Your Forever Love (The Bennett Family #3)(10)By: Layla Hagen
“What did you do?”
I pause for a few seconds, remembering that day. “I cried a lot and was unmotivated for weeks. Then I made a pact with myself. I’d work hard and give it my best shot, and if nothing came of it, at least I’d tried. Also, it was about that time I heard the phrase, ‘Opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one.’ I became very fond of it.”
Julie claps her hand over her mouth, giggling. “You’re not supposed to use the a-word around me.”
Oh, crap. Right, I’m not up to date with Parenting 101.
“Sorry. Will you rat me out to your dad?”
“No, it can be our little secret.” She lightens up, and she’s evidently thrilled at the idea of keeping a secret. Ah, a girl after my own heart.
“Anyway, back to our conversation. If you’re determined enough and work hard, you’ll get where you want to.”
“You really think that?” she asks hopefully.
Luke takes Julie to his desk next, and I send an e-mail to my brother Logan. He is the CFO of the company and Sebastian is the CEO. Logan has taken over some of Sebastian’s responsibilities until the latter returns from his honeymoon.
Six o’clock comes all too soon, and the ping of the elevator announces Eric’s return. He strides into the office with his chin held high, as if he owns the room. The man is pure masculinity and confidence, and I start hyperventilating just by looking at him.
He’s more than eye candy because candy can be resisted. Eric Callahan is eye-cupcake. Delicious and utterly irresistible. What a lethal combo.
As he finds Julie—who’s currently at Luke’s desk—his expression lights up. The more I study his face, the more similarities I find between him and Julie. She is so taken with what Luke’s showing her on his computer she doesn’t even realize her dad is in the room.
“How was she?” Eric asks me, stopping in front of my desk.
“Great. She’s a well-behaved kid.”
His shoulders are hunched with tension, and I don’t like it. I’d rather see him the way he was at the wedding: carefree and happy. “How was your day?”
“Working with a new team is always tough.” Winking, he adds, “Have to do justice to my nickname.”
“Why do they call you ‘the shark,’ anyway?”
Flashing his teeth in a wide smile, he says, “I bite. Often.”
I have no idea why these three words cause me to bite my lip, but I only realize I’m doing it when Eric’s eyes zero in on my mouth. Jesus. I haven’t reacted to a man this way in a long time. Is there anything he can say or do that won’t set my nerves on edge? I doubt it.
“Dad,” Julie exclaims, noticing her father’s presence. “Can we stay a little longer? Luke’s showing me an awesome computer program for designing.”
“Sure.” Eric observes his daughter before turning his attention to me.
“You’d say yes to anything she asks, wouldn’t you?” I inquire.
He doesn’t hesitate. “Yes. If it makes her happy. The things I’ve endured to see my daughter smile….” He shakes his head. “Let’s say that standing here talking to a beautiful woman is a pleasant way to spend the time while indulging Julie.”
His gaze lingers on me for long seconds, and I can feel the tips of my ears heat up. Damn my ears.
Ignoring the ‘beautiful’ remark, I ask, “What did you endure? Humor me.”
“Let’s see. Once, she asked me if I’d dress up as a character from Beauty and the Beast. Turns out I had to play Belle. I rocked that costume like you wouldn’t believe it.”
It’s a good thing I’m sitting because his words liquefy my muscles. This man is eye-cupcake with a side of chocolate sauce, and if he talks about playing Belle for his daughter for one more second, my ovaries might jump him.
I try to keep from laughing, but a giggle finds its way past my lips anyway. “It’s blowing my mind that you even know who Belle is, and I can totally see you rocking a dress. Your secret is safe with me,” I assure him. “It must be hard, being a single parent.”
He clenches his jaw. “We manage. I don’t do everything on my own. My mother helps, and Julie has nannies. Still, she misses her mother daily.”