Home > Beautiful Bastard (Beautiful Bastard #1)(13)

Beautiful Bastard (Beautiful Bastard #1)(13)
Author: Christina Lauren

“I’m not exactly thrilled with the—”

“Bennett,” my dad said, walking briskly into my office. “Great job in there. Henry and I just spoke with Dorothy and Troy and they were—” He stopped and stared at where Miss Mills stood, white-knuckling the edge of her desk.

“Chloe, dear, are you okay?”

She straightened and stretched her fingers, nodding. Her face was beautifully flushed, her hair a little wild. From me. I swallowed and turned to look out the window.

“You don’t look well,” Dad said, walking to her and putting his hand on her forehead. “You’re hot.”

I clenched my jaw as I watched their reflection in the glass, a strange feeling clawing its way up my spine. Where is this coming from?

“Actually,” she said, “I do feel a little off.”

“Well, you should head home. With your work schedule and having just finished the semester at school, no doubt you’re—”

“We have a full calendar today, I’m afraid,” I said, turning to face them. “I was expecting to finish Beaumont, Miss Mills,” I growled through clenched teeth.

My father turned his steely gaze on me. “I’m sure you can handle whatever needs to be done, Bennett.” He turned back to her. “You go on ahead.”

“Thank you, Elliott.” She looked at me, arching a perfectly sculpted brow. “See you tomorrow morning, Mr. Ryan.”

I watched her walk out and my father closed the door behind her, turning to look at me with fire in his eyes.

“What?” I asked.

“It wouldn’t kill you to be a little nicer, Bennett.” He moved forward and sat on the corner of her desk. “You’re lucky to have her, you know.”

I rolled my eyes and shook my head. “If her personality were as appealing as her PowerPoint skills, we wouldn’t have a problem.”

He cut me off with a glare. “Your mother called and told me to remind you about dinner tonight at the house. Henry and Mina are coming over with the baby.”

“I’ll be there.”

He made his way over to the door, stopping to look back at me. “Don’t be late.”

“I won’t. Christ!” He knew as well as anyone that I don’t show up late for anything, even something as simple as a family dinner. Henry, on the other hand, would be late to his own funeral.

Finally alone, I stepped back into my office and collapsed into my chair. Okay, so maybe I was a little on edge.

I reached into my pocket and pulled out what remained of her underwear, ready to discard them into my drawer with the others, when I noticed the tag. Agent Provocateur. She dropped a pretty penny on these. And it sparked my curiosity. I opened the drawer to examine the other two pair. La Perla. Damn, this woman was serious about her underwear. Maybe I should stop into the La Perla store downtown sometime and at least see how much my little collection was costing her. I ran my free hand through my hair and tossed them all back in the drawer slamming it shut.

I was officially out of my mind.

As hard as I tried, I couldn’t focus on a damn thing all day. Even after a vigorous lunchtime run, I still couldn’t get my mind past the morning’s events. By three, I knew I had to get out of there. I reached the elevator and groaned slightly, opting for the stairs and then realizing that was an even worse mistake. I sprinted down eighteen flights.

Pulling up to my parents’ home later that evening, I felt some of my tension slip away. As I walked into the kitchen, I was immediately engulfed by the familiar smell of Mom’s cooking, and my parents’ happy chatter coming from the dining room.

“Bennett,” my mom sang as I stepped into the room. I bent down and kissed her cheek, allowing her a brief moment to try and fix my unruly hair. Finally swatting her hands away, I grabbed a large bowl from her and placed it on the table, snatching a carrot as commission. “Where’s Henry?” I asked, looking out toward the living room.

“They’re not here yet,” answered my dad as he walked in. Henry was bad enough, but throw in his wife and daughter and they were lucky to even make it out of the house at all. I walked to the bar outside to make my mother a dry martini.

Twenty minutes later, the sounds of chaos came from the foyer, and I stepped in to meet them. A small, unstable body with a toothy grin hurled itself at my knees. “Benny!” the little girl squealed.

I snatched Sofia up and smothered her cheeks with kisses.

“God, you’re pathetic,” Henry groaned as he walked past me.

“As if you’re any better.”

“You should both shut up, if anyone wants my opinion,” Mina added, following her husband into the dining room.

Sofia was the first grandchild and the princess of the family. As usual, she preferred to sit on my lap during dinner and I tried to eat around her, doing my best to avoid her “help.” She definitely had me completely wrapped around her finger.

“Bennett, I’ve been meaning to ask you,” my mother began, handing me the bottle of wine. “Would you invite Chloe to dinner next week, and do your best to convince her to actually come?”

I groaned in response and received a quick kick in the shin from my father. “Christ. Why is everyone so insistent on getting her over here?” I asked.

Mom straightened, wearing her best Firm Mother face. “She’s in a strange city all alone, and—”

“Mom,” I interrupted, “she’s lived here since college. She’s twenty-six. It’s not a strange city to her anymore.”

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