“You’re so confident.”

“About what I feel for you, yes.”

“About everything.”

“Not everything,” he assures me. “You have this deer-in-headlights look sometimes that I’m sure means you’re going to run. Run to me, Amy, not from me.”

I wish I could promise him I would. Instead, I glower. “You are going to be late.”

He doesn’t budge, and the look on his face tells me he notices how I’ve avoided a promise I might not be able to keep. “Come with me to my meetings. There’s a restaurant and shopping strip nearby you can hang out at, or I’ll get you an office to work in.”

My heart squeezes at his protectiveness. “I have a doctor’s appointment you insisted on, and yes, I have work I’ve neglected that I’ll end up not doing. Stop worrying about me. Your new design has you talking about this project all the time. You’re passionate about it now. Go make it happen. Then you can stay here with me for a while.”

“I keep telling you. I’m not going anywhere.”

“Yes, you are. To your meeting so I can make my doctor’s appointment.”

“I’ll drive you.”

“It’s two blocks. I’ll walk. Go to your meetings, Liam.”

“I’ll be back as soon as possible.” He runs his hand down the lavender silk blouse that matches my new lavender shorts, and I feel his touch in every part of me. I do not want him to go.

“Just seal the deal.” I kiss him.

His hand goes to the back of my head and he slants his mouth over mine, deepening the kiss and leaving me breathless. “I plan to, baby,” he assures me and sets me free, grabbing his briefcase and heading to the door. And I know he’s not talking about the building. He’s talking about me and him, and that sets me in action. I need a plan. A way out of this mess once and for all. No more waiting on someone else to make it go away. That hasn’t worked.

Today I have a mission. Answers.

Chapter Seventeen

I’ve barely stepped out of the doctor’s office when Liam sends me a text. How did the doctor go?

As well as any appointment that requires you stick your legs in stirrups.

And? he replies.

And yes, I got a sample package of pills. It is 7 days before I’m protected.

I can have a lot of fantasies in 7 days. What are you doing now?

Headed to walk by those properties and then do some research at the library.

What research?

Don’t you have a meeting?

Yes dear, he jokes. I have a meeting. I’m actually being called back in now. I’ll be tied up for a few hours but call me if you need me. I’ll answer.

He’ll answer, I type.

I stick my phone back in my purse and head for the bank. My stop is disappointing. There has been no further deposit and I worry now, though it hadn’t crossed my mind while Liam and I were together, that I might have missed a message at the apartment. I find the door free of any plain white envelopes and consider knocking on Jared’s door, but decide the mailbox is a better option. A private note would not be left in a public place. Not one that I wouldn’t find before anyone else. I don’t think I was given a key to the mailbox. I’ll have to stop by to get one from Meg.

I’m about to turn back to the elevator when my door opens and a big, burly man exits. I scream and I am pretty sure my heart ceases to beat for a good sixty seconds. The door behind me opens and I whirl around and run straight at Jared, who grabs my arms.

“Whoa. Sweetheart. Easy. What’s wrong?”

I blink up at Jared and my hands are all over his t-shirt that covers his rock-hard chest when they should not be, but he is the closest thing to safe I have right now. I turn in his arms and glare at the man in the front of my door, who has on some sort of overalls and sports a beer belly and some tools, and isn’t quite as scary as he was a moment ago. “Why are you in my apartment?”

“Ms. Bensen?” he asks.

“Yes. Who are you?”

He chuckles. “You know people don’t normally get excited to see me, but I don’t usually send them running into another man’s arms either. But hey, maybe that explains why I’m not dating. I’m scarier than I thought.” He holds up a key. “I changed the locks like you ordered.”

I let out a breath, and silently vow to make Liam pay for not warning me. “Yes. Sorry. I didn’t know you were coming today.” And how did Liam do this without a key but I quickly forget the question when I become aware of Jared’s hand on my hip, his leg aligned with the back of mine. I step forward, out of his reach, and accept the key from the locksmith, who goes on to share some sort of mumbo-jumbo I do not hear.

Finally, he hands me the keys. “A maintenance guy came by and said they had to have a copy of the key as the management company. I didn’t give it to him. Didn’t know him from Adam. He wasn’t pleased.” He hands me papers and I sign.

“Thank you,” I say and I mean it. “I’ll get keys to them.” Hopefully never, I mentally add. I don’t care if I ever go back inside that apartment, but if Liam leaves, I’ll have to.

Finally, the locksmith is gone and I turn to Jared, who looks way too amused. “Stop laughing at me,” I order. “A single woman does not take a strange man coming out of her apartment lightly. That is foolish.”

“I’m not complaining. It gave me a chance to get to know you better. Of course, you almost ran me over in the process. Didn’t you know he was coming?”

Tags: Lisa Renee Jones The Secret Life of Amy Bensen Romance
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