The CEO's Unexpected Child

The CEO's Unexpected Child

by Andrea Laurence

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780373734443
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication date: 03/08/2016
Series: Billionaires and Babies
Edition description: Original
Pages: 192
Product dimensions: 4.30(w) x 6.70(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Andrea Laurence is an award-winning contemporary author who has been a lover of books and writing stories since she learned to read. A dedicated West Coast girl transplanted into the Deep South, she’s constantly trying to develop a taste for sweet tea and grits while caring for her collection of animals that includes a Siberian Husky that sheds like nobody’s business. You can contact Andrea at her website: http://www.andrealaurence.com.

Read an Excerpt

"I don't care, Stuart. I'm not letting a total stranger just take my daughter from me."

Claire Douglas's lawyer, Stuart Ewing, patted her on the hand. He had a grandfatherly way about him, an easygoing attitude that belied the fact that he was a courtroom barracuda. She had a lot of faith and money invested in the man, but that didn't mean she wasn't terrified deep down.

"We'll work something out, Claire. I just need you to keep your cool when we go in there. Don't let your emotions get the best of you."

Claire frowned. Keeping her emotions in check was not exactly her specialty. She'd been bombarded with emotions over the past two years. Her life had become a roller coaster from the moment she found out she was pregnant. After years of failed fertility treatments, it had been their last chance. That moment had been the highest of highs.

Her husband dying in a car accident when she was five months pregnant was the lowest of lows. Especially the painful revelations that followed it. The birth of her daughter had been the only thing that pulled her out of that dark place, giving her a reason to be joyful and live her life again.

But she'd never expected this. The disclosure of the mistake they'd made at the fertility clinic had changed her whole life. It had made her a millionaire, and at the same time had threatened the stability of her small family.

"Mrs. Douglas? Mr. Ewing? They're ready for you." The receptionist at the front desk gestured to a set of double doors that led to a conference room.

There, Claire presumed, waited the man who was trying to take her child and the lawyer he'd hired to help him. She felt her stomach roll, threatening to return the coffee and bagel she'd forced down her throat that morning.

"Come on, Claire," Stuart said, pushing up from the waiting-room chair. "Everything is going to be fine. You're not going to lose your daughter."

Claire nodded, trying to act calm and assured, though she was anything but. There were no guarantees. They were marching into a room where Edmund Harding was waiting for them. He was the kind of lawyer every billionaire in Manhattan had on speed dial. Harding had such a level of prestige and influence that he could probably get the courts to do anything he wanted.

Scooping up her purse, she forced her trembling hands into tight fists at her sides and followed Stuart into the conference room.

The room was elegant and intimidating, with a large rectangular glass table that cut it in two like a blade. There was no question that it divided everything into their side and their opponents' side. There were plush leather rolling chairs lining the table, but at the moment all of them were empty.

Claire's gaze drifted to the large, floor-to-ceiling windows on the left side of the room. A man stood in front of it, looking out over Central Park. She couldn't make out any of his features, just the hulking shape of his broad shoulders and narrow waist. The man was tall, his arms crossed over his chest. He emitted an intense energy that Claire picked up on immediately.

"Ah, Mrs. Douglas," a voice called. "Mr. Ewing, please have a seat."

Claire turned toward the voice and found a man on the other side of the room. He was gathering paperwork in his hands and carrying it to the table. The man had a certain studious look about him that convinced her that he was the infamous Edmund Harding. That meant the man by the window had to be…

"Luca, we're ready to begin," Edmund said.

As Claire settled into her seat, the man at the window finally turned. When he did, Claire was very glad she was already sitting. The face that regarded her was like a Florentine masterpiece of the Renaissance. He had a square, clean-shaven jaw and high cheekbones that looked as if they were carved out of marble. Dark brows hovered over narrowed eyes that crinkled at the edges.

Those eyes ran over Claire for a moment, then turned away, disinterested. He strode to the conference table and sat beside his lawyer.

This was the father of her child?

She almost couldn't believe it, and yet her daughter's dark curls and olive complexion certainly hadn't come from her.

"Before we begin, can my assistant bring anyone anything? Water? Coffee?" Edmund asked.

"No, thank you," Claire said quietly.

"Coffee, black," the man across the table demanded. No niceties, no please or thank you. He seemed very much to be the kind of man who was used to getting what he wanted.

