A knock sounds on the door and I stand up, staring in the direction of the entryway. No one knows I’m here. Liam has stopped evening housekeeping visits. I’m not being paranoid. I’m being realistic. This could be a problem. More knocking sounds. I decide I’m going to pretend I’m not here. My cell phone starts ringing and I glance down to find the caller ID reads “Derek”.
I am relieved. Someone will be on the phone with me if this door knocking turns into a problem.
“Hello,” I answer.
“Amy, this is Derek. Do you know who I am?”
“Liam’s friend who is standing at your door with a delivery from him.”
“Oh. Sorry. I was—”
“Being smart like any woman alone should be, but let me in, will ya?”
“Yes. On my way.” I end the call and rush toward the door.
Opening it up, I find a tall, good-looking blond man about Liam’s age, in a well-tailored navy suit, holding plastic grocery bags. He lifts them slightly. “I bring food.”
What? “Am I on Candid Camera?”
He chuckles. “If you are, we both are, and I think I might be the one getting laughed at.”
He enters the hall and keeps walking, leading me to the mini-fridge in the main room of the suite.
He deposits the bags on the counter. “Liam didn’t trust you to spend your money, or his, on groceries. He didn’t want you to go hungry.” He starts putting away the groceries.
“I can’t believe he asked you to do this. I can’t believe you really did it.”
“He’s worried about you.”
“He can’t keep spending money on me.”
He glances over his shoulder. “You do know he’s a billionaire, right?”
“Sometimes I wish he wasn’t.”
He shuts the fridge and leans on the counter, crossing his arms over his chest. “I have to hear this. Do explain.”
Liam’s words about his father, about many people, I suspect, come back to me. Sharks swimming at my feet. “How will he ever know I want him and not his money?”
His expression softens. “He knows, Amy. Believe me, he knows, or you wouldn’t be here and neither would I.”
“He won’t even take my calls.”
“He’s messed up right now.”
“Over his father.”
“Yes. Over his father. Give him a little time.”
I don’t like how that sounds. “How long do you think he’ll be gone?”
“A few days. We have to finalize him as the architect on this project by next week or he’s out. He seems to want in.”
“If he gets to use his design.”
“You seem to know him pretty well for someone who just came into his life. That’s good. He’s been alone a long time.”
Liam has been alone a long time. I’m still thinking about that a few minutes later when I shut the door behind Derek, promising to lock up and call him if I need anything. I like Derek and decide I will call him if I need to. I just hope I don’t need to. I dial Liam. He doesn’t answer.
No surprise there. I shower and pull on one of his shirts and call again. Still he doesn’t answer.
Two days pass, and Liam has only texted me a few times. I’m going crazy and it’s
Sunday, so I’m limited on distractions. I can’t make much progress on the phone and the library in walking distance is closed. Monday comes with a text from Liam checking on me that leaves me feeling more alone than ever. I dress and arrive at the library when it opens, and my hunt through their microfilm collection takes up most of the day.
Tuesday arrives with another text and drives me into more research. While I am no closer to answers about my past, I actually connect with someone who can change my identity completely. The catch: it will cost me ten thousand dollars I don’t have. The alternative is a flea-market fake that will at least allow me to travel inside the States. At fifty dollars, it wins me over and I decide getting one is on my Wednesday agenda as a safety precaution.
It’s nearly nine o’clock when Derek stops by again. I greet him at the door, feeling rather hostile at his presence. “Why are you here to check up on me for him but he can’t call me?”
“Answer the question.”
He scrubs his jaw. “He’s dealing with his father’s trash talk and it messes with his head more than you can possibly know.”
“Exactly, because he’s shut me out.”
“He’ll come around. Let me take you to dinner.”
“No. I’m staying here. Thank you, though.” I don’t invite him in.
“Liam says you need a job.”
“I have one.”
He studies me a moment. “Then why does he think you don’t?”
“I’ll ask him if he calls me.”
He sighs heavily. “Call me if you need me.”
Guilt over my shortness is instant. “I’m sorry. Thank you. I will.”
He leaves, and while I’m no longer hostile, I’m determined. The silence has to end. I call Liam and he doesn’t answer. That’s it. I’m taking action. I text him. Call me or I’m getting on a plane and finding you. And if you think I won’t do it, you don’t know me well.
My cell rings instantly. I answer to hear, “Amy.” His voice is sandpaper rough, almost brittle.