“You know what that tells me?”
“What?” Allison rasped.
“You have no business being out there on your own. Whatever arrangement Logan offers, you should take it. No matter how much you hate doing it. I’m serious. Logan may be the only real safety you and your baby have.”
“Arrangement. God, that sounds so…demeaning. Might as well rip out my pride and smear it across the floor.”
Devon pointed out evenly, “It sounds to me like your ex-husband already did that.”
Allison allowed her deep inner pain to come to the surface. The muscles in her face contracted with agony. “When he was finished with me, I had nothing left, Devon. Nothing .”
“Things are better now, right? He’s out of your life.” Devon’s slim fingers rested on Allison’s shoulder, a gesture of alliance. “No one can drag you back to that dark place again.”
“Never,” Allison confirmed. “I’m not that person anymore.”
Suddenly her computer dinged like a bell, alerting her to a new email message. She glanced at her screen. It was from Logan. The subject line read: Be in my office in 30 . The tone was abrupt. A one-line demand. “Lovely.”
“What is it?”
Allison’s shoulders drooped as the weight of uncertainty descended again. “Logan wants me in his office in half-an-hour. He doesn’t sound happy.”
“He was never the honors English type. Don’t read into an email.” Devon sounded so sure of that, so sure of everything. Then she suggested, “Take time to gather yourself. Go to your happy place. Put on your brave-girl hat, and tell him the truth.”
“How?” Allison’s voice cracked.
“Don’t worry about the ‘how.’ Just state the facts so you can move on.”
“To what?” Allison asked raggedly.
Devon shrugged. “No idea, but at least you won’t be stuck in emotional purgatory.”
“I guess.” She knew Devon was right. I need to get this over with .
Before she reached the door, Devon turned. “I expect a phone call afterward.”
“I want to know how it went. That’s called support, Allison. It’s what friends do.”
Friends . The word made tears shimmer in her eyes. Her throat tight, she could only mouth the words thank you .
Devon sent her an encouraging smile. “Talk to you later.”
The next thirty minutes passed with the momentum of a drunk slug. When clock on the wall read 3:30, she forced herself up from her desk and walked stiffly to Logan’s office. She reached his closed door, unusual for Logan.
Summoning courage, she knocked.
“What?” Logan’s tone sounded as curt as his email.
She forced calm into her voice. “It’s Allison.”
As she entered, she kept her gaze fixed on the carpet.
“Shut the door behind you,” he instructed.
Once she closed the door, she swallowed and looked up.
Logan sat forward in his chair wearing a severe expression, hands folded tightly on his desk blotter. By contrast, Rick Dunn stood behind him, arms crossed and a smug grin curling his lips. Rick wore the demeanor of a loan shark who’d come to collect. The recognition crept over her that she’d waded into enemy waters.
“Have a seat.” Logan gestured one of the chairs opposite his desk.
“Make yourself comfy. You might be here awhile.” Rick shrugged. “Then again maybe not.”
She crossed the room and sat in one of the cold leather chairs. A shiver went through her.
They stared her down, their eyes like gun barrels aiming for the kill. She clenched her hands in her lap. She’d almost rather face a real firing squad then endure the biting accusation in Logan’s tone as he said, “I have a problem.”
I’ll trade you . She kept silent.
“I hired you because I believed you’d be an asset to me and Stone Security.”
She gave a tight nod.
“In light of new information, my belief has changed.”
Any hope of a reasonable conversation, even a glimmer of reconciliation, shriveled inside her. “I don’t understand.”
Logan’s jaw clenched. “Allison, I spent the first half of my career in Special Forces hunting down liars and enemies. I won’t have one working for me.”
Her cheeks burned as if he’d slapped her. “I’ve never lied to you.”
“We’re supposed to have a meeting in Washington D.C. on Friday with top military people, the secretary of state, and ambassadors from three foreign countries.”
The demonstration she dreaded. “I’m aware.”
“That opportunity may be dead in the water.”
Surprise creased her forehead. She knew how much this meant to him, that it would be the golden ticket to future government contracts totaling billions. “Why?”
He flattened his hands on his desk with eerie calm. “When they find out I’ve been demonstrating this system with you, my company can kiss its reputation goodbye.”
Confounded by the accusation, she blinked. “What are you talking about?”
Logan took a sheet of paper in front of him and slid it across his desk. “Familiar?”
She caught the page and glanced at it, recognizing the photocopy of the government-issued document, the bright-eyed hopeful picture of herself, her name listed as Mrs. Trevor Hurtz. “That Visa is seven years old.”
“Your ties to Trevor Hurtz will spark questions, potentially an investigation. They’ll drill into every aspect of your life—and mine—to find out if you’re harboring a fugitive who’s blacklisted in France and under investigation for treason by the United Nations.”
“Why would anyone do that?”
Rick stepped forward. “You were in bed with a terrorist. An internationally convicted felon, former U.S. Black Ops who was on trial for smuggling arms to Somalia, Syria and Iran.”
“I know nothing about that.” She flicked the offensive page back to Logan. “I don’t understand the problem. When I married Trevor I became a citizen here. I’m also a naturalized citizen in France, where I was born.”
“You just applied for a new passport six weeks ago. Coincidence?” Rick was fishing for something, but he hesitated like he hadn’t baited her on his hook yet. She went rigid.
“Yes, under my maiden name, Allison Dupree.”
Rick plopped a stack of pages in front of her. “On every piece of paper here, Hurtz gives one personal contact—you.”