Yeah, right. Law-abiding . . . except for the thirty-eight million dollars she took from the CHF hackers' accounts. Not to mention the millions she recovered in subsequent hacks. She hadn't kept the money, of course. She had simply moved it into accounts so the FBI could retrieve it. Still, in order to find the money, she had visited-she preferred that word to hacking-protected systems. She had been so cautious and was certain she had gotten in and out without leaving any footprints the FBI or any other agency could follow. She hadn't stolen anything for herself or changed anything that would cause harm. She was only helping out. That didn't make her a criminal . . . did it?
Who was she kidding? If they knew what she had done, she'd have been on her way to lockup.
Now, as she sat there under the close scrutiny of two FBI agents, she wondered if breaking into one of those sites had been her downfall. She kept reminding herself that she'd been careful-she was always careful-yet there were times when she'd been in a hurry.
The silence as the two men continued to look at her so expectantly was unnerving. One second she was confident she was safe, and the next she was ready to put her hands out for handcuffs. Phillips finally went around his desk and took a seat while Agent Scott, his arms folded across his chest, studied her.
She desperately tried not to look at him, but it was impossible not to notice how attractive he was. She couldn't believe she was thinking about such foolish things now. Focus, she told herself. Focus on the problem at hand. Her ability to concentrate was one of her strongest traits. How many times had the sisters of St. Dominic's High School praised her for that very thing?
Were these men going to arrest her or not? She could feel the panic returning. Was this how Will felt every time the police knocked on his door? she wondered. Or was he more cavalier about it all?
She took a breath and asked, "Why am I here?"
Agent Scott answered, "I've been wanting to meet you. I've heard a lot about you, Allison. Your talents are quite impressive."
"Who have you been talking to?"
"A few people."
"In other words, you aren't going to tell me."
He didn't answer her question. He just smiled. The dimple in his cheek when he smiled made him look less intimidating. In fact, in any other situation she would have said it gave him a roguish charm. He had a lovely accent, too. British or Australian, she guessed.
Agent Phillips spoke up. "As you know, this is a new facility, and our work here is very important."
"From the little I've seen, it's impressive." She glanced at Agent Scott and said, "I should get going."
Just as she was getting up, Phillips asked, "How do you feel about taking a lie detector test?"
She sat back down. "I'm sorry. . . . Take a lie detector . . ."
"Yes," Phillips said.
"Why would I want to do that?"
"We would like you to come work for us," he explained. "But you're going to have to pass a lie detector test first."
She couldn't quite grasp what he was saying. "You're offering me a job?" She glanced from one agent to the other. Both were nodding.
Weak with relief because she didn't have to worry about going to prison, she let out the breath she'd been holding in. "Thank you for the offer, but I'm going to have to decline."
"Why?" Phillips asked. "You don't even know what the job is or what your salary would be. How can you say no?"
Time to be blunt, she decided. "I don't want to work here."
Phillips looked astonished. "Why not?" he asked, and before she could answer, he said, "I don't think you understand what a unique opportunity this is."
"We know you want to finish college," Agent Scott said. "We'd work around that."
"She's in her last year," Phillips told him. He looked at Allison as he added, "It's taken her five years."
She smiled sweetly. "That's right, Agent Phillips. It will be five years."
Seeing that she was beginning to get irritated, Scott intervened. "I think you should take some time to think about it before you decide. We haven't explained what you'll be doing here."
"I'm not interested, Agent Scott."
"Call me Liam," he insisted. "How about we talk later? You're going over to Jordan's tonight, right?"
How did he know that? "Yes," she said.
"Good." Turning to Phillips, he said, "Are we done here?"
"For now. I had hoped to test her today," he admitted, "but we can wait."
Allison wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible. She needed time alone to figure out what exactly was going on. She knew there was a hidden agenda. She just didn't know what it was. How had they found out about her "talents"? Whom had they talked to? More important to know, what did they want her to do? If she had considered their offer for even one second, she would have insisted on answers to these questions, but the fact that they had manipulated her into this situation raised red flags she couldn't ignore.