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This is an edited version of Nanny Sarah Pt 1. Big thanks to Bi_Cathy for proofreading
This is actually the first story I Started Writing, well before the Tennis Star, but it was written long hand and had to be typed out, it took longer to publish. This is a much slower burn than my last story, but I hope it’s worth it. All characters involved in explicit scenes are over eighteen. Comments and constructive criticism are very welcome. They mean so much.
This wasn’t going to work.
I tossed the latest girl’s dossier down on the coffee table and stretched my arms behind me, trying to relieve the tension in my shoulders. Why was this so difficult? I made multi-million dollar pitches every day (well, not every day, but often enough), and I’d never felt this lost. Six. I’d seen six prospective nannies. Each had been highly qualified, excellent references, yadda, yadda, yadda. They’d run the gamut from early twenties to late fifties. Just none of them felt right.
I heard a car door shut, then another, and I watched as the front door opened and my three-year-old squealing ball of sunshine burst through.
“Mommy!” She charged through the sitting room and jumped into my arms. “I missed you!” I hugged her tight.
“I missed you, too, munchkin. Did you have fun today?”
“So much fun! We went to the park and the playground and I got to swim in the pool! And we got ice cream out of the back of a truck!
I grinned and looked over at Joan, who’d settled into a chair next to the couch.
She shrugged. “Ice cream truck, what’re you gonna do?”
“Mine was shaped like a froggy! It was so good I ate the whole thing.”
“And made quite the mess.” Joan gave her best pretend stern look.
I laughed. “Did she behave?”
“Good as gold. Weren’t you, Heidi?” Heidi nodded vigorously, beaming up at me.
I turned to Joan. “Thank you so much for today. Please stay for dinner? Roger’s welcome, too.”
“I’d love to. You know what? You relax and spend some time with your daughter. I’m going to run home and get a few things, and I’ll cook.” I opened my mouth to protest, but Joan’s hardening gaze cut me off. “Don’t deny an old woman some joy in her life.” With that I smiled my thanks and she was out the door and down the sidewalk.
I picked up Heidi’s little pink backpack and fished out the plastic bag holding her wet swimsuit and towel, carrying them into the laundry room to wash. When I finished Heidi was already parked at her white plastic table in the family room.
“Mommy, come draw with me.”
I grinned and walked over, sitting cross-legged and grabbing a sheet of paper. Heidi already preferred to draw her own pictures, rather than color them in a book. And, hard to say at that age, but I think she had some of her old lady’s talent.
Twenty minutes later the front door opened again and Joan poured through with a pair of green cloth bags filled with food.
I chuckled. “Sure you brought enough?”
“Gotta make sure you have some leftovers, sweetie.” Joan began rummaging around under the counters. “Where’s your pasta pot?”
“Here, I’ll help.” I climbed to my feet and dug a stockpot out from a lower cabinet. I began filling it with water while Joan chopped veggies for a salad. After that she pulled out a package of shrimp, which elicited a little happy noise from me. I adored any kind of seafood, which Joan well knew. I watched her closely as she began to prep a white wine sauce.
Before my mother died during my junior year of high school I’d always been too busy to learn to cook. Once she was gone, well…. I just didn’t have the heart. A stay at home mom, the kitchen had been my mother’s palace, where she’d ruled with a velvet covered iron fist. Moving around that same kitchen with Joan was almost like having her back. Almost.
By the time Joan’s husband Roger arrived the whole house was filled with the aroma of baking bread and garlic. It was heavenly. My house was too often filled with the aroma of takeout pizza and Chinese food.
“That smells wonderful, honey.” Roger leaned in for another whiff, kissing his wife on the cheek and pinching her on the butt, ’cause he didn’t think I was watching.
Joan playfully swatted his shoulder. “Go help Connie set the table.” Her eyes twinkled as her husband’s mouth twitched into a mischievous grin under his grey moustache.
“Yes, dear.” My God, what would it be like to still be so in love after thirty-something years? There was a picture of the two of them in their living room, dressed in their wedding clothes, gazing into each other’s souls. They still looked at each other that way. I felt my eyes burn with tears as I turned away toward the family room where Heidi was still drawing and singing softly to herself. I may not have a Joan and Roger love, but I was blessed. Truly.
“So how did it go today?”
I groaned at Joan’s question, shoulders slumping.
“That well, huh?”
