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The Baby Verdict

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“You’re pregnant, aren’t you?”

It was a question, but posed as a statement. Jessica found that she couldn’t speak, couldn’t think. The drumbeat in her ears was too loud, and even as she maintained her horrified silence she knew that it pronounced the truth of what Bruno had just said.

“Why don’t you just admit it?” Bruno raked his fingers through his hair. “You’re resigning because you’re carrying my baby. Did you have any intention of telling me?”

“Please go,” Jessica begged softly.

“I’m not leaving until you tell me the truth.”

“It’s true. I’m pregnant....”

She’s sexy,




Relax and enjoy our fabulous series about spirited women and gorgeous men, whose passion results in pregnancies...sometimes unexpected! Of course, the birth of a baby is always a joyful event, and we can guarantee that our characters will become besotted moms and dads—but what happened in those nine months before?

Share the surprises, emotions, dramas and suspense as our parents-to-be come to terms with the prospect of bringing a new little life into the world.... All will discover that the business of making babies brings with it the most special love of all....

Look out next month for:

Having Leo’s Child (#2050)

by Emma Darcy

The Baby Verdict

Cathy Williams


‘THE big boss wants to see you.’

Jessica looked at the petite, blonde secretary she shared with her boss, Robert Grange, and grinned.

‘Has anyone told you that you’re wasted as a secretary, Millie? You have a special talent for making the most innocuous statements sound dramatic. Really, you need to be in a TV soap.’ She rested her briefcase on the ground next to her and began riffling through the post, sifting out bits, leaving some for her secretary to open.

‘That tax information I need still hasn’t come through,’ she said distractedly, ripping open an envelope and glancing through the contents. ‘Why can’t people get their act together? I asked for that information two days ago.’

‘Jess,’ her secretary said, ‘you’re not hearing me. You’ve been summoned! You need to get your skates on and not stand there flicking through the mail!’

Jessica looked up from what she was doing and frowned. ‘I’m due to see Robert in fifteen minutes’ time,’ she said. ‘What’s the problem?’

‘The problem is,’ Millie told her in a long-suffering voice, ‘you’re thinking of the wrong big boss. Bruno Carr is in your office waiting for you.’

‘Bruno Carr?’ She glanced along the corridor. ‘What does Bruno Carr want with me?’ She had been working at BC Holdings for nine months, and during that time she had not once laid eyes on the legendary Bruno Carr. BC Holdings was just one of a multitude of companies he owned. His headquarters were in the City somewhere, and he rarely deigned to visit some of his smaller companies. Once a month, Robert would journey to the City with a case bulging with documents, proof that profits were where they should be, finances were running smoothly and employees were doing what they should be doing.

‘I have no idea,’ Millie said now, throwing a cursory glance at her perfectly shaped nails, today painted jade-green to match the colours of her suit, ‘but he doesn’t look like the kind of man who appreciates being kept waiting.’

Well, what kind of man does he look like? Jessica wanted to ask. She felt a thread of nervous tension snake through her body and she did a quick mental calculation of what she might possibly have done to warrant Bruno Carr descending on her.

‘You should have asked him what he wanted,’ she hissed, her brown eyes flicking between the corridor and her secretary. ‘That’s what secretaries are for.’ She was very rarely thrown off balance by anything, but the sudden unexpectedness of this was enough to disconcert her.

‘People don’t ask Bruno Carr questions like that!’ Millie exclaimed in a horrified voice. ‘He comes in, says what he wants, and you just nod a lot and do it.’

‘Well, he sounds a particularly pleasant kind of individual.’

A great, big, overweight, pompous man who went around stamping on the little people and issuing orders by royal decree. This was all she needed on a freezing January Monday morning.

‘Where’s Robert?’ she asked, postponing the inevitable for as long as she could. Her lawyer’s instinct told her to get as much information about what was going on as she possibly could, even if Millie was being particularly unforthcoming.

‘Meeting. He was told to go ahead without you.’

‘I see.’

‘Guess that means that the great Bruno Carr wants to see you all on your lonesome,’ she whispered confidentially. ‘Sounds ominous, if you ask me.’

‘I don’t recall asking you,’ Jessica said automatically. ‘Well, I’d better go along in.’ Whatever it was she had done, it had clearly been a grave crime against Bruno Carr’s enterprises, for which she was to be punished by immediate dismissal. Perhaps she had inadvertently taken home one of the company’s red marker pens with her, and he had somehow discovered it. From the sound of it, he was just the sort of man who would see that as reason for instant sacking. And why else would he have sought her out, making sure that he gave no warning in advance, if not to confront her with some misdemeanour?

