English Girl in New York

By: Scarlet Wilson



Her ears pricked up. There it was again. That strange sound that had brought her to the window in the first place. This apartment was full of odd noises—most of which she’d gotten used to. Rattling pipes with trapped air, squeaking doors and floorboards, sneaky unexplained drafts. But this one was different. Was it coming from outside?

She pressed her nose up against the glass, her breath steaming the space around her. The street appeared deathly quiet. Who would venture out on a night like this? The twenty-four-hour news channels were full of Stay indoors. Don’t make any journeys that aren’t absolutely necessary. Anyone, with any sense, would be safely indoors.

She pushed open the window a little, letting in a blast of cold air. Thank goodness for thermal jammies, bed socks and an embossed dressing gown.

She held her breath and listened. There it was again. It was like a mew. Was it a cat? Downstairs, in the apartment underneath, she could hear the faint thump of music. It must be the cop. He obviously wouldn’t be able to hear a thing. She didn’t even know his name. Only that he must be a cop because of the uniform he wore. Tall, dark and handsome. But he hadn’t looked in her direction once since she’d arrived.

Who had left their cat out on a night like this? Her conscience was pricked. What should she do? Maybe it was just a little cat confused by the snow and couldn’t find its way home. Should she go downstairs and investigate? She glanced down at her nightwear. It would only take a few seconds. No one would see her.

She could grab the cat from the doorway and bring it in for the night. Maybe give it a little water and let it curl in front of the fire. A cat. The thought warmed her from the inside out. She’d never had a cat before. It might be nice to borrow someone else’s for the night and keep it safe. At least she would have someone to talk to.

She opened her door and glanced out onto the landing. Everyone else was safely ensconced in their apartments. Her feet padded down the flights of stairs, reaching the doorway in less than a minute. She unlocked the heavy door of the brownstone and pulled it open.

No.

It couldn’t be.

She blinked and shut the door again. Fast.

Her heart thudded against her chest. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Her brain was playing horrible tricks on her. Letting her think she was safe and things were safely locked away before springing something out of the blue on her.

Maybe she wasn’t even awake. Maybe she’d fallen asleep on the sofa upstairs, in front of the flickering fire, and would wake up in a pool of sweat.

One. Two. Three. Four. Five.

She turned the handle again, oh-so-slowly, and prayed her imagination would get under control. Things like this didn’t happen to people like her.

This time her reaction was different. This time the cold night air was sucked into her lungs with a force she didn’t think she possessed. Every hair on her body stood instantly on end—and it wasn’t from the cold.

It was a baby. Someone had left a baby on her doorstep.





CHAPTER TWO

FOR A SECOND, Carrie couldn’t move. Her brain wouldn’t compute. Her body wouldn’t function.

Her ears were amplifying the sound. The little mew, mew, mew she’d thought she’d heard was actually a whimper. A whimper that was sounding more frightening by the second.

Her immediate instinct was to run—fast. Get away from this whole situation to keep the fortress around her heart firmly in place and to keep herself sheltered from harm. No good could come of this.

But she couldn’t fight the natural instinct inside her—no matter how hard she tried. So she did what any mother would do: she picked up the little bundle and held it close to her chest.

Even the blanket was cold. And the shock of picking up the bundle chilled her.

Oh, no. The baby.

She didn’t think. She didn’t contemplate. She walked straight over to the nearest door—the one with the thudding music—and banged loudly with her fist. ‘Help! I need help!’

Nothing happened for a few seconds. Then the music switched off and she heard the sound of bare feet on the wooden floor. The door opened and she held her breath.

There he was. In all his glory. Scruffy dark hair, too-tired eyes and bare-chested, with only a pair of jeans clinging to his hips—and a bright pink plaster cast on his wrist. She blinked. Trying to take in the unexpected sight. His brow wrinkled. ‘What the—?’

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