks. Well, not that I can afford that kind of thing, but maybe I’ll find me a sugar daddy.”
I cringe considering Liam and his billionaire status and think that while her comment is playful, he must deal with real-life money chasers. “Are you on a date?”
“My boss brought me. And he’s certainly a hot property himself. What about you?”
“Yes. A date. Who I should get back to.”
She grabs her purse and pulls out her phone. “Let me grab your number before we forget.”
I can’t get out of this. Dang it. I remove my phone from my purse and glance at the numbers on the screen and my throat goes dry. One is from Liam. The other is unknown.
I stare at the unknown number and my mind races. It could be a wrong number. It has to be. No one has this number but Liam and my handler has never called me. That’s not true, I remind myself and my mind flashes back.
The phone is ringing and I jerk to a sitting position. There is no one left to call me. No one I love. It has to be one of them. Someone is alive. This is all a mistake. I grab the headset and my hand shakes so hard I all but drop the receiver. “Dad?”
“Listen and listen quickly, Amy,” a stranger says. “They are coming for you. Get up and get dressed and get the hell to the back door of the hospital. I’ll be in a cab waiting for you.”
“What? Who are you?”
“There isn’t time. Get the hell out of the f**king bed. Now!”
“Okay, ready,” Meg announces. “What’s the number?”
I blink through spots, and damn it, my eyes are prickling and my forehead pinching. Meg waves her phone in front of me. “I’ll type it in my phone so I can’t lose it.”