“So, in light of those things, is knowing where Jared is a good or a bad thing?”

“We’re not making any assumptions based on the claims of that woman with her track record for deception. We’ll investigate. We’ll figure it out.” He withdraws his phone from his pocket. “Finish getting dressed. I want out of this store.”

I cover his phone before he can dial. “Wait. I need to tell you something else. She said Sheridan, Rollin, and everyone in the consortium supporting Sheridan . . . they all might get moved to regular courts and be granted trials.”

“And she told you this why?”

“She wanted Chad’s help, and now wants ours. She thinks her testimony would be incriminating and therefore she’s in danger. Someone is tracking her.”

“You know this could all be fabricated to try and pry our secrets out of us, right?”

“I do. But what if it’s not?”

He cups my cheek and kisses my forehead. “Take everything she said with a shaker of salt, baby.” He releases me. “And whatever happens, we’ll deal with it like we always do.” He gives me a once-over. “Clothes, baby. We need out of here.” He punches the auto-dial button on his phone.

“She says they have reach beyond the prison, no matter how secure.”

“And that ‘reach’ might be her, trying to bait us,” he says, shifting his attention to his phone, listening a moment before quietly saying, “Meg just paid Amy a visit. Call me.” He pauses a beat. “Now.”

Chad, I think, pulling on my jeans, hyper-focusing on the zipper to fight the ball of emotion in my stomach. Will he call us? I’m not sure that he will. I reach for my shirt on the floor and Liam grabs it first, offering it to me but holding on. He searches my face, understanding in his eyes as he lifts my shirt and pulls it over my head. “He will call back,” he assures me. “He’s not gone, Amy.”

I give a choppy nod and my fingers curl around the paper in my hand. “Oh.” I offer it to him. “She gave me this number. She said we can leave a message and she’ll call us back.”

“And we’d do that why?”

“To help her.”

“I repeat. And we’d do that, why?”

“She offered to help me get revenge for Chad’s death.”

“And she took off running, why?”

“She got spooked, is the only answer I have.”

He doesn’t look convinced. In truth, I’m not either.

Footsteps sound in the hallway, followed by a knock. “Liam.”

At the sound of Tellar’s voice, Liam opens the door while I lean against the wall to pull on my boots. “I caught her at the door and then lost her in the crowd,” he announces, “but I already have Josh tracking the security feeds. Without a coat in this weather she couldn’t have gone far and she’ll be easy to spot.”

I step to Liam’s side. “Did you tell him that she might have taken off the wig?”

“I told him,” he states, narrowing his gaze on me. “Are you okay?”

“Yes. Just shaken up a bit.” And noting the questions in his eyes, I quickly summarize the important facts. “She cornered me, tried to get me to admit Chad was alive, told me Jared was working with the CIA, and then begged for our assistance before taking off.”

Tellar gives me a deadpan look. “I don’t even know where to start asking questions, but Coco’s ex-CIA and well connected at the agency. Once I get us all out of here, I’ll call her.”

“Suddenly her skills make sense,” I say, remembering how she’d helped us escape a bad situation in the past.

“She has exceptional skills,” Tellar assures me. “I paid a security guard to bring our car around front. I want you both out of here until we have more facts.”

“Agreed,” Liam says, trying to move me forward, but I hang back and quickly grab my purse from the chair, securing it crosswise. Tellar backs up, giving us space, and Liam urges me forward, placing me between the two men. We head down the hallway into the bridal boutique to find Betty standing in wait.

“We’ll take everything in the dressing room and anything else you think she might like or need, including shoes and a bag,” Liam tells her. “Charge my card and have it all delivered today.”

“Yes, Mr. Stone.” She adds, “Be safe!” as we walk out of the bridal boutique.

After we’re out in the open, crossing the retail area, I’m nervous, but I don’t give in to it. Once we stopped denying that the risk of the cylinder was here to stay, I felt a shift inside me, a sense of control I desperately needed. Standing tall and fighting is what I’ve been denied for six long years, but that is no longer true. Reverting to fear, running from an unknown enemy, would make what Chad just did for us be for nothing.

Reaching the exit, Tellar pauses and glances at us. “I’ll get the door and makes sure it’s clear outside.”

Liam steps to my side, giving an affirmative nod, and I take a step backward to avoid the cold wind as Tellar leaves, quickly finding myself tucked tightly under Liam’s arm, snug against his body. Silently, we watch Tellar stride toward the Bentley. The driver’s door opens and the security guard steps out. Tellar pops open the rear door, scanning the sidewalk and street before he motions us forward. Liam opens the door and we quickly cross to the sidewalk, snowflakes fluttering around us, then we’re sliding into the warm car. Liam shuts us inside, his hand settling possessively on my leg.

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