Fighting the urge to look over my shoulder, I push the door to the kitchen open and walk past the grill where George is working, but I don’t look at him. “Hey!” he shouts after me. “Get back on the floor. We have customers.”
I don’t answer. I go straight to the coat rack and grab my bag, then turn the corner, heading to the hallway and the back door, hesitating as I reach for the latch on the industrial door. Waiting expectantly, I am certain Liam will be here any moment, but there is only the sound of something frying on the grill. Why hasn’t he followed me? It can mean only one thing. He’s already outside waiting on me. I flatten my hand on the cold steel, and then rotate to lean on the door, my mind reeling.
Why can’t this be easy? Why can’t I have some way of knowing I can trust him? But I can’t think about ‘why’ right now, or how devastating it will be if he’s really a part of all of this. I have to think through getting out of here and there really isn’t a good answer to making that happen. If Liam is just beyond this door, then the only answer is the dining room exit, but what if he isn’t alone? I don’t think so, but what choice do I have but to try to escape?
Pressing my hand to my face, I will myself to think, think, think. If I get out of the doors without Liam seeing me, then what? Thankfully, my money is always pinned in a baggy inside my clothes, but it’s not enough to buy a car and still survive. Not unless I sell the cheap Craigslist laptop I bought a month ago and I’ll never get to my room to get it before Liam gets to me. And he’ll look to the highway to find me when he realizes I’m gone. I’ll have to go to one of the nearby campgrounds and wait things out a week or so before I dare try to leave. Liam will look for me so I can’t rent a cabin. He might even look in the public grounds but I have no other immediate plan. I’ll just...I’ll figure it out.
Knowing I’m out of time, I shove off the door as George yells, “Hey you. What the f**k are you doing in here?”
My pulse leaps and I turn to the back door, working the lock and yanking it open. Bursting into the cloudy, dark night, thunder rumbling overhead, the nearly vacant parking lot is illuminated by nothing more than a low-hanging moon. I hesitate, open space and a hill between me and the motel. There is nowhere to run and I don’t get a chance to try.
The door slams behind me and Liam shackles my upper arm, turning me to face him. “No more running, Amy. That isn’t working. You have to see that.”
“Don’t touch me,” I hiss, jerking on my arm only to have him easily hold it. “Let go.”
“Never again, baby. Never again.”
“That’s right,” I promise him. “Never again. You threw money at the truckers. You threw money on the table. You throw money at everything. Well, I am not for sale and if you’re chasing after me, I assume I must mean more money to you. What do I have that you want? I’ll give it to you. Just let this end.”
He pulls me close, his hard body aligned with mine, my fingers pressing into the muscled wall of his chest where I feel the wildness of his heartbeat. “I have money, Amy, and you don’t have any for me to want anyway.”
“No, but--” I stop myself before I say ‘my father did’ and give away something he might not know.
I’m desperate for the truth, any truth, and I throw caution to the wind to bait him. “My father was a famous archeologist who dealt with priceless pieces of history. That means money. Lots of money. Alex had money, too. He could have a connection to my father.”
“What the hell connection could he have to your father?”
“Alex was never into the pyramids, so if this is about the pyramids, it’s about me. And my interest is about improving my craft and understanding what no one else does. It’s about me and my way of making me better. Just me, Amy. Not Alex. And neither I nor Alex needed money.”
Him. There it is. The real issue. I don’t want this to be all about him. “Money wants more money, just like lies breed lies. I can’t afford to trust you.”
Tires grind over the rocks on the unpaved lot and Liam turns me to the wall, pressing me against it. “You keep screaming about wanting honesty, baby, well, here it is. I let you walk into the kitchen hoping you’d decide to trust me and choose to come with me. But right now I don’t care if you do or you don’t. You’re coming with me.”
The beam of headlights blasts us, then dims, and I have no doubt this car is with Liam. “Because you’re kidnapping me,” I accuse again.
“Because someone either wants something you have or wants you dead, Amy. I wasn’t the only bidder on your location. I was the highest, and while you were in the kitchen I got a phone call. Someone else gave you up. We need out of here, and out of here, now.” Before I can even begin to digest the magnitude of his words, he grabs my hand, then drags me forward. And that’s when I see the car clearly for the first time. The sight of the black sedan knots my stomach, and instantly, spots swim in front of my eyes. Fast. So fast, I feel the world spinning around me.
“Liam,” I call desperately, digging in my heels, needing stability to fight the pain piercing my skull. “Liam, wait.” A wave of nausea and more spots overwhelm me and my legs go limp.
“I’ve got you,” Liam says, and he scoops me into his arms.
Pain pierces my skull and I curl into the solid wall of Liam’s chest, incapable of doing anything but cling to his shirt for what feels like dear life.