He wouldn't get his way this time. Claire was determined not to let this man get his hooks into her daughter. He didn't even know Eva. How could he possibly get custody of her?

The assistant brought Luca a mug of black coffee and silently disappeared as quickly as she arrived.

"Thank you for coming today," Edmund began as the door clicked shut. "We asked to meet with you in person because we feel as though our prior communications aren't having the impact they should. Mr. Moretti is very serious about pursuing his joint custody filing."

Being served with papers that said a stranger was demanding custody of her daughter had nearly floored her. When she had learned the truth about the mix-up at the fertility clinic, a part of her had hoped that the biological father would be disinterested in Eva. She found out quickly that was not going to be the case.

"Don't you think that filing was premature?" Stuart asked. "He hasn't even met the child, but he thinks he should have joint custody?"

"He would've met his daughter weeks ago if your client had cooperated with our requests. We had no choice but to do something Mrs. Douglas couldn't continue to ignore."

The two lawyers continued to argue, but Claire found her attention was drawn to the silent force sitting across from her. While his lawyer did all the talking, Luca Moretti leaned back in his chair and studied Claire. His dark hazel eyes ran over every inch of her. She did her best to hold still, not wanting to squirm or show any sign of weakness in front of him.

Instead, she focused on studying him just as closely. It was so easy to see pieces of him in Eva. When her daughter was born, Claire had been confused by the baby they handed her, with the head of dark, curly hair. Claire had dark honey-blond hair. Her husband, Jeff, had light brown hair. Neither was olive skinned nor had a cleft in their chin, but Eva did.

But all her confusion and worry disappeared the moment she looked into her daughter's gray eyes. She fell in love that instant, and no longer cared what Eva looked like because she was perfect. For all Claire knew, Jeff had Spanish or Italian blood he'd never told her about.

The doubts hadn't arisen in her mind again until the clinic called three months later. They'd informed her that their last vial of sperm was due for destruction in three months if they didn't use it. They hadn't opted to pay the lifetime storage fees because they'd intended to use it all fairly quickly.

The call confused her because they'd used their last dose when they conceived Eva. That information had raised red flags, and it wasn't long until they discovered the truth—her husband's sperm had a number transposed on the paperwork and another client's sperm was used instead.

Luca Moretti's, to be exact.

The thought sent a chill through her. The man had never touched her and yet a part of him had been inside her. What was a man like Luca doing at a fertility clinic, anyway? Putting himself through college by selling sperm for cash? Every inch of his body, from his broad shoulders to his hard jaw, screamed the kind of masculinity she hadn't been exposed to in a very long time, if ever. With the right look, Claire was certain he could make a woman's ovaries explode. If a man like Luca needed the services of a fertility clinic, a lesser man didn't stand a chance with his own progeny.

And yet, he was there. When the news broke, Luca had focused his attention on the fertility clinic. He'd sent Edmund after them and before Claire knew it, the clinic was begging to settle out of court and keep the scandal quiet. She had instantly gone from a comfortable middle-class woman, to someone who didn't need to work another day in her life.

But then Luca turned his legal bulldogs on her. Claire wouldn't back down, though. She didn't care if it cost her every penny of her settlement battling in court. Eva was her baby. It was hard enough trying to deal with the revelation of her daughter's paternity. She was still trying to work through her anger and confusion about Jeff's death. How could she tell Jeff's parents that Eva wasn't their biological granddaughter? She had a lot on her plate already. She didn't need Luca coming out of nowhere and making demands about her child.

"There's got to be a happy medium," Stuart said, pulling her attention back into the conversation.

"My client isn't open to negotiating any terms that don't involve providing him with visits with his daughter."

"My daughter." Claire spoke up with all the force she could muster. She felt Stuart's hand covering hers, trying to calm her, but it wasn't going to help. "Eva is my daughter. I'm not just going to hand her over to some stranger. I don't know anything about this man. He could be a serial killer or some kind of pervert. Would you just hand over your child to a stranger, Mr. Harding?"

Edmund was startled by her outburst, but the sound that caught her attention was the snort of laughter from the man beside him. It was the first noise Luca had made since he demanded his coffee. When she turned to look at him, she noticed a sparkle of interest in his eyes and a hint of amusement curling a corner of his full lips. He was no longer just studying her, he actually seemed…intrigued by her.

"I can assure you that my client is no criminal, Mrs. Douglas. He is the CEO of the nation's largest family-owned Italian restaurant chain, Moretti's Italian Kitchen."

