Your Forever Love (The Bennett Family #3)(14)

By: Layla Hagen


“How come none of your employees seemed surprised by the dance?” I inquire.

Pippa blushes, and then it hits me why.

“You dance in the office on a regular basis?”

“No, only when there’s something to celebrate.” She shrugs. “They got used to it.”

“You have the most unusual leadership style I’ve ever seen.”

Pippa cocks an eyebrow, folding her arms over her chest. “And I suppose you’re the ogre type who doesn’t feel in charge unless everyone’s afraid of you?”

“Hey.” I hold up my palms in mock defense. “We can’t all dance our way to the top.”

Her expression is full of playfulness and warmth, and I find this refreshing, even though I’m not going to dance in front of my team anytime soon. Or ever.

“You should try being nice to your team. You’d be surprised how far that can get you,” she says.

I should step back and leave with my daughter, but instead, I lean forward and tell Pippa in a low voice, “You look sexy dancing.”

I watch with satisfaction as she inhales sharply, and her eyes darken. She turns around, walking to her desk with purposeful strides, giving me a perfect view of her round, perky ass. Damn her pencil skirt for showing off her curves. It weakens my determination to keep my distance.

I’ll try again tomorrow.

***





Pippa




Eric and I make it through Friday without spending time with each other, and as the second week starts, I’m optimistic it’ll go by the same way.

Then, of course, my family decides to intervene. At noon on Wednesday, the entire creative team heads out for the weekly lunch we have at the nearby French restaurant. I don’t join them because I promised Julie we’d stay in and get a head start on the drawings for the day. She’s not here yet, but Eric usually drops her off during the lunch break. I’m debating if I should order Chinese or tacos for Julie and me when Alice steps in my empty office, holding two bags of food. At first, I think she decided to have an impromptu lunch with me, but something about her smile tells me she’s plotting against me.

“What are you doing here?” I ask her.

“Why, hello to you too. I’ve brought lunch for you and Eric,” she announces, as if it’s the most natural thing in the world.

“You—”

I swallow my words as the elevator opens again and Eric and Julie walk in, chatting animatedly about some movie they went to yesterday.

“Hi, Alice.” Eric doesn’t appear surprised in the slightest about her presence.

“I brought roast duck, as promised,” she tells him. Turning to Julie, Alice asks, “Are you ready to go?”

Julie nods.

“What is going on?” I ask, bewildered.

“Julie and I are meeting Nadine at the aquarium, the one that opened five blocks away. They have a special program today, and I figured Julie would love to see it.”

“You don’t mind, Pippa, do you?” Julie asks. “We’ll be back in an hour.”

“I don’t mind,” I reply.

One glance at Eric tells me he knows about all of this. My mind is racing. What is going on? I recognize this for the setup it is. I’ve staged ‘accidental lunches’ before, but being on the receiving end is different. Evidently, in the face of my stubbornness, Alice and Nadine have decided to take matters into their own hands. I should have known karma would do a number on me eventually. What goes around comes around. And looking at Eric, I have to admit, karma could do a lot worse.

As my sister and Julie leave, Eric heads toward me, carefully placing the food Alice brought on my desk.

As if anticipating my question, he says in an amused voice, “Your sister called me last night, asking if she could take Julie to the aquarium today. It was such an obvious attempt to get the two of us alone that I barely made it through the conversation without bursting into laughter.”

“So, why did you agree?” I’m genuinely intrigued.

“She bribed me with roast duck. I couldn’t say no,” he says with humor.

“Perfectly legitimate reason. That duck is to die for.”

“And Julie was listening to our conversation. She started jumping up and down when Alice mentioned the aquarium. I was going to say no, mostly because I’ve only met your sister and Nadine once before, but I lost the battle.”

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