The Billionaire's Christmas Baby

By: Victoria James

“Do you, uh, want me to hold something for you?” Hannah almost smiled at the horror embedded in the strong lines of his face. He stared at all her bags, holding the car seat awkwardly.

“I’m okay.”

“Follow in my footsteps, and hurry.”

Hannah would have given him a salute had her hands not been full with all the baby gear. She got a tiny jolt of satisfaction by deciding not to tell him that he could have held the carrier by the handle, making it much easier. He glanced behind him a few times, no doubt making sure she hadn’t fallen headfirst into a snowdrift. When they reached the porch he actually held the door open and waited for her to pass through.

Hannah walked into the house and quickly put down the heavy bags while Jackson closed the door against the harsh wind and they both stomped their feet on the sea grass rug, neither of them saying anything. The warm blast of heat comforted her, like she had walked into a friend’s house, except Jackson’s unsettling presence made it painfully clear that this was nothing of the sort.

“What should I do with this?”

“Oh here, I’ll take her,” Hannah said, slowly taking Emily’s car seat and placing it on the ground. She crouched down and removed the blanket as Jackson watched. She never could stop the smile that came naturally whenever she saw Emily. The baby still slept soundly, bundled in her pink fuzzy bunting bag.

She jumped, startled, as a shaggy, excited dog came barreling over to her. Emily didn’t even flinch.

“Charlie, sit.” The dog answered with what appeared to be all of his self control as his tail wagged and thumped against the floor. Hannah laughed when he disobeyed Jackson and accosted her with unabashed licks and jumps when she held out her hand to him.

“Who is this?” She chuckled as she patted his clean but very messy fur.

“Charlie. My very undisciplined dog.” Jackson shrugged out of his coat, the tension in his faced even more pronounced. Charlie wasn’t exactly the type of dog she’d picture him owning. Jackson was more the Rottweiler type. She continued to study him. He was intimidating in that I’m-so-confident-I-don’t-have-to-be-nice sort of way, with tight, pent-up hostility.

His features were rugged. His nose was perfect except for a bump that her years in social work told her had been broken once or twice. She could see how someone might want to punch him. He kept himself in peak physical shape. The broad shoulders were obviously thick with muscle and his wide chest easily outlined in the navy blue Henley shirt he wore. Not really the type of physique she’d expect for a computer guy. He was confident and arrogant, not a man to back down. Not the type of man she pictured with an infant. But Louise had been clear in her instructions and she obviously had faith in Jackson. Hannah had to remember that.

“Okay, Charlie, leave her alone.” Jackson came over to brush Charlie away from her.

“He’s very sweet,” she murmured as Charlie settled down at her feet, still looking at her face as though he wanted to lap it up like an ice cream cone.

Jackson gave a terse nod, looking at the dog and not her. “He’s got a good disposition.”

“Have you had him long?”

“Almost ten years.”

“He seems very friendly.”

“He was a stray, a mutt. He found me and wouldn’t leave me alone.”

Her heart swelled. Wheels were spinning in her head. This was good. Very good. “Really? He was a stray?”

Jackson’s eyes narrowed. Oops. She obviously sounded a little too ecstatic. She gave him a wan smile and took off her soggy mitts. She could tell he didn’t know what to make of her reaction and he didn’t want to expand his story about Charlie. It was still good news. Anyone who had enough compassion to take in an abandoned dog and adopt him couldn’t be entirely evil. Okay, so Jackson was a little standoffish and obviously arrogant, but maybe all hope was not lost. If a shaggy dog could melt his heart, then surely an adorable little baby girl wouldn’t be a problem.

“Let me take your coat.”

“Sure, thanks.” Hannah unbuttoned her coat and placed it in his outstretched hands, carefully avoiding any contact with him. She looked around the room while she pulled off her soaked boots. She was very aware of how cold her feet and legs were, and now that the snow on her jeans had melted, they felt like wallpaper paste had been plastered to her legs.

She looked around while he went to stoke the fire. A high peaked ceiling with wood beams made the room seem large, with a massive field stone fireplace as the focal point. A large, mahogany farmhouse table was in the center of eight chocolate brown leather armchairs, placed in a conversational formation in front of the fire. She had a hard time imagining him entertaining a large group of friends—or even one friend for that matter. But there was plenty of room for a baby. Hannah glanced over at Emily and made her a promise. I’m going to do this, Emily. I’m going to get your uncle to love you and adopt you.

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