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A Baby for the Boss(61)

By:Maureen Child


“She never wanted to have children of her own.” Diane’s voice shook. “And I know she wouldn’t have been able to raise one by herself.”

“What happens if I refuse?”

“I’ll turn her over to child services.”

“But you’re the child’s grandmother. Couldn’t you just take care of her until we can get a DNA test performed and...”

“Because of health issues, I’m not in a position to take care of her. You’re Maggie’s father,” Diane insisted. “She belongs with you.”

She belonged with her father. Unfortunately, with Kyle on active duty, could he care for a baby? Did he even want to? Liam had no idea—it had been two years since he’d last spoken with Kyle. But if the child was a Wade—and Liam wasn’t going to turn the child out until he knew one way or another—that meant she belonged here.

“How do I get in contact with you?” Liam asked. Surely the woman would want some news of her grandchild?

“I gave my contact info to your housekeeper.” The older woman looked both shaken and determined. “Take good care of Maggie. She’s all I have left.” And with more haste than grace, Diane pulled her car door shut and started the engine.

As the gray car backed down the driveway, Liam considered the decision his own mother had made, leaving him and Kyle with her father to raise while she went off to the life she wanted in Dallas. He’d never really felt a hole in his life at her absence. Their grandfather had been an ideal blend of tough and affectionate. No reason to think that Maggie wouldn’t do just as well without her mother.

He returned to the house. Candace was in the kitchen warming a bottle of formula. The baby continued to showcase an impressive set of lungs. His housekeeper shot him a concerned glance.

“You let her go?” Candace rocked the baby.

“What was I supposed to do?”

“Convince her to take the baby with her?” She didn’t sound all that certain. “You and I both know she isn’t yours.”

“You sound pretty sure about that.”

Liam gave her a crooked smile. Candace had started working for him seven years ago when the former housekeeper retired. Diane Garner wasn’t the first woman to show up unexpected and uninvited on his doorstep, although she was the first one to arrive with a baby.

“You’ve been different this last year.” Candace eyed him. “More settled.”

She’d never asked what had prompted his overnight transformation from carefree playboy to responsible businessman. Maybe she figured with his thirtieth birthday he’d decided to leave his freewheeling days behind him. That was part of the truth, but not all.

“I’ve been living like a monk.”

She grinned. “That, too.”

“What am I supposed to do with a baby?” He eyed the red-faced infant with her wispy blond hair and unfocused blue eyes. “Why won’t she stop crying?”

“She’s not wet so I’m assuming she’s hungry.” Or maybe she just wants her mother. Candace didn’t say the words, but the thought was written all over her face. “Can you hold her while I get her bottle ready?”

“I’d rather not.”

“She won’t break.”

The child looked impossibly small in Candace’s arms. Liam shook his head. “Tell me what to do to get a bottle ready.”

The noise in the kitchen abated while the baby sucked greedily at her bottle. Liam made the most of this respite and contacted a local company that specialized in placing nannies. Since it wasn’t quite seven in the morning, he was forced to leave a message and could only hope that he’d impressed the owners with the urgency of his need. That done, he set about creating a list of things that baby Maggie would need.

Hadley Stratton took her foot off the accelerator and let her SUV coast down the last thirty feet of driveway. An enormous Victorian mansion loomed before her, white siding and navy trim giving it the look of a graceful dowager in the rugged West Texas landscape.

The drive from her apartment in Royal had taken her fifteen minutes. Although a much shorter commute than her last job in Pine Valley, Hadley had reservations about taking the nanny position. Liam Wade had a playboy reputation, which made this the exact sort of situation she avoided. If he hadn’t offered a salary at the top of her range and promised a sizable bonus if she started immediately, she would have refused when the agency called. But with student loans hanging over her head and the completion of her master’s degree six short months away, Hadley knew she’d be a fool to turn down the money.