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Having the Billionaire's Baby

By:Sandra Hyatt

Having the Billionaire's Baby
Sandra Hyatt

       One



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.                       
       
           



       

Today, she had watched the man she once thought she would marry pledge his love to another woman.

She glanced over her shoulder, and between the arching fronds of a palm   saw Nick rest his forearms on the balcony railing. A warm breeze sifted   through her hair. It was no hardship to wait him out. Taking a sip of   chilled champagne, she looked back at the play of lights on the   ink-black water. For long, restful minutes she considered how she could   re-create the effect with oils.

"Solitude is one thing and loneliness another. Which is it for you?"

The words were so quietly spoken, Callie wasn't sure they were directed   at her. She looked over to see that the stranger had turned in her   direction. Dark eyes were fixed on her. But how to answer? Was this   solitude or loneliness?

A phrase of her mother's popped into her head. "If you're choosing   between bad company and loneliness choose the latter." Except, that   wasn't quite right. The loneliness had been inside the dazzling   reception, surrounded by others. Outside was the blissful solitude.   Callie was suddenly struck by how insulting the remark could seem.   Especially by a member of the wedding party. Her mother would have   softened the remark with a toss of her head and a gurgle of throaty   laughter. Callie, who usually prided herself on being nothing like her   mother, could carry off neither.

The man assessed her anew, curiosity rather than affront in his gaze. "Should I ask about the bad company or the loneliness?"

She sought to deflect that interest. Hopefully, he didn't know she was   the ex-girlfriend, here only because she and Jason were determined to   keep their relationship amicable. "Perhaps like you, I came out to take a   phone call."

A half smile lifted one corner of his mouth and his amused gaze flicked   over her, bringing a frisson of awareness as he took in the sleeveless,   red sheath that skimmed her curves, finishing at her ankles. It was a   dress she never would have worn if she'd still been with Jason. He   preferred muted colors and conservative styles. There was no place on   this dress for even the slimmest of phones, and her evening bag still   lay on her seat between Jason's overly friendly uncle and his unfriendly   cousin. Dark eyebrows rose appreciatively. "Technology is a marvelous   thing."

She smiled reluctantly. "Or perhaps I just came out for some fresh air."   Surreptitiously, she returned his assessment. The cut of his suit   whispered tailor-made rather than off-the-rack. And no distortion of its   classic lines betrayed the phone he'd slipped into a pocket.

"Or solitude?" he asked.

Her smile widened. "Definitely that."

Holding her gaze, he lifted his glass. The pale liquid shimmered golden   in the light from inside, bubbles glinted like tiny jewels. "To   solitude."

She raised her glass in return. The irony of toasting solitude with someone else wasn't lost on either of them.

He touched his glass to his lips and took a sip, and Callie watched the   slide of his Adam's apple, then looked away, conscious of her awareness   of him. For a time they remained silent. Out on the harbor a launch   motored toward the bridge, the low murmur of its engine drifting across   the water.

"So, is there someone waiting impatiently inside for your return?"

The undisguised spark of interest warmed her ego. "No." And for the   first time that evening it didn't seem such a bad thing that Marc, her   colleague, had bailed on her at the last minute. The guests and the   bride and groom were supposed to have seen her dancing gaily with a   gorgeous man. It was meant to demonstrate how well she had gotten on   with her life.

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