The last thing Whitney Ross needs is to be made temporary guardian of baby Gino. It will only remind her of the precious daughter she lost so tragically....
Then there's another problem--the little orphan's new daddy. Darius Andreas is a hotshot tycoon who is cool, collected, shockingly gorgeous and far from ready to be a father!
Whitney must teach Darius the ways of parenting, but it will take all her courage. And as she takes on the baby project, another daunting task comes to light: dealing with her inconvenient feelings for Darius!
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March 31, 2011
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Excerpt from The Baby Project by Susan Meier
"The Andreas brothers have arrived."
As the secretary's announcement came through the speaker phone, attorney Whitney Ross turned from the window in her father's law office. The gathering January storm clouds above the New York City skyscrapers concerned her, but the Andreas brothers' visit would be every bit as tumultuous.
Gerard Ross pressed a button on his phone. "Tell them I need five minutes."
"You're enjoying this."
"Not enjoying exactly." He grimaced, leaning his round body back in his office chair. He rhythmically tapped the blotter on his cherrywood desk. "How about if we say Stephone used his will to accomplish a few important things?"
Though Whitney had never met Stephone Andreas's sons, the man had been a close friend of her father's. He'd come to dinner at least once a month from the time she was six, and had talked about "his boys" incessantly. So she suspected she knew what was going on. The senior Andreas had always believed his three sons needed a kick in the pants and it seemed he'd finally found a way to give them one.
"You persuaded Stephone to use his will to force them to grow up."
"This is about more than growing up. All three are smart. All three are good businessmen. Any one of them could take over the family holdings. But not one of them has a sense of loyalty or family."
"And this is where the will comes in?"
"Yes. Stephone made his oldest son, Darius, chairman and CEO and left him the Montauk estate. Whether that divides them for good or forces them to unite all depends on whether Darius takes the reins like a true leader."
He rose and headed for the black leather sofa in the comfortable meeting area in the corner of his big law office. After he sat, he patted the spot beside him, indicating that it was where Whitney should sit for their upcoming meeting.
"But before I bring the brothers in, there's something you need to know. Missy had something put in her will for you that Stephone agreed would also go into his."
Whitney took the seat he'd offered. "Missy put something in her will for me?" She wasn't surprised. Missy Harrington had been her roommate from the time they were freshman at university the whole way through law school. With an alcoholic mom and a dad who'd left when Missy was young, Missy had adopted Whitney's family as her own, and they in turn had taken her under their wing. For seven years she'd shared every holiday and most of her vacations with the Rosses. Whitney had hardly seen Missy since she had introduced her friend to Stephone Andreas, but they had still shared a strong bond.
"She didn't exactly leave you something. In accordance with Stephone's and Missy's wills, you and Darius got shared custody of their son."
Whitney's stomach squeezed. "What?"
"Okay. Look. It's been three years since the accident that took Burn and Layla. And though I had never dreamed that Missy and Stephone would die so soon when I let them put this provision in their wills, it's still time you came back to the land of the living." Her dad pulled a small envelope from one of the files in the stack on the coffee table. "She left this note for you."
Whitney wrapped her hand around the envelope, and she paled.
"In the unlikely event of their deaths, Stephone wanted Darius to raise their son, but Missy was adamant about you having joint custody. The Andreas brothers are rich and spoiled. And they don't even know their father had another son. It's anybody's guess how they'll react when they find out. I believe that Missy made you co-guardian to ensure that Gino was also in the hands of someone she knew could take the reins and care for her baby."
"But I don't know Gino! When Missy and Stephone moved to...