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He stood over her with his arms folded across his chest. "This is a clear-cut case against Will. The DA will add charges. Your cousin is going away for a long time."

"If there’s a warrant, that means he’s not in jail?"

"He ran before the police got there. He hasn’t been found yet."

"This is all my fault," she whispered, her voice shaking with emotion. "That man is in the hospital because of me. Will could have killed him. If I hadn’t pleaded for probation, this wouldn’t have happened."

"Yeah, it would have," he said. "It just wouldn’t have happened this soon. Your cousin isn’t going to change. He’s got a lot of rage inside. He should be locked up."

She put her head down and covered her face with her hands. "I’m responsible. Why didn’t I think he was capable of such violence? Why didn’t-"

Liam wouldn’t let her continue to berate herself. "You thought you were giving him one last chance to change his life."

"I was a fool."

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"No, you were naive. There’s enough blame to go around. Phillips or I could have refused to get probation for him. But what’s done is done. He’s going to try to get you to help him."

"He doesn’t know I helped him get probation, does he?"

"No."

"Then why would he come to me for help?"

"Because you’ve always helped his family in the past. Hell, you supported all of them. Your cousin has been running with some bad people. One of them might show up at your door. If Will or one of his friends tries to contact you, I want you to call me."

"What if you’re out of the country?"

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"You call me."

He wasn’t going to let up until she agreed. "Yes, I’ll call you."

"Give me your cell phone."

She pulled it from her back pocket and watched as he programmed his number in and added it to speed dial.

"All right, then," he answered with finality.

Allison waited for him to say something else, but Liam stood in front of her, silent and unmoving. The only sound was the chirping of crickets in the darkness. The longer he stood there, the more uncomfortable she became. Just being alone with him was enough to make her heart beat faster, but the way he was looking at her now almost brought her heart to a stop.

She broke the silence. "Was there anything else you wanted to talk about?"

His answer was brusque. "No."

"Then we should go in."

Liam took her hands to pull her to her feet, but when she was standing bare inches away, the willpower he had been relying on all evening evaporated into thin air. From the moment she walked through the door, he’d wanted her. For the past two months, he had looked for every excuse to return to Boston. He had told himself the memory of their time together would fade, but that hadn’t happened. And then, when he saw her again tonight, he knew he was in real trouble.

"Allison . . . ," he began.

She waited for him to continue, but he only held her hands more tightly. His eyes searched hers as though he was seeking something intangible.

"Are you going to let go of me anytime soon?" she whispered, hoping he couldn’t feel her trembling.

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"No, not yet."

She peeked around him to see if anyone was watching. The light from inside poured through the French doors. Thankfully, the dining room was empty. She wasn’t worried about Alec and Noah noticing. They wouldn’t say anything, but Jordan was another story. She’d have at least a hundred questions, and Allison knew she wouldn’t be able to answer a single one. How could she, when she didn’t know what was happening herself? The only thing she was sure of was that she had been miserable for months, and Liam was the cause. To avoid a future of misery, she had to keep her distance from him. 

She freed her hands and said, "You should leave me alone."

He nodded. "You’re right. I should leave you alone." He stepped even closer so that she had to tilt her head up to look at him. She could feel the warmth of his chest against hers and wondered if he could hear the breath that caught in her throat.

He lowered his head, and as though she had no control over her reactions, her fingers slid into his soft hair. "This is all wrong. I can’t-"

"Yeah, it’s definitely all wrong," he said as his mouth brushed over hers.

And then he kissed her exactly how she wanted him to, and oh, how he made her want more. She heard a low groan, then realized she was the one making the sound. He overwhelmed her, and when he finally ended the kiss her arms were clasped around his neck. She was slow to get her wits back. When she finally found her strength, she pushed against him. Unfortunately, he didn’t budge.

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