Read The Baby Track Online

Authors: Barbara Boswell

Tags: #Romance, #Fiction, #Contemporary, #General

The Baby Track

BOOK: The Baby Track
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The Baby Track
Barbara Boswell
Rating:
****
Tags:
Romance, Fiction, Contemporary, General

Sexy Connor McKay enlists the assistance of beautiful Courtney Carey to expose a notorious adoption ring, but trouble erupts when he becomes attracted to his pretty temporary ""wife"" and falls in love with Sarah, a three-day-old infant that becomes his adoptive daughter. 

One

“Come back!” The outraged secretary chased Connor McKay through the narrow corridor. “Ms. Carey is in conference.” The woman’s voice rose with indignation. “She is not to be disturbed under any circumstances!”

Connor merely ignored her and proceeded along the hall until he came to a door bearing the nameplate of Courtney Carey. He stopped in front of it.

“Sir, you cannot see Ms. Carey without an appointment,” the secretary snapped as he fastened his hand around the doorknob. She caught up to him and reached out her arm, as if to physically restrain him.

Connor decided he admired her tenacious dedication to her boss’s schedule. It was a good quality for a staff member to have, and he’d keep it in mind should he ever acquire a staff to command.

“You can’t go in there! ” the woman reiterated sternly.

Connor flashed a grin. “Watch me.” He turned the knob, pushed open the door and stepped into the office.

Courtney Carey was sitting at her desk, unwrapping a foot-long cheesesteak. Her head jerked up as the door opened, and she gaped as a tall, muscular man, somewhere in his mid-thirties and wearing jeans and a leather bomber jacket, strode into her office. She quickly adjusted her gaping jaw, but continued to study the man as he crossed the office to stand in front of her desk. He was not the usual sort of visitor here, neither an expensively tailored corporate sponsor type nor one of the funky artistic individuals who frequented the offices of the National Public Broadcasting Network.

This man could not be so neatly categorized. He was tanned and rugged and his sandy brown hair was worn too long for a businessman but too short for an artist. His clothing—jeans, jacket, blue oxford-cloth shirt and high-top canvas shoes—was a mixture of the traditional and the unconventional. He was tall, well over six feet, and towered above her secretary, Mimi Ditmar, who had bustled in, redfaced and irate, after him.

“Courtney, I’m so sorry,” Mimi said, casting a glare at the office intruder. “I tried to keep this—person—out, but he pushed his way inside.”

“Miss Carey is in conference, hmm?” Connor interrupted, glancing pointedly around the empty office. He focused his gaze directly on Courtney, who was still clutching her sandwich. She quickly shoved it back into the paper bag.

“Ms. Carey is obviously not in conference,” snapped Mimi. “She is having her lunch break, as you can very well see.”

Connor shrugged. “I’ve always heard how creative you folks here at NPB are. I thought maybe she was conferring with the sandwich instead of eating it. An original twist on a mundane activity, perhaps?”

Courtney bit back the retort that instantly sprang to mind. She didn’t know who this man was; it wouldn’t do to insult him.. .just yet. “We creative types have to eat, too,” she said, mildly enough. Only her flashing dark eyes belied her unruffled demeanor.

“But you find it beneath your dignity to admit to such primitive urges so you instruct your guard dog to say you’re in conference instead of having lunch.” Connor’s smile was as challenging as his words, as baiting as his tone.

Mimi gasped with offended disapproval.

“Mrs. Ditmar isn’t anyone’s guard dog.” Courtney rose to her feet. “You owe her an apology. And then I want you to leave my office immediately.” Now was definitely the time to insult him, whoever he may be.

“You’re throwing me out?” Connor walked to the window, then turned around to face both women. He was clearly unmoved by the chastisement; nor did he seem even slightly insulted. “You don’t even know who I am. What if I’m an eccentric billionaire who’s come with a seven-figure check to donate to National Public Broadcasting, a sum so big it’ll catapult your struggling new network out of the red and into the heady zones of profit?”

Courtney folded her arms in front of her chest. “Somehow I doubt that. Your appearance and your behavior places you firmly in the company of Philistines R Us. Kindly leave now or I’ll be forced to call security and have you removed.”

