A Beaument Christmas Wedding (#litres_trial_promo)
Not the Boss’s Baby (#u3217f8aa-132b-5e2c-864d-c91d226bd6e7)
Sarah M. Anderson
To Leah Hanlin. We’ve been friends for over twenty years now, and I’m so glad I’ve been able to share this journey—and my covers!—with you.
Let’s celebrate by getting more sleep!
“Ms. Chase, if you could join me in my office.”
Serena startled at the sound of Mr. Beaumont’s voice coming from the old-fashioned intercom on her desk. Blinking, she became aware of her surroundings.
How on earth had she gotten to work? She looked down—she was wearing a suit, though she had no memory of getting dressed. She touched her hair. All appeared to be normal. Everything was fine.
Except she was pregnant. Nothing fine or normal about that.
She was relatively sure it was Monday. She looked at the clock on her computer. Yes, nine in the morning—the normal time for her morning meeting with Chadwick Beaumont, President and CEO of the Beaumont Brewery. She’d been Mr. Beaumont’s executive assistant for seven years now, after a yearlong internship and a year working in Human Resources. She could count the number of times they’d missed their 9:00 a.m. Monday meeting on two hands.
No need to let something like a little accidental pregnancy interrupt that.
Okay, so everything had turned upside down this past weekend. She wasn’t just a little tired or a tad stressed out. She wasn’t fighting off a bug, even. She was, in all likelihood, two months and two or three weeks pregnant. She knew that with certainty because those were the last times she’d slept with Neil.
Neil. She had to tell him she was expecting. He had a right to know. God, she didn’t want to see him again—to be rejected again. But this went way beyond what she wanted. What a huge mess.
“Ms. Chase? Is there a problem?” Mr. Beaumont’s voice was strict but not harsh.
She clicked the intercom on. “No, Mr. Beaumont. Just a slight delay. I’ll be right in.”
She was at work. She had a job to do—a job she needed now more than ever.
Serena sent a short note to Neil informing him that she needed to talk to him, and then she gathered up her tablet and opened the door to Chadwick Beaumont’s office. Chadwick was the fourth Beaumont to run the brewery, and it showed in his office. The room looked much as it might have back in the early 1940s, soon after Prohibition had ended, when Chadwick’s grandfather John had built it. The walls were mahogany panels that had been oiled until they gleamed. A built-in bar with a huge mirror took up the whole interior wall. The exterior wall was lined with windows hung with heavy gray velvet drapes and crowned with elaborately hand-carved woodwork that told the story of the Beaumont Brewery.
The conference table had been custom-made to fit the room—Serena had read that it was so large and so heavy that John Beaumont had to have the whole thing built in the office because there was no getting it through a doorway. Tucked in the far corner by a large coffee table was a grouping of two leather club chairs and a matching leather loveseat set. The coffee table was supposedly made of one of the original wagon wheels that Phillipe Beaumont had used when he’d crossed the Great Plains with a team of Percheron draft horses back in the 1880s on his way to settle in Denver and make beer.
Serena loved this room—the opulence, the history. Things she didn’t have in her own life. The only changes that reflected the twenty-first century were a large flat-screen television that hung over the sitting area and the electronics on the desk, which had been made to match the conference table. A door on the other side of the desk, nearly hidden between the bar and a bookcase, led to a private bathroom. Serena knew that Chadwick had added a treadmill and a few other exercise machines, as well as a shower, to the bathroom, but only because she’d processed the orders. She’d never gone into Chadwick’s personal space. Not once in seven years.
This room had always been a source of comfort to her—a counterpoint to the stark poverty that had marked her childhood. It represented everything she wanted—security, stability, safety. A goal to strive for. Through hard work, dedication and loyalty, she could have nice things, too. Maybe not this nice, but better than the shelters and rusted-out trailers in which she’d grown up.
Chadwick was sitting behind his desk, his eyes focused on his computer. Serena knew she shouldn’t think of him as Chadwick—it was far too familiar. Too personal. Mr. Beaumont was her boss. He’d never made a move on her, never suggested that she “stay late” to work on a project that didn’t exist—never booked them on a weekend conference that didn’t exist. She worked hard for him, pulling long hours whenever necessary. She did good work for him and he rewarded her. For a girl who’d lived on free school lunches, getting a ten-thousand-dollar bonus and an eight-percent-a-year raise, like she had at her last performance review, was a gift from heaven.
It wasn’t a secret that Serena would go to the ends of the earth for this man. It was a secret that she’d always done just a little more than admire his commitment to the company. Chadwick Beaumont was an incredibly handsome man—a solid six-two, with sandy blond hair that was neatly trimmed at all times. He was probably going gray, but it didn’t show with his coloring. He would be one of those men who aged like a fine wine, only getting better with each passing year. Some days, Serena would catch herself staring at him as if she were trying to savor him.
But that secret admiration was buried deep. She had an excellent job with benefits and she would never risk it by doing something as unprofessional as falling in love with her boss. She’d been with Neil for almost ten years. Chadwick had been married as well. They worked together. Their relationship was nothing but business-professional.
She had no idea how being pregnant was going to change things. If she’d needed this job—and health benefits—before, she needed them so much more now.
Serena took her normal seat in one of the two chairs set before Chadwick’s desk and powered up her tablet. “Good morning, Mr. Beaumont.” Oh, heavens—she’d forgotten to see if she’d put on make-up this morning in her panic-induced haze. At this point, she could only pray she didn’t have raccoon eyes.
“Ms. Chase,” Chadwick said by way of greeting, his gaze flicking over her face. He looked back at his monitor, then paused. Serena barely had time to hold her breath before she had Chadwick Beaumont’s undivided attention. “Are you okay?”
No. She’d never been less okay in her adult life. The only thing that was keeping her together was the realization that she’d been less okay as a kid and survived. She’d survive this.
So she squared her shoulders and tried to pull off her most pleasant smile. “I’m fine. Monday mornings, you know.”