Because You're Mine (The Gallaghers #3) - Layla Hagen Page 0,1

and I was twenty-seven when we spent three weeks in Lake Tahoe with Henry and a group of friends. She was so damn gorgeous that I couldn’t look away from her.

Henry made me promise not to flirt with his sister. He knew me well, since we played with the same deck of cards, so to speak—if I had a younger sister, she’d be off-limits to Henry too. I’d agreed without a second thought and had even given him shit for warning me off. The joke was on me, because I spent those three weeks fighting myself and my instincts.

That was two years ago. Then just a few weeks ago, he called to ask me to get his sister situated with her move and reminded me again that Ellie was totally off-limits. I told him I had excellent self-restraint these days.

It turned out I didn’t. I saw her the first time two weeks ago when she came in for an interview. I kept myself in check. Barely.

But I was determined to be on my best behavior.

On the drive from Tarrytown to JFK, I checked her flight on my phone. She was coming in from Miami, and it looked like it was on time.

When I arrived at the airport, I parked in short-term parking and checked the flight app again; the plane had landed two minutes ago. Hopping out of my car, I dashed to the main entrance and patrolled the waiting area, glancing at the arrival doors every time they opened.

About forty minutes later, Ellie walked out. She was pushing a cart filled with five huge bags. I could barely see her behind them, but as soon as she saw me, she was smiling from ear to ear. Damn, damn, damn. Keep eye contact, Ian. Don’t look at that long brown hair that reaches to her waist. Or her huge round eyes almost as dark as her hair. Eyes up, Ian.

Way to go, asshole. Ten seconds in, and I was checking her out. Ellie Cavanaugh was testing my self-control already.

"Only five bags, huh?" I teased her.

"Hey, I love clothes," she said with a shrug. "Most of the time, I'm in my kitchen uniform. So when I'm not working, I like to dress up."

She looked gorgeous in her jeans shorts that showed off her perfect ass and a simple yellow top that molded to her curves. She was no taller than five foot two, tiny compared to my six feet. I could scoop her up with one arm, she was just that petite. I shook my head. What was I thinking? I nudged her aside and began pushing the cart and reminded myself—No touching. No thoughts about touching or anything else either. She is off-limits.

"So gallant. Thank you for pushing my baggage cart," she said.

"How was your flight?"

"Uneventful. I just read a book. Thanks for picking me up. You know it's not necessary, right?"

"Of course it is. How else are you going to carry all your five bags?"

She grinned, and I barely restrained from leaning in closer. I was in deep shit for sure. "That's true.”

“Besides, I promised Henry I'd help you settle in." That’s right. Talking about her brother should make me stop this nonsense.

"Oh, my brother... always so overprotective, but he means well. I think he hopes you’re just going to slip into his shoes and play the big brother role."

“Yes, he does,” I agreed. “And I promised him I’d do just that.”

The corners of Ellie’s mouth twitched. She nudged my arm with her shoulder. “A word of warning: he’s going to ask for a report from time to time.”

I frowned. “No, he won’t. He’s not like that.” What, she was trying to press my buttons?

“He is when it comes to me.”

“Well yeah, but I know Henry.”

“True, and he knows you.” She burst out laughing, averting her gaze as we walked to the parking lot.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I’ll tell you on the condition that you don’t indulge his overprotective urges and tell him to mind his own business when he asks about me.”

I considered this for a few moments and put myself in Henry’s shoes. Dylan and I had lived in DC for a long time. But before moving here in New York, I constantly checked on my sisters. I didn’t exactly want a report, but I understood where he was coming from. I knew that Ellie had lived in other states too, where Henry didn’t have friends, but in New York, he might want me to be his