Your Tempting Love (The Bennett Family)By: Layla Hagen
Christopher & Victoria ~ The Bennett Family, Book 5
Thump. Thump. Thump.
I almost step on a tennis ball while crossing the lobby of my office building. Picking up the neon green orb, I look around until I locate the owner: a small girl, maybe four or five years old. She's sitting on the couch in the waiting area with a serious problem on her hands: her toys have spilled out of her backpack, and she's desperately trying to shove them back in.
Bennett Enterprises is large enough that we added an on-site daycare a while back, but this is the first time I've stepped on a toy. Instead of heading up to my office, I stride in her direction, returning the ball.
"You lost this."
The girl snaps her head up, her blue eyes wide and thankful as if I just saved the day.
"Thank you." She grabs it from me with both hands, squeezing it to her chest like it's her most prized possession before shoving it in the backpack. She's in a frenzy, hopping down from the couch to collect the toys from the floor, pushing her dark brown hair away from her face.
"What's your name?" I ask her.
"Wow! Both our names begin with C."
Sitting on my haunches until I'm almost level with her, I lean in, whispering conspiratorially, "That's because we're cool."
An ear-to-ear grin lights up her small face, and she seems to momentarily forget about her troubles. Then she directs her focus on the reception desk. Ah, she must be here with a visitor. That explains why she's in the waiting area. Visitors must check in at the reception desk first, so they're directed to the correct floor. Currently, there's some commotion going on at the desk, so it looks like little Chloe still has some waiting to do.
"This is yours?" I ask, picking up a small Rubik’s Cube that slipped just under the couch. Chloe nods, holding the backpack open so I can drop it inside. Color me impressed. I'm the Chief Operations Officer of Bennett Enterprises and a shareholder. Throw any issue my way, and I can fix it. A Rubik’s Cube? I'm stumped.
"Chloe,” a female voice says behind me, “we can—"
Several mishaps occur at the same time. At the sound of the woman's voice, I abruptly rise to my feet, turn around, and boom. Straight-on collision. Stepping back, I realize the woman is carrying a cup… and spilled all its contents on my shirt. On the plus side, the beverage was lukewarm, not hot. But my shirt looks as if I crawled across a muddy street.
"I'm so sorry. It was hot chocolate. It'll wash out," she says, demanding my attention.
She's tall, with brown waves falling over her shoulder, green eyes piercing me. Her full lips could tempt even a saint into sinning, and I'm no saint. Meeting a beautiful woman is hands-down the best way to start a day, even if it comes with hot chocolate on my shirt.
"I'll pay for your dry cleaning." Her shoulders turn rigid as she assesses the damage to my shirt.
"Don't worry about it," I reply, because by the looks of it, she has enough to worry about already. When Chloe tugs at her hand, I put two and two together. Chloe is here with her, which means she must be her daughter. Instantly I check her hand for a ring because I'm not that kind of sinner. There’s no ring.
"His name starts with C," Chloe tells her. "Like mine."
"Oh! You're Christopher Bennett, aren't you?" If possible, her shoulders tense even more. That’s not the usual reaction I cause in women.
"I'm Victoria Hensley. We have a meeting in ten minutes."
This day just got a hell of a lot better. She's the interior decorator my sisters Pippa and Alice recommended to decorate my new apartment. They insisted she's very talented, and after I witnessed the great job she did at Alice’s restaurant and Pippa’s house, I was sold.
"Pippa told me there's an on-site daycare, and I can leave my sister there during our meeting," Victoria continues.
Ah, now I remember. Pippa told me Victoria is looking after her younger siblings after they lost their parents in a boating accident last year. I can tell Victoria wants to shake my hand, but Chloe stubbornly holds on to her right hand.
"Sure," I counter. "Go settle Chloe in. I'll be waiting upstairs in my office."