Misadventures with the Boss (Page 25)

If anyone thought anything about our relationship, they certainly hadn’t said anything to me about it. And, of course, it was true that I spent every morning in his office with the blinds drawn, but that was because we were still unraveling the mess that was the merger. Everyone in the office knew what we were doing, even if they didn’t know exactly how serious the situation was.

“He’s actually been pretty stressed out lately,” I said, finding myself caving, if only to have someone to talk to about all of this. Truth was, every day, I was getting in deeper, growing more attached. When the time finally came—and, let’s be honest, this was Jackson, so it would—letting go was going to be the hardest thing I’d ever had to do.

“I have an idea of how you can fix that.” There was a laugh in Hailey’s voice that I tried to ignore.

“Why don’t we ever talk about your sex life instead of mine?” I asked.

“Something has to exist for you to talk about it,” Hailey answered, apparently nonplussed. “I’ve been in a serious dry spell. Let me live vicariously through you, sister dear. I want to know more about him. I saw his profile, but it barely said anything. What’s his deal? Why do you like him? Is he funny? Do you like him more than just someone to screw around with?”

“Woah, tiger, slow down,” I said with a chuckle.

“Sorry. You’re just making it really hard to fantasize about how awesome your life is by being so stingy with the deets. Plus, I need to tell Mom something about him.”

“Mom?” I choked.

“She’s asking me all sorts of questions about him. What’s he like?”

“I’ll tell you something if you promise not to tell Mom,” I shot back immediately.

“Deal.” I could practically see Hailey’s grin through the phone. No doubt this had been her plan all along—threaten me and then get me to spill once the threat was gone, but I was so relieved to have the specter of our mother off my back, I didn’t care. I loved our mom, but she was what people tended to call “a real piece of work,” so I tried to keep our visits biannual and our phone calls to once-a-week check-ins if I could help it.

Hailey sighed, and I knew I’d reached the end of the line. I had to give her something here, or she was going to ratchet up from annoying to relentless.

I thought hard, trying to figure out how to explain Jackson to someone who had never met him.

“He’s a serious kind of guy,” I started.

“I figured that from his picture,” Hailey said. “Serious good or serious bad, though?”

“What’s the difference?”

Hailey sighed. “Well, isn’t it obvious? Serious good is like ‘I’d die for the woman I love,’ and serious bad is like…cold. Like he’s humorless.”

I thought of the glint of mischief in Jackson’s eyes when he messaged me to meet him around the corner at the hotel.

“Serious good, then,” I said.

“Good,” Hailey said. “So what else, then?”

“He cares a lot about his company.”

“And his family?” Hailey prompted. “Is he a my-mother-is-a-goddess-on-earth sort of guy or a guy who thinks his mother ruined him for life? Or…?”

“None of the above,” I answered patiently. “He’s on his own. No family.”

“Wow. No family. And serious too.” Hailey whistled. “Sounds dark and mysterious.”

“Sort of, I guess.”

“And you like him? As more than just—?”

“Maybe we should talk about something else,” I said. “You haven’t told me anything about your job. What’s going on there?”

“It exists. There’s not much more to say about it. I want to know more about Christian Grey over there, though. How is he in bed? Does he have a play room?”

I considered our encounter in the conference room the week before, our time in the elevator, and even the first night on that rooftop garden.

“No, no play room.” It was better than that. He didn’t have a room full of mysteries, but there was no telling which room he would claim as our own. Now every time I stepped into an elevator, it was with the memory of his lips on my body. Whenever I walked into his office, it was with the knowledge that he’d bent me over his desk and lifted me on top of it more times than I could count.

“Boo,” Hailey’s voice interrupted my thoughts, and I snapped back to attention. “Well, is he good in bed at least?”

“Hailey, I’m not going to tell you that.”

“Because you don’t have to. I mean, you guys have been getting it up and down for like a month and a half now. It must be good to keep at it like that.”

“A month and a half?”

Had it really been that long? It didn’t seem possible. Time was going by so quickly that I—

My heart stopped and then leapt into my throat.

A month and a half. She was right. Our first night together had been right before Cinco de Mayo, and now it was the middle of June. And in all that time…

“Piper? What’s wrong?”

“I have to go.”

“No way. You sound like someone just shot you in the chest. No f*****g around here, tell me what’s going on immediately,” Hailey demanded, her tone as serious as a heart attack.

I swallowed back another rush of nausea and forced the words through my numb lips.

“I haven’t had my period,” I whispered, clasping my hand over my mouth before mumbling the rest. “I didn’t realize. We’ve been working so hard, and…”

“Look, it’s probably nothing,” Hailey rushed. “You’ve been under a lot of stress at work. Your period always gets wonky when you’ve got your mind on other things.”

“It does,” I agreed, though I didn’t move my hand from in front of my mouth.

Instead, I was thinking back to that day on the steps of the museum. How Jackson had said he’d always tried to be careful ever since he and his ex had broken up. How he’d said he didn’t want the responsibility of raising children.

“The important thing is not to panic,” Hailey said, but her voice sounded as if it was coming to me from the end of a long tunnel.

I was long past panic. I just kept thinking of how tired I’d been and how weird my stomach had felt. And how many times Jackson and I had slept together.

Distantly, I heard myself tell her that I’d have to call her back, and then I dashed to the drug store and picked up three pregnancy tests.

The next ten minutes went by in an adrenaline- and fear-induced haze, and before I could even stop shaking, I was back in my apartment bathroom. I wrenched down my pants, more determined to pee than I’d ever been in my entire life.

Carefully, I read the instructions for each test and followed them to the letter, setting timers for every single one and then pacing my apartment as I chewed on my nails—a nasty habit I’d forced myself to break way back in high school.

I couldn’t be pregnant. We’d been so careful. Every single time.

If I was, though, everyone in the office would have to find out who the father was. My career would be ruined. And then, of course, there was Jackson himself.

He’d be in the same position he’d been in all those years ago, trapped with a woman who’d only been a casual fling because she was having his baby.

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