“That they suck at everything?”
“Exactly. So, if possible, I would like to keep things between us if we can. I am nothing if not reasonable. I’m confident we can work out a compromise.”
I blinked at him. “You said you wanted him full-time.”
Jinx smiled, running a hand through his dark hair. “Well, yes, that would be my ideal. We don’t have to start there. I want more than the family dates, but we can take it slow. I think that would be best for Billy. Like you said, ease him into it. He doesn’t really know me yet, and you’ve been his primary caregiver. It’s probably a good idea to keep things as regular as we can until we work up to more time.”
“Absolutely,” I said, surprised, and impressed at how reasonable he was being.
I felt kind of bad for suspecting Carl of wanting to take our baby away from me. That really wouldn’t be in character for him and, of course, that wasn’t what he had meant. He wasn’t his dad — or, apparently, the man he had been when he disappeared. I could feel the love growing within me.
It was interesting what you could get used to when you tried. I hadn’t even known I was a dad less than a month before, but I suddenly found myself really getting into the role. I honestly loved both Billy and Lila and wanted to spend as much time with them as I could. Even if it did mean having Lila only as a friend. Though it didn’t feel unfitting in that case. Of course, we loved each other, I had a feeling Lila still felt the same even though she didn’t show it. We had been friends for years too, if anything, it was a default setting. I wanted more but didn’t want to push her and was honestly okay with being just friends and least for the moment while we worked things out.
Making sure Lucky was set up before I left, I put on my nicest polo shirt and cleanest jeans and tamed my dark hair into waves rather than slicked back before I headed out, a home made pie cradled carefully in both hands.
I wasn’t sure how the Sunday afternoon potlucks had gotten started, the inception occurring long before I joined the staff at Sure Thing, but that didn’t mean that they weren’t entertaining. In addition to the big lunch and shit-shooting, there would also be an office-wide ping-pong tournament with both singles and doubles events. The winners at the end of the year got a cut of the prize money we had all put half of our Christmas bonuses into. I never played, having the approximate co-ordination of a three-legged crab, though it was always fun to watch others play, knowing that my money was going to a good cause.
Lila was waiting at the door of the building, Billy held on her front in a snuggly.
“They wouldn’t let me in,” she explained.
“Oh, I’m so sorry,” I said, laying a hand onto her shoulder.
“It’s okay,” she said, clearly upset but not trying to pull away.
“Come with me,” I said, leading the way, security pass at the ready.
I really should have told her. The building was technically closed on Sunday. The firm got an exemption, but you needed a staff pass to get past security.
“Hello again,” Camilla said brightly, as she came out of the boardroom.
“Okay, let’s start here,” I said, stopping at the reception desk.
“Hey?” Lila and Camilla asked in unison.
“Lila, this is Camilla, my dear friend of the last to years. Camilla, this is Lila, my old friend, and baby mamma and our son Billy.”
“You have a son?” Camilla asked, seeming as amused as she was surprised.
“Wow. He’s really cute, man.”
“Why thank you,” Cooper said snarkily as he walked over.
Cammy rolled her eyes. “The baby, bro.”
“Oh,” Cooper said, noticing Lila and Billy. He pointed at me. “Yours?”
“Yes,” Lila and I said in unison.
“Nice,” he said, keeping along his way.
“Is he always like that?” Lila asked.
“Yes,” Camilla and I said in the same instant.
“Who’s this then?” Chris asked, appearing from the boardroom.
“Hi, I’m Lila,” she said, extending a hand.
“Charmed,” he said, taking it.
“And this is our son, Billy,” I added, beaming with pride.
“Well, fancy that,” Chris said, considering the information.
Despite the initial surprise, everyone loved Billy, and Lila seemed to get along well with everyone, which was a relief. Pathetic as it may seem, my colleagues were the closet thing to friends I’d had in quite a while.
We went back to the boardroom, where the meeting table was being used for a buffet. I put the pie down with the desserts and went to get some plates full for Lila and me, also getting some creamy mac and cheese for Billy.
Lila had set Billy down on the floor, letting him explore. What he found was Camilla, who had recently given birth herself. Reaching down, she scooped him up like a pro, making Billy giggle with delight. After playing with him for a bit, Camilla returned Billy to the couch we had staked out, and Lila set about spoon-feeding him the rapidly cooling mac and cheese, which was probably a good thing.