I filled them in briefly on the women I’d seen. “They poker oyna were fine, just none, I don’t know.” I picked at the remains of my dinner with my fork, before dabbing up some leftover sauce with a dinner roll. Heidi had finished her buttered noodles with shaky cheese (that’s parmesan to the rest of us) and was off playing. “You sure you don’t want a job?” I smiled sweetly at Joan.
“No, thank you. Don’t mind helping out, of course, but I couldn’t keep up with her every day. And if my own rotten, ungrateful children would give me any grandkids I wouldn’t have to borrow them from the neighbors.”
Roger harrumphed. Their ‘rotten’ children were all doing quite well for themselves, the youngest just graduating college and landing a job as a chemist in Chicago. But no grandbabies yet. Three for three grown and out of the house. Roger considered that a win, but I’m not sure Joan fully agreed.
I sighed. “I’m just going to have to pick one and hope it works out. I can’t keep using the daycare at work if Heidi’s going to start that preschool in August, and I really want her to do that, so…” I shrugged.
Roger leaned forward. “You know, my boss is letting his nanny go. His kids are growing up, and he speaks very highly of her.”
“Well, she’s welcome to send over a resume. Won’t hurt anything.” I sipped my wine.
“Okay, I’ll send him an email when I get home. His name is Sam Johnson.”
“Thanks Roger.” I swirled the rest of my roll through the sauce and popped it into my mouth. “And thank you, Joan, for everything today.”
“You’re very welcome. Now, Roger and I will clean up while you get the munchkin ready for bed.” I smiled and stood; Joan pulled me into a hug. “Don’t worry, child. The Lord will provide.
The next morning was Saturday. I have to work Saturdays occasionally, generally when a big pitch was looming, but this wasn’t one of them. Woot. Heidi was curled up on the sofa with two of her favorite stuffed friends, trying her best to kill the battery on my phone. I was finishing up the breakfast dishes when I heard a little voice.
“Hello? This is Heidi.” I dried my hands and hurried into the living room.
“Honey, who are you…”
Heidi was already holding out the phone. “It’s for you, Mommy.” I took the phone, mentally preparing to berate whatever telemarketer had intruded on our lovely Saturday morning.
“Hello?” My voice was five parts professional and one part annoyed. Go me.
“Constance Walker?” I frowned. He didn’t sound like a salesman.
“I’m Sam Johnson. I work with Roger Stephenson. I was told you might have a position open for our Sarah.”
My eyes widened. That was quick. “Yes, it’s still open. She’s welcome to send over a resume.”
“Good, you’ll have it by noon. But before I tell Sarah about it I wanted to talk to you, to let you know what kind of a gem you’d be getting.” I sat down. His voice had softened while he spoke, becoming almost fatherly. “This is a full-time position? Live in?” I hadn’t considered that. None of the others had requested live-in. But, this was a family home. It had three baths and five bedrooms upstairs. One was my studio and office, but the other two spares were just guestrooms.
“Full time, absolutely. Live in wasn’t expected, but is possible, depending on circumstances.”
“Good. Sarah has had full access to our home for years, and we’ve never had a minute of doubt regarding her integrity. She’s trustworthy, diligent, kind; it’s been an absolute pleasure to have her. She’s wonderful with the children, keeps them very active.”
“She doesn’t fly around with an umbrella and say ‘Spit spot’, does she?”
He chuckled. Good to know that is possible. “You’d think so, from the way I go on. But she’s like family. I want to see her safe. Your husband?”
“I’m not married. It’s just Heidi and myself.”
“And Heidi’s father?”
“Not in the picture.”
“Very well.” He sighed on the other end. “I’m sorry for the personal nature of my inquiry, and I appreciate you for answering. I’ve seen too many of my circle get, well, let’s say overly involved with their employees; both at work or at home. I’d rather Sarah not be put into that position. And she is a lovely young woman.”
“Well, little chance of that type of issue with me, I think.”
“Excellent, I appreciate that. We’ll have that resume and her reference letters sent to you this morning.”
They were as good as their word, as the documents were in my box within two hours. Sarah held an associate’s degree in child development from a liberal arts college in southern Michigan, and had two glowing letters of recommendation. The one from the Johnsons was to be expected, but the other, from her position before, was equally effusive.
I sent a quick email, asking if she could meet this weekend, and a short time later we’d settled on Sunday at two.
Ten minutes before Sarah was supposed to arrive I found myself standing in front of my full-length bedroom mirror, canlı poker oyna several different tops strewn about my bed. What was wrong with me? Friday I’d met with six potential nannies, and I’d spent less than fifteen minutes on my outfit. I’d just worn what I’d wear to the office. But I couldn’t do a pant suit or business skirt on a Sunday afternoon.
