Read The Cowboy's Baby: A BWWM Billionaire Cowboy Pregnancy Romance Online

Authors: Cristina Grenier

Tags: #BWWM Cowboy Pregnancy Romance

The Cowboy's Baby: A BWWM Billionaire Cowboy Pregnancy Romance

BOOK: The Cowboy's Baby: A BWWM Billionaire Cowboy Pregnancy Romance
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THE COWBOY’S BABY

By: Cristina Grenier

 

Table of Contents

Title Page

Bonus Book

Chapter One: Selfless

Chapter Two: Gone Girl

Chapter Three: Filling the Gaps

Chapter Four: Complications

Chapter Five: Developments

Chapter Six: Pretend

Chapter Seven: Entangled

Chapter Eight: Contentment

Chapter Nine: Off into the Sunset

About the Author

Publisher’s Notes

 

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Chapter One: Selfless

 

It was perfect

Absolutely perfect.

Her lips curving upward in a wide smile, Esme placed an artful sprinkle of grated dark chocolate on top of the dessert she had spent the last week formulating. She had, of course, had to do it in her spare time. At
La Reina
, sous chefs were kept busy with the most menial of tasks – chopping veggies, preparing spices, even washing dishes.

Every time she was relegated to scrubbing frying pans, the young woman tried to tell herself it was all worth it. If she worked hard enough and kept her head down, one day she’d have her own kitchen to run. No one started from the top – that she knew. It just seemed like she’d been at the bottom for so
long

But after a week of finding ten minutes here, and twenty there to work on her project, she had finally concocted something she could be proud of. The desert was three tiered with a strawberry cream cake base. It was set into a gleaming glass bowl with layers of sweetened cream and pieces of fresh strawberry. Chocolate wafers were stuck into the edges of the dish to provide some color contrast and the fresh grated chocolate on top finished it with a bite of bitter flavor.

She couldn’t wait to try it.

Esme sidled through the kitchen to find a dessert spoon. Humming softly, she sifted carefully through the silverware until she found what she was looking for. When she returned to the prep table, however, her heart sank. The head sous chef, Laurent, was standing over her creation, spoon in hand. A huge portion was missing from Esme’s dish, and when she stepped toward the table, the dark-haired man turned to her with a perfectly manicured brow arched.

Laurent ruled the kitchen with an iron fist. It was he who directed all below him to menial tasks so he could take credit for everything that went right in the kitchen. A blue-eyed French transplant with a thick accent, the man looked down on everyone who worked beneath him– despite his paltry five foot six height. Now, he gave Esme a once over that made her distinctly uncomfortable.

“What is this, Esme?” The man’s inquiry was sharp and clipped. Esme’s face flushed and she looked away. She’d been hoping to present the dish discreetly to the head chef. It figured that Laurent would come upon it first.

“It’s just…something I’ve been working on. When I haven’t been busy, of course.” She hurried to add the last portion so that the man couldn’t accuse her of being idle. He practically lived to imply that no one but him ever did any sort of work – when in fact, the opposite was true.

“It’s shit.”

He tossed the spoon onto the table with a sneer. “The dark chocolate is completely overwhelming. And this plating? An abomination. Aren’t you supposed to be grating carrots for garnish?”

Esme swallowed her shame and rage, resisting the urge to give the man a piece of her mind. How would he know what real food tasted like? He never seemed to be making any of it himself. As he strode away, leaving her defiled dessert on the table, she frowned. Raising her own spoon, she dipped it into the confection to taste herself.

It was absolute heaven. The chocolate added just enough bite to keep the cream from being too sweet, and the texture of the cake was divine. She glanced after Laurent, who would make sure her recipe never saw the light of day, and then back to the dessert before her. Then, with a low sigh, she dumped the entire thing in the garbage.

She managed to keep her cool for the rest of the night and into the next day’s shift. It wasn’t until the head chef added a new item to the menu – the very one Laurent had told her was absolute shit – and gave the head sous chef credit for creating it that she resigned from the position.

It was her fourth restaurant job in a year, and quite frankly, Esme was exhausted. The moment she returned to her tiny apartment, she dropped her bag on the couch and collapsed, burying her face in the cushions.

Why the hell had she gotten into this business again? To be taken advantage of and ridiculed? To be told that she had no talent by people who had gotten to where they were on the backs of those far more gifted them themselves? The young woman groaned, turning onto her back to stare up at the cracked ceiling above her.

Of course not. She’d gone to culinary school because she loved food. The four year degree had taken up nearly all of her savings, but she’d never regretted it because she’d never doubted that, one day, she’d be running someone’s kitchen.

Seven years later, suffice it to say she was getting to be slightly disillusioned with her own optimism. She hadn’t had a decent kitchen job yet, and she was coming up on her thirties. For as long as she could remember, she’d lived paycheck to paycheck, and now, she was out of another job.

Her face set into a scowl, the young woman rose to traipse into the bathroom. After her last day at
La Reina
, her white chef’s coat was splattered with an all matter of sauces and gravy, her dark hair unkempt and her necktie in disarray. For a moment, she stared into the mirror, assessing the woman who stared back at her.