She retrieved her briefcase from the ground and mentally braced herself for the worst

‘Could you bring us in some coffee in about ten minutes’ time, Mills?’ she asked, running her hands along her neatly pinned back blonde hair, just to make sure that there were no loose strands waiting to ambush her composure.

‘You mean if Mr Carr allows it...’

‘You’re being ridiculous now.’

She pulled herself erect and headed down the corridor, pausing briefly outside her door and wondering whether she should knock or not There was no remote reason why she should knock to enter her own office, but, then again, barging in might be another nail in her coffin.

It was frustrating. She could admit, without any false modesty, that although she had been at the company for under a year she was doing a brilliant job. She had a sharp, alert mind and a willingness to work any number of hours to get a job done. What could he possibly have found to criticise in her performance?

She found herself knocking angrily on the door, then she pushed it open and walked in.

He was sitting in her chair, which was turned away from the door so that only the top of his head was visible, because he was talking on her phone, his voice low and staccato. She stood for a few seconds, glaring at the back of the leather swivel chair, knowing how those bears had felt when Goldilocks had swanned in in their absence and usurped their property.

‘Excuse me. Mr Carr?’ she said, folding her arms and injecting as much crispness into her tone as was possible, just in case some of her annoyance oozed out.

He turned around very slowly and she stared at him, mouth open, as he slowly finished his telephone conversation and leant forward to replace the phone.

Then he sat back, folded his arms, and looked at her without saying anything.

She had been expecting thinning grey hair. She had been expecting middle-aged spread caused by too many rich lunches and not enough exercise. She had been expecting bushy eyebrows, wobbling jowls and a tightly pursed mouth.

Why had the wretched Millicent given her no warning of what the man looked like?

True, there was arrogance stamped on those hard features, but any arrogance was well contained in a face that was the most powerfully sensual she had ever seen in her life before.

His hair was almost black, his eyes shrewd, cool, and wintry blue and the lines of his face were perfectly chiselled, yet somehow escaping from the category of routinely handsome.

Handsome, Jessica thought, was a combination of features that blended well together. Perhaps it was his expression and a certain mantle of accepted self-assurance, or maybe it was the overall impression of brains and power, but there was some intangible element to the man sitting in front of her that catapulted him into a category all of his own.

‘What are you doing in my chair?’ she asked stupidly, forcing down the immediate physical impact he had made on her and trying to retrieve some of her composure back from where it had been flung to the four winds.

‘Your chair?’ His voice was low, velvety and coldly ironic.

She instantly felt her hackles rise. It was easy to work out what his type was: the wealthy, clever, powerful, good-looking bachelor who assumed that the world lay somewhere in the region of his feet.

‘Sorry. I meant your chair in my office.’ She smiled sweetly and continued to look at him with a steady, unfaltering gaze.

Her momentary lapse at being confronted with such intense masculinity had now been put away in a box at the back of her mind, and her self-control was once again reasserting itself.

It never let her down. It had been her companion for such a long time, seemingly all twenty-eight years of her life, that she could avail herself of it effortlessly.

He didn’t bother to answer that. Instead, he nodded briefly in the direction of the chair facing him, and told her to sit down.

‘I’ve been waiting to see you for the past...’ he flicked back the cuff of his shirt and consulted the gold watch ‘...twenty-five minutes. Do you normally get into work this late?’

Jessica sat down, crossed her legs and swallowed down the lump of anger in her throat.

‘My hours are nine to five—’ she began.

‘Clock watching isn’t a trait I encourage in my employees.’

‘But I left work at a little after ten last night. If I got in at a little after nine, then I do apologise. I’m normally up and running here by eight-thirty in the morning.’ She bared her teeth in a semblance of politeness and linked her fingers together on one knee.

‘Robert sings your praises...’ he looked at the piece of paper lying in front of him, which she recognised, upside down, as her CV ‘...Jessica. I take it, by the way, that you know who I am?’

‘Bruno Carr,’ she said, tempted to add Leader of the Universe.

‘You’re younger than I imagined from what Robert has told me,’ he said flatly. He looked at her speculatively through narrowed eyes, as if weighing her up, and she wondered what her age had to do with the price of sliced bread. Instead, she thought, of making disparaging comments on her age, why didn’t he just cut to the nub of the matter and tell her why he was here? In her office, sitting in her chair, having used her telephone.

