She didn’t want him to stop. She bit his shoulder and whispered, "Don’t torment me."

He let out a low groan of pleasure and began to move, slowly at first, until she became more demanding. He was mindless to everything but her. He had never been this out of control before or this desperate to make her belong to him, even if it was for only one night. Sex had always been entertainment for him and a way to relieve tension, but with Alison it was so much more.

He felt her tighten around him as she cried out his name. He found release at the same time, and damn, it nearly killed him.

"Holy . . . ," she whispered

She sounded shell-shocked, and Liam smiled, gratified. He still couldn’t move away from her, so he held her tight as he rolled onto his back.

Allison didn’t move. She wanted to remember how this felt to be held by him and loved.

"Are you all right?" he asked breathlessly.

She panted her reply. "Oh yes."

As much as she wanted to linger, she forced herself to roll away from him and get out of bed. She found her robe and put it on, threaded her fingers through her hair to give it some kind of order, and walked barefoot out of the room.

What the hell? "Where are you going?" Liam asked. Did she already regret what had just happened? He hoped not. He sure as certain didn’t. He’d wanted her from the minute she opened the door tonight.

"To fix the printer."

Liam was floored. This was a first for him. He was typically the one who would ease his way out without hurting feelings. There was always the time after sex when the woman he was with wanted affirmation that it had been wonderful for him, even though it usually wasn’t. It wasn’t bad, either. It was just sex.

Until Allison.

Bewildered by what he was feeling, he decided he wasn’t going to waste another minute thinking about it. Taking her lead, he got dressed. When he joined her, she was printing the second copy of the contract. Liam once again read it over, and only when he was sure everything was the way he wanted did he offer her a pen. She signed it and handed it back.

"Phillips is going to have a fit when he reads this," she said.

Liam smiled. "Yes, he will."

"I guess this is it, then," she said. "And you’re off to London."

He put his suit jacket on and walked to the door. "Okay, then. You’re going to be all right."

"Yes, I know."

They both put their hands on the doorknob at the same time. Allison let go and stepped back. He turned to say good-bye, changed his mind, and pulled her into his arms. He kissed her long and hard and walked out the door.

And he was gone. It took another hour for Allison to admit the truth. She felt abandoned. That didn’t make any sense to her, but then, having sex with Liam and pretending it hadn’t meant anything didn’t make any sense, either. Didn’t he know? Didn’t he have a glimmer of a notion that he was more than a casual fling to her? Apparently not.

She really couldn’t blame him, because she had only just figured it out. Trying to be a with-it modern woman wasn’t working for her. She had no one to blame but herself. She should have known she wasn’t cut out for games. She didn’t have the nerves or the disposition to be coy or clever. No wonder she hid in her computer. It couldn’t hurt her.

EIGHTEEN

Eight weeks, three days, and not a word from Liam. Not that she cared, because she didn’t. Swamped with work and classes, she had barely thought about him. She accepted the fact that he had moved on, just as she had. She told herself that lie so many times she was almost beginning to believe it.

Exams were finally over. She turned in the last paper she was ever going to write for persnickety Dr. Bracey’s class, and she was officially finished. Now that she thought about it, senior year hadn’t been all that difficult, just time-consuming. 

Her job, on the other hand, was making her crazy. She was getting sick and tired of being dragged out of her apartment by the FBI. There were always two agents-never one or three-banging at her door at the most inconvenient times. Every once in a while, if they were in a "let’s prank the employee" mood, one of them would dangle handcuffs in front of her face to get her to hurry. They thought it was funny, but their little stunt wasn’t humorous in Starbucks or the gym. Their ferocious expressions could scare the bejesus out of an ordinary person. The scare tactics were wasted on her. The agents were having fun, she supposed, and fun was hard to come by in their line of work, so she let them torment her.

Her days at the cyber unit were intense. Because Phillips assigned her only the most complex cases, he kept her isolated in her own office. The other employees passing by looked through the glass wall and saw her working. When she glanced their way, they returned her smile, and when she passed them in the hall, they nodded and said hello, but there was no other interaction or camaraderie. She didn’t take time to form relationships with coworkers. They most likely assumed she was antisocial. To them she looked as though she had it all together because she had had years of practice perfecting her laid-back attitude. On the outside she appeared to be calm, cool, and in control, but on the inside she was a mess of nerves, and she was mentally counting the days until she would once again be free to pursue her own dreams.