A Baby for the BillionaireBy: Victoria Davies
She followed him through the entrance hall and down into the sunken living room. Her gaze zeroed in on the only thing in the room that mattered.
The tiny squirming bundle of joy sitting in its baby carrier on Walker’s expensive coffee table.
“Hell,” she said, unable to tear her eyes from the child. “This is real.”
Walker looked down at his son, echoing Clara’s sentiments. Everything was still surreal, as if he were watching someone else’s life play out before his eyes.
“This is your baby?” Clara asked, tearing her gaze from the baby as she looked up at him.
“That’s what the note says.”
He picked up the letter from the table and handed it over to her. As she read, he collapsed onto the sofa, praying she’d be able to make more sense of this than he could.
Rubbing the bridge of his nose, he waited for her to catch up to where he was. His gaze drifted back to the baby who couldn’t be more than a few months old cooing on his coffee table. The child didn’t seem at all phased to have been dropped into a stranger’s lap. No, it was just the adults in the room struggling to make sense of the nightmare they’d stepped into.
“He was just dropped off?” she asked, looking up from the letter.
“Left on my doorstep just as he is now. He must have been marched right past the concierge,” Walker confirmed. When he’d gone to answer the door the last thing he’d expected was to find a baby waiting from him. The letter that had been pinned to his blanket offered an explanation that was next to useless.
“‘I’ve tried to look after him,’” Clara read aloud, “‘but this isn’t what I signed up for. You can do more for him than I can. I leave him to you.’”
“It doesn’t even say his name,” Walker said, waving at the baby. “I don’t know what to call him.”
“Walker,” she breathed.
He flinched from the pity he heard in that one word. He’d spent his life building an empire to ensure he’d never hear that tone again and here it was, back on the lips of the one person who mattered most to him.
Pushing to his feet, he paced around the coffee table.
“What are you going to do?”
He looked back at his oldest friend. Who would have thought when they’d met ten years earlier she’d still be beside him now? He remembered the moment he’d first seen her. He’d been dating her friend and one night his girlfriend had insisted on taking her bookworm of a roommate to a party with them. The inexperienced Clara had dumped a Coke on his shirt for his troubles when he’d gone to check up on her. Instead of being a ball of nerves and apologies, she’d snapped into problem-solving mode, determined to fix the mistake. He’d been in awe of her as she’d ordered the drunk frat boys around her to help her find wet rags so they could clean the spill before it stained. And to everyone’s surprise, the boys had snapped to attention and done exactly what she’d wanted.
Her roommate might have called her mousy, but even back then Clara had always been clear on who she was. Though not as outgoing as his girlfriend, there’d been a quiet strength in her that never failed to draw people in. He’d often been jealous of how easily she could make people love her. He might have only made it two years through his degree, but he never counted that time as wasted years. Not when it had brought him Clara.
And now he was about to test their friendship.
“I need help,” he said.
She scoffed. “Yeah, no kidding. Let’s hope there’s a hotline for twenty-four-hour nannies.” She leaned down to inspect the baby. “Heaven help us when this kid gets hungry. Is there anything in this place we can give him?”
“You think I keep baby formula around in case of emergencies?”
She shot him a dirty look. “You had time to order a flunky to pick me up. Surely you could send someone out for groceries.”
Not a bad idea.
“This is why I need you.”
“Because I know the basics of keeping a human alive? Hate to break it to you but I don’t think I’m the first one to figure that out.”
“No.” He strode toward her. “You think of things I don’t. I know how to deal with computers, not people.”