‘Would you mind very much if I had a cup of coffee? Before I launch into defending my age?’ That one she couldn’t resist, and he raised his eyebrows, unamused.

‘Millie,’ he buzzed, ‘two coffees, please.’ He leaned back into the chair, which dwarfed her even though she was tall, but appeared made for him. Even though he was camouflaged by his suit, she could see that he had a muscular, athletic physique and was tall. He would be, she reckoned, one of those rarities: a man she would have to look up to, even when she was in heels.

In record time there was a knock at the door and Millie fluttered in with a tray, on which were two cups, with saucers, instead of the usual mugs, a plate of biscuits and cream and sugar.

‘Will there be anything else?’ she asked, smiling coyly and hovering.

Oh, please, Jessica thought wryly. Was this the same delicate, porcelain girl who could make mincemeat of men? Bruno’s presence had obviously reduced her to the archetypal eyelash-batting, empty-headed bimbo she most certainly was not. No wonder the man wore that aura of invincibility about him, if women dropped like ninepins every time he was around.

‘For the moment.’ He looked appreciatively at a blushing Millie and gave a smile of such profound sensual charm that Jessica’s breath caught in her throat for the merest fleeting of seconds. Then she steadied herself and reached forward for the cup on the tray.

Yes, men like Bruno Carr were a dangerous species. The sort who should carry health warnings stamped on their foreheads so that women knew to steer clear of them.

Jessica’s mouth tightened as her mind flicked through the pages of her past, like a calendar blown back by a strong wind.

She remembered her father, tall, elegant, charming, always talking to her mother’s friends, making them feel special. It was only later, as she had grown up, that she had realised that his activities had extended well beyond merely talking and that his charm, never applied to his wife, had been only skin-deep.

‘Now,’ he said, once Millie had disappeared out of the door, ‘you’re doubtless wondering why I’m here.’

‘It’s crossed my mind.’ After all, she thought acidly, it’s hardly been your policy in the past to fraternise. At least not with the members of this particular offshoot company, however hugely profitable it was.

‘Has Robert said anything to you about his health?’ Bruno asked, leaning forward with his elbows on the desk.

‘About his health?’ Jessica looked at him, confused. ‘No. Why? Is there something wrong?’ She knew that over the past three months he had been leaving work earlier than usual, but he had told her that a man of his age needed to wind down eventually, and she had believed him.

‘Have you noticed nothing about his hours recently?’ There was cool sarcasm in his voice and she stiffened.

‘He hasn’t been working very much overtime...’

‘And he’s been delegating quite a substantial amount of his workload onto you. Am I right?’

‘A bit,’ she admitted, wondering why she had never questioned that.

‘And yet you didn’t put two and two together? Hardly a very positive trait in a lawyer. Shouldn’t lawyers be adept at ferrying out information and making assumptions?’

‘I apologise if I didn’t see anything sinister in his behaviour,’ she said with equal coldness in her voice. ‘Believe it or not, cross-examining my boss wasn’t part of my job specification.’ She could feel her anger going up a notch and was alarmed more by the fact that he had managed to arouse such a reaction in her than by what he had said.

Outbursts of emotions were not something that she was accustomed to dealing with. From a young age, as she had stood on the sidelines and watched the antics of her father and the misery of her long-suffering mother, she had learned to control her emotions, to keep them under lock and key.

‘Are you telling me that he’s ill?’ she asked tightly, worry in her voice.

‘Stomach ulcer. He’s on medication for it and has been for a while, but he’s now been told that he needs to have a sabbatical. At least six months away from the stress of a work environment.’

‘How dreadful. I wish he’d said something to me. I would have relieved him of far more of his workload.’ She thought of her boss—tall, grey-haired, kindly, always encouraging her and never backward in his praise when she’d done a good job at something—and felt a stab of guilt.

Bruno was right. Why hadn’t she put two and two together and worked out that he was not well?

‘It’s unfortunate,’ Bruno said, watching her face and reading her reaction, ‘but it’s not terminal.’

‘I’m afraid I don’t know a great deal about stomach ulcers...’

‘I gathered that from the expression on your face.’ He raked his fingers through his hair, and she watched, half mesmerised by this simple gesture.

‘I’ve told him,’ Bruno said, ‘that the sooner he leaves the better. There’s no point jeopardising his health for the sake of a job. Which,’ he continued slowly, ‘brings me to you, and the reason I’m here.’

