She stood by the window and watched him come up the sidewalk. He’d changed out of his suit into jeans and a white button-down shirt and jacket. She had to admit he didn’t look nearly as menacing as he had earlier. If she didn’t know who he was and had seen him walking down the street, she would definitely have been attracted. Men like him turned heads. Too bad he was an agent. Allison grabbed her purse and headed outside to meet him halfway.
Liam stopped as soon as she came down the steps. He watched her stride toward him and made every effort not to react, but it was nearly impossible. He couldn’t explain the pull he’d felt the moment he met her. He just knew he didn’t like it one little bit. She was a job. Nothing more, nothing less. A means to an end, he reminded himself. She moved as though she were on a runway-back straight, head held high, her expression giving nothing away-no doubt a pose she’d practiced until she perfected it. Damn, she was one beautiful woman . . . a woman with an attitude.
When she got close to him, she frowned and said, "I really don’t want to go out tonight."
In answer, he opened the car door for her to get in. "Sure, you do," he said, closing the door before she could respond.
Once they were on their way, he asked, "Are you hungry?"
"I’m always hungry."
He thought she was joking and laughed, until he glanced at her and saw that she was serious. She stared straight ahead at the street with no expression on her face.
"This is really a waste of time, you know," she said. "I don’t understand what you think you’ll accomplish by taking me to Jordan’s house."
"I thought you’d be more receptive to my proposal if you were in a friendlier environment." When she looked skeptically at him, he added, "Don’t worry. I’m not going to hold you captive."
"Why me? How did all this come about?"
"I’ve worked with Alec Buchanan a few times, and he told me about his sister, Jordan, and what a computer genius she is. Right now I need a genius."
"Jordan is brilliant. Everyone knows that. You heard her speak at the seminar."
"Yes," he agreed.
"So . . . why didn’t Phillips offer her the job?"
"Because you’re better."
"You can’t know that," she protested.
"Yes, I can. I came to the seminar to hear Jordan, but I also heard you. That’s when I began to do some checking. You’d be surprised what you can find out about a person."
The slight grin that turned the corners of his mouth made Allison extremely uneasy. Was he teasing? Or was he smiling because he was so pleased with the incriminating information he’d found on her?
"I still don’t understand," she said. "If you wanted to ask me to work for you, why didn’t you just arrange a meeting and ask me? Why the deception to get me out to the FBI’s cyber center?"
"That was Phillips’s idea. He didn’t think you’d talk to us. Plus, he didn’t believe the reports on your abilities. He had to see for himself."
"I’ve already given you my answer. You needn’t have gone to all this trouble."
Nothing was said for several blocks, and the silence was only making Allison more anxious. She crossed one leg over the other, then uncrossed it and crossed it again . . . and again . . . and again. Her hands were folded loosely on her lap, and she was sure she looked relaxed . . . until Liam reached over and put his hand on top of hers. She realized then how jittery she appeared.
"Are you nervous with me?" he asked. The notion seemed absurd to him.
"Nervous? No, of course not. Why would I be nervous? I have nothing to be nervous about."
"Okay," Liam said. He couldn’t imagine what was going on inside her mind, but she appeared to be close to hyperventilating. "Tell me about yourself."
"Why?" Allison could hear the apprehension in her voice and cringed inside.
"I want to get to know you, and you can get to know me," he answered.
"You have a file on me. I would think you’d already know everything." The second the words came out of her mouth, she realized how caustic they sounded. God, she wished she could calm down. "Okay. What would you like to know?"
"You live with two men. Are you involved with either of them?"
"Two students," she corrected, "and no. They’re my friends."
"Have you always lived in Boston?"
"No. What about you? Where did you grow up?" she asked in an attempt to divert his attention from her.
"I was born in Philadelphia and lived there with my family until I was three," he explained. "Then my dad was promoted and transferred to Melbourne, Australia. I grew up there but moved back to the States to go to Princeton."