His lips twitched as he fought a smile. “I am beginning to understand that. Shall we go?”
He grabbed her bags and headed for the door.
“What about your baby?” Josh asked. “You can’t leave him here with me. I’m not going to play Daddy to someone else’s brat.”
Christian dropped the cases, and his eyes narrowed into slits as his blood went cold. “You have a baby? How old?”
She shrugged. “About two, I think.”
“What do you mean, you think? You don’t know how old your own child is?”
Josh chuckled as he dropped onto the sofa, arms folding behind his head and feet going up on the shabby coffee table. “Now I know who you remind me of. The baby. He looks a lot like you.”
“I want to see this child,” Christian said in a tone that would have created icicles if the furnace wasn’t on. The thought of her having a child with his father made him sick to his stomach. “Where is he?”
“Baby!” she yelled. “Where are you?”
A fluffy gray Persian came running and jumped into her arms. The cat purred while rubbing its head against her throat.
Relief flooded Christian... but only for a moment. “Wait!” He shook his head emphatically. “We are not taking that monster to New York with us.”
“I’m not leaving without Baby. Who would take care of him?”
Christian gestured to Josh. “What about your roommate?”
Josh started to protest, but she beat him to it. “He can barely take care of himself. I wouldn’t trust him to feed another living thing.”
The guitar-player nodded in agreement.
“You call that thing Baby?” Christian frowned. “Not very original.”
“And what would you have named him? Probably something obnoxious with five syllables that no one else could pronounce.”
“I wouldn’t name it anything because I don’t like cats.”
Bianca wrapped protective arms around the furry monster and gave him a withering look. “How can anyone not like cats?”
He sighed and rubbed the spot between his eyes. “They are useless creatures. A better question is why do you like them?”
As a boy, he had wanted a dog, had begged for one for what seemed like forever. When he was seven, his grandfather brought him a puppy and ordered him to take care of it. No one was allowed to help him, not his mother, not the nanny, not the housekeeper. He’d loved that dog more than anything.
Then one day he’d come home from school to find it missing. Grandpa Christos called to let him know that he had forgotten to brush the dog and hadn’t put out enough food. Borello had been given to a family that would takepropercare of him. His grandfather had taken the dog away. According to Grandpa Christos, he was too irresponsible to have a pet.
Christian couldn’t look at small animals without remembering that painful lesson. It had also taught him not to love anything unless he knew he could keep it forever. Since life didn’t come with guarantees...
“I found him half-starved in the street,” Bianca said. “And he came straight to me. He’s not your usual stray, wasn’t scared at all. The poor thing must have gotten lost. I tried to find his previous owner in case they were searching for him.” She stroked the cat behind its left ear. “Isn’t that right, Baby?”
A heavy sigh parted Christian’s lips.
“Don’t worry,” she said. “I promise Baby will be on his best behavior. You won’t even know he’s there.”
He looked at his sterling silver watch with impatience. “I don’t have time to debate the merits of cats. Let’s go.”
Smiling, she followed him out the door.
Christian hoped he wasn’t making a big mistake by allowing Bianca to remain in his employ. She was smart enough to do the job, sure, but she came with a lot of baggage and not just the furry one sitting on her lap. His private jet had been in the air for roughly fifteen minutes, and neither of them had spoken a word. Christian watched her from across the aisle through narrowed slits as his heavy eyelids tried to close completely. Unlike commercial airplanes, his jet had two long beige seats that resembled sofas, one on each side, and they faced each other. It was supposed to be conducive to good conversation, but he didn’t feel like talking.