A Baby for the BillionaireBy: Victoria Davies
Raised them as a modern-day Cinderella, she thought bitterly. Minus the fairy godmother and the handsome prince.
“I have a life,” she said. “A normal, nine-to-five day job.”
“We’ll arrange for a nanny during the day,” he promised. “I can work from home for the immediate future. I rely on my board for the day-to-day operating of the company anyway. You know I’ve always been happier inventing than managing.”
“If you’re going to hire a nanny you don’t need me.”
“I always need you.”
Her breath caught as she looked up at him. The hand on her arm burned through the thin material of her shirt.
“I don’t even know where he came from or how he ended up on my doorstep,” he said, stepping closer till their bodies almost touched. “I need to unravel all of this. Find his mother. Figure out what happened. But you know my world is all numbers. This will be the hardest transition of my life, and I need a partner who will remember to heat up a bottle if I slip.”
“But I’m not your partner,” she whispered.
“Be one for a little while. I can’t do this alone, Clara. We both need you.”
She glanced back at the baby. As much as she loved her friend, she’d never known Walker to be able to keep so much as a cactus alive. He wasn’t joking when he said he’d need help for this task.
“How long?” she asked, refusing to admit she was caving.
“A month, maybe two,” he offered. “By then I should have learned enough to handle this alone.”
“You expect me to reorder my life for an indefinite length of time only to be cast off once my usefulness has ended,” she said. “Flattering.”
“You know it’s not like that,” he chided. “You’re my best friend. I’ll need you for the rest of my life.”
But you won’t. And some day, I won’t need you either.
That was how friendship was supposed to work. Someday she’d meet a real partner who made Walker pale in comparison, and he’d become the new rock in her life. Sure, no one had come close yet, but someday he would and she couldn’t be dependent on Walker when that happened.
Hell, they were already moving in that direction. This baby hadn’t come into existence all on his own. Somewhere out there was a woman forever entwined in Walker’s life. What if she returned? What if she was the person who’d become Walker’s rock? He’d never wanted a permanent relationship, but there was a child involved now. That seemed pretty damned permanent to her.
Raising a hand, she cupped his strong jaw. There was no hiding the worry and exhaustion on his face. His world of order and logic had just been disrupted, and he didn’t know which way was up.
And he’d turned to her.
How do I leave him like this?
She wasn’t the sort of person who ever put her well-being above another’s, especially a child’s. Was she really going to walk away when Walker needed her most? What sort of person would she be to leave a defenseless baby and her oldest friend in a mess when she had the skills to help them?
“Clara,” he said, his voice almost a whisper as he placed a hand over hers. Their fingers entwined as he pressed his cheek into her touch. “Don’t leave me now.”
She closed her eyes, feeling his hand on hers. Staying would be the wrong choice for her. But it would be the right choice for him and the baby. Two to one. If she went into this with her eyes open, she could make sure no lines were crossed that they couldn’t come back from. They could survive this with their friendship intact. She’d make sure of it.
“Three weeks,” she negotiated, extracting her hand and stepping back.
The breath rushed from his lungs in a loud exhale. “Three weeks,” he agreed.
“I’ll teach you everything I know, but then you have to be on your own. This isn’t my baby. I can’t let this change in your life be a change in mine.”
His eyes slid away from hers. “I understand.”
“Okay.” She let out a long sigh. “Then let’s get to work. I need some paper to write out a list of things we’ll need tonight. Your driver will be able to get most of it.”