Thirty-two-year-old Kay Stewart is on top of the world. For the past eleven years, she has let nothing interfere with her climb to achieve notoriety as a New York fashion designer with her own line, label, and international success. Determined to never succumb to the patter of little feet and picket fence syndrome, Kay is more than ready to welcome the rewards she has worked so hard to achieve. But all of that is about to change when Kay receives a strange message on her answering machine.
Kay barely has time to figure out who the message is from when her doorman delivers an unusual package. When she peers inside, Kay is shocked to discover its contents: a baby boy. With only an anonymous note supposedly penned by someone from her childhood to provide clues, Kay faces a complex dilemma: who would entrust their baby in her care? When she is forced to explain the baby's sudden appearance to her long-time boyfriend, his unexpected reaction to the news sends her on a journey into her past where she soon unearths much more than just the baby's identity.
In this novel, a career woman whose life is turned upside down by an unforeseen package is about to discover that nothing is predictable, especially when it comes to babies, love, and the future.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.41(d)|
Read an Excerpt
The Unexpected Package
By Michelle Lee
Trafford PublishingCopyright © 2014 Michelle Lee
All rights reserved.
"Isn't it adorable?" Stephanie squealed, holding up the baby outfit. Kay cringed ... She hated baby showers, and if Stephanie hadn't worked with her for the past two years, she would have refused the invitation. How could there be so much to say about a person who isn't even born yet? Anyone watching would have never guessed the deep repulsion Kay felt toward babies. Struggling to maintain her composure, she made her excuses, grabbed her coat, and let herself out into the cold Manhattan night. She didn't notice the chill of the night air or the rain that peppered down until she pushed a stray hair from her forehead then reaching for her umbrella, she remembered leaving it in Stephanie's apartment but she refused to go back. Besides, a little rain never hurt anyone. Nothing in New York bothered her. In fact, Kay thrived on the hustle and bustle of the big city. Stepping toward the curb, she hailed a passing taxi and settled herself in to enjoy the ride home.
All the talk about babies had upset her more than she wanted to admit. She knew she would never have children and felt justified in her decision. Her mother had died at the age of forty, forcing Kay and her five brothers and sisters to live with their aunt.
Her aunt had three children of her own, which brought the grand total of children in one house to eight. A cold shiver ran through her as a floodgate of memories forced their way into her thoughts. She knew at a young age she would pursue a career and never succumb to the marriage syndrome, picket fence and the patter of little feet. After graduating from high school, she had left home and never looked back. She had graduated with honors from one of New York's top fashion design schools, then landed a job at one of the largest fashion houses. At the age of thirty-two, Kay felt she was on top of the world. She owned an airy co-op in a luxurious high-rise on the West Side and had worked her way through the ranks to become one of a handful of the company's top designers. The fact that she had just been awarded her own line and her own label, "KAE of NEW YORK" made the years she had struggled worth it, because now she was going to reap the rewards. She took a deep breath pushing the thought of babies far back in the recesses of her consciousness and vowed she would never go to another baby shower. The rain enhanced her darkened mood, as the streets of Manhattan slipped by—Forty-Ninth, Fiftieth, Fifty-First.
She wondered what Jake had been doing while she had been smiling her fake smile pretending to listen to the girls' idle chatter. Whatever Jake had done would have been better than what she had endured. She smiled as his image invaded her thoughts. They had been an item for the past three years. Of course, the company had a policy against dating fellow employees, but when could love ever be stopped by a policy? Kay wondered if she did love Jake. Her mind shied away from the emotion called love, their relationship was based on mutual respect and shared interests. Granted, she enjoyed being with him, but she didn't know if she wanted to be with him for the rest of her life. She wasn't sure she wanted someone in her life full time. The taxi pulled to a stop in front of her hi-rise. She paid the driver and climbed out as Tom, the doorman, held an umbrella over her.
"Hi, Tom, is it cold enough for you?" Kay asked.
"It sure is, and I hear it's supposed to get colder." He pulled his coat collar up around his ears to ward off the nippy wind.
"Thanks. See ya tomorrow," Kay called over her shoulder as she entered the warm building.
Inside her apartment, she threw her coat on a chair and ran her fingers through her damp, blonde hair. She almost gagged as she wiped the raindrops from her face and the smell of the baby lotion, everyone had insisted she try, had her running to the bathroom. She washed her hands, not wanting to be reminded of the past two hours.
Entering the bedroom, she kicked off her shoes, and clicked on the answering machine. Everyone had told her to get rid of her antique machine but she couldn't. It was a link to her childhood, one of the few memories she had enjoyed so she had kept her phone and answering machine. She smiled as she listened to the voices of her friends and associates. The last caller was unfamiliar. She stepped closer as the voice choked out.
"Katy, I'm sorry you weren't home. I did want to explain. Hope you will understand. See you when I get back. Gotta hurry; my plane is leaving." The caller coughed. "Bye, and God bless you." Click.
