Liam watched her get settled, and when he looked back over his shoulder, he noticed three men standing on the other side of the glass. Maybe they were just curious about the new recruit. Okay, that was an understatement. The pretty blue dress Allison was wearing wasn’t formfitting, but there was no hiding the fact that she had an incredible body. If she had been wearing a tarp, they’d still have noticed. The men scattered as soon as Liam gave them his full attention.
After going over the details of the suspected leaks, he handed her a folder that contained all the pertinent information she would need to get started on her search. He then told her he would check in on her in a couple of hours. As he headed for the door, he turned back and asked, "Is there anything I can get you?"
She didn’t answer him. She had already gone into her zone. Her fingers were flying over the keyboard, her eyes locked on her monitor.
With Liam out of the room, Allison was finally able to think. It was too difficult to focus with him next to her. Every nerve in her body reacted when he was near. She couldn’t seem to put on her mask of indifference and ignore him. She never should have kissed him. All she wanted to think about was kissing him again, and that just wasn’t at all normal. She certainly couldn’t concentrate on such matters as the security of a major government agency when he was standing so close.
Starting with the facts in the folder she had been given on the people who had received the sensitive information, she began to work her way backward. She concentrated on the four who seemed to be the most obvious leaks. All of the people had received information through e-mails. As she suspected, the origins of the e-mails were obscure, but she eventually found the source for each one of them. The problem was, each source led to another source, and then another, and another. She completely lost track of time as she tried to navigate the maze.
Liam looked in on her a couple of times, but she was so engrossed in what she was doing he didn’t disturb her. When he stopped by to ask her if she’d like to take a break for lunch, she didn’t look away from the monitor but stared straight ahead, her fingers still working the keyboard, and said, "No, thanks. I’ll catch something later."
Hours later, as employees were filing past her office on their way home for the evening, Liam returned. "How’s it going?" he asked.
Her concentration broken, Allison looked up at him and shook her head. "I’ve never seen anything like this. There must be hundreds of proxies. Whoever sent these e-mails sure knows his stuff. Each e-mail is coming through a different route, but it’s pretty obvious to me it’s ultimately the same source." She sat back in her chair and stretched her arms over her head to release the tension in her shoulders. "I’m not there yet, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out," she assured him.
"It’s getting late. You need to stop for the night."
"I’d like to keep going, if that’s all right. This guy has created a massive labyrinth, and I just know I can find him." Her eyes lit up at the thrill of the hunt. "I want to try a little longer," she pleaded.
Liam swiveled the back of her chair around and turned her away from the desk. Taking her hand, he gently pulled her to her feet and said, "Come on, Allison. It’s time to take you home."
She didn’t realize how stiff she was until she walked to the door. She wanted to rub the kinks out of her lower back, but she wasn’t about to moan and groan in front of Liam. She wasn’t a frail old lady. She was feeling out of shape, and no wonder. It had been over two weeks since she had worked out, and her muscles were protesting her sitting for so long without moving.
During the long day, Allison had downed several bottles of water, but she hadn’t been hungry. She’d been too busy-and too excited-working through the massive, convoluted puzzle to think about food. She was thinking about it now, though. As if on cue her stomach grumbled. Did she have a granola bar in her purse? Probably not. She glanced at her watch and was shocked. It was already half past seven. The time really had flown by.
As though reading her mind, Liam asked, "Have you eaten anything at all today?"
"I was busy."
"You’re going to get sick," he scolded. "From now on you eat lunch. I don’t want you to keel over."
He sounded worried about her, and she couldn’t hide her surprise. She wasn’t used to anyone showing concern or even noticing when she ate or what she ate . . . except for Aunt Jane when she was monitoring her calorie intake.
"Did I mess up your plans for tonight?" she asked.