Callum Murphy stood in his walk-in wardrobe, fastening the buttons on his crisp white shirt. He had so much to do, he needed to get moving, or he would be playing catch up all day long.
He ran his fingers through his short, dark hair, which was still damp from the shower. Then he leaned in closer to the mirror and looked at his beard. He wished he had time to trim it, maybe tidy it up a little, but he needed to get going or he was really going to be late. He looked at his blue eyes in the mirror and sighed. He looked tired. Maybe he needed to book a holiday, perhaps somewhere in the Caribbean. He smiled at that thought, but quickly pushed it from his mind. Right now, he needed to get his day started.
He had a meeting with his mother later that morning. Callum sighed knowing she would want an answer on whether or not he was bringing a plus one with him to Henry’s christening.
His oldest brother, Landen and his wife, Amelia had their first child a little over three months ago now, and he was finally getting christened, much to their mother’s relief.
Nell Murphy wasn’t the most religious person in the world, but she was Catholic, so she believed that having a baby baptized gave a baby an inner strength, something her mother believed before her.
Callum considered asking Camilla to come with him. They had been dating for about four months now, and maybe it was time to take things to the next level with her. Maybe now was the right time for her to meet his family, officially.
She had met Dylan and Liam already, but Callum wondered if it was time for her to meet everyone else.
Reaching up, he chose a tie from the extensive collection he had in his wardrobe and slipped it around his neck before he walked back out into the bedroom, where Camilla was still in his bed.
“Why do you have to leave so early?” She pouted as she rolled over on the bed, watching him as he did up his tie. “It’s still so early.”
“Some of us have a job to go to, Kitten,” Callum replied as he glanced down at her and smiled.
“I work too,” Camilla insisted, giving him a coy smile.
“Spending Daddy’s millions isn’t a job, Cam,” Callum sighed as he sat down next to her on the bed. He leaned forward, kissing her briefly. “But I really do need to get going.”
“Can’t I make you change your mind?” She breathed out as she sat up, letting the sheet that was covering her naked body fall down, revealing her perfectly constructed, designer breasts.
“Tempting,” Callum replied with a sigh. “But I’ve really got to go.”
He leaned over, kissing her once more before he stood up, walking towards the door. He hesitated for a moment when he reached the door, then turned back to look at Camilla.
“Actually, there was something I wanted to ask you,” Callum said as he walked back towards the bed. “This weekend, my nephew, Henry is going to be christened. My brother and sister-in-law are having this party…”
“Please don’t tell me that you want me to go to some screaming brat’s christening?” Camilla snorted in disbelief, then laughed as she rolled back onto the pillows. “I think I’ll pass.”
“It’s not just some screaming brat, it’s my nephew,” Callum replied, feeling a little bit pissed off with her attitude. “Besides, I want you to meet my family.”
“Why?” Camilla asked as she gave him an amused look. “We’re just having fun, aren’t we? Why do you have to make it weird?”
“It’s not weird, it’s…” Callum said as he stood up and blew out a long, frustrated breath. “You know what, forget about it.”
“Oh, come on, you’re not mad at me are you?” Camilla asked as Callum turned, heading toward the door once more, her voice almost mocking, but he didn’t stop to reply. Instead, he just hurried out of the bedroom, heading for the stairs. “Cal!”
“Good morning, Mr. Murphy,” Annie, Callum’s housekeeper said brightly as he walked into the kitchen a few moments later. “Would you like some breakfast, Sir?”
“Good morning, Annie,” Callum replied as he set his briefcase on the counter before he filled up his travel mug with coffee to go. “No breakfast for me. I’m already running late.”
He picked up his briefcase before he turned, heading for the exit, but he stopped before he left the kitchen.
“Ms. Gibson is still here,” Callum said, giving Annie a look that said, he didn’t want her here when he came home. Annie smiled, so Callum knew she knew exactly what to do.
“I’ll see to it that Ms. Gibson gets home safely,” Annie assured him.
“Thank you,” he replied with a nod before he turned, then headed out of his apartment.
Callum lived in a two-story penthouse apartment in the Russian Hill district of San Francisco. He bought his apartment purely because, from his bedroom, there was a breath-taking view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the bay area too. It had four bedrooms on the top floor, each with their own bathrooms. On the bottom floor, there was a large living room, an equally large kitchen and dining room, an office, a gym, and a library, where Callum had put a huge pool table, much to his brother, Finn’s horror. There was also a small area on the ground floor level, in which Annie lived, it was a bedroom with a small living room off it, giving Annie a small space of her own, where she could relax when she was off duty.
He had been living there almost three years, and now he couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. He was happy in the little bubble that was his life, so he had no desire to change it for anyone or anything.
