From store assistant to society bride...When tall, dark, rich and gorgeous Dante di Andrea made love to her, Bliss knew she couldn't keep him in her life. But then he discovered she was pregnant! Dante was furious! No child of his would be brought up in poverty.However, Bliss wasn't happy when Dante proposed. Surely he needed to marry a woman of his own kind--and do it for love...?
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August 11, 2008
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Excerpt from The Italian's Pregnancy Proposal by Maggie Cox
Bliss knew she really ought to resist, but she couldn't help stealing another surreptitious glance at her watch to check on the time when her dragon of a supervisor's back was momentarily turned. The store was hot and crowded and the overpowering scent of perfume from the counters arranged around hers was making her feel as though she'd wandered into an opium den. Besides that, her eyes itched from the shadow she was forced to wear to promote the make-up, and she longed to be able to scrub it off along with the foundation cream, blusher and lipstick that transformed her into someone she almost didn't recognise. It was too bad she'd have to endure another two hours of this torture before she could give in to such a rebellious desire.
What on earth she'd been thinking of when she'd decided to work in the plush department store that catered mainly to fashion-conscious women with more money than sense, she didn't know. Well, yes, she did know. She'd been between jobs yet again and as inspiration about what she really wanted to do had been in appallingly scant supply, she'd let her best friend Trudy persuade her to apply for a post in the same store that she worked in. For Trudy, who loved all things retail, it was heaven. To Bliss, it was increasingly turning out to be just the opposite.
'Excuse me... I would like to purchase a lipstick.'
'Certainly, madam. Do you have any particular shade in mind? I can show you the-- Oh, Lord!'
Bliss watched in alarm as the striking brunette in front of the counter slid weakly down to the floor, almost like a slow-motion replay of an actor fainting in a soap opera. Beside her, an apple-cheeked toddler with big brown eyes and curly dark hair ensconced in a pushchair cried out in distress. Her actions automatic and concerned, Bliss flew round the counter to crouch beside the woman who had passed out, at the same time taking a brief moment to stroke the baby-soft cheek of the toddler and murmur something soothing. A small crowd quickly gathered and Bliss took immediate charge, urging them to stand back while she loosened the collar of the woman's silk shirt beneath her expensive suede coat, then gently smoothed back the wavy dark hair from her olive-skinned forehead.
'I don't... I don't feel well.' Momentarily the woman's surprisingly blue eyes fluttered open and her lush mouth trembled slightly as she stared dazedly up at Bliss. 'Look after my baby,' she said beseechingly in her accented voice before she fainted dead away again.
'Don't worry. I will.' Her teeth clamping down worriedly on her soft lower lip, Bliss glanced across at the now-quietened toddler, who stared back at her with wide-eyed interest, as if wondering what might be going to happen next.
'Now, what's happened? Do you know this woman?' Her supervisor pushed her way through the small knot of curious bystanders and knelt down beside Bliss in anxious distaste-- as if she really didn't need or want this untidy disruption to her working day. Fighting down the little spurt of annoyance that burst like a bubble inside her chest, Bliss briefly shook her head.
'She's a customer and she's just passed out. We're going to need an ambulance; can you organise it? Oh, and can somebody please get this little girl a drink? She looks hot. Hardly surprising when there's enough heat in this place to compete with the inside of a volcano!'
After that, things happened fairly quickly. It seemed a mere matter of moments before the familiar sound of an ambulance siren wailed in the distance, then came to an abrupt halt outside the store's entrance. Having checked the woman had no foreign objects in her mouth, was still breathing normally and was as comfortable as she could make her, Bliss was relieved to have the two highly competent ambulance men take over. Remembering her promise to the child's mother, Bliss took charge of the toddler in the pushchair, fed her a drink in a plastic lipped cup, then, when she began to whimper at the surrounding mayhem, lifted her out of the pushchair and safely into her arms for a cuddle. One of the ambulance men glanced over his shoulder at her as he and his colleague lifted the unconscious woman onto a stretcher.
'That her child?' he asked.
Bliss nodded. 'I've got her bag too.' She grabbed up the expensive-looking tan leather shoulder bag she'd thrown onto the empty pushchair for safekeeping before someone either squashed it underfoot or, more worryingly, absconded with it. 'It might have some ID inside it.'
'You'd better bring it along with the child. You can ride in the ambulance with the mother. What's your name, love?'
'So you're Irish like meself?'
'Half,' Bliss muttered, thinking it was bizarre to be having such a conversation about roots under the circumstances. 'On my father's side.'
'Ah, well, we'll get along just grand, then, you and I.' With a teasing grin, the man turned his concentration firmly back to the woman on the stretcher.
It soon became apparent that the child needed to eat. After informing the nurse behind the hospital desk that she was going to the canteen if anyone should come looking for her, Bliss followed the arrows to the dining area. Glad that she'd had the foresight to bring her purse with her before getting into the ambulance, she purchased a sandwich and a cup of tea, then sat at a corner table with her charge on her lap, feeding her small bites of bread, cheese and cucumber. By the obvious eagerness with which she ate, it was clear the little girl was ravenously hungry.