Your Forever Love (The Bennett Family #3)


by Layla Hagen

Chapter One

Eric

“Dad, can I meet Pippa now?”

Watching as my daughter runs her little fingers through her wavy blonde hair, I smile at her squirming in her seat. When I told Julie we would attend Sebastian Bennett’s wedding, she announced she wants her hair styled in waves, not a braid, because the latter is for little girls, and she just turned twelve. She’s growing up too fast.

“Not yet. She’s busy right now.” I suspect Pippa will be busy for the rest of the party since it’s her brother’s wedding.

Julie hero-worships Pippa Bennett—or more accurately, her designs. My daughter loves to draw, and lately, she’s taken to drawing jewelry, which isn’t such a surprise since I sell jewelry for a living. Callahan’s Finest, of which I am the CEO, is the largest chain of high-end jewelry shops on the East Coast and has been for three generations. We work closely with Bennett Enterprises, and I admire the Bennett family. They started from nothing. Sebastian created Bennett Enterprises less than fifteen years ago, and it grew to be one of the most prestigious producers in the jewelry market. It takes a lot of determination and hard work to make that happen in such a short time.

Julie fell in love with their designs a while ago and insists on meeting the designer in person. If I am honest, I’m looking forward to meeting Pippa Bennett as well.

“This is a beautiful wedding,” Julie comments, her eyes scanning the ballroom, and resting on the bride and groom’s table. “Was your wedding to Mom this beautiful?”

Wham. Her words stab me, causing old wounds to resurface.

“Yeah, it was.”

My life changed at twenty-one when Sarah told me she was pregnant. At that age, a kid was the last thing on my mind, but I wasn’t about to leave the woman I loved to deal with the responsibility alone. Sarah and I got married. Julie stole my heart from the moment she was born. I held her in my arms, and I knew my life would change.

My life changed again five years ago when an accident killed Sarah and left Julie with a limp and a dependence on an inhaler.

“Hey!” I elbow Julie playfully, deciding it’s time to cheer her up. “Do you want to do a movie marathon tomorrow?”

“Yeah. But you can’t fall asleep again, Dad.”

“I can’t make you any promises.”

Julie loves movie marathons. She also likes watching the same movies over and over again, hence why I sometimes fall asleep.

“I will draw you a mustache with a permanent marker if you fall asleep,” she threatens, barely withholding a grin. “Then you’ll have to go to your office like that.”

That’s a thought. That would severely undermine my reputation as a business shark.

“I’d like to see you try.”

Julie lets out a giggle, which turns into laughter. Her laugh is always contagious, so before long, I can’t keep a straight face either. I love this little girl to pieces, and I would do anything to make her happy.

“Ooooh, look.” Julie claps her hands excitedly. “The first dance.”

I smile at my daughter, ruffling her hair, which garners me a frown from her.

“Let’s watch it,” I say. “Then we can go find Pippa Bennett.”

***

Pippa

I love weddings. I love everything about them, from the vows to the dancing to the cake. Oh, the cake. I have a slight cake addiction, and I’m not doing a great job battling it. I really should, though. One of the downsides of being over thirty is that my metabolism no longer keeps up with my appetite.

My oldest brother and his bride are on the dance floor, and their happiness is contagious. My other seven siblings and my parents are scattered throughout the room, entertaining the guests. The ballroom is glamorous with a high ceiling spanning above us, and crystal chandeliers hanging from it. The place is vast, enough to house four hundred guests. The chairs are covered with elegant satin, and tiny twinkle lights adorn some of the tables. It looks like a fairy tale.

“Congratulating yourself on your matchmaking skills, Pippa?” my brother Max asks, appearing by my side.

“You have to admit, I’m great at it, little brother,” I reply. I can’t take full credit for my eldest brother being married, but I did give him a nudge in the right direction. “Why, are you looking to employ my matchmaking services? I’m warning you, I’m expensive. My payment is a lot of brotherly love and attention.”

Max has been working out of our London office over the past few years, and I’ve missed him terribly. But now he’s back, and I intend to take advantage of that.

“I can get my own date, no need for help.”

“Yeah, that’s what Sebastian and Logan said too.” I wink at him, but Max merely shakes his head. Behind him, I spot Christopher. They are identical twins, and today they are particularly hard to tell apart because even their tuxedos and bow ties are identical. Luckily, Max has slightly longer hair that falls into his eyes. Still, I’m tempted to glue tiny, colorful dots on their clothes, as I did when we were kids because it was easier to tell them apart.

“You should get yourself a date,” Max suggests.

I sigh. “Tried it once after the divorce. Didn’t end well. I’m much better at finding dates for other people.”

I believe in love. I truly do. But maybe I’m not destined to find my happily ever after. Maybe I already blew my chance. I was the first in my family to marry, almost five years ago, and that proved to be a mistake. Now I’m divorced.

The thought of being alone for the rest of my days leaves a dull ache in my chest. Watching Ava and Sebastian on the dance floor only intensifies that ache. I want someone to look at me as if I’m his whole world. Is that too much to ask?

Max pulls me into a hug, whispering, “You’ll find someone, but you need to get back in the dating game. If you do it more often, you’ll get better at it.”

Drawing in a deep breath, I bite the inside of my cheek. The truth is I don’t want to ‘get back in the dating game.’ For one, I’m not ready to open myself up again. More importantly, I clearly can’t trust my own judgment when it comes to men.

“By the way, I want to introduce you to someone,” Max says.

I chuckle. “Really? You want to become my matchmaking assistant?”

“I meant a business partner, Eric Callahan.”

“The CEO of Callahan’s Finest?” I ask in surprise.

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