Esme Carter was twenty eight years old – her dark mahogany locks yet untouched by grey. The long, wavy strands spilled halfway down her back when they weren’t piled beneath her chef’s hat, setting off her caramel hued skin and almond shaped, brown eyes. It was hard to be a woman in a kitchen on any day, but a woman of color? In the Midwest? Even getting herself taken seriously was a major task.

She removed her hat, letting her hair drop free down her back before she shrugged out of her coat and black pants. Beneath, she wore a black camisole that clung to her slender figure. Esme had always lamented the fact that she didn’t have her mother’s curves. Instead, she’s inherited her father’s lean, muscular forms. She could hardly call her breasts a b-cup and the round behind that should have been hers by virtue of her ethnicity alone was suspiciously absent.

She was a size four on a good day, and it didn’t matter how much she stuffed her face, she never gained a single pound. Her parents called it high metabolism – she called it a curse. Stripping off the rest of her clothes, the young woman stepped into the shower, letting the hot water melt the stress of her day away.

There were other restaurants, she reminded herself. Veritable tons. She would have a new job within the week. But would that make her happy? She seriously doubted it. Another job meant another lazy chef lording over her and stealing her recipes to slap his name on them. It was a cruel lesson to have to learn, and Esme had been taught her fair share of times.

There had to be something else she could do – even on the side- just to supplement her income. As it was, she was going to have issues making the rent for that month - and where next month was coming from, she had no idea.

As she toweled her hair, the dark-skinned girl moved back into her living room, completely naked. She’d never been modest, and since she lived alone, it was a luxury she could afford. As her body slowly air dried, she paced leisurely back and forth across the small room, watching TV with only moderate interest.

She was exhausted.

Being someone’s food slave all day was no easy task, and restaurants could chew you up and spit you out with ease. The fact that she’d survived ten sous chef positions with her sanity intact was a testament to her fortitude. She just didn’t know how much longer she could hold out. Esme moved into her small kitchen. The space was hardly big enough to turn around in, but she had worked magic there. Now, she extracted a beef stew she made the previous day with a duck fat and rosemary base. It would be even better on day two, and she was sure the hearty flavor would serve to cheer her up a bit.

She was sitting down to her dinner when an ad popped up on the TV that caught her attention. Blowing on her steaming stew, Esme listened to a woman prattle on about being a surrogate – the vessel which provided needing, unable parents with an outlet to create their own children. It was a position, the woman attested, for those with large hearts, who understood the struggle that infertile parents went through.

Esme didn’t know how much she personally understood the struggle, but she certainly empathized. She had been the product of a surrogate pregnancy when her own parents couldn’t conceive. To this day, her mother cited the surrogate experience as one of the best in her life – how a young woman she’d barely known had given her the greatest gift she could ever have imagined.

It seemed like the system worked. As long as the surrogate herself didn’t develop an attachment to the child and cause legal issues for the parents, the process usually went off without a hitch. Personally, Esme wasn’t looking to have children anytime soon – perhaps not ever. But perhaps she could lend her body to someone else?

For as long as the young woman could remember, she had been healthy as a horse. She had a resilience that seemed to protect her from bugs that went rampant, affecting everyone she knew. She could count on one hand the number of times she’d been sick in her entire life and even her parents admitted to being shocked at her never being ill as a child. Despite her own mother being able to have children, Esme had no such problem. She’d even been told by her doctors that she was healthy enough to have extended birthing years and would probably be fertile into her late forties – perhaps even her early fifties.

It was a surprise for a woman who had never seriously contemplated having children.

But if she could have them for someone else…someone willing to pay all the medical expenses and a little something extra beside…well, why not? She’d be giving someone a gift she didn’t think she’d ever desire, and besides that, at least she’d get to experience the magic so many people gushed about without caring for the child itself.

She took down the number at the bottom of the screen, shaking her head as she did so. She had no idea how surrogacy agencies worked. At one time, Esme thought she might have been offered a chance to get in contact with her biological mother, but she had declined. Christine Carter had always been enough for her - a loving mother and a close friend. Would any child she had have that option? Would she have to find prospective parents herself, or would it be done for her?

It was something she’d have to discover, she decided, if she even got through the screening process; which, despite her good health, she doubted she would. There was probably some sort of psychological evaluation involved as well, and any psychiatrist that interviewed her would quickly find that she was out of her mind. After all, who willingly went into the restaurant business? Who spent hours in the kitchen working on a recipe no one else would taste for personal satisfaction?

No one she knew.

Sighing, Esme took a bite of her stew, savoring the thick, velvety texture. This was one recipe she would have to keep in mind. If this surrogacy thing didn’t work out – if she didn’t find
some
kind of job she could accept soon, her recipes might be the only thing she had to keep her warm.

BOOK: The Cowboy's Baby: A BWWM Billionaire Cowboy Pregnancy Romance
3.09Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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