Authors: Layla Hagen
Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary, #Adult
Your Irresistible Love
Sebastian & Ava ~ The Bennett Family, Book 1
Your Irresistible Love
2016 Layla Hagen
“This was a great idea,” Logan says as I sign the papers for our parents’ present. Their thirty-sixth wedding anniversary is coming up in one month.
“It’ll make them happy,” I agree, nodding at my brother. Handing the papers to my assistant, I rise from the chair, pacing my office to stretch my legs. From the seventh floor of the building, I have a great view of San Francisco. One of the perks of being the CEO of my own company is that I get the best office. The second one is that no one dares to contradict me. It gets boring once in a while, but my family is always around to shake things up and remind me they don’t care much about my title.
“So, how many times did Mom ask you if you’re bringing a date?” Logan asks, leaning back in the chair in front of my desk.
“Nine.” My face breaks into a grin. “You?”
He gives a long whistle, crossing his fingers on top of his head. “Only four times. I should consider myself lucky.”
“She’s not giving up, is she?” Shaking my head, I glance at the family photo resting on my desk. Dad looks at Mom with the same loving expression I remember seeing my entire life. Since she’s been happily married to my father for so long, and they raised nine kids together, my mother believes all of us must follow in their footsteps. So far, building a business empire from almost nothing has proven easier than finding what my parents have.
“No, Mom isn’t giving up. And I’m afraid Pippa’s becoming Mom’s right hand. She actually calls us San Francisco’s most eligible bachelors.”
I snort, jamming my hands in my pockets. If my sister Pippa were the only one calling us that, I wouldn’t have a problem. As it is, every damn magazine running an article on Bennett Enterprises mentions
most eligible bachelors
at some point. That has the unfortunate effect of drawing women to us like moths to a flame. The wrong kind of women—mostly gold diggers and social climbers. I can’t remember the last time I’ve met a real woman.
“Pippa set me up with a hottie last week,” Logan continues. “Hottie turned out to be a bimbo. That dinner was so boring I wanted to poke my eyes out.”
My brother’s tone is even, but his eyes harden when he mentions our sister. Pippa is the only Bennett sibling who was brave enough to marry, and she’s now divorcing. I want to punch that bastard. By the look of Logan, that makes two of us. I suspect her matchmaking attempts for Logan and me are her way of coping.
“Back to Mom and Dad’s present, are you telling them about it now, or do you want to wait until the party?”
“Let’s wait.” Wiggling my eyebrows, I add, “You know, for dramatic effect.”
Thirteen years ago, I asked my parents to sell the ranch where we grew up and hand me the money. I needed capital to start this business. They agreed on the spot. We were piss-poor, and the ranch was everything they had, but they trusted me blindly. It paid off. Bennett Enterprises became one of the world’s major players in high-end jewelry. I’ve taken care of my parents, but I know that giving them back the ranch my father built with his bare hands will be the best damn thing I could ever gift them. The minute I found out it was up for sale, I made an offer on it. Can’t wait to let the rest of my siblings know.
“Sebastian,” my assistant interrupts us, “Ava Lindt has arrived. Should I bring her in here?”
“Yes, bring her in. Let’s meet our new marketing consultant.”
As my assistant leaves the office, Logan says, “I bet Mom will nag you at least two more times about bringing a date.”
“No bet,” I reply. “I know she will.”
I enter the office with my chin high, shoving a strand of my blonde hair away from my face. My little navy suit fits this place perfectly. The two men inside greet me with smiles.
I’ve seen photos online of the Bennett brothers, but I was convinced their looks were at least partly due to some photoshopping. I was wrong; they’re just two very fine specimens of the male variety.
One of them walks up to me and extends his hand. “Ava, I’m Logan.”
“Nice to meet you. I’m happy to be here.”
I shake his hand firmly, knowing the first impression counts. Logan is about six feet tall and has dark hair and striking blue eyes. “And this is my brother and our CEO, Sebastian.”
As Sebastian walks closer, he fills the entire room with his presence. He’s a few inches taller than Logan, and his eyes are as dark as his hair. Otherwise, the brothers share the same fine features: sculpted cheekbones, strong shoulders. Still, something about Sebastian makes it impossible to look away from him.
“Welcome to Bennett Enterprises, Ava,” Sebastian says.
God, even his voice is sexy. He holds out his hand. I shake it without thinking. His touch is like a magnet, pulling me in, sending my pulse into overdrive. I swallow hard as he keeps my hand a fraction too long. Finally, he lets go. To my embarrassment, I discover my palm is sweaty. As discreetly as I can, I wipe it on my skirt.
Well, as far as first impressions go, Sebastian sure knows how to make himself memorable. Before I stepped inside this office, I was already fascinated by his story: the billionaire who rose from nothing, who donates a large chunk of the company’s profit to charities and shuns the spotlight. A rarity by all accounts.
Now, I’m fascinated by
He gestures for Logan and me to sit in the chairs in front of the desk, and he drops in the seat behind it.
“You come highly recommended.” Sebastian nods at me. “I expect the next marketing campaign to be a success.”
“It will,” I assure him. His lips curl up in a half smile, as if he’s enjoying a private joke. I squirm under his gaze. It travels from my face further down. His gaze dwarfs and undresses me at the same time. Squaring my shoulders, I make myself taller. “Where will my office be?”
