Expecting the Boss's Baby

By: Leanne Banks

Prologue





A ccording to the headmaster’s speech at the alumni event earlier that evening, they were the Granger Home for Boys’ biggest success stories, multi-millionaires, supposedly role models. The role-model comment still got under Michael Hawkins’s skin. They were Dylan Barrow, Justin Langdon and himself, Michael Hawkins. Uneasily connected by their prosperity, the three men somberly toasted each other’s success at O’Malley’s bar.

“Congratulations, Dylan,” Justin, a stock-market wizard, said, lifting his beer. “I bet you were surprised to find out your father was the Archibald Remington, CEO of one of the biggest pharmaceutical firms in the world.”

Dylan nodded, his dark eyes glinting with cynicism. Of the three of them, Michael thought Dylan pulled off the wealthy-man image with the most ease. If one didn’t look too closely, Dylan gave the appearance of sophisticated wealthy satisfaction. Dylan hid his rough edges fairly well, but Michael could see them just beneath the surface. Easy for Michael to see. He possessed those same rough edges.

“My father was a very wealthy, highly successful coward,” Dylan said, downing his glass of Scotch. “He didn’t claim paternity of me until he died. He left me a lot of money, a seat on the board of a company that doesn’t want me and siblings that are horrified by the scandal I represent. Everything has its price.”

Michael couldn’t blame Dylan for his attitude. He couldn’t recall one boy he’d known at the Granger Home for Boys who hadn’t longed for a father. It was one more bitter thread that united the three of them. None had had fathers. He threw off the depressing thought. “How did you celebrate when you made it?” he asked Justin, knowing the man had started out trading penny stocks and advanced to dollars. Nowadays, he only traded in blocks of a thousand or more.

Justin gave him a blank look. “I’m not sure I celebrated. For years, I lived on a shoestring so I could trade stocks and I didn’t live in the best area of town. When I first hit seven figures, I didn’t do anything. When I hit the second million, I moved to a neighborhood where the windows don’t wear bars. What about you? How did you celebrate when your Internet company went public?”

According to the press and the headmaster’s speech, Michael was a computer genius who’d founded an Internet business. When his business went public, he’d become, well, rich. According to the press, this seemed to have occurred overnight, but Michael knew years of his life had passed in non-stop work mode.

“I slept for eight hours straight, first time in three years.”

Dylan shook his head and spun his shot glass around. “I thought having money would take care of everything.”

“It takes care of a lot,” Justin said.

“But there’s gotta be more than this,” Dylan said. “Didn’t you feel like a fraud when that headmaster went on and on about what great examples of success we are?”

Michael felt the same emptiness and dissatisfaction Dylan expressed echo inside him. Money had bought him publicity he didn’t want, IRS bills and the sense that he would never find what he’d been looking for. Whatever the hell that was. “For all the good it’s doing, we might as well dump it all.”

Justin choked on his beer. “That’s rash.”

Dylan tilted his head thoughtfully. “It’s not a bad idea. Vegas or Atlantic City?”

Justin looked at Michael and Dylan. “What have you two been drinking?”

“Michael’s got a point. There gets to be a time when adding zeroes isn’t fun anymore. The most fun things that I’ve bought so far are a house and car for my mother. None of us is married or has much family.”

“Marriage is the giant vacuum cleaner of finances,” Justin said ominously.

Michael felt the same avoidance to the big M for different reasons. He’d earned the nickname Tin Man honestly. Although he didn’t place his trust in anything emotional, he felt the insistent nudge of an outrageous idea. “Instead of Vegas, we could be the benefactors we always wished we’d had when we were scraping by.”

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