An all-new celebrity romance is coming this week from author Rachel Blaufeld, and I have the whole first chapter for you. It’s the story of Callum Rand, an ordinary man but an extraordinary doctor, who falls for Hollywood movie star, Billy Conway (she is the sister of the hero in The Back Nine). Both in their 40’s, they don’t think happily-ever-after is in their future . . . until maybe it is.
“Morning,” I said to my latest patient. Noting the name as Laura Waters—age thirty-one, third pregnancy, second surrogacy, and no known issues—I inhaled, thinking this wasn’t my typical caseload.
“Good morning,” she spoke softly.
At two months pregnant she didn’t show at all, and likely didn’t need a high-risk obstetrician, but this was how it went with high-profile patients. Not her, but the elated parents-to-be she was lugging a baby around for—the late Honorable Ford Conway’s son and his wife. The younger Conway, notable in his own right, and his wife also happened to be running late. I tapped my pen onto the file, pretending to peruse it for pertinent information.
“Jamie texted. They landed and are on their way. You know they had the premiere for Super Lady last night? But they would never miss this.” Laura spoke up, seemingly reading my thoughts, defending the couple paying her to carry their baby.
I nodded. “No problem.” Of course Ford Conway, the baby daddy and sperm donor, was the son of a former Supreme Court justice, brother of a senator, and a hotshot movie producer himself. Go figure—he had to be on the red carpet the night before, despite his cross-country relationship with a surrogate. In fairness to him, he did offer to have me flown out for the premiere, but I’d declined.
What would I do at a movie premiere? Meet a celebrity?
“Well, until they get here, I can take your blood pressure…again.”
I busied myself taking a few vitals my nurse had already taken and made small talk with Laura. She explained how the Conways wanted to be involved in every step and didn’t plan to cut her out of their lives after she had the baby.
“Could always change, but you know that.” I looked up, raising an eyebrow. Giving birth, surrogacy, parenting brought out the best—and the worst—in people.
Regretting my bad attitude and lapse into my childhood, I ran my hand through my hair and cleared my throat, grasping for something kinder to say. My bedside manner didn’t tend to be lacking, and my expertise typically made up for my shortcomings. In this case, the Conway/Laura trio didn’t need either my encouragement or expertise—they needed a healthy baby and to go on their merry way.
Laura rattled on. “This is my calling. I love being pregnant, and I’m blessed with a beautiful baby of my own. I’d like to give that to anyone who wants.”
Like I said, no need for sweet nothings.
No doubt this would be a healthy baby. Ford Conway had spared no expense in making sure the embryos were perfect before being implanted. They implanted two, but only one took. I’d seen Laura when she’d had some bleeding, and of course the Hollywood parents had been on the phone the whole time, but this would be the first time I was meeting Ford and Jamie in the flesh.
“Right this way,” rang out outside the door. My nurse Jeannie knocked and peeked her head inside the room. “The Conways are here.”
Laura piped up, smiling, and I said, “Send them in.”
Laura was clearly a saint, sitting there, her belly and heart exposed while in walked a daunting Ford Conway with his hair mussed, Adidas track pants and black T-shirt, and a Rolex heavy on his wrist. His eyes went to Laura sitting on the table, but his hand never left his wife’s fingers.
The beautiful Jamie Conway brushed a tear out of her eye while her red curls went every which direction, framing her face. Dressed in jeans, an untucked white blouse, and a matching Rolex on her wrist, she looked like royalty, even though I’d heard she was a simple woman—worked in the nonprofit sector—who grew up in a different world than her husband and his family.
It wasn’t until I caught a glimpse of who was standing next to Jamie that my heart started to race, my breath catching in my throat.
“Laura, Dr. Rand, this is Billy.” Despite the introduction not being necessary, Jamie introduced her sister-in-law, the Billy Conway.
Billy Conway was the ultimate woman of my dreams. Look, I might be a successful physician, highly touted, but at the end of the day I was a man who crushed on a Hollywood actress. Until this moment, she was a fantasy…
Laura smiled and whispered, “Oh my God. How exciting! You’re going to make a beautiful aunt,” and I wanted to shush her. She was stealing my thunder.
Billy was beautiful, for sure. Blond, blue-eyed, lithe at around five foot eight, with skin not quite fair or olive but somewhere in the middle, she was the golden standard for me. I’d loved Billy Conway since I saw her in her first role, Pretty Penelope. She’d taken my breath away even though it was a ridiculously frivolous rom-com. At the time, a bad date had dragged me to see the film, but the ethereal beauty now standing in front of me had saved the day. She’d been gorgeous when she was younger, but she was absolutely stunning in person.
“Nice to meet you,” she said to me, extending her hand.
As her slight fingers slipped into mine, I realized why I’d never dated seriously—my standards were too high. I was attracted to actresses way out of my league, and I was a boring doctor who lived outside DC.
The two didn’t mix.
“Now that we are all here,” I said to the room full of onlookers, “we can check out our baby.”
