He needed children for an advertising campaign. . .
All Cesar Machismo wants is to ensure the bambinos of the world experience the flavor explosion of his company’s newest baby-food, Thai Shrimp in Peanut Dressing. But when he goes to an orphanage looking for a new spokes-baby, he finds twins with eyes the color of pureed Cornish game hens. Mama Mia! He must take them home!
What he got was a ready-made family!
Content with her lot in life, Chastity Bliss slaves for her stepmother at the orphanage. This way she stays with her babies, though she can never acknowledge them. When Cesar adopts her twins, she follows as their nanny. What can she do? She has no choice, because though he doesn’t know it . . .
Cesar is their father!
And this first chapter is brought to you by our friend, Carolyn Jean…
Ironically, Chastity was toiling on her hands and knees, scrubbing the orphanage floor, when he strode past. The supple Italian leather of his boots looked strangely familiar…had she been near those boots before? And his bellowing voice, commanding her stepmother, Gladys, to show him the babies, please, the bella, bella babies, sounded familiar, too.
But it was those powerful thighs, rippling and bulging as he walked, that confirmed that this was the man who had shown her the torrid pleasures of the flesh nearly two years ago now.
Oh! Never could she forget the way his thighs looked that night, bared in the candlelight—proud thighs that were crowned, like a gloriously prancing unicorn, by his throbbing manhood. She had ridden his glossily romping glorypole clear up to the sky, to the stars, which had glittered and shattered, exposing the very heavens to her in a soul-wrenching orgasm that had produced her two wonderful twins, Miracle and Marvel.
Yes, it was none other than Italian gourmet baby food baron, Cesar Machismo!
The petite redhead scrubbed furiously. Why was he here? Surely Cesar hadn’t discovered her secret! No, it had to be a coincidence—and she mustn’t let him recognize her.
Furtively, she reached into her smock pocket and drew out the hairnet that she wore when serving lunch to the babies. She had no choice but to put it on in order to disguise her flowing titian locks. And then she found the black marker, whose smell was such a solace during her days of drudgery, and penned a large mole on her right cheek. Blushing, she remembered how he had complimented those cheeks, so unblemished, like the finest Italian marble, he’d said. He would not recognize those cheeks now, she thought darkly.
His interest in the babies distressed her greatly. She scrubbed his muddy boot prints as fast as she could, trying to keep up with the man as he walked from crib to crib alongside her stepmother, who owned the orphanage. His assistant hovered some distance away, taking notes.
What were they saying? She could only make out his occasional exclamation – O, poverina! Poverina! And Chastity was slowing in her progress toward them—why wasn’t her furious scrubbing getting out his boot prints? She looked down and realized she had balled her fists in anger.
Cesar had made it only too clear that fateful night, as she’d danced with him, what his views of gold diggers were—mama mia!—who set out to get themselves a meal ticket for life by getting pregnant. When she realized she was pregnant, she knew she could not tell him, not after she had laughed in scorn along with Cesar: Mama Mia! She’d repeated, Such women are whores! What else could she say? She’d had no choice. And he’d laughed, and she’d wrapped her arms around his neck, eyes constantly drawn to the betraying bulge in his pants.
No, she’d had no choice. She could never tell him.
Her stepmother Gladys was scandalized to learn of her behavior. Tearfully, she’d taken Chastity’s cheeks in her hands. “No, please God! My baby, my virgin child, you cannot be pregnant. We will be ruined!” Grudgingly, Gladys had allowed Chastity to stay at the orphanage, as long as she hid her pregnancy under a shapeless smock. Once the babies came, Gladys put them with the rest of the orphans. She said that if Chastity wanted to be near them, then Chastity would work for that privilege: she must keep the place clean, and tend to all of the orphans. What could Chastity do? She had no choice but to go along with her stepmother’s demands.
On her hands and knees she scrubbed, following Cesar and Gladys as they approached the crib that Miracle and Marvel shared. She prayed he would not notice their brown eyes and their titian hair, and the many other ways in which they resembled the girl he’d known that night. She had just given Mira and Marv a book of art prints to look at to help promote their amazing artistic talent, which was demonstrated daily by the way their attention was drawn to colorful objects. She prayed the twins’ attention would be absorbed in the book as Cesar passed by, so that he would not glimpse their little faces.
