A baby on the way first.
Then love and marriage?
It’s complicated on its best day.
Winning Hollywood’s Goodest Girl, an all-new not-to-be-missed, surprise baby romantic comedy standalone by New York Times bestselling author Max Monroe is available now!
Raquel and Harrison sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G.
First comes love.
Then comes marriage.
Then comes a baby in the baby carriage.
That’s how her brother used to sing it when we were kids—a simple ploy to get under my skin and make me stick my fist in his face—but man oh man, did he get the order wrong.
One night of “kissing” in New York catapulted us straight to the pregnancy portion of the song—surprise!—and now I have to figure out how to carry out the whole melody in reverse.
A baby on the way first.
Then love and marriage?
It’s complicated on its best day.
But our situation is far more problematic than just a simple twist of nursery rhyme lyrics. Before our night together, Raquel Weaver was the best-known good girl in Hollywood—a twenty-nine-year-old sexpot virgin whom the world adored and watched like a hawk.
Obviously, the consequences of that kind of reputation don’t just go away. Add in pregnancy hormones, the media, a fake fiancé, and a selfish manager, and you have the short list of my problems.
As a thirty-four-year-old, successful CFO of a multibillion-dollar media conglomerate, I thought I would be able to handle anything show business could throw my way, but I’m starting to think I might be in over my head.
Good thing I’m all in.
Winning Hollywood’s goodest girl is going to take everything I’ve got.
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Never cry over spilled milk.
That’s what my mom always said, but I have to admit, until today, I never paid it much attention. As a kid, I spilled shit all the time. Milk. Juice. Water. If it was liquid, I was splattering it all over fucking creation.
Our mop got a lot of action, sure, but every time, my mom would simply laugh. Not a little, demure giggle, but big, uproarious belly laughing. Ellie Hughes thought life was made for living, and she’d be damned if she let me dwell in the valleys. Hell, maybe that’s why I was always wreaking havoc on all of our flooring—my accidents were a precursor to something upbeat.
Anyway, I haven’t thought much about all those puddles of laughter in a long time.
But today is proof positive: my mom—well, she was a teacher way ahead of her time.
Cereal poured and the financial section of the New York Times in hand, I make my way to my circular, glass kitchen table and take a seat that faces the TV.
Hello, Today!, the syndicated fluff show during the eight o’clock hour on TBC, prattles on about the perfect Christmas breakfast for a family of four while an obnoxious elf bounces around in the background. I roll my eyes as some celebrity—fuck if I know who it is—pretends to know how to make frittatas and turn my eyes back to the paper.
Growing up, television was forbidden fruit in my childhood home. My hard-ass of a dad thought it was more important to read the Wall Street Journal and understand the stock market than watch what he called drivel. He was one of those top 1% people, and his power-wealthy position in life included uber-rich hedge funds, strategic million-dollar stock market swing trades, and a money-hungry mind-set.
The only time the one television—I’m serious, one fucking TV—in our home was actually used, it revolved around big news conglomerates and State of the Union addresses by current presidents.
But despite the old man’s eccentric views on television and movies and normal people’s forms of entertainment, I can’t deny that learning about the stock market at an early age and being forced to understand things like the global economy and trade deals has served beneficial in adulthood.
My morning routine normally synchronizes beautifully for an all-out news download before heading to the office. But today, because of a late dinner meeting last night and too many Christmas-themed cocktails that have nothing to do with the holly-sprig adorned ones on TV, I’m running behind schedule.
The great news is, as CFO of one of the largest media conglomerates in the world, I’m actually allowed to do that on occasion without getting docked on my time card. In fact, I haven’t seen an actual time card in ages. The only punching I do is at Tommy John’s Kickboxing on Wednesdays in a basement studio all the way over on 75th and Broadway.
In the interest of full punching disclosure: I suck at it. Mohammad Ali in training, I am not. But flab is real, friends, even for the studly men in your life, and punching a bag with little to no precision keeps the excess weight off me. In layman’s terms, it keeps the ladies from grabbing on to anything other than muscle in bed.
Scratch that last line. They grab my dick; I didn’t mean to make it sound like they don’t. There’s actually more penile touching than any other kind of touching in the cottony comfort of my sheets, and I’m very good at touching the ladies, in turn, with my mouth and penis. In fact, when my dick hears the words dick pic, it asks for photo credit because it was most certainly the one taking the picture.
Okay, maybe I’ve gotten a little carried away, but my point is the same.
What I meant to imply was that they don’t grab on to a beer gut—and trust me, if I didn’t work out, they would. I love beer and chicken wings, and I indulge in them both on way too many occasions to maintain some kind of quota weight “naturally.” If it weren’t for all the strenuous, practically nightly kickboxing workouts, if I were a woman in the public eye, I would be a constant ludicrous headline for my “fluctuating waistline.”
Thankfully, I am trim, toned, and able to binge on buffalo wings whenever the fuck I want.
My cell vibrates across the table, and I snag it off the glass surface to see Incoming Call Cap flashing on the screen.
I sigh at the idea of listening to Caplin Hawkins’s bullshit before I’ve finished my first cup of coffee, but I answer it despite my better judgment.
“Harrison, you sly motherfucker, those stock tips you gave me last quarter have my portfolio growing green like I’m a damn cannabis farmer.” He forgoes a greeting and dives straight into what is most likely his selfish needs. “Should I be concerned you’re getting insider info?”
