Because You're Mine (The Gallaghers #3) - Layla Hagen Page 0,2

eyes and ears.

“Okay, I take back the deal,” she quipped, twirling a strand of hair between her fingers.


“You took too long to think. So that means you agree with Henry.”

“Sort of.”

“Ha! I knew it.”

She was a spitfire, and I liked it a little too much. She wasn’t the shy kid I remembered. I leaned in closer to her ear and whispered, “That doesn’t mean we can’t make a deal.”

She swallowed hard, turning to look at me. She looked at my mouth only for a split second, but I caught her.

“I’ll think about it,” she said slowly as I pointed to my car. I loaded three of her bags in the trunk and stuffed the other two on the back seat. She was putting her address in the GPS when I sat behind the wheel. Her apartment was in the Columbus Circle area, a good hour away from the airport if traffic was good. On the drive, she shared some more information about the restaurant where she was starting on Monday.

"Are you excited?" I asked her, glancing over her way, noticing how happy she looked.

“Oh yeah. Working in a Michelin-starred restaurant was my dream ever since I went to culinary school. I'm so lucky this job popped up. Honestly, I've been applying to New York restaurants since I finished school and never even managed to get past the first interview. But this time, everything just fell into place." I liked her energy and the way she used her hands when she spoke, like she was personalizing everything she said. She glanced around with a huge smile. I knew the feeling. I'd only moved to New York recently too. It was an exciting place to be. My brother and I ran a software company, Gallagher Solutions, and we’d been in DC for years before deciding to expand and move to New York. It was the best decision we ever made. The business was booming. I still had to go to DC once in a while when one of our customers needed help, but my home base was here in New York.

"I was also super, super lucky to find this apartment. I really wanted to live in Manhattan so I wouldn't be so far away from work, and you know, all the excitement of those touristy places. It took some research on Craigslist to find it.”

I eyed her carefully. "You found your apartment on Craigslist?"

"Yes. My new roommate posted it. Her old one moved out, so she needed someone else to share the rent."

"Please tell me you know this person."

"Well, I know her from Craigslist."

"And you've never met her in person?" No matter what city one moved to, I thought this was a bad idea.

"No, but we did Skype before I signed the lease. I wanted to put a face to the name and see if we have chemistry. And we do."

"You're moving in with a stranger?" I asked, realizing my voice sounded a lot like a growl.

Ellie laughed. "Oh, you sound like my brother—all overprotective. I've moved around a lot in my life. I'm used to living with strangers. It's not the first time."

I didn't say anything, but she laughed even harder. I might have growled again.

Ellie chuckled. “You’re going to be just as overprotective as you were in Lake Tahoe, huh? You were like my own personal bodyguard. I just hoped it was because Henry was around, making you keep an eye on me.”

“That’s because trouble was following you around. Actually, now that I think about it, you seemed to go looking for trouble,” I reminded her.

“I’d just turned twenty-one. I wanted to take advantage of it.”

Yes, that included going to bars and staying up late. Henry and I took turns going with her to make sure she wasn’t taken advantage of.

“Looking for trouble,” I repeated.

"You sound more and more like my brother," she teased. “Finding a place in Manhattan for a short period of time wasn’t easy. I’m subletting the room just for six months.”

I looked at her in surprise. Henry didn’t mention this. “You’re here for only half a year?”

“Yes. The restaurant I’ll be working at has three locations: New York, New Orleans, and San Francisco. I’ll be spending six months in each city. It’s a trainee program.”

When we reached Columbus Circle, she looked around with even more curiosity. The hustle and bustle of the city could be overwhelming. Ellie’s street was five blocks away from where we were. A few minutes later, she pointed to a barber shop