I made a show of re-checking all of Laura’s vitals, asking both Laura and Jamie if they had any questions. Laura went on and on about how well she was feeling, and Jamie asked if we could listen to the heartbeat.
“We will do a vaginal ultrasound today and be able to check in on our little one. As you know, we lost one embryo early on, and we’re not out of the woods with this tough guy or girl yet. But with Laura’s history and the testing you and Mr. Conway did, I am expecting this to go as planned.”
“Ford, please…” Jamie scolded her husband, who was pacing.
I hated having to remind them how fragile this whole process was, especially when I could’ve sworn a tear dropped from Billy’s eye. She was quick to swipe it away.
Jamie Conway was the only one who didn’t seem swayed by my words as the smile on her face widened. “Great. When can we do the ultrasound?”
“First, I need to know who Laura is comfortable having in the room, and then I can send in my tech to get it all set up.”
Laura was waving a hand in the air. “Everyone should be here.”
“I’m going to excuse myself for this part and let the parents-to-be have their moment,” Billy said softly, her eyes glossed over. She bent over to kiss Jamie’s cheek and winked at her brother before stepping out.
I wanted to follow but reminded myself I was in charge of what was happening in the room.
With Billy gone, I relaxed a bit, giving some instructions on the gown and the ultrasound wand before excusing myself to grab Shelly, my ultrasound tech.
She assured me she would be thorough and call me in when she was done. With ten or fifteen free minutes, I should have done some charting. Instead, I walked toward the waiting room, almost plowing straight into Billy. My pulse ratcheted as soon as I was within a few inches of her.
“Sorry.” I quickly added some space between the two of us and asked, “Is everything okay?”
“Of course. I wanted to give my brother and Jamie some space. I’ve been a bit overinvolved in this pregnancy already. It’s just so exciting.” She said Jamie’s full name, James, with such elegance, the soft s rolling off her tongue as if she had rehearsed it that way.
Losing myself in her voice was easy. It was so much better in person. Soft and throaty, tinged with her excitement. Her smile even grew bigger and better in real time—genuine, bright, and touching her eyes.
“I meant…did you want to sit down?”
“Oh,” she said, tucking a stray hair behind her ear. “The waiting room is pretty full, and sadly, I’m pretty recognizable. It would only take a few minutes for the rumors to spread. I’d be pregnant with triplet aliens or wolves by the end of the day. I’d have ten potential baby daddies, and there would be a bump watch. So I’m just standing here, out of the way.”
I swallowed my naïveté—I hadn’t thought about Billy’s notoriety. Ford was a behind-the-scenes guy, but not his sister.
“Ford arranged for us to come in the rear entrance, and I assume we’ll go out that way. I didn’t bring Frank, mostly because this is about Jamie, but I can’t sit out there alone. He’d have a fit of epic proportions.”
“Frank?” Jealousy surged in my veins over a Hollywood actress I’d been talking to for all of two and a half minutes. A woman who was as likely to be mine as I was to be elected president.
“Oh,” slipped from my mouth as I exhaled. A sense of relief washed over me because of a bodyguard—what was happening to me? “Do you want to sit in my office? It’s private. No one will bother you in there,” I said, willing my errant thoughts away.
“That would be lovely.” She seemed to breathe the statement on a sigh of relief, and it took all of my self-restraint not to bang my fists into my chest. As she swished her hair behind her neck I caught sight of the tiniest beauty mark in the shape of a pear, under her earlobe.
Having no idea why I banked this information, I mentally shook myself back to the present. “Come,” was all I said instead, and started walking toward the back, making a mental note to instruct the office staff to keep today’s visit quiet. Not sure when my obstetrics practice felt like it had become a set for reality TV, I swung open the door to my office and said, “Have a seat. Make yourself at home. Can I have some tea or coffee sent back?”
“No thanks, but this is better than standing. Thank you, Dr. Rand.”
Her gaze slid to mine, and if men could blush, I was doing it. “Cal, please,” I requested in a hurry, wishing I had hours with this woman.
She nodded, sitting in the club chair in the corner.
“I’m going to check on Jamie and Laura, but just in case you were wondering, alien triplets with ten baby daddies are not really a possibility. Maybe quadruplets…with a wolf…but I’d need to investigate it further.”
She laughed, her eyes becoming tiny slivers as a giggle erupted from her chest. “Thanks for the seat and the discretion.”
Her words floated through the laugh, and my fist actually formed, ready to pound on my chest. I really needed to get my caveman under control. Then Billy looked straight at me, and I felt her presence deep in my core. The woman was spellbinding.
“Do you mind if I say—I’m a fan.” I didn’t mean for it to come out… “Shit,” I corrected.
“It’s fine,” she said. “Thank you for helping my brother, Dr. Rand. He deserves this. A chance at love and a life.”
With my formal name still lingering on her lips, she went to pull an iPad out of her tote, and I took it as a sign to let it be. I couldn’t help but wonder about her—did she have love? Or a life?
“I’ll leave you to it,” was all I said, and then I escaped, shutting the door behind me.