Jessica Hart

Her Boss’s Baby Plan

Release Date: 2004

Single mum Martha Shaw has a gorgeous new boss – she’s nanny to Lewis Mansfield’s niece and is about to spend six months on a tropical island with him and their babies! Martha quickly falls deeply in love with her sexy boss, but he seems happy being a carefree bachelor with no plans to settle down. Will Martha risk all by telling Lewis how she really feels?


By the time they had explored the house, set up the travel cots and unpacked the rest of the babies’ stuff it was nearly six according to Martha’s watch which she had set to local time, and the gloom had intensified into dark. Eloise said she was going home.

‘I’ve left you some supper,’ she said. ‘You just need to heat it up.’ Her face split into a wide smile. ‘Have a good evening.’

‘Evening?’ Martha rubbed back of neck wearily as she watched Eloise put up a huge umbrella and disappear down the back steps. ‘Do you think that means we’ll be able to go to bed soon?’

‘Not unless we can persuade these two that it’s time to sleep first,’ said Lewis, nodding to where Viola and Noah were sitting on a rug energetically thumping the floor with an assortment of toys scattered around them. ‘They look suspiciously bright-eyed to me.’

Martha followed his gaze. It was true. After whingeing most of the afternoon the two babies had suddenly taken on a new lease of life and looked wide awake.

‘I’ll give them a bath,’ she said. ‘With any luck that will make them think that it’s bed time.’

Lewis was unpacking papers from his briefcase. ‘Do you need a hand?’

She hesitated. The obvious answer was ‘no’. She was the nanny, and she had insisted that she could manage both children by herself.

Which she could do, Martha reminded herself. Once they got into a routine.

‘It would make things quicker tonight,’ she admitted, swallowing her pride.

Lewis dropped the last sheaf of papers onto the table. ‘OK,’ he said briskly. ‘Let’s do it.’

He sat on a stool in the tiled bathroom and watched as Martha put the babies in the bath. She was kneeling on the floor, the sleeves of her pale yellow shirt rolled up, and her dark hair pushed behind her ears. Her eyes were huge in her pale face, and her skin had the taut look of exhaustion, but there was no trace of impatience in her manner as she gently washed first one baby then the other. They were both sitting up, gurgling and squealing as they beat at the water with dimpled hands, clearly not exhausted at all.

It was all right for them, Lewis thought sourly. They had been able to sleep most of the way, while he and Martha had had to endure the long flight to Nairobi, an interminable delay there while they waited for their transfer, and then the cramped conditions of the little plane that had flown them the last leg.

Had Martha found it as uncomfortable as he had? She hadn’t complained, but then perhaps she hadn’t been bothered by the way their knees had kept touching, or by the constant brush of their arms.

She had been sitting so close that Lewis had been able to smell the fragrance that she wore. It wasn’t one that he recognized. Helen’s perfume had been more intense. Martha wore a light, refreshing scent that made him think of fresh herbs and long grass, with just a hint of spice, and it bothered him that once he had started noticing it, he couldn’t get it out of his mind.

And then they had run into those rain clouds. Lewis could still feel Martha’s fingers digging into his hand. It had been just as well, really. The sharpness of her nails had kept him focused, and distracted him from her warmth and her softness and the sheen of her hair.

‘Hey!’ As a particularly vigorous splash caught Martha in the eye, she sat back on her heels, laughing, and glanced up at him. ‘I’m glad some people are enjoying themselves anyway!’

Her brown eyes were alight with laughter, and the warmth of her smile banished the tiredness from her face. She looked so different from the brittle woman who had walked into his office and, unprepared, Lewis was conscious of unfamiliar feeling that stirred disquietingly inside him.

‘Is something wrong?’ she asked, puzzled by his arrested expression.

‘No.’ Lewis looked away. ‘When do I get to do my bit?’

‘Now.’ Martha gave him a towel to spread on his knee and lifted Viola out of the bath. ‘Can you dry her?’

She laid Noah on a towel on the floor and wrapped it round him so that she could dry him carefully. Lewis did the same for Viola, but his attention kept wandering away to where Martha was dusting her baby with powder, playing with his kicking feet and blowing kisses against his tummy so that he squealed with delight and clutched at her hair.

Lewis thought about that silky hair drifting over his stomach and swallowed hard. Damn. The last thing he needed was to start thinking about that kind of thing. He was Martha’s employer, and she had agreed to live with him in the expectation that he would treat her with the respect he accorded any other employee.

Why had that stupid girl … what was her name again? Eve, that was it. Why had she taken that ridiculous notion that she was in love into her head? She would have been a perfect nanny. She could have been here now, and he wouldn’t have been sitting here thinking about Martha’s hair brushing his skin or feeling jealous of a baby, for God’s sake!

If Eve hadn’t fallen in love, he wouldn’t even have known that watching someone bath a baby could be such a turn on. She would have been able to look after Viola on her own and he could have been going through the contract, the way he should be doing now, not sitting her in the bathroom with a baby on his knee.

‘Here.’ Martha tossed him the powder. ‘Play with her a little. She needs a bit of attention.’

Lewis looked down at his niece’s solemn face. It seemed to him that Viola had been demanding and getting attention for the past few hours, but if he concentrated on her, he might forget about the way Martha was smiling and swinging her hair against a chuckling Noah and lifting him up and covering him with kisses …

Viola. Focus. Experimentally, Lewis tickled her bare tummy with a finger, and was gratified to see her break into a beaming smile. He tried it again, and she giggled and grabbed at his hand, so he smiled at her and she laughed back.

Maybe this baby business wasn’t so difficult after all, he thought, and then made the mistake of glancing up to find Martha watching him with amusement.

‘She likes you,’ she said. ‘You should play with her more often.’

Feeling like a fool for some reason, Lewis tugged his finger out of Viola’s clutches. ‘The point of paying a nanny was that I didn’t have to do any of this hands-on business,’ he said brusquely to cover his embarrassment.

‘Stop grumbling,’ said Martha, refusing to be cowed by his glare. She was getting used to it now, anyway, and suspected it was more of a defence mechanism than a sign of anger. She reached for a clean nappy and deftly fastened it around Noah before snapping him into a babygro.

‘Viola’s your own flesh and blood, for heaven’s sake,’ she went on, ‘and I’m only asking you to dry her. Here, let me have her.’

Shuffling across on her knees, she scooped Viola up from Lewis’s nap. ‘You don’t need to panic, I’ll deal with her nappy. Could you hold Noah while I’m doing that, or would that be too much to ask?’

‘Oh, all right,’ said Lewis grouchily, and found a clean, plump, sweet-smelling baby deposited in his lap.

He and Noah eyed each other, and Lewis was convinced he could identify a smug look in the baby’s face, as if he knew quite well what the strange man with the big hands had been thinking about his mother. When Noah reached out and twisted his nose, he was sure of it.

‘Ouch!’ he exclaimed involuntarily as Noah burst into giggles and reached out again to see if he could get the same reaction, but Lewis was ready for him this time and drew his head sharply out of range.

Martha laughed at his expression. ‘It’s surprising how strong those little fingers are, isn’t it?’

‘They certainly are.’ Lewis rubbed his nose ruefully. ‘I think I’ll do the nappy next time!’

‘I’ll remember that when Viola’s nappy gets a bit whiffy,’ said Martha, hoisting the baby into her arms for a cuddle. ‘Come on, you two, it’s time for bed.’

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