“Thank you for helping me, Mr. Sanderson.”
“Brent,” he said, helping ease her to the cobblestone of the driveway a few steps below. “You should call me Brent. ‘Mr. Sanderson’ is my bastard of a father.”
“I don’t know if I should call my employer something so casual,” she said, trying to ignore the way her cheeks warmed against her will. She had to be blushing brighter than a fire hydrant.
He finally broke away from her, and she tried to ignore the sense of loss lancing through her at the break in contact. That was crazy. She was just overly emotional from his father’s rudeness. That had sent her senses into overdrive and nothing else.
Leaning down, Mr. Sanderson… well… Brent set a firm hand on her shoulder. “My father’s a jerk. He’s always been about needling me and about power games. He’s jumping at horrible, unfair conclusions because he’s frustrated I never remarried after Cara’s mother passed.”
“Oh,” she said, surprised her voice was barely a whisper.
“Yes, so please ignore him. He’s usually working late when it’s not family dinner night. You won’t see him much, and when you do, just ignore him. I’ll let Cecile, Danny, and the rest of the staff know that they need to buffer you from his more vocal outbursts when he’s around. It’s not about you, Jessica.” He punctuated his point by squeezing her shoulder. “With him, it’s always about me, about whatever lesson he thinks I have to learn. I really do apologize for this. The last thing I thought was that he’d beat me home.”
She breathed in slowly and nodded. “That’s all right. I think I need to get home now. I’ll need a lot of rest to keep up with Cara once she’s home from school tomorrow. Your girl has a ton of energy.”
Brent smiled. “That’s good, and I’m glad she had you on a day like this. I can’t always be good at the girl stuff. I don’t have the same frame of reference, but after all the abuse those girls put on her today, I’m glad she had someone to help her through it.”
His smile was magnetic. It had a pull on her almost as strong as the one between the moon and the tides. Jessica wanted to let it keep dragging her toward him, wanted to abandon her caution and speak more freely with him. Get to know him more. But that was just the adrenaline talking and her own nerves. What was there to know? He was her employer and her dad’s close friend and business partner at the studio.
That was all.
Even if he smelled of cinnamon and other dark spices she’d love to sample more fully.
“I’m glad I could help. I’ll see you and Cara tomorrow.” Then, Jessica hurried to her car before she could humiliate herself any further or do anything she’d regret.
“Wait. You left here and interned for your dad’s company, and then, you swapped out that job to be the nanny to the kid of one of the richest men in the country?” Ashley pushed a long strand of her red hair behind her shoulder. The other girls of the sorority had long ago given her the nickname “Jessica Rabbit”, and with her wavy auburn locks and her bright green eyes, it wasn’t hard to see why. “Seriously, who does that?”
Jessica leaned back in her chair but still picked at the crust of the pizza on her plate. “It wasn’t like that.”
“Well, I know you didn’t want to work for your dad, but you’re always free to do secretary work for me at the modeling agency I’m temping for.”
Jessica sighed. “It’s not about that. It’s more that his daughter was really upset today, and I get the feeling she doesn’t have a lot of women in her life. I mean, it’s just him and his father, and they’re basically workaholics. It wasn’t because I hated being a courier for Dad or anything.”
“Still, it’s freaking Brent Sanderson. His whole family is worth billions with a capital B, and it’s not like the last movie he and your dad produced did poorly.”
“I didn’t get what a huge deal it was back then. Last March, Dad was so excited that he kept a huge Oscar speech in his pocket, in case he won, and his first line was thanking me… Now, though, I totally see how huge a deal their studio is getting to be. Come on!” She set her crust down. “Ashley, seriously, I won’t even see Brent Sanderson. I’ll just be there after school and weekends and next month, of course, once other schools besides colleges are out, I’ll be there too. It’s like I’m a maid or a cook. It’s not like I started dating him via Tinder!”
“True, but he is so hot. I mean, he was People’s hottest bachelor last year, and he’s always been in the top running of other magazines. E! news is always dishing on how delectable he is, and they’re not wrong.” She sipped on her wheat germ juice and grimaced.