Startled, Allison jumped, then looked up to see Liam standing over her with his hand out. She felt like an idiot. How long had she been in the zone? This was so unlike her. The only time she ever lost touch with her surroundings was when she had her headphones on and was staring at a computer screen. She stepped out of the car and led the way to the brick town house half a block away. Climbing the steps to the front door, she rang the bell.


Jordan and Noah had lived in their home for less than two weeks. They had been searching the historic section of Boston for some time, trying to find the perfect place, and when this newly renovated brownstone came on the market, they snatched it up. Even though it had been completely updated, it retained the charm of its past life. The double doors still held their original etched glass, and the antique lanterns on either side, which had long ago been converted to electricity, gave an amber glow.

Jordan opened the door and smiled graciously. "Liam Scott, I presume?" she said, holding out her hand.

Liam let Allison walk in ahead of him, then took Jordan's hand. "Thank you very much for allowing us to barge in on you like this."

"Oh, I'm sure it was all my brother's idea," she said. "I'm afraid our home isn't quite ready for guests yet, so I hope you'll forgive the mess. I've been very busy, and my husband has been away on assignment."

"I've never met him," Liam said. "But I've heard a great deal about him. Noah Clayborne has quite an impressive record in the bureau."

"I hope the two of you will get to meet someday."

They stepped into a wide entry hall with an open staircase that led to the second floor. Boxes were stacked next to the wall. The living room to the right was mostly bare, with only two chairs and a sofa. Two lamps, still in their bubble wrap, sat on the floor. Jordan was leading them to the rear when the doorbell rang.

"That must be Alec," she said. "I called him and asked him to pick up dinner on his way here."

When she opened the door, Allison saw a tall, broad-shouldered man holding half a dozen bags imprinted with Chinese symbols.

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"Did you order the entire Bo Ling menu?" he asked Jordan, lifting the bags out for her to see.

"Hi, Alec," she answered as she leaned up, kissed her brother on the cheek, and took a couple of the bags from him.

When Jordan introduced him, Allison could see the similarity between brother and sister. It was in their eyes when they smiled. She could also see the comfortable familiarity between them, and it was obvious that they not only loved each other, but liked each other as well. 

Everyone followed Jordan as she walked down the hall to the dining room. A folding table about twice the size of a card table sat in the middle with four folding chairs around it. Paper plates and napkins were set at the places.

"The dining table won't be here for a couple of days," Jordan said apologetically. "And our dishes are still packed away. I hope this will do."

After everyone assured her it was fine, she took the cartons out of the bags and set them in the middle of the table. She then asked for drink preferences, and Allison went with her to the kitchen to get the bottles of water and beers.

Alec waited until the women were out of earshot before he turned to Liam and said, "She's the computer genius? Are you sure?"

"Of course I'm sure."

"She's-I don't know-not what I expected. You told me she was a model, but . . ."

"But what?"

"You have noticed she's beautiful. Right?" Alec asked.

Liam laughed. "No, I hadn't noticed. Thanks for pointing it out. You do realize your sister is a brilliant programmer, and she's also very beautiful?"

"I suppose," Alec admitted with a shrug, as only a brother would acknowledge when assessing his sister. "I guess it's just that a lot of the techie types I've met have been guys with long, stringy hair and stains on their T-shirts."

"Kinda like you," Liam remarked. "Are you going undercover again? Is that the reason for the longer hair and the beard?"

"No, Regan and I have been on vacation. I'm only here for one night, then back to Chicago. Regan's already there. She has a meeting early tomorrow morning."

While the two men were catching up, Jordan and Allison stayed in the kitchen, talking in low voices.

Jordan handed Allison a couple of bottles from the refrigerator and whispered, "You look as though you're about ready to jump out of your skin."

Allison let out a long exhale and said, "I'm afraid they're going to force me to take a lie detector test."

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