I pulled on a cream-colored pussy bow blouse. It was just translucent enough that you could catch a hint of my black lace bra underneath. I liked it. Maybe. Ugh, I don’t know. But I was running out of time. I pulled on my best pair of jeans. Sunday, casual, right? I fastened on a pair of two-inch strappy sandals and gave a final twirl in the mirror.
At five-nine I didn’t usually need the extra height, but it never hurt to be a little intimidating at an interview, especially when you were the one behind the desk.
I walked out of my closet. “How do I look?”
Heidi looked up from my phone. “Good.” She gave me an adorable little thumbs up.
“Alright, munchkin, downstairs, we have company coming.” I scooped her up into a kiss and tickle, causing her to squeal in delight and drop my phone, which I pocketed after setting her back down. She ran out of the room laughing as I followed.
Joan was at a church thing and couldn’t babysit, so I put a cartoon on for Heidi. Hopefully it would keep her engrossed enough to let me get through the interview. The doorbell chimed precisely at two. Punctual. I dropped the hardcopy of Sarah’s resume I’d printed onto my chair and walked to the entryway. I grasped the door handle, swung it open, and the world stopped moving.
“Ms. Walker? Hello, I’m Sarah Peters.” She extended her hand, and I reached to take it. Everything went foggy, except for those eyes, green like her blouse, deep and shining. Wavy auburn hair shone like copper in the sun, cascading down well past her shoulders. My hand found hers and reality snapped back into place. Good god, what was wrong with me? I forced myself to speak. “It’s a pleasure, Miss Peters. Come in.” My muscles started working again and I stepped aside.
“Thank you, and please call me Sarah.”
I nodded. “Sarah.” A hint of pink colored her cheeks as I repeated her name.
I turned away, partly to close the door and partly to hide the blush that was spreading across my cheeks. I wanted to tell her to call me Connie, but my inner businesswoman overrode that impulse. I had to keep this professional. I took a deep breath and turned back around.
“Please have a seat.” I pointed to the couch.
“Thank you.” She turned toward the sitting room. I glanced down, noting that she was wearing conservative two, maybe two and a half inch wide based heels. Our footwear evening out I had her by about three inches. She smoothed her pleated skirt as she sat, demurely crossing her ankles. She moved with an efficient grace, in control of herself. I got the impression she was not someone who flustered easily. Probably an asset when dealing with children.
I lowered myself into my own chair as she spoke.
“You have a lovely home.”
“How long have you lived here?”
“Since I was seven.” Her eyes widened in surprise. “Yeah. My parents bought it when dad made partner in his firm. When I was pregnant with Heidi dad insisted I move back home, and I inherited it from him when he died two years ago. It’s a little big for just the two of us, but it’s ours free and clear, so…”
Geez, Connie, TMI, pull it together. “So tell me about yourself, Sarah.”
She smiled and blushed, just like the first time I’d said her name. “Well, I’ve loved children all my life. I worked in an afterschool daycare through high school and went to Everton for Child Development. After I graduated…”
Her voice was so soothing, a beautiful mezzo-soprano. She described her past positions, the types and make up of the families and the children she’d cared for. Genuine warmth and affection were evident when she spoke of her various charges.
“And are you Heidi?” She looked past me. I turned and sure enough my daughter was standing in the doorway grasping her plush unicorn doll. Heidi looked at me for permission and I sighed, holding out my arms. Darting across the room, she clambered up into my lap before turning back to the stranger.
“What’s your name?”
Sarah smiled. Folding her hands in her lap and leaning forward. “I’m Nanny Sarah. Do you know what a nanny is?” Heidi bit her thumb and shook her head. “It’s someone who takes care of little boys and girls while their mommies are at work.”
“Are you going to take care of me? Like Miss Joan does?”
“Maybe. Your mommy and I are still talking. Would it be alright if I did?”
Heidi nodded. “Would you like to meet Charlie?” She held out her unicorn.
“Sure.” Heidi slid out of my lap and toddled around the coffee table, climbing up next to Sarah and placing her stuffed toy in her lap. “This is Charlie. He’s my best friend. Then there’s Hoppy and Mrs. Bear and …” Heidi spent internet casino a minute listing off the members of her plush menagerie, including which ones were good and which ones were naughty. Sarah asked her questions, and their interaction seemed very natural.
Heidi pretended to listen to Charlie for a moment. “Charlie thinks you’re pretty. I think so, too.”
