"Which one was it?" he asked. "Your aunt or your uncle?"
Her aunt called again and again. Allison put the phone on mute, but that didn’t stop the woman. Not only did she call; she also texted insults, all starting with the word ungrateful.
Where were her computer and her headphones when she needed them? She wanted to escape into her laptop and forget about all her worries. She included Liam on that list. She wanted him to either stay or leave, but not do both. Bouncing back and forth was making her nuts. She still hadn’t recovered from not seeing him for months, and then, boom, there he was. Did she want him to stay? She closed her eyes and leaned back against the headrest while she thought about it. Three seconds later she had her answer. Of course she wanted him to stay. If anyone was going to leave, it should be her, not him. Maybe then it wouldn’t hurt so much. Liam had the power to crush her . . . and all because she was hopelessly in love with him.
What could she do about it? She didn’t have a clue. She worried for the rest of the drive to the cyber unit.
Phillips looked relieved to see them. He followed Allison to her office, gave her the task he wanted completed-another breach of a government facility-then left her alone. Allison glanced over her shoulder and saw Liam waiting for him outside the glass wall. The two immediately fell into a deep discussion, and whatever the topic was had both of them frowning. Every once in a while, one or the other would turn to look at her. Allison was curious but turned her concentration back to the screen and went to work. Finally, around one in the morning she found what Phillips was looking for. Because the hacker was unsophisticated and easy to pinpoint, her task was a rather simple one. Any of the other techs could have done the job, and she wondered why she had been called in. She wouldn’t have been surprised if Phillips was simply asserting his control over her.
After e-mailing her report to him, she went to Phillips’s office to check out. He and Liam were in a serious conversation that stopped when she knocked on the door. Phillips motioned for her to come in. He didn’t require a long explanation of her findings. In fact, he was rather abrupt when he told her he would read her report in the morning and ordered her to go home and get some rest. If she didn’t know better, she might have thought he actually was concerned about her well-being.
Liam drove her back to her apartment and parked underground next to her car, then carried her overnight bag and his gym bag up to her apartment, which she didn’t notice until he’d unlocked her door and followed her inside.
"Did you text Jordan and tell her . . . ?" she began.
"Yes, she knows. I can drive you out there tomorrow if you’d like."
She shook her head. "No, thanks. I’m going to stay home."
She put her laptop on the desk and hooked it up to its charger. The cell phone had to be close to her at all times-according to Phillips-so she went into the bedroom and plugged it into the charger on the bedside table. Finished with the mundane tasks, she returned to the living room to get her overnight bag. Liam’s bag was sitting next to hers, and he was sitting on the sofa, checking messages on his phone.
"Liam, why did you bring your gym bag in?"
He didn’t look up from the screen when he answered, "I’m spending the night."
She was so surprised by his casual and blunt announcement she didn’t know what to say. She felt a burst of joy, which she quickly squelched. "That’s pretty presumptuous, isn’t it? Shouldn’t you have asked me?"
He put his phone down and smiled at her with that crazy dimple that only appeared when he was up to something. Loosening his tie, he stood and walked into her bedroom, stopping to pick up his bag on the way.
She followed him. "Are you going to answer me?"
"Yeah, I probably should ask, but even if you say no, I’m still staying."
"Why what?" He was being deliberately obtuse.
"Why are you spending the night?"
He took off his jacket and hung it in her closet. "I want to stick close to you for a little while."
She put her hands on her hips. "This has something to do with Phillips, doesn’t it? I saw you talking to him, and you and he both looked so serious. Something happened, didn’t it?"
He wasn’t at all reluctant to explain. "Phillips has been talking to Bale. The guy has a grudge against you."
"Why? What did I do to him?"
"You didn’t do anything to him," he assured her. "When you found the leak in his Detroit office, you embarrassed him. Somehow he thought you manipulated information to implicate people who worked for him. He was in charge of the operation there, but he didn’t want to take responsibility for the lack of security. He had to blame someone. In his warped mind you’re the reason people lost their jobs."