Claire turned away from Luca's intense stare. It was unnerving her, and this was no time for her to be compromised. So, he was a hotshot restaurateur. Good for him. But what difference did that make when it came to his character? Success didn't make him a saint. "So you're presuming that rich businessmen can't be murderers or child molesters? I counter that they just have better lawyers."

"My client is willing to cooperate to soothe your concerns, Mrs. Douglas. We're not the bad guys here. We're just trying to ensure that Eva is in Mr. Moretti's life. We welcome you to have a background check conducted. You won't find anything questionable. But when you don't find the skeletons you're looking for, you're going to have to let him see Eva."

"And if Mrs. Douglas doesn't cooperate?"

Claire held her breath, waiting to see what they would say. Would they push her or back down until their court date?

"Then," Edmund explained, "we stop playing nice. I'll file an emergency visitation motion to compel access to Eva and let the courts decide. You can be certain the judge will give my client even more time with his daughter than we're requesting. It's your choice, Mrs. Douglas."

So this was Claire Douglas.

Luca had to admit he was surprised. Her name had been on his mind and crossed his desk a hundred times since the mix-up came to light. He didn't know what he was expecting the widowed Mrs. Douglas to look like, but young, slender and blonde had not been on the list. It had taken everything he had to hold his composure when he turned from the window and saw her standing there.

Her practical gray suit clung to every delicious curve and almost exactly matched the shade of her eyes. Her honey-colored hair was twisted back into a professional bun at her nape. He wanted to pull out the hair pins and let the blond waves tumble over her shoulders.

The longer he sat watching Claire, the more curious he became about her. How had a woman so young become a widow? Was she always this uptight, or was it just because she didn't like him? He wanted to run his thumb between her eyebrows to smooth the crease her serious frown had worn there.

It made him wonder if their daughter looked more like him or her. Did she have Claire's porcelain skin and pert nose? Did her ears turn red when she got angry the way her mother's did? The furious shift in Claire had immediately caught his attention. There was more fire in her than the bland gray suit would indicate.

"Can they do that?" Claire asked, turning to her lawyer. She looked completely panicked by the thought of Luca having access to their child.

Their child.

It seemed so wrong for him to have a child with a woman he'd never met. Luca hadn't even given any serious thought to having a family. He'd only stored his sperm to make the doctors and his mother feel better. He hadn't actually expected to use it.

But now that he had a living, breathing child, he wasn't about to sit back and pretend it didn't happen. Eva was probably the only child he would ever have, and he'd already missed months of her life. That would not continue.

"We can and we will." Luca spoke up at last. "This whole thing is a mess that neither of us anticipated, but it doesn't change the facts. Eva is my daughter, and I've got the paternity test results to prove it. There's not a judge in the county of New York who won't grant me emergency visitation while we await our court date. They will say when and where and how often you have to give her to me."

Claire sat, her mouth agape at his words. "She's just a baby. She's only six months old. Why fight me for her just so you can hand her over to a nanny?"

Luca laughed at her presumptuous tone. "What makes you so certain I'll have a nanny for her?"

"Because… " she began. "You're a rich, powerful, unmarried businessman. You're better suited to run a corporation than to change a diaper. I'm willing to bet you don't have the first clue of how to care for an infant, much less the time."

Luca just shook his head and sat forward in his seat. "You know very little about me, tesorina, you've said so yourself, so don't presume anything about me. Besides, even if I have a nanny, it doesn't matter because Eva is my daughter, too. I'm going to fight for the right to see her even if all I do is pass her off to someone else. Like it or not, you don't get any say into what I do when I have her."

