“So do I.”
I lift my chin, making a decision in that moment I know is as right as he always feels. “I won’t tell you anything you don’t already know.”
“Because you don’t fully trust me.”
“Because I can’t afford to fully trust anyone.”
He laces his fingers with mine. “I’m going to prove to you that I’m the exception, Amy.” He tugs me close, pressing his hand to the small of my back. “But right now, I just want to remind you how good we feel together. I want you na**d and in my bed, where you belong.”
Heat swirls low in my belly and I can almost feel myself melt for this man at his perfect answer that is pure seduction. Almost too perfect in a world where everything has been a lie. I would know. I’m the queen of lies.
Someone wanted me out of New York.
That is what is in my mind as we exit the plane at JFK Airport and enter a private wing of some sort that I didn’t even know existed. We depart the seating area and enter a main walkway, where Liam and I fall into step side by side. Any comfort I garner from him being next to me is diminished to near zero by Tellar moving ahead of us, and my uncomfortable impression that he’s ready to take a bullet to protect us.
Liam seems to sense as much, wrapping his arm around my shoulder and bringing us thigh to thigh, his big body sheltering mine as if he knows that is what I need right now. And I do feel sheltered by this man, protected. It’s taken me years, but I’ve come to believe that my instincts about people and events are strong. Even as a teenager, I’d sensed there was more going on with my family than I’d understood, and I’ve beaten myself up a million times for doing nothing, though I still I have no idea what I could have possibly done.
Liam urges me forward. I follow Tellar down the escalator with Liam on my heels, and I watch a secluded walkway come into view, scanning for that Godzilla behind a wall waiting to jump out at me. Liam takes my hand as we head toward a private exit and I silently amend that to at us, reminding myself of what I would prefer to forget. Nothing has changed since Denver. Liam is either a danger to me or in danger because of me. I can’t win.
Exiting through a side doorway, I shiver at both the cold October New York night and the reminder that my thin cotton waitress uniform is my only possession in this world. I’ve lost everything again, and though I had very little, I’ve discovered that even something can feel like everything.
“Quickly,” Liam says, ushering me toward yet another black sedan with the backdoor already open, and his urgency sets my adrenaline rushing.
I climb inside the car with Liam fast behind me. Tellar settles behind the wheel in the driver’s seat and it hits me that they are urgent to get me deeper into New York City and I was told to leave by my handler, who is now MIA. My hand goes to my throat. Oh God. What if he died warning me to leave New York?
Tellar starts the car and I shout, “Wait!” and then turn to Liam, “Coming here was a mistake. You’ve been asking questions about me and you were with me in Denver. They could be watching your home. They could know we’re here.”
“Who is they, Amy?” Liam asks, a command to his voice, his expression grave. “Talk to me so I know what I’m dealing with.”
“I told you, I don’t know.” I grab his hand. “Please, Liam. Let’s go somewhere else. Anywhere else.”
His lips thin and his jaw sets hard. “We’re here tonight. I know we’re safe. We’re staying.” He taps Tellar’s seat. “Go.”
Adrenaline and anger surges inside me and I yank my hand from his. “So there it is. Proof my opinion matters only when I agree with you. I’m a prisoner.”
“Proof that we’re sitting ducks under a streetlight, Amy, and that we have no plan beyond this one. We need a plan. I have private parking at my home and the windows are tinted dark both in the car and my home. No one will know. And once we’re at my apartment, I have the best security money can buy.”
“We can’t stay locked up in your apartment forever.”
“And you can’t keep running forever either.”
“I left everything behind and got out of New York for a reason. What part of that do you not understand?”
“And that reason was what? What spooked you that night I met you?”
I open my mouth and snap it shut as his words replay in my mind. I can handle Amy. The coldness of that statement bites back any confessions about my handler’s existence. “Safety,” I reply simply and still honestly. “I left because New York isn’t safe for me.”
Liam’s eyes harden, his jaw tenses and I sense rather than see, his frustration. “You do know, the more you tell me, the easier it is for me to protect you, don’t you?”
“I was living in New York and I left. That should tell you all you need to know.”
“All that tells me is what I already knew. You need my protection.”
“Why do I keep feeling like that word means captivity?”
He pulls me close, his fingers a tight vise on my arm, his body warm, hard like his voice. “Because that’s what you’ve been in for six long years and I know you want it to end. I want it to end, too.”
“I need my life back, Liam. That’s true, but you taking it over isn’t going to do that for me.”
“That’s where you’re wrong, baby. Because that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I’m going to get your life back, which means keeping you alive to enjoy it. Even if you hate me in the process.”