Sarah gave Heidi a hug. “Thank you, sweetheart. You’re pretty, too, and Charlie is very handsome.”
“Miss Joan says I’ll be pretty like my mommy. Do you think my mommy’s pretty?” Sarah blushed, and I opened my mouth to rescue her, but the auburn haired vision next to my daughter beat me to it.
“Yes, sweetie, I do. And someday you’re going to be just as beautiful.” Heidi beamed at her while my breath caught in my throat.
“Honey, Nanny Sarah and I need to finish talking. Go back and watch Dora and I’ll be there in a minute.”
“OK, mommy.” Heidi slid off the couch. “Bye!”
“Good-bye, Heidi. It was nice to meet you.” Sarah turned back to me. “She’s adorable.”
I smiled. “Thank you. Fair warning, she’s not always that sweet.” Sarah laughed, a beautiful, bell ringing sound.
“Maybe not, but it’ll still be a nice change of pace. The Johnson’s have all boys.”
“A different animal, huh?”
“Almost always, especially when there’s more than one.”
We chatted for another twenty minutes, discussing discipline, philosophy, nutrition, activities, and the like. She looked me in the eyes and confidently laid out her compensation expectations, something I admired. When I’d been asked that question at my current job I’d been completely flustered. It all seemed reasonable, and with what my father had left me, easily within my price range.
I showed her the larger guest room at the far end of the upstairs hall. “You’d be free to change the décor, within reason, of course. It has a Jack and Jill bathroom connected to the other guest room. These were my and my brother rooms when we were kids. Anyway, I can have the bed in the second room moved out to make you a living area.”
“This’ll be fine, thank you.”
She’d said the Johnsons had a mother-in-law apartment over the garage, so I knew she’d be going down some space and a kitchen.
“I’ll just be honest. This job is yours if you want it. I know it’s not what you had.”
“The Johnsons treated me like family, but it wasn’t like having a family. I think I’ll like this, sleeping down the hall, seeing everyone at breakfast.”
I leaned against the doorjamb as Sarah pulled open the curtains to take in the view. “Sarah, why don’t you have a family? I mean, you’re intelligent, beautiful. I’d think men would be lining up to take you home to meet their mother.”
Her head bowed and a shadow seemed to pass in front of her eyes.
“I’m sorry. That’s none of my business. Forget I asked.”
“No, it’s OK. My older brother is married, three kids. My younger sister got married last year; she’s working on their first. They ask me that a lot, telling me how great it is. I just don’t think it’s in the cards for me.”
“Well, you never know.”
“No, you don’t.” She sighed and smiled. My stomach fluttered, and she walked around the bed and extended her hand. I took it. It fit so perfectly in mine, I didn’t ever want to let it go.
“Thank you for the offer, Ms. Walker. I accept.”
As soon as I opened the car door I could smell the burgers. Rick is, to this day, the best amateur grill master I know. I think that’s why Lauren married him, although she claims he has other uses as well. Heidi was straining to get out by the time I made it around to the passenger side and freed her from her car seat. She ran up to the front door as I came up the walk behind.
Megan waved us in. “Heidi, give your Aunt Meg a hug before you go tearing off.” Heidi did her duty and went off to find Lauren’s four-year-old daughter Sylvia. Thick as thieves, those two. I embraced Megan briefly before heading into the kitchen to deposit the bags of chips I was carrying. Lauren was standing at the stove stirring some baked beans. She set the spoon down with a grin as I stepped forward to hug my best friend, leaning over her ever-widening belly.
She kissed me on the cheek and pulled away. “Ugh. Remind me never to be pregnant during the summer again.”
“Okay, but I’m not usually around when you and Rick make these decisions.”
“Do your best. Oh, and look at Megan. She’s dying.”
I turned, and Megan was poised in an exaggerated stance, running her left hand down her neck. She waggled her ring finger, causing the brand new solitaire there to sparkle.
“Oh, my god!” I jumped up and grabbed her hand. “Congratulations! When did…?
“Friday night. At Ambrosia’s.”
It really was beautiful, just a simple round cut that glittered like it was plugged into the wall. Megan was beaming. “You know what this means!”
“Oh, please, no.”
“Oh, yes. Bridesmaid dresses!”
I groaned. “Can it at least be something A-line?” I’d always been fuller in the hips than the shoulders, and having Heidi had not helped matters.
Lauren went back to stirring the beans. “I’m just happy I won’t be the size of Shamoo by then.”
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