Your Inescapable Love (The Bennett Family Book 4)(9)

By: Layla Hagen

“I called the clinic.”

“But they don’t give out our personal numbers,” I argue.

“I can be very persuasive, Jonesie.”

His tone jolts every nerve ending in my body alive. “I bet,” I murmur. “Well, I’m glad you asked for my number.”

“I want us to catch up. We need to exchange fifteen years’ worth of information.”

“This will be one long phone call, then.” My grin stretches even more as I lean back on the couch. It’s been a while since merely talking to a man brought me to this state of excitement.

Not a man. You’re talking to your childhood friend.

“We have plenty of experience with talking for hours,” he says.

“Yeah, but I have to say, spending said hours on the roof had more edge to it than talking over the phone.”

Max had a habit of sneaking up to my house in the dead of the night. We’d go up to my roof so Grams couldn’t hear us.

“You start,” I tell him. “You and Bennett Enterprises have been in the papers a few times, but I want to hear everything from you.”

“After you moved away, Sebastian asked my parents to sell the ranch because he needed capital to start Bennett Enterprises, and—”

“Oh, no… I loved your ranch.” I’d spent so many afternoons there, it felt like a second home.

“Then you’ll be glad to know Sebastian bought it back for them about two years ago as a gift for their wedding anniversary.”

“Wow! Your brother is something.”

“True. My parents turned it into a B&B. We could go see it sometime.”

“I’d love that.” That place holds many dear memories for me. “So I know quite a few of you work at the company, but what are the others doing?”

“Alice owns a restaurant and is about to open a second one, Summer is a painter, Blake opened a bar a few months ago, and Daniel is looking to open his own business.”

“Holy crap, there’s a lot of stuff going on.”

“Never a dull moment in the clan. I was in London for a few years, expanding the business.”

“And now you’re back in San Francisco for good?” For some reason, my heart constricts as I wait for his answer.

“Yeah. For now, at least. We’re moving into new territories all the time, and opening offices. Until now we’ve always sent someone from the family to oversee new markets, but it doesn’t mean we’ll be doing it again. I’m overseeing our international development from here, and it’s working out great. Your turn.”

I shudder as a breeze sweeps over me. Digging my hand under the couch, I retrieve the thick blanket we keep there for chilly evenings and drape it over me. “As you know, I moved with Grams to Montana after I left California.” I pause, because thinking about that time is bittersweet. We were financially better off because Grams had a better-paying job as an accountant, but I’d missed Max terribly. “It was actually nice there.”

“Did you find another partner in crime?” Max asks, and I can practically hear his smile.

“Nah, you were pretty much it for me during my childhood. What about you? Found a replacement for me?”

“As a matter of fact, I did.”

My heart sinks as an irrational jealousy grips me over that nameless and faceless playmate of his.

“Christopher,” Max clarifies, referring to his twin brother. “We got over the fact that we looked the same. Actually, we started using it to our advantage.”

I chuckle. During my time with them, the twins hated that they looked alike. That meant they made a point to have different haircuts and clothes, and they spent time apart as often as they could.

“You finished school in Montana?” Max asks.

“Yeah, then I moved here for college. Grams also got a job offer and moved here, which was just as good because I could take care of her after she got sick.” I wrap the blanket tighter around me as another gust of wind sweeps over me.

“About Grams,” Max says. “I know a very good neurologist. He’s the father of a college friend. I called him today and asked him about the disease, without mentioning names or anything personal. If you want, I can set up a meeting with him. You wouldn’t even have to bring Grams to him. I can drive him to your home.”

For a long moment, I remain silent as a rush of emotions overwhelms me. This is what I missed most about having Max in my life. More than the banter and laughter we shared, I missed his warmth and the kindness that runs bone-deep in him. And right now, I miss him so much that the ache is almost physical.

“Thank you for doing that—calling your friend’s dad. I’d love to take you up on it, but I have to convince Grams first. She already has a neurologist, but another opinion wouldn’t hurt. But she hates doctors. Seeing one is always an emotionally draining experience.”

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