“Speech by phrase-o-matic.” Connor arched his dark brows. “Maybe you aren’t so creative after all, Miss Carey.”

“I’m calling security this instant!” Mimi announced, reaching for the phone on Courtney’s desk.

“If security is that seventy-five-year-old guy dozing in the lounge chair by the elevator, I’d advise you not to bother,” said Connor. “He’s not going to remove me unless I agree to be removed. And that won’t be until after I’ve talked with Miss Carey. Privately,” he added succinctly, with a dismissive glance at Mimi Ditmar.

“It’s all right, Mimi. I’ll talk with him,” Courtney interjected before her secretary could object. “Go on back to your desk.”

She was not ceding defeat, Courtney assured herself, she was simply facing reality. The man had no intention of leaving, and the sooner she talked to him, the sooner he would go away.

“Sensible course of action, Miss Carey,” said Connor. “I promise not to take up too much of your valuable time. You’ll be back in conference with your sandwich quite soon.”

Her lips tight with disapproval, Mimi left the office, pulling the door closed behind her with unrestrained force.

“Did I say she was a guard dog?” Connor grinned. “Let me amend that to lady dragon.”

“Mimi is very dedicated and protective of my time,” Courtney told him shortly. She sat back down in her chair, a strategic move designed to command control of this meeting that she’d been forced to accept. It was important to regain the lost initiative. “What do you want, Mr.—” she paused, waiting for him to supply his name.

“McKay. Connor McKay.” He knew something about strategic moves himself and leaned against the corner of her desk, propping his right thigh on the edge of it. He stared down at the young woman sitting in the desk chair only a few feet away from him.

She was not at all what he’d been expecting. Although he’d never set foot in the NPB offices until today, he had assumed that anyone who worked for the fledgling network, with its proud pledge of “Profound, Innovative and Cogitative Programming,” must be the stereotypical intellectual bluestocking. Cerebral and officious, emanating an unmistakable air of superiority; hair styled in a no-nonsense bowl cut, feet encased in sensible oxfords. Unattractive and proud of it. Mimi Ditmar had perfectly fit his profile.

Courtney Carey did not. In any setting, she would draw a second—third, fourth, fifth!—glance. When she had been standing, he’d gauged her height to be slightly above average, about five-foot-five, and her figure was way above average. Though she wore an uninspiring starched white blouse with a high collar and long sleeves, it could not conceal the lush curves of her breasts beneath it. Her pencil-slim forest-green skirt was as plain as her blouse but adeptly displayed her small waist, flat stomach and the sweet, sexy flare of her hips.

She had thick, dark hair that fell to her shoulders, in a soft, glossy mane. Her face was equally arresting. Enormous wide-set brown eyes that were alert and intelligent and as dark and soft as velvet. High cheekbones and a firm little chin. And her mouth... A sudden and wholly unexpected surge of heat suffused his body. Her mouth was enticing, alluring, the beautiful line of her lips wide and sensually shaped. Connor found himself swallowing hard.

Courtney was fully aware of his masculine surveillance, of course. She watched his sea-green eyes slide over her and forced herself to remain still in her seat while keeping her expression carefully impassive. Surprisingly it was an effort to do so. She felt... strange.

Normally such a blatant male once-over disgusted her. If she were in a particularly good mood and the overlooker was absurdly, comically obvious about it, she occasionally found it amusing. She couldn’t understand why this man’s long, illicit gaze, designed to inspect, appraise and assess her, was not producing her usual hostile or condescending responses.

But it wasn’t. She felt something else entirely, a peculiar feeling that she didn’t recognize and couldn’t identify. That worried her. The last thing she wanted was for some stranger to come barging into her neatly planned life, evoking feelings she didn’t want and couldn’t control.

A protective, defensive surge of anger ribboned through her. Courtney gave her head a slight shake, as if to clear away all unmanageable thoughts, and fixed her lips into a taut smile.

“Well, Mr. McKay, since you’ve insisted upon this meeting, I suggest you state your business.”

