Book 1 - Single Daddy
"Who's at the fucking door?" I shout out as I leave my bedroom. They'd better have a good excuse for continually ringing the doorbell like that.
"I'm not deaf!" I shout as I start to walk down the stairs. I've a killer hangover from the rodeo last night. I don't even feel like getting up today, especially with the sweet pussy that I had after the rodeo. These cowgirls get a kick out of riding not only the horses but guys too.
I'm getting even more agitated at the idea that they keep ringing the bell. They're not saying anything-just ringing the damn thing.
I walk glumly toward the door as the person gets the hint and stops ringing the bell. Obviously, it's no one from the ranch. They typically just walk in the house and shout my name. It can't be Harper who comes to clean the house every other day. No, it must be someone I don't know. Maybe I should have pretended not to be in just so that they'll go away and stop ringing the damn bell as if their life depends on it.
As I open the door, I see something on the doorstep. I wonder if I woke up drunk because I must be fucking hallucinating.
I spot Carl sloughing by, so I point at it with my eyes half-open. Shit, I can't even focus properly, because the sun's shining hard. I shout out, "Dude!"
I wish I would stop talking like that, but that's what happens when you spend too much time in sunny California.
"Who left this?"
He lifts up his shoulders in a half-shrug, as if it's too much effort for him to do a proper one. Why does he always look as if he's been trekking around America for the last few months? The guy always looks tired. No matter the time of day or how many hours he's slept, the guy looks the same. If he weren't such a good hand on the ranch, I would get rid of him. Not only because of his tired looks but because he's just clueless. He's a hard worker, but everything has to be spelled out for him. Thinking out of the box isn't an option.
"But, you must have seen someone come by and just..."
I can't even get the words out. I keep looking at my feet, and I'm trying to pretend that it isn't there. That this isn't happening to me.
My life's simple here. Get a few cowgirls that want to live on a big ranch, tease them and please them, and then when it's all done, I tell them that I can't commit. I can't. Not now, not ever. I tried a relationship once, but after my ex, Jessica, spat in my face about the idea, I promised myself never again would I ask a girl to move in. She told me that I love playing and never take anything serious. If that was the case, I never would have asked her to move in with me.
"Oh, welcome to the land of the living," Aria sings as she comes closer to the house. I want to go inside and close the door. This never happened. No one left a basket outside my fucking door with a baby in it. The baby's crying. Shit!
"Holy cow, Noah. I thought that she was leaving a basket of fruit or something."
I grab hold of Aria's arm as she comes closer, thinking that maybe if I catch up with the person, I can give it back.
She bends down and sighs, "Isn't he the cutest?"
She's joking. Sure, it's cute or that's what people always say about their babies. I steer well clear of them, which is why someone must have made a mistake when they dropped this one here. But, why would someone just come and drop a baby at my doorstep?
"Are you going to tell me who, or are you going to keep me guessing all day?"
My head's throbbing, and the last thing I need at this time of the morning is to play guessing games with Aria. She's bitchy because she thought that I was coming on to her and that I was into her. No, I was fucking horny. Dad always said don't mix business with pleasure. I did, and now I have to pay the price. She works with the horses, and I should have known better than to try and get it on with one of the staff.
"Some girl. She was holding the basket and pressing the bell like crazy. I thought that she was an idiot like me."
Aria's looking me directly in the eye, trying to figure out if there will be some reaction from me. There's none because I told her once and I'm not doing it again. It was one night. I was horny, wanted to get my leg over, and she thought that I wanted a relationship. I made it clear that I didn't. So, if she's still upset about it, she could leave. There's plenty of ranches around here. This isn't the only one. Besides, she's good at her job, and I pay her more than any ranch would pay her-which is probably why she sticks around.
"Look, there's a note."
I grab it quickly and read it out loud. I don't need her to wind me up even further. There's a baby outside my house. She lifts the basket saying, "You can't leave him here all day."
"Sure, his mom will come back for him. Maybe she left a number on this note." I realize that I'm fucking talking to myself, as Aria's already in the house with someone else's baby. I turn around and she's making those funny sounds, the noises that people tend to make whenever they see a baby. It's as if they've lost their mind.
I know that we met that one night when you were in Vegas eleven months ago.
I can't cope with the baby. His name is Richard, after my granddad. I need you to look after him for a while.
I hope that you become friends.
Please don't try and contact me.
I had nowhere else to go. I need Richard to be safe, and he's your son.
The one-night stand... My hands are trembling and my heart's beating out of control as flashbacks of that night enter my head. Dan, my best friend from high school, was getting married. I was best man, and I booked the whole damn bachelor party-the hotel, car, and flights. I remember having a one-night stand, and I was pretty wasted that weekend.
But, I used a condom. I'm like 99% sure that I used one, just so that I didn't get in trouble. Like I seem to have done now. Besides, Vegas is fucking notorious for one-night stands. I scratch my head as I now realize her name.
That's it. I kept teasing her asking if she's 'as sweet as candy,' and I meant from the waist down. She can't just come here and drop a baby on me. What was she doing during those eleven months? Why didn't she try and get in contact then?
I avoid going to the living room where Aria's still making the noises with the baby. I get my phone from my back pocket and call Dan. Shit, we've got to go back to Vegas. We need to find Candy. I shut the door and start making the call.
"Hey, man, surprised you're up. You were pretty wasted last night."
Fuck the small talk.
Right then, little Richard starts crying again as I pace in the hallway to avoid going directly into the living room.
"That's exactly what I'm calling you about."
He starts laughing. "You're a daddy."
"Look, it's not funny. Some chick just left a note and said that I'm the daddy."
"Shit, I thought they only did that type of shit in movies."
I'll say, but for the first time, this is happening to me in real life. I think that maybe he's right. I was pretty wasted last night, so this could be a bad dream. It must be as I look up and see Aria in front of me trying to soothe Richard. I only have nightmares with her in them.
But, I'm not fucking delusional. There is a baby in front of me. My dreams are vivid, but not so fucking real that I'm walking around with this killer of a hangover. Whatever Aria's doing to Richard, it's not working.
Her phone rings and she starts walking toward me. "You take him. Maybe he wants his daddy."
Again, Dan starts laughing. "Shit, you are a daddy. Don't go anywhere. I'm coming over, and I'm bringing the boys. They'll love to see this."
Any other time, I would join in and have a laugh too, but when it comes at my expense it's not fucking funny. I'm balancing my phone in one hand and Richard in the other. That's when I notice something.
Aria laughs as she comes back into the room. "See, he did want his daddy. Good luck, Noah. I've got to get a job."
Then she leaves. What the fuck is she talking about? She works here on the ranch. What job?
I attempt to put little Richard back into his basket. Every time I do, he starts crying. I still need a DNA test. The fact that Richard's winding me up kind of proves that he's mine, but it's not enough to convince me. I can't do this. Not all day. I've got a hangover to get rid of, horses that I need to tend to. My day's filled with chores, and none of them involve looking after a baby.