Kay trembled. No one had called her Katy except her father and a few kids at school. This definitely wasn't her father; he had died when she was twelve, causing her mother to start her slow decline. Then who could this be? She had severed all ties with her past and locked her hurtful childhood away in some secret compartment of her heart, refusing to look at it for the past fourteen years. Now, in one night, it all came rushing back. She replayed the message. Obviously the caller was sick and had to leave, but what did that have to do with her? She jumped when the phone suddenly began to ring. It rang three more times before she heard her voice saying, "Hi, leave a message I'll call you back."
"Hi, honey." Jake's familiar voice came through loud and clear "Thought you'd be home by now. Call me."
"Jake, Jake?" She gasped as she jerked the receiver from its cradle.
"N-nothing. I think I might be coming down with a cold, and all that talk about babies upset me."
"Talk about babies always upsets me," Jake said with a laugh. "Did you get caught in the rain? You sound terrible"
Why had she said that? Yes, talking about babies did upset her, but she didn't have a cold. The man on the answering machine had a cold.
"I got a little wet, you know me I left my umbrella at Stephanie's but I'll feel better in the morning.
"Guess I'll let you get some rest. See you tomorrow."
"I'm sure a good night's sleep is all I need. Bye. Love you!" Kay hung up, still puzzled by the man's voice on the machine. Obviously he had known her when she was young and everyone had called her Katy. She shook her head, trying to clear out the entire evening that had turned out to be the worst she could remember since coming to New York. She rubbed the base of her neck trying to avoid the tension headache that was slowly working its way into a full blown migraine. She needed a distraction. Grabbing her robe she slid out of her dress, and propped herself up against the mass of designer pillows covering the bed. She picked up the remote from the nightstand and clicked the "on" button, but the blur of cop shows, inane sitcoms, and endless pharmaceutical ads wasn't helping. Sighing, she clicked off the television and leaned back against the pillows, again recalling the strange message. Someone from her childhood had called and was going to call again. Unbidden memories came flooding back to her. She thought of her mother, whom she had loved dearly, and her younger brother, Matt, the family clown. No matter how difficult life seemed, he always had a way of finding something amusing about the situation.
If only there was someone she could talk to. Her thoughts turned to Lisa. Why had she picked this weekend to go out of town? For the past three years Kay had used her for a sounding board whenever she needed to vent. Lisa was everything Kay wasn't—frivolous, unpredictable, and spoiled. Her father, a Wall Street executive, had given Lisa everything she had ever wanted, even the apartment next door to Kay. He had sent her to the best college and set her up in an office where he worked, hoping she would learn to love the Wall Street Stock Exchange world. But he didn't realize that Lisa didn't have a head for business. All she was looking for was a wealthy husband to let her continue her uncomplicated, spoiled life. Despite all of Lisa's shortcomings, Kay loved her like a sister. But now when Kay needed her, she wasn't there. Exhausted, Kay finished undressing and went to bed, hoping sleep would stop the millions of questions going through her mind but it was after midnight before she finally dozed off.
An annoying buzz pulled Kay out of a deep sleep. Her hand came out from under the covers and pushed the off button on her alarm clock. Still the buzzing continued, again her hand came out from under the sheet and retrieved the phone receiver then disappeared again under the covers, 'Hello, hello." The buzzing continued. She brushed her hair back from her forehead and raised up to replace the receiver when she saw it was only five o'clock. Realizing it was the intercom buzzing she forced herself to wake up. Grabbing her robe, she stumbled to the intercom. "Hi, Tom, did you want something?" she mumbled, stifling a yawn.
"Yes, Miss Stewart. I'm not Tom, I'm Bob. There's a package for you."
"A package, at this hour? Send it up later, okay?" Kay was trying to control her anger over being awakened at such an ungodly hour.
"Well," he drawled, "it's not your usual package, and I was told to deliver it ASAP."
"Okay, send it up." Kay switched off the intercom, stifling another yawn.
Rubbing her eyes, she made her way to the kitchen. After putting water on to boil, she sat at the kitchen table wondering who would be sending her a package at this insane hour. Just as she was taking a cup out of the cabinet, the elevator rang. When she opened the door she was surprised to see Bob holding a large laundry basket, the kind her mother had used—oval with woven handles on each end.
"A cab stopped out in front, but I couldn't see who was in the backseat. The cabbie got out, handed me this basket, and said I was to deliver it now! Before I could say anything, the cabbie jumped back in the cab and drove off." Bob thrust the basket at Kay, who stood there unresponsive. Then he placed it at her feet and mumbled, "I gotta get back downstairs." After he reentered the waiting elevator, the door closed behind him, leaving Kay standing in the hall with the basket at her feet.
She stared at the basket wondering if the girls at the baby shower were playing a joke on her. They had kept asking when was she getting married and having children? They had some nerve sending her a basket full of baby blankets. She clenched and unclenched her hands to keep herself from screaming. She might decide to have every one of the girls at the shower fired, and she could do it. Well, at least she could try. She picked up the basket and realized it was heavier than it looked. Luckily she had left the door open, she passed through it, closing it with her foot and deposited the basket on the floor. As she headed back to the kitchen, she stopped; a noise had escaped from under the blankets.
