“He’s inside,” she announces. “But Chad, the Bentley is back, and Tellar just exited the building. I think he’s going to trade places with Liam.” She turns to me. “You need that distraction we talked about now. I’ll make one.” She opens the door. I reach for her, but it’s too late. She’s out of the SUV, and I shout, “Gia, get back here!” but she slams the door back into place.
“Fuck me,” I curse, cutting into traffic, promising myself that I’m going to lock Gia up after this and throw away the key. Maneuvering into traffic, I cross three lanes and eye my rearview mirror in disbelief to find Gia talking to Liam and Tellar. She’s cleared a path to free Amy, but at what cost?
Dread heavy in my stomach, I cut right onto Fifty-first Street and pull into the service lane, identifying the coffee shop door, and wait. Wait some more. And then it feels like I wait some more, when really it’s only a minute. Maybe two. Okay, three. It has to be fucking three minutes.
I get out of the SUV and my fingers curl by my sides, debating my next move and then launching into action, running for the door. Once I’m there, I enter into a hallway and run smack into Amy and Jared. Amy gasps. “Chad. I . . . I . . . ”
She bursts into tears and wraps her arms around me, and while this is the wrong place and time, the emotions that overwhelm me are second only to those I’d felt the night of the fire. I hug her, holding on so tight I’m not sure how she can breathe.
“We need to move,” Jared warns.
He’s right, and my hands go to my sister’s arms, lifting us apart. “He’s right. We have to go.”
“Go? Where? Why? Oh God. Is it really you? How is it you?”
“I’ll explain everything, but not here. It’s not safe. We need to go somewhere else.” I turn her toward the door, ready to get the hell out of this place, when I hear a voice.
“She’s not going anywhere without me.”
I stiffen and look up to find myself staring into the piercing blue eyes of Liam Stone. The door to my right opens, and I catch Tellar’s entry from the corner of my eye. Jared is to my left, and Liam directly behind Amy.
And one person is missing: Gia.
LIAM’S VOICE ECHOES AROUND US, seeming to bounce off the walls and repeat. Amy is the first to break the spell, whirling around to face him, and wrapping her arm around mine.
“Liam. This is my brother, Chad.” Her voice trembles, quavering as if emotion is consuming her the way it threatens to me. “He’s really alive. Can you believe it? He’s really alive.”
“And trying to kidnap you,” Liam observes, never taking his eyes off of me.
I don’t take my eyes off him, either, but I’m aware of Tellar to my right and Jared to my left. “Go find Gia,” I order Jared, before speaking directly to Liam. “I’m leaving with my sister.”
“What?” Amy asks, releasing me and folding her arms over the pink lace bodice of her dress. “I’m not leaving without Liam.”
“We’re leaving, Amy,” I assure her. “Together and alone.” She sways toward Liam and I grab her arm. “We need to leave. Now.”
She jerks her arm away. “You can’t come into my life six years after you left and just grab me and run. Liam is in my life, and he’s staying. And he’ll help you if you let him. He’s safe. He can be trusted.”
“No one is safe,” I assure her. “Not for us. And everyone who suddenly comes into our lives has hidden agendas. Believe me, I had my Liam, and I paid the price.”
She hugs herself, and I can almost see her withdraw from me. “I hate that you went through something so horrible. I know how lonely it is in this life we were forced into, but Liam isn’t the person who did that to you. He has no hidden agenda.”
Unbelievable. Jared was right; she’s been all but brainwashed by this man. “No hidden agenda, huh? Then why is your doctor working for Sheridan, showing up at his office in a wig?”
“She’s a good friend,” Amy says defensively. “An amazing friend who has put herself in danger to protect us.”
I shake my head in disbelief. “What part of ‘she’s working for Sheridan’ did you not understand?”
“She’s right,” Liam interjects. “Dr. Murphy is not working for Sheridan, but he thinks she is. His people approached her, and she came to us right away. We tried to discourage her from going along with them, but she didn’t listen. She felt that being inside his circle meant knowing his plans, and protecting me and Amy.”
I almost laugh at what is either ignorance or a blatant lie. “Sheridan corrupts at will. You might be convinced of her honor, but I’m not.”
Liam’s eyes sharpen, a flicker of anger in their depths. “Contrary to your obvious belief that I’d be careless with your sister’s safety, I wouldn’t trust Amy’s care to an unknown. Dr. Murphy has been a longtime family friend, and a very close and personal friend of Alex’s.”
Amy launches into further explanation. “That’s Liam’s adoptive father.”
“She also supplied some interesting intel on Sheridan’s new business interests, which I’ve been monitoring—interests the consortium wouldn’t be pleased with, and which could in fact divide and weaken them.”
“And the wig?”
“She says he’s become paranoid to an extreme,” he replies. “Something has him shaken, and I have a few ideas about what.”