“Your highest priority was that the candidate be available to start within the month,” the woman from the agency says. “That limited our field drastically. Many candidates don’t want to move right before Christmas, especially for such short-term employment.”
I bite back a growl. It’s not fair to take my frustration out on this woman, but the entire list of candidates is unacceptable. Too young, too uneducated, one who doesn’t speak English—how is she supposed to talk to my daughter?—and another who doesn’t drive. I suppose that one could teleport with Lilly to all of her activities.
I hear clicking on her end of the line and tap my pen impatiently. Nic’s been here for almost a week, and I’m losing my mind. She’s so on top of everything, so easy with Lilly. So completely perfect for this job.
Except she’s also really fucking sexy and sweet, and she makes me think I want things I can’t have.
Last night, after I put Lilly to bed, I found Nic in the living room. She was curled up in the chair with a blanket and the novel she started after I caught her cleaning. She had a steaming cup of tea by her side and looked like she belonged there. I fucking miss that, I thought as I stared at her. I didn’t think I would. When things were their worst with Elena at the end, I thought I’d take any level of loneliness to simply escape my marriage. I didn’t think I’d miss it at all. But last night, looking at Nic like that woke some dark, long-dormant corner of my heart. I found myself aching for this thing I told myself I didn’t want again. Company. Companionship. Love.
“Did you need me?” she asked when she caught my eye. She got to her feet before I could stop her. “I’ll get out of your way.”
“Don’t leave.” I shook my head. “I mean, you’re not in my way, and I don’t need anything.” Except you. Except that mouth.
Then I grabbed a beer from the fridge and opened the email the agency had sent me earlier that day. I was sure it would be as simple as picking the best of the best and arranging some interviews. Instead, there’s not a single candidate on the list who’s remotely acceptable.
Now, Nic’s taken Lilly to her Saturday-morning swim lesson. I wanted to get this call out of the way while they were gone. Since we’re essentially going back to the drawing board, I’ll be lucky to arrange interviews before Thanksgiving, let alone get someone new in here. I wanted Lilly to have a chance to adjust to the new nanny before Christmas. It’s bad enough that her nana won’t be here, but I’m afraid she’s becoming attached to Nic so quickly that she’ll melt down when she finds out Nic is leaving before Christmas too.
Am I fucking this up? Should I just keep Nic on until February, like we planned? It’d be one thing if she wasn’t a good fit, but she’s better than I could have imagined. Except for the part where you like the way she looks sleeping in your bed and you woke up this morning with a raging hard-on after dreaming about her.
“Sir?” the woman at the agency says. “Are you still there?”
I push away my thoughts. “I’m here.”
“Sorry about that. Perhaps you’d be willing to consider extending the term to a year? It’s the relocation that makes the short-term contract difficult, and since I don’t have any nannies in your area who fit your requirements, a longer contract would certainly open up the field.”
Sighing, I lean back in my chair and drag a hand over my face. The plan was always to find someone we could transition into a long-term position if it worked out, but the idea of committing to a year without spending any significant time with the person is brutal. “I don’t want to commit to room and board for a year in case it’s not a good match, but what if the year’s salary is guaranteed even if we part ways before that?”
More tapping. “That’ll help,” the woman says. “I’ll be in touch when I have more candidates.”
“Thank you.” I end the call and blow out a breath. If they don’t come up with anything good this time, I’ll ask Nic if she’d be willing to stay on. I can find a new nanny who can start when Mom gets back in town. Hell, maybe I could just scrap the search and have Mom head it up again when she returns. She was spot-on with Nic. She keeps the house clean, and if the dinners she made Tuesday and the leftovers in the fridge are any indication, she’s a phenomenal cook. But most importantly, she’s great with Lilly. She manages that difficult balance between playful and still being in charge. She’s the perfect choice for us.