Your Alluring Love (The Bennett Family)(4)By: Layla Hagen
“I need to be introduced to the younger Bennett generation.” Nate’s voice startles me. I was so wrapped up in my niece’s antics I didn’t see him approach. “Sebastian’s son didn’t seem too impressed with me. I’m hoping to have more success with the ladies here.”
“Of course! So good to see you again, Nate,” Pippa says. She rises from the couch, kissing his cheeks while holding her daughter on her hip.
“How can you tell them apart?” Nate asks with a frown, looking at the two girls. I chuckle because Pippa is always asked that since the girls are identical twins and they both have white dresses tonight.
“I usually dress them differently, but tonight, they only have different headbands. This is Elena. Alice is holding Mia.”
Upon hearing her name, Mia unwraps her arms from around my neck and lifts them in Nate’s direction. The little traitor.
“Can I?” he asks Pippa, motioning to Mia.
Nate takes Mia from me with grace and holy hot bejeezus.
Over the years, I’ve seen Nate in various poses that screamed sexy. Playing soccer—there’s something incredibly hot about seeing a man score. Doing sit-ups in our backyard without a shirt—it was the first time I daydreamed about tracing those abs of his with my finger, possibly my mouth.
But seeing Nate with a baby in his arms speaks to me on a primal level. Especially when he kisses her tiny head, all loving and protective. I blame being thirty-one for this. My hormones are all over the place. When he reaches to my shoulder to grab the headband that slid off Mia’s head, his fingers linger a little too long at the base of my neck, as if he can’t help touching me. All my senses go into hyperalert, energy zipping through my veins. When he finally pulls his hand back, the spot he touched feels cold. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Pippa grinning as she looks between us.
“By the way, Blake suggested we could meet at Blue Moon tomorrow, talk some more about getting you on Delicious Dining. Do you have time?”
“Sounds good to me. Ten o’clock?”
Mia starts fussing, reaching out for me again. Nate kisses the top of her head before lowering her in my arms.
“Where’s your mom? I still have to chat with her. I’ve only wished her a happy birthday since I arrived.” He surveys the room. “Ah, there she is.” With a wink, he takes off.
Clutching the toddler in my arms, I sigh, looking after Nate.
“Don’t forget to breathe when you’re around him,” Pippa says with a grin.
Damn it, I need to gather my wits about me. I’m being silly. This man will never be mine. It’s time to pour a bucket of ice water over that torch I’ve been carrying.
Easier said than done… especially since I’ll be seeing him tomorrow.
The next morning I wake up too late, and then I’m in a frenzy, trying to get ready in time and choosing an outfit that is not too optimistic for early June. I love this time of year. The days are long and rain is rare, though the pesky fog takes hold of the coast too often for my taste, especially in the morning. Still, a contagious energy fills the entire city. Tourists pour in, festivals abound. I slip into a bright yellow dress, pairing it with tights and a warm coat.
Small secret: dresses usually make me look as if I’ve put effort into my appearance when I actually haven’t. Low-maintenance is my middle name, so I own a stack of dresses. Before leaving my room, I put on earrings too. They’re brightly colored, shaped like tiny fruits. Colorful and oddly shaped earrings are my guilty pleasure, along with high-heeled shoes.
To be honest, my love for them started by accident. What I lack in height, I make up for in personality and high heels. I realized early on that if I wanted to be heard in a family of eleven, I had to be loud and clear. Honing the skill turned out to be invaluable, especially when I ventured out into the business world. But being loud isn’t always good, and everyone tends to overlook small people. Hence why high heels come in handy. Nude-colored pumps are a staple in my wardrobe. I can’t help a smile as I remember when I wore my very first pair: to prom in senior year, thirteen years ago.