Cesar Machismo followed the insufferable woman from crib to crib. None of these children even remotely resembled his image of the ideal baby. But he needed no less than the perfect, ideal baby to be the “Discerning Baby” – the new face of the Machismo Gourmet Baby Foods Firm. It was critical he find a truly lovable baby, especially after what had happened with their previous ad campaign, “Babies with Good Taste.” The commercials had featured the humorous misunderstandings of halfwit parents who thought ‘babies with good taste’ meant babies who ‘taste good.’ People had become outraged. Un disastro!
The Discerning Baby campaign was not going much better. All the babies he’d been shown him were grossly sub-par. None exemplified lovability, as well as discernment for the finer things in life! For the Discerning Baby must show discerning taste in all things. Mama mia, but one had to do everything oneself!
He felt sure he wouldn’t find the right baby in an orphanage, but he’d exhausted all his options in this region of the country. What’s more, it was impossible to concentrate with the scrubbing girl dogging his steps. She seemed to become agitated as he drew near the last crib.
“Why are these poor creatures stuck in the same crib?” He barked menacingly. The babies began to cry, and then they both spit up.
“Dio mi Salvo!” Cesar exclaimed.
“Please, forgive them,” the proprietress said.
“Oh, it merely distresses me to see babies become sick! Why did you spit up, little ones?” He had his suspicions, though. He reached into the crib and swiped a finger through the glistening yellow substance, then brought it to his lips and sucked. “Pah! You fed them the substandard applesauce produced by my competitors. Not even fit for carrion-eating crows!” He glared at the proprietress.
“I’m sorry, but we cannot afford your brand.”
“And these babies are suffering for it. Don’t you see? This food is an affront to their dignity.” He gazed at the babies with their titian hair, their big brown eyes; there was an ineffable quality to their looks that pleased him greatly and reminded him of happier times. And then something in the crib caught his attention. “What is this?” He reached in and pulled out the art book, which had lain open to the page with a picture of the Mona Lisa; her face was obscured by the contents of the baby’s stomachs.
“Per Meravaglia!” he exclaimed, gazing rapturously at the infants.
“Please, do not be angry with them,” the woman begged.
“How could I be angry? My dear woman, everybody knows the Mona Lisa is the most overrated piece of art in the history of the Western World—pure rifiuti not fit to line the bottom of a rabid squirrel’s cage. These children were offended by the sight of it, but they do not yet possess the motor skills to banish the image from their sight by turning the page. So they covered it with the regurgitated food of my competitor! A fitting tribute, don’t you agree?”
The woman looked confused.
“I have found them,” Cesar announced to the room. “Not one, but two Discerning Babies. My good woman, I’ll adopt the pair of them! How does a hundred dollars sound?”
His assistant drew near, spouting some drivel about adoption legalities and such.
“Nonsense!” Cesar turned to the proprietress. “It’s okay with me if it’s okay with you.”
“No, I beg of you!” The scrubbing girl stood. “You cannot adopt them! You cannot!”
“And why is that, my bella?” Cesar said.
“Because…because they…they need a sense of continuity!” She blurted out.
The old woman narrowed her eyes. “I’m afraid she’s right. I must insist that this girl come along as a condition of their adoption. The babies have a certain bond to her.”
The assistant touched Cesar’s arm, mumbling on and on. “…potential baby trafficking charges…”
Cesar waved him away. “Basta!” He eyed the scrubbing girl.
“She is a virgin,” the proprietress added.
He didn’t doubt that for a second—the poor girl was all hairnets and moles as far as he could see. Just as well. He didn’t want any distractions in his home. “Well then, if the Discerning Babies prefer the company of this girl, then she is worthy to be their nanny. I’ll take all three.”
*Snerk* Hope you guys enjoyed that as much as I did. Chapter 2 to come tomorrow…
Last 5 posts by bam
- Lover Eternal by J.R. Ward - April 24th, 2015
- A Man in a Million by Jessica Bird - April 21st, 2015
- Harlequin Presents: The Unforgettable Husband - April 20th, 2015
- Harlequin Presents: Passionate Stranger by Flora Kidd - April 17th, 2015
- Harlequin Presents: Heartbreaker by Charlotte Lamb - April 16th, 2015