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Zack(3)

By:Sawyer Bennett



Delaney has been down here in Raleigh for the past week, interviewing prospects and checking out references. She’s narrowed it down to a choice of three, and while I really don’t want to care about whom to pick, I know that for the sake of my son, I need to be satisfied the person I do choose is right for the job. I trust Delaney implicitly, but I also know that I need to show some interest…at least for her peace of mind. The day after tomorrow she’ll head back to Manhattan, where she works as a financial analyst, and I can’t let her leave with undue worry over me and Ben.

It pisses me off that I have to hire a nanny. It feels like I’m replacing Gina…hiring a new mommy for my boy. Deep down, the rational side of me knows this isn’t true. While I’ve been able to handle Ben just fine on my own for the last four months while I recovered from my wrist injury, there is no way I can be a single parent to Ben when much of my career is spent on the road. I will need someone to be with him full-time when I’m gone, and it has to be someone trustworthy.

So I’ll do my duty tomorrow and give the applicants thoughtful consideration. Then I’ll make my decision and start the process of introducing a new woman who will become a provider and mother figure to my son.

That thought causes pain to shoot through my chest, and while I know it’s unfair, a little part of me already hates this woman because she will be taking Gina’s place in that respect.





Chapter 1


Zack


The doorbell rings just as I’m trying to simultaneously flip a pancake with one hand and pull bacon off the griddle with another. The pancake ends up sticking, then folding in half, and my forearm hits the edge of the griddle. I swear I can hear my skin sizzle from the contact.

“Fuck!” I jerk backward, dropping both the fork in one hand and the spatula in the other, thankful that Ben is in his room playing and didn’t hear me say that. It’s a constant battle sometimes to watch my language around the kid.

Slapping at the control knobs, I turn the heat completely off the large electric griddle I had been struggling with and rub gently the burn on my arm as I head toward the front door. As I round the corner from the kitchen into the living room, I slam my bare foot into Ben’s large dump-truck toy, causing a string of curses to come out of my mouth now as I hobble onward to the door.

My front door is honey-colored oak and has a large oval glass inset with a beveled flower design. Gina had picked it out and had it installed, claiming that it allowed more light into the front entranceway. I thought it was a little too girly, but I didn’t argue with her. The house was her domain.

The glass lets me see my visitor on the other side, but provides no details because of the beveled cuts and partial frosting, which distort the person. But I know who it is.

Ben’s new nanny.

Roberta Francis.

She was Delaney’s top choice, and after I briefly scanned her application I had to sit and listen to my sister rave about her. Delaney felt she was perfect for the job in all respects. She was fantastic with children, having helped raise her three nephews for a period of time. She was also a student with a flexible schedule. Delaney actually droned on and on about this particular situation, but I tuned her out and started thinking about everything I’d need to do to get the house ready to put on the market. I was seriously considering selling it. Maybe move farther out into the country, where we could have some land and Ben could have a dog.

Finally, I just cut Delaney off and said, “She sounds perfect. Let’s go with her.”

And now, as I’m about to open the door to let a woman into my house who will have the most important of responsibilities in helping me care for my son, I’m suddenly realizing I don’t know anything about her other than her name and a vague recollection that she’s a student who helped raise her nephews.

Just fucking great. Way to be an involved and responsible parent, Zack.

The only saving grace at this moment is that Delaney thoroughly interviewed this girl, checked out her references, and was absolutely enchanted with her. I trust Delaney, so this will be fine. She’ll be great, in fact.

I wish I believed myself.

I swing the door open and get my first look at the woman who will be moving into my house and caring for my son. I’m not sure what I expected, but this wasn’t it.

Based on Delaney’s assessment, I expected her to have a superhero’s cape on, or at the very least a shiny gold halo and massive angel wings sprouting out of her back.

Instead…she’s sort of unremarkable.

She stares up at me with round, crystal-blue eyes that are devoid of any makeup and surrounded by brown plastic-framed glasses. Her hair is dark, held back with a headband and twisted up behind her so I have no clue how long it is. She’s small, barely coming up to my shoulder, and swimming in an oversized, extremely faded red NC State sweatshirt and baggy jeans that look about two sizes too big for her. An old backpack slung over her shoulder and a pair of well-worn tennis shoes complete her outfit.

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