English Girl in New York

By: Scarlet Wilson
“I told you—I’m not an expert in all this. I have no idea how to look after a baby!”

Dan reached over and touched her hand. She was getting flustered again, starting to get upset. “Carrie McKenzie?” He kept his voice low.

“What?” she snapped at him.

Yip, he was right. Her eyes had a waterlogged sheen. She was just about to start crying.

He gave her hand a little squeeze. “I think you’re doing a great job.”

Those dark brown eyes were still looking at her.

Still looking at her as if he understood a whole lot more than he was letting on. As if he’d noticed the fact that she was seconds away from cracking and bursting into floods of tears.

She looked down to where his hand covered hers. It was nice. It felt nice. And that was the thing that scared her most.

When was the last time someone had touched her like that? At the funeral? There had been a lot of hand-squeezing then. Comfort. Reassurance. Pity.

Not the same as this.

He smiled at her. A sexy kind of smile. The kind that could take her mind off the nightmare she was currently in.


THE SUBWAY RATTLED into the station, the doors opened and Carrie felt herself swept along with the huddled masses on the platform, barely even looking up from her hunched position in her woefully thin coat. It had looked better on the internet. Really. It had.

She resisted the temptation to snuggle into the body in front of her as the carriage packed even tighter than normal. Just about every train in the city had ground to a halt after the quick deluge of snow.

The streets had gone from tired, grey and bustling to a complete white-out with only vaguely recognisable shapes in a matter of hours.

An unprecedented freak snowstorm, they were calling it.

In October.

In the middle of New York.

The news reporters were having a field day—well, only the ones lucky enough to be in the studio. The ones out in the field? Not so much.

And Carrie appreciated why. Her winter coat wasn’t due to be delivered for another two weeks. She could die before then. Her fingers had lost all colour and sensation ten minutes ago. Thank goodness she didn’t have a dripping nose because at these temperatures it would freeze midway.

‘They’ve stopped some of the buses,’ muttered the woman next to her. ‘I’m going to have to make about three changes to get home tonight.’

An involuntary shiver stole down her spine. Please let the train get to the end of the line. This part of the subway didn’t stay underground the whole way; parts of it emerged into the elements and she could already see the thick white flakes of snow landing around them.

A year in New York had sounded great at the time. Magical even.

A chance to get away from her own annus horribilis.

A chance to escape everyone she knew, her history and her demons.

The only thing she’d taken with her was her exemplary work record.

In the black fog that had been last year it had been her one consistently bright shining star.

She should have known as soon as her boss had invited her into his office and asked her to sit down, giving her that half sympathetic, half cut-throat look. He’d cleared his throat. ‘Carrie, we need someone to go to New York and represent the London office, leading on the project team for the next year. I understand this year has been difficult for you. But you were my first thought for the job. Of course, if it feels like too much—or the timing is wrong...’ His voice had tailed off. The implication was clear. There were already two interns snapping at her heels, anxious to trample her on the way past.

She’d bit her lip. ‘No. The timing is perfect. A new place will be just what I need. A new challenge. A chance for some time away.’

He’d nodded and extended his hand towards her. ‘Congratulations. Don’t worry about a thing. The firm has an apartment in Greenwich Village in the borough of Manhattan. It’s a nice, safe area—easily commutable. You’ll like it there.’

She’d nodded numbly, trying not to run her tongue along her suddenly dry lips. ‘How long until I have to go?’

He’d cleared his throat, as if a little tickle had appeared. ‘Three weeks.’ The words were followed by a hasty smile. ‘One of the partners will be leaving for business in Japan. He needs to brief you before he leaves.’

She’d tried hard not to let the horror of the time frame appear on her face as she’d stood up and straightened her skirt. ‘Three weeks will be fine. Perfectly manageable.’ Her voice had wavered and she’d hoped he didn’t notice.

He’d stood up quickly. ‘Perfect, Carrie. I’m sure you’ll do a wonderful job for us.’

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