"I'm not sure I can. None of it made sense to me. You really don't know Liam . . . ?"
"No, I don't."
"What about your husband? Maybe Noah invited him. They're both FBI. Maybe they're old friends, and he just never mentioned him to you."
Jordan dug her phone out of her purse and went through her messages. There weren't any from her husband, but there was one from her brother Alec, who was in town from Chicago. He hoped she wouldn't mind the late notice, but he had a friend who wanted to meet her. They were coming over for dinner. Jordan read the message to Allison.
"Alec's FBI, too, isn't he?" Allison asked.
"Yes," Jordan replied. "You still haven't told me what happened."
"Phillips had a file on me. He knew about my family, my years working on my degree-"
"Why?" Jordan asked.
"He was offering me a job. I think there's more to it. If this was only a recruitment opportunity, why wouldn't they have called me for a meeting? Why did they get you involved? And why would they have been so manipulative about us coming out here?"
"I'm sorry, Allison. I didn't know anything about this." Jordan thought for a second. "It's a given they want something from you," she said. "Maybe tonight your date will tell you what it is."
Allison looked appalled, which made Jordan laugh. "Liam Scott is not my date. In fact, I don't think I'll come tonight."
"Yes, you will," Jordan said. "You're curious to know what he wants, aren't you?"
"You could find out and tell me."
"Oh no. You have to be there. Besides, from what you've told me, I don't think Agent Scott will let you decline. FBI agents like to get their way. What's he like?"
Sexy. That was the first word that came to mind, but Allison wasn't about to admit such a foolish thought to Jordan. Instead, she said, "Oh, you know."
"No, I don't know. Tell me."
Allison shrugged. "He's an FBI agent. He smiles, though. Unlike Phillips."
Jordan put the car in drive and took off. "I guess I'll learn more about Liam Scott tonight. I wish Noah could be there, but he won't be back from Miami until next week."
Several minutes passed in silence as Allison replayed the bizarre encounter in her head. "Phillips sounded so sure of himself," she said.
"He told me he'd find a way to get me to work for him, and I don't think he's one to bluff."
"No, he isn't," Jordan agreed.
"He also said I would have to take a lie detector test, and I can't do that."
Allison trusted Jordan but hadn't told her about all of her forays on the Internet. "Why do you think?"
"You don't think you would pass."
"I know I wouldn't pass, and I could end up in prison." Allison knew she had never caused any damage to the sites she'd broken into, so she wasn't worried about being prosecuted for vandalizing them, yet the sheer volume of her hacks had to mean something. They could add up to a serious charge.
"No, I'm not."
Jordan didn't miss a beat. "Okay, so don't take the test. Stand firm. No one can force you."
"Aren't you going to ask me what I did that could send me to prison?"
"You'll tell me when you're ready."
Allison smiled. "You're a very unusual woman. I'd be dying of curiosity, and I would probably nag you until you told me."
"Is that your phone beeping or mine?"
"Mine," Allison said. She saw that there were three voice messages, all from her aunt. The first message was quick and calm. Her aunt asked her to call as soon as possible. There was a problem, she said, but she didn't give any further explanation. The second message was more aggressive. Her aunt's voice had a bite to it. She said she had waited two hours for Allison to call back. Why hadn't she done so? Did she realize how selfish and ungrateful she was? The third message was almost comical. In the middle of a blistering rant, her uncle began to shout at her aunt, and within seconds the two of them were in an all-out fight, screaming at each other. Unfortunately, Allison was used to their loud quarrels. The tirades in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? were polite disagreements in comparison to this couple's arguments.
"Are you going to call her back?" Jordan asked.
"It was impossible not to hear. Your aunt and uncle were shouting."
Allison didn't make any excuses for their behavior. "I'll call when I get back to the house."