Bound by the Billionaire's Baby

By: Cathy Williams


FROM THE VERY second Susie walked into the restaurant she knew she had made a big mistake. It joined the other three big mistakes she had made in the past fortnight. Making mistakes was beginning to feel like a full-time occupation.

What had possessed her to wear high heels? Why was she clutching a silly little bag with sequins, borrowed from one of her friends? And how on earth had she found herself in a ridiculous small red dress which had screamed sexy and glamorous when she had tried it on earlier in the week but now shrieked...sad and desperate?

Utterly grateful that she had wisely shunned the flamboyant checked coat which she had been tempted to buy with the dress, and had instead chosen something slightly more sober, she wrapped her black cape tightly round her, making sure to conceal every single square inch of the stupid red dress.

So what the heck should she do now? she wondered.

Date number four was there and seated at the bar. In a couple of seconds he would look round and he would spot her. She had told him that she would be wearing red. The red might be concealed under the cape but how many other lonesome single girls were there here? None.

His picture on the online dating agency she used had seemed so promising, but one glance at him showed her that it had been a cruel lie.

He wasn’t tall. Even though he was sitting she could see that. His feet dangled. Nor was he surfer blond...more wet sand than surf, to be perfectly honest...and he looked at least twenty years older than in his photograph. Furthermore he was wearing a bright yellow jumper and trousers that were vaguely mustard in colour.

She should have actually chatted with him on the phone instead of rushing headlong into a date. She should have relied on more than a couple of flirty messages and one email. She would have known then that he might be the sort of guy who wore yellow jumpers and mustard-coloured trousers. But instead she had jumped right in at the deep end and now here she was...

She felt faint.

This was an expensive bar/restaurant. It was the latest in hip and cool. People had to wait for months to get a booking. The only reason she had been able to get one was because her parents had had to cancel at the last minute and had told her that she could go along in their place. They had asked her to report back on the food—they wanted details.

‘Take a friend,’ her mother had said, with just the amount of weary resignation that seemed to hallmark everything she said to her. ‘You surely must know someone who isn’t absolutely broke...’

By which she had meant, You must know a man who isn’t scraping by without a decent job...someone who doesn’t play in a band in bars...or doesn’t slouch around in between acting jobs that never come up...or isn’t currently saving to go on a world trip, taking in the Dalai Lama on the way...

The mere fact that online date number four had heard of this place had been a point in his favour.

Silly assumption on her part.

Her fundamental sense of decency warred with a pressing urge to turn tail and scarper before she was spotted—but how could she scarper when she knew her parents would want to know all about the experience? It wasn’t as though she could wing it...make it up as she went along. She was rubbish at lying and her mother was gifted at spotting lies.

Yet she knew what the outcome of this would be before it even started. She knew they would make stilted conversation but would both be keen to end it. She knew that the conversation would run out sometime after the starter but they would both feel obliged to stay until the main course and she knew they would definitely leave without dessert or coffee. She felt he might make her pick up the tab. He would definitely insist on going Dutch. He would probably work out exactly who had eaten what and calculate the bill accordingly.

Already in the grip of uncertainty and a mild depression that she had found herself in this situation yet again, Susie glanced around the crowded restaurant.

It was buzzing with cool people. The bar area was busy and the restaurant, which was off to one side, a marvel of glass, chrome and plants, was likewise packed.

Couples and groups were everywhere...except at the back... Sitting at the best table in the place was...a guy...

For a few seconds her heart actually flipped over, because she had never seen anyone quite so stunningly good-looking in her life before. Raven-black hair, bronzed skin that spoke of some sort of exotically foreign gene pool, perfectly chiselled features... When the Big Guy above had been dishing out looks he had been first in the queue.

He was sitting in front of his laptop, oblivious to everyone around him. The sheer cheek of having a laptop on the table in one of the most sought-after restaurants in the city was impressive. As was the fact that he wasn’t dressed for show. He was in a pair of dark jeans and a long-sleeved faded black jumper that fitted him in a way that revealed a lean, muscular body. Everything about him suggested that he didn’t care where he was or who was looking at him, and there was an invisible exclusion zone around him that implied that no one should dare get too close.

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