"But that's ridiculous . . . isn't it?"
"Yes, it is," he answered quietly. "Bale wasn't being rational, so Phillips told him to take leave for a couple of months. He came back this morning, and he's still pretty hot under the collar. Phillips hasn't decided what to do about him yet, but his career might be over. Until this gets sorted out, I thought I'd stick around."
He unzipped his bag and took out his shaving kit and a pair of faded boxers. While she stood watching, he stripped out of his clothes and disappeared into the bathroom. She tried not to stare at his bronzed muscular back. A minute later she heard the shower running.
Every thought running through her head only added to her confusion. She knew she had to keep her distance from him. It was the only way she could protect herself. But every time she got close to him, she wanted to throw herself into his arms. Sleeping together certainly wouldn't help her move forward. Yet she still wanted to. She didn't seem to know her own mind anymore.
She forced herself to stop worrying, undressed, and put on a short pink silk nightgown. It had thin spaghetti straps and was low cut into a deep V. Was she wearing it to entice him? Of course she was. And that was the very thing she had vowed not to do. Realizing the mistake she was making, she came to her senses and decided to change into an old T-shirt. Unfortunately, before she could do that, the door opened and there he stood, staring at her. He seemed frozen.
When he finally took a step forward, she walked around him and went into the bathroom. She washed her face and brushed her teeth, and tried to think of anything that would take her mind off him. Her thoughts rambled and she was suddenly wondering about Bale again. Had she gotten people fired? What had she done wrong? Liam and Phillips had seemed so intense back at the office, so they must have thought Bale posed a real danger. Why else would Liam be staying close?
She opened the door and came to a quick stop. Liam was in her bed. He'd stretched out on his back with his hands stacked on his chest and his eyes closed. His gun and badge were on the table next to her cell phone. The lights were out in the living room. She checked to make sure the door was locked with the dead bolt in place, and as she turned back, she looked at the sofa and shook her head. She should have placed a pillow and blanket on it so he would know that was where he was supposed to sleep.
She considered the sofa for herself but quickly rejected the idea. It was her bed and she was going to sleep in it. Decision made, she grabbed her body lotion from the dresser and walked to the other side of the bed. Sitting with her back propped against the headboard, she opened the bottle and squeezed a couple of drops into her hand.
"Liam?" She whispered his name the first time, shouted it the second time.
"Are you asleep?"
The light coming from the bathroom was dim, but she could see his smile. "I was," he said.
She rubbed the lotion on her arms while she studied him. He was one fine-looking man, she thought for about the hundredth time. That shouldn't have mattered because it was a superficial reason for liking someone. Did she like him? Of course she did. She not only liked him; she loved him.
Allison put more lotion on her legs, and when she was finally finished, she smelled like a gardenia. "How many people worked in the Detroit office?"
"I'm not sure. Why?"
"Did I get them all fired?"
He didn't open his eyes when he answered, "No."
"You said Bale thinks I'm the reason people were fired. He isn't wrong. I am the reason."
He could hear the anxiety in her voice. He rolled onto his side and pulled her down next to him. "You shouldn't be worrying about this."
"Did I get them fired?"
"A few people were fired, but there have been problems with the Detroit office for a while, and it was going to close at some point anyway. Most of the employees are being transferred to other locations. What you did was find the source of a serious leak. The man they arrested put countless lives in danger. He insisted that Bale knew about it and encouraged him. We haven't found any proof of that, but Bale's pissed that it all happened under his watch and he feels backed into a corner."
"But I was the one who-"
He wouldn't let her continue. "Bale doesn't want to accept any of the blame, and that's why he's blaming you." He yawned. "You've had a long day. You should get some sleep."
She didn't know if she should address the fact that he was in her bed and shouldn't be, or if she should just let it go.