Having the Billionaire's Baby

By: Sandra Hyatt

L ife is too short for this. Callie Jamieson stepped onto the dimly lit balcony and let the plate glass door swing closed behind her, gladly trading the glitz of the New Year’s Eve wedding reception for the silent reflection of lights on Sydney’s Darling Harbor.

Relaxing her grip on her champagne flute, she moved away from the pulsing beat of the music to the shadowy corner that offered not only the most privacy, but the best view of the glistening water. She shook her head and allowed herself a smile. What had she been trying to prove? The exercise regime, the new dress, new hairstyle. And at the end of it all she’d rather be walking barefoot along the water’s edge. Alone.

She made her resolution then and there. Stop searching for a future or wallowing in the mistakes of her past, and start enjoying the present.

The music washed louder over her and she tensed with the knowledge that someone else had come onto the balcony. She stayed still, facing the water, hoping that the night and the slender potted palms positioned in front of the handrail would screen her from the casual observer.

“Rosa wanted me to call.” A deep, resonant voice carried to her. “She insisted I do it right now. So, how’s it going?” There was a long pause. “Congratulations. I guess we really do have to excuse you for not making it to the wedding.” Did she imagine the catch of emotion in that warm voice? Curiosity got the better of her and Callie turned her head. A man stood midway along the balcony. With the light behind him, the only thing she could be sure of was that he was tall and that his crisply cut dark hair had a hint of a wave. With one hand he held a phone to his ear, and in his other he carried a glass of champagne the match of hers.

“Give me the details so I can pass them on to the family. We’ll do the cigars when we get back.” His accent was predominantly Australian, but with an underlying hint of something more exotic.

Callie glanced from her unknown companion to the balcony door and back again. Hopefully, he’d finish his call and be the one to go. She just needed a little peace, a little space before she reentered the fray and then made a discreet exit from this entire fiasco. Tomorrow morning she would be on the plane back home to New Zealand.

“Give Lisa our love.” From the corner of her eye, Callie saw him start toward the door. A sigh of relief welled within her, but was cut short at the ringing of his phone.

“Nick speaking.”

Nick? Brusque. Strong.

“What is it, Angelina?” The warmth she’d heard earlier was gone. His deep, measured voice was resigned and somewhat displeased. The contrast intrigued her, and Callie turned a little more. He’d stopped partway toward the doors, and the light spilling onto him revealed broad shoulders tapering to lean hips. In the stark lines of his profile—the strong jaw, the nose with the slight bump midway along—she recognized one of the groomsmen.

There had been plenty of time during the hour-long service to contemplate the bridal party: the striking, petite blond bride, the five rose-pink, ruffled and frilled bridesmaids and the equal number of groomsmen, most of them dark-haired, and all of them good-looking.

This one’s mix of careless elegance and intensity had piqued her curiosity. Was he naturally serious, did he have a problem with the wedding, or would he, like her, just rather be somewhere else?

During the second scriptural reading she had imagined a moment’s eye contact, as though he’d sensed her study of him, and her mouth had run dry. Logic told her that, from her position at the rear of the cathedral, that sensation of connection, of heat, was surely impossible.

Now, as she had then, she looked away. He wasn’t a friend of Jason, the groom, so his link had to be with the bride.

“You ended it, Angelina, and it was the right decision. I hadn’t realized how much your expectations had changed.” It wasn’t as easy to stop listening as it was to stop looking. There was a long pause before he spoke again. “We agreed at the start that neither of us was looking for that sort of commitment.”

Callie focused on the city lights, and though she knew she shouldn’t be eavesdropping, still, a part of her waited for him to speak again. There was another even longer pause. “I’m sorry.” His voice had gentled. “But no. You know this is for the best.” With a heavy sigh he snapped his phone shut. “Damn,” he said quietly into the night.

Callie felt for the unknown woman. She had done her time with a man who didn’t want to commit. She knew the pain and sense of inadequacy that brought. She wouldn’t ever go there again.

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