Kiss Me Forever (The Maxwell Brothers) - Layla Hagen

Chapter One


"Come on, Tate, you can't ditch me again," I complained.

"It's wedding business, man. I can't get out of it," my brother replied.

Tate had met the woman of his dreams, and they were getting married in a few months. He’d called to blow off our plans for a drink at our favorite bar.

"You've been using that excuse a lot lately." I knew I sounded grumpy, but I’d had a busy day and was anxious to grab a drink.

"You know it's not an excuse. I have obligations as the groom, I’ll have you know."

"Whatever,” I said. "Fine. Have fun."

I pocketed my phone, looking around my office. I was the last one left on my floor. I typically didn't work this late, but I'd been waiting for my brother. We were supposed to grab drinks at the bar on the top floor. I hadn't had time to catch up with him lately. He spent a lot of time with his fiancée, just like our brothers Declan and Tyler. We had two other brothers who were single like me, so that evened things out.

I still wanted to get a drink, but I decided against going to our usual spot on my own. On the way to the office today, I saw a huge announcement across the street that a new bar was opening tonight. Maybe I’d just go there and see what the hype was all about. Might as well switch things up tonight, do something different. Besides, everyone in The Rooftop Bar knew me: owner of a huge architecture company and a Maxwell. People often stopped me to talk shop or just schmooze. Tonight, I wanted anonymity.

On my way out of the building, I texted my niece Paisley, Tate's daughter from a previous marriage. I wanted to build a treehouse for her birthday, but I needed to do some recon work to find out exactly what she wanted. I was trying not to be too obvious, so I asked her to help me with some pictures for a “client”. I was treading a fine line—she was ten and very smart.

LaSalle Street was just as busy in the evening as it was during the day. The building opposite mine was also mostly full of offices. I’d expected the elevators to be empty, but there were plenty of people waiting. I was betting that all of them were going up to the bar, but who cared? I had time tonight, and I was curious about the new place. I popped open the top button of my shirt, then took off my suit jacket, draping it over a shoulder. I didn't know why I bothered with suit jackets. Chicago in July was so damn humid.

Ten minutes later, I was upstairs. With one glance, I could tell this place was worth the hype. It was far bigger than the bar where my brothers and I regularly went. I enjoyed checking out new places—an architect's curiosity, I supposed. This one was all white with gray and green accents, decorated predominantly in marble with green hues. I liked it. The place was packed, as I suspected. There were a lot of high round tables, but they all seemed to be taken. I planned to hunt for one after I got a drink.

I made my way to the bar, taking out my credit card. I didn't have to wait long before the bartender took my order.

"A vodka tonic," I said.

Music resounded from the speakers. It was at the perfect volume. You could carry on a conversation, but you could also dance.

I received my order within minutes. Speed was another plus for this place. I was going to bring my brothers here; they’d really enjoy the ambiance.

Grabbing my glass, I turned to face the room. I spotted an empty table right in a corner, and I headed there with determined strides. Just when I reached it, a voice called from behind me, "Hey, that's mine."

I turned around, coming face-to-face with a gorgeous woman. She was almost as tall as I was, with blonde hair that reached to her waist and vibrant blue eyes. She was wearing a jean skirt and a red top with thin straps. Yeah, sexy as hell.

I smiled at her, turning on the charm. "Technically, it's mine. I reached it first."

"But only by two seconds," she replied, a saucy grin lighting up her face. "Besides, I bet I saw it first."

"That's going to be hard to prove. But I have a proposition for you. Why don't we share?