Have Baby, Need Billionaire

By: Maureen Child
One




Simon Bradley didn’t like surprises.

In his experience, any time a man let himself be taken unawares, disaster happened.

Order. Rules. He was a man of discipline. Which is why it only took one look at the woman standing in his office to know that she wasn’t his kind of female.

Pretty though, he told himself, his gaze sweeping her up and down in a brisk, detailed look. She stood about five foot four and looked even shorter because she was so delicately made. She was tiny, really, with short blond hair that clung to her head in chunky layers that framed her face. Big silver hoops dangled from her ears and her wide blue eyes were fixed on him thoughtfully. Her mouth was curved in what appeared to be a permanent half smile and a single dimple winked at him from her right cheek. She wore black jeans, black boots and a bright red sweater that molded itself to her slight but curvy body.

He ignored the flash of purely male interest as he met her gaze and stood up behind his desk. “Ms. Barrons, is it? My assistant tells me you insisted on seeing me about something ‘urgent’?”

“Yes, hi. And please, call me Tula,” she said, her words tumbling from her delectable-looking mouth in a rush. She walked toward him, right hand extended.

His fingers folded over hers and he felt a sudden, intense surge of heat. Before he could really question it, she shook his hand briskly, then stepped back. Looking past him at the wide window behind him, she said, “Wow, that’s quite a view. You can see all of San Francisco from here.”

He didn’t turn around to share the view. He watched her instead. His fingers were still buzzing and he rubbed them together to dissipate the sensation. No, she wasn’t his type at all, but damned if he wasn’t enjoying looking at her. “Not all, but a good part of it.”

“Why don’t you have your desk facing the window?”

“If I did that, I’d have my back to the door, wouldn’t I?”

“Right.” She nodded then shrugged. “Still, I think it’d be worth it.”

Pretty, but disorganized, he thought. He glanced at his wristwatch. “Ms. Barrons—”

“Tula.”

“Ms. Barrons,” he said deliberately, “if you’ve come to talk about the view, I don’t really have time for this. I’ve got a board meeting in fifteen minutes and—”

“Right. You’re a busy man. I get that. And no, I didn’t come to talk about the view, I got a little distracted, that’s all.”

Distractions, he thought wryly, are probably how this woman lives her life. She was already letting her gaze slide around his office rather than getting to the point of her visit. He watched her as she took in the streamlined office furniture, the framed awards from the city and the professionally done photos of the other Bradley department stores across the country.

Pride rose up inside him as he, too, took a moment to admire those photos. Simon had worked hard for the last ten years to rebuild a family dynasty that his father had brought to the brink of ruin. In one short decade, Simon had not only regained ground lost, thanks to his father’s sloppy business sense, he’d taken the Bradley family chain of upscale shopping centers further than anyone else ever had.

And he hadn’t accomplished all of that by being distracted. Not even by a pretty woman.

“If you don’t mind,” he said, coming around his desk to escort her personally to the door, “I am rather busy today….”

She flashed him a full smile and Simon felt his heart take an odd, hard lurch in his chest. Her eyes lit up and that dimple in her cheek deepened and she was suddenly the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen. Shaken, Simon brushed that thought aside and told himself to get a grip.

“Sorry, sorry,” Tula said, waving both hands in the air as if to erase her own tendency to get sidetracked. “I really am here to talk to you about something very important.”

“All right then, what is it that’s so urgent you vowed to spend a week in my waiting area if you weren’t allowed to speak to me immediately?”

She opened her mouth, shut it again, then suggested, “Maybe you should sit down.”

“Ms. Barrons…”

“Fine,” she said with a shake of her head. “Your call. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

Pointedly, he glanced at his watch.

“I get it,” she told him. “Busy man. You want it and you want it now. Okay then, here it is. Congratulations, Simon Bradley. You’re a father.”

He stiffened and any sense of courtesy went out the window along with his sense of bemused tolerance. “Your five minutes are up, Ms. Barrons.” He took her elbow in a firm grip and steered her toward the door.

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