Misadventures with the Boss (Page 26)

S**t.

I was already starting to freak out.

I didn’t know for sure yet and wouldn’t for another—I checked my phone—three and a half minutes.

The phone trilled to life, and Hailey’s face flashed on the screen. Reluctantly I answered and pressed the phone to my cheek.

“Are you okay?” Hailey asked. “I tried to call you back about seven times. You hung up on me.”

“I’m… I don’t know,” I panted. “I’m dizzy.”

I sat on the couch, but the world around me continued to spin.

“Did you go buy a test?” Hailey asked.

“I bought three,” I replied.

“Good. That’s, uh, prudent. You’ll be sure.”

“Exactly.”

“And then, when it comes out negative, you can move on with your day,” my sister said, trying to keep her tone light.

“Exactly. Right.” I breathed. A silence stretched between us for a long moment. “But what if I’m pregnant?”

“Well, would you want to… I mean, would you consider—?”

“Adoption?” I asked. “No, I don’t think so.”

“Or, you know, you have other options too,” she said lightly.

I blinked. That hadn’t even occurred to me.

“No, I’ll keep the baby. If there’s a baby to keep. This might all be nothing.”

“It probably is all nothing,” Hailey agreed.

I gripped the phone a little tighter and walked carefully back into the bathroom. Against my ear, the phone vibrated, and I knew time was up. This was it. Where the rubber met the road.

“I’m going to check them now,” I said, but Hailey said nothing.

As I walked toward the sink, I felt like I was walking up to my own coffin. The other end of the line was dead silent, and I realized both of us were holding our breath.

But I knew.

Somehow I just knew even before I saw the little pink plus that it would be there staring up at me. Mocking me like a cruel joke.

I wanted to faint, and again the world went dizzy, and I sank onto the bathroom floor.

“Piper?” Hailey whispered.

“Millions of women try to get pregnant every day and can’t,” I said, my voice hollow.

“They do, but that doesn’t mean you have to…”

“It might not be millions. Maybe it’s only thousands. But still, they all try, and they all want a baby so badly.”

“Piper, that doesn’t mean—”

“I should be grateful,” I said. “I should be happy.”

“You’re pregnant,” Hailey said. It wasn’t a question.

Not anymore.

“I don’t know how I’m going to tell him.”

“Let’s worry about him later. For now, I want to think about you,” my sister said. “Are you sure you want this?”

I pressed a hand to my stomach and leaned back against the bathroom wall. This place, this city. It had all been part of my fresh start. In his way, even Jackson had been part of that.

And now all of that was going to change. Again.

But I still knew the answer to her question without thinking. I’d always wanted children. Of course, in my daydreams, I’d been married first.

“Yes,” I said. “I want this baby.”

“I know this isn’t how you wanted it to be, but for what it’s worth, I always thought you’d be a great mother,” Piper offered softly.

“Thank you.” I still felt numb. The cold bathroom floor was all I could feel, aside from my racing heart. My palms were growing sweaty, and before my phone slipped from my hand, I cleared my throat and said, “Look, I think I’m going to lie down for a little while. Could I call you back later?”

“Sure, of course,” Hailey said.

“And one other thing,” I said.

“What’s that?”

“Don’t tell Mom about this either. Not yet.”

“Of course not,” Hailey replied swiftly. “But hey.”

“Yeah?”

“I love you. And I meant what I said.”

“I love you too.” I hung up the phone, crawled toward my bed, and climbed beneath the sheets, hoping they would swallow me whole.

I was going to have a baby. Jackson’s baby.

Distantly, I wondered if the baby would have his piercing eyes or silky dark hair. Whether I was carrying a boy or a girl.

But it was all too soon for that and all too surreal.

I couldn’t think about the baby or who I would tell or even when I would go to the doctor.

It was too much. And for now?

I was just going to lie in my bed and cry like my heart was breaking. Because the second I told Jackson about this baby, I was going to lose him.

Chapter Seventeen

Jackson

I blew a sigh out my nose and resisted the urge to pound at the keyboard until all my frustration had finally dissipated. After all my work, all my hours of negotiations, compromises, and number crunching, the investors I’d lined up wanted to back out of the merger.

It didn’t make any goddamned sense, and that alone was enough to make me want to rip my hair from my scalp. Worse, I had to deal with every inane, bullet-pointed excuse on my own since Piper had taken the day off for a doctor’s visit.

Briefly, I considered calling her and asking her to reschedule her appointment to a more convenient time. Like, say, when the world wasn’t coming down around our ears. But I knew that wasn’t an option.

I was going to have to ride this wave alone, no matter how choppy—and stupid—the waters.

Slowly, I rolled my tongue over my teeth and opened a new document, typing quickly and carefully, though I was sure to retain a civil and respectful tone.

Maybe Piper could at least look this over before I sent it. Make sure we were heading in the right direction. After all, anyone who’d met me knew I wasn’t exactly the kind of guy who knew how to handle people with more delicate sensibilities than my own.

Pulling my phone from my pocket, I shot her a quick text asking if there was any way she might be able to come in just for an hour or two, and in a matter of seconds the phone buzzed in my hand.

Sure. Be there soon.

Good. That was something at least. With Piper by my side, I’d be able to talk the investors into just about anything. And, knowing her, she’d be sure to color-code their responses.

In spite of everything, I smiled to myself, glanced at the board she’d made for me, and then settled back into my work. In such a short span of time, work had become more than just the struggle to maintain my success. Now, every day that I checked a new item off the list or followed her carefully laid plans, I felt like I was doing something to make her proud.

Like we were a team. And the more time went on, the more I felt like I didn’t want to do any of this without her. In fact, I was beginning to wonder how anything had ever gotten done before she’d come along.

Twenty minutes into my attempt at drafting the perfect memo, there was a gentle knock at my office door. I blew out a sigh of relief.

“Come in,” I called, not bothering to look up from my work. “Piper, come here and read this.”

The door clicked closed, and the smell of her lavender perfume along with her soft footfalls made me aware of her approach. I breathed deep, letting her general presence flood me for a moment before pointing at the screen.

“These bastards want to cancel the merger. After everything we’ve done.”

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