Your Forever Love (The Bennett Family #3)(12)

By: Layla Hagen


“Alice!” I admonish, slumping on my couch. “I don’t do one-night stands, and you know that. You don’t do them either. Where is this coming from?”

“You need some fun, and you could do multiple one-night stands. At any rate, he’ll only be here for a couple of months. You have the perfect excuse. Then he’ll be out of your life, and you’ll solve the cobweb situation.”

I freeze in the act of taking a bite of my pizza. “Okay, stop using cobweb. My skin is starting to crawl.”

“He seems like a good guy, and they are a disappearing species.”

“Yeah, they are,” I agree with a sigh, remembering my ex. His betrayal left me with deep scars. As a lump settles in my throat and my eyes sting with unshed tears, I admit something to myself—I’m afraid I won’t find love again. Hell, I’m afraid I don’t deserve to be loved. Taking a deep breath, I close my eyes, refusing to cry.

“So, what are you gonna do?” Alice asks.

“Nothing. I’ll teach Julie the ins and outs of designing, and that’s all.”

“Damn, you’re stubborn.”

“I’ve gotta go,” I say. “I have some pizza leftovers to concentrate on, and you’re killing my buzz.”

“Fine. Just tell me you won’t be daydreaming about the ins and outs of his probably fantastic lovemaking skills.”

“I won’t,” I reply before clicking off.

Liar, liar, pants on fire.



***





As I drive to work the next morning, I decide the best course of action is to minimize the number of interactions between Eric and me. Over the next two days, whenever he drops off or picks up Julie, I pretend to be busy, barely sharing words with him. The intense exchange of hot looks makes up for the lack of conversation, though. The man is impossible to ignore whenever he’s in the room. His presence is like a magnet, oozing testosterone and masculinity, drawing me to him against my better judgment.

“You’ve been avoiding me,” he states on Thursday morning. I’m sitting behind my desk and Eric stands on the other side, propping himself with his fists on the wooden surface, leaning slightly forward, a naughty smile playing on his lips.

I like to read people, so I tend to overanalyze body language. His appearance now is domineering, which messes with my hormones. The curiosity in his eyes messes with my mind. I have to give it to him; he doesn’t tiptoe around. He goes straight for the target.

“Guilty as charged.” Dropping my voice to a whisper, I add, “Why have you been flirting with me?”

Eric rounds the corner of my desk until he’s next to me, invading my personal space. Then he casually leans with his ass against my desk, crossing his arms over his chest, pinning me with his gaze. “We’ve barely talked over the last few days.”

“Eye-flirting is still flirting,” I inform him, stubbornly holding his gaze. “I’ve been out of the dating scene for a while, but I can still read the signals. So, what gives? You said you were off the market at the wedding.”

Eric doesn’t hesitate. “I can’t seem to help myself around you.”

Well, what can I say to that?

“Your honesty is disarming.”

“Maybe it’s my weapon.” The words roll off his tongue so sexily it nearly takes my breath away.

“Why would you need one?” I mumble.

“To make you blush and squirm.” Leaning forward, he says, “You look delicious when you do that.”

I’m unable to hold his gaze anymore. Jesus. His words affect me too much.

“You can’t talk to me like that,” I whisper.

“Why?”

“We’re at the office.” My desk is far enough from everyone else that they can’t hear our conversation, but that doesn’t mean I can’t use them as an excuse.

“Not a good reason,” Eric answers.

“Because I don’t know how to handle it.” I swallow, my skin humming at his proximity. To my astonishment, he doesn’t utter a witty comeback, just nods.

“Fair enough. I’m leaving now and will be back at six. Will you be avoiding me when I pick up Julie?”

I chuckle. “Probably. It’s safest. I might do something silly otherwise.”

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