Exactly eight months had passed since Gretchen had tried to kill me. My life was slowly returning to normal. I was steadily regaining control of my life and things with Liam and I were better than ever. I took the stand against Gretchen. She was sentenced to forty years behind bars. And honestly, I couldn’t be happier. After the trial was over, we all went out to celebrate. It felt good to be surrounded by the people I loved.
I smiled as I looked around at all their faces. Mom, Dad, Levi, Martia, Kayleen, William, Carol, Daniel Grover, both of my brothers with their similar personalities and their same name. Even Ryan was there, grinning from ear to ear. And Liam, who was gazing at me with a tight grip on my waist. A grip so tight I knew he’d never let me go again.
“To justice,” I said, raising my glass.
“To justice,” my family echoed as we all clinked our glasses together. Liam leaned in close to me and said,
“To true love.” I smiled so widely I thought my face would burst. I couldn’t imagine being any happier than I was right now.
“To true love,” I whispered back. We clinked our glasses together. And at that moment I was just overjoyed. So happy to be here, alive. As the night went on and I heard the laughter of my friends and family, I thanked God once again that I was alive and well.
I woke up the next morning in Liam’s arms. The sun was shining brightly through the tiny little cracks in the curtain. My back was to Liam, his arms were wrapped around me. I turned and was met with his clear blue eyes. He smiled lazily at me.
“Morning,” he greeted me.
“Morning,” I replied. His arms tightened around me and I snuggled into his chest, burying myself in his warmth.
“You’re very affectionate this morning,” he chuckled, rubbing my back.
“I’m affectionate every morning,” I shot back.
“That you are,” he replied huskily.
My face grew hot. I knew he was referring to all the morning sex we’d been having lately. After being away from him for so long—scared and unsure if I’d ever see him again—it was like I couldn’t get enough of him. It was like I needed to touch him to make sure that this was real. That I was actually with him and not hallucinating.
“It’s not like you were particularly complaining,” I said.
“Why would I? I’ve been enjoying myself.”
“I have too.”
“You never answered my question.”
“I wasn’t aware that you asked one,” I responded in my smart-ass tone.
“Fine, then, you didn’t respond to my comment,” he grumbled.
“You mean the one about me being ‘affectionate?’”
“Yeah, that one.”
“I don’t know, I guess I’m just…happy. Happy to be home with you and my parents and my friends. I wake up and I just view the world differently now. Staring death in the face numerous times just gives you a brand new perspective on things, you know?” Liam was silent for a minute before I felt him nod slowly.
“I’m just so glad you’re okay.” His arms tightened around me even more. Not so tight that I couldn’t breathe, but tight enough that moving even an inch was impossible. He was a lot stronger than his good looks let on.
“I am too.” We were quiet for a moment, basking in the warm glow of the others presence when suddenly I remembered something.
“Liam, there was something I always wanted to ask you.”
“Yeah?” I could almost feel him raise his eyebrow.
“Why did you decide to help me? When I first came to you about Simon, you were so willing to help me. Why?”
“You reminded me of Ryan,” he said finally after some deliberation. “You looked so sad and when I looked into your eyes, I could see the hurt, the pain and the anger in your eyes. The same sadness, hurt, pain and anger that Ryan always carried in his eyes after he’d lost Lana. Even though he hated me, I thought if I helped you—”
“You could make amends with what happened to Lana.” He sighed ruefully and I felt him nod.
“Exactly. But I never even dreamed that you were Lana’s doppelganger,” he murmured.
“That’s something that I’m still getting used to,” I told him.
“On second thought there are a lot of things I’m still getting used to.” Like the fact that Liam’s father wasn’t really his father, but was instead a guy who looked exactly like Liam’s father since the real William Hawke was a ruthless, vindictive man who stepped on those weaker than him to get what he desired. Or how about the fact that Ryan, Lucas and Liam were kick ass assassins who were trained by some of the most kick ass assassins in the world?
My father among them. Or the fact that I had two brothers both named Lucas who acted eerily alike. I think that last one was the weirdest one of all. Lucas had been born a few years before my dad met my mom, which was why Lucas was a few years older than us. My mom had no idea that Lucas was my dad’s son, but I suspected my dad did. Sometimes I’d catch him looking at Lucas with this look that was something between pride and sorrow and joy and confusion all at once.
“You’ll get used to it,” Liam whispered to me.
“I have to. This is my life now.”
“So, Liam wants to take you out, eh?” Kayleen murmured, raising an eyebrow.
“Yeah, he said it was important,” I replied. All of us—Kayleen, Martia, Levi and I—have been shopping all day for the perfect outfit for me to wear on my outing with Liam. Liam had shoved his debit card in my hand and despite my protests, he had sent me off to the mall.
“Tonight is important, Yvonne,” he’d said, looking at me seriously.
“Why is it so important?” I had asked crankily, annoyed that he wasn’t telling me what was going on.
“You’ll see tonight,” he had replied, winking at me. And with that he had sent me off, smacking me on the butt playfully as I left. And now here I was, sitting in the food court with my friends.
“I wonder what’s so important,” I mused.
“ Girl, ” Martia started, shaking her head. “This has to be something really really important.”
“Yeah, Martia, we all understand that,” Levi said sarcastically, rolling his eyes and earning a glare from Martia. “You’d better hope he hasn’t decided he wants to play for my team,” Levi continued, grinning at me cheekily. “’Cause if he does, I love you, but I’m gonna have to hit that!” I rolled my eyes and the four of us cracked up, laughing so hard we had tears in our eyes. I honestly didn’t know what I would do without these guys.
“Okay,” I said sighing as our laughter died down. Martia was flipping off the people who were starting at us like we were crazy. Levi saw her and decided to join in, sticking up his middle finger to the crowd too. I was holding back laughter as I said,
“Let’s go get me a sexy, jaw-dropping outfit to wear tonight.” They nodded in agreement and we stood up, ready to get back to work.
I was wearing a tight red number with a sweetheart neckline. The dress hugged my curves and my calves. My red Louboutins made my legs look amazing and my hair fell smooth and straight down my back. When I stepped out, I was met with Liam’s back.
“Women really do take forever to get dressed.” He chuckled and turned around. His eyes roamed all over me. His mouth slightly agape. “But, clearly my waiting was worth it,” he murmured to himself. “Yvonne, you look amazing.” My face grew warm. His eyes on me and his deep, husky voice had me on the verge of combustion.
“Liam,” said Chauncey, poking his head out from the front door. “The limousine is ready.”
“Great. Thank you, Chauncey.” I raised my eyebrows at Liam. A limo? What the hell was he planning? The suspense was killing me. “M’lady,” Liam said jokingly, holding out his hand for me to take. I took his hand without hesitation and we walked into the night and to the limo. My heart was pounding. I had a feeling that tonight might change the rest of my life.