"If you come to work here, you'll only have to answer to me," Phillips offered.
He would be her boss? Did he actually believe that would be an incentive? "As enticing as that is, I'm still going to decline."
Phillips came around the desk. "I hope you'll reconsider."
She shook his hand, then Scott's, while she thanked both of them for letting her see a little of the cyber unit. There was only one problem with a quick exit: Agent Scott wouldn't let go of her. She tugged; he pulled. "Is there a problem?" It was difficult to tell what was going on behind his smile.
"I was hoping you could answer a couple of questions before you left," he replied. "I guess I could ask them tonight."
Oh no. After this encounter, there was no way she was going to Jordan's tonight. She decided to keep that information to herself and play along. "Yes, you could ask me then. Are you about ready to let go of me, Agent Scott?"
Phillips drew her attention. "There is one thing we need to know before you go."
She turned to him. "Yes?"
"Have you ever hacked into a government agency?"
The question shocked her. She wasn't prepared for it. "No," she answered emphatically. Technically she was telling the truth. She had e-mailed the FBI with sensitive information, but she had never broken into their system.
"FBI? CIA? NSA?"
"You can go through the alphabet if you want. The answer is still no. I haven't hacked into any government agencies. It's against the law."
"Never," she insisted.
"If you had, would you admit it to a federal agent?"
He had her there. "No, I wouldn't."
"Now you understand the need for a lie detector test."
"Sure, I do. I'm still not taking one."
It seemed to her that they were back where they started. "Because I don't want to work here."
"About the government agencies . . . ," Phillips said.
"You've really never hacked . . ."
How obtuse was the man? "No, I haven't."
He posed the question just as she skirted past Liam and headed for the door. She turned around and said, "I've never tried."
Liam shook his head. "That's not what he was asking. Could you?"
She decided to be honest, no matter how arrogant she sounded. "Probably." She thought about it another couple of seconds, then added, "Yes, I'm sure I could. Happy now?"
Liam grinned. "You have no idea."
Allison wanted to find out why she was being interrogated, but her curiosity was overridden by her desire to escape. Liam Scott's piercing green eyes were staring intensely into hers, yet giving nothing away.
"Let me guess. You're not going to explain," she said.
"No, not now," Liam said. He opened the door for her. "We'll talk tonight, and you can ask as many questions as you'd like."
"Will you answer them?"
"Yes," he assured her. "I'll pick you up at seven."
Before she could argue and tell him she wasn't going anywhere with him at seven tonight or any other night, Agent Phillips spoke up. "Trust me, Allison. I'll find a way to convince you. I think you'll enjoy working here."
She shook her head to let him know she disagreed, and when she turned back, Liam was gone.
"Would you like to see the rest of the facility now?" Phillips offered.
"No, thank you."
She didn't wait for an escort. Quickly exiting Phillips's office, she located Jordan and convinced her it was time to leave. When they were finally alone in the car, Allison began to grill her.
"Why didn't you tell me about Agent Scott?"
"Who's Agent Scott?"
Jordan drove through the gates and onto the road before glancing over at Allison. "I don't know who you're talking about."
"You didn't know they checked up on me and planned this whole visit to get me out here?"
Jordan looked completely befuddled. "What?"
"Liam Scott is coming to your home tonight for dinner, and he thinks he's picking me up at seven and bringing me along."
Since they were driving on a deserted gravel road, Jordan didn't bother to pull over. She stopped the car and turned to her friend. "What do you mean, he's coming over for dinner?"
Before Allison could respond, Jordan said, "Take a breath and tell me what happened. Start at the beginning and try to make sense."