Dating the Rebel Tycoon

By: Ally Blake

CAMERON Kelly opened the heavy side-door of the random building, shut it smartly behind him and became enveloped in darkness. The kind of inky darkness that would make even the bravest boy imagine monsters under the bed.

It was some years since Cameron had been a boy, longer still since he’d realised people didn’t always tell the truth. When he’d found out his two older brothers had made the monsters up.

The small window between himself and the Brisbane winter sunshine outside revealed the coast was clear, and he let his forehead rest on the cold glass with a sheepish thunk.

Of all the people he could have seen—many miles from where a man such as he ought to have been while commerce and industry raged on in the city beyond—it had to have been his younger sister Meg, downing take-away coffee and gabbing with her girlfriends.

If Meg had seen him wandering the suburban Botanical Gardens, pondering lily pads and cacti rather than neck-deep in blueprints and permits and funding for multi-million-dollar skyscrapers, she would not have let him be until he’d told her why.

So he, a grown man—a man of means, and most of the time sense—was hiding. Because the truth would only hurt her. And, even though he’d long since been cast as the black sheep of the Kelly clan, hurting those he cared about was the last thing he would ever intentionally do.

He held his watch up to the parcel of light, saw it was nearly nine and grimaced.

Hamish and Bruce, respectively his architect and his project manager, would have been at the CK Square site for more than an hour waiting for him to approve the final plans for the fifty-fourth floor. This close to the end of a very long job, if they hadn’t throttled one another by now then he would be very lucky.

He made to open the door to leave, remembered Meg—the one person whose leg he’d never been able to pull, even with two adept older brothers to show him how—and was overtaken by a stronger compulsion than the desire to play intermediary between two grown men. His hand dropped.

Let the boys think he was making a grand entrance when he finally got there. It’d give them something to agree upon for once. He could live with people thinking he had an ego the size of Queensland. He was a Kelly, after all; impressions of grandeur came with the name.

‘We’re closed,’ a voice echoed somewhere behind him.

He spun on his heel, hairs on the back of his neck standing on end. Though he hadn’t boxed since his last year at St Grellans, in a flash his fists were raised, his fingers wrapped so tight around his thumbs they creaked. Lactic acid burned in his arms. It seemed fresh air, sunshine and tiptoeing through the tulips weren’t the catharsis for an uneasy mind that they were cracked up to be.

He peered around the huge empty space and couldn’t see a thing past the end of his nose, bar a square of pink burned into his retina from the bright light of the window.

‘I’m desperately sorry,’ the voice said. ‘I seem to have given you a little fright.’

Unquestionably female, it was, husky, sweet, mellow tones drifting to him through the darkness with a surprisingly vivid dash of sarcasm, considering she had no idea who she was dealing with.

‘You didn’t frighten me,’ he insisted.

‘Then how about you put down your dukes before you knock yourself out?’

Cameron, surprised to find his fists were still raised, unclenched all over, letting his hands fall to his sides before shucking his blazer back onto his shoulders.

‘Now, I love an eager patron as much as the next gal,’ the mocking voice said. ‘But the show doesn’t start for another half-hour. Best you wait outside.’

The show? Cameron’s eyes had become more used to the light, or lack thereof. He could make out a bumpy outline on the horizon, rows of seats decked out auditorium-style. They tipped backwards slightly so that an audience could look upwards without getting neck strain, as the show that went on in this place didn’t happen on stage but in the massive domed sky above.

He’d stumbled into the planetarium.

Wow. He hadn’t been in the place since he was a kid. It seemed the plastic bucket seats and industrial carpet scraping beneath his shoes hadn’t changed.

He craned his neck back as far as it would go, trying to make out the shape and form of the roof. The structural engineer in him wondered about the support mechanisms for the high ceiling, while the vestiges of the young boy who’d once upon a time believed in monsters under the bed simply marvelled at the deep, dark, infinite black.

Finally, thankfully, one thing or another managed to shake loose a measure of the foreboding that ruminating over rhododendrons had not.