shouldn't have been so hard, but could Callie Stevens
let her attraction get the best of her when he asked her
to have his baby? Of course, love wouldn't enter into
the arrangement. Or would it?
A busy CEO, Grant wanted a family, but he'd been
devastated by love. Sensible Callie was exactly what
he was looking for. Yet as they prepared for their little
bundle of joy, Grant's control slipped. Maybe Callie
was exactly what his heart needed.
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Empty offices were dark and spooky at night.
Callie Stevens took the stairs. She didn't want to use the elevator. Too noisy, and the last thing she wanted was to draw any attention from the night watchman.
By the time she'd climbed to the fifth floor of ACW Properties, she was beginning to rethink that position. But she had to be careful. After all, she'd just been fired by Harry Carver, the elderly CEO. She wasn't supposed to be here at all.
Reaching the sixth-floor landing, she stopped to catch her breath and listen for signs of life. Glass sconces lined the hallways giving off a dim light, but nothing was stirring. A sigh of relief and she made her way toward the area where her little cubicle stood among all the rest.
The light from the hallway cast an eerie spell over the room, lengthening shadows and making hiding places where they weren't meant to be. She stopped for a moment, orienting herself and feeling a sharp pang of regret. She'd liked this job. She was going to miss it" and the money that went with it.
Looking around quickly, she finally saw the object of her quest"her treasured orchid plant. She'd left it behind during the hectic ten minutes they'd given her to clean out her desk before escorting her off the premises. She'd been afraid someone might have thrown it in the trash, but there it was up on the high corner of a metal bookcase.
She glanced around quickly for something to climb on. There was no stepladder, so she pushed a chair over and hopped up, stretching high. Her fingers could barely reach. She'd just made contact with the ceramic pot that held her floral darling when the lights of the room snapped on and a deep male voice sent a shock wave slicing through her.
"Looking for something, Ms. Stevens?"
It wasn't a very loud scream, more of a yelp, really. But it was enough to cause her to lose her balance. She grabbed at the edge of the shelf, but it was too late. She was falling and so was the ceramic pot with the orchid she'd come back to rescue.
She hit bottom with a thud, but not the sharp, painful smack she'd expected. It took a couple of seconds for her adrenaline to fade and her mind to register that the man who'd startled her had stepped forward and tried to break her fall, and that she'd smashed him to the floor for his trouble"and now they were locked together in an embarrassing tangle of hair and limbs.
This was not good. "Oh!"
She scrambled to her feet and looked down at him. It was Grant Carver"her ex-supervisor"nephew of the CEO who'd fired her and just about the last person she wanted to see.
He looked a bit dazed. She could probably make a run for it and get away. She drew in a sharp breath, wondering".
But then she saw the ooze of blood at the corner of his mouth and she gasped. The back of her head must have hit him in the face.
"Oh!" she cried again, dropping to her knees beside him. "Are you all right? Oh my God, you're hurt."
His deep blue eyes opened and regarded her coolly from beneath thick, dark lashes. "Ya think?" he murmured. Grimacing, he reached up to touch his lip and drew back a bloody hand.
"Oh, I'm so sorry," she said. "What can I do?"
"Here's what you can do," he said, his voice husky.
"You can walk over to that desk." He gestured toward the supervisor's desk.
She jumped up and did as he suggested, looking back at him questioningly. "This one?"
"Yes." He nodded, and winced in a way that made her bite her lip in regret. "Now you can pick up that phone."
She did so, still watching him for directions. "And you can dial 9 for building security. Tell them to call the police.We've got an intruder who needs arresting."
"Oh!" She slammed the phone back down. She should have known. All her compassion drained away. She'd worked with Grant Carver quite a few times in the year and a half she'd been here and she had yet to figure him out. Though he was cool and somewhat sardonic on the surface, she'd often sensed an underlying current in him that disturbed her. The man had secret demons.
Most of her female co-workers tended to swoon as he passed, but she'd never been one to fall for wide shoulders and crystal-blue eyes. She knew from experience that male beauty could hide a shriveled soul.
Still, did it matter? She didn't really believe he would have her arrested. Tongue-lashed, certainly. But arrested? No.
"Sorry to disappoint you," she said, walking slowly back to stand with hands on her hips over where he'd pulled himself up into a sitting position on the floor.
He was rubbing the back of his dark head as though he'd hit it hard enough to get a lump. He was still dressed in suit pants and a white shirt, though that was open at the neck and his tie and suit coat were missing. She couldn't ignore the fact that he was a very large, very handsome man. But that hadn't mattered when she'd worked for him. Why should it matter now?
"You're not going to have me arrested," she told him firmly, watching as he pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and held it to his cut lip.
He looked skeptical. "I'm not?"
She shook her head. "No, you're not." "I don't know," he said doubtfully, looking up at her. He began counting off the charges on his fingers. "Trespassing. Possibly breaking and entering. Definitely assault and battery. Assault with a deadly!" He frowned. "What is that thing?"
She picked the remnants up off the floor. The purple glazed pot was in pieces, but the inner plastic container looked unharmed. It held a couple of leathery leaves and a long stalk with a full violet blossom wobbling giddily at the end of it.
"It was an orchid pot."
"Okay. Assault with an orchid pot."
He considered that for a moment, frowned slightly, then shook his head. "On second thought, maybe we ought to skip the phone call," he said, rising effortlessly to his feet and towering over her. "I can exact my own brand of punishment."
