Your Alluring Love (The Bennett Family)By: Layla Hagen
Alice & Nate ~ The Bennett Family, Book 6
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“This family is larger every time I visit.” Glancing around the room, I can barely believe my eyes. With nine siblings, the Bennett clan was always large, but now that half of them are engaged, or married with kids, the sheer number of people milling around this living room tonight is overwhelming.
“Never a dull moment with us,” Sebastian says.
“Sorry I missed your wedding.” Guilt gnaws at me because I missed most events in the Bennett family in the last few years. I first met Sebastian, the oldest of the Bennett siblings, when I was in high school, and we quickly became best friends. For years, I was a regular in the Bennett household; then my job as a TV executive producer required me to constantly travel. “Glad I could catch up with all of you before heading out again.”
“Pity you’re in town for only three weeks. We should—” Sebastian clasps my shoulder but stops midsentence, as his father asks for everyone’s attention for a few moments. He gives a short speech, praising his wife of forty years. Her birthday is the reason for the gathering at their house this evening. I smile, imagining her reaction when she opens my present later. I wanted to do something special for her because I owe the Bennetts so much. My parents separated when I was thirteen, and they both started new families afterward. I didn’t fit in with either. But the Bennetts treated me like I belonged in their family.
After the speech, Sebastian’s wife, Ava, catches his eye from across the room, motioning to their ten-month-old son, Will, in her arms.
“I’ll talk to you later,” Sebastian says, heading toward his wife.
I walk to the makeshift bar area, planning to get myself a drink and then chat with each of the Bennetts. I’ve only spoken to a few of them since I arrived, but I want to check in with everyone. I think about them as my siblings… well, except for one. Alice. She’s Sebastian’s younger sister, and for the first few years, I saw her as one as well. An annoying, outspoken spitfire of a sister. But then she turned into this amazing woman, and I never could look at her like a sister again.
Speaking of her, Alice is at the bar as I approach it, pouring herself a drink.
“The prodigal son returns,” she exclaims when she notices me, a smile lighting up her features. I stop right next to her. Compared to my six-foot-two, Alice is tiny. Her light brown hair is up in a bun, the curve of her slender neck looking more appealing than it should.
“In the flesh.”
“What do you want to drink?”
“Bourbon on the rocks.”
“I’ll pour it myself.”
She holds up a hand to stop me. “No, no. I need to practice my bartending skills.”
“Why? I thought Blake was the one in the bar business,” I say, referring to one of her younger brothers. Last I knew, she was in the restaurant business.
“Blake and I are opening a location together. Large bar area in the front, a restaurant in the back. I want to get my bartending skills up to par. You never know when they’ll come in handy.”
“You also want to make sure you can do your bartender’s job better than he does, don’t you?”
“Nate Becker! Don’t you dare mock my perfectionist tendencies, or you’ll pay for it.”
Ah, how I missed Alice’s fiery nature. She keeps me on my toes, and I never know what will come out of her mouth next.
“I apologize deeply.”
She cocks a brow at my over-the-top apologetic tone. “Are you going to do a curtsy too?”
“If required, yes. If there’s one person I believe could murder me and make it look like an accident, it’s you.”
“Not sure if I should be proud or offended.” She adds a few ice cubes in a glass, pouring bourbon over them.
“Definitely proud. Now, tell me more about what you and Blake are up to.” I drop in one of the chairs next to the bar and Alice sits next to me, rattling on about her plans. Color me impressed at how well she’s doing. But then again, I always admired her. Though Sebastian and Logan are the founders of one of the biggest companies in the high-end jewelry market, Alice wanted to strike out on her own.