The Billionaire's Baby SOS
The Larkville Legacy
Successful CEO Matt Patterson isn't called the Ice Man for nothing—he's built up his multibillion-dollar company through cool decision-making and a ruthless reputation. But now he has a new challenge to face—fatherhood!
Finding himself guardian to gorgeous baby Bella, Matt's more comfortable in the boardroom than changing a diaper. Lucky, then, that social worker Claire Kincaid agrees to play temporary mom. Happy families might never have been in Matt's plans, but Claire and little Bella are opening his eyes to a life that money could never buy…
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Still quiet, Matt followed Claire down the hall. She held Bella on one arm as she marched to her door, fishing her keys out of her coat pocket. Before he reached her, she had the door open and was inside.
The exposed brick walls and hardwood floors continued throughout her open-floor-plan apartment. Her kitchen was new, dark cabinets with slim silver handles, stainless steel appliances. The chic dining area, including a table and trim buffet, flowed into her living room space which had red sofas facing each other and an overstuffed red print chair with matching ottoman.
She spun to face him. “Wow?”
“Your apartment.” He glanced around. “It’s so modern.” He looked around some more. “I really like it.”
Nerves prickled her skin. Her breath whooshed out. She hadn’t wanted his opinion to matter, but it had and that bothered her. He might be a nice guy with Bella, but he was also blunt and self-important. Guessing he was only trying to make nice after being rude to her, she grudgingly said, “Thanks.”
“I had a similar condo for a while.” He smiled as if remembering. “Right after I got my first job. Thought I’d hit the big time because I started off earning six figures.”
She gaped at him. “How does somebody ‘start off’ earning six figures?”
He strolled around the room. “I went to my interview with two five-year plans. One was for the company interviewing me. The other for their competitor.”
She frowned. “So?”
“So, it never hurts to understand what the other guy is thinking.” He chuckled. “They said I showed initiative.”
“It sounds like initiative but I wouldn’t know. I’ve never been a business person, never even thought about wanting to be one.”
He strolled over. “You’re more of the sensitive type.” He took a step that brought them so close she could almost feel the heat from his body. “But we’ve already discussed this.”
“Yes…” She hated the tremble in her voice. He was just so damned good looking. “We have.”
“But we’re really not even, you know.”
“About what we know about each other. You have a nice condo. You like working with kids. And that’s all I know about you.”
“I don’t exactly know a lot about you.”
He chuckled. “You’ve been through my house.” He caught her gaze. “In my bedroom. You know I was divorced but my ex-wife and I stayed close enough that she gave me custody of her child. You’ve seen my car collection, met my driver. Know that I give my employees long vacations when I travel for business. You know more about my personal life than most women I date.”
Her skin flushed. A pulse started low in her belly. So did an unwanted sense of anticipation. It meant something that he was telling her things, or letting her see things about his life through his home. And right now, they stood so close he could kiss her – or she could kiss him, if she wanted.
She swallowed. Suddenly grateful for the protection of the baby on her arm, she said, “Why do you want to know about me?”
“I think you know.”
“Because I know so much about you?”
“Because there’s something between us.” He took another step, forcing her to shift Bella to the left or let the poor baby get squished.
“I don’t like unusual things. I don’t like unexpected or unpredictable things.”
Her breath lodged in her throat. They absolutely could not get any closer.
“So you don’t like that you feel something for me?”
“No. I do not.”
He chuckled again. “You should thank me. You shouldn’t want me to be interested. I don’t date. I take lovers. I hurt women foolish enough to feel anything for me.”
She took a step back, putting plenty of space between them, believing the air had been cleared and they were moving on. “Thanks for the warning.” She handed the baby to him, but stopped short of giving her over. “You know, we’ve been carrying Bella around all day. It might be a good idea to let her roam a bit.” She stooped and put the baby on the white shag carpet between the two red sofas. “How’s this, sweetie?”
Patting the thick carpet, Bella gurgled up at her.
“Are you sure she’ll be okay down there?”
“I’ve had her on this carpet plenty of times.” She rose. “But you’re going to make sure she’s okay while I’m gone.”
“Yes. I’ll be five minutes, tops, while I gather a few things. You just have to make sure she doesn’t go too far or bump her head or anything like that.”
He glanced around. “Okay.” He caught her gaze again. “But we’re not done talking about this attraction.”
“I think we are. You’ve warned me off enough that I’m not even worried about it.”
She snorted a laugh. “What? You think you’re so irresistible that …”
He caught her by the waist and hauled her to him. Before she could take her next breath, his lips were on hers. Soft yet demanding, they moved over her mouth until she found herself opening her lips beneath his. He took advantage. His tongue plunged into her mouth.
Desire ripped through her, as her body became boneless. Her arms snaked around his neck. He tightened his grip on her waist and the kiss went on…
Sending sensations careening through her body, making her long for more.
Until Bella screeched.
Claire bounced away like a teenager caught kissing on the front porch by her parents.
Matt sucked in a breath. “Sorry.”
With arousal pulsing through her, his apology didn’t make sense. She blinked at him. “Sorry?”
“The kiss wasn’t supposed to go that far. It was to prove a point.” He rubbed his hand across the back of his neck. “I was hoping that …” He winced. “I thought if I kissed you we’d see the attraction was ordinary, and we’d…”
His words acted like water on a campfire. “You hoped I was a really crappy kisser?”
He winced. “Something like that.”
She gurgled a sound of disgust. This guy couldn’t be any more infuriating if he tried. How could she be so attracted to him? “I’m going to get my things.”
She turned to walk away but he caught her arm.
“I am sorry. But everything’s getting confused. I’m trying to tell you that I’m not a family man, not the settling down kind. Being with Bella is making me look like I might be…or maybe I should be. But I’m not.”