Liam’s hand settles on my lower back. “There’s a view of the Hudson River from every almost every room in the house. In the daylight it feels like you’re sitting on the water.”

But now there is only the inky blackness of the night sky dotted with city lights that seem to form a triangle, like the tattoo on my handler’s wrist, and at least partially resembling the one on Liam’s stomach. Like the pyramids Liam is as obsessed with as my father and brother were, though despite my efforts otherwise, I’ve found this to be nothing but mutual interest that seems justified by their career choices.

I pull away from Liam, walking toward the stairs to stand in front of the window and I hear my father’s voice in my head. Beneath the ground are the secrets of the universe. We just have to uncover them. From third grade through the rest of grade school, I was home-schooled and went on digs with my family. I’d developed the passion to uncover those secrets and thrilled at every second of our exploration. Now, I need to uncover the secrets, not of the universe, but of why my father and the rest of my family were stolen away from me too soon. And I will.

“I will,” I whisper vehemently.

“You will what?” Liam’s hands come down on my shoulders, goose bumps rising on my skin, the low, familiar, and somehow soothing sound of his voice echoing by my ear.

I turn to face him, my back to the eternal darkness of the sky, studying his handsome face, searching his eyes for something, though I don’t know what. “Find out the truth. No matter what it is or how painful it might be.”

“And I’m going to be there by your side and holding you up if you need me.”

“I need a minute, Liam.”

At the sound of Tellar’s voice, Liam and I both turn toward a door to my left where he’s standing in an archway. “Now?” Liam asks.

“That would be my preference,” Tellar agrees.

Liam’s jaw clenches and he strokes a hand down my hair. “I’ll be right back.” He doesn’t wait for an answer and I watch him disappear through the doorway with Tellar. My fingers curl by my sides and it’s as if I am sinking in the water beyond the window while they surf the top. Without a question, they’re talking about me and somehow I’m the outsider. I swore the day I overheard that conversation between Liam and Derek that I was taking control of my life. Standing here is not me taking control. And unlike Denver, when I had no clue if Liam and Derek truly meant to kill me, I do not fear for my life. I fear where my ignorance has kept me and where it will hold me down now.

I charge toward the door and push it open, entering what turns out to be a kitchen and the first thing I see is a unique round island in two-toned pale and dark blues, with fancy pots and pans hanging from black finished cabinets above it. Male voices sound from the other side and I walk toward them, bringing into view a finely etched black triangular table with eight black leather chairs, with not two, but three men standing around it. And for once it’s not Liam who has my attention. It’s the tall blond man in a finely fitted suit with his back to me.

Liam’s gaze lifts and finds mine. “Amy.”

The man in the suit turns and his eyes go wide. “Amy!”

“What are you doing here, Derek?” I demand, tension rippling through me at the memory of that night in Denver.

The next thing I know he grabs me and pulls me into an embrace. “Thank God you’re okay. I’d never have forgiven myself for spooking you if you’d gotten hurt.” He leans back to inspect me, glancing at Liam, who has appeared by my side. “And Liam would have gone to jail for killing me, let me tell you.” He releases me, his hands going to his hips. “How are you?”

“Confused,” I say and hold up my hands, stepping back and bumping into the island. “And claustrophobic.”

Derek takes a step backwards as well and Tellar smartly stays on the other side of the table. “You’re upset.”

“Of course, she is,” Liam bites out. “Which is why I told you not to come by tonight.”

I frown at Derek. “Don’t you live in Denver?”

“I have a place here too and I feel like crap for spooking you back in Denver.”

“You didn’t. Liam did. I barely knew you. I trusted him.”

“Amy--” Liam begins and I cut him off, turning to face him.

“You’re in here having a meeting about me that doesn’t include me, Liam. I don’t like it.”

“You’ve been through enough for one night.”

“Believe me, if I haven’t broken already, I’m not going to break now.”

He grimaces. “That’s up for discussion.”

“Damaged, not broken, Liam. I made it six years without you running my life and coddling me. Suffocating me is not the way to make me feel safe with you again. Transparency is.”

His jaw flexes. “And if you have another flashback because of something I tell you?”

“I might not like my flashbacks, but I welcome anything that makes me remember.”

Liam’s eyes narrow on me a moment before he steps in front of me, his hands going to the counter on either side of my body, his body blocking the others from my view. “I knew you didn’t know certain things,” he says softly. “But you don’t remember?”

“No,” I whisper. “Or yes. Some of it. Not all of it.”

His eyes soften and he reaches up and drags gentle knuckles down my cheek. “Let’s do this in the morning when you’ve eaten and rested. They’ll still be here.”

Lisa Renee Jones Books | Romance Books | The Secret Life of Amy Bensen Series Books