Christmas with Her Millionaire Boss

By: Barbara Wallace

“Obviously, his disdain hasn’t stopped him from doubling Hammond’s profits over the past two years,” Belinda replied. “What matters isn’t that he like Christmas, but that he keeps the people in Fryberg employed, which he will.”

“Hope they like working for Mr. Frosty. Did you know he wants to get rid of Fryer?”

“Well, some change is bound to happen,” Belinda said.

“I know,” Noelle grumbled. She bowed her head. She really did. Same way she understood that the retail industry was changing. She also knew she was acting irrational and childish about the entire situation. Ever since Belinda announced the sale, however, she’d been unable to catch her breath. It felt like there were fingers clawing inside her looking for purchase. A continual churning sensation. Like she was about to lose her grip.

James Hammond’s arrival only made the feeling worse.

“Doesn’t mean I have to like it though,” she said referring to the prospect of change.

Belinda nudged her shoulder. “Sweetheart, you wouldn’t be you if you did. Cheer up. Mr. Hammond will be out of your hair soon.”

“Not soon enough,” she replied.

“What wouldn’t be soon enough?” Hammond’s voice caused her to start in her chair. Turning, she saw a nurse pushing him toward her. He was slouched down in a wheelchair, a hand propping his head. Noelle caught a glimpse of a white bandage on the back of his scalp.

“The bandage can come off tomorrow,” the nurse told them.

“How are you feeling, Mr. Hammond?” Belinda asked.

“Like someone split my head open. Who knew such a little device could pack such a wallop?”

“Lots of things pack a wallop when they’re going thirty miles an hour. We pulled the toy from the shelves. Though I doubt it would have been popular anyway, once parents heard what happened.”

“Don’t blame them. Thing could slice an ear off.” Groaning, he leaned forward and buried his face in both hands as though one was suddenly not enough to hold it up. “I’m going to have Hammond’s pull them too as soon as I get back to Boston,” he spoke through his fingers.

“That won’t be anytime soon, I’m afraid. You heard what Dr. Nelson said,” the nurse warned.

“What did she say?” Noelle asked. She didn’t like the sound of the nurse’s comment.

Hammond waved a hand before cradling his head again. “Nothing.”

“Mr. Hammond has a slight concussion. He’s been advised to rest for the next couple of days. That includes no air travel.”

“You mean you’re staying here?” No, no, no. Noelle’s stomach started to twist. He was supposed to go away, not stick around for the weekend.

“The doctor merely recommended I rest,” James replied. “No one said it was mandatory.”

“Perhaps not, but it’s generally a good idea to take doctors’ advice,” Belinda said.

“We’re talking about a handful of stitches. Nothing I haven’t had before. I’ll be fine. Why don’t we go have our lunch as planned and finish our conversation? I could use some food in my stomach. What kind of soup did you say they made?”

“Gingerbread,” Noelle replied.

“The only place you should be going is to bed,” the nurse said.

Much as Noelle hated to admit it, the nurse was right. He was looking paler by the minute. She remembered how unsteady he’d been right after the accident; he could barely sit up.

Funny, but he still looked formidable despite the pallor. A virile invalid. Noelle didn’t think it possible. Must be the combination of square jaw and broad shoulders, she decided. And the dark suit. Black made everyone look intimidating.

Again, he waved off the nurse’s advice. “Nonsense. I rested while waiting for the doctor. Why don’t we go have our lunch as planned and finish our conversation? I could use some food in my stomach. What kind of soup did you say they made?”

“I just told you.”

A crease deepened between his eyes. “You did?”

“Uh-huh. Two seconds ago.”

“That only proves I’m hungry. I’m having trouble listening.” He pushed himself to a standing position, squaring his shoulders proudly when he reached his feet. His upper body swayed back and forth unsteadily. “See?” he said. “Fine. Let’s go.”

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