She wasn’t sure what he meant by that remark. "I’m not going to be on his team."
"You might change your mind," Liam said. "You never know."
She decided not to argue with him. If he wanted to be optimistic, it was okay with her.
Jordan began to gather up the food cartons. "Allison, if you’re finished, why don’t you and Liam go into the living room and talk? I know you’re anxious to find out what this meeting is about."
Anxious didn’t quite describe how she was feeling. She took her plate into the kitchen, got another bottle of water out of the refrigerator, and followed Liam into the living room. He waited until she had taken a seat on the sofa, then pulled up a chair to face her. There was nothing to separate her from the intimidating man who sat in front of her. He focused his attention entirely on her as though he was studying her, getting ready to pounce.
Alec surprised her by joining them. He moved the other chair over next to Liam’s. Allison could feel her heart beating in her chest. If the two men intended to unnerve her, they were doing a fine job of it.
Liam leaned forward. "Whatever is said here is confidential. I would appreciate it if you didn’t discuss what we’re about to tell you with anyone. Okay?"
He expected a quick agreement before he continued and was totally unprepared for her refusal. "I’m sorry. No, I can’t do that."
"No?" Alec said, nonplussed.
"I can’t promise you that I’ll keep this conversation confidential," she explained.
"Why not?" Alec asked.
"I’ll tell Jordan." Before they could respond, she continued. "I know this must be an important matter. I’ll still tell her, though. She’s my friend, and if she asks . . . which she will . . . I’ll tell her."
"At least she’s honest," Alec said to Liam.
"Yes, she is," Liam agreed. He looked very serious, yet he sounded as though he was about to smile.
Clearly exasperated, Alec asked, "Is there anyone else you know you’ll tell besides my sister?"
"No, just Jordan," she said. She thought she should probably offer some sort of explanation, so she added, "I’m assuming whatever you have to say involves my work with computers, and Jordan’s an expert. I value her opinion."
"Talking to her won’t be a problem," Alec assured her. Liam agreed with a nod.
Allison looked first at Alec and then at Liam, examining each of their faces to see if there was the slightest cause for suspicion. They definitely were intense, and yet they seemed sincere. Her anxiety lessened slightly. Maybe they hadn’t brought her here to interrogate her or to accuse her of a crime after all. Maybe they had other intentions. She mulled over her situation for several more seconds. "Okay," she said finally. "What is it you want?"
"We believe someone is leaking information on sensitive case files. We’re hoping you can help us find out who it is."
"FBI files?" she asked.
"Yes," Alec answered. "At first, there were minor details of cases getting out, but then some crucial information was released. Recently there was a major leak that all but destroyed a case and an agent’s credibility. We believe whoever is doing this has access to our system, but we haven’t been able to find the leak."
Liam said. "Have you ever heard of the CSA?"
Allison shook her head.
"It’s the federal cyber security agency," Alec continued. "Everyone who works there spends their days monitoring other agencies, including the FBI. They also look for viruses. They’re the best in the country."
"Best what?" she asked.
"Hackers," Liam answered.
"The FBI gets weekly reports from the CSA," Alec said. "And those reports show there hasn’t been any abnormal activity. In other words, no breaches. We don’t know if the leaks are coming from the inside or the outside, and we need someone who’s never had a connection to either of these agencies to work on this. My fear is that, if we don’t stop them, the leaks could get even bigger. Whoever is behind this could be just testing the waters."
"Who discovered this?" she asked.
Alec answered, "We knew there was a leak when we were on a case in Hawaii. We couldn’t prove it, though. There were very few people involved in the investigation, and we checked every one of them thoroughly."
"We couldn’t find anything suspicious," Liam interjected.
Alec nodded. "The most recent incident was in Atlanta. A field agent was assigned a case involving bribery of a state official. He was just beginning to collect names of possible witnesses, and before he could even do a thorough investigation, the names of the witnesses were released on the Internet. Within a couple of days, two of them disappeared. The blame for the leak fell directly on him, but there wasn’t any proof he had let the information out. We’re fairly sure there’s one source to these leaks, and it’s in our computer system. The problem is, there’s absolutely no trace of a hack."