A Baby for the BillionaireBy: Victoria Davies
“I doubt he’ll sleep through the night, but he’s been through a lot, so who knows.”
Again, her eyes didn’t meet his.
“I’m going to claim the guest room for the time being. I took tomorrow off work, which means we can get everything settled and reevaluate what we need to do. All that can wait till the morning. I’m beat.”
She was at the door before he could call her back.
“Clara.” He tried anyway.
She paused, turning back to him. “Yes?”
“I—” The words died on his tongue. How did he explain he knew how badly he’d screwed up in her eyes? Knew she might never forgive him for it?
“Don’t worry about it, Walker,” she said before he could speak. Like a wraith, she slipped from the room.
He stared at the empty doorway, a cold certainty filling him.
He had three weeks to make this right for all of them. And if he couldn’t, it wouldn’t just be his room that felt empty.
It’d be the rest of his life.
“I’m sorry. It sounded like you just said you wouldn’t be in today because Walker Beckett had a baby.”
Clara ran her hand down her face. “Again, yes. That’s the third time you’ve repeated it, Diane.”
“Had a baby.”
“Do the scientific journals know about him yet?”
She sighed. “Obviously, there was a woman involved.”
“And just to clarify, the woman wasn’t you, right?”
“This right here? This is why people say you shouldn’t be friends with your boss.”
“I’m sorry. I’m trying to wrap my head around this. I thought it was a hoax when I got your email.”
“Which is why I’m calling. I won’t be in the office today, as you can see, but I’ll have the Barlow article to you by Friday, I promise.”
“I assume you’ll be taking more time as this plays out? We’ve got a great maternity package, but I’m not sure it applies to being the best friend of the actual parent.”
She snorted. “You should really take that up with HR at the next meeting.”
“I’ll see that it makes it on the schedule.” The humor dropped from Diane’s voice. “But seriously, Clara, what have you gotten yourself into?”
“Was I just supposed to leave?”
Diane sighed long and slow before saying, “Yes. This isn’t your family.”
She flinched, old memories of a different time and place flashed through her mind. One where she stood at a window looking in on a smiling family that would never open their arms to her… “I know,” she said, dragging her mind back to the present. “But Walker may as well be. All we have is each other.”
“I hate to point this out, but if there is a baby in his life that isn’t yours, that belief isn’t so justified anymore.”
“I said I’d help him for three weeks,” she said, ignoring how Diane’s words stabbed through her. “After that, things will go back to normal.”
“Normal,” she said more firmly. “I just have to get us through twenty-one days.”
“And then what? Four weeks from now he’s still going to be a father. That’s not a reality that ever goes away.”
No, it doesn’t. No matter how she spun this, normalcy was in the rearview mirror.
“I can’t think long term right now.”
“Well damn,” her boss said. “Okay, get me that piece this week, and I’ll do what I can to clear your schedule. The paper will survive without you for a while, and we can figure out how to best balance this. Maybe you can work remotely.”
“Thanks, Diane. I appreciate the help.”
“I can’t say there’s any precedence for a situation like this. Let’s just take it a day at a time. I do want to meet soon and get the full scoop, though. Preferably with a glass of wine in my hand.”
“I’m buying,” Clara promised.
“The two best words in the English language. Now I’ve got to run. Let me know if you can be in for Tuesday and we’ll take it from there.”