Liam could see the resemblance between the sisters. They had the same high cheekbones and blue eyes. Their smiles were almost identical, too. But there were a couple of distinct differences. Charlotte had light brown hair and Allison’s was a deep, lush sable. Charlotte was the scrubbed girl next door, pretty, with freckles on her cheeks, while Allison was a stunning beauty with flawless skin. There was only one other big difference. Charlotte didn’t turn him on the way Allison did.
Charlotte hadn’t said anything yet. When she finally stopped staring at Liam, she turned toward Allison with wide, questioning eyes. Obviously astonished to see her sister with a man, she interrogated her with one look. Allison read the signals loud and clear. She knew Charlotte was dying to find out about him. There was little that Allison had ever done in her life that surprised her sister, and she loved watching the expressions that were skipping across Charlotte’s face now.
Oliver drew his wife’s attention. While they discussed what they wanted to drink, Allison picked up the glass she’d emptied and frowned. Then she looked at Liam.
"What happened to the ice?" she whispered.
"You swallowed it."
He didn’t look as though he was joking. Okay, so she was flustered and hadn’t been paying attention to what she was doing. "I was thirsty," she rationalized in a flimsy excuse to hide her embarrassment.
Charlotte couldn’t hold her curiosity any longer. She looked at Liam, then back at Allison. "How did you two meet?"
"I did some computer work for him."
"And you’ve known each other long?" Charlotte asked.
"Not long," Allison answered. The sisters had never had any secrets between them, and Allison sensed Charlotte’s irritation at not being told about Liam.
There was one other secret that Allison was keeping. Charlotte persisted with one question after another, but Allison was evasive with her answers because she didn’t want her sister to know about the deal she had struck to keep their cousin out of prison. If Charlotte knew, she’d have thrown a fit. Unlike Allison, she had absolutely no sympathy for Will. Her attitude was set. He had made his bed and he should have to wallow in it.
Oliver changed the subject. "Allison, when are you moving? Maybe we can fly down and help you get settled."
"She’s moving to Santa Clara right after graduation," Charlotte explained. "Allison, I’m so sorry we can’t be there to see you graduate. If we could change our schedules . . ."
"It’s all right. It’s no big deal. Honest," she said. "And, Oliver, I’m putting off the move for another six months. I’m going to do some work for the government."
"Do it from California. All you need is your laptop."
"No, I have to work here."
"Why?" Charlotte asked.
Allison felt like groaning. Her sister wasn’t going to give up. "Because I gave my word, and I’m going to sign a contract."
More questions resulted from that bit of honesty, and Liam watched Allison bob and weave like a pro, sometimes giving only half answers. After five more questions were asked and partially answered, he decided Charlotte could work for the CIA. She was tenacious with her inquisition.
A break came when the waiter reappeared. While Oliver and Charlotte talked to him, Liam leaned down and whispered, "I’m getting the idea you don’t want your sister to know you helped your cousin."
"You promised not to say a word," Allison whispered back with a warning glance.
"Promise what?" Charlotte asked.
She didn’t just have the persistence of a honey badger; she had the hearing of a bat, too. Allison decided she was tired of being the center of attention and was determined to get the upper hand. Liam ordered another club soda, and she said she’d like one, too. Then she sat back, smiled at her sister, and said, "Liam’s from Australia." She waved her hand in the air. "Discuss."
Allison was sure Charlotte would have a hundred questions. She didn’t have a single one. Still determined to find out every detail in Allison’s contract, she persevered.
"Will you please let it go?" Allison pleaded in exasperation.
"Just help me understand why you would want to sign a contract. Have you forgotten your plan to move to California?"
Oliver’s cell phone interrupted. "I’ve got to take this," he said. "I’ll be right back."
Allison waited until he’d left the bar, then said, "Oliver looks rested." She was hoping to turn Charlotte’s attention yet again. "He must like his job."