Baby in the Boardroom (Harlequin American Romance #1293)

Baby in the Boardroom (Harlequin American Romance #1293)

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by Michele Dunaway

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After her latest boyfriend breaks things off, Kristi Jensen can't help but wonder what's wrong with her. As if that isn't bad enough, her parents are pressuring her to find a husband. So the unlucky-in-love executive does the next best thing: she asks Mitch Robbins, her tall, dark, traffic-stoppingly gorgeous personal assistant, for a kiss.

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After her latest boyfriend breaks things off, Kristi Jensen can't help but wonder what's wrong with her. As if that isn't bad enough, her parents are pressuring her to find a husband. So the unlucky-in-love executive does the next best thing: she asks Mitch Robbins, her tall, dark, traffic-stoppingly gorgeous personal assistant, for a kiss.

Corporate Rule #1: Never date your boss. Too late. Ever since they spent the night together, Mitch is more in love with Kristi than ever. And when she suggests they start dating to thwart her matchmaking father, he's only too happy to oblige.

That's before he learns he's going to be a father…. With his new family's future at stake, can he forgive Kristi's deception? And will Kristi realize in time that Mitch is the man she's been waiting for all along?

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Babies & Bachelors USA , #2
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She was being dumped. Kristi Jensen collapsed against the back of her chair. The usual clatter of the Thai restaurant faded away as she stared at Bill. "I don't think I heard you correctly."

"I'm leaving you," her boyfriend of a year repeated. He twisted his fork in the ginger sauce-covered noodles, either oblivious or unconcerned about his words' impact. "We've had a good run and you'll always be special to me, but I met someone at my brother's bachelor party and I'm in love."

"You're in love?"

His eyes got dreamy.

"Yeah. Love. Not that I didn't love you, but this is different. She's twenty-one, hot and she makes my blood boil. I swear there were actual sparks. It was love at first sight." Bill emphasized his point by waving his fork before he dug in for one more bite.

"Uh-huh," Kristi replied, her appetite fading fast.

"Surely you knew things weren't working out between us."

Actually, she'd thought they'd been fine. Their relationship had never been especially passionate, but he'd fit her lifestyle. They were comfortable and compatible. And her parents had liked him. She'd thought he was getting ready to pop the question.

Now Kristi saw that the sports car Bill had purchased a month ago had been the beginning of a midlife crisis. He was dumping her for someone fourteen years his ju nior—barely old enough to legally drink. Love. Ha. Please.

Unable to help herself, Kristi asked, "So was she a guest at the party?"

"No, the stripper," Bill answered, not missing a bite. "But she's stripping only to make money to pay for college. It's not like she works on the East Side. She's much more professional than that. Just private parties. I told her when we're married she needs to quit. It's not like I can't support her."

"How nice." Bill's uptight, nose-in-the-air mother was going to be simply thrilled when she met her new daughter-in-law-to-be.

But that wasn't Kristi's problem. Her relationship with the man was clearly over. She pushed her plate forward and took a ten-dollar bill out of her purse. Toss ing the money on the table, she prepared to leave.

Bill glanced around, as if appearances suddenly mat tered. "Kristi, please. Don't walk out. Finish your lunch. They know us here. And it's not like I slept with you after I slept with her."

Kristi, long accustomed to having her relationships fail for one reason or another, held on to the last vestiges of shredded pride. "Well, isn't that special. At least I won't catch anything."

Somehow managing not to wobble in her two-inch pumps, she got to her feet. She would not cry. She re fused to shed one tear over Bill, or mourn the time she'd wasted thinking he was the one.

She smoothed a wrinkle in her skirt and grabbed her coat. Then, without saying another word, she walked out, leaving Bill and the future she thought they would share behind.

"Damn," she cursed as she climbed into her car. The company Christmas party was tonight and her parents were going to be highly disappointed when she told them the news. Kristi Jensen, only child of the founder and CEO of the largest beer distributor in the Midwest, was dateless yet again. She gritted her teeth. She had a million things to take care of before the end of the day. She would lose herself in work, put off the pity party until tomorrow. She had a job to do.

Mitch Robbins paced the carpet in front of his desk, stopping once to pick up a round paperweight and then return it to its spot. He'd finally signed the transfer papers. He was leaving Kristi.

It was high time.

He'd wor ke d a t Jen s en D i st r ibu t or s fo r f ive ye a r s, t h e last two as Kristi's personal assistant. Sure he'd stayed eighteen months longer than most of her previous PAs, but he hadn't minded. Being her PA was the number-one stepping-stone in the company. Do a good job and you could almost write your own ticket.

Problem was, he'd fallen in love with Kristi a few months into being her PA. But he knew better than to try to date his boss, especially when his boss was the CEO's daughter. Dating Kristi Jensen would be career suicide. And he liked his job and the opportunities that awaited him whenever he was ready.

