Billionaire's Purchased Baby(2)

By: Sophia Lynn


For a moment, there was nothing, but then there was an almighty whoosh of air, and he felt as if some great hand had grabbed him and yanked him back from what was meant to be certain death. Later on, he would find a line of bruising all the way around his broad chest where the harness had dug into him, but for now, all he could feel was his body floating over the earth, his parachute full and safely deployed above him as he started the glide down to the ground.

On his other jumps, this was the moment where Tucker felt exalted. He would look out over the curve of the world below him, the trees, the roads, the buildings, and he would feel as if it all belonged to him, as if he were an integral part of it.

This time, however, Tucker didn't feel any of that. Instead, he felt vulnerable in a way he never had before. He was part of the world, and just like he worked his will on it, it worked its will on him. No matter how wealthy or powerful he was, he was just as prone to the laws of physics and nature as everyone else. The parachute hadn't cared that he was one of the wealthiest men in the world. It did not care that he had deals poised to save small towns where manufacturing had dried up or that he was bringing all of his business dealings back from overseas to provide more jobs.

As he came towards the ground, Tucker saw the beauty and the scope of the world, and unexpectedly, he could feel his time running out. He was going to be thirty-eight this year. He likely had decades left, but then again, as today had proven... perhaps not.

There was an urge deep in his chest that he had never experienced before. He had always laughed at his colleagues who got googly-eyed over their babies, and as he had watched, those babies had grown up into fine men and women, ready to take over.

Tucker had never seriously thought about what that might mean for him before, but now he did.

He struck the landing purposefully, hitting it standing up and with his knees bent to absorb the force from above. As soon as he was able, he fought his way clear of the parachute and hailed the jump instructor who had followed him down.

"You were slow on your deployment," the man said, and Tucker grinned. The adrenaline was slowly leeching out of his system, and what it left behind, unexpectedly, was resolve.

"Check over your equipment," he said, and he wasn't as sharp as he could have been. "The chute didn't respond to the first tug. And get me my car, I have to get back to the city."

He left the man stammering in his wake, but his mind was already on other things.

He wanted a child, a son to carry on his name and his work. That might be difficult for a man who couldn't seem to stand women for more than a month at a time, but Tucker Keene had always been a problem solver.

He always got what he wanted.

***

Luna ran the polishing cloth once more over the golden ring and then held it out at a distance. The rich yellow gold glinted in the task lighting above her jewelry bench, and she sighed, a soft little puff of air.

Reverently, she took one last look at the ring, a perfect wedding ring hand-inscribed with a scrolling pattern of ivy around in the interior. Finally, though, she had to tuck it into the velvet box and put it away before standing up. Her back creaked when she straightened, and she noticed with a flinch that it was already almost six in the morning.

Well, at least that means that I'll be able to get some coffee by the time I get to the cafe.

The money that would come in when she finished the ring would be welcome, but she had already long-since spent the advance. There was a part of her that could not be quiet about how proud she was about the ring, but there was another part of her that was doing the bitter math and coming to some dark conclusions. Even as she set aside her most challenging project yet and pulled on her sneakers, her thoughts wouldn't leave her alone.

The ring was a good chunk of cash, one of the first times Luna had ever been brave enough to demand what she was worth. As a lump sum, it was impressive, and she was thrilled. However, it had been a demanding project that took more than two weeks. There were three weeks beforehand where she was taking on freelance work for the local jewelers, widening rings and repairing bracelet clasps. Now that the ring was done, she needed to go back on the hunt for commissions, and that was a very cold road indeed.

Chicago in spring was beautiful, with a clarity to the air that made her sigh, but there was still very much a chill. She tucked her thin black coat more tightly around herself and shivered as she walked down to her favorite coffee shop around the corner.

It's fine to get coffee, she told herself. You're getting paid tomorrow.

Sometimes it was hard to talk herself into the things that she thought of as luxuries and that others considered basics, but she was learning. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, it felt as if she was winning the battle of a starving artist, staying fed while still doing the art that felt like her lifeblood.

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