Allison used the map on her phone and gave directions. They stopped in front of a single-story dilapidated house with a battered and faded FOR SALE sign in the front yard. It was partially obscured by trash and weeds. The place looked deserted. Liam put the car in park and Allison stared past him, trying to see if there was movement in one of the windows.
"Liam, I have something to tell you, and I’d like you to try to be reasonable."
"Reasonable about what?"
She took a breath and, knowing he was about to be extremely unreasonable, said, "This is a house where one of Will’s friends lived. Will could be inside."
Before she could explain her plan, he said, "He isn’t. Agents checked for me. Went through the house, room by room. It’s empty, and no one’s been there for a long time. See? I can be reasonable." He smiled after making the statement of fact.
"How did you . . . ?"
"The names were on your screen, and I checked them out."
She shrugged. "It was a long shot. Will knew them years ago when he was in high school. I remembered them because they were really mean, and they scared me. They were the kind of guys who would easily become violent."
"What were you hoping to accomplish here?"
"I thought one of them might be hiding Will. If I can find him and get him to surrender peacefully, Phillips assured me the court would take that into consideration."
His patience was quickly vanishing. "Are you still hell-bent on helping him?"
"I don’t want him to die in a hail of bullets."
"A hail of bullets? You watch too much television."
"If he has the opportunity to surrender, then that’s what I’m hoping he’ll want to do."
He looked at her for a long, silent moment and then said, "Do you know anywhere else he could be?"
"No," she said. She was emphatic. "And if I did know, I would tell you."
Convinced, he nodded. "Okay, then. Is our scenic drive over?"
"Yes." She thought he looked relieved. "I’m beginning to get the feeling you can’t wait to get rid of me."
He laughed, but she noticed he didn’t contradict her. They didn’t talk much on the way back to her apartment, each lost in thought. She was dying to ask him where he was going or if he would be back, and her determination not to was making her crazy.
His farewell didn’t warm her heart. He grabbed her, gave her a quick kiss, and said, "See you later."
She wanted to hit something. She finally understood what Liam had meant when he said frustration and pressure built up. Hitting was a good release, he’d told her. She was about to find out for herself.
She called Dan. An hour later she was being destroyed on a racquetball court at the gym. The only time she hit the ball was during practice before they started a game. Dan was proud-and loud-announcing to anyone who would listen that he had wiped the floor with her. He couldn’t just say he’d won?
Even though she had been humiliated on the court with at least twenty men watching, after all was said and done, she did feel better. Liam had been right. Hitting something-or in her case, trying to hit something-helped get rid of tension and stress.
Dan, still gloating from his victory, walked her to her car. "Have you been aware of your surroundings?" he asked, now reverting to his brother mode.
"Yes," she answered.
"Then you know you’re being followed?"
"Yes, I do know. He’s an agent temporarily assigned to watch over me."
"Why?" he asked, his concern obvious.
She didn’t want to go into a lengthy explanation about Will or even the trouble over Bale’s resentment, so she simply said, "I’m an asset as long as I work at the cyber unit."
He nodded, accepting her half-given explanation. "Where’s the guy you’re usually with?"
She shrugged. "I don’t know."
"Are you going to see him again?"
"I don’t know." She sounded disheartened and knew he noticed.
Dan opened her car door for her. "You fell for him, didn’t you?" Her silence told him everything he needed to know. As pragmatic as ever, he said, "Maybe it’s a good thing you’re going to California pretty soon. A new start," he suggested. "I personally wish you weren’t going, but I-"
She interrupted. "I’m not going. I want to start my company here in Boston. I can take on the Silicon boys from here." She smiled as she added, "And annihilate them."
Dan couldn’t have been happier and wanted to celebrate. "What are you doing tonight?"