“He did. He’ll be back late tomorrow night.”

“That’s great. I was worried he’d cancel with you being so new there. The timing just couldn’t be helped.”

I’m honestly surprised he didn’t cancel, but I don’t say that. Instead, I take a breath and tell her what I can only imagine Ethan will bring up next time they talk. “Mrs. Jackson, I take a prescription for depression. Ethan saw me with it this morning, and he was really upset.”

She’s silent a beat, and I can hear her long exhale before she speaks. “Oh, dear.”

“I wish you’d have asked me. I’d have told you about it.”

“What did he say when he saw? Did he ask you to leave?”

He’s already asked me to leave, so he didn’t have to ask again. “He was upset. He thinks I lied to you.”

“I’ll call him tonight and smooth his feathers. I’ll tell him I forgot to ask. Something. I don’t want him angry with you.”

“Well, thank you. I think that might help.” I pause a beat. “You don’t have to worry about me. I’m perfectly capable of caring for Lilly.”

“Of course you are,” she says. “I wasn’t worried at all.”

But Ethan is. “Call when you can, but focus on resting.”

“I will. Give Lilly kisses for me and tell her I miss her. I’m not sure how often I’ll be able to call once I start these treatments.”

I want to tell her to come home, to remind her that she doesn’t have to leave her family while she fights this, but I’ve already told her what I think, so I bite my tongue. “Okay. I understand. We’ll talk soon.”

We say our goodbyes, and I end the call then return to the kitchen to find Lilly frowning at the drawing in front of her, a tear rolling down her cheek.

“What’s wrong, sweetie?” I walk over to the table and look at the picture. There’s a little girl holding hands with a taller figure with long silver hair—Lilly and her grandmother, I assume. “That’s a beautiful picture.”

Lilly shakes her head. “I messed it up.” She scribbles over the hands. “I can’t do hands. They’re too hard, and it looks bad.”

My heart aches. “Oh, honey. I thought the hands were nice, but if you want to do it again, that’s okay too.”

“I just want it to be perfect so Nana knows how much I miss her.”

“I have an idea.” Lilly’s sad face is tugging on my heart. “After dinner, what do you say we go to the store and each pick out our own candy, then we come home and make a big batch of popcorn and watch My Little Pony: The Movie on the big screen in the basement.”

Lilly’s eyes light up, and she wipes a tear from her cheek. “Candy?”

I grin. “You can choose anything, but just one thing. And no king-size because we’re not kings, we’re princesses.”

She laughs. “What if I want Sour Patch Kids?”

“Then you should choose Sour Patch Kids.”

She cocks her head and narrows her eyes at me, then props her hands on her hips. “Does Daddy know you’re filling me up with sugar while he’s away?”

I bite back a smile. “I promise we’ll brush our teeth really well before we go to bed.”

“That sounds nice,” she says softly.

After dinner, we bundle up and go out to the car, because it’s getting dark and too cold to walk. At the drugstore, Lilly is far too excited about the prospect of Sour Patch Kids to beg me for additional candy, and we’re in and out of the store in no time.

Back at home, we put our PJs on—Shopkins for her, penguins riding inner tubes for me. I make the popcorn and put it in a big bowl for us to share. I start the movie and sit down on the couch next to her, and she spreads out her favorite blanket so it covers my legs and hers.

I wrap an arm around her and kiss the top of her head.

“You’re my favorite nanny,” she says.

I laugh. “Have you had a lot of nannies?” I ask, even though I know I’m the first. She probably means babysitter.

“No.” She shakes her head. “You’re the only one. But even between you and all the others I haven’t had, you’re still my favorite.”

My heart squeezes and expands all in one painful moment. I don’t know how long I’ll be here, because I don’t know how long it’ll take for Ethan to find my replacement, but even after only a few days, the idea of leaving this little girl kills me. She’s so smart and sweet. Even when she’s sad about her grandmother leaving, she still manages to fill the room with joy.

“And you’re my favorite kid,” I say. “No contest.”

She leans her head against my arm. “I love my Nicky.”

Oh, kid. You’re killing me here. “I love you too, Lil.” And I mean every word.


Tags: Lexi Ryan Erotic
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