Your Inescapable Love (The Bennett Family Book 4)(7)

By: Layla Hagen

“Earth to Max!” Alice exclaims.


“Did you hear anything I said?”

“Mmm,” I say noncommittally.

“Never mind. Just bring Jonesie around to see Mom and Dad if she has time. They’ll be happy to see her. Can I have a bite?” She points to my sandwich.

“You’re always stealing my food,” I accuse.

“I just want one bite.” Out of the corner of my eye, I see her batting her eyelashes at me. “That’s not stealing. And I brought it to you.”

“Why didn’t you bring one for yourself?”

“I didn’t want one, but seeing you eat with so much gusto, I kind of want a bite.”

I groan, concentrating on the road.

“You know I’ll bug you until you give in, right?” Alice continues.

Unfortunately, I do know. “Fine, but just one bite. I mean it.”

She ends up eating half the sandwich, of course.

“It’s so good to have you back home from London, Max. I don’t like it when any of us is away. Can’t wait for Summer to get back.” Our youngest sister, Summer, is a painter, and she’s currently in Italy, working on a special project for a local museum. She’ll be gone for another few months. “At least you’re back. I missed fighting with you over food.”

“You have seven other Bennetts you can pick a fight with.”

She shrugs. “Yeah, but none get as adorably annoyed as you do.”

“Give that back. You’re lucky I love you so much,” I mutter, wolfing down the remaining part.

“Holy fuck,” I exclaim ten minutes later when we arrive at the location.

“I think holy fuckity fuck with a side of shitty shit is more appropriate.” Alice puts her hands on her hips, disbelief etched on her face.

“Are you sure this is the right address?”

“Yeah.” Alice’s enthusiasm is all but gone as she looks at the dump we came to look at. We climb out of the car, and then hover in front of it. Disappointment comes in waves from my sister. Kind of wish I hadn’t eaten the entire sandwich, so she could have it. The women in my family are big on comfort food, and I hate seeing Alice like this.

“Now I know why they didn’t upload any photos of the building itself, just the surrounding view,” she says bitterly.

We are looking at what looks like a run-down barn. The surrounding area is magnificent, if a little remote. It’s on a high hill with a fantastic view of the city.

“It did say it needed heavy renovations,” Alice continues.

“I have a great plan for that. I’ll bring the gasoline.”

“I’ll light up the match,” my sister adds.

“You’re essentially just buying the land.” I do a full turn in slow motion, inspecting the area. There’s a lot of green, and the property is large enough to build a generous parking lot next to the restaurant.

“Looks like it.”

“Which means the asking price is far higher than it should be.” One of the reasons my sister has asked me to join her here today was because I have a knack for negotiations.

“Let’s go inside.”

“No banter once the guy is in sight,” I warn her. Nothing damages credibility more than bantering. Alice merely shakes her head, rolling her eyes.

“You play the bad cop,” she tells me. “I’ll play the good one.”

The dump looks even worse inside. The pervasive smell of dirt and mildew turns my stomach.

“Mr. Emmerson?” Alice calls to no one in particular. No one answers, and my first thought is that the owner bailed on the meeting, but the door was open. Then again, it’s not as if anyone’s going to rob this shit hole even if the door was open and had a neon sign saying Rob Me on it. At last, a grunting man in his fifties comes stomping toward us, wiping sweat off his bald head. He gives Alice a blatant once-over, looking with hunger at her, which instantly gets him on my bad side.

I step forward. “We’re here to see the property.”

The man extends his hand to my sister, and Alice shakes it vigorously before stepping back. “Thank you for agreeing to meet us on such a short notice. I’m Alice, and this is my brother Max.” She sighs dramatically as she scans the room. “Unfortunately, this isn’t quite what I imagined.”

“But this location is top notch,” Sleazeball says.

Putting my hands in my pockets, I pace the dump. “I know the price per square foot in this area. Your asking price is at least forty percent too high.”

Sleazeball jerks his head back. “I’m afraid you got the wrong information.”