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Alec looked astounded. "How long have you been at this?"

"Not all that long."

She picked up the carton and the can and carried them to the kitchen to get away from their scrutiny for a little while. She didn’t like being the center of attention, especially since she was now considered a criminal in their minds. Alec was a nice man, she thought, but he looked at her as if she were a freak. Liam didn’t, though. He seemed skeptical, which wasn’t as bad, she supposed, yet there was something about the way his eyes focused so intently on hers that unnerved her.

Standing at the window with her arms folded, she stared out into the night and thought about the conversation. Maybe she shouldn’t have been so honest. It was too late now, but she felt sick with regret. She never should have started looking in on private sites. It didn’t matter if her motives were good or bad. She had broken the law countless times. Never again, she vowed.

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In the living room Alec turned to Liam. "If only half of what she says she can do-"

Jordan interrupted. "It’s all true. Allison doesn’t lie."

"She’s that good?" Alec asked.

Jordan nodded. "Yes."

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Alec shook his head and let out a long, low whistle. "She’s a weapon. In the wrong hands she could be lethal."

EIGHT

Alone in Jordan’s kitchen, Allison listened to the message her aunt had left on her phone. She had hoped it would be about something new, but it was the same old story. Will was in trouble.

For the first few years of his life, William Alexander Trent had been the apple of his daddy’s eye. Willie, as he was affectionately called by his parents then, was the perfect son they had waited eight long years for. He grew up to be somewhat tall and lean like his father, had the same square jaw and handsome features, and could upon occasion be charming. But weren’t most drunks charming at one time or another? Will, the name he insisted on once he reached puberty, didn’t just inherit his father’s good looks and his seemingly insatiable thirst for alcohol; he also inherited his belligerent personality. In high school he played football and helped lead his team to the state championship. Because of his success on the field, he became a big man at school. All the guys looked up to him, and all the girls flocked around him. His senior year was the high point in his life. From then on it was downhill.

Will expected to be flooded with college scholarship offers but learned that, although he was an above-average quarterback, he wasn’t exceptional, and since he cared more about his social standing than about his grades, he was a below-average student. When the recruiters didn’t come knocking, he adjusted his expectations and ended up barely getting into a state school. He squeaked by his first two years but flunked out the second semester of his third year. It wasn’t a question of not being smart enough to succeed; Will just didn’t want to study. From the time he was a little boy, all he’d had to do was throw a tantrum and his parents would fetch whatever he wanted. He never had to work for anything. No effort was ever involved, and even more important, there were never any consequences. 

While his former high school friends were graduating from college and moving on to bigger and better lives, Will was failing at one job after another. Nothing held his interest long. He gravitated toward people who were like him, and when those relationships went sour-as they inevitably did-he just found a different group of underachievers to hang around. He drank and he fought, and when he wanted something, no matter how expensive, he took it, leaving his parents and the attorney to clean up the mess.

His first arrest had happened shortly after high school. He was caught shoplifting a pair of running shoes from a sporting goods store. After that, there were three more arrests. Each time, his attorney was able to whittle the charges down and keep him out of jail, and each time Will was arrested, the attorney’s fees tripled.

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Will didn’t do anything to help his cause. His temper continued to get the better of him.

In his last appearance in court, he’d mouthed off to the judge, a stupid mistake that had led to a round of anger management classes that didn’t take. Now, because of a bar fight that sent two men to the hospital with serious injuries, Will was facing felony charges that would put him away for five to ten years.

Allison was conflicted by the emotions she felt whenever Will’s name was mentioned. Her initial reaction was usually a mix of anger and resentment, yet deep down there was a hint of sympathy for him. He was the product of his upbringing, after all. His dependency had been ingrained in him since he was a child. But now he was an adult, and it was time for him to take some responsibility. She couldn’t understand why he continued to act out and why he refused to learn from his mistakes. To her, his behavior was completely irrational. Although they had grown up in the same house, she realized she actually didn’t know him very well. They had nothing in common, and he never really paid much attention to her. His fights were always with his father and mother, but no matter how out of control he became, he never took his anger out on her.

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