“While I enjoy hanging out with your evil twin from time to time,” Teagan says, “I’m much more excited about having you live in Jackson Harbor.”
“You don’t think the lie is a big deal?” I couldn’t tell Teagan why Kathleen asked me to do this special favor, but since she seems to know the Jacksons, I figured it was important that she know the rest of the family will believe I’m Veronica.
“Who cares? It’s a name, and you’re still going by Nic. It’s hardly a lie at all.”
“I’m not sure I agree with that, but it’s just temporary.” And Kathleen needs this favor.
“Exactly. So, you’re on your way there now?”
“Yeah. I forwarded my references to Kathleen so she can make sure I’m not a psycho, and I start tonight. Wish me luck.”
“You don’t need it. You were the kiddie whisperer in college. They always loved you, and I’m sure that hasn’t changed. Call me when you get settled so we can make plans for later in the week.”
“Thanks, Teagan. I appreciate it.”
I end the call and toss the phone into the passenger seat. On one hand, it’s weird not having my own phone. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve reached for the phone, forgetting it wasn’t mine. But on the other hand, I might be tempted to check social media if I had all my accounts at my fingertips. I don’t know what people are saying about me and my wedding, and I don’t want to know. In that sense, I’m glad to have Veronica’s phone. She uninstalled her social media apps months ago. I probably should have taken that as a sign that something weird was going on with her.
Dr. Jackson’s home is a ten-minute drive from my hotel in downtown Jackson Harbor. It’s an old two-story house with a big front porch and cheery yellow siding. There’s a big oak tree in the front yard with a tire swing tied to it. If someone wanted to put the American dream in a snapshot, I’m pretty sure they’d use this house, with its wooded backyard and big bay windows.
I park on the street, unsure if pulling into the driveway might block someone in, and walk up to the door with my hands fisted in my pockets.
You’re perfectly qualified to do this job. The lie isn’t important—the favor is.
I climb onto the porch and stop in front of the door. Squeezing my eyes shut, I pull in a deep breath and force myself to think positive thoughts. Maybe I’m making a bigger deal out of this than it is. I do that all the time—get myself in knots over little details that don’t matter in the long run.
I find the doorbell and press it once, firmly. Seconds later, heavy steps boom toward me, and I hold my breath as I await my fate. But the man who opens the door isn’t a stranger. It’s the guy who was behind the counter at the bar last night. The one who wouldn’t let me pay for my drinks—the mysterious stranger’s brother.
The bartender recognizes me immediately, and his lips curl into a smile. “Hey, I wasn’t sure I’d get to see you again.” He seems really pleased. “My brother’s in the backyard with his daughter.”
“What’s he doing here?”
“Isn’t that why you’re here? Want me to get him?”
“Um . . .” I turn to the house number then look down at the information that’s typed into my—Veronica’s—phone. “I’m looking for Dr. Jackson?” I swallow. “Maybe I have the wrong house. I’m supposed to be the new nanny for a little girl named Lilly?”
“Dr. Jackson?” He cocks his head and studies me like I might have a few screws loose. “My brother did tell you his name last night, right?”
I blink at him. What the hell is going on here? Is Jake the bartender also Jake the doctor? That’s . . . ridiculous. Maybe I’m on the wrong street. “No, but that’s not important. Listen, I don’t want to be late, and I’m supposed to be meeting—”
“Dr. Jackson?” He brings his fist to his mouth and bites his knuckle as if he’s trying not to smile. “Because you’re Dr. Jackson’s new nanny?”
I nod. “Yeah. Do you know where he lives?”
His eyebrows shoot up into his hairline and his jaw works as he stares at me. “Oh, he lives here. Ethan Jackson is my brother.”
“Is he one of the guys from that meeting last night?” I frown. Jackson Brews. Shit, I thought the “Jackson” in Jackson Brews was for Jackson Harbor. Of course, now that I know the “Jackson” in Jackson Harbor is from this family, I really should have put it all together.
Jake’s face splits into a big grin. “Holy shit, this is beautiful. Let me just take a moment and soak it in.”