That gave her a momentary shiver, but she would rather eat dirt than let him see her squirm. She tried to tell herself that his height was partly exaggerated by the finely tooled cowboy boots he wore, but she knew the truth. He was tall.
"I hardly think that will be necessary," she said, holding his gaze with her own, no shivers showing.
"And I hardly think you're in the position to make these decisions," he shot back.
"Look, the only reason I fell was because you startled me." A thought occurred to her and she frowned. "What are you doing here, anyway?"
He stared at her. "What am I doing here? It's my family's company."
She shrugged. She wasn't going to give up any ground if she could help it. "I thought you were off in West Texas somewhere for the week."
So it seemed. Just more of her bad luck. "It's after hours. This building is supposed to be empty."
He looked at her as though he'd decided she had a screw loose after all. "Oh, I see. So I'm the one not following rules."
Ridiculous. She knew that. But what the heck"the best defense was a good offense. She'd heard that many times. And she certainly had no intention of begging for mercy. So what else could she do?
"Exactly," she said, holding his gaze. "You're certainly the one who caused all the trouble."
He stared at her and suddenly, he grinned. And then he laughed.
She stepped back, startled again. Who knew he even had a sense of humor? She felt hesitant, thrown off guard. She was perfectly comfortable defending herself against a strong man, but she wasn't sure what to do with a man who laughed.
"Oh, I don't know," he drawled at last, eyes sparkling. "I say we blame it on the orchid. That makes about as much sense."
She looked down at what she'd gathered in her hands. Watching her, he held back a chuckle. She seemed to be taking him so seriously. And that reminded him of what he'd always liked about her. She wasn't a flirt.
He'd had his fill of flirts. Women sometimes seemed to respond to him like flowers opened to the sun. There'd been a time when he'd reveled in it. But that time had long since passed. Now it just got in the way.
Not that he was dead to physical appeal. With her thick blond hair and her large dark eyes, Callie Stevens was a looker and he had the same involuntary attraction to her any normal man would have. Still, he was experienced enough to know it didn't mean a thing. It would never touch him where he lived. Nothing much did anymore. Life was more tolerable that way.
"Orchids are plants," Callie was saying, looking at him with a crease between her brows that told him she knew he'd been teasing her, but wanted to challenge him anyway.
"Agreed. So what?"
She looked triumphant. "No free will. You can't assign blame to them. They have no choice in how they're flung about."
He had the grace to pretend chagrin. "I'll have to admit, you've got a point there," he said.
She hesitated only briefly. If he was admitting things, it was definitely time for her to make a grand departure.
"Of course I do," she said regally. "Now if you'll excuse me!"
She turned to go, but his hand on her arm brought her to a halt before she'd made a convincing attempt at a getaway. She looked up at him, wishing she could read the intentions in those clear blue eyes.
"Hold it," he was saying. "We're not finished here." For the first time, she really did feel uneasy. She was alone in a darkened building with a man she really didn't know all that well. She'd been one with six others in the research group under Grant Carver, but they were only one of four groups he supervised. She had worked closely with him on a couple of projects, but there'd been a natural reserve between them and it hadn't only come from her end of the relationship.
She'd had a strange encounter with him once, months ago, where he'd made a proposal that was so off-thewall, she sometimes wondered if she'd dreamed it. She'd turned him down and he hadn't seemed to hold it against her. But it had made her wonder about him. She knew there was tragedy in his life. If she hadn't known it from the office buzz, she would have recognized it in the depths of his eyes.
But that was all he'd ever revealed. In fact, she'd probably seen more honest emotion from him tonight than she'd seen in over a year of working for him.
For some reason, her attention dropped to his open shirt and stuck there for a beat too long. It wasn't as though she could actually see anything. The lighting cast dark shadows on his chest. But the fact that the crisp white fabric that was usually closed behind a tie now lay open, exposing something mysterious, was somehow intimate and exciting in a way she hadn't expected. Her pulse stuttered in surprise and began to race.
But she couldn't let him know. "I'm finished," she responded, looking back up quickly. "I came for my orchid and I've got it."
"There must have been an easier way," he noted dryly.
"Probably," she said. "But I never seem to do things the easy way."
He nodded. "You do things in a pretty good way, from what I've seen. As I remember it, you worked on the Ames Ranch project last year, didn't you?"
Work. Yes, if he kept this on a professional level, she could handle it. If only he weren't touching her. His fingers had curled around her arm in a casual grip, but when she tried to pull away, he didn't budge. For all intents and purposes, he had her trapped.
"Yes, sir, I did," she said stoutly.
"And quite handily, too." His handsome head tilted as he studied her from narrowed eyes. "You were the only one on the staff who seemed to understand what the hell was going on most of the time."
You actually noticed? She didn't really say it, but it was on the tip of her tongue. But she would have followed that up with, Why didn't you give me any credit for that at the time?
He was gazing at her speculatively. "I think we could do some good work together. I've got a new project coming up!"
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Working for her heart-stoping handsome boss shouldn't have been so hard, but could Callie Stevens let her attraction get the best of her when he asked her to have his baby? Of course, love wouldn't enter into the arrangement. Or would it? A busy CEO, Grant wanted a family, but he'd been devestated by love. Sensible Callie was exactly what he was looking for. Yet as they prepared for their little bundle of joy, Grant's control slipped. Maybe Callie was exactly what his heart needed...***This book was really good. The author really put alot of emotion into this story. By the end of the book the main characters really come full circle! A definet buy!