Bossman's Baby Scandal

By: Catherine Mann

Prologue



New York City, four months agoL auren Presley wondered how a man could be so deeply inside her and yet totally distant at the same time. But no doubt about it, the sated, half-dressed man tangled up with her on her sofa at work had emotionally left the building.



She would boot the rest of him out of her deserted office as soon as she could breathe again.The butter-soft leather of her turquoise couch stuck to the backs of her legs through her thigh-high stockings, sweat still slicking her body from their frenetically passionate—and surprise—hookup. At least her fledgling graphic-arts business was closed for the day, the workplace empty.

Everything seemed out of sorts, disconnected like a Salvador Dali painting. She couldn’t blame Jason for regretting their impulsive act, since she was pretty much freaking out, too, over how fast her panties had landed on the floor, her dress up around her waist while she’d torn at his belt buckle and zipper. Jason Reagert was a business colleague, one half of a working alliance they may very well have wrecked. She needed to get through this awkward post-sex moment ASAP with her pride intact.

A low drone filled the quiet of the empty office. Lauren tensed. “Your pants are vibrating.”

Jason arched back and raised a dark eyebrow, his close-cropped hair mussed on top from her fingers. “Pardon?”

She clapped her hand on his warm hip—beside his BlackBerry. “Seriously. It’s buzzing.”

“Damn.” He disentangled himself, cool air brushing her bared legs. Jason swung his feet to the floor, his Testoni loafers thunking against the scarred wood as he sat and unclipped the handheld. “Helluva bad timing.”

Avoiding his eyes, she slid upright and adjusted her silky black wrap dress, putting it in place again. Her panties would have to wait. She kicked the scrap of ebony satin under the sofa. “Your pillow talk leaves something to be desired.”

“Sorry.” His zipper closing rasped, overloud in the late-night silence. “It’s my reminder alarm.”

“Alarm for what?” She stared nervously at the white brick walls, the easel in the corner, the artwork on lit screens.

“My flight to California.”

Right.

He was leaving.

Lauren stood, smoothing her dress and looking for her favorite Manolo leopard pumps that she wouldn’t be able to wear again without thinking of this stupid, impetuous night.

She and Jason had been wrapping up final details on a graphic-art design project she’d freelanced for his last ad campaign at the New York firm—he was leaving his NYC job and heading to greener career pastures in California. The job at Maddox Communications in San Francisco was a great opportunity for him. She’d known about this for a couple of weeks. And as she’d hugged him goodbye tonight, she’d been knocked off balance by how upset she was over his impending move.

One second she’d been looking up at his leanly handsome face while blinking back tears, and the next second they’d been kissing…and more. Pleasure prickled down her spine, settling low, as she remembered the bold sweep of his tongue and his hands, his strength as he’d cupped her bottom and lifted her against him. Already her body ached to reach for him again, grab hold of that tie she’d never quite managed to undo and tug him toward her. The impulse was too much, too strong.

Too overwhelming.

Gathering her shredded self-control, she looked away from his strong cheekbones and tempting mouth. She didn’t know where all these frenetic feelings had come from and wasn’t sure how to undo them now that he was leaving.

She spied her leopard-print shoes under the desk and welcomed the chance to put some space between herself and Jason and a sofa that smelled of good sex. She knelt, pulling one pump free, but the other stayed annoyingly out of reach.

“Lauren—” his loafer-clad feet stopped beside her, making her all the more aware of her ungainly butt-up position “—I don’t make a habit of—”

“Stop.” She sat back on her feet, willing away one of those awful blushes that came with her auburn-head complexion. “You don’t need to say anything.” Echoes of her mother’s humiliating pleas for her husband to stay bounced around in Lauren’s head.

“I’ll call—”

“No!” Standing, she gave up on her shoes, her toes curling against the cool wood floor. “Don’t make promises you aren’t certain you’ll keep.”

He scooped his suit jacket from the back of a contoured metal chair. “You could call me.”

“What would that accomplish?” She faced him full on for the first time, taking in his prep-school good looks, hardened with an edge from his years in the Navy. He came from old money and had made his fair share of new, as well. “You’re moving to California, and New York City is my home. It’s not like we have any kind of real connection beyond being work acquaintances who happened to get caught up in a fluky hormonal maelstrom. Nothing to disrupt our entire lives over.”