At the end of questioning, Bale was so out of control he was strongly encouraged to take a leave of absence. In a rage he stormed out of the building.

His hot head had forced the outcome and he needed some time to cool down. Liam didn't believe Bale would physically harm Allison, but in Bale's present state of mind, Liam worried the other agent would want to interrogate her in his own personal style and no doubt scare the hell out of her. Liam wasn't about to let that happen. Phillips assured him Bale would be calm and sensible by morning. Until then, no one was going to get near her.


"I'll drive," he said, stepping out into the hallway.

Allison draped her coat over her arm and followed. "Okay, then," she said.

It seemed the most natural thing in the world for her hand to be in his, but once they reached the car, her self-conscious insecurities took over and she quickly let go. She told him whom the party was for and asked if he needed directions to the Hamilton Hotel.

He smiled. "I know where it is. I'm staying there."

Impressed, she commented, "It's very elegant."

"Yes, it is." He didn't add the fact that Alec's wife and her brothers owned the Hamilton Hotels and that they had insisted that Liam stay there.

In the car, Liam went over some of the points he didn't like in Phillips's contract, and although she tried, Allison found it impossible to pay attention. Her mind kept wandering off in another direction, to fantasies of a more carnal nature. She couldn't stop herself from picturing him naked-she decided she wouldn't be normal if she didn't-and what a glorious memory that was. She remembered touching him and trailing her fingertips across his broad shoulders. She sighed inside, just thinking of his hard-as-steel muscles below his warm skin. She had to admit to herself that she loved touching him.

She was thankful he hadn't mentioned the fact that they had had sex the night before. When he'd shown up at her door, she was shocked and nearly speechless. She was also . . . joyful. A silly word, she decided, but it exactly defined how she felt. She had thought she wouldn't see him again for months or maybe not ever because her work for him was done, and he traveled all over the world putting out fires. She had almost convinced herself that she was fine with that. Lots of people shared a night of passion and then moved on without complications. She could be one of those people. She was sure of it. Or was she? She didn't seem to know her own mind anymore.

"What do you think?"

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His question jarred her. "About what?"

Exasperated, he said, "The contract. Haven't you heard a word I've said?"

She saw no reason to bluff her way through. "No, I haven't."

He glanced over at her, saw her smile, and shook his head. "I'm trying to help you."

"I know you are."

"Then maybe you want to pay attention?"

He pulled up to the valet in the circle drive and put the car in park. Two attendants hurried forward to open their doors.

Stepping into the hotel was like entering another world, one that was stately and yet chic. Similar to the other Hamilton Hotels, the design blended old-world charm with contemporary touches here and there. The marble floors gleamed, and a stunning staircase with a mahogany banister curved up like a grand ribbon to the mezzanine overlooking the lobby. Vases filled with fresh flowers were on every table. All of the Hamilton Hotels were renowned for their sophistication. What separated this hotel from the others was the original artwork depicting scenes from Boston's colorful history on each wall.

Sounding a bit awkward and out of place, Allison whispered as though she were in a church, "It's beautiful, isn't it?"

"Yes, it is," he agreed. "Haven't you been here before?"

"Yes and no," she replied.

They had stopped just inside the entrance. Allison turned to him and tried to explain. "Yes, I have been here before, just once a couple of years ago, but I was working then, and when I work I sort of . . . disappear. The photo shoot was in one of the gardens. As soon as the chaos starts-you know, the different gowns and the makeup and hair-I turn into a mannequin."

He laughed. "A mannequin? You'd never pass for a mannequin. Too many curves," he explained as he took her arm and crossed the lobby. "What does ‘sort of disappear' mean?"

She shrugged. "I zone out and work problems, write code."

"In your head."

"Yes. It's like daydreaming, and people do that all the time, so stop looking at me like I'm crazy. Don't you ever daydream?"

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