English Girl in New York

By: Scarlet Wilson

She pushed past him into the heat of his apartment.

‘I need help. I found this baby on our doorstep.’

‘A baby?’ He looked stunned, then reached over and put a hand around her shoulders, pulling her further inside the apartment and guiding her into a chair next to the fire.

‘What do I do? What do I do with a baby? Why would someone do this?’ She was babbling and she couldn’t help it. She was in a strange half-naked man’s apartment in New York, with an abandoned baby and her pyjamas on.

This really couldn’t be happening.

Her brain was shouting messages at her. But she wasn’t listening. She couldn’t listen. Get out of here.

She stared down at the little face bundled in the blanket. The baby’s eyes were screwed shut and its brow wrinkled. Was it a girl? Or a boy? Something shifted inside her. This was hard. This was so hard.

She shouldn’t be here. She absolutely shouldn’t be here. She was the last person in the world qualified to look after a baby.

But even though her brain was screaming those thoughts at her, her body wasn’t listening. Because she’d lifted her hand, extended one finger and was stroking it down the perfect little cold cheek.

* * *

Dan Cooper’s day had just gone from unlucky to ridiculous. He recognised her. Of course he recognised her. She was the girl with the sad eyes from upstairs.

But now she didn’t look sad. She looked panicked.

He was conscious that her gaze had drifted across his bare abdomen. If she hadn’t been banging on the door so insistently he would have pulled on a shirt first. Instead, he tried to keep his back from her line of vision as he grabbed the T-shirt lying across the back of his sofa.

He looked back at her. Now she didn’t look panicked. She’d stopped babbling. In fact, she’d stopped talking completely. Now she just sat in front of the fire staring at the baby. She looked mesmerised.

His cop instinct kicked into gear. Please don’t let her be a crazy. The last thing he needed today was a crazy.

He walked over and touched her hand, kneeling down to look into her eyes. He’d heard some bizarre tales in his time but this one took the biscuit. ‘What’s your name?’

She gave him only a cursory glance—as if she couldn’t bear to tear her eyes away from the baby. ‘Carrie. Carrie McKenzie. I live upstairs.’

He nodded. The accent drew his attention. The apartment upstairs was used by a business in the city. They often had staff from their multinational partners staying there. His brain was racing. He’d seen this girl, but had never spoken to her. She always looked so sad—as if she had the weight of the world on her shoulders.

He racked his brain. Had she been pregnant? Would he have noticed? Could she have given birth unaided upstairs?

His eyes swept over her. Pyjamas and a dressing gown. Could camouflage anything.

He took a deep breath. Time was of the essence here. He had to ask. He had to cover all the bases. ‘Carrie—is this your baby?’

Her head jerked up. ‘What?’ She looked horrified. And then there was something—something else. ‘Of course not!’

A feeling of relief swept over him. He’d been a cop long enough to know a genuine response when he saw one. Thank goodness. Last thing he needed right now was a crazy neighbour with a baby.

He reached over and pulled the fleecy blanket down from around the baby’s face. The baby was breathing, but its cheeks were pale.

The nearest children’s hospital was Angel’s, all the way up next to Central Park. They wouldn’t possibly be able to reach there in this weather. And it was likely that the ambulance service had ground to a halt. He had to prioritise. Even though he wasn’t an expert, the baby seemed okay.

He stood up. ‘How did you find the baby?’

Her brow wrinkled. ‘I heard a noise. I thought it was a cat. I came downstairs to see.’

He couldn’t hide the disbelief in his voice. ‘You thought a baby was a cat?’

Her blue eyes narrowed as they met his. His tone had obviously annoyed her. ‘Well, you know, it was kinda hard to hear with your music blaring.’

He ignored the sarcasm, even though it humoured him. Maybe Miss Sad-Eyes had some spunk after all. ‘How long since you first heard it?’ This was important. This was really important.

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