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A Baby for the Billionaire

By:Victoria Davies

A Baby for the Billionaire
Victoria Davies

 Chapter One


"I need you."

Clara rolled her eyes, not even bothering to glance up from the magazine she was reading.

"I told you," she said into the cell phone. "I need some me time this  weekend. Work has been ridiculous. Not that you would know the feeling."

"I'm serious."

"So am I. Be a good billionaire and entertain yourself for a few days. We can grab drinks next week when things calm down."

She flipped a glossy page, wondering what Walker was on about now. It's  not as if these calls were infrequent. No matter what divergent paths  their lives had taken since their college days, Clara could always count  on a call or two a week. Usually her bestie just wanted to chat about  whatever new piece of code had sprouted in his brain. Not that her  journalism degree had prepared her for trying to understand complex  computer engineering but she did her best.

"Whatever bit of software you're developing, I'm sure it will earn you another billion."

"This isn't about business," he said. "I need your help."

She put down the magazine. "Help consuming the leftovers from some fabulous party? If champagne is involved I'm there."

"No, this is more of a real problem."

The plaintive cry of a baby rang from the speaker.

"What the hell was that?" she demanded, pushing to her feet.

"The problem."

"Please tell me you've got the TV on."

"I'm afraid that was the sound of a 100 percent, bona fide tiny human."

"You've got to be kidding me. I'm surprised you let a kid through your front door instead of demanding it wait in the lobby."

Walker groaned. "I'm not a monster, Clara."

"I'm just saying … "

"I'm well aware I'm not the most comfortable person around children. Why do you think I'm calling you?"

Walking around the sofa, she headed for the kitchenette built into her  one-bedroom apartment. "What do you want me to do about it?" she asked,  pulling open the fridge. "Just ask the parents to take it to another  room until the crying stops."

He sighed into the phone. She could picture him now, pinching the bridge of his nose while he counted to ten in his head.

Grabbing a bottle of cider, she kicked the fridge closed. "Look, my  Sunday night plans consist of watching a bad movie and eating popcorn.  It might not be a helicopter tour of the city, but I've been looking  forward to it. Let's hang out next week."

"You're not getting the urgency here. I need you to come over right now. I've already sent a car to get you."

She set the bottle on the counter. "That's high-handed even for you."

"I can't make this baby stop crying."

"I told you. Just ask the parents to-"

"I can't."

"Why not?"

"Because I'm the parent."

Ice raced through her veins. "What did you just say?"

More cries poured from the phone. "Please, Clara. I'm in over my head here."

"You have a-"

"Baby. It's news to me too." Another cry sounded. "Dammit. Get here fast."

The line went dead.

Clara stood in the middle of her kitchen, frozen. Walker Beckett had a  baby. The man she'd seen switch tables in a restaurant just to get as  far away from a potentially disruptive child as possible had one of his  own.

With who?

He hadn't done this all by himself. Which one of the women rotating through his life had managed to leave such a permanent mark?

For the past ten years, she'd been the most important woman in his life.  Not in a romantic way, of course, but she was as close as he'd been to a  stable relationship. Ever since their friendship had formed in college  they'd been inseparable. The odd couple. The pair of unlikely  companions. The billionaire and the pauper. She'd told him every secret  she'd ever had. A habit she'd thought had been a two-way road.

How did I not know this?

She pressed a hand to her chest, massaging away the invisible ache. They were supposed to be closer than this. Weren't they?

Taking a deep breath, she rolled back her shoulders. She'd been guilty  of many things in her life but leaving a friend hanging wasn't one of  them.

Glancing at her watch, she ran back into the living room and grabbed the  purse she'd tossed onto an armchair. Catching a glimpse of herself in  the mirror hanging above her mantel, she groaned. Yoga pants that had  never seen a day of yoga. A tank top that boasted a ripped hem, and a  cardigan she'd chosen for comfort rather than style. Throw in the curly  brown hair gathered in a messy bun plus the freshly washed face without a  speck of makeup and this was pretty much as far from the way she wanted  Walker to see her as possible. But when the doorbell rang there wasn't  much she could do about it. Her friend was in trouble. That took  priority over vanity.         

     



 

Grabbing her coat, she opened the door to the waiting chauffeur.

"Mr. Beckett is expecting you," the driver said, giving her a once-over.

"I know," she replied. "Let's go."

Pulling the door closed behind her, she followed the driver into the elevator.

"Did he give you any sort of message or information for me?" she asked as the floors descended.

"Afraid not, ma'am," her companion replied. "But we'll be there shortly."

She knew that. It wasn't the first time Walker had sent a car around for her.

Pulling her jacket around her to keep away the spring chill, she climbed into the back of the car.

As the world flashed by outside her window, Clara couldn't keep her mind from returning to one burning question in her mind.

Who's the mother?

Not that it really mattered who it was. That woman would be stepping  into Clara's role now. She'd be the one Walker called in emergencies.  The one he ordered takeout for while they binge-watched their favorite  shows.

They'd start talking less. The time between hang outs would stretch  longer and longer. Then they'd only get together at Christmas and make  promises to make more effort to stay in touch. Eventually their  friendship would fade to a fond memory. They'd move on with their lives.  Without each other.

Clara shook her head to banish the sobering thought. Any dreams of the  two of them ending up together had died in college, but she'd enjoyed  the quasi-girlfriend role she'd played in his life. It'd been nice, in  the absence of a real partner, to have someone she could turn to no  matter what.

But everything would change now.

The car slowed to a stop outside the skyscraper she'd come to know well.  Saying goodbye to the driver, she strode into the elegant lobby. The  concierge waved her toward the elevators, recognizing her immediately  after all this time. Within seconds she was standing outside the  penthouse on the top floor of the building.

Courage. Whatever lay beyond that door, she could deal with it. Even if  it meant her life was about to change in an irrevocable way, just as  Walker's was.

Lifting her chin, she knocked on the gleaming wood.

The door jerked open.

"Hi, Walker," she said.

"Clara."

His velvety voice rolled over her, sending a shiver down her spine.  Walker looked as good as he always did, even under less than ideal  circumstances. His black hair was tousled in all the right ways, hanging  around his chiseled face. She'd always thought he looked more like a  movie star than a technological visionary. With his piercing blue eyes  and the hint of stubble along his strong jaw, he could have held his own  on any film poster. To add insult to injury, he'd never even lost his  athletic build from college, despite the long hours staring at a  computer screen. And unlike her, his impressive body was covered in  clothes with designer tags. Even alone on a weekend evening he looked  impeccable, whereas she wrapped her coat more firmly around her curvy  body.

"Come in," he said, holding the door open for her.

She stepped over the threshold into the luxury that was his life. Her  little apartment didn't hold a candle to the sweeping penthouse with all  the top-of-the-line toys. Just one more reminder that even though they  began their adult lives together, they were now from completely  different worlds.

"I think you need to start from the beginning," she said.

He nodded, running his fingers through his hair. "That's fair. Come this way."

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."

"Note?"

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.

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