Your Forever Love (The Bennett Family #3)(3)


by Layla Hagen

“You’re stubborn,” he remarks. There is a spark of a challenge in his tone, which riles me up.

“You have no idea.” God, his eyes are too blue, and his lips too full. The combo should be illegal. Eric Callahan is six feet of sexiness.

“All right. Enjoy your brother’s wedding now. I’ll call you tomorrow, and we can talk about the details.”

“You don’t have my number.”

“I’m a resourceful man.” He gives me a crooked smile before taking off.

***

The wedding goes on without a hitch. The dance floor is full all the time, and the whole room buzzes with life thanks to the permanent chatter and laughter of the guests. I leave the dance floor when I can’t feel my feet anymore, slumping in my seat and kicking off my shoes under the table. My sister Alice drops in the seat next to me a couple of minutes later, panting.

“The band is incredible,” she says, fanning her heated cheeks. A waiter asks if there is anything he can do for us, and we both order a cocktail. After he leaves, Alice chuckles while glancing at my bare feet, then follows my lead and kicks off her shoes. Thank God we’re alone at our table.

The waiter returns with the cocktails, and Alice smiles smugly as we clink our glasses. Uh-oh. That smile means trouble.

“Spill the beans,” she says.

I sip from my glass, taking my time before answering. “What are you talking about?”

“What’s up with you and Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome?” Alice presses.

“His daughter is an aspiring designer. I talked to him about meeting with her to teach her some stuff. Nothing else.” I try to downplay the meeting even though my skin still simmers from the way he looked at me.

She leans in to me, dropping her voice to a conspiratorial whisper. “So, why did he give you a hot look?”

“Alice! I’m not sure it was a hot look.”

“It was. I was across the dance floor, and even I could feel the heat.”

Sighing, I lean forward, pulling the platter of sweets from the center of the table toward us. This conversation requires sugar.

“I asked Max about him. Did you know they call him ‘the shark’ in business circles?” Alice says, flashing her teeth.

“Yeah.”

“He’s the perfect candidate to help you with the cobweb situation down there.” Alice announces this with such conviction you’d think she has research-backed data to support this statement.

“Stop using the word ‘cobweb,’” I hiss.

“You used it first.”

“I won’t make that mistake again.” Many moons ago, over too many cocktails, I admitted to Alice that I hadn’t gotten laid in a while, and if that didn’t change soon, I would have to start checking for cobwebs.

“He’s perfect for the job. You’re not ready for a relationship, and he’s only here for a few months. You can just enjoy each other. He’s single and hot.”

Suspicion gnaws at me. I recognize this type of meddling; I did exactly this to Sebastian and Logan, my second eldest brother, back when they were still single. But Alice always kept away from my matchmaking activities. Is she now taking a page from my own playbook?

I had great plans for Alice tonight. Recently, I discovered she has had a crush on one of Sebastian’s childhood friends for years, and he was going to attend the wedding, so I had the perfect opportunity to give them a nudge. Alas, he regretfully informed us that he couldn’t participate two days ago. He received a job offer outside the country right before the wedding and had to start immediately. He’ll be gone for months, maybe even a year.

“Sorry to break up your party, ladies, but I have a phone number to ask for,” a male voice says from behind us. Alice and I turn in our seats at the same time. My breath stops as my gaze meet Eric’s. He’s standing not one foot in front of us, a mischievous glint playing in his blue eyes. I shift uncomfortably in my seat.

“I’ll leave you two,” Alice says, putting her shoes back on and then graciously disappearing.

“I’m surprised you’re straight-up asking for my number. You said you’re a resourceful man.”

“I am, and this is the best use of my resources right now.”

Eric hands me his phone, and I try—and fail—to ignore the flip in my stomach as his fingers touch mine.

I type my number. Without looking up, I ask, “Did you hear any part of our conversation?”

“A little. Something about tall, dark, and handsome. And about cobwebs.”

“So, you basically eavesdropped on our entire conversation.” My throat becomes dry.

“I did. Can I have my phone back now?”

“Sure.” Snapping my gaze up to him, I return the phone. “This is my most embarrassing moment, and I have quite a few of those under my belt. I’ll start digging a hole in the ground now. I should disappear off the face of the earth by the time the wedding’s over.”

“Pippa—”

“Sorry. My sister can be a bit meddling sometimes. I think she learned it from me. And I’m rambling. I do that when I’m nervous.”

“I make you nervous?” He smiles.

“Obviously.”

He eyes me in silence for an entire minute, which does nothing to soothe my nerves. “You are adorable.” Tilting his head forward, he puts his lips to my ear and whispers, “Just to silence any doubts, it was a hot look.”

My breath catches. “I… Well… I’m not sure if that’s any less embarrassing.”

Pulling back, he asks, “Why don’t we talk that over during a dance?”

“What about Julie?”

“She’s in good company.” He points to the table, where Julie is engrossed in a conversation with Nadine, Logan’s fiancée, and Alice. On a sigh, I realize I was right. My sister is playing matchmaker, and Nadine is playing along with her. They’re beating me at my own game.

“Okay, let’s dance, Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome.”

Without further ado, he offers me his arm. I quickly put on my shoes, and then he guides us to the dance floor. The band has switched to an animated song, and this man can dance. My heart beats at a frantic pace from the quick rhythm of our moves. Being so close to him, I can take in his scent—sandalwood and mint—and it’s addictive.