‘Right. Of course.’ She was still dazedly thinking of all the signs she had missed over the past few months.

‘You’re Robert’s second in command. I gather that you’re good at your job.’

What did he expect her to say to that? ‘I do my best.’

‘I’ve read your CV. For someone who’s so young, you appear to have excelled in your previous job, and in your law exams.’

Appear to have excelled? What was he trying to tell her? That he doubted what was in front of him?

‘Why didn’t you go down the line of barrister?’ he asked, not looking at her, still flicking through the sheets of paper in front of him.

‘I thought about it,’ Jessica said, still smarting from his tone of voice. ‘In the end, I decided that working within a company would give me more of a sense of stability and fulfilment Of course, I still have friends in the field of criminal law and I try and go to as many court cases as I can.’

‘As a hobby?’ He glanced up at her, his eyes unreadable, and she wondered whether there was an element of sarcasm there.

‘It’s as useful a hobby as any I can think of,’ she said a little sharply.

‘Useful...if a little solitary.’

‘Which is no bad thing, as far as I am concerned.’

He looked at her fully then, not saying anything for such a long time that she began to feel uncomfortable. Then he pushed himself away from the desk and stood up, his hands in his pockets, and began pacing the room, finally ending up by the window, where he remained standing, resting back against the ledge.

He was even taller than she had originally thought, and his body had a toned leanness to it that reminded her of something dangerous and unpredictable. Some kind of predatory jungle animal. Or perhaps, she thought, aware that she shouldn’t stare and therefore carefully averting her eyes to a point slightly to the side of him, that was simply the overall impression he emanated.

‘You’ll have to cover for Robert during his absence,’ he said, looking at her, his blue eyes calculating. ‘Naturally, you’ll be financially compensated.’

‘That won’t be a problem.’ She could hardly carry on talking to the upper-left angle of the window, so she looked him fully in the face, and felt that disturbing awareness again.

Whatever was wrong with her? She didn’t even care for the man! He was about as jovial as a barracuda. Not the sort of man she went for at all. Her boyfriends, short-lived though they tended to be, were all fashioned in the same mould: easygoing, considerate, occasionally a little dull. But men she could handle.

She had seen firsthand how debilitating it could be to live a life over which you exercised no control. She had watched her mother wither over the years as she had endured her husband’s brutal infidelities, tied to the house because she had been told repeatedly that she was incapable of doing anything on her own.

Jessica had fashioned her escape from that stifling atmosphere with the precision of a military campaign. While her teenaged friends had spent their days swooning over boys and experimenting with make-up, she had buried her head in her books, working with the single-minded passion of someone who needed to furiously dig a tunnel before they could see the outside world.

She had no intention of ever handing over control of her life to someone else. She had studied hard, worked hard and every step of her career had been built on determination and lessons learnt in the past.

‘I already work very closely with Robert, anyway,’ she said, snapping back to the present and focusing on the man standing in front of her. ‘I know most of his client base. The rest I can familiarise myself with easily enough.’ A temporary promotion. She breathed a little sigh of relief. And to think that she had hovered uncertainly by that office door, convinced that she was about to be handed her walking cards.

‘Will that be all?’ she asked, standing up. She smiled and extended her hand.


‘I beg your pardon?’

‘No, that will not be all, so you might as well sit back down.’

A man accustomed to giving orders. A man who bypassed the polite preliminaries of conversation that most people took for granted.

She withdrew her hand, feeling a bit idiotic, and sat back down.

‘You don’t think that I travelled out here merely to inform you that you’ve got a promotion, do you?’ His voice was cool and amused, and it was an effort for her to continue looking at him without dislike.

‘I know,’ she said, ‘that was silly of me, wasn’t it?’

He frowned, and she struggled to contain a sudden urge to grin.

‘Do I hear a little edge of sarcasm there?’ he asked mildly.

‘Of course not!’ Her brown eyes were innocently shocked at such a suggestion. ‘I wouldn’t dare!’

‘You haven’t asked when Robert is due to leave.’ He returned to the chair behind the desk, sat back down and then pushed it away so that he could cross his legs, ankle on knee.

‘I assumed...’ What had she assumed? ‘I guessed that it would be in a couple of months’ time...?’

‘At the end of the week.’

‘The end of the week!’ Jessica looked at him, startled. ‘The end of this week? But how? Why hasn’t he said anything to me? Surely he’ll need longer than four days to tie up loose ends...’

