“You’re right—after Chad’s bombshell, I didn’t need another surprise. You should have told me before we took off in Texas that we were returning to New York, instead of back to the Hamptons.” I grab the lapels of his jacket. “I’m not ready for this, Liam. We aren’t ready for this. We can’t be sure it’s safe.”
“If I wasn’t sure we’re safe, we wouldn’t be here. And hiding makes it look like we have secrets.”
“Don’t you think it looks funny that Chad just happened to have a fireproof folder in his backpack?”
“Not when we know what the police didn’t tell us. He planted data on a failed version of the cylinder inside.”
“Which means someone is going to come asking us more questions.”
“Of course they will—so we aren’t giving anyone a reason to believe we have something to hide. Now is the time to come out of the shadows.”
My lashes lower, hurt and anger knifing through me, and I don’t even really know where it’s directed. At Chad. At the past. I just . . . don’t know. “It’s too much in one day.”
“You’re afraid, and you’ve had six years of reasons to be. You’ve had to hide in the past, but you don’t anymore.” He pauses when I don’t react. “Look at me, Amy.” I inhale and let it out, my lashes lifting as he softens his voice. “Let’s start a real life together.”
My fingers loosen on his jacket. “I want that. You know I do, but it’s hard to believe this is over. Running, hiding, looking over my shoulder—those are the only things I’ve known. Forever, it seems.”
“I’m going to make sure you know so much more, baby. You have my word.”
“Car’s here!” Tellar calls.
Liam arches a brow. “Shall we go home?”
“Home,” I repeat, and the word is awkward on my tongue.
“Yes.” He runs his hand down my hair. “Home, baby, but just know this. We can live anywhere you want. We can buy the restaurant that used to be your family home and rebuild it.”
“You don’t want to live in a tiny town like Jasmine Heights, and I don’t want those memories.”
“We can travel and see the pyramids in Egypt and Mexico. We can live in tents, for all I care. The point is that home is where we’re together.”
The idea of freedom and a home I choose with Liam is surreal, considering the years I spent huddled alone in a tiny apartment. “I like your house in Manhattan. I like the city. It became familiar and right to me those six years I was there. I want to stay.”
“Not my house in Manhattan. Our house. Our home.” I nod, and he shakes his head. “Not good enough. Say it. Our house. Our home.”
My heart squeezes with his insistence. “Our house,” I repeat. “Our home.”
He smiles and kisses my forehead, urging me to our seats where we gather our things. Still tentative about our return to the city despite Liam’s assurances that we are safe, I head to the exit, where we grab our coats and Liam shadows me as I follow Tellar down the airplane stairs. Relief washes over me to find that we’re inside a private hangar, allowing me the chance to mentally prepare for our true reentry into the real world. I step onto the pavement, and huddle into my jacket as a cold December gust of wind whips through the open doors of the building, wishing every bitter-cold moment of this day was just over.
I double-step to reach the car waiting for us a few feet away and Liam hurries around me to open the passenger door. When I realize this isn’t a rental but his personal Bentley, the familiarity gives me a sense of security and calm.
Liam arches a questioning brow and it hits me that I’m standing there smiling, when moments before I was as dire as one gets. “The car pleases you?” he asks.
He pleases me, I think. “It suits you.”
Liam pulls me to him, molding my body to his. “You suit me.” He leans in close to add, “I’ll show you just how much when we’re alone.”
The mix of intimacy and erotic promise in those few words has my nerves going from edgy distress to edgy anticipation. And I’m so tingly and ripe for his taking that when he surprises me with a playful smack to my backside, I yelp despite the layers of clothing between me and his palm.
Smiling, my cheeks flushed as I hurry into the car, I dare a quick look to my left, where Tellar is talking to the driver who delivered it, to ensure he hasn’t witnessed our exchange. Liam follows me inside, a low chuckle coming from his insanely sexy mouth. The sound somehow makes that spot he just smacked tingle all the more. Liam barely has time to close the door when Tellar joins us, and since I am now thinking about that swat to my backside and Tellar’s joke on the plane, I decide I need to compose myself, keeping Liam at a distance by shrugging out of my coat. Or rather, that is the plan.
“Let me help,” Liam offers, proving what I should already know. Liam Stone is not one to be detoured from any question, and right now, that question is my distraction from anything but him. It’s working. He doesn’t just remove my coat. His hands linger on my arms, the thin material of my dress proving no shelter from his practiced, seductive touch that sends shivers up and down my spine. More intense, though, is the way the mere caress of his fingers beneath my hair and along my nape have my nipples puckering in response. I can’t seem to even worry that Tellar will notice our flirtation. How can I when everything about the way Liam touches me is delivering the promise that when we’re alone, he’s going to do more than show me how well I “suit” him? He’s telling me he’s going to take me to that place he always takes me, where pleasure is absolute and danger is as much an illusion as my brother’s death. And this time, I want to stay forever.