With that thought, a shiver races through me, one part chill from my wet clothes and hair, one part the impact of this man standing before me. What looks and feels like real concern seeps into Liam’s expression and he breaks the mesmerizing spell of questions that never seem to have answers as he begins rubbing my arms. “I’ll get you a blanket.” He starts to turn away and I grab his arm, silently willing him to wait. “I need to know where we’re going, Liam.” My lips tighten. “I need to know where you’re taking me.”
His head dips intimately lower, his hand caressing my head, cheek near mine.“You were right the first time, Amy. Where we’re going.”
I fight through the warmth his soft, velvety promise creates in me. “By your choice.”
“I want it to be yours.”
“Until I don’t choose what you want me to.”
A turbulent look flickers over his handsome face. “If you mean, will I let you choose to hitchhike across the country and end up dead? Then you’re right. No more and never again. I’ve made that decision for you.”
“Mr. Stone,” says the flight attendant, urgency in her tone.
Liam’s lips thin, reluctance etched in his face as he glances over his shoulder, and I hear her say, “Weather reports show another system moving through. If we leave now we have a path to bypass it.”
“Right,” Liam agrees. “We’ll sit down and buckle up.” He turns back to me. “We need to--”
“Where, Liam?” I bite out, fighting a rising sense of claustrophobia that has me ready to bolt for the door that is already shut. “Where are we going?”
His hands come back down on my shoulders, light but somehow heavy at the same time. “Where I can protect you.”
“Which is where?”
Adrenaline surges through me. Not Denver. His home is not in Denver, where, somewhere in the haze of a flashback and fear, I’d assumed we were going. “New York,” I choke out.
“Yes,” he confirms tightly. “New York.”
“No.” I shake my head. “No. I can’t go back there. I left for a reason.”
“No one will ever know you’re there.”
No one will ever know. His words make my stomach knot. I could disappear tomorrow and no one would miss me.
“Mr. Stone,” the attendant calls from behind him. “I must insist you sit.”
I need off this plane. I try to step around Liam, and talk to the attendant, though I have no clue what to say or if it will matter. Liam seems to anticipate the move, shackling my waist with one arm, and molding me to his hard, wet body.
“Let go,” I order tightly, willing away the heat stirring low in my belly at his nearness.
“We’re going to sit down now, Amy.”
“I don’t want to sit down.”
He yanks open the curtain, and using his larger size to bully me, walks us into the cabin behind us, then all but physically lifts me and sets me down in a chair. I have only a moment to assess the cabin area as identical to the one we just left when his hands go down on the arms of my seat, his arms caging me, and the engines churn roughly to life.
We glare at each other and I both loathe and revel in the way his heated, angry stare burns through me like a brand. It’s unsettling to be this drawn to him beyond reason when I’m this at his mercy. “There was a reason I left New York,” I grind out through my teeth. “Were you part of that reason, Liam?”
Emotion flashes in his eyes, something I cannot name but find I want to understand. And it’s that something else that jabs at my heart, like I hurt him. Did I hurt him? I don’t know how to react or how to handle any of this. “Liam--”
“I’m doing what I have to do to keep you safe. We’re going to New York. End of discussion.” He grabs my seat belt and hooks it into place. “Don’t make me tie you up because if that’s what it takes to keep you here, I will.”
Tie me up? I swallow hard against a lump forming in my throat, but not from the threat. From the emotion vibrating in his voice as he’s issued it. The plane starts to move. Liam pushes away from me and walks to the curtain, yanks it shut, then claims the seat directly in front of me instead of beside me. His eyes meet mine and I do not like what I find there. I do not like the distance that I’ve spent nearly two months putting between us. I do not like that I think...I think I hurt him.
We start taxiing and the plane is one big jerky nightmare with the obvious impact of high winds and a promise that I’m going where it’s going. Where Liam has decided I will go but the worry over control and even New York fade into one thing. This man. Who he is and what we are together makes all the rest irrelevant. Those things define what comes next.
Tightening my grip on the armrests, I block out the loud rush of engines and wicked shudders of the plane as we lift off, squeezing my eyes shut. I replay moments with this man as I have so many times before. The first time our eyes met in the airport. The moment in my apartment when he’d trapped my hands and I’d instinctively trusted him when I had trusted no one but some invisible handler for six long years.
Just as my gut had told me to trust my handler that day in the hospital, it told me to trust Liam. And he’s done nothing to hurt me and everything to help me. My lashes lift and he’s still staring at me, watching me. I do not like the hardness in his face I didn’t see before we sat down. He is angry and...hurt? Yes. I think he’s hurt.