Expecting The CEO's Baby

By: Mia Caldwell

PART ONE





CHAPTER ONE




A sunny, cloudless late spring day after so many bone-chilling cold months of snow should have put me in a good mood. However, I couldn’t shake my winter doldrums frame of mind. After receiving what I thought had been a solid job offer from as a chemical engineer from NKL Laboratories, it had suddenly fallen through.

“The recruiter said that the last two quarters’ earnings were lower than expected. That caused NKL’s stock price to plunge and so the company has instituted a hiring freeze and suspended all current job offers,” I explained to my best friend, Natalie, as we walked through Rittenhouse Square.

“That sucks,” she said, giving me a sympathetic look. “Did the recruiter say when the suspension would be lifted?”

I shook my head. “He made it sound like something that could go on for months, maybe even over a year. He all but told me I need to line something else up because working for NKL was probably not gonna happen.”

“But they’d been after you so hard! After all those expensive dinners and trips to the various offices so you could see the different places to work, I thought they’d make an exception for you.”

“I thought so too. I guess graduating Phi Beta Kappa, making it into the top three percent of our graduating class, and receiving the chemical engineering department’s ‘Most Distinguished Student’ award doesn’t count for as much as it used to.”

Natalie wrapped an arm around my shoulders as we walked. “Cheer up, Ryanna. I know something else will fall into place soon. You’re a brilliant scientist that any company would be lucky to have.”

I managed a weak smile. “Thanks for the boost of self-confidence. I really need it right about now.”

“Nah, what we need right about now is some ice cream.” Natalie pointed to our favorite shop across the busy street. “Let’s go get some.”

Ordinarily, a waffle cone filled with chocolate soft serve and liberally sprinkled with chocolate chips could pull me out of the deepest of funks. But today, not even a delicious sweet treat would make me feel any better.

“No, thanks. I think I’m going to head back home,” I told her, referring to the small apartment we shared in West Philadelphia.

“Sitting around feeling sorry for yourself isn’t going to help you find a job any faster. Come on, let’s get some ice cream from Sembello’s. My treat.”

I started to decline again when out of the corner of my eye, I saw a man walking towards us. Granted, Natalie and I were standing on the edge of Rittenhouse Square, so there were lots of people walking towards us. However, the man stood out not only because he was about a head taller than everyone else, but he had the chiseled good looks of someone who should be walking the runways of Paris, not the grimy streets of Philadelphia’s Center City.

Normally, I didn’t give white men so much as a second glance. Men with caramel toned skin, like mine, or darker, were my preference. However, this handsome man, in his charcoal gray suit that looked like it cost half a semester’s tuition, also caught my attention because he was about to walk into traffic.

“Watch out!” I screamed, grabbing his upper arm and pulling him back onto the sidewalk. He’d been so busy looking down at his smart phone that he hadn’t noticed he’d been about to walk straight into the path of an oncoming bike messenger.

Pulling him out of harm’s way wasn’t easy. The expensive suit concealed an arm made out of pure toned muscle. But I guess my own adrenaline, fueled by the panic of seeing his beautiful body parts splattered all over the street and sidewalk, allowed me to temporarily dominate a guy who had at least eight inches and fifty pounds over me.

Perhaps I went too far, because in pulling on his arm, the man tripped and fell to the sidewalk, his phone shattering beside him. He looked up at me, glaring with furious green eyes. “What the fuck?” he yelled.

However, the whizzing screech and hiss of a city bus pulling up to a nearby bus stop saved me from answering. Even though he’d almost been killed by a bike messenger instead of a bus, the man seemed to grasp the seriousness of the situation.

“I-I-I didn’t realize I was so close,” he said in a voice that, despite its shakiness, still sounded deep and authoritative. “I was reading an email from one of my Hong Kong contacts. One of my suppliers is threatening to delay shipment unless we agree to an additional three percent tariff. . .”

He seemed to realize he was babbling and shook his head, as if to clear his thoughts. I extended my hand to help him to his feet, and he accepted it with a smile that showed off his even white teeth. “I guess I owe you my life, Miss. . .?”

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