“We’re almost there,” the driver is saying to the caller, and his short haircut and hard tone are a little too much like the military types I’d seen on some of my father’s security teams. Just like this car is a little too much like the one in my flashback.
Liam touches my arm and heat flashes up it, forcing me to withdraw to lean on the opposite door. “Who is he, Liam? And where are we going?”
“Someone who needs a lesson in silencing his ringer,” he grumbles, scrubbing a hand through his hair. “His name is Tellar Phelps. He handles security work for me when I need him.”
“Translation. You hired him to help find me.”
“And protect you.”
My fingers curl into my palms. “Strangers do not make me feel protected. They make me nervous. Where are we going?”
Tellar halts the car. “Nowhere if we don’t move now,” he informs us. “The weather’s getting dicey. We have air clearance that could change at any moment.”
I don’t look at him. “Where are we going, Liam?”
He pulls me to him. “We’re going to get the hell out of here before whoever paid to find you at that diner catches up to us.”
My throat goes dry. I’d forgotten this warning back at the diner. “Who?” I whisper. “Who else is trying to find me?”
“That’s a good question, Amy.”
“You don’t know?”
“No, but don’t think I haven’t been trying to find out.”
In that moment I am as tormented over Liam as ever. If he really doesn’t know, then he is trustworthy, but he’s also in danger because of me. I do not want him, or anyone else, hurt because of me. Not again. Not ever again. “Liam--”
Thunder clamors loudly, swallowing my words, and he grabs my hand. “Let’s get out of here while we still can do it safely.”
Safely. There is the key word in all of this. I don’t know if anything about being with Liam is ever safe for him or me, but I’m not sure being without him is either. Good intentions or not, I have no doubt Liam will force me onto this plane. I’m his captive. The willing part is still up for debate.
He opens the car door and I gasp at the shocking blast of cold rain that blows over us. “Sorry, baby,” he murmurs, nuzzling my cheek and lacing his fingers with mine. “Let’s get this over with.” And then, in typical Liam style, I’m being pulled outside and into the storm with him, leaving me no time to object.
Beside us, Tellar exits the vehicle as well, the rain whipping around him as he cuts around the car toward the trunk. Liam’s arm wraps around my shoulders and he tugs me close to his side, sheltering me as much as he can. Protecting me, I tell myself, as we rush toward what looks like a fairytale large jet plane that normal people can’t afford to charter. But then, Liam is no more normal than I am. I’m reminded that this similarity has often felt like the sparkle in a diamond otherwise too damaged to shine. It’s how we connected the dots of him to me and me to him. And as the water pours off of us, I cannot help but wonder which of us is truly pulling the other into the storm.
We reach the ladder and he urges me forward, up the steps. A pretty forty-something woman in a navy blue uniform and a badge greets me at the entryway and wraps me in a large towel. “Oh, you poor thing,” she says, directing me down the slim hallway to make room for Liam.
I step into a high-end fancy cabin that is far from commercial, with a large tan leather couch on one side and several luxury seats on the other. “Past the curtain,” Liam directs, handing me another towel the stewardess must have given him. “Buckle in. I’ll be right there.”
Liam turns away from me and I jump as the cabin door slams shut, grinding my teeth as I do. I’m tired of more than the lies that carve out every piece of my life. I’m tired of always being nervous and twitchy.
Turning, I find Liam’s back to me, one hand on a seat, Tellar sauntering down the hallway, towel drying what little hair he hasn’t buzzed away. I study him, expecting a pinch of recognition but finding none. And still I do not look away, and not because his wet t-shirt and jeans hug a long and leanly muscled body, or the fact that he has a handsomely carved face. No. What has my attention, what keeps me from looking away, is the jagged scar down his jawline that tells me he has lived through hell.
His gaze lifts abruptly and meets mine and I should feel like a dripping wet trapped rat. I should look away, hiding as I always hide. But I have changed these past few weeks. I am on a mission to take my life back and waiting tables in a greasy diner wasn’t about hiding. It was about preparing and planning. I am done with looking away and I hold his stare. And what I see in his is not anger, or intimidation, or malice. I see concern.
Liam must see it as well, because he turns to face me, water clinging to the loose strands of hair draped on his forehead that he sweeps away. “You okay?” he asks, moving toward me, his hands coming down on my shoulders. The engines roar to life but I do not move, captured by his stare, a mix of burning fire and freezing ice. Worry. Sincerity. Possessiveness. Like I am his to protect and no one will touch me. Not unless he decides to let them. And when I walked onto this plane, I made sure it’s his choice to make. He is in Total control.
I stand with my back to the curtain, while Liam’s back is to the front of the plane, his big body caging me…protecting me? It’s what I want to believe. It’s what some part of me needs to believe. We stare at each other, rain humming a song against the steel plane, wrapping us in a current of energy that pulses around us like a large charge. It’s power. His power. My lack of it. This is the what everything in my life has come down to. The control everyone else has that I don’t. The control Liam possesses as easily as he does his next breath. And staring into his piercing, aqua eyes, I think that no matter how I try to stop it from happening, I am possessed. He possesses me.