Since Sunday was Father’s Day, I thought it was appropriate to celebrate secret baby romances where the father comes into the picture a little late, a lot clueless, but with all hands on deck ready to make up for lost time.
He followed Olivia through the foyer, summoning a herculean effort to not run past her in his impatience. Turning the corner, she proceeded up a set of stairs so far from the fireplace room the child could have been wailing his head off and they wouldn’t have heard a peep. He’d been right to insist. From this moment on, the baby would be well cared for.
Pictures cluttered the walls, and folded clothes lay stacked on furniture at the top of the stairs. While she stepped around a Lego tower on the carpet, he stumbled over the scattered interlocking pieces. God help her if she’d done the same thing with a baby in her arms. Clearly, he had arrived just in time.
Olivia paused at a half-open bedroom door. “This is Liam,” she whispered. “You can see he’s safe and sleeping peacefully.”
Nice try keeping him from the child, but he didn’t bite. Instead he stepped toward the white crib filling half of the small bedroom. Leaning over the edge, he bumped his head on a plastic rod with a miniature monkey, giraffe, and hippopotamus attached by little strings.
In the bed, camouflaged by the monkey sheets, matching padding along all four sides, and monkey-patterned clothing lay the tiniest human he’d ever seen. Eyes closed and mouth slack open, his head turned toward Caleb, exposing the tiny pulse on his neck.
The innocent, precious child was completely at the mercy of the adults in his life.
Caleb’s chest constricted to the point of physical pain. “I won’t let you down, Liam,” he whispered.
Bending over the crib rail, he placed his hands on either side of the child. How did one lift someone so small and delicate? The baby’s entire head would fit in his palm. In news reports and in public places, people tended to lift children around the torso under the shoulders, but most of those kids raised their arms in cooperation.
“Support his head,” Olivia whispered. He hadn’t heard her approach, but she covered his hands with hers, guiding one under the baby’s head and the other under his spine as she leaned over the crib rail next to him.
On one level, her guidance bordered on intrusive. He didn’t need her instructions to care for his child. On a completely different plane, her innocent, impersonal caress shook him to the core. He understood sexual, and he understood friendship, but neither category fit. With one touch, they’d forged a connection, something he’d never addressed in his doctrine because he didn’t believe such a thing existed.
Her blue eyes widened, and she withdrew. “You have to always support Liam’s head. Otherwise, you could hurt his neck.” Her voice shook as she stepped away from the crib.
The anticipation zinging through his body stilled into disappointment. They didn’t have a connection. How could they when he didn’t know the first thing about her? They’d experienced a mutual moment of attraction—inconvenient and potentially complicated if they were stupid enough to act on it. He couldn’t afford any more stupid mistakes.
Liam sighed and shifted his tiny body. Caleb lifted him, keeping the weight of the head and neck supported by his hand. The baby wiggled and whimpered. By shifting the tiny bundle closer to him, he could create a more comfortable position for both of them, but fear of hurting the child’s delicate body prevented him from adjusting his arms.
The baby squirmed, his milky white skin flushing deep red, and he emitted an ear-piercing howl.
Oh no. He must be in pain. Maybe he wasn’t in physical pain though. Perhaps the trauma of being left alone had finally caught up with him now that he was safe in Caleb’s arms. Caleb could talk to and reason with children, but he didn’t have any experience with someone this small.
“What do I do now?” he asked Olivia.
“You’re the one who insisted on waking him up. You’re on your own.”
Love is his enemy…and her answer.
A nationally televised bombshell revealing a secret son turns marriage therapist Caleb Paden’s life upside down. While others focus on the public relations disaster for his company, he can only think of rescuing his baby and providing the stable home dictated by his marriage theories—one devoid of love and emotions.
Olivia Wells might not be the baby’s biological mother, but she loves him as much as any parent could. Letting him go will break her heart. Letting him go to a man who doesn’t believe in love will tear her apart.
As she helps Caleb bond with his child, Olivia finds herself falling for the man behind the stuffy therapist persona. However, he wants nothing to do with her love and emotions, and those are the only things she has to give. If she can’t convince him love is the answer, not the enemy, she will lose both the baby she loves and her heart.