Your Forever Love (The Bennett Family #3)(9)

By: Layla Hagen


“You did it again,” she replies, this time in a stronger voice.

“What?”

“The hot look,” she clarifies. “Earlier.”

“Right.” I run a hand through my hair, mentally cursing. Guess my moments of weakness weren’t as discreet as I thought. Pippa pushes a strand of her golden blonde hair behind her ears, and that’s when I see the tip of her ear is red. Can this woman be any cuter? She’s a goofball, sexy goddess, laughing partner, and stern businesswoman all rolled into one.

“I’ll try my best not to do it again. Can’t make any promises, though. You’re too damn beautiful.”

Pippa licks her lips, looking away. It’s time for me to give her some space.

“Are you sure it’s all right if I leave Julie here the entire afternoon?” I press.

“Yes,” she answers. “And before you ask, it’s also okay if she comes every day for the next two weeks until her classes start. I promised her.”

“If it gets too much, tell me. I’ll make something up to get you off the hook.”

Pippa crosses her arms over her chest. “I don’t make promises I don’t intend to keep. I won’t disappoint her. She has plenty of time to be disappointed when she’s older.”

A shadow crosses her eyes, and my protective instincts kick in. She doesn’t deserve to be disappointed or hurt. I barely know her, but someone who shows so much kindness to strangers deserves the best.

“At what time do you finish work?”

“I’ll be here at six.”

Pippa lifts one corner of her mouth in a smile. “I thought you’d work longer hours since they call you ‘the shark’ and all.”

“I try not to,” I admit. “If I don’t give myself a strict deadline, I’d end up staying way too long, and I’d barely see Julie. I usually stay up late and work after Julie goes to bed. It works in Boston most of the time. Not sure how it’ll be here since the workload is much higher.”

She nods, and that’s when I remember she was wearing red lipstick at the wedding. I admit my business instinct doesn’t help jack shit when it comes to my daughter, but I can put two and two together. Julie wants lipstick—a red one, at that—because that’s what Pippa was wearing at the wedding.

“Can I ask your advice on something?” I inquire.

“Sure.”

“Julie told me today she wants to wear lipstick.”

Pippa throws her head back, chuckling. “What did you tell her?”

“That she’s not old enough.”

“I’m guessing it didn’t go to well?”

“Which is why I’m asking for your help. She wanted a red one, like the one you wore at the wedding.”

Pippa nods in understanding. “Leave it to me. See you at six.”

I’m usually picky with the people I allow my daughter to spend time with, but I’m glad I followed my instinct when I allowed her to come here. Pippa swirls on her heels, striding to her desk with confidence and whispering something in Julie’s ear. My daughter bursts out laughing. I smile and wish I could stay longer. I have a hunch I could watch this woman smile all day, which is dangerous.





***

Pippa

Julie is lovely. She listens to my instructions and does her best to follow them. The girl is talented, and with the right training, she’ll do great.

“I’m not as talented as you are.” She props her head in her hands, sighing.

I’d love nothing better than to hug her. I’m a hugger. When I have kids of my own, I’m going to be that parent who embarrasses them by hugging them in public long after they’re old enough to drive.

“When I first started drawing, I wasn’t good. But I persisted, worked hard, and honed my skills.”

“Did anyone tell you that you weren’t good enough?” she asks in a small voice, lowering her eyes to her hands. My heart aches for her—obviously someone told her that. But she’s a kid, for God’s sake. She has plenty of time to practice.

“As a matter of fact, yes. I had a teacher at school who told me I should concentrate on math or another subject because while my art was decent, it was nothing to brag about.”

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