Currently between hospice nursing positions, Sara wasn’t sure she could return to doing that type of work. She had loved and hated her job. After Mr. Elliott, one of her favorite patients, had died painfully over many weeks it had become too much. When he’d passed away Sara had decided it was time for a change. She needed to get away to recover but couldn’t afford not to have any income. The need for her father and herself to eat and have a roof over their heads took priority. Which was the only reason she’d agreed to consider this nanny position.

Her cellphone rang as she drove up the drive. “Hey, Dad.”

“We’ve have a problem, little girl.” Sara had long since outgrown the nickname but her father continued to call her that.

“What’s wrong now?” She was so tired of fighting off creditors.

“Mr. Cutter just came by. He’s evicting us.”

She gripped the steering-wheel. “He’s what? He can’t do that!”

“Well, he is. He has someone who wants the apartment.”

“I told him I would get the rent caught up as soon as I could. I paid an entire month just a few weeks ago.” She wanted to scream. Would it ever end?

Growing up, she’d known her father had worked hard to make ends meet. After his accident, finances had become ever tighter. He now received disability but nothing else. The company had managed to see that he was blamed for the explosion and had awarded him no compensation. She’d wanted a nursing degree so badly she’d gone into debt to get it. It had taken her years but she had paid her loans off. Yet here she was, trying to survive again.

“I reminded him but he doesn’t care. He wants us out by the end of the week.”

Sara gave an exasperated sigh. She was tired of moving. Now she had to do it again. But to where?

They had been doing well. She’d had some savings and had even been starting to look into buying a house when her father had answered a telemarketing call. Lonely and at home by himself too much, he had been the perfect victim for a fast-talking salesmen to take advantage of. Before he’d been done, all of her father’s money had been invested in land in Florida that didn’t exist and most of hers was going to keeping her father’s doctor’s bills in check. Even with this job she would barely keep their financial heads above water.

“I’ve got to go, Dad. Don’t worry, I’ll figure something out.” But what? She rang off.

She pulled to a stop in front of the house. Before she had completely climbed out of the car a tall man holding a baby tightly to his chest was hovering over her. In his arms the child was but a tiny bundle. “What took you so long?”

Going motionless, Sara held his gaze for a moment. The baby cried out.

“Look, I’m sorry,” he said over the infant’s wailing. “They’re waiting on me in the OR. Can you please just come in?”

He rushed inside the house, leaving the door wide open. The baby’s bellows filled the air.

Unable to bear the little one’s distress, Sara slammed her car door and hastily followed them. She stopped in the hallway.

The man thrust the babe into her hands. “Will you please take her? I have to go.”

Sara grasped the baby with a growing knot in her throat. She’d told Kim she couldn’t do this. But she had insisted. Why did every child have to bring back the fear of getting too close? That horrible ache that never seemed to ease. Sara looked into the infant’s face. That was a mistake. “Go?”

“I’ll be back later,” Dr. Smythe announced. “Everything you should need...” he pointed toward the back of the house and up the large staircase “...is in the kitchen or upstairs in the nursery.”

“Dr. Smythe—”

“No time.” He picked up his keys from the table in the foyer and headed for the open door.

Sara hurried after him and called, “You can’t just leave.”

“Can’t talk right now.”

“I don’t care if I’m being evicted or not, you’re not paying me enough for you to just dump this child in my arms and leave! Come back here.”

“We’ll go over things later.” He was gone. The large door closed with a thump behind him.

Sara stood there in disbelief, looking down at the unhappy child in her arms. He’d handed the baby over with no thought. Nothing like her reaction when, as a surrogate mother, she’d given up a baby. If she’d have been able to, she would have hung on for dear life. But that hadn’t been the agreement. She still carried the pain. For her there was nothing cavalier about relinquishing a baby.

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