‘Are you beginning to regret your optimism in filling in for him?’

‘I’m just expressing surprise at the suddenness of it all,’ she told him coldly. ‘I’m also a little bit taken aback that he didn’t see fit to inform me before this.’

‘You have me to thank for that,’ he said bluntly. ‘This development happened overnight, literally, and I told him that it would be better for me to talk to you. In fact, it was essential that I did.’ He paused, as though contemplating what to say next. ‘His mother lives in America and two days ago she suffered a stroke. I told him that it made sense for him to combine his leave with a visit out there to see her. He’ll speak to you about this when he gets in this afternoon, then he’ll call a staff meeting some time tomorrow.’

‘I see.’

‘The reason I made a point of coming out here to tell you all this yourself—’

‘When you almost certainly would have had better things to do,’ Jessica muttered to herself,

‘Sorry? I missed that.’ He leaned forward slightly, and she flashed him a brilliant smile.

‘Nothing important. Just thinking aloud.’

‘This sudden development comes at a rather inconvenient time.’

‘Inconvenient for whom?’ she asked.

‘I’ll ignore that question,’ Bruno told her, narrowing his eyes. ‘It borders on impertinence.’

Which it did. She felt colour steal into her cheeks. Had she forgotten that this man was her boss? Had she forgotten that she should toe the line and not risk her career for the sake of emotion?

‘I’m sorry,’ she said honestly. ‘I suppose I’m just shocked and worried about Robert. It’s been sprung on me out of the blue.’

What a limp lettuce of an excuse, she thought. She could feel his shrewd eyes on her, assessing, and she waited for him to inform her that sarcasm was not something he would tolerate. Sarcasm, she suspected, was not something he had probably ever had to deal with.

He chose to disregard what she had said, though.

‘Two days ago,’ he said instead, ‘I received this.’ He withdrew a letter from his jacket pocket and shoved it across the desk to her, then he sat back and watched while she opened it and read the contents several times over.

Bruno Carr was being sued. Personally. A component for a car, manufactured by one of his plants, had resulted in a near-fatal car crash.

‘This,’ he explained softly, ‘is why I thought it important to come and see you myself.’

Jessica looked up briefly before re-reading the official letter. ‘To see if you considered me capable of dealing with this...’

‘That’s right. And you’re not what I expected.’

‘Is that why you expressed concern about my age, Mr Carr?’ She carefully placed the sheet of paper on the desk in front of her and sat back, with her fingers linked on her lap.

A legal issue was something she could deal with. The personal confrontation with Bruno Carr had brought out feelings in her she hadn’t even known existed, at least not for a very long time. But this. She took her time considering him.

‘You think that because I’m relatively young I’m incapable of doing a good job.’

‘You lack experience,’ he said flatly. ‘You are also a woman.’

‘Perhaps I could address those concerns of yours one at a time?’ When she smiled, her jaw ached because of the effort, and her fingers were itching to hurl something very heavy at him. Precisely what century was this man living in?

‘Firstly, age has nothing to do with competence. I can’t deny that I haven’t got three decades’ worth of experience behind me, but then I can assure you that I am more than capable of dealing with this lawsuit.’ The only way to deal with Bruno Carr, she decided, was not to be cowed by him. He would smell out any hint of uncertainty from her with the unerring precision of a shark smelling blood, and he would promptly take his lawsuit somewhere else. Careerwise, it would be death for her.

‘Of course, I shall need immediate and unrestricted access to any information, technical or otherwise, that I consider necessary...’

He nodded fractionally, and continued to look at her, waiting for her to say her piece, upon which he would deliver his verdict.

‘Fine. Now, secondly, yes, I am a woman.’ Camouflaged as it was by her genderless working garb. In a man’s world, frilly dresses were off limits—not that she had ever been one for frilly dresses anyway. A suit told the world precisely what she wanted it to know, which was that she was to be taken seriously. Even outside the working environment, she steered clear of frocks and short skirts, preferring jeans and clothes that were tailored and smart rather than provocative. It was only when she stripped at night that she saw the reflection of her own body in the mirror—tall, slender, but with full breasts and long legs. A good figure, she knew. It was as well to conceal it.

‘However,’ she continued, ‘women comprise a high percentage of the working arena these days, in case you hadn’t noticed. I’m sure if you cast your eyes around you’ll discover that there are quite a few spread throughout your various companies.’