"What if it's a mouse?" She asked the empty room. Knowing she had to do something, she inched her way to the object and pulled back the blanket. Throwing it down, she ran screaming into the kitchen as the teakettle let out its relentless whistle. She turned off the stove, clasping her arms around her body, trying to stop the trembling. Braced against the stove, she forced herself to digest what she had just seen. When the trembling subsided, she tiptoed back into the room and again lifted the blanket. The trembling began again. A BABY!!
The baby looked around at his new surroundings. Then he let out a blood-curdling scream which she knew must have been heard throughout the entire building. He puckered his mouth between howls, looked at her, and then continued screaming. This had to be a mistake. Who would dare send her his baby? Even a joke wouldn't go that far. She took a deep breath, picked up the baby and balanced him on her hip as she began searching the contents of the basket. It appeared that whoever sent him had intended for him to stay awhile. There were bottles, diapers, clothes, formula, baby wipes, and a pale blue plastic bottle containing that nasty smelling baby lotion. As she searched further, she found an envelope with detailed instructions indicating when to feed him and put him down to nap, along with a personal note. She grabbed the note and read.
You are a dear for taking care of Sammy for me. There was no one else I could turn to. I prayed for God to send me an answer, and someone told me you were here in New York. I remembered how good you were with your brothers and sisters. I will reimburse you for anything you spend on Sammy. I hope to speak to you soon. Thank you again for being the wonderful girl I remember.
She stared at the note. "who remembers me from high school?" she wondered aloud. Turning the note over, she searched for a name or an initial, something! Kay couldn't remember anyone who would entrust her with a baby. While looking at the contents of the basket, she had forgotten Sammy perched on her hip. He had gone limp across her arm.
"Oh, no, he's dead!" She jerked him around, the quick movement startled him. He opened his eyes, saw her, and let out his infuriating scream. Relief washed over her when she realized he had just fallen asleep but his constant screaming had to stop. Thinking he might be wet she laid him on the floor and leaned into the basket for a diaper. Looking at the tub of Wet Ones, she pulled them out, thinking they must be for her to wipe her hands on. At least whoever the baby belonged to was thoughtful. Searching again, she wondered why they hadn't sent rubber gloves. She definitely didn't want to get anything on her perfectly manicured nails. Dreading the task, she decided she might as well get started. How dirty could one baby be? She hoped she could remember how to change a diaper. It had been a long time. With trembling fingers she pulled him between her out-stretched legs and proceeded to unsnap his jumpsuit. When the tabs of the plastic diaper were undone, a nauseating odor escaped. She pulled the diaper out from under him and watched in horror as yellow liquid leaked onto her white carpet.
"Yuck!" She held the diaper away from her, wrinkling her nose as the smell engulfed her. "My beautiful carpet, my beautiful white carpet," she moaned.
The baby smiled toothlessly up at her. He kicked his chubby legs and seemed to be enjoying the freedom of being unencumbered by clothes.
"You should be happy. You've ruined my carpet, the room smells like a hazardous waste dump, and I can't move because this disgusting mess is everywhere. What am I going to do?" She laid the diaper down and reached over him to get the Wet Ones. At that moment, he chose to relieve himself, aiming at her neck and face.
"Stop! Stop that!" Kay screamed as tears streamed down her cheeks. "You—you little monster!" She sobbed as she watched the smiling baby grab his toes with his hands and gurgle. Kay heard the door open, knowing Maria, her maid, had arrived.
"Oh! Little one, what is happening here?" Maria removed her coat and rushed over to Kay "What? A baby? Here? How did this happen?"
"I don't know," Kay sobbed. "I really don't know."
"Now, go. Take a hot bath. Maria will clean everything." The baby smiled and gurgled as he continued kicking his legs. "Come." Maria helped Kay untangle herself from the baby things surrounding her.
"Thank you, Maria," Kay said meekly as she took Maria's hand. "Do you think the carpet is ruined?" She asked, wiping the tears from her cheeks with the sleeve of her robe.
"No, babies have messed on floors since the beginning of time, and everything comes out all right. Go, think of more pleasant things." Maria waved her arms, shooing Kay from the room.
"I guess I'll have to throw this robe away after what he did to it." Kay glared at Sammy.
"No, I will clean the robe, and he"—Maria paused, glancing at the baby—"did not mean to pee on you. He is a beautiful baby, and he seems to be healthy. Have you fed him?" Maria asked, as she gathered things out of the basket and began diapering the baby. She made it look so normal.
"Be careful, Maria. He does things without any warning," Again, a shiver ran through her as she tried to shake off the memory of the past hour. Whoever had done this to her would be murdered, and she vowed to carry out the deed personally as soon as she found out who was responsible.
Excerpted from The Unexpected Package by Michelle Lee. Copyright © 2014 Michelle Lee. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing.
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