FURY:A Rio Games Romance(10)

By: Alison Ryan

Besides, it had never been a question she would keep the baby. Despite what many would have told her, she knew it was her destiny. Jack had come into her life for a reason. And now she knew why.

She had enough family to help her, and despite whatever embarrassment the whole ordeal would cause her own parents, she couldn’t imagine that they’d turn their backs on her, especially once the baby arrived.

She had to at least try to find Jack, if not for financial assistance, simply because it was the right thing to do. He deserved to know he was going to be a father. The hospital had to have some sort of contact information for Jack, and although they were reluctant to release it to her, she eventually talked an administrator into slipping her a mailing address for the local mini-celebrity, their American shark bite victim, Jack O’Connor.

Karalaini wrote a letter and mailed it to an apartment located someplace called Columbus, Ohio.

The letter arrived to find Jack long gone, but the new tenant decided, fortunately, that an airmail letter was likely of some value and the piece of mail meandered its way from the landlord, to Ohio State University, to Mrs. Margaret O’Connor, Jack’s mother, and finally to Jack’s eldest sibling, Gavin.

The call went silent so long that Gavin thought his brother must have hung up, but finally Jack spoke. “Wow. Uncle Gavin has quite a ring to it, eh?”

Gavin chuckled. “So, do I get a sister-in-law out of this deal? And does she have any sisters?”

Both brothers laughed, but Jack knew the time for mirth was past. On a speck in the ocean, half a world away, his baby was coming.

Jack O’Connor cancelled a dinner date he’d arranged with a pretty young Penn State coed and he sat in his apartment just off campus with a six pack while he stared out the window, watching the afternoon sun set and the stars begin to fill the sky.

After mulling it over for several days, Jack O’Connor picked up the phone and dialed the number Laini had put in her letter. Living with extended family, a group sharing one telephone, and with a sixteen-hour time difference, it took the better part of three more days for the pair to make contact.

Karalaini’s voice trembled when she picked up the receiver after being summoned to the phone by her cousin.

“Bula! Jack, is it really you?” Karalaini greeted Jack with the Fijian version of “aloha,” the versatile “bula,” a word Jack grew familiar with during his stay the previous summer.

“Bula, Laini. I got your letter. Well, obviously I got your letter. How are you? How’s the…is the baby okay?” Jack’s reply included “bula,” which best translates to English as “health,” wishing good health to the recipient. He’d never meant it more.

Jack heard her exhale. She couldn’t quite believe this was happening, that she’d actually tracked him down, and that he responded, when her friends had convinced her that no guy on the other side of the planet would bother to take responsibility for something that he’d inevitably think of as a holiday fling.

“Yes, Jack, the baby is great. I’m fine. I’m so glad I found you, that you called. How are you? Your leg?”

“As you might imagine, I’m a little surprised by all of this, I mean I’ve thought of you so much, and I was so frustrated that I didn’t have a way to contact you once I got home. My leg is perfect. What does your family think about you being, you know, about you having a baby?” Jack couldn’t get over hearing her voice again. He would have done anything at that moment to climb through the phone and hold her. She had to be terrified.

“They’re excited, most of them, but it’s hard for my parents, this isn’t at all how they expected to become grandparents. I mean they haven’t even met you,” she explained.

“I intend to rectify that just as soon as I can. I’m in school now, but I have a break for Christmas and then Spring Break a few months later. I wanted to see if I could visit for one or both if I could,” Jack offered, suddenly realizing how badly he needed to see her again.

“I’d like that very much. Calling here must be so expensive. You have my address. Let’s write and maybe we can talk sometimes and you can tell me when you can come. I miss you, Jack.”

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