“Wow, it’s so great to hear from you too, bud.” I smirk and lick my finger to get traction on the thin paper and flip through the pages until I get to yesterday’s closing data for the Dow Jones and S&P 500. Quickly, I scan through the numbers. It’s only one week away from Christmas and a few weeks away from New Years’, and this month’s upward trend appears fairly optimistic for avoiding a choppy close to the year.
“Yesterday, HawCom was up five-fucking-percent. Seriously, dude, are you dragging me and my father’s company into some illegal bullshit?” he asks, and I look away from my newspaper to roll my eyes.
HawCom is the company I’ve been with for the past decade, and it just so happens to be owned by Cap’s father, Jared Hawkins. Financial management for a company of its scale has been tricky these days with the ongoing uncertainty of the market, but all in all, HawCom’s performance numbers have been stable and steadily growing for the last nine quarters. As a major media company with “silent” ownership in some of the world’s most relevant technology companies, it’s not completely unexpected, but it’s certainly not guaranteed.
“Is it difficult being the most ridiculous bastard on the planet?” I retort. “Because, fuck, I can imagine it gets hard coming up with new ways to be this insane.”
Despite this idiot’s stupid question, everything I do is by the book. No insider trading. No fraud. It all comes from a mind that’s been trained since childhood to be strategic and understand economic patterns.
And even if I shouldn’t, for the state of my motivation to maintain a certain work ethic, I do allow myself to take a little credit for HawCom’s success. I’ve been charged with a large job due to my leadership role in the company, but I cherish the opportunity. It’d be hard not to with an uncharacteristically kind and charismatic boss like Jared at the helm.
And for the last four months, I’ve made it a point to cherish everything.
See, I choose to be happy every day.
I choose gratitude and intention in my every action.
I choose the way my life plays out—all of us do.
It took me more than three busy, painful decades and the loss of both parents to figure that out, but now that I have, the freedom in it is impressive.
The truth is, until we die, all of us get to choose our own destiny—
“I swear to God,” Cap grumbles. “I will end you if I wind up in some kind of high-security prison for stock fraud.”
I laugh at the absurdity. “I help you grow your portfolio—without commission, mind you—and you’re threatening murder?”
“Are you deflecting, son?” he questions, always the fucking lawyer. “Because I swear on every-damn-thing, I will—”
“Relax.” I snort. “The only thing illegal about the stock tips I gave you was the fact that I handed them to you on a silver-fucking-platter without asking for anything in return.”
“Speaking of handing shit to me on a silver platter, let’s do that again,” he says, a cunning smile apparent in his voice. “Who is looking profitable for the first quarter of next year?”
“And why should I give you anything, you prick?”
“Because you love me. Because you don’t want to see me become a vagabond, living on the streets.”
“You’re one of the most successful corporate lawyers in North America who already has some of the world’s best advisers handling his money. I’m pretty sure a lack of financial investment advice from me isn’t going to break your bank.”
“Minor details.” He chuckles. “C’mon, dude. Help your best friend and his sweet, lovely, beautiful wife out.”
“Now you’re bringing Ruby into this?” I tsk. “For shame.”
“You and I both know, shameless or not, I’ll do whatever it takes to get what I want,” he retorts, and I laugh outright.
“Are you wanting stock tips or to get me into bed? Because, truthfully, it feels like it could go either way at this point.”
Of course, he doesn’t miss a fucking beat. “I’ll even toss in a candlelit dinner and champagne if that’s what it’s going to take.”
Just for the sake of ending this insanity, I start to open my mouth with a few companies that are worthy of investments in the upcoming quarter, but a shrill voice on the screen of the TV steals my attention. I wouldn’t normally refer to any woman’s voice as shrill because I find it incredibly sexist and demeaning, but I’m telling you, for the sake of painting an accurate description, this particular voice, regardless of its bearer’s gender, is like the distress call of a wounded rabbit. I couldn’t miss it if I were in an underground bunker with six feet of sound-dampening dirt between us. And somehow, somehow, she still made it on TV.
“Thanks, Chris,” she continues, her voice still painful to my ears. “Today is anything but business as usual in sunny Southern California. It seems, folks, that the impossible has happened. Hollywood is abuzz this morning with the most infamous immaculate conception since the Virgin Mary herself.”
My eyebrows pinch together at the ridiculous drivel as I lift the spoon to my mouth. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph must be rolling over in their graves.
“Twenty-nine-year-old famed virgin sexpot, Raquel Weaver, was photographed leaving Beverly Hills Obstetrics today with a noticeable bump front and center on her normally trim figure.”
Brakes squeal to a stop inside my head.
What the fuck? Did she just say Raquel Weaver?
I gape at the television, trying to make sense of why that name of all names just came out of Screechy’s mouth, but the instant a photograph pops up on the screen and all-too-familiar violet eyes stare back at me, I have my fucking answer.
Holy shit. It’s her.
About Max Monroe
A duo of romance authors team up under the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling pseudonym Max Monroe to bring you sexy, laugh-out-loud reads.
Max Monroe is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of more than ten contemporary romance titles. Favorite writing partners and long time friends, Max and Monroe strive to live and write all the fun, sexy swoon so often missing from their Facebook newsfeed. Sarcastic by nature, their two writing souls feel like they’ve found their other half. This is their most favorite adventure thus far.
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