Dear Reader,

The great thing about writing Billionaire Baby Dilemma, was the chance to remember bringing my own children home from the hospital. It's such and exciting and unnerving time. Just when you think you've got it all figured out, a new baby will throw you a curveball.

In Billionaire Baby Dilemma, Lucas Demarco is tossed abruptly into the role of daddy. Where mothering comes naturally to Devin Hartley, at first all Lucas can see is a smelly, sticky, squirmy little package of noise. That is, until baby Amelia weaves her way into his heart.

I hope you enjoy Billionaire Baby Dilemma. It was such a pleasure to write!

Happy reading!

Barbara Dunlop



Excerpt from Billionaire Baby Dilemma

Copyright @ 2011 by Barbara Dunlop


Devin was more than pleased with the lawyer Steve had provided for the temporary custody hearing. The man made his points to the judge concisely and eloquently, describing Devin's bond with Amelia, how Devin had been present during her birth, and that Amelia had lived in Devin's house since coming home from the hospital. He provided testimonial letters from friends and neighbors speaking of Devin's parenting skills, the nursery she'd outfitted for Amelia, and her attention to Amelia's health and well-being.

He'd then contrasted Lucas's lack of parenting experience, his plans to hire a nanny instead of being hand-on himself, and the fact that he'd spent almost no time with Amelia since her birth. He acknowledged the security concerns around a child from such a wealthy family, but pointed out there were many options to ensure her safety.

Devin had to admit, she'd never thought about the potential of someone kidnapping Amelia for ransom. Did that even still happen in America? It had been a long time since the Lindbergh case.

She'd thought he'd done a stellar job, thought they were sure to win. But then at the last minute Lucas's lawyer stood up to address the judge.

He acknowledged Devin's bond with Amelia, talked about the portability of Devin's career as a self-help book writer, then suggested what he called a compromise--that both Amelia and Devin take up temporary residence at the Demarco mansion. Amelia could be with Devin, but she'd also have the advantage of the Demarco security.

Devin's gaze flew to Lucas's face. His smug expression told her he'd planned this all along.

He'd known he couldn't beat her in a straight-up fight, and he'd come up with an underhanded way to snatch her victory. By the time permanent guardianship was considered, Lucas would have built a bond with Amelia. And Devin's best advantage would be gone.

She opened her mouth to protest, but she knew there was no way out. Any argument she put forward would make her sound unreasonable. This same judge would eventually decide permanent guardianship, and Devin couldn't afford to yield the moral high ground to Lucas. On the face of it, he was offering a reasonable solution.

In reality, he had out maneuvered her. Amelia would be under his roof, and under his care, and Devin knew he would pull out all the stops to make the Demarco mansion a perfect home for the baby.

"Ms Hartley?" asked the judge, her hand going to the gavel.

Devin's lawyer spoke up. "We can't support that kind disruption to Amelia's life. She's already lost her mother. Ms Hartley's house is the only home she's ever known."

The judge's gaze moved to Devin. "You're a writer? You work from home?"

Devin had no choice but to nod.

"Do you have other children?"

Devin shook her head.

"Do you object to coming to a compromise?"

Devin recognized a trick question when she heard it. Next, the judge would want to know why she objected to better security for Amelia. She shook her head in capitulation.

The judge brought the gavel down. "So ordered. Temporary custody goes to Ms Hartley, provided she and the child reside at the Demarco mansion. Open visitation is awarded to Mr. Demarco. I trust you will arrange for security, sir?"

"Of course, your honor," Lucas nodded.

Devin's lawyer leaned sideways. "Sorry about that."

Devin shook her head. "You couldn't have seen it coming."

"Lucas is a good strategist."

Devin scoffed. "In my neighborhood, we call that conniving."

"That's what we call it in my neighborhood, too." He placed the file folders back in his briefcase. "But it works."

"It works," Devin agreed. And she had no one to blame but herself. She'd underestimated Lucas. She'd make sure that never happened again.

