Christmas with Her Millionaire Boss

By: Barbara Wallace

Noelle looked over her shoulder at Belinda who shook her head in return. “I’m not going to negotiate anything while you’re unsteady on your feet,” her mother-in-law said. “I won’t be accused of taking advantage when you’re not thinking straight.”

James laughed. “You’re a smart businesswoman, Belinda, but I can assure you, no one ever takes advantage of me.”

“That I can believe,” Noelle murmured.

He looked at her and smiled. “I’ll take that as a compliment, Mrs. Fryberg. Now how about we go get that lunch we missed...”

It took two steps for him to lose his balance. His eyes started to roll back in his head, and his knees started to buckle.

Noelle reached him first. “Okay, that’s enough,” she said, reaching around his waist. Thanks to the size difference, it took a minute to maneuver him, but eventually she managed to lower him into the wheelchair. Unfortunately, the downward momentum pulled her along, as well. She landed with one hand pressed against his torso and knee wedged between his thighs. Man, but he was solid. A tall, lean block of granite.

She looked up to find herself nose to nose with him. Up close, his eyes were far more dappled than she realized, the green more of an accent color than true eye shade.

He had freckles too. A smattering across the bridge of his nose.

Cold-blooded businessmen weren’t supposed to have freckles.

“Think you might listen to the nurse now?” she asked.

“I was light-headed for a moment, that’s all.”

“Light-headed, huh?” She pushed herself to her feet. To her embarrassment, the move required splaying her hand wider, so that the palm of her hand pressed over his heart. Fortunately, he was too dizzy or distracted to comment.

“Any more light-headed and you would have hit the floor,” she told him. “Are you trying to get more stitches?”

“I’m not...”

“Face it, Mr. Hammond, you’re in no condition to do anything but rest,” Belinda said. “We’ll talk when you’re feeling better. Monday.”

“Monday?” He’d started to rest his head in his hands again, but when Belinda spoke, he jerked his head upward. The pain crossing his face made Noelle wince. “Why wait until then? I won’t need that many days to recover.”

“Maybe not, but that is the next time I’ll be able to see you. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. The only business I’ll be discussing is whether the stuffing is too dry.”

“What about Friday?”

Noelle answered for her. “Black Friday, remember? Around these parts, it’s the kickoff for the annual Christmas festival, the biggest weekend of our year.”

“I’ll be much too busy to give you the proper time,” Belinda added.

Noelle watched the muscle twitching in Hammond’s jaw. Clearly, he preferred being the one who dictated the schedule, and not the other way around.

“Let me get this straight.” Whether his voice was low by design or discomfort, Noelle couldn’t guess. His tension came though nevertheless. “I’m not allowed to fly home for the next twenty-four hours...”

“At least,” the nurse said.

The muscle twitched again. “At least twenty-four hours,” he corrected. “Nor will you meet with me for the next five days?”

“That’s correct,” Belinda replied. “We can meet first thing Monday morning, and conclude our preliminary negotiations.”

“I see.” He nodded. Slowly. Anyone with two eyes could tell he didn’t appreciate this change in plans at all. Noelle would be lying if she didn’t say it gave her a tiny trill of satisfaction. Payback for his wanting to toss Fryer.

“Fine,” he said, leaning back in his chair. “We’ll talk Monday. Only because my head hurts too much to argue.” Noelle had a feeling he wasn’t kidding. “What was the name of that hotel?”

“The Nutcracker Inn,” she replied.

“Right, that one. I’m going to need a room, and something to eat. What did you say that soup was?”

“Gingerbread.” It was the third time he’d asked. She looked at the nurse who nodded.

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