“Next to mine.” Sebastian points with his thumb to the left. “It’s a room we use for small meetings. However, for the four months you’ll be here, it’ll be your office.”
“I’ll be on your other side,” Logan says. “It’s best if you’re close to us. Sebastian and I take an active interest in the advertising campaigns.”
“We practically did all the marketing in the early days,” Sebastian adds.
“Very well, I’ll keep you both informed.”
“I will attend the first meetings you will have with our marketing team to make sure everything goes smoothly,” Sebastian offers.
“Great,” I say appreciatively. CEOs usually don’t bother with me, instead sending me to deal directly with their teams. I usually spend a few months on each project, and there were instances I never met the CEOs.
“Did you fly here directly out of Sydney?” Logan asks, referring to my last project location.
I shake my head. “New York. The consultancy’s headquarters is there, and I always fly into the office between projects.”
“Why don’t I give you a tour of the company?” Logan suggests, looking at his wristwatch. “That way I can tell you more about us. We can go down to the creative department where all the magic happens. If we’re quick, we can grab lunch afterward. I should still make it in time for my afternoon meeting. Unless you have other plans? I know your official start date is tomorrow. It was great of you to come today.”
I relish the compliment. It’s little things like these, on top of my usual work, which make clients remember me. “I only have plans later.”
I’m about to add that a company tour is a wonderful idea, when Sebastian interjects, “I’ll take her.”
Logan shoots him a confused look. “Why?”
“I want to be nice to our consultant. Is there a problem?”
“You don’t do nice.” Logan’s voice is stern, but his lips form a smile.
“I’m the nice brother, everyone knows that.”
“Fuck off, Logan,” Sebastian says good-naturedly.
I barely withhold a grin.
“See,” Logan tells me, as if to prove a point, “that’s his idea of being nice.”
“I’ll take my chances,” I reply, charmed by the playful rivalry between the two brothers.
I expected them to be arrogant and cold, and they’ve proven me wrong. Their fun side is a pleasant surprise.
I’ve read about the Bennett family. There are nine siblings, and most of them are involved in Bennett Enterprises. As an only child, I can’t even grasp the idea of such a big family—though I’ve always wished to have one. I imagine you never get lonely.
Logan clutches his heart theatrically. “You choose my brother over me? I am profoundly hurt.”
“I don’t want to make you late for your meeting.” I try to be diplomatic. Truth is, I long to be alone with Sebastian, against my better judgment.
“I’ll see both of you later,” Logan says, taking off.
The second he leaves the room, the air thickens with tension. Sebastian gazes at me intensely with thinly disguised curiosity. Being the object of his attention sets me on fire. The burning spreads through my body, filling me up, but I hold his gaze.
Abruptly, he stands up. “Let’s go. Do you want to do the tour first or grab lunch?”
“I’m not hungry yet. Let’s do the tour first. I’m looking forward to it.”
He nods, gesturing me to join him. He shows me my office briefly, and then we walk in silence down the corridor. When we step inside an empty elevator, he puts a hand at the small of my back. It electrifies me, sharpening my senses, zapping to life all my nerve endings.
Damn it, Ava, get a grip.
Alone with him in the elevator, I keep my eyes firmly on the ground. His masculine scent is intoxicating. We stop briefly on every floor, and Sebastian explains which departments work where. Every division is here, except production—it’s in the smaller building adjacent to this one.
“How come you keep the production here too?” I ask. “Most companies outsource that activity, or move it to a cheaper location, not San Francisco.”
Leaning in to me, he says, “We don’t have large production runs, so the factory itself is small—more like a workshop. Keeping it here is motivating for the employees. Whenever they are frustrated with everyday tasks, all they need is a trip next door. They can see it’s not all numbers. It’s beauty.”
His enthusiasm surprises me. CEOs are usually all about numbers and profits, the core and essence of the company long forgotten. Then again, Sebastian created the company. He is a passionate founder.
Something tells me he is a passionate man in everything he does.
I steel myself, mentally cursing. I can’t lust after Sebastian. I have a no-fraternization clause in my contract. My boss would fire me in a minute if I crossed the line from professional to something more. I can’t afford that.
I’m saving for a down payment for my own apartment in New York, which costs an arm and a leg. Owning my own place has been a dream since forever. While I was growing up, Mom always worried about rent and being evicted. When she was alive, the idea of having a place we could call ours seemed like a safe haven. I wish my mom could be around the day I finally have the keys to my very own apartment.
Anyway, a man like Sebastian—with his unbelievable looks and impressive wealth—is not in my league. Not at all.
Our last stop is the first floor. The elevator comes to a halt, and the doors open to reveal a chaos that contrasts starkly with the order above. For one, it’s an open office. Then, everyone wears casual clothing, running around as if their life depends on it. Sketches, energy drinks, and empty pizza boxes clutter the desks.
“This is the creative department,” Sebastian announces as we step out of the elevator. He raises his voice so it’s audible over the background noise of voices, printers, and general madness. “I call it our playground.”
“Brother,” an attractive blonde calls from across the room. She hurries our way, stopping in front of us. She wears a figure-hugging green dress and nude stilettos, which I eye with appreciation.
“You must be Ava,” she says. I answer with a nod. “I’m Pippa.”