I burst out laughing. “Bennett knows kids, though. He has a niece.”
“He’s terrified of newborns. Henry says he held Sophia at arm’s length until she could walk and then he never let her out of his sight. He’s sure he’ll break Anna with a stern glance. Which I don’t doubt, if I’m being honest. He is scary as hell sometimes. Hanna and I . . . we’ll figure it out.” Leaning forward, he winked. “We’re scientists.”
For all the ways that Max, Bennett, and Will were alike, there were even more ways they were different. Bennett’s first instinct was always to take charge, to work out the quickest way to get the upper hand and never let go. Max was the charmer—still one hell of a businessman, but a bowl of sugar—the guy who knew you caught more flies with honey than vinegar. But Will was the thinker, the one who would puzzle out a situation and figure out exactly what the problem was so he could fix it. Which was why when Max suggested that Will and Hanna watch Anna while we attempted Dinner Disaster number two, I agreed. Will and Hanna were two of the smartest people I knew; if anyone could figure out how to crack the baby code, it was them.
We were both ready to go when they showed up at the apartment the next Friday night.
Will was wearing a T-shirt from some show I’d never heard of, and a wary expression on his face. Hanna—as usual—seemed to be getting a kick out of his nerves.
“You’re not scared of a tiny little baby now, are you?” she asked as they stepped inside.
“Of course I’m not,” Will said, unwrapping a blue scarf from around his neck. “But between eight and forty percent of babies get colic, Hanna. Eight and forty percent. That’s almost half on the high end, and if you factor that into the number of babies born every year, then the chances that Annabel has—”
“She isn’t colicky, you twat,” Max said, pulling him in far enough that he could close the door. “Hanna, I hope he’s at least brilliant with your taxes or at the very least one hell of a shag.”
“Both, actually,” she said, and handed Max her jacket. “And don’t worry, I babysat a ton growing up. Probably watched every kid in the neighborhood at some point. I’m really great with babies.”
Will stepped up to her side, leaned in to wrap his arms around her and press a small kiss to her nose. “How is that even possible when you were so busy pining for me?” he asked, grinning.
Hanna shook her head and patted Will’s face gently. “It’s so cute how you think everything’s about you,” she said, and Max barked out a laugh. Will was our notorious womanizer, and to see that he had finally met the woman who knocked him on his ass was amazing.
“Thank you, again, you guys,” I said, pushing Will away so I could hug Hanna. “I’m not even sure optimism is the way to go, so I guess I’ll just wish you luck.”
“Don’t be silly,” Will said. “We—and by ‘we’ of course I mean Hanna—will take care of everything. I’m just here to open jars, kill spiders, and change lightbulbs if needed.”
Still, I made sure they knew where everything was, went over a list of emergency numbers, and then thanked them for what had to be the tenth time. “She’s just eaten and been changed. I’m sure she’ll be good for . . . in fact, this is about the time she’d go down for the night, so she shouldn’t wake up to feed until long after we’re home. But just in case, we’ll be around the corner.”
Hanna nodded, and picked up one of Anna’s little onesies from a stack on the couch. “Don’t worry,” she said, straightening the pile again. “Even if she does wake up, I’m sure the biggest problem will be getting this one”—she pointed to Will—“to stop making googly faces at her.”
Max put on his coat and helped me with mine. “No boys in the house, kids,” he said. “No rated-R movies and we’ve left pizza money on the counter.”
Will rolled his eyes and pushed us out the door. “I told you, it’ll be fine,” he said, waving to us from the doorway. “I outweigh her thirteen-to-one. Thirteen-to-one! What could possibly go wrong?”
There would be no fancy restaurant or sentimental bottles of wine. Instead, we stopped at a little diner a few doors down and sat at the first open table we found.
There was a sense of urgency in the air, a sense that a clock was ticking somewhere and there was zero way we’d make it through this night, maybe not even this dinner, without Will or Hanna calling with some sort of real or imagined emergency.
“You think they’re going to be okay?” I asked Max, folding and refolding the paper napkin in front of me.
His eyes met mine from behind a laminated menu and he shrugged. “Of course they will. Annabel’s disposition is matched only by her mother’s. I can’t imagine her giving anyone a problem.”
I laughed. “It’s possible you might be wrong on both counts, Mr. Stella.”
The waiter stopped at our table and we each ordered, although I wasn’t really sure why. We were at a restaurant as a formality, as a normal date-type thing before I ripped off his pants.
Which I wanted to do right now.
Our food arrived, and it took only fifteen minutes more before Max’s phone buzzed on the table and he picked it up, smiling before turning the screen toward me.
“Look at him,” he said. It was a photo of Will holding Anna, his expression so proud you’d think he’d just split the atom, not changed a diaper. He was giving the camera a thumbs-up.