The Nanny Proposition

By: Rachel Bailey

One

Liam Hawke held the cell phone tightly against his ear, but it didn’t help. The person on the other end of the phone wasn’t making any sense.

“Mr. Hawke? Are you there?”

“Hang on a moment,” he said and pulled his Jeep to the side of the road. At his brother’s enquiring stare, Liam said in an undertone, “Listen,” and hit the speaker button on his cell. “Can you repeat that, please?”

“I’m a midwife at the Sacred Heart Hospital and I just informed you that you’ve become a father. Congratulations.” Liam frowned, Dylan’s eyes widened and the woman continued. “Your daughter, Bonnie, is two days old and still here with her mother. Unfortunately, her mother has had some complications following the birth and has asked me to contact you. It would be best if you came right away.”

A baby? Dylan mouthed as Liam loosened his tie and undid the top button on his shirt, which had suddenly become too tight. There had to be a mistake. Babies didn’t magically appear. Usually there was nine months’ notice, for one thing.

The L.A. sun shone down on them through the sunroof as Liam swallowed and tried to get his voice to work. “Are you sure you have the right person?”

“You’re Liam John Hawke?” she asked.

“I am.”

“You were in a relationship with Rebecca Clancy?”

“Yes” —if you could call their arrangement a relationship— “but she wasn’t pregnant when we broke up.” Which had been a good while ago. He struggled to remember when he’d last seen her but couldn’t bring a time or place to mind.

How long had it been? It could have been eight months ago.... An uncomfortable heat crawled across his skin. Then another piece of information registered. “You said Rebecca had some complications. Is she all right?”

The midwife drew in a measured breath. “I think it would be better if we spoke in person.”

“I’ll be there as soon as I can,” he said and disconnected. He pulled the Jeep back out into the flow of traffic and made a U-turn.

Dylan pulled out his cell. “I’ll cancel the meeting.”

When Dylan ended the call, Liam threw him a tight smile. “Thanks.”

“You had no idea?” Dylan asked.

“I still have no idea.” He ran a hand through his hair, then brought it back to grip the wheel. “Sure, I was dating Rebecca back then, but that doesn’t prove I’m the father of her baby.” He’d heard she’d been dating again soon after their breakup. First order of business would be a paternity test.

After a frustrating delay in L.A. traffic, they arrived at the hospital. They made their way to the neonatal unit, where they were greeted by a woman in a pale blue uniform. She led them through to the nursery. “Ms. Clancy took a turn for the worse after I called you, and she’s been taken back to surgery. Her parents went up with her, so they’ve left Bonnie with us here in the nursery.” She leaned over and picked up a bundle of soft pink blanket with a tiny face peeping out.

“Hello, sweetheart,” she cooed. “Your daddy’s here to meet you.”

Before Liam could head the nurse off with an explanation about needing a paternity test, she’d placed the baby in his arms. Large eyes fringed by long dark lashes blinked open and looked up at him. Her tiny pale pink face seemed so fragile, yet somehow more real than anything else in the room.

“I’ll leave you two to get to know each other for a few minutes,” the midwife said. “There’s a comfy chair over there in the corner.”

Dylan cleared his throat. “I’ll just...ah...pop out and get us a couple of coffees.”

But Liam was only vaguely paying attention to them. Bonnie was all he could see. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d held a baby and he wasn’t one-hundred-percent sure he was doing it right, but he held her closer and breathed in her clean, sweet smell. He could feel the warmth of her body through the blanket, and a ghost of a smile crept across his face.

All three Hawke brothers had their mother’s unusual hair color of darkest brown shot through with deep red—and Bonnie already had a thick crop of hair exactly that shade. He’d still demand a paternity test, no question, and he’d need to have a full and frank discussion with Rebecca, but he was sure of one thing: Bonnie was his.

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