The Heir From Nowhere(4)

By: Trish Morey

Before a pain still jagged and raw ripped through her as she remembered.

Shayne wasn’t coming home any more.

She was alone.

The Darling Harbour boardwalk was crowded and congested with holidaymakers taking videos and eating ice creams, vying for space with performers busking for spare change. Seagulls squawked both overhead and underfoot, fighting each other for crumbs, while a reproduction sailing ship spewed a hundred excited tourists back onto the wharf.

Dominic sighed, feeling out of place as he and Simone waited near the designated meeting spot and half wishing his PA had chosen somewhere less public and more private for this meeting, but then the crowds were apparently half the attraction. Keep it informal, Simone had suggested. On neutral territory. Away from his lawyer’s offices, which might give the impression he was ready to broker some kind of deal. Away from the Pirelli building where his wealth was obvious as soon as you stepped into the stunning marble lobby. This Mrs Cameron might have pretended to be making some kind of altruistic gesture, but he had no proof of that. There was no point putting temptation right in front of her.

Simone had a point, he’d conceded, catching a whiff of her expensive perfume amidst the salt and popcorn-tinged air. It was her favourite, he recognised, the one he’d given her a bottle of last Christmas. It suited her.

Sleek and no-nonsense, feminine without being flowery. Exactly, in fact, like she was and exactly what he needed in a PA.

Come to think of it, Simone had been right about this place, he revised, peeling off his jacket and hooking it over his shoulder. He could be anonymous here, no longer Dominic Pirelli, billionaire investor and market strategist, but just one more suit escaping his office for an hour.

Except that this suit was waiting to meet the woman who was carrying his child.

Anticipation coiled in his gut. He glanced down at the platinum Tag Heuer at his wrist, saw that she was already late.

‘Do you think she’ll turn up?’ Simone looked over her shoulder, putting voice to his greatest fear, her asymmetrical black bob swinging around her head. ‘What if she changes her mind? She didn’t leave a contact number.’

‘She’ll turn up,’ he said, willing the woman to show. After the way he’d spoken to her yesterday, he’d be the last to be surprised she was having second thoughts, but it didn’t matter if she had changed her mind. He had her name. She had his baby. And there was no way she was escaping him now. ‘She’ll turn up.’

Angie’s eyes felt heavy and scratchy as she hurried along the pedestrian bridge linking the hurly-burly of Sydney CBD streets to the tourist precinct of Darling Harbour, and she didn’t need to see her reflection to know how red they appeared to the outside world. She could tell that from the inside.

Screams had driven her from sleep and dreams filled with snarling dogs snapping and tugging at her clothes and body. One had taken Shayne’s face while it circled, barking out his taunts, telling her she would never be a real woman. Another had soothed her with words of comfort while trying to snatch her baby at the same time. And yet another had taken his place, larger and more powerful than all the rest, growling with teeth bared, moving closer, ready to savage.

And she’d woken in fear to her own screams, panting and desperate, the sheets knotted around her, her body damp with perspiration and her lonely bed more empty than ever. But safe, she’d realised, blessedly safe from the nightmare.

After that it had been impossible to sleep, the images the night had spun leaving her shaken and afraid, the night sounds of Sherwill—the barking dogs, the squeal of tyres as the hoons did burn-outs around the streets, the neighbours yelling—all keeping her company while a hundred scenarios for how today’s meeting would unfold spun their way through her mind. No wonder she hadn’t slept.

And now the light summer breeze whipped at her hair, carrying with it a combination of diesel fumes from the highway below and greasy doughnuts from a nearby stall and Angie’s stomach roiled anew. She protested at the unfairness. There was nothing left in her stomach, and yet still she wanted to heave.

Please God, she thought, swallowing back on the urge. Not now. Not here. Not when she was rushing to get to this meeting. She’d lost breakfast—one piece of dry toast and a cup of tea—ten minutes after she’d pointlessly forced it down, and that had been hours ago. An hour on a jostling, crowded train hadn’t helped, nor had the man who had lurched against her from behind as she’d left the train and almost sent her sprawling to the platform. He’d disappeared into the crowds without a word of apology, while she’d had to sit down for ten minutes to see out the cold sweat and wait for her heartbeat and temperature to get back under control.

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