As he made his way down in the elevator, he thought about his conversation with Camilla and frowned. This girl drove him insane sometimes. He liked her; he really did. She was fun to be with, he enjoyed the time he spent with her, but then there were times he didn’t get her at all. Okay, he knew he didn't love her, not yet anyway. Sometimes he wondered if maybe that might change one day. But then she acts like she just did, without even trying to see things from his point of view or caring about his feelings, and he wondered why he liked her at all.
Since Landen married Amelia, and Finn got engaged to Emmy, it had become a standing joke that Callum would be the next brother to settle down and give up his bachelor lifestyle. Callum would always just laugh it off, but he often wondered if he was the one brother who would never find that someone he would want to change his life for.
As the doors to the elevator opened, Callum stepped out into the underground parking garage, pushing all thoughts of Camilla from his mind. He had a busy day ahead of him, so he didn’t have time for Camilla or her selfish behaviour.
He hit the central locking on his car keys, as he reached his Aston Martin, then quickly pulled open the door. Just as he went to climb in, his phone buzzed in his pocket.
Callum pulled it out, looking at the screen, he frowned when he didn’t recognise the number. He hated answering his phone when he didn’t know who was calling, so he just hit decline and pushed it back into his pocket.
Twenty minutes later, he was pulling into his parking space at the Kennedy Building. As he walked into the building, his phone rang once again. Callum pulled it out from his pocket once more, and once again the same number was falling on the screen. Hitting decline yet again, he pushed the phone back into his pocket, continuing on his way.
Heading for the bank of elevators at the far side of the marble foyer, Callum wondered who it was that seemed so eager to talk to him. If they really wanted to talk to him, they would leave him a voice message, then he would call them back once he knew who or what it was he was dealing with.
Being a Murphy boy, or more importantly, the CEO of the Kennedy Group, Callum was very much in the public eye. In some ways, even more than the rest of his brothers. In fact, other than Landen, the rest of the boy’s got off pretty easy when it came to the paparazzi.
Landen had always been clever when it came to his public image. He was The Bulldozer, one of San Francisco’s most successful and feared lawyers, so he would often turn up in some newspaper article, or magazine piece. But that was about work, Landen preferred to keep a low profile, never getting into any sort of drama when it came to his personal life. Now he was settled down with a wife and child, he was yesterday’s news as far as the press were concerned.
Until Finn had met Emmy, he lived in a world of books, so the press had no interest in him at all. Now he was settling down, and he was happy too.
Liam and Dylan were still finding their way in life, also in their careers, so they didn’t seem to make the tabloids that often. So that left Callum, and in some ways, he was the more high profiled of the five brothers, especially as he was now running the family business.
Having such a public profile meant that Callum was more cautious in who he interacted with. Hence, he never answered his phone when he didn’t know the number.
Often it was some reporter looking for some sound bite, or some charity with the latest hard luck story, looking for yet another handout. He had lost count of the times he had to change his personal phone number.
As he walked down the corridor, he wondered if maybe it was time for him to change his number once again.
“Good morning, Mr. Murphy,” Eloise said as Landen walked into his outer office.
“Good morning, Eloise,” Landen said, giving his assistant a smile. “Good morning, Maggie.”
“Good Morning, Mr. Murphy,” Maggie gushed as her face flushed with embarrassment. Callum instantly rolled his eyes. Nell had hired Maggie to replace Amelia after she gave up working to be with Henry. Amelia decided that she was not going to come back after her maternity leave because she wanted to be there for the baby all the time.
Callum knew that Maggie had a crush on him, but his one rule when it came to women and relationships was, never mix business with pleasure. Or as Liam would put it, don’t dip your pen in the company ink.
“Your mother called to confirm that she would be here at eleven,” Eloise said as she stood up, following him into his office. “Also, your meeting with Charles Brownlow was pushed back to two o’clock, your three o’clock called to confirm too, also I managed to book that table you wanted for this evening.”
“Thank you, Eloise,” Callum said as he slipped off his jacket, hanging it on the coat stand. “Any calls?”
“Aren’t there always,” Eloise laughed as she set a list of calls he needed to return down on Callum’s desk. “Can I get you anything else?”
“Coffee please,” Callum replied, giving Eloise a grateful smile. “Decaf, black…no wait, better give me the real stuff. Something tells me I’m going to need it today.”
“Coming right up,” Eloise said with a laugh as she turned, walking towards the door. “Oh, I almost forgot, you’ve had a call from a solicitor in New York. She said she was trying to reach you on your cell, but there was no answer.”
“Did she say what she wanted?” Callum asked giving her a questioning look. “Or leave a name?”
“No,” Eloise replied. “She said it was a private matter; that she would call back.”
“Didn’t she leave a number?” Callum asked, surprised that whoever it was hadn’t left a number for him to call back.
