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Have Baby, Need Billionaire

By:Maureen Child

Have Baby, Need Billionaire
Maureen Child

       One




Simon Bradley didn't like surprises.

In his experience, any time a man let himself be taken unawares, disaster happened.

Order. Rules. He was a man of discipline. Which is why it only took one   look at the woman standing in his office to know that she wasn't his   kind of female.

Pretty though, he told himself, his gaze sweeping her up and down in a   brisk, detailed look. She stood about five foot four and looked even   shorter because she was so delicately made. She was tiny, really, with   short blond hair that clung to her head in chunky layers that framed her   face. Big silver hoops dangled from her ears and her wide blue eyes   were fixed on him thoughtfully. Her mouth was curved in what appeared to   be a permanent half smile and a single dimple winked at him from her   right cheek. She wore black jeans, black boots and a bright red sweater   that molded itself to her slight but curvy body.

He ignored the flash of purely male interest as he met her gaze and   stood up behind his desk. "Ms. Barrons, is it? My assistant tells me you   insisted on seeing me about something 'urgent'?"

"Yes, hi. And please, call me Tula," she said, her words tumbling from   her delectable-looking mouth in a rush. She walked toward him, right   hand extended.

His fingers folded over hers and he felt a sudden, intense surge of   heat. Before he could really question it, she shook his hand briskly,   then stepped back. Looking past him at the wide window behind him, she   said, "Wow, that's quite a view. You can see all of San Francisco from   here."

He didn't turn around to share the view. He watched her instead. His   fingers were still buzzing and he rubbed them together to dissipate the   sensation. No, she wasn't his type at all, but damned if he wasn't   enjoying looking at her. "Not all, but a good part of it."

"Why don't you have your desk facing the window?"

"If I did that, I'd have my back to the door, wouldn't I?"

"Right." She nodded then shrugged. "Still, I think it'd be worth it."

Pretty, but disorganized, he thought. He glanced at his wristwatch. "Ms. Barrons-"

"Tula."

"Ms. Barrons," he said deliberately, "if you've come to talk about the   view, I don't really have time for this. I've got a board meeting in   fifteen minutes and-"

"Right. You're a busy man. I get that. And no, I didn't come to talk about the view, I got a little distracted, that's all."

Distractions, he thought wryly, are probably how this woman lives her   life. She was already letting her gaze slide around his office rather   than getting to the point of her visit. He watched her as she took in   the streamlined office furniture, the framed awards from the city and   the professionally done photos of the other Bradley department stores   across the country.

Pride rose up inside him as he, too, took a moment to admire those   photos. Simon had worked hard for the last ten years to rebuild a family   dynasty that his father had brought to the brink of ruin. In one short   decade, Simon had not only regained ground lost, thanks to his  father's  sloppy business sense, he'd taken the Bradley family chain of  upscale  shopping centers further than anyone else ever had.

And he hadn't accomplished all of that by being distracted. Not even by a pretty woman.

"If you don't mind," he said, coming around his desk to escort her personally to the door, "I am rather busy today … ."

She flashed him a full smile and Simon felt his heart take an odd, hard   lurch in his chest. Her eyes lit up and that dimple in her cheek   deepened and she was suddenly the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen.   Shaken, Simon brushed that thought aside and told himself to get a grip.

"Sorry, sorry," Tula said, waving both hands in the air as if to erase   her own tendency to get sidetracked. "I really am here to talk to you   about something very important."

"All right then, what is it that's so urgent you vowed to spend a week   in my waiting area if you weren't allowed to speak to me immediately?"

She opened her mouth, shut it again, then suggested, "Maybe you should sit down."

"Ms. Barrons … "

"Fine," she said with a shake of her head. "Your call. But don't say I didn't warn you."

Pointedly, he glanced at his watch.

"I get it," she told him. "Busy man. You want it and you want it now.   Okay then, here it is. Congratulations, Simon Bradley. You're a father."

He stiffened and any sense of courtesy went out the window along with   his sense of bemused tolerance. "Your five minutes are up, Ms. Barrons."   He took her elbow in a firm grip and steered her toward the door.                       
       
           



       

Her much shorter legs were moving fast, trying to either keep up or slow   him down, he wasn't sure which. Either way, it didn't make a  difference  to him. Beautiful or not, whatever game she was playing, it  wasn't  going to work. Simon was no one's father and he damn well knew  it.

"Hey!" She finally dug the heels of her boots into the lush carpet and   slowed his progress a bit. "Wait a second! Geez, overreact much?"

"I'm not a father," he ground out tightly. "And trust me when I say that if I had ever slept with you, I would remember."

"I didn't say I was the baby's mother."

He didn't listen. Just kept moving toward the door at a relentless pace.

"I would have worked up to that little declaration slower, you know,"   she was babbling. "You're the one who wanted it direct and fast."

"I see. This was for my benefit."

"No, it's for your son's benefit, you boob."

He staggered a little in spite of knowing that she had to be lying. A son? Impossible.

She took advantage of the momentary pause in his forced march toward the   door to break free of his grip and step back just out of reach. He was   unsettled enough to let her go. He didn't know what she was trying to   pull, but at the moment, her eyes looked soft but determined as she met   his gaze.

"I realize this is coming as a complete shock to you. Heck, it would be for anybody."

Simon shook his head and narrowed his eyes on her. Enough of this. He   didn't have a son and he wasn't going to fall for whatever moneygrubbing   scheme she'd come up with in her delusional fantasies. Best to lay  that  on the line right from the start.

"I've never even seen you before, Ms. Barrons, so obviously, we don't   have a child together. Next time you want to convince someone to pay for   a child that doesn't exist, you might want to try it on someone you've   actually slept with."

She blinked up at him in confusion, then a moment later she laughed.   "No, no. I told you, I'm not the baby's mother. I'm the baby's aunt. But   you're definitely his father. Nathan has your eyes and even that   stubborn chin of yours. Which does not bode well, I suppose. But   stubbornness can often be a good quality, don't you think?"

Nathan.

The imaginary baby had a name.

But that didn't make any of this situation real.

"This is insane," he told her. "You're obviously after something, so why not just spill it and get it over with."

She was muttering to herself as she walked back to his desk and Simon   was forced to follow her. "I had a speech all prepared, you know. You   rushed me and everything's confused now."

"I think you're the only thing confused here," Simon told her, moving to   pick up his phone and call security. They could escort her out and  he'd  be done with this and back to work.

"I'm not confused," she said. She read his expression and added, "I'm not crazy, either. Look, give me five minutes, okay?"

He hung up. Wasn't sure why. Maybe it was the gleam in her blue eyes.   Maybe it was that tantalizing dimple that continued to show itself and   disappear again. But if there was the slightest chance that what she was   saying was true, then he owed it to himself to find out.

"All right," he said, checking his watch. "Five minutes."

"Okay." She took a deep breath and said, "Here we go. Do you remember   dating a woman named Sherry Taylor about a year and a half ago?"

A thin thread of apprehension slithered through Simon as he searched his memory. "Yes," he said warily.

"Well … I'm Sherry's cousin, Tula Barrons. Actually, Tallulah, named after   my grandmother, but that's such a hideous name that I go by Tula … ."

He was hardly listening to her now. Instead his mind was focused on   those nebulous memories of a woman in his past. Was it possible?

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