"Devin?" came Lucas's voice as he stepped across the courtroom to her table, his shadow coming over her.

"You're a piece of work," she said as she gathered her purse and pushed back her chair.

"So I've been told."

"You backed me into a corner."

"Yes, I did."

Devin looked up. "You play dirty."

He didn't even bat an eye. "Only when it counts."

"Why do I get the feeling it counts a lot?"

"I play to win."

"This isn't a game, Lucas." A little girl's future was on the line. Amelia wasn't some pawn to be passed around at the whim and convenience of the adults in her life.

He paused for a moment, expression hardening, obviously taking offense at Devin's candor. "That's why it counts." He rapped his knuckles decisively on the tabletop. "How long will it take you to pack?"

She stood to confront him. She'd worn two inch heels, but she wished she had a little more height. He was easily over six feet, neatly timed hair, freshly shaved, an expensive suit, fine silk tie, everything pressed to within an inch of its life. The man positively reeked power.

"You mean in days?" she asked sarcastically, thinking she'd need a couple of weeks.

"I meant in hours."

She did an expression check to see if he was joking. He wasn't.

"When you say jump, do people generally ask how high?"

He tented his fingers on the table and leaned slightly forward. "I try not to say jump unless I have to."

She refused to flinch under his attempt at intimidation. "I need a week."

"No problem."

She blinked in surprise.

"I'll take Amelia with me now, and you can catch up."

"Don't be ridiculous."

Lucas turned to Devin's lawyer, who had been watching the exchange with obvious interest. "Bill? Is there a countdown to the judge's order? Some sort of implementation period?"

Devin looked to Bill. "No countdown," he admitted with an apologetic glance in Devin's direction. "The order takes effect right away."

Lucas turned his attention back to Devin. "How long will it take you to pack?" he repeated.

She couldn't let him win again. Certainly not this early, and definitely not this decisively. She frantically searched her brain for a comeback.

Then it came to her, and her shoulders relaxed with relief. The man was bluffing.

Instead of answering his question, she reached into her purse for her cell phone, flipping it open and pressing the speed dial for Lexi.

Lexi picked up after a single ring "How'd it go?" Her voice was breathless.

"How are you, Lexi?"

There was a confused pause. "Uh, fine. But what the hell happened?"

"It's a bit complicated."

"Why?"

"Can you get Amelia's car seat and diaper bag ready?"

"Sure," said Lexi.

Devin tipped the phone beneath her chin, addressing Lucas. "You do have a backseat in that sports car, right?"

His eyes narrowed.

"Lucas is going to pick her up."

Lexi's voice lowered to a growl. "He didn't. Tell me he did not get custody."

"No." Devin kept her voice even. "It's just a visit." She watched Lucas carefully. She'd seen his reaction to Amelia's crying, the fear and loathing of her messy diaper. No way, no how was the man going to put himself into a position where he was alone with her.

But, instead of capitulating, Lucas gave an almost imperceptible shake of his head. He pressed a number on his phone. "Beauchamp Nanny Service?" He held Devin's gaze while he spoke. "I'm going to need a nanny within the hour."

Devin swore under her breath.

"What was that?" asked Lexi.

"I'll be home in an hour," Devin responded.

"The car seat?"

"I'll tell you about it when I get there." Devin ended the call.

"I'll call you right back," Lucas said into his phone. Then he tucked it into his pocket and looked expectantly at Devin. "So, how long will it take you to pack?"

©Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A.



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Contest!



Barbara Dunlop is hosting a special contest for ASR readers!

To enter her contest, visit her website and find the answer to this question -

What is the color of the entry wall in Devin's cottage?

Then email us at staff@authorsoundrelations.com with your answer by midnight on March 21st, 2011. Be sure to include your full name and mailing address and please mark the subject as 'Billionaire Baby Dilemma'.

Four winners will each receive a full set of Barbara's Montana Millionaires Trilogy!

Good luck!


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