She was pleased by the sound of her voice, firm and cool and strictly no-nonsense. Such a well-modulated, controlled voice proved that she was unaffected by the hard-edged and handsome features of his face, that she was equally unmoved by his densely muscled body. Still, she pushed her chair back, angling away from him. He was entirely too close in his current position.

“My business,” Connor drawled, deliberately leaning forward. His unnerving momentary loss of composure had passed and he was back in control again. And thoroughly enjoying the fact that his nearness was making Miss Courtney Carey antsy enough to wobble on two feet of her chair. He was sure that she normally kept all four feet of the chair firmly on the ground.

“Suppose I were to tell you that you’re my business, Courtney.” He grinned as her mouth tightened in disapproval at his unsolicited familiarity.

She stood up and moved swiftly away from
him
. “Is this a joke?” Her big dark eyes were fiery. “Did someone hire you to—to—” she paused, waiting for him to supply an answer.

He didn’t. “Hire me to do what?” he asked interestedly.

A crimson flush stained her cheeks. “To come here and—”

“And?” Connor prodded. “Don’t keep me in suspense, Courtney.”

The gleam in his eyes was paradoxically both taunting and rakishly inviting. Courtney felt her pulse begin to race. She’d never seen eyes that particular color before, a dark ocean-green. And at this moment, they looked as wild and turbulent as a stormy sea.

“You know very well,” she said brusquely, willing herself to calm down. “You were hired to come to my office and—and shake me up.” Embarrassed, she lowered her voice and averted her gaze.

“You mean there’s a market for that?” Connor asked incredulously.

He was laughing. At her, Courtney was certain. She clenched her jaw tightly.

“No kidding?” Connor persisted. “Do people actually hire people to go into offices and—”

“Read pornographic poems or telegrams,” Courtney cut in crossly, “or put on music and strip or something similarly obnoxious. You needn’t sound so surprised and ingenuous, Mr. McKay. You can’t tell me that you’ve never heard of that kind of—of novelty service.”

“Is that what they’re calling it these days?” Connor’s voice was full of laughter. “You creative intellectuals really are imaginative. Sorry, I don’t have any erotic poems with me. Do you want me to improvise? Here goes... There once was a girl named Fay, who was one helluva—” he paused. “Nah, I’ll skip the poetry and take it all off instead. If you’ll hum a few bars of ‘The Stripper,’ please?”

He pulled off his jacket and tossed it over a chair. Courtney watched, wide-eyed, as his fingers moved to the top button of his shirt. “Stop!” she exclaimed.

Thankfully he did. “So who do you think hired me to come into your office, Miss Carey?” he drawled.

Courtney seethed. “Does the name Jarrell Harcourt mean anything to you?”

“No. Should it?”

“Be fair, Mr. McKay. If Jarrell hired you, you should at least be honest and own up to it.” Courtney frowned. “She’s the only one I can think of who would want to—” She took a deep breath and did not finish.

“Embarrass you?” Connor suggested helpfully. Unfortunately he was right on target, but Courtney wasn’t about to admit that to him. She stared stonily into space, saying nothing.

Connor was undeterred by her silence. “So you believe that one of your friends would hire someone to bust into your office for the sole purpose of humiliating you? Some friend! I know you upper-class, pretentious snobs have your own odd customs, but—”

“I am not an upper-class, pretentious snob,” Courtney inserted testily.

“But I’ll take odds that Jarrell Harcourt is. Her name is a dead giveaway.” Connor moved off the desk and took a step toward her. She automatically took a step backward. “So how come this Harcourt bitch has it in for you?” “You shouldn’t call her that,” Courtney protested.

Too weakly, she realized, for Connor immediately came back with: “Why not? She must be one if she hires professionals to harass, embarrass and otherwise unnerve her alleged friends.”

“How did we get into this ridiculous conversation, anyway?” Courtney sighed impatiently. “This whole thing has gone far enough, Mr. McKay. I demand that you—” “Does Mimi know who Jarrell Harcourt is? Maybe I’ll go ask her since you won’t tell me.” Connor headed for the door.

BOOK: The Baby Track
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