A Baby for the BillionaireBy: Victoria Davies
“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.”
“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.
“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—”
“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.
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?