Page 21 of Her Hero

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She couldn’t wait for Caleb to arrive. She ran her fingers through her hair, and then looked back down at Tara. She had scrunched her hands up, with one pressed against her mouth. Tara was only six months old. Poor girl. Annie didn’t have a single photo in the house of her parents. She had found one stashed inside her baby bag, the only thing that had come with her.

“What am I going to do with you?” she asked.

Tara shook her hand and Annie laughed. She was such a sweet baby. A terrible sleeper. A pro diaper filler and an awesome eater.

When her apartment doorbell rang, she breathed out a sigh of relief. She had a feeling people didn’t spend their entire days staring at a baby, no matter how cute it was.

There were still daily chores to do, and she needed help to entertain Tara, to help her understand each cry, and also just be a good parent. She checked the peephole to make sure it was Caleb, and when she saw it was, she breathed a sigh of relief.

Opening the door, she smiled. “Thank you for coming.”

He stepped through the doors, complete with a briefcase and a suitcase.

“I would have been by sooner, but I had to go and grab a few things.”

“I’ll show you to your room.”

Her apartment had two bedrooms, and Tara was sleeping in a crib in Annie’s room. Once Caleb had taught her everything she needed to know, she planned on setting up Tara’s room in the second bedroom. She flicked on the light, and he stepped inside.

“You’ve got a nice place,” he said.

“Thank you. There’s not an en suite, I’m afraid. We’ll have to share a bathroom.”

“That’s fine.”

She went to show him the bathroom, but Tara started to whimper. “Excuse me.” She left him in the bedroom and went toward Tara. Moving the mobile out of the way, she picked the baby up, being sure to support her head, as she walked back toward Caleb.

“Let’s take Caleb on the tour,” Annie said, pressing a kiss to her cheek.

Annie showed him the rest of her apartment and once she had given him the quick tour, they returned to the main sitting room. She eased Tara back onto her play mat, and put the toy back over her.

“Are you okay?” Caleb asked.

“Me, okay? No, not really. I’m just … this is all new, you know. So very new.” She laughed. “I don’t know if her parents did this because they thought it was a good joke, they were just being cruel, or if it was because I was the only one they could think of that they trusted with their baby.”

“There’s a story there,” Caleb said.

She snorted. “Oh, yeah, there is a story, but that doesn’t matter. Tara’s my responsibility. I need to know that I can still work and take care of a baby, or do you just recommend I hire you full time?”

She was only partly joking.

“First of all, I think what you need to do is relax. You’re rather tense. Now, there are several ways of approaching the care of a baby. Some of them not quite popular, others are. It depends on how you want to handle them. We’ll go through them all, and see which one suits you. What do you want out of this?” Caleb asked.

Annie blew out a breath. “I want to know how to take care of her. I want to know I’m not going to mess up. Also, I need to keep on working, you know.”

“Sure, where do you work? What’s your schedule?” Caleb asked, pulling out a notebook.

“I work here,” Annie said. “I’m, er, I’m an author, so I work here. I can keep to my own schedule, but in the past two days, I’ve done nothing. Three, if you count today.”

“You’re an author.”

She nodded. She often tried to avoid these kinds of questions as they never seemed to end well with her. Men didn’t like what she wrote, or they did and wanted her to show them how good she was in bed. It hadn’t been the best experience for her on the dating front, which is why she never led with what she did for a living.

“Do you think you can help me?” Annie asked.

“Of course I can help, but I also believe the reason she was crying is that she needs a diaper change.”

“I don’t smell anything,” Annie said.

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