My pulse jumps at both his ridiculously alluring name and the idea of touching him. I start to lift my hand and hesitate with the oddest sense of this moment changing my life in some way. Pushing past the crazy thought, I press my palm to his. “Nice to meet you, Liam. I’m Amy.”
His fingers close around mine and a slow, warm, tingling sensation slides up my arm.
“Tell me what I did to make you smile so I can do it again.” His voice is low, gravelly. As sexy as the man who owns it. I expect him to let go of me, but his fingers seem to flex around my hand, tightening as if he doesn’t want to let go. I am shocked at how much I, someone who avoids people I do not know well, do not want him to.
“Sleepy,” I manage, and my voice sounds as affected as I suddenly, or maybe not so suddenly, feel.
His brows furrow. “Sleepy?”
“That’s what you said that made me smile. You don’t seem like a man who’d say ‘sleepy’.”
He arches a brow and he’s still holding my hand. I should object. I should pull away.
Because he has the experience and depth I’ve long avoided and craved in a man. All I succeed in doing is melting into my chair, like I know I could easily melt for him. “Is that so?” he challenges.
“Yes. That’s so.”
He looks amused, and—reluctantly, it seems—he releases my hand. Or maybe not reluctantly. Maybe he wasn’t holding it as long as it felt like he was holding it. I fear I have no real concept of what is real or not anymore.
Liam leans closer, so close it’s like he plans to share a secret, and still I want him closer.
“Just what kind of man do you think I am, Amy?”
The kind that flirts with lost little girls who don’t even know their own names and then darts off to see the world with a supermodel, I think, but I say, “Not the kind who says ‘sleepy’.”
Laughter rumbles from his chest, a deep, masculine sound that spreads warmth through my body. Impossibly, it is both fire in my veins and balm for my nerves, calming me in an unexplainable way, when I know he is too good looking, too inquisitive, and absolutely too controlling to play with. Not that I would even know how to play with a man like this, or really, any man for that matter. Men, like friends, have been risky propositions.
“Why are you headed to Denver, Amy?” he asks, and the soothing balm becomes shards of glass splintering through me.
“Excuse me,” the flight attendant thankfully interrupts, saving me an answer that is still in a file I haven’t read. “Can I take your dinner orders?”
“Chicken,” I say.
Liam glances at me. “How do you know they have chicken?”
“It’s the go-to food for hotels, parties, and airlines.” And there was a time in my youth when all those things had been in my life. I glance at the flight attendant for confirmation, and she nods. “Chicken it is.”
“Make that two orders of chicken,” Liam says with another rumbling of that deeply addictive laughter of his, and while I like his easygoing nature, I can almost feel the band of control he pulls around him. A muffled ringing sound fills the air.
“Whoever is ringing,” the flight attendant warns, “you have about one minute until electronic devices are off.”
She rushes away, and since the sound is obviously coming from Liam’s bag, I cautiously adjust my skirt and bend over to grab it, dislodging my folder in the process. My heart lurches as it tumbles to the ground and spills open, the contents flying everywhere. I grab for the contents, shoving papers inside the folder again as quickly as I can.
“Your résumé, I believe,” Liam says, and I freeze at his obvious nosy inspection of the document I have yet to read. The idea that he knows more about me than me is unnerving.
Slowly, I lift my gaze to find only a few inches separating us, and his eyes, those piercing blue eyes, see too much. He makes me feel too much. I don’t know him. I can’t trust him. Is there anyone I can really trust left in this world?
“Thanks,” I say, taking the resume from him with more obvious snap than I intend. I tug his bag out from underneath my seat. He unzips the side pocket to remove his phone, and I am self-conscious of how high my skirt rides up my thigh as he helps me shove the bag back where it had been. But he isn’t looking at my legs. I can feel the burn of him watching me in my cheeks. I know he knows how uncomfortable I am. I know he knows I’m not okay right now. I feel trapped. Trapped with this man, and I am trapped in a life that isn’t mine.
Tugging at my skirt, I sit up and he does the same, shifting his attention to his phone as he does. Taking advantage of his distraction, I twist toward the window, offering him my back.
Maybe he will think I’m allowing him privacy for his call. Maybe he will think I’m rude. I don’t care. I open the folder and quickly find the résumé he’s already seen and start reading. Amy Bensen is, or was, a private secretary to some executive, whose name I quickly press to memory.
She’s had that job since graduating college three years before, but he’s retired and she’s been laid off.
I flip to a summary page behind the résumé that tells me my backstory, and read on, hearing Liam talking on his phone about some meeting. An announcement is made about electronic items and I read faster. Amy Bensen has scored a three-month position handling the personal affairs of a private businessman who is both a friend of her ex-boss and overseas for that time period. Her new boss will be providing an apartment near his personal home that is empty and will need to be monitored. There is a comment typed in bold and underlined. You are not to apply for work until I contact you and tell you that it’s safe. Do nothing to bring attention to yourself. I inhale a slow, heavy breath and can’t seem to let it out. Until I tell you it’s safe? What does that even mean? Who is after me? Do they, or he or she, or whoever, know I was in New York? Can they figure out where I went? And why, why, why have I let myself pretend this threat doesn’t exist until I’m forced into hiding again?