Shoving away the bitter memories, I force my mind to travel to Egypt, to the archaeological dig site where Lara, because she had been Lara to me then, and I had spent a chunk of our pre-teen and teen years with our parents, learning far more from our explorations with them than our homeschooling. Those had been good times, filled with sibling arguments, lots of laughter, and plenty of shared excitement over historical discoveries. But as easily as I embrace the good times, they always shift into darkness, and soon the images of those days transform into memories of Sheridan meeting my father at that same dig site, before my business with the bastard overtook my father’s.

The music shifts, the station’s wild mix delivering every genre under the moon that’s nowhere in sight on what has become a cloudy, eternal night. Gia caves to the drugging effect of the road and lies down. Sleep rarely consumes me. Guilt keeps me up and pacing, often running the streets of New York that somehow take me to Amy’s apartment—before I had to move her to Denver.

The song “Breakdown” by Seether begins to play, the words seeping deep into my soul, burning. And I’m the one you can never trust/ ’cause wounds are ways to reveal us. The words speak to me on every level. Glancing at Gia, not for the first time since she fell asleep, I stare at her long dark hair draped over the makeshift pillow, trying to figure out why I keep doing it. I didn’t stare at Meg. I just fucked her. And filled the void of six years alone I’d thought she’d needed filling in her own way as well. Somehow, I’d let a crack in the wall I’d built around me open up and she’d crawled in, like a true wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Dialing Jared, I get the same voice mail I’m coming to expect with growing concern. He’s the only one left I completely trust, no matter how much I might lead Sheridan and even my fellow treasure hunters at The Underground to believe otherwise. If he’s not answering my calls, I have to consider that he might be dead. And if he’s dead . . . I can’t even think about where this is leading me. I can’t lose Amy. I can’t. I won’t.

Instantly ready to come out of my own skin, I start tapping my left foot up and down, needing out of this truck and out now. Bypassing a rest stop, I force myself to endure another ten miles, and finally we hit Abilene, Texas, where I get off the highway in hopes of finding a less conventional place to grab supplies and a bathroom, scoring that twenty-four-hour Walmart Gia wanted after all.

At two a.m., there are only a half-dozen other vehicles in the lot, and I pull into a spot to the left of the doors, allowing us a fast departure should it become necessary. I kill the engine and Gia seems to jolt awake, sitting up and blinking, looking stunned and confused. It pisses me off. “What happened to not sleeping?” I snap, and before she can possibly process my irritation, I’m out of the truck and opening her door.

“Get out,” I order.

“Why are you so angry?” she asks, slipping on her shoes, her hair wild, sexy like she is, and it only serves to add an extra level to my anger. “Did something happen I don’t know about?”

“You went to sleep.”

“Yes,” she agrees, scooting to the edge of the seat to face me, her skirt riding high on her killer legs. “I went to sleep. Oh, God—did you almost fall asleep? Did you want me to stay awake and talk to you?”

I shackle her arm and physically slide her out of the truck, my arm wrapping around her waist, her soft curves melding to my now very hard, very tense, body. “Your trust does not equal my trust.”

Her hand presses to my chest. “Let go. Stop being a bastard.”

“Stop trusting people you shouldn’t trust.”

“I don’t trust you. You need me. That keeps me safe for now. I told you that frankly and honestly. And why do you care? You think I’m out to get you anyway.”

“Because it doesn’t matter if I’m right or wrong about your intentions. You’re two steps away from death, and I’m one of those steps. That means your fate is in the hands of someone who can’t afford to see you as anything but the enemy, which means you are the enemy. And I’m yours. I could have no choice but to kill you. Don’t forget that.”

“Why? So you don’t have to feel guilty if you do? Well, forget it. If you kill me, I’ll haunt your ass. You can count on it.”

“Ditto, sweetheart. I’ll come fuck you in your sleep.” I reach around her to shut the door, when my gaze lands on her hand and the blood trickling down her fingers. Cursing, I grab her wrist.

She tries to tug herself free. “Hands bleed easily. It’s nothing.”

“I’ll be the judge of that,” I tell her, hanging onto her as I lean inside the truck, opening the glove box, and scoring a handful of fast-food napkins. “Open your hand,” I order, and when she reluctantly complies, I wipe away blood and inspect the deep wound in her hand. “You need stitches that we can’t get you right now.” I close my hand over hers, forcing her to apply pressure on the napkins and the wound. “Hold it tightly until we get inside and get it cleaned and wrapped.”

I shove the door closed and release her hand. “I’m okay,” she assures me. “I’m tough. I won’t get an infection and die on you without helping you take down Sheridan. I hate him, too.”

I arch a brow at her fiercely spoken proclamation. “Hate him, do you? Good to know. If it’s true.” I grab her arm and pull her to me. “I’ll want details later.” Our gazes lock, that spark of attraction that’s been with us from the moment we laid eyes on each other ever present.

Tags: Lisa Renee Jones The Secret Life of Amy Bensen Romance
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