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Pregnant By The Boss!
By Carol Grace
Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.Copyright © 2003 Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneJoe Callaway was in a hurry. He brushed past the well-dressed men and women in the lobby of the high-rise building in San Francisco's financial district to be the first in the elevator. He punched the button for the twentieth floor and watched impatiently as the numbers flashed above the door. Three, four, five ... It seemed like an eternity.
It was his first day back after what was supposed to have been a two-week business trip, which had turned into a much longer series of meetings, negotiations and public relations. He could just imagine the work piled up on his desk. Or the work that would have piled up on his desk if he hadn't had the world's most efficient, hardworking administrative assistant to handle it while he was gone.
The worrisome part was that he hadn't been able to contact Claudia from Costa Rica. Every time he had access to phone lines or the Internet, he got her voice mail. Every time he left a message, he didn't get a call back. Of course there was a time difference and problems with the overseas connection, still it was strange that he'd missed her every time. But she would have handled everything in his absence as well as anyone could have. After three years she knew his mind. Sometimes he found she could almost read his thoughts.
Now he was back and he was anxious to tell her what had happened. When she heard about the new project she'd be as excited as he was. They would work together on it as they had so often in the past, from early morning to long into the evening. The difference was that this project was extraspecial. Special to him, special to her.
He couldn't wait to tell her. He could imagine the expression on her face. Her brown eyes would widen in disbelief. Her mouth would curve into a smile. She'd pelt him with eager questions, how, when, where, how much. He smiled to himself as he rushed out of the elevator and into the offices of Callaway Coffee.
"Good morning, Mr. Callaway," said the receptionist as she swiveled around in her chair to face him. "Welcome back."
"Thank you, Janice," he said. "Would you send Claudia in to see me right away?"
He didn't wait for her answer. He wanted to get the papers out of his briefcase and onto the large work table before she came in. He was glad that he hadn't been able to speak to her before this. The surprise would be all the sweeter when he told her in person. When she was excited, her face would glow, her skin would turn the color of pink roses and be just as soft. Which reminded him of the Christmas party where she'd ... where they'd ... The smile on his face faded. That was something else he had to speak to her about. Just so there weren't any misunderstandings about that. Because he'd never do anything that would harm their wonderful working relationship.
It was now nine-fifteen and he was ready. Where was she? He wanted to see her now. He opened the door to the outer office. Two women from bookkeeping, Angela and Mary Lynn, were standing at the reception desk talking to Janice in hushed voices.
When they saw him, they jumped like scared rabbits and left immediately, their coffee cups forgotten on the receptionist's desk. Janice forced a brief smile, as if nothing was wrong. But it was. Claudia never kept him waiting. She was always there when he needed her.
"What happened?" he asked. "Where's Claudia?"
"I don't know," she said.
"What do you mean you don't know? Is she out sick? Is she late? Is she in the bathroom?"
"I, uh, I don't know. I haven't seen her."
"Haven't seen her? Well, if you haven't, who has?" he demanded.
"Call her at home," he said.
"I tried. She's not there," Janice said.
"Not there?" he repeated. He had to bite his tongue to keep from asking once again where she was. He was beginning to sound like a parrot. But without her he was at a loss. Nothing would work. He couldn't function. He didn't know where to start. Didn't know where anything was.
"This is ridiculous," he said. "There's no reason to worry," he told himself, but he was worried. It wasn't like her to be late. Especially on his first day back. "I guess she's just late."
Janice didn't say anything. She blinked nervously.
"Isn't she?" he prompted.
"I think ... Did you look on your desk? I think she left you a note."
A note? A note meant bad news. A feeling of apprehension tugged at the corners of his mind. He stared at Janice for a long moment then he turned on his heel and went back to his office. He hadn't seen anything on his desk except an avalanche of unopened mail and a stack of file folders, which, come to think of it, was pretty strange. He shuffled through the mess, knocking some things on the floor, tossing others to one side until he saw it. Under the papers he found a white, legal-size envelope with his name written on it in blue pen in her neat handwriting. He ripped it open, a feeling of foreboding in the pit of his stomach like a gathering storm.
Excerpted from Pregnant By The Boss! by Carol Grace Copyright © 2003 by Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.