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He didn’t argue, and once they were on their way, he said, "Tell me about this Brett."

"He lived with us for a while. He was asked to leave after Mark, one of my other housemates, caught him with my laptop. God knows what he was doing with it. They couldn’t tell if he was trying to steal it or just trying to open it. I used it when I was helping him with some of his classes, and I don’t know how much he saw. I have some very important work on it, so I’m trying to be very careful."

Recalling a conversation they’d had at the restaurant, he asked, "Did you get your paper finished?"

"You remembered I had a paper to write for my class?"

"Of course."

"Yes, I did finish it despite my lack of sleep. I called Charlotte and she kept me up most of the night. When I told her about my argument with our aunt and uncle, she was upset." Upset didn’t quite cover her sister’s reaction. Irate was a much better description. Once Allison revealed what was in the envelope Will had handed her, her sister went into a rage. "She wants to confront them," she told him.

He glanced over at her. "What would that accomplish?"

She shrugged. "It won’t change anything. I tried to talk her out of it, and she promised to think about it. She’s not a violent person, but I worry she’ll punch one of them if she ever sees them again."

Smiling, he said, "I like your sister."

"Why? Because she wants to punch Aunt Jane and Uncle Russell?"

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"No, because she protected you when you were young."

It was such a sweet thing to say about Charlotte. Allison felt as though she had just been given a compliment, which didn’t make any sense. Charlotte was the hero, not her.

"This new FBI building-," she began.

"It’s also the new satellite of the CSA."

"And Phillips is in charge?"

"Yes."

Allison tried not to stare at Liam, but it was nearly impossible. He had such a handsome profile, and every time she looked at him, she thought about his lips on hers. She knew she was being foolish, and she wished she could be more sophisticated about it all. It being sex, she admitted. She was such a klutz when it came to physical relationships. Maybe she should have read a couple of books on the subject instead of writing code night and day. Why couldn’t she stop thinking about it? Had he thought about the kiss? Probably not, she decided. Men didn’t ponder such things, did they? She would ask Dan. He’d be honest with her. 

Pull it together, she told herself. Now isn’t the time to fantasize about what it would be like to be with Liam. Why think about what would never happen?

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"Phillips wants to know if I can break into the government system, right?" she asked.

"Right."

"And he’s okay with me searching for the leak?"

"Yes."

"I have a feeling he wants me to fail so he can say, ‘I told you so.’"

"I think you might be right," he said with a grin.

"He’s in for a disappointment," she said. "I am going to get in, and if the leak is coming from inside, I will find it."

"I like your confidence."

"Thank you," she replied. "Phillips is so sure he’s hack-proof."

"And you’re sure you won’t be detected."

"Of course. Otherwise, what’s the point?"

They reached the gate, which opened for them without any notification.

"They’ve been waiting for you," she said.

Her hands were gripped tightly in her lap, and Liam could see how nervous she was. "They’re waiting for you, too," he said.

"Are you going to drop me off?"

Once again the parking lot was deserted. Liam parked close to the door where the guard waited for them. "No, Allison. I’m not leaving you. I’ll make sure you get settled in."

"Have you thought more about Will?" she asked as they made their way to the entrance.

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"I’ve talked to a couple of people," he answered.

"And Phillips? You’ll have to talk to him, too, won’t you? I wish you didn’t have to," she admitted. "The man already thinks he has the upper hand, and doing me a favor will put me at his mercy." Six months, she thought. She could put up with him for six months.

"I’ve already discussed it with him," he answered.

She didn’t have a chance to ask another question. The guard had opened the door and was waiting for them to enter. Allison went to the sign-in counter and handed her laptop and her purse to the other guard on duty.

His smile was genuine when he greeted her. "It’s nice to see you again."

He wasn’t wearing his identification, but she remembered his name. "How are you, Tom?"

He beamed. "You remembered me."

"Of course."

"I’m doing fine today," he stammered. "How are you doing?"

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