I swallow hard. “It’s just . . . it’s been a rough day.”
“I know. Remember what Dr. Murphy told you. Just breathe.”
I inhale and let the breath out, mentally willing myself to calm. “Yes. Breathe. I’m okay.”
“I’m here. I’m not going anywhere. I’ve got you, baby.”
Emotion tightens my chest. “I’ve got you, too,” I reply, because no matter how alpha, how dominant, there’s a broken part of Liam that understands and fits with the broken parts of me.
His eyes are warm and he leans in, his long fingers curving over my jaw. “We have each other,” he promises, his lips brushing mine, lingering when they lift, an electric, warm feeling blossoming between us and stealing a tiny part of my pain. That is, until the stupid plane jerks and we jolt with it, shot back into reality, when Liam is forced to shift back into his seat.
Ridiculously, the small space between us is somehow as giant as the Godzilla I call my enemies and fears. I want to reach for Liam again, pull him back to me and lose myself in all of his strength and calm, but the plane is jostling back and forth and I can’t seem to make myself move. Liftoff comes with back-to-back clusters of shakes and shimmies, but it is nothing compared to the trembling I feel inside. The turbulence continues for a few minutes, fading away even as lightning strikes outside the window, seeming to hit the plane. I am oddly calm at what could be a deadly event, and my one thought is: We won’t die, because I’m here and I don’t die. It’s everyone around me that dies.
Almost as if he has heard me, Liam is suddenly unbuckling my seat belt He pulls me to my feet and sits down in my spot, dragging me across his lap the way he did the night he found me after I’d run away from him. I sink against him, inhaling that rich, male scent I can find arousing one moment, calming in another such as this, letting my head fall to his shoulder. I remember wondering that night: if my life was a book, would readers think I’m a fool for trusting Liam? Now I wonder if they would think I am selfish for staying with him and making this his life.
Liam’s deep, rich voice wakes me and I blink him into view, finding him kneeling in front of me. Disoriented, I’m shocked to realize that I’m coming out of a heavy sleep. At some point during the flight, Liam seems to have placed me on the couch across from our seats, covering me with a blanket and placing a pillow under my head. “How long have I been out?”
“The entire flight. We’re about to land.”
Groggily, I sit up and stretch, noting his missing suit jacket and the way his tie is yanked down beneath several loose buttons on his shirt. “Did you sleep, too?”
“I’ll sleep when we get home,” he says, leading me back to our seats where we both buckle up, the plane in obvious late descent.
Something about the way he doesn’t look at me and the stiff line of his spine furrows my brow. “You have to be exhausted. We left the Hamptons for the funeral in Texas at the break of dawn this morning.”
Before he can answer, the plane hits the runway, the noise discouraging conversation, and almost the moment the sound softens, his phone rings, and it’s like an alarm going off in my body. Every nerve I possess is instantly alive and unwell and I find myself holding my breath, watching him dig his cell from his pocket, concerned the caller is Chad and I’ll have to talk to him. Worried it’s not. Liam glances at the caller ID, grimacing as he punches the answer button. “Why are you calling me from the front of the plane, Tellar?”
I let out a breath, disappointed, relieved, and angry at Chad all at once. And that only makes me angry at myself. Why fret over a brother who clearly doesn’t want me in his life?
“Yes,” Liam says into the phone, casting me an amused look, the weird vibe he’d radiated a minute before gone as if it never existed as he adds, “We’re awake and decent. And expect the wrath of Amy for even asking that.”
“Yes,” I agree, with a glower. “And you too, Liam Stone, for even laughing at that.”
Undaunted, Liam chuckles, ending the call and kissing my cheek. “I’m going to check on our transportation arrangements.” He’s unbuckled his seat belt and quickly disappears behind the curtain, and I have the strangest sense he’s trying to escape. But from what? Me? Or rather, something he doesn’t want me to know? Oh God. Is it Chad? Is something really wrong with him while I’ve just been mentally berating him?
I unhook my belt and jump to my feet, rushing through the open curtain to find Liam and Tellar in deep conversation, their heads low.
“Liam,” I say, drawing the attention of both men, “is something wrong?” He steps away from Tellar, meeting me halfway down the aisle. “Is Chad okay?” I ask as he stops in front of me, my hand flattening on his chest.
“I haven’t talked to Chad,” he replies, “and you told me you don’t want to talk to him, either. We can try him now.” He reaches for his phone.
“No.” I grab his arm, stopping him. “Not now.” I search his unreadable expression. “What aren’t you telling me, Liam Stone?”
He cups my face. “Nothing is wrong. The opposite, in fact—though I know it will be hard for you on this day to see it that way.”
“What are you talking about?”
“We don’t have to hide anymore, Amy. No more safe house. Tellar arranged to have all of our things shipped home, and—”