“She just said she would call back again,” Eloise explained with a shrug.
“I had two calls today from a number I didn’t know,” Callum sighed as he took his seat. “I wonder if it was the same person.”
“I guess we’ll see,” Eloise replied with another shrug before she hurried out of the office to go and get Callum’s coffee.
While he was waiting, he pulled his phone from his pocket, checking the call log. The two calls he had declined were there, along with a third call he had missed the night before from the same number.
Callum was checking his voicemail when Eloise returned with his coffee, setting it down on his desk. Callum mouthed, thank you, to Eloise as he listened to all the voicemails on his phone. None were from the number that had been calling him, so he was none the wiser.
He pulled the number back up on his phone and stared at it for a moment. Who did he know that was in New York? No one immediately jumped out at him, but his curiosity was getting the better of him. He reached for his coffee, taking a sip before he reached for the call button to call them back.
He was just about to hit it when his intercom on his desk sounded.
“Yes, Eloise?” Callum said as he pressed down on the intercom button.
“I have Sherry Baxter on line two,” Eloise replied.
“Sherry Baxter?” Callum repeated, having no clue who this woman was. “Do I know a Sherry Baxter?”
“She is a lawyer from March, Cole, and Brookstein,” Eloise explained. “They are the law firm from New York that called earlier.”
“Did she say what this was about?” Callum asked, but he was sure he already knew the answer.
“No, Sir,” Eloise replied. “She just said it was regarding a personal matter, so she needed to speak to you directly.”
“Okay, Eloise,” Callum said with a sigh. “Put her through.”
Callum took a deep breath before he pressed the flashing button on his phone to accept the call.
“Callum Murphy speaking,” he said giving his usual greeting to whoever called him. “What can I do for you, Ms. Baxter?”
“Mr. Murphy,” the lady on the other end of the phone began. “I’m an associate at March, Cole, and Brookstein. We are based here in New York. I’m calling on behalf of a client of ours, Ms. Carolynn Harper.”
“Carolynn Harper!” Callum exclaimed surprised to hear her name. He instantly pictured Carolynn in his mind.
She was one of the prettiest girl’s Callum had ever met. She had long blonde hair, with the most beautiful green eyes that Callum had ever seen. She was also probably the sweetest girl that Callum had ever dated, too sweet to be with someone like him. He had dated Carolynn for six months, he had even considered that they could have a future together. But then she was offered a job in New York, but instead of asking her to stay with him, he told her to take it because he was an idiot. She was his one biggest regret.
“It’s been a long time,” Callum finally continued, he couldn’t help but smile as he remembered her smiling face. “How is she?”
“Mr. Murphy,” Sherry said, her tone of voice immediately telling Callum that something was very wrong. “I’m afraid I have some bad news. Ms. Harper passed away late last night, after a short illness.”
Callum felt like all the wind had been sucked out of his body, and someone had kicked him in the guts. Carolynn was dead. How could this even be true?
“I see,” Callum finally managed to say into the phone.
“I’m so sorry for your loss,” Sherry continued. “I understand that this has probably come as quite a shock to you.”
“It…it has,” Callum said as his stomach heaved. He needed to end this call as quickly as possible before he fell apart while talking to this stranger. “Thank you for letting me know. Can you please forward the funeral arrangements to my assistant, I would really like to go and…”
“Mr. Murphy,” Sherry said, cutting Callum off mid-sentence. “There is another matter I need to discuss with you.”
“Okay,” Callum replied as he tried to focus all his energy on not falling apart.
“As I said, Ms. Harper was our client,” Sherry continued. “And she has left a will regarding her estate and other matters. In particular, she left instructions about what was to happen to her daughter, Macy.”
“Her…her daughter?” Callum asked, completely surprised by this new piece of information.
“Ms. Harper has a four-year-old daughter called Macy,” Sherry continued. “In her will, she has requested, that in the event of her passing, custody of Macy should be given to her father.”
“I see,” Callum said, still trying to take in everything that this woman was saying. “But I don’t understand what any of this has to do with me.”
“Mr. Murphy,” Sherry said, then took a deep breath before she continued. “It says on Macy’s birth certificate that you are her father.”
“I’m her what?” Callum exclaimed, the urge to vomit even stronger now than it had been before.
“Mr. Murphy,” Sherry continued her voice even and flat. “You are Ms. Harper’s daughter’s father, therefore, you now have sole custody of Macy Harper Murphy.”
Callum dropped the phone and bolted straight to his bathroom. Once inside, he dropped to his knees and vomited until there was nothing left inside him.
Finally, he pulled back from the toilet bowl, slumping back against the wall, as his mind raced with so many questions; one overriding all the rest.
What the hell was he going to do now?