Which was now. She was at lunch with her boyfriend and she'd confided a few days ago that she thought Bill was ready to propose. She'd been staring at her left hand ever since.

He couldn't continue working with her this closely when there was no hope that she'd ever see him in a roman tic light. So he'd cut his losses, applied for a transfer and, since Jensen moved fast, come Monday he'd be in a new job.

He stopped pacing and returned to his desk. He had put his life on hold for two years, pining for a woman he couldn't have. His parents didn't understand why he wasn't married. He was thirty-two, and in his big Catholic family that meant he was late settling down.

But how could he marry someone else when his dream girl was right in front of him? He liked everything about her: blond hair, blue eyes, dazzling smile and infectious laugh. Despite her upbringing, she wasn't pretentious. Being around her made every day a little brighter.

But even though he was transfer ring and she would no longer be his boss, he knew their relationship wouldn't change. He and Kristi were from different worlds. He was missing the very large personal fortune St. Louis elite like the Jensens possessed. And while Kristi might accept him, he knew her parents never would.

He logged back onto his computer, which had gone into sleep mode while he'd mulled over his future. He would tell Kristi he was transferring the moment she returned.

That resolution flew out the window when she arrived back in the office earlier than expected, her nose swollen and her eyes red and puffy. He jumped to his feet, concerned. "Are you okay?"

"Fine," Kristi managed to say, and Mitch could see where she'd smeared her makeup by wiping her eyes. She tried to put on a brave front. "What happened while I was out?"

"Not much. Everything's pretty much shut down be cause of the party."

"Has my dress arrived?"

The hell with protocol. Mitch stepped forward and placed a steadying hand on her forearm. "Your dress came. Barbara and Sara are already at the hotel supervising setup." Tonight's party was completely Kristi's baby. She and the entire communications department staff had been working on the company's premier event for months.

"What about the Michelson report?"

"Done, copied and sent to everyone to read before Tuesday's meeting."

"The pricing for the new brochures?"

"Waiting for the last bid spec, and I sent a reminder e-mail to Print Pro telling them they had until Monday at 9:00 a.m. or they wouldn't be considered. Everything's been done. What's wrong?"

She lifted her chin and her lips quivered. "Bill and I are through."

Mitch's heart raced. Bill was a cad of the first degree. He'd treated Kristi like an afterthought.

"I'm sorry to hear that," Mitch lied. While he'd never be able to have Kristi for himself, he wanted her to be happy. She deserved a lot better than Bill.

"If he calls or stops by, I don't want to talk to him," Kristi said. She reached into her purse, withdrew her cell phone and turned it off.

"Of course I won't let him through," Mitch said. He'd t a ke pleasure in relayi ng any go-to-hel l message to Bil l. "Are you sure you don't want to go home early? Maybe rest up or take a nap? I can handle things here."

Kristi shook her head, and a blond strand fell out of her updo. She'd already had her hair styled for tonight's gala. "No. I'm good. Unless you can tell me how to break the news to my parents that yet again I've failed to land a husband. Thirty-five is so over the hill."

"You're not over the hill."

Her wan smile never reached her eyes. "You only think that because you're a man. Plus, you aren't turning thirty-six in a month and you don't have a biological clock ticking. Add to that parents who have wanted to be grandparents for ten years and my desire to kick Bill's ass, and tonight is not going to be fun."

"You know, if you need a date for the party, I'd be happy to take you."

Her eyes widened, and Mitch wondered how the hell those words had slipped out.

"You're sweet," Kristi finally said, cracking a grateful smile, the first real one he'd seen since she returned. "That was good for my battered pride. Thanks. But I'm su r e you c ou ld do much b et te r t ha n m e. Now, u n less it 's someone telling me the world's ending, I'm going to try to get some work done. Hold all my calls."

"I will." As she entered her office and shut the door, Mitch cursed fate.

Despite Mitch's earlier reassurances otherwise, thirty-five was over the hill. As Kristi donned her red-velvet cocktail dress, the one she'd picked out especially for tonight's party, she pressed her hand against her stomach and gave one last glance over her shoulder to check her backside.

Nothing out of place. She was slim, trim and fit as someone who ran five miles a day should be.

She fingered the teardrop-diamond pendant her dad had given her on her last birthday, almost a year ago, before letting the gem fall against her chest.

Despite her resolve, she'd failed to hold back her tears on the drive back to the office. However, this necklace was the only teardrop she planned to wear tonight.

True to his word, Mitch had held all calls and the afternoon had been blissfully silent. A knock on her office door had Kristi stepping out of her private bathroom. Mitch poked his head around the door, his fingers curled over the edge. "If you don't leave now you're going to be late," he warned.

"Thanks." She waved him in, and Mitch released his grip and entered. He was the best PA she'd ever had, so she respected his opinion and knew he'd be honest. "How do I look?"

He folded his arms across his chest and studied her. She shifted nervously as the seconds ticked by. Usually Mitch had an immediate answer. After today's earlier letdown, she didn't need more bad news. "Well?" she asked, impatience getting the best of her.

"This is tricky. Would you like the politically correct answer or the one that could get me fired for sexual harassment?"

For the first time in what felt like forever, Kristi laughed. Mitch had a great sense of humor and an in nate ability to put things in proper perspective. "How about the latter? I could use a pick-me-up, and as long as you don't tell me I look like an old hag, I won't fire you or tell my dad."

Mitch's lips inched upward and he winked, something she'd never seen him do. So he could flirt. Interesting.

"Well, if you weren't my boss, I'd pick you up. That's one hot dress and you look great in it. Every guy in the place will be checking you out."

She'd bought the dress hoping Bill would take notice. It had a deep V back and the front plunged enough to reveal ample cleavage without being too risqué. Perhaps to get Bill's attention she should have worn some pasties and installed a stripper's pole. She tried to push the negative thoughts aside. Anger was such a useless emotion. "Thanks."

"No problem." Mitch said, business-as-usual tone back. The Christmas party was always black tie and he tugged on the ends of his. "I never can get these tied."

"Here. Let me." Kristi moved to stand in front of him. "I sometimes think our union truck drivers have a better deal. Their celebration is beer and pork steaks in the union hall."

"Don't forget their bonus checks," Mitch added with a chuckle. She'd always liked his laugh. It was deep and low. Sensual. Yep, some woman somewhere was a fool for not snatching him up.

"Money is always a definite plus, but I was thinking more along the lines of how nice jeans sounded. Their party is much more casual."

"Yeah, but then you wouldn't be wearing that gorgeous dress."

His compliment warmed her. "Not that anyone's go ing to appreciate it."

"I do." His eyes met hers and the sincerity she saw there made her breath catch.

Her fingers fumbled as they undid the knot at the base of Mitch's throat. She'd stood close to Mitch on plenty of occasions, and sometimes they'd exchanged playful banter, but this was the first time she'd had butterflies in her stomach. He'd changed his aftershave to a woodsy scent and he smelled divine. Sexy.

The emotional upheaval of the breakup had to be causing her physical reaction. She downplayed his compliments. "At least someone will enjoy the dress. So you don't have a date for tonight?"

He frowned. "Was I supposed to bring one?"

"No. Of course not." It was socially acceptable if men went stag. The double standard rankled. "But you didn't ask anyone?"

"No. I broke it off with Louisa about two months ago. I didn't ask anyone else as I assumed I'd be helping set up at the hotel."

Kristi had removed him from that on-site responsibility three weeks ago. "Oh. I'm sorry things didn't work out with Louisa."

He shrugged. "It's no big deal. We weren't right for each other. I'm waiting for that one special person, no matter how long it takes."

"Yeah, if only it was that simple." She'd been dating for twenty years and had more strikeouts than she could count. At this rate she'd never get to home plate. "Then again you shouldn't have any problems locating Ms. Right."

He leaned back, ignoring his still-unknotted tie. The ends dangled, a contrast to the crisp white shirt that fit like a glove, hinting at the sculpted body beneath. "You think it'll be easy?"

"Why wouldn't it be? You have a good job. You're an attractive guy."

That was an understatement.

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Meet the Author

Describing herself as a woman who does too much but doesn't know how to stop, Michele teaches high school English, advises the school yearbook, writes for Harlequin, and raises two daughters and five spoiled housecats.

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Baby in the Boardroom (Harlequin American Romance #1293) 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
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Good story
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CJanisse More than 1 year ago
Kristi Jenson has grown up with a silver spoon in her mouth; however she has worked hard in her father's company and has earned her executive privileges. Unfortunately her history of relationships is not as successful. When the man she was dating breaks up with her for a stripper the day before the annual year end party, Kristi is convinced by her dear friend that a one-night of passion is just what she needs. Little does she know that the evening of passion and excitement will change her life forever. Mitch Robbins has worked hard and to his working-class family's chagrin has yet to find a wife and settle. But for Mitch, its hard to settled for just any woman when he has found the one who also happens to be the one he can't have. Mitch kept his attraction to his boss carefully in check. He accepts a promotion to another department and though he knows he can let his feelings known, he believes his boss is out of his league. When Kristi propositions him at the year end party, Mitch thinks his dream has come true - even if it's for one night. Or so he thinks until the big boss - Kristi's father - gives him an opportunity to change his - and Kristi's - life forever. Baby in the Boardroom is a delightful story. Michele has skillfully created wonderful characters, melded humor, love, passion and conflict which will have you turning the pages to see how Kristi, Mitch and a cast of colorful characters overcome the challenges of life to achieve HOA. Don't miss this one!