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The CEO's Unexpected Child 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Such a great story happy ending
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this story! Great from beginning to end.
Jess_at_From_Me_to_You More than 1 year ago
3 out of 5 stars. It had a good plot and intriguing characters. Yet, I wish I liked the last few chapters better than I did. I recommend it for those looking for a sweet -- slightly erotic -- romance. Review By: From Me to You - Video, Photography, & Book Reviews frommetoyouvideophoto.blogspot.com
SusanFrank More than 1 year ago
Very good and very emotional book. Claire became a widow when her husband was killed in a car accident, accompanied by his mistress. Then she gets word that through a mix-up at the fertility clinic her daughter's father is actually another man, one who wants shared custody of little Eva. Luca had given up any hope of ever being a father after a devastating illness when he was a teen. When he discovers that he has a daughter thanks to the clinic mix-up there's no way he can walk away. But what are his chances of convincing her mother without a long and painful custody battle? I must admit that my first impression of Luca was of a cold man who is only interested in getting his way. His threats against Claire really had me wanting her to fight back. But that quickly faded when his thoughts and feelings were described and I could see how much having a child would mean to him. I liked seeing the solution that he came up with, of the three of them spending a month together, getting to know each other. It also said a lot about Claire that she could see the benefit and was able to agree. I also liked the way that she had the graciousness to invite him to meet Eva before they left on their trip. This is where Luca really began to shine. I loved the way that he was immediately enchanted by Eva and the effect that she had on him. Claire also began to realize that there was more to him than the ruthless businessman she first thought him to be. Something neither of them expected was the flare of attraction between them, something both were uncomfortable with. Luca had been burned by another woman and has serious trust issues when it comes to them. He had also determined long ago that a family was something he would never have. Claire no longer trusts her judgment when it comes to men, thanks to her husband's lies and infidelity. She isn't about to risk her heart again. I loved their time at Martha's Vineyard. Claire quickly came to see that Luca would be a wonderful father to Eva. Luca also discovered that Claire was not as unreasonable as she had seemed before. I loved seeing them get to know each other and how easily they worked together as a family. I loved Luca's protectiveness toward Claire when he found out about her husband's treatment of her. She had never experienced that kind of caring and it only added to her growing feelings for him. Luca was also beginning to care for Claire, but tried to suppress those feelings. He was, however, willing to use her feelings to convince her that being married was the best option for them. He was also determined to keep the truth of his illness from her, as he felt it made him less of a man. It was interesting to see that Claire could tell that he was holding back on something important and that she was determined to get the truth from him before moving further with a relationship. Due to space limitations, review is continued at: http://susans2016readingblog.blogspot.com/2016/02/the-ceos-unexpected-child-andrea.html
Love_Books50 More than 1 year ago
Luca thought he couldn't be a father so when he found out he was an accidental father because of a mix up at a fertility clinic nothing was going to stop him from being a part of his daughter's life, not even her reluctant mother. Read another winner by Andrea Laurence , you won't be disappointed.
judyrudy More than 1 year ago
The CEO’s Unexpected Child is Andrea Laurence’s contribution to Harlequin Desire’s Billionaire’s and Babies series. Wow, is all I can say! I loved this book from the moment I started reading the first pages. I immediately fell in love with Luca Moretti’s character. His strong sense of family was an element in the character that I loved. I understood Claire Douglas’ position in not wanting to share her child with a stranger even though it would be with its father. Ms. Laurence tackled a theme that has become prevalent in today’s age. I think she wrote a story that brought out both sides to this issue. I loved how she weaved Luca’s Italian family into the story and how Claire learned to deal with his Italian roots. I couldn’t put down Claire and Luca’s story as I read it in one sitting. I highly recommend The CEO’s Unexpected Child. I’d like to disclose that I received a copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.
MELHUTCHINSON More than 1 year ago
Loved this one too! I don't know how Andrea Laurence keeps coming up with all these great reads but I am sure glad that she does so that I have some good reading! Claire is a young lady that is just getting over loosing her husband in a tragic accident and her baby is 5 months old. Along with having to deal with the loss of her husband and a new baby, Claire has learned that there was a mix up at the infertility clinic that they used to get their baby. How do you go about telling your deceased husband's parents that the child they thought had been their's is actually hers and someone else's? There is just no good way to do it. When Claire is notified by her lawyer that the real father of her child wants to have visitation rights with his child, she is shocked that they would even ask her to let her baby go with a stranger, even though it is her biological father. Luca is a very well off man that has been through a rough time himself and never expected to have a baby this early on. When the lawyers demand a meeting so that Claire and Luca can try and figure out what they are going to do about this crazy situation, Luca has a brilliant plan that seems to fill all the voids and hesitations that Claire has about letting her baby go with a stranger. Luca suggests that they go away for a month on vacation so that they can get to know each other and see how the baby reacts to each of them. I love how this came about and how Andrea Laurence wrote this one and set it up so that these two have no choice but to spend time with each other. Will Luca and Claire come to an agreement that everyone will be happy with and that will benefit the baby? You have to read this one to find out! Such a great read once again from Andrea Laurence. I look forward to reading more from her soon!
