The stickiness between my legs invades my peaceful moment with worry. We didn’t use a condom and I inhale at the thought, flattening my hand on my belly, and admitting I haven’t repeated the test for a reason. I don’t need it. I know I’m pregnant and I simply wasn’t ready to deal with what that means. I’m having a baby. Liam’s baby. And now it’s not just vengeance and my life I’m fighting for anymore. I cannot fail at finding answers and solutions. That is no longer an option. I won’t lose someone else I love.

The mattress shifts and I am shocked to find Liam has crossed the room and I didn’t even know he’d returned. He gently nestles the towel between my legs, and heat floods my cheeks as he actually cleans me up before he tosses it at what looks like a hamper by a closet to my right.

Embarrassed, I let my head rest on the mattress, staring at the ceiling rather than Liam, and again I think I am na**d beyond the absence of clothes with this man in so many ways. He lays down on his side, propped on one elbow, and now he flattens his hand on my belly. I turn instantly, and face him, holding his hand in mine, resting my head on my arm that I’ve curled under me.

“You weren’t afraid,” he comments.

“No. I wasn’t afraid.”

“Because your instincts told you I wouldn’t hurt you.”

I nod. “Because my instincts told me you wouldn’t hurt me.”

His hand goes to my hip and he pulls me closer. “And I won’t. Ever. You were right. Human nature is to survive, Amy, and that’s what our instincts are for. When our adrenaline is pumping and we have to make a choice, we know what is right. We act. We can’t look back. We can’t regret.” He pauses and my stomach knots in anticipation of what I think he might say. And he does. He says it. His next words are, “You had to jump.”

Emotions jackknife through me and I try to escape, jerking backwards. Liam’s leg wraps around mine, holding me to him. I shove on his chest.“Let go.”

“Never again and I’ll repeat that until you remember it. You couldn’t have saved them any more than I could save my mother or Alex.”

“You don’t know. You weren’t there.”

“No. I wasn’t. But I know there are things out of our control and if we let them eat us alive, they destroy us. I know, baby. I’ve lived it. In your case, you need answers, and you need to place blame, but not on yourself.” He lowers his forehead to mine. “Not on you. We will find out who did this to you and your family, and we’ll make them pay. You have my word. But it’s time for you to start healing.”

“I need answers.”

“We’ll get them.” He scoops me up and moves us higher on the bed, pulling down the blankets. I let him settle us beneath the silky sheet, the soft mattress sweet bliss to my exhausted body. “Let’s sleep. Tomorrow we’ll come up with a plan.” He caresses my cheek. “Together.” He reaches above us and hits a button on the headboard and the lights dim, then he turns me and curls me against him, wrapping his body around mine.

My lashes lower. Together. I could get used to that word, I think, and I relax into him, truly relax for the first time in months.

***

I wake to the ticking of a clock and blink into sunlight, my eyes fixing on the massive round clock with a heavy etched black wood frame and contrasting delicate silver arms occupying most of the wall in front of me. The same clock I assume that taunted me the night before and now tells me I’ve slept until nearly noon. I inhale the wonderful masculine scent of Liam that surrounds me everywhere, though I sense that he isn’t in the bed any longer. Trust my instincts had been Liam’s message to me last night. About him and everything. They seem to be all I have when I’d rather have facts and answers.

Rolling to my back, I sit up and marvel at the breathtaking view of the Hudson River. Liam was right. It’s as if we are on the water. My gaze shifts and I take in the spectacular room I couldn’t appreciate last night for the overwhelming presence that is Liam. It’s a simple but elegant space decorated with an expensive black wood bedroom set and several paintings of high-rise buildings that I date to the sixties. I wonder if Liam’s mentor, Alex, designed them.

A pajama top is laying on the bottom of the bed, and I smile and reach for it, hoping Liam is wearing the other half of this set. It’s an intimate, wonderful thought to share one set of pajamas that reaches beyond sexy. It’s about sharing and caring, two things I’ve had to eliminate from life in every form, even simple friendships.

Shoving aside the soft black comforter, I slip into the oversized shirt, disappointed that it smells fresh and clean, not spicy and male like Liam, but I can fix that, I decide. I make a quick dash to the room I think is the bathroom to find a sparkling black and white tiled spa-worthy room with a claw tub and separate shower. I dig for a brush and try to tame my mass of tangled blonde hair, scrub my face, and finger brush my teeth with toothpaste I find in a drawer.

When Liam has still not appeared, I’m not quite ready to give up my solitary thoughts, and I find myself walking toward the view and the two cozy looking overstuffed black leather chairs.

Shivering against a chill radiating from being this close to the glass, I grab the black throw on one of the chairs and wrap it around me. I’m about to settle into a chair when my gaze latches on to the dagger that sits on the small table between the chairs.

I stare down at it, struck first by the jewels and markings on the sheath and handle that I’d missed the night before, like I had overlooked the huge clock on the wall. The dagger is Egyptian, and I am certain this is from his time spent at the pyramids. This is a part of my past as well and finally I can talk to Liam about it.

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