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Dating the Rebel Tycoon

By:Ally Blake

Dating the Rebel Tycoon
Ally Blake

       CHAPTER ONE




CAMERON Kelly opened the heavy side-door of the random building, shut it   smartly behind him and became enveloped in darkness. The kind of inky   darkness that would make even the bravest boy imagine monsters under  the  bed.

It was some years since Cameron had been a boy, longer still since he'd   realised people didn't always tell the truth. When he'd found out his   two older brothers had made the monsters up.

The small window between himself and the Brisbane winter sunshine   outside revealed the coast was clear, and he let his forehead rest on   the cold glass with a sheepish thunk.

Of all the people he could have seen-many miles from where a man such as   he ought to have been while commerce and industry raged on in the city   beyond-it had to have been his younger sister Meg, downing take-away   coffee and gabbing with her girlfriends.

If Meg had seen him wandering the suburban Botanical Gardens, pondering   lily pads and cacti rather than neck-deep in blueprints and permits and   funding for multi-million-dollar skyscrapers, she would not have let  him  be until he'd told her why.

So he, a grown man-a man of means, and most of the time sense-was   hiding. Because the truth would only hurt her. And, even though he'd   long since been cast as the black sheep of the Kelly clan, hurting those   he cared about was the last thing he would ever intentionally do.

He held his watch up to the parcel of light, saw it was nearly nine and grimaced.

Hamish and Bruce, respectively his architect and his project manager,   would have been at the CK Square site for more than an hour waiting for   him to approve the final plans for the fifty-fourth floor. This close  to  the end of a very long job, if they hadn't throttled one another by  now  then he would be very lucky.

He made to open the door to leave, remembered Meg-the one person whose   leg he'd never been able to pull, even with two adept older brothers to   show him how-and was overtaken by a stronger compulsion than the desire   to play intermediary between two grown men. His hand dropped.

Let the boys think he was making a grand entrance when he finally got   there. It'd give them something to agree upon for once. He could live   with people thinking he had an ego the size of Queensland. He was a   Kelly, after all; impressions of grandeur came with the name.

'We're closed,' a voice echoed somewhere behind him.

He spun on his heel, hairs on the back of his neck standing on end.   Though he hadn't boxed since his last year at St Grellans, in a flash   his fists were raised, his fingers wrapped so tight around his thumbs   they creaked. Lactic acid burned in his arms. It seemed fresh air,   sunshine and tiptoeing through the tulips weren't the catharsis for an   uneasy mind that they were cracked up to be.

He peered around the huge empty space and couldn't see a thing past the   end of his nose, bar a square of pink burned into his retina from the   bright light of the window.

'I'm desperately sorry,' the voice said. 'I seem to have given you a little fright.'

Unquestionably female, it was, husky, sweet, mellow tones drifting to   him through the darkness with a surprisingly vivid dash of sarcasm,   considering she had no idea who she was dealing with.

'You didn't frighten me,' he insisted.

'Then how about you put down your dukes before you knock yourself out?'

Cameron, surprised to find his fists were still raised, unclenched all   over, letting his hands fall to his sides before shucking his blazer   back onto his shoulders.

'Now, I love an eager patron as much as the next gal,' the mocking voice   said. 'But the show doesn't start for another half-hour. Best you wait   outside.'

The show? Cameron's eyes had become more used to the light, or lack   thereof. He could make out a bumpy outline on the horizon, rows of seats   decked out auditorium-style. They tipped backwards slightly so that an   audience could look upwards without getting neck strain, as the show   that went on in this place didn't happen on stage but in the massive   domed sky above.

He'd stumbled into the planetarium.

Wow. He hadn't been in the place since he was a kid. It seemed the   plastic bucket seats and industrial carpet scraping beneath his shoes   hadn't changed.

He craned his neck back as far as it would go, trying to make out the   shape and form of the roof. The structural engineer in him wondered   about the support mechanisms for the high ceiling, while the vestiges of   the young boy who'd once upon a time believed in monsters under the  bed  simply marvelled at the deep, dark, infinite black.

Finally, thankfully, one thing or another managed to shake loose a   measure of the foreboding that ruminating over rhododendrons had not.                       
       
           



       

He kept looking up as he said, 'I'll wait, if it's alright by you.'

'Actually, it's not.'

'Why not?'

'Rules. Regulations. Occupational health and safety. Fire hazards.   Today's Tuesday. You're wearing the wrong shoes. Take your pick.'

He slowly lowered his head, glancing down at his perfectly fine shoes,   which he could barely see, and he was a heck of a lot closer to them   than she was.

He peered back out into the nothingness, but still he couldn't make her out-whoever she was.

Was she security, ready to throw him out on his ear? A fellow interloper   protecting her find? A delusion, born out of an acute desire to change   the subject that had shanghaied his thoughts since he'd caught the   financial news on TV that morning?

'Go now, and I can reserve you a seat,' the honeyed tones suggested.

Management, then. And strangely anticlimactic.

'I'll even personally find you a nice, comfy seat,' she continued.   'Smack bang in the centre, with no wobbles or lumps, that doesn't squeak   every time you ooh or aah at the show. What do you say?'

He didn't say anything. He could tell she'd moved closer by a slight   shifting of the air to his left, the sound of cloth whispering against   skin, and the sudden sweet scent of vanilla making his stomach clench   with hunger.

Had he forgotten to eat breakfast? Yes, he had. He swore softly as he remembered why.

The appearance on the financial report on the TV news by the very man   who had made him a family outcast many years before had not been a bolt   from the blue. Quinn Kelly, his father, was a shameless self-promoter  of  the family business: the Kelly Investment Group, or 'KInG' as it was   irresistibly dubbed in the press.

His father was the epitome of the Australian dream. An immigrant who had   come to the country as a boy with nothing to his name but the clothes   on his back, he had built himself the kind of large, rambunctious,   photogenic family the press prized, and a financial empire men envied.   Tall, handsome, charming, straight-talking, the man acted as though he   would live for ever, and the world believed him-needed to believe   him-because he had his fingers in so many financial pies.

Cameron hadn't realised he'd believed the man to be immortal too until   he'd noticed the pallor make-up couldn't hide, the weight lost from his   cheeks, the dullness in his usually sharp eyes that would only have  been  noticed by someone who went out of his way not to catch a glimpse  of  the man every day.

For that reason it was highly possible that not even the family knew   something was very wrong with Quinn Kelly. The rest of the clan was so   deeply a part of one another's lives he could only imagine they had not   noticed the infinitesimal changes.

He'd lost hours trying to convince himself it wasn't true. And not for   the kinds of reasons that made him a good son, but because he'd felt the   sharp awakening of care for a man not worth caring about. Why should  he  care for a man who'd so blithely severed him from his family to save   his own hide, and that was after laying waste to any naivety Cameron   might have yet possessed about loyalty and fidelity? And at an age when   he'd not even had a chance to make those decisions himself.

It wasn't even nine in the morning and already Cameron wished this day was well and truly over.

'The door is right behind you,' the only highlight in his day so far said.

Cameron pulled himself up to his full height in the hope the unwanted   concerns might run off his back. 'While I'm enjoying the thought of you   testing each and every seat for me, I'm not here to see the show.'

'You don't have to act coy with me,' she said, her teasing voice lifting   him until he felt himself rocking forward on his toes. 'Even big boys   like you have been known to find comfort in the idea that there might  be  something bigger and grander than you are, out there in the cosmos,   that will burn bright long after you are a two-line obituary in your   local paper.'

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