We pause at the curb to allow cars to pass before we cross the street to my apartment and I steal a glimpse of Liam to discover him doing the same to me. He smiles a devastatingly sexy smile at me, and pulls me under his arm, melding our h*ps together. My arm slides around his waist and he leans down and gives me a quick peck on the lips. A sweet, hot spot forms in my chest. It is this moment that speaks to me in a way all the hot sex we’ve had last night and this morning cannot. He doesn’t do relationships. I don’t do relationships, and yet that is exactly what it feels like we are doing.
We cross the street without breaking apart, and I have this sense of being sheltered from the storm brewing all around me. At the apartment elevator, Liam doesn’t seem keen on letting me go, and we huddle in the car, still holding onto each other. I think of the leasing office providing me instructions for my work assignments and a needling begins inside me. Why exactly would my handler leave anything with anyone for me?
Approaching my apartment door, I dig for my key, and will my nerves to calm down. The “zone” my fake self slides into to perform seems to be pretty much non-existent where Liam is concerned, and I have to find it now. For his own good.
Somehow, I unlock the door with a steady hand. The walls I erect while inside my zone are trying to form, but they are as paper-thin as my ability to resist this man. Entering the hallway, Liam is on my heels, but I pause in front of him, and I flip on the light, stalling to inhale a deep breath before letting him follow me forward. I turn to wait on him to shut the door, blocking his entry, a soldier drawing a hard line.
He arches a brow and I really wish he wasn’t so damn sexy when he did that. “Don’t jump to conclusions,” I warn. “The moving company lost my things. I’m filing a claim. I took out the insurance I needed so I’ll have my things replaced, so don’t go offering to help. I don’t need help.”
“It could take weeks to get a check.”
“I bought some things to get me by today.”
He stares down at me with that unreadable mask he wears like a champion poker player, and then grabs my hand and says, “Show me.”
“Show you what?”
“Exactly what you have to survive on the next few weeks until you get a check.” He doesn’t give me time to argue, dragging me with him to the bedroom, and straight to my closet.
I cringe when he opens the door to the empty room and then actually glares at me as if I’ve done something wrong. “What exactly is it that you bought to get you by?”
“It’s not your business to—”
“I’m making it my business.” He releases my hand and walks to the dresser, opening several empty drawers and removing the limited items I purchased yesterday, setting them all on the bed. “This is what you call getting by?” He looks at a price tag and grimaces. “A couple of outfits from the bargain racks and not much else?”
My defenses prickle. “I’m not spending money I don’t have to.”
He grabs me and sits down on the bed, leading me between his legs, his fingers playing on my hips, his mouth pressing to my belly. It’s so unexpected that my mood softens instantly and I almost forget how overbearing he is being. “Change clothes and let’s get out of here,” he says softly. “I don’t like this apartment or you in it.”
My suspicion over him not pushing me on the purchase of more clothing takes a backseat to his concern over my living arrangements. “What’s wrong with this place and me in it?”
“Aside from me preferring you in my hotel and my bed, I don’t like the premise of a boss you’ve never met arranging your lease.”
He is turning the pages on my cover story far too quickly. “Lots of employers line up housing when employees relocate.”
“Not for an employee they don’t intend to keep for more than a few months.”
“My ex-boss is good friends with him and all he did was contact his realtor to find me something.”
“Are you certain he’s not on the lease and has no access to the apartment?”
He hits a nerve that is already open. “Of course he doesn’t have access.”
“Nevertheless, I’m going to get your locks changed.”
“You can’t just decide to change my locks, Liam,” I say, despite that being exactly what I intend to do. I have to reel him in before he dials into things that get him into trouble. “And you can’t just take over my life.”
“I’m not asking for a key.”
“No. You’d just take one. And this isn’t about a key. It’s about you being assuming and bossy.”
His hands slide under my dress, up the back of my thighs. “You like those things.”
“Sometimes.” Often. Too often. I fear it speaks of just how much I’m breaking down again. “And those times usually include us not wearing clothing.”
“Just stay with me at the hotel. Problem solved.”
My desire to escape to his world and block out my own is so intense it’s frightening. Too easily he could leave and I will be broken and alone again. “I need to stay here and start making this home.”
“I have room service, which lets us stay in bed longer and more often.”
A knock sounds on the door and I tense before I can stop myself. “Expecting someone?”
“I don’t know anyone to expect,” I tell him and my mind races. Who would visit me except maybe my handler? And I haven’t even checked the email I was given. The very idea that I’ve missed something important sets my heart leapfrogging. I flash back to the call in the hospital. They’re coming for you. If they come for me, they could come for Liam too.