Your Forever Love (The Bennett Family #3)(5)

By: Layla Hagen


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.

“You’re a great dancer,” I murmur as the song ends. The band switches to a slower song, and Eric immediately takes one of my hands in his, curling his other arm around my waist. I’d hoped my heart rate would slow down, but being in his arms has the opposite effect.

“Forgive me if I come across as curious, but you seem to know more about me than I do about you.”

I laugh nervously. “What do you want to know?”

“Why is your sister trying to set you up? A beautiful woman like you shouldn’t have any problems finding a date on her own.”

Ah, going straight for the punch. “I’m divorced and haven’t done well in the dating department lately. Alice is trying to be helpful.”

We move to the music for a few seconds before he speaks. “About what she said about me… She made me sound like a catch.”

“And you want to tell me you’re not?”

“Well, I am tall, dark, and handsome, obviously.” He winks at me.

I laugh. God, I love a man who can make me laugh. “Obviously.”

The smile on his face morphs into a serious expression. “But I’m damaged goods, not a catch. Not at all. And I don’t know you, but I think you deserve someone who is. Whether to take you out on dates, or help you out with that cobweb situation.”

I burst out laughing, hoping it hides my embarrassment. I make a mental note never to use that expression again.

“So the hot look—” I begin, but he interrupts me with a headshake.

“Was a moment of weakness on my part. I am only a man, after all, and you are beautiful.”

My cheeks heat up. “You are awfully articulate about your thoughts and feelings.”

“I’ve always worn my heart on my sleeve. Not always the best thing, but I can’t be any other way. And after my wife passed away, I saw a therapist for a few years. He helped me articulate—as you call it—my thoughts. Learning to do that was especially important for Julie.”

“I’m sorry about your wife.”

“It happened a long time ago.” He gazes into the distance, emotions warring on his handsome face—pain, resignation, maybe hope. A deep frown stretches on his forehead, and I decide on the spot this won’t do. I make it my mission to bring back that gorgeous smile of his.

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