There were a few seconds there when Allison thought her sister had moved on, but she was wrong. Charlotte wasn't ready to change the subject. Turning her attention to Liam, she said, "Our court system is all messed up. Will should have gotten five or ten years, and what happened? He got probation. Unbelievable, right? Oh, wait. You probably don't know about Will, do you? I know Allison wouldn't have told you."
"How do you know that?" Allison asked, presuming she'd just been insulted.
"Because you never tell anyone anything. You keep it all bottled up inside, so I'll explain Will."
"Charlotte, stop. Liam doesn't need or want to hear about our cousin."
Her sister ignored her demand and launched into Will's history. A few minutes later Allison once again wanted to bang her head into the nearest wall. By the time Charlotte wound down, Allison was groaning. Liam handed her his glass of water, which she immediately chugged, and she was handing the glass back to him before she realized what she had done.
Liam leaned close and whispered, "Remind me never to drink alcohol when I'm with you."
Allison laughed. Charlotte immediately took exception. "How can you think this is funny? And why are you so laid-back about Will getting probation?"
"I don't think it's funny," she said, irritated that Charlotte had so easily put her on the defensive.
"Okay, then," her sister said, and then continued with her colorful bio of Will. Once she had said all she wanted to say about their cousin-or the degenerate, as Charlotte called him-Allison was able to get her to talk about something else. Unfortunately, that something was Liam.
"What exactly do you do, Liam?" Charlotte asked.
"He's an FBI agent," Allison said.
"Yes, I know, but I was asking what exactly he does for the FBI."
Allison couldn't come up with a quick answer, so she improvised. "He travels all over the world, solving . . . computer problems."
Liam was giving her the look, the "are you out of your mind?" look she'd already seen several times tonight.
"Allison, I was talking to Liam," Charlotte said, clearly exasperated.
"He also shoots people who ask too many questions."
There was that look again.
"What is wrong with you?" Charlotte asked. "Let the man talk."
Allison gave up and sat back. She decided to stop worrying that Liam might say something about computer hacking . . . and her.
Oliver was looking from Liam to Allison to Liam again. "How long have you two been dating?"
"We aren't dating," Allison said.
"A while now," Liam answered at the same time.
Turning to Liam, she said, "A while now?"
He just grinned at her. Then he patiently answered Charlotte's questions about his background and the places he'd been to. When it came to questions about his work, he was just as evasive as Allison had been and with even more finesse.
"Have any trips on your schedule?" Oliver asked.
Liam nodded. "I'm headed to London Monday."
"Then back to Boston?" Charlotte asked.
"I'm not sure yet."
"I rarely see him," Allison said cheerfully. "That's why this relationship works. Now, can we please be finished with the interrogation segment of this dinner and talk about something else?"
No one argued with her, and the ordeal was finally over.
Since Allison wouldn't be seeing Charlotte or Oliver before they returned to Seattle, she hugged both good-bye and promised to call more often. She took hold of Liam's hand, making sure her sister noticed, and smiled at him as they walked down the hallway. She had decided that acting as though they were dating was better than telling Charlotte she was working for Liam. She couldn't even imagine the number of questions her sister would have then. Truth, she decided, wasn't all it was cracked up to be.
As soon as Charlotte and Oliver turned in the opposite direction, Allison tried to pull her hand away. Liam wasn't letting go. He had a devilish sparkle in his eyes, too. If she didn't know better, she would have thought he'd actually had a good time.
As if reading her mind, he said, "That was fun."
"No, it wasn't."
He laughed. "You were worried I was going to say something about your special computer skills, weren't you?"
"I wasn't worried. I was . . . concerned," she replied. "Why didn't you tell me you were going to London Monday?" There was absolutely no reason he should have told her, but it still bothered her that he hadn't.