‘Ah, but none of them is poised to defend my name in a lawsuit, are they?’ he pointed out smoothly.

‘And why do you think that a man might be more competent at the job than a woman?’ she asked, changing tactic. She fixed him a cool, implacable stare, one of her specialities when it came to withering any member of the opposite sex who might be overstepping her boundaries. He stared back at her, unperturbed.

‘Because women are prone to outbursts of hysteria when the going gets too tough, and I, frankly, don’t think that that will do at all in this instance.’

Oh, good grief, Jessica thought to herself. Was she really hearing this?

‘Outbursts of hysteria?’ she asked politely, with her head tilted to one side. ‘When the going gets tough?’ She laughed dryly. ‘Possibly with the women you tend to associate with, but I can assure you that there’s a whole army of them out there who don’t react in any such way when faced with a challenge.’ She paused, and added for good measure, ‘And by challenge I don’t mean colour co-ordinating our clothes or debating what shade of nail polish we should wear on our next date.’

He looked away and she caught something that looked remarkably like a stifled smile, although she couldn’t be sure, because when he once again looked at her his face was serious.

‘Robert has every confidence in your ability,’ he told her. ‘And that’s counted heavily in your favour. If it were up to me, I would say that a young, inexperienced woman would not come high on the list of people I would choose to handle this.’

I’m going to have to work fairly closely with this man if I get this job, Jessica thought grimly. I’m going to have to quell the urge to strangle him.

‘Well,’ she informed him with a cool little smile and a slight shrug, ‘there’s nothing more I can say to convince you that I’d do a good job. If you don’t feel one hundred per cent confident of my abilities, then, of course, you must look elsewhere.’

The interview, as far as she was concerned, was finished, but she was deeply reluctant to stand up, just in case he ordered her to sit back down again.

He saved her the decision by standing up himself and moving around the desk towards her.

For a second she felt a recurrence of that vague, unspecified alarm that had wrong-footed her previously, then it subsided and she rose to her feet In her heels, she reached just to the level of his mouth, and she averted her eyes hurriedly because, almost unconsciously, her mind registered that it was a disconcertingly sensual mouth.

‘I’m prepared to give you the benefit of the doubt, Miss Stearn,’ he said, reaching out to shake her hand.

‘And I’m flattered,’ she replied, withdrawing her hand almost immediately, ‘especially since I realise that it goes against your better judgement. I’ll do a good job.’

‘Oh, I hope so,’ he drawled, looking down at her, ‘for both our sakes.’

‘Quite.’ She abandoned all attempts at smiling. Why bother? If he could be brutally frank with her, then she would be as brutally frank back, within reasonable limits.

‘And I feel I should warn you that I’m intolerant of incompetence, especially when my reputation is at stake.’

‘Thanks for the warning. I’ll bear it in mind.’

She watched as he walked towards the door, then as he was about to open it he turned and looked at her over his shoulder.

‘You’re quite the hard nut, aren’t you?’ he said in a speculative voice.

Was he surprised? She supposed so. Quite unexpectedly, she had a vision of the sort of women he appreciated, and she could guarantee that not a single hard nut would be among them.

‘I’m not about to agree or disagree with that, Mr Carr. You’re entitled to your own opinion.’

He nodded, half smiled, and then closed the door behind him, and it was only then, as her body sagged, that she realised quite how much strain she had been under.

The news about Robert had come as a shock. He had seemed fit enough. Hadn’t he? She frowned and tried to remember whether there had been any give-away signs of ill health. Then, uneasily, it crossed her mind that perhaps there had been and she had just failed to recognise them because she’d been so wrapped up in her work. Her concentration on her job was single-minded and complete, which, she acknowledged, was great when it came to climbing ladders and winning promotions, but there was a great big world out there and...was it passing her by?

No. Surely not. She had a successful, rewarding career. How could anything be passing her by? Every goal she had striven for had been achieved. She should feel nothing but satisfaction.

Of course, her love life was not exactly thrilling. In fact, it was positively non-existent at the moment. Her relationship with Greg had ended six months ago, which had been roughly its duration. She uncomfortably remembered his criticism of her—that she had been obsessed with her career.

You’re quite the hard nut, aren’t you?

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be independent, she told herself fiercely. If her mother had been financially independent, she would have had the courage to leave the man who had made her life hell.

There’s nothing wrong with me, she thought, and, if it’s the last thing I do, I’ll prove that I can take this case and win it.


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