"Alex, I don't have time for this. I left you a list of all the clients you have to contact while I'm away. I've left you itineraries, order print-outs, and projected deliveries. What more can I do? I'm entitled to one damned holiday a year, aren't I? Hell, I don't even get that!"
Natasha felt one eye start to twitch as a fierce urge to rip the hands-free cell from her car and chuck it out on to the road almost overcame her. Alex was the best assistant she had ever had, but, at this moment in time, when she was two inches from freaking out and blowing a serious gasket about her upcoming vacation, she didn't need him pestering her with work.
"Can I help it that you're a control freak and have always handled everything yourself?" Alex asked sardonically.
Despite the anger of only a few seconds ago, Natasha smiled. "Yeah, that could have something to do it, but I can't do any more for you, Alex. You've just got to learn. You know why I'm doing this. I'm going to be around the office less and less hopefully in the future, and, when I can't be there, I want you to pick up the mantel. I want you to be my eyes and ears. This will be a great learning curve for you."
"I still can't believe the most orthodox woman in the world is trying to get pregnant in the sleaziest of ways! It's so unlike you! "
"It's not sleazy. It's more natural than going to a doctor's clinic and spreading my damned legs for the specialist to cop a feel!"
"True. True. But still . . . you're just . . . so . . . ."
"Boring?" she supplied helpfully and then ignored his stuttering. "Not only that, I'm hardly rolling in money, Alex. The business takes every cent I earn. The money that would go towards artificial insemination could go towards the baby, and I'd much prefer not to get pregnant in some clinical office. At least this way, I might get an orgasm as well!"
Alex chuckled. "You slut you. I didn't realize you had it in you!"
"Takes one to know one. How's Lewis by the way?"
"Fine. As gorgeous as ever. You should come over for dinner one night when you get back. Hopefully we can feed the two of you," Alex said with a wry laugh. "Anyway, I'll try and grow a bigger pair of balls because I'm sure Derek would appreciate them as well as yourself."
"Alright. Wish me luck, honey."
"A babe like you doesn't need luck. Bye, sweet thing."
Disconnecting the call, Natasha wished she could grow a pair of balls as well because fear and nerves were already threatening to choke her. Her throat was closing up, a nervous lump was lodged in the very center, making it impossible to swallow. Not that she was going to be doing much of that or wanted to when her mouth was bone dry.
She felt hot and sweaty from tension, her shoulders were one huge knot, and she knew that she was almost ready to quit, ready to pull out of something she'd been planning for what seemed like forever! It didn't matter that she wanted a baby more than anything in the world, at this moment in time she just wasn't sure if she could make herself sexually available to men who were looking for an easy lay.
While it was true that this was a less clinical method of getting pregnant and that there was a chance of her actually enjoying herself in the process, it still felt like a pretty damned detached and impersonal way to create a life!
Talking to Alex had given her a semblance of calm, though, and had made her feel a little better. Having to discuss her work, which for the last few years had been the sum total of her existence, also helped. But still, she felt edgy.
The weather didn't help. Around her and her moving rental car, snow fell heavily to the ground and every now and then the wheels would skid on an icy patch, which would terrify her. The road was narrow and there was a sheer drop off on one side.
Exhaling roughly, Natasha sat up and leaned closer to the wheel. Peering out, she tried to determine where the icy patches on the road actually lay, but there was too much snow to really tell.
While every part of this trip had been meticulously planned, it just proved that not everything was under her control. She'd thought accounting for every detail, every last nuance, would help her feel better as the trip neared, and it had worked to a point. She'd requested a brochure, determined every activity she wanted to do, and then had calculated the cost of each activity. This she had combined with the price of renting her ski gear and the total cost of her accommodation and food. For the last year, she'd worked her butt off to ensure that she could enjoy the trip free from financial concerns. If she was successful and got pregnant, then it would more than likely be her last vacation for a good few years, but it would be worth it to hold her baby in her arms and feel as though she belonged to someone somewhere in this big world.
Two years ago, on her twenty-eighth birthday, Natasha had faced some pretty harsh facts. It was then that she'd realized how desperately she wanted a child. It was then that she'd realized she couldn't cope with an orthodox relationship. At six years old, she'd lost her parents and any other kind of functioning relationship. Before that, while she'd known there had been love between her mother and father, she'd heard the fights at night after she had been tucked into bed. They could have been perfectly normal arguments, but they'd been glued into her psyche ever since. No, she knew that if she wanted a baby, she'd have to do it her own way and without a man in her life to take control away from her. Ever since she'd lost her parents, control had been her watchword, her guiding light.
It was because of that that she led a restrictive and tightly constrained life. If she planned and detailed everything and anything, there was less chance of something going wrong and every likelihood of everything going right. Having dealt with tragedy at a young age, it was not something she wished to repeat.
This was the first time in two decades that she'd strayed from the beaten path. While Alex was a good employee and a good friend, she knew he considered her an anal retentive pain in his ass. This trip had shocked even him into seeing another side of her that neither had truly known existed.