sweeterica0712 More than 1 year ago
This was a book with one of the most unconventional plots I've read yet. Luca is the father of Claire's baby due to a mistake at the fertility clinic. Add in that Claire's husband is recently deceased, and the story really packs a punch. Toss in some romance, and the pot just boils. Luca and Claire are interesting characters - I found myself identifying a lot more with Claire as opposed to Luca, but he definitely grew on me as the book went on. The Moretti's are an awesome bunch - I really loved them, and I wish we had seem more of the entire family! Andrea Laurence can certainly tell a story - for a bit, I wasn't sure how she was going to pull it off, but she did and more!
Pure_Jonel More than 1 year ago
Holy cow! Could you just imagine? Laurence had definitely drawn the fates out with this one, creating a premise that’s so completely captivating that I couldn’t put this one down for a moment. This intricately crafted plot combines love, loss, renewal, and learning to trust again. The combination was highlighted by the realistic emotions throughout, drawing me further and further into the world. I love how Laurence writes drama without being overly dramatic. This plot is backed up with some phenomenal characters. I love how they were developed. The way that they lived their lives was so real, yet at the same time separate from how I live my daily life. They were also so approachable. I love reading about individuals that I want to see succeed. I felt completely invested in their lives by the end of the novel. All in all this was a completely unforgettable tale. Laurence had me engaged on multiple levels throughout with characters that I truly wanted to know and telling a story beyond anything I could have ever imagined. Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this work in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
judyrudy More than 1 year ago
The CEO’s Unexpected Child is Andrea Laurence’s contribution to Harlequin Desire’s Billionaire’s and Babies series. Wow, is all I can say! I loved this book from the moment I started reading the first pages. I immediately fell in love with Luca Moretti’s character. His strong sense of family was an element in the character that I loved. I understood Claire Douglas’ position in not wanting to share her child with a stranger even though it would be with its father. Ms. Laurence tackled a theme that has become prevalent in today’s age. I think she wrote a story that brought out both sides to this issue. I loved how she weaved Luca’s Italian family into the story and how Claire learned to deal with his Italian roots. I couldn’t put down Claire and Luca’s story as I read it in one sitting. I highly recommend The CEO’s Unexpected Child. I’d like to disclose that I received a copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.
BooksAndSpoons More than 1 year ago
nteresting, different kind of set up in the story, somehow it sounds like the worst nightmare for anyone using a fertility clinic, I would imagine. I loved the big, loud, curious, Italian family, how they just took their place in the novel, was outrageously fun. And the whole story is filled with passion and abundant with love towards family. I enjoyed the characters, I enjoyed the beach life they were living, the Italian food they were consuming, and the joy of discovering an impossible dream come true. Luca is adorable with little Eva, they obviously enjoy each other and have the bond from the first moment they meet. Claire and Luca have attraction, also from the first moment they meet. And that is rather awkward, since it is with their lawyers. I liked that there was more to the story, for both of them, Luca and Claire, than what just meets the eye. There were old disappointments, hurt, pain, and sorrow, not with each other, but in both of their pasts. They both dealt with the issues on their own way, and shared with each other as they got to know each other. I liked how Claire stood up for herself, and seemed to get more steam under her wings as the story moved on. I wish there would have been just a bit more details into their relationship, little more details, to make it more believable. An entertaining, fun, quick read, with some deeper issues to be dealt with, loving family to meddle in the affairs, and endless summer days at the warm beach ~ Three Spoons with a teaspoon on the side
LynnB888 More than 1 year ago
A great story that pulls at your heartstrings and makes you long for the magic that Luca and Claire stumbled upon. A reminder that dreams do come true, and that disappointment doesn't mean the end to all happiness. Really enjoyed reading! Luca Moretti can't believe it when a fertility clinic mix-up results in him fathering a baby girl, but he will let nothing get in the way of him getting to be a father to her. Claire Douglas thought she had it all, until the world exploded around her. She was finally pregnant after years of fertility issues, then her husband is killed before she has the baby, and shortly afterward, she finds out he wasn't even the father. Luca wants visitation with his daughter, but Claire is fighting handing her over to a stranger, so Luca comes up with a plan to make her more comfortable while they get to know each other. Will she eventually agree to sharing this precious bundle? And as they get to know each other, will they act on the attraction they feel? ** Received free in exchange for an honest review **