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A Daring Proposition
Leigh Sexton is desperate to have a baby, and Brian Hathaway would be the perfect bio-dad. One of Chicago's most notorious playboys, Brian is no family man, which suits Leigh just fine. An heiress and successful CPA, she is more than capable of raising a child alone. Now all she has to do is work up the nerve to ask Brian to impregnate her...artificially. Leigh has no interest in conceiving the old-fashioned way, despite how her heart races whenever she's near him.
Brian is intrigued by Leigh's request. He's not into commitment, even with a woman as attractive as Leigh, but he's also not the type to make a deposit and then disappear. If he goes along with her scheme, he's got one demand of his own: marriage before conception. He agrees to keep things clinical?he can get sex elsewhere?but having a wife at home will keep the husband-hunters at bay.
It seems like the ideal compromise?until they start falling in love.
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A hot, fast wind blew off Lake Michigan, adding noise and dusty debris to the late August heat wave, as Leigh Sexton walked briskly along the sidewalks of downtown Chicago. Ahead, the skyscraper that housed the distinguished architectural firm of Hathaway, Hathorne and Brent beckoned with the promise of air-conditioned comfort and insulation from the din of industry and rush-hour traffic.
Entering the cool, silent lobby of the building, Leigh felt instantaneous relief. But as she crossed the patterned carpet to the elevator, stepped in and punched the button for the twentieth floor, a film of perspiration coated her brow. Leigh knew it had nothing to do with the humidity and smog she had just escaped, but instead reflected her own inner apprehensions.
For the past four weeks, Leigh had been coming regularly to Hathaway, Hathorne and Brent to audit the firms accounts, but now the job was over. Indeed, the cocktail party now taking place on the twentieth floor was a celebration of just that, and more specifically of the fact that Leighs careful audit had saved the firm three-quarters of a million dollars. Ordinarily she would have pleaded flu rather than attend this type of bash. Though she was only twenty-five, Leigh preferred a reclusive private life to the social whirl most women her age enjoyed.
In the three years she had worked as a CPA for Whites Accounting Firm, Leigh had consistently refused every social invitation that had come her way through job contacts, despite the protests of her gregarious boss, Jim White. It had not been Jims insistence that she attend this party that had induced Leigh to make an exception for Hathaway, Hathorne and Brent. No, it was simply that this was the last chance she might have to corner one particular man. Her decision to do so had been weeks in the makingyears, really, she thought fleetingly. Yet it was the idea of that upcoming confrontationthe awkwardness and embarrassment of itthat had churned her emotions to their present state of turbulence, and caused beads of moisture to break out on her high, pale forehead.
The elevator came to an abrupt halt, and the doors opened. Leigh paused only a moment before stepping over the threshold and automatically brushing a hand across her temples to make sure her rich coppery hair was properly restrained. She could already hear laughter coming from the reception room where the party was being held. In the long floor-to-ceiling windows she caught a glimpse of her reflection. Clear wire rims blocked the beauty of her wide-spaced brown eyes and dimmed their amber glints; the high-collared brown linen dress was a loose smock that hid the voluptuous curves of her womanly figure. Only someone who looked closely would see the uniform for the disguise it was, and hardly anyone ever did look closely. Most people expected a certain sexlessness from a CPA, which was precisely why the job suited Leigh. She was reassured by her unprepossessing reflection in the glass.