I shake my head. “No. No. We’re here now and I’ll rest far better knowing what you already know.”
Concern etches his face. I want it to be real. It feels real. “You need to eat,” he finally says. “And sleep.”
“I can’t eat. I can’t sleep, Liam. I just want answers.”
His jaw clenches and he looks like he’s wrestling with himself over battling with me. “You really want to do this now.” It’s not a question.
“I’ve wasted six years of my life waiting. I’m not wasting another minute I don’t have to.”
“Very well, then.” He inhales and pushes off the counter, and Derek comes back into view, only now Tellar is standing on this side of the table as well. The two of them are staring at me. Liam is staring at me. The room shrinks and it suddenly feels like me against them, though I don’t think it’s really sudden at all. Maybe that’s how it’s been from day one.
Liam looks between Tellar and Derek, and then at me. “Let’s all sit down and talk.”
I don’t move and neither does Tellar, who is standing directly in front of me, his arms crossed over his broad chest, and he’s not the friendly jokester of earlier. His jaw is as set and hard as his razor sharp features, his eyes sharper, angry. Is he upset with me? That makes no sense, but then not much in my life does.
I shake my head and mimic his position, crossing my arms in front of my chest. “No to sitting,” I say to Liam and then to Tellar, “Tell me what’s going on.” I cut an accusing look at Derek. “And who are you in all of this?”
Derek scrubs his jaw and plants his hands on his lean hips. “Jesus, Amy. I hate that you obviously think I’m some bad guy. I’ve spent weeks picturing you raped and murdered on the side of the road somewhere because of me.” He motions to Liam. “And Liam was losing his mind. Somebody had to keep his damn feet on the ground.”
“Update Amy,” Liam cuts in, redirecting the conversation right where I want it. To answers as he adds, “Tell her what you told us.”
Tellar flicks a surprised look at Liam. “Everything?”
“Yes,” Liam confirms. “Everything.”
“All right, then,” Tellar agrees and while his voice is soft, there is a razor edge to it to match his stare. “A man showed up at the diner looking for you after we left.”
Shocked when I probably should not be, considering what I’d been told earlier, I drop my arms, adrenaline surging through me. “Who was it?” I ask, and please let this be the moment I find out who is looking for me.
“A private eye,” he says.
Not the enlightening answer I hoped for. “Hired by whom?”
His gaze moves from me to Liam who gives him a nod before he continues with, “He never knew who hired him. Sealed envelopes. Untraceable funds. Very James Bond-ish.”
Disappointment fills me. “Do you believe him?”
“Yes,” Tellar confirms. “I believed him, but like most, he had a price. He was willing to do what was necessary to find out if ours was right and thanks to Liam, it was.”
A chill races down my spine and my throat constricts. “Had?” I ask hoarsely. “Was? Why past tense?”
“He was meeting up with my man when--”
“Your man?” I interrupt and turn to Liam. “How many people are involved in this? How many people did you tell about me?”
Liam’s expression tightens. “No one is involved that I don’t trust fully.”
“How many?” I repeat.
“How many isn’t the issue,” Tellar snaps. “What happened when my man went to meet that PI is what is—”
Something in his tone reaches beyond his obvious agitation and a sense of dread I think I intentionally sidestepped fills me all over again. “What happened?”
Liam takes my hand and pulls me close, facing him, my back to the other two men. “Before we go any further, I just want to reiterate that we’re safe here. Even the windows are hurricane-proof which also means bulletproof.”
“Bulletproof?” I choke out. “Why are you telling me they’re bulletproof? What happened?” Liam’s lips thin and his expression tightens. I don’t even wait for an answer. My fist balls at my chest. “Oh God. He’s dead.” I whirl around to face Tellar. “He’s dead?”
“Our man’s alive. The PI, however, is not. Someone killed him, so we have to assume it was to shut him up. Who the hell is after you, Amy and what do they want? Tell us before all of us end up dead.”
“I don’t know,” I rasp out. “I don’t know.”
“You don’t know? You’ve been running and hiding for six years and you don’t even f**king know who you’re running from or why? Who would do that?”
I inhale and try to reel in the dark emotions he’s stirring to life. “You don’t know my story.”
“I know enough.”
“Enough is right, Tellar,” Liam snaps and he reaches for my hand. “Amy--”
I jerk away from Liam. “No,” I hiss, and in this moment I’m that book I’d compared myself to on the plane. Tellar is reading me, judging me, pretending to know what it was like, and it’s too much. It’s all just...too much. My forehead prickles and I see the flames licking at my bedroom door. I hear Chad’s command for me to jump. I hear my mother’s wails of pain.