“I hope so, I...” The memory of me and Luke kneeling near the bushes, while I watched my mother argue with the man by the black sedan, comes to me. I straighten with the impact of what I’ve seen. Luke. I need to talk to Luke.
“Amy?” Liam asks, sounding concerned.
I blink him into view, eager to share what I’ve remembered. “There was a boy who lived next door to me in Texas, named Luke Miller. He was with me one night when my brother and father were out of town. It was midnight and we were standing on the porch when this black sedan pulled into the driveway and then to the side of the house. My mother raced out the door and down the steps. She never saw us. We hid at the side of the house and listened as she argued with the driver.”
“What were they arguing about?” Derek asks.
“I’m going to give my standard answer. I don’t know. Their voices were too muffled.” I inhale and force myself to admit what I don’t want to be real. “But based on their body language and the emotional context of the exchange, I’m pretty sure there was something personal between them.”
Liam arches a brow. “An affair?”
I nod. I can’t manage anything else.
Derek clears his throat. “At the risk of sounding insensitive, Amy, I feel like I need to say this. Statistically my cousin would tell you to look close to home and in the bedroom when a murder takes place. I think this man is a good lead.”
“I’m not in denial that you could be right,” I assure him, “But I’m also convinced there was something going on with my father and brother. And before you ask me how I know, I have nothing to go on but a vague warning from my brother to me and a warning I overhead from my father to my mother about protecting us.”
“Listen to your instincts, baby,” Liam reminds me softly. “They haven’t failed you.”
“My instincts say I need to talk to Luke and find out what he saw that night, but I’m not sure how I do that when I’m supposed to be dead.”
“I can do it,” Tellar offers. “I’ll come up with some masterful story like being a reporter writing a story on your famous father. But what is it that you think he might know that you don’t know?”
“I didn’t see the man’s face. Luke snuck around the drive to leave and it’s possible he did.”
“You never talked about it later?” Liam asks.
“He was home on a college break and we pretty much parted ways that night.”
“Miller,” Derek repeats absently. “Miller. I remember that name.” He opens a folder, scans down what appears to be a list and I watch his expression tighten, his discomfort palpable. “I have his information.”
Dread washes over me in an instant and Liam’s tone is cautious as he asks, “What does that mean? You have the information? What information?”
Derek shows Liam a piece of paper. Liam gives the document a slow inspection, his expression unreadable. Abruptly, he stands up. “Let’s go upstairs and talk, Amy.”
My world spins and I’m on my feet in an instant, holding onto the table for stability. “He’s dead, isn’t he? He’s dead because of me in some way.”
Liam's expression is still as unreadable as a blank page, his reply non-existent and I can’t take his silence, demanding, “Just tell me. Is Luke dead?”
He gives a sharp nod. “He’s dead.”
“When and how?”
“Six months after your house fire he was killed in a car accident.”
“We both know it wasn’t an accident.” My voice trembles on the words, the audience of men I didn’t want in the first place is suffocating. I cut around the table and rush through the kitchen, darting to the foyer stairs and upward in a charge toward the bedroom. Darkness greets me at the top level and I pause, a chill slithering down my spine.
Clutching the railing, I glance down the dark, windowless tunnel of a hallway that makes it look like nighttime, leading to parts of the house that I haven’t explored but wish I had. The unknown is not my friend. It’s proven that to me over and over with the force of a sharp whip. I glance over my shoulder and will my normally overwhelming man to appear. My man. I think of Liam as my man. I shake off the complicated ball of emotions that holds me captive a moment and refocus my attention forward, searching for the light switch I don’t find. Giving up, I dart to my right and into the dark bedroom, relieved as the massive windows and late afternoon sun cast the room in a warm glow.
Heart racing, I lean against the wall, almost expecting some stranger to come flying through the doorway in my wake. I shove fingers through my hair. I’m being paranoid, I tell myself. The house is safe. It’s Luke who is not. Luke, who, like everyone who steps inside my path, is gone. He’s dead and it doesn’t matter I haven’t talked to him for years or that he pretty much wasn’t a nice person. He was young and never got the chance to become more and I can’t help but feel responsible. At the time, hiding from danger had seemed the smart thing to do. Now though, with the PI and Luke dead, and who knows who else, and while I have no idea how I would have fought this battle at the young age of eighteen with no resources, at least it would have been my life, not theirs, on the line.
My hand settles on my belly, on the life I am responsible for, and, as much as I am certain that charging back to Texas would trigger my memories, returning no longer seems like an option. I could end up dead and my unborn child with me. Liam could end up dead with me. Footsteps sound on the stairs, and I am shocked to be completely certain it’s Liam despite the jumpiness of my nerves. That is how completely I am linked to this man. In all his dominating good and bad, he matters to me. He is my heart.