Taking that as his cue to speak, Tellar announces, “Coco talked to her ex.”

I step next to Liam, my adrenaline still pumping from our confrontation. “And?”

“The CIA plans to find Meg and put her behind bars, along with anyone else connected to Sheridan, Rollin, or the consortium.”

“What about Jared?” Liam asks.

“That’s where things get interesting,” Tellar comments, sitting on the edge of the couch. “The minute Coco brought up his name, her ex went cold on her and ended the call.”

“What does that mean?” I ask, folding my arms in front of me.

“My guess,” Liam replies, “is that they have Jared but they don’t want us to know.”

“But Meg told me they have him,” I remind him. “As if it’s public knowledge.”

“Unless Meg shouldn’t know,” Tellar points out.

“Translation,” Liam says. “The CIA has a leak.”

“Exactly,” Tellar agrees. “In which case they’ll want her even more, to find out who it is. If we can confirm they have Jared and hand Meg over to them, this is all good news for us. All of our obvious loose ends are tied up.”

Liam settles his hands on his hips under his jacket, shaking his head in frustration. “We wouldn’t be dealing with this if Chad had conferred with us on this plan to ‘kill himself’ before he did it. We needed the layers Josh and Dante represent between us and problems before we were thrust back into the spotlight.”

“Isn’t that the damn truth,” Tellar says. “We need to lock Dante down as our man at the party tonight.”

“No party,” Liam announces. “We don’t have time to facilitate an informal meet-and-greet. We need to get down to business. I told Josh to get him here this afternoon.”

My brow furrows. “Why didn’t we do that in the first place?”

“Dante likes to assess people in a public setting before he talks business,” Liam explains. “Apparently he gets gut feelings about people, and that’s how he decides whether to allow an official business meeting.”

“Who the heck is this guy?” I ask, thinking this Dante person is taking arrogant to a whole new level.

“A former personal assistant to several presidents,” Liam replies. “The kind who was never on the record books. He’s not only good at what he does, he’s discreet, and he doesn’t get emotional about his decisions.”

“I’m sold with those credentials,” I say immediately.

“But can Josh really convince Dante to bypass his screening process?” Tellar asks.

“Dante trusts Josh, and I’ve worked with him once before through Josh.” His cell phone buzzes with a message and he digs it from his pocket and glances at it, his expression tightening. “Dante’s in the air and won’t land until right before the party.” He looks at Tellar. “Looks like I’m going to the party. I’ll make it worth his while to meet us at the safe house to formalize things.”

“Liam—” I begin, ready to fight, but he cuts me off.

“We’re going to the safe house, Amy, and you’re staying here tonight with Tellar.”

“Tellar just said Meg and Jared are all but nonissues at this point.”

“Meg is not a nonissue,” he warns me. “She’s desperately avoiding jail time, and desperate people are dangerous. Which is why I’m hiring Dante to deal with her. Until then, we’re going back to the safe house.”

The doorbell rings and Tellar stands, pulling out some device from his pocket and glancing at it. “I left the gates open for the delivery people and thanks to the mobile security feed I had installed on my phone, I can tell you that’s Saks with Amy’s dresses.” He heads for the doors and Liam’s cell phone rings.

Frustrated and needing space from the man I love and want to throttle right now, I follow Tellar to the door, overwhelmed by how many bags the—not one, but three—delivery people have in tow. I help him accept the bags, and together we make several trips to the bedroom.

He places the last bag on a rack in the walk-in closet and I try to decide which one to open first. “If I’d known which one had the wedding dress,” I comment, “I’d have sent the other bags back since apparently I’m not going to the party.”

Tellar levels a stare at me, a preface to a lecture, I am certain. “Amy—”

I hold up a hand. “I know everything you’re about to say.”

He gives me a long look, seeming to weigh his words. “Derek’s eager to see you. Why don’t I invite him over while Liam’s gone? It’ll keep your mind off the party.”

“I’m not feeling social, and I don’t want to drag him into this.”

He inhales and lets it out. “You and me it is, then. How about pizza?”

I try to smile. “Yes. Pizza.”

“It’s a date,” he says, giving my chin a tiny knock before leaving me alone in the closet.

I glance around the enormous space, eying Liam’s line of suit jackets and pressed shirts, the full-sized mirror along the back wall, and the long leather bench in front of it. It’s a beautiful space that until now, I’ve really not taken the time to enjoy. My space. Liam’s space. Our space. I don’t want to leave.

Fighting an onslaught of emotion I’d thought I was done with at the funeral, I walk over to a zipped heavy plastic bag and open it. Staring back at me is the most gorgeous pale pink lace dress I’ve ever seen. The top is strapless, the cut body hugging, and I pull it fully from the bag, delighted at the way it flares delicately at the bottom. It’s a Cinderella dress, fit for a fairy-tale wedding, when nothing about my life is a fairy tale.

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