CHAPTER THREE

COOPER

I watched Roxie walk down the stairs. Her auburn hair swung down her back. I’d gotten her to agree to go out with me finally but it wasn’t romantic. I needed a nanny for Aviana. I continued up the stairs to Damon’s library. I knocked on the door and walked in before he could respond. He wasn’t in the room but I heard him talking to his fiancée, Harper in their bedroom. I walked over to the open door that led into the bedroom. Harper looked at me and smiled. She was lying in bed, her stomach huge. Damon was sitting in the chair by her bedside.
“Hi,” I said.
“Come on in,” Harper said.
I walked to the end of the bed and asked her how she was feeling. She was nine months pregnant and had been put on bed rest until the baby came.
“I haven’t seen you in a week,” Damon said.
“Well,” I said. “Last week Price came to my house with a little girl. She’s my daughter.”
“Wow, really?” Harper asked.
“Yes.”
“Who’s the mother?” Damon asked.
There was another chair by the door that led into the bedroom. I moved it beside Damon and sat down.
“Rosella. She worked at the club,” I answered.
“I remember that name. What did she look like?”
I gave a description.
“The one you were fooling around with for a few months a couple of years ago? She just up and left with no notice.”
“That’s her. Apparently, she became pregnant and ran home to Chiseldale. She never told me.”
“Where is she now?” Harper asked. “And was she a courtesan?”
“She was a waitress. I don’t only sleep with courtesans, Harper.”
She frowned at me. “You’re so pleasant, Coop. And I don’t believe you.”
I only grinned at her and said, “She passed away two weeks ago. She was sick and wanted Aviana taken care of so she went to Price who took care of everything and brought Aviana to live with me last week. I’ve been busy with that.”
“Wow,” Harper said. “That’s sad. I guess she went to Price because she did not want to have a confrontation with you and have to explain why she didn’t tell you she was pregnant and then kept your daughter from you. I get that.”
“You do?” I said.
“Yeah, I thought about not telling Damon I was pregnant,” she said, glancing at him. “I didn’t know how he’d react and I’m sure she thought the same thing. You hooked up with her at a club. Probably upstairs and never went to her house or took her on dates. I can guess that she did not think you’d want anything to do with her or the baby so she went home.”
I nodded. I could understand that and Harper was probably right with her guess but it still irked me that she didn’t tell me. She made assumptions and kept me away from my child for two years.
“So she’s with you?” Damon said.
“Yes.”
“You’re a father.”
“Look at that, you two have become fathers at the same time,” Harper said. “Now I want both of you to leave because I’m tired.”
“She’s cranky,” I said to Damon.
Harper fixed me with a stare that made me shrink back in my chair.
“I wouldn’t mess with her, Coop. She is not in a great mood,” Damon said, standing up.
“And would you be in a great mood if you had a baby pressing against your bladder making you have to pee every thirty minutes?”
I looked at Damon and gave him a sympathetic smile. “I’m going to wait in your library.”
Damon nodded his head and started helping Harper out of the bed. He already knew she had to use the bathing room from what she’d said. I said bye to Harper and she just waved at me. I turned and walked back to Damon’s library. I closed the door behind me and sat in one of the chairs in front of his desk.
He joined me a few minutes later and took his seat behind the desk.
“She’s uncomfortable,” he said.
“I got that.”
“So what about all this? How do you feel about it all?”
“I wish Rosella had told me about Aviana and I hadn’t missed two years with her. I have her now.”
He nodded. “I’d like to meet her.”
“Of course. Maybe we can come after the baby is born.”
He laughed and agreed. “After would be for the best. Harper would want to be able to join us for dinner.”
“Yeah,” I said. “I’m thinking of hiring Roxie as her nanny.”
“Yeah, I bet you are.”
“She’s out of a job, Dame. Harper told me she’s good with children and I need a nanny for Aviana.”
“Who is she with right now?”
“Ayleen, one of my maids.”
He nodded and told me that Roxie would be a good nanny and that I should keep it professional.
“Like you did?”
“Different situation.”
“I really don’t see the difference.”
“Do what you want, Coop. She’s different than Harper and it probably won’t be easy.”
“I like a challenge so it’s fine,” I said.
He laughed and started telling me about a deal he was working on.
Aviana looked up when I walked into the parlor where she was with Ayleen. She was closer with Ayleen than she was with me. It was taking her some time to get used to me but I was being patient about it.
“I’m going to be going out tonight,” I said to Ayleen.
A look crossed her face before she controlled her emotions. She wasn’t a nanny and when she’d taken this job a year ago, I had no children. I could understand her frustration but I was happy she was helping me.
“Yes, sir.”
“I’m leaving at eight after I put Aviana to bed but I’d like you to sit upstairs in case she needs something until I get home.”
“Of course, sir,” she said.
I dismissed her and sat on the floor with Aviana. She looked up at me and smiled shyly.
“How was your day, sweetheart?”
“Good.”
She was highly intelligent for being only two years old. She understood what I was saying when I asked simple questions. Her mother did a good job with her on that. She still did not understand why her mother was gone and still asked for her at least once a day but sometimes she’d ask as many times as five times. I didn’t know how to tell her that Rosella was never coming back.
“What are you doing?”
“Building,” she said. “See?”
She pointed to the blocks she was stacking on top of another. The blocks had one letter from the alphabet on each of them and were colored. She pushed some towards me and told me I could play too. I laughed and started stacking them as well.

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