Her voice shook when she mentioned the life insurance policy. "Thinking about it makes me so angry." She took a deep breath to calm herself. "What do you do when you're angry and frustrated?"

"I like to hit."



He nodded. "When I need to get rid of the anger, I look for a rugby game. It can get pretty brutal, which I love. I played a lot of rugby growing up, but if I can't find a game, I go to the nearest batting cages and hit baseballs until I wind down. Frustration is another matter."

"Oh? How do you get rid of frustration?"

The dimple was back. "Sex." He saw the instant blush and had to laugh again. "What do you do when you're frustrated?"

She couldn't bring herself to tell him that when her frustration grew, she wrote code. No, she couldn't tell him that because it was such a nerdy thing to admit.

"Same thing," she said with a straight face. She lowered her eyes and asked, "Tell me, Liam, are you frustrated now?"

He stared at her a long minute before answering, "You're playing with fire. It doesn't matter how frustrated I am. This is work and you're an asset. I don't have sex with assets."

She could feel her cheeks burning. Flirting wasn't her forte, and she should never have tried being coy. "I was not asking you to have sex."

Too late she realized she should have kept her voice low. Half the restaurant had heard her. A rather good-looking man wearing a Celtics T-shirt at the end of the bar yelled, "I'll have sex with you, honey, anytime, anyplace."

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She buried her face in her hands. "Oh God," she groaned.

A second man at the bar, pointing to the two on either side of him, chimed in, "Forget these guys. They're amateurs. I'm the man you want, sweet cheeks."

When she raised her head and glanced around the room, a dozen people were looking at her and laughing. She was mortified.

Liam took mercy on her. "Want to change the subject?" he asked.

She blocked out the faces that were staring at her and straightened in her chair, focusing on Liam. "Do you like basketball?" she blurted. "I do. I love the Celtics, and if I were going to stay in Boston, I would get on the list for season tickets. Good ones are hard to come by," she rattled on. "And baseball. I love baseball, too. I go to a lot of the Red Sox home games." She stopped because she had to take a breath.

"I'll have to take you to the batting cages one of these days," Liam remarked. He was trying not to laugh at her, because she was so uncomfortable. Her face was still red. Such an innocent, he thought. There wasn't anything phony or pretentious about her. Yet another reason he was drawn to her. She definitely was unusual compared to the other women he'd known.

But she was an asset and off-limits, he reminded himself once again.

She was finally getting past her embarrassment. "I can go to the batting cages by myself. Besides, you won't be in town long enough to take me. Remember? After I do that little favor for you, you're out of here. Isn't that right?"

He didn't like being reminded that he would be leaving. "Right," he said, his voice clipped.

She suddenly remembered a question she wanted to ask. "Why did you come to my house tonight?"

"I tried to call you, and your number was disconnected. I came to find out what was going on."

"When you saw me leaving with my bag, did you think I was trying to escape?"

"Trust me, Allison. There's no place you could go that I wouldn't find you," he said with a confident smile.

"I was going to Jordan's house. I just needed to get away," she said. "I changed my phone number because of my aunt. On the way back from Emerson, she called at least twenty-five times. I'm not exaggerating," she insisted. "I knew she wouldn't stop harassing me, so I changed my number. I'm only giving it to a few trusted friends, and you, of course," she added hastily. "I'll give you my new number now if you'd like."

"I already have it."

Surprised, she said, "You what? You have it? I only just changed it." She shook her head. "If you want something you just . . . get it?"

"Pretty much." The waiter appeared with the tab, and after paying, Liam stood. "Are you ready to go?"

"Yes," she answered, and even though there had been awkward, even embarrassing moments, she hated to see her evening with Liam end.

As they crossed the restaurant, he put his arm around her and pulled her into his side.

"What are you doing?" she asked.

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