Read an Excerpt
A Billionaire And A Baby
By Marie Ferrarella
Harlequin Enterprises LimitedCopyright © 2003 Harlequin Enterprises Limited
All right reserved.
Chapter One"Don't I know you from somewhere?"
The question was finally directed at Sherry Campbell after ten minutes of covert and not-so-covert staring on the part of the new office assistant as she copied a file. The assistant, standing at the Bedford World News's centrally located copy machine, wasn't even aware that the state-of-the-art machine had ceased to spit out pages and was now content to sit on its laurels, waiting for her next move.
The assistant's next move, apparently, was to continue staring. Her brow furrowed as she attempted to concentrate and remember just where and when she had seen her before.
Sherry stifled a sigh of annoyance.
It wasn't that she was unaccustomed to that look of vague recognition on a person's face. Sometimes Sherry was successfully "placed," but as time went on, not so often. There was a time, at the height of her previous career, where that was a regular occurrence. She couldn't say that she really minded. Then.
These days, however, people were just as apt to rudely stare at her swollen belly as they were at her face, that being the reason why her former career was a thing of the past. It was her unscheduled pregnancy that had gotten her dismissed from her anchor job and brought her to this junction in her life. Not in so many words, of course. Television studios and the people who ran them had an almost pathological fear of being sued because of some PC transgression on their parts. So when she had begun to show and told Ryan Matthews of her pregnancy, the executive producer of the nightly news had conveniently found a way to slip her into something less visible than the five o'clock news anchor position.
Within a day of her notifying Matthews that her waistline was going to be expanding, he had given her place to newcomer Lisa Willows and transformed her into senior copy editor, whimsically calling the move a lateral one. When she'd confronted him with his transparent motives, he'd lamely told her that demographics, even in this day and age, wouldn't have supported her "flaunting her free lifestyle." People, he'd said, still found unmarried pregnant women offensive and weren't about to welcome them into their living rooms night after night.
Matthews's words, even after five months, still rang in her ears. The fact that Sherry delivered the news behind a desk that was more than equal to hiding her increasing bulk from the general public, and that she'd never had a so-called free lifestyle - the pregnancy having arisen from her one and only liaison, a man who took no responsibility other than giving her the name of an abortion clinic - carried no weight with Matthews. With his spine the consistency of overcooked spaghetti, Matthews bent in the general direction of the greatest pressure. In this case it was the studio heads.
"If they can shoot around pregnant actresses on sitcoms to hide their conditions, why not me?" Sherry had insisted, but even then she knew it was no use. Matthews's mind had been made up for him. She was politely and firmly offered her new position or the door.
She took the door.
Her first inclination to "sue the pants off the bastard" faded, even as her friends and family rallied around her, echoing the sentiment. The last thing Sherry wanted was to draw negative attention to the baby she was carrying. She'd come to the conclusion that the less attention, the better.
In mulling over her options, she'd decided to take her circumstance as a sign that she should return to her first love: the written word. This meant following in her father's footsteps. Connor Campbell had been a well-respected, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist before his retirement. It was because of him that she had gone into the news business in the first place.
Determination had always been her hallmark. So, after allowing herself an afternoon to grieve over her late, lamented career, Sherry moved full steam ahead, firing all torpedoes. She went to Owen Carmichael, her father's best friend and her godfather and asked for a job. Having started out with her father in the days before electric typewriters, Owen Carmichael was now the editor in chief of the Bedford World News.
Owen had been glad to hire her. Of course, she'd thought that he'd start her out with something a little more meaty than lighter-than-air fluff.
That was where her mind was right now, on the latest puff piece she was facing, not the assistant who stared at her with intense blue eyes and a puzzled frown on her face.
Sherry didn't feel like going into her previous life, or the reasons for the change. She felt too irritable for anything beyond a polite dismissal. Also the woman had the look about her that said she lived to gossip.
"I get that a lot," she told the other woman cavalierly. "I've got one of those faces people think they've seen before."
The assistant looked unconvinced. "But -" And then the woman paused, thinking. Suddenly, her whole face lit up as if a ray of inspiration had descended on her. "Say 'Hello, from the L.A. Basin.'"
That was her catchphrase, certainly nothing profound, but different enough to be remembered upon daily repetition. And she had been nightly anchor for four years before Matthews has ushered her out the door.
Sherry shook her head, her light-auburn hair swaying like a velvety wave about her oval face. "Sorry, I have to get upstairs to see Owen. Posthaste." She made it sound as if Owen was sending for her rather than the other way around. She was preparing to beard the lion in his den. Glancing at the dormant copy machine, Sherry pointed at it. "I think it needs feeding."
With that she hurried off, aware that the woman was still staring after her.
Hurrying these days was no small accomplishment for Sherry. She felt as if she was carrying around a lead weight strapped to her midsection. A lead weight that felt as if it was in constant flux.
On her way to the elevators, she tried not to wince as she felt another kick land against her ribs. At this rate she was going to need internal reconstructive surgery once her little squatter moved out.
"Don't you ever sleep?" she muttered to her stomach. She'd dragged herself into the office this morning because she'd been up half the night. Little whosit-whatsit was apparently learning the rumba. Either that or the baby had found a way to smuggle a motorcycle in there and had entertained itself through the wee hours of the night by constantly revving it up.
She'd been in no mood for what she found on her desk when she'd arrived. This week's assignment was even worse than last week's and she'd been convinced that that was the pits.
Excerpted from A Billionaire And A